Workout 16/05/2016 – my first ever hour long PT session!

So, on Saturday I did my first every hour-long personal training session (they’re normally half an hour). I also learned an important lesson. While coffee is the perfect fuel/stomach liner for a half hour session, I need more than that for an hour. Perhaps some food. At the 40 minute mark I was feeling good, and if we’d called it a day at 45 minutes or even 50 I might have walked away feeling like I had a top session. Those last 10 minutes though? They got hard. At one point I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to vomit or faint, and the frustrating thing was that I knew that it was likely just a result of not eating anything before I came to the gym. Grr!!! Anyway, it was a good one:

4 sets:

  • 10 x safety squats (45 kg, 55 kg x 3) – NB: still not sure what the weight of this bar is. I know I had 20 kg added for the first set, and 30 kg added for the rest.
  • 10 x clean and press (20 kg, 25 kg x 3) – super happy with these. I managed to do 7 reps in each set without bouncing to get the press up – I did strict presses
  • 20 x walking lunges, with wall ball carried above head (no weight, 2 kg x 3)
  • 10 x raised push-ups

3 sets:

  • 20 x raised heel (hack) squats, 2 second lower and 2 second raise (final set was normal lower and raise)
  • 10 x lat pulldowns (30 kg, 35 kg x 2)

Workout 2/05/2016

I think this was possibly the latest in the evening I’ve worked out before (6:30 pm) and that combined with having moved house across the weekend made for interesting energy levels. Still, a good workout!

3 sets:

  • 10 x Kettlebell clean and press each arm (8 kg, 10 kg, 10 kg)
  • 20 x wall ball slams (20 pound ball, so that’s… 9.07 kg)

3 sets:

  • 8 x barbell cleans (20 kg)
  • 8 x barbell presses (20 kg)
  • 8 x barbell bicep curl (20 kg)
  • 8 x dumbbell hammer curl (6 kg per hand)

Workout 27/04/2016 – a mentally challenging arm day

This arm day was challenging, both physically and mentally. Mostly mentally. My PT got me doing some new arm-based exercises that, while I’ve done similar moves before, really pushed my comfort zone in terms of seeing what my dodgy shoulders are capable of. The only reason I completed the movements and allocated sets and reps is because I completely trust my PT in terms of what he knows my body is capable of and when it’s ready to have its limits pushed, and because I completely trust his spotting.

He got me doing bench pressing today, which I’ve definitely done before, but today we really worked on technique. Turns out I’ve been starting with my arms angled back (towards my face) and bringing the weights down on an angle (towards my face), so moving the weight towards my hips more was a big adjustment. He also reduced the weight I used for my second set of reps on the dumbbell bench press, so that I could work on the technique.

The horizontal flies were a super new thing for me, and very scary from a mental perspective. PT originally handed me 4 kg weights but we dropped them back to 3 kg – if I’d been doing less reps 4 kg might have been a go-er, but not doing 24 in a row! Ultimately I needed the 3 kg to push through my sticking point at the bottom of the movement, but could have gone up a few kg for the rest of the movement.

3 sets:

  • 6 x barbell overhead presses (20 kg)
  • 12 x dumbbell side raises (4 kg each hand)
  • 24 x dumbbell overhead presses (4 kg each hand)

2 sets:

  • 6 x barbell bench press (25 kg)
  • 10 x dumbbell bench press (8 kg , 7 kg each hand)
  • 24 x horizontal flies (3 kg each hand)

Workout 22/04/2016 – leg day and a new exercise. Safety squats!

On a day that I’m still very stiff and very sore from my last arm/back/shoulder day (damn those pull-up negatives!), I hit leg day with limited enthusiasm. Luckily I really enjoyed the session, with thanks to a new barbell – the safety squat barbell. As I’ve said before, I have issues with back squats. I can’t get my weight in the right spot, I lean way too far forward, and my depth is shocking. Experimenting with front squats has helped – with those I can squat deeper and with better technique, but I have to drop the weight. Fine for technique, not so great for my legs.

The safety squat bar sits on your back, but has handles across your shoulders that you hold at the front of the body. I knew straight away we were going to be friends. With this bar I could squat deeper, with better technique, and still maintain a decent weight. In fact, I ended the session feeling that if I did a few more sessions at that weight, I’d probably be able to increase the weight pretty soon. I even feel like I might be able to squat unsupervised with this bar.

safety squat bar

I know it’s not the solution to just stop back squats all together, but it’s nice to know that I can improve my depth, technique and weight in my squat.

3 sets:

  • 10 x safety squats (30-35 kg, 40 – 45 kg x 2 sets) – we weren’t sure how much the bar weighed!
  • 20 x walking 2 pulses lunges (no weight, 10 kg each hand x 2 sets)

1 set:

  • 25 x leg extensions (25 kg)
  • 25 x hack squats (raised heel squats)

Workout 20/04/2016

Arm day! My arms are pretty much jelly right now – I’d planned on washing my hair post-workout this morning, but the jelly arms meant that definitely didn’t happen. It was one of those workouts that was ok – nothing earth shattering, didn’t feel amazing, but also didn’t feel shocking or completely break me.

4 sets:

  • 10 x cleans from hanging position (20 kg, 30 kg, 25 kg x 2)
  • 10, 10, 8, 8 x jumping negative pull-ups (final two sets being held by my trainer at the top for an increased negative)

2 sets:

  • 10 x inclined barbell press on smith machine (smith machine bar plus 15 kg)
  • 10 x standing Arnold dumbbell press (10 kg each hand)

Workout 14/04/2016 (and a new PB!!)

Leg day, and a new personal best for me on the 45 degree free-weight leg press🙂 Neither my trainer nor I could remember whether my former PB was 190 kg or 200 kg (although we both suspected it was 190 kg), so he loaded an extra 1.25 kg on just to make sure I definitely hit a new PB. In any case, I know that previously when I hit my former PB I’d only done 6 reps at that weight – this time I did 18 across two sets. So I definitely smashed it.

45 degree free weight leg press

  • 10 x 80 kg
  • 10 x 140 kg
  • 10 x 180 kg
  • 201.25 x 8
  • 201.25 x 10

2 sets:

  • 28 x walking lunges
  • Hurt terminal push (front and back handles) (55 kg, 80 kg)

Workout 13/04/2016 – a poorly recorded arm day

Today was a bit of a fail in terms of recording what I did. I was doing (some) unfamiliar exercises, and some that I just plain struggle with with my dodgy shoulders. I was also having a ‘blurry eyes’ morning without my glasses, so I couldn’t even see which weight I was using in the first place!!! Anyway, it was a good workout – the battleropes really challenged me, and I felt them in my lower back. Which probably means they were good for me😛

3 sets?:

  • 10 x pull-ups on pull-up machine (unsure of the weight)
  • 12 x ‘face pull’ (on a cable machine with a split rope handle at a high point, pulling down towards face. What’s that called?! Weight unknown) (I just googled it!! It’s called a face pull!!!!)
  • 10 x upright rows on cable machine (15 kg maybe?)

10 sets:

  • 20 seconds of battleropes, 40 seconds break


  • Overhead tricep extensions on second lowest weight (got to 17 reps)
  • Straight into overhead tricep extensions on lowest weight (got to 12 reps)

Workout 07/04/2016 – and some musings about squats and leg press

La-la-la-la-leg day. Boy, am I copping body karma for not going to the gym for a week. Despite doing no lower body exercises on Wednesday, when I hit the gym yesterday my glutes were sore from doing the dumbbell snatches. Yesterday’s workout included what I can the ‘jelly maker’ – the 45 degree free weight leg press. I enjoy this machine so much more than the standard 45 degree leg press machine – I feel like I can get greater depth, hit better weight targets, and push myself further on this one. I’m pretty sure my PB on this machine is 190 kg at the  moment – here’s hoping I’ll break the magic 200 kg mark soon🙂

This workout also contained barbell box squats. I was reflecting on these last night – at 45 kg, I felt like some reps were super easy and some were super hard. My form is just too inconsistent to go up in weight right now, and I find that really really frustrating. If I could get some consistency in my squats I could increase the weight, but right now I just wouldn’t trust myself to get back up from the bottom of each squat!!!

3 sets:

  • 10 x barbell box squats (40 kg, 45 kg x 2)
  • 20 x weighted alternating step ups with top leg staying on bench (10 kg each hand, 12 kg each hand x 2)

3 sets:

  • 8 x 45 degrees free weight leg press (110 kg, 140 kg, 160 kg)
  • 20 x jump squats

Where motivation, exercise and food meet

Last week both my PT and my partner were away. My PT offered me a replacement for the week, but to be honest he sets the standards pretty high and his replacement in the past just hasn’t been up to scratch, so I said no and promised him I’d train myself. Except that I didn’t. I did pack my gym bag and put it in the car three days in a row, but twice I got held up at work and on the third day… well on the third day I got lazy. With no PT appointments and no partner around to tell me to suck it up, I just didn’t get off my bum and get to the gym.

While I was busy not being at the gym, I was also busy being absolutely crap at being an adult about my food intake. I fell off the bandwagon, I ate what I shouldn’t have, I showed no restraint and I generally decided that I’d start again next week. Or something. I was also busy reading all the fitness blogs, and looking at all of the fitspo, and generally thinking about how I want to get stronger… and I was doing nothing about it. I chose foccacias for lunch, and chinese takeaway, and I ate chocolate in the car on the way home from work.

Yesterday morning my PT was back in the gym, and so was I. It was a good session, I worked hard, and I enjoyed it. The funny thing was, for the rest of the day, and for the first time in a fortnight, I found it easy to make good food choices. I bought a salad (which I enjoyed). I didn’t eat chocolate in the car on the way home. There was no afternoon snacks. So it made me realise something. If one good choice leads to another good choice, then it makes sense to find the good choice that is easiest to make, and always prioritise it, knowing that putting that first will help the rest of those good choices to flow freely.

In this case, clearly I need someone else to motivate me to work out. Whether it’s paying my PT or working out with my partner, exercising that way comes a lot easier to me than making that choice by myself. But making that choice seems to lead to me choosing to exercise more often, and to choosing better foods. So for now, my choice is to continue to prioritise my finances to pay for a PT, and to choose to start to schedule more workouts with my partner.

Starting with one good choice, which makes the harder choices easier to make.