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:
- 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
- 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)
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.
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.
- 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)
- 25 x leg extensions (25 kg)
- 25 x hack squats (raised heel squats)
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
- 28 x walking lunges
- Hurt terminal push (front and back handles) (55 kg, 80 kg)
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!!!
- 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)
- 8 x 45 degrees free weight leg press (110 kg, 140 kg, 160 kg)
- 20 x jump squats
I missed blogging about Tuesday’s workout this week – it was a bunch of exercises that I wasn’t sure how to describe, using weights that I forgot to check. Oh well!!
On to yesterday’s leg day. This should have been a standard one – instead I found myself struggling with some sets, and my legs are really feeling it today. Unusual!! My PT did get me started doing lunges from a raised surface (negative lunges? Step-off lunges?), but since we hiked Bogong I’ve had a slight twitch on the sole of my foot that’s triggered by weight being placed on the ball of my foot. The lunges weren’t really suiting it, so we switched to Bulgarian Split Squats with a pretty low raised foot to ensure a deep squat.
- 20 x horizontal leg press (80 kg)
- 20 x raised heel squats
- 20 x step-off lunges (1 set)
- 10 x Bulgarian split squats each leg (2 sets)
- 10 x hamstring curls (25 kg)
Yesterday I compared doing squats with Opera singing. When I first finished high school, I jumped straight into a Bachelor of Classical Music (opera singing). Ultimately I never finished it, and this story probably indicates why.
I wasn’t (still aren’t) a fan of opera. I didn’t (still don’t!) know what good opera technique sounded like, and I certainly didn’t know what it felt like. When I was singing in a way that felt comfortable and ‘right’, I was told I was doing it wrong. When I sung in a way that felt physically odd and sounded (to me) bad, I was told I was doing it right. But only sometimes. I could feel odd and sound bad in many ways, and sometimes I was told I was wrong and others I was right – but I couldn’t tell the difference.
To me, squats provide a really similar experience. I’ll do 10 reps and none of them will ‘feel right’, but at the end of the set my PT will tell me that reps 6, 7 and 8 were good. But to me they all felt different, and certainly none of them felt right. I explained this to my PT yesterday (including the classical singing anecdote) and he looked at me kind of confused, but also like he kind of got it. We talked about my absolute discomfort with back squats, but how my (rarely practiced) front squats felt better. We did squats san-the barbell, which my arms in back and front squat position, and ascertained that even without the barbell I couldn’t do a squat with my arms in back squat position to a decent depth or with decent technique. Holding my arms in a front squat position was better though, so we went down some weight and played around with that.
My PT realised that if he verbally cues me at the right time I push my weight back where it needs to be, and I did some really decent low squatting reps like this. Unfortunately I couldn’t do very many, and (luckily my PT was spotting me closely!) I ultimately ended up losing power and falling over backwards. But that’s ok – I felt like it was my best squat session in a really long time. I had a technique breakthrough, and although I’m a long way off being able to confidently do them on my own with good technique, yesterday’s session took me a step forward.
- 10 x back squats (40 kg, 50 kg)
- 10 x high jump squats with arm thrust
- 9 x front squats (30 kg) – failure and rest at rep 5, failure and stop at rep 9
- 10 x high jump squats with arm thrust
- 10 x horizontal leg press (80kg) with wide-legged stance, and angled toes
Today was the last leg day before Bogong. Although I was tempted to make this even earlier in the week, I decided that Thursday, Friday and Saturday is enough time to recover fully. That, and I asked my PT not to absolutely kill my legs. The really nice thing is that while the workout didn’t kill my legs, if I’d done the same workout a few years ago it absolutely would have smashed me. And I wouldn’t have been able to do the weights I did today.
- 24 x walking lunges (no weights, 2 sets x 10 kg each hand)
- 1 min x jumping step ups (step up jumps?)
- 8 x hamstring curls (25 kg, 27 kg x 2 sets)
- 20 x raised heel squats (not coming to a full upright at the top of each rep – keeping the legs slightly bent)
This workout was actually a fitness test. I’m doing a 12 week challenge at the moment, which I’ll go into more details on next week post-Bogong, but for now here’s the results (I’ll re-do this again in four weeks or so)
The idea was to see how many reps of each I could do in the allotted 1 minute. I chose to focus on good form and not sacrifice technique for more reps, and I was pretty please with my results:
- 1 minute of burpees: 15 reps
- 1 minute of push-ups: 20 reps
- 1 minute of sit-ups: 22 (this was listed as crunches. I think they’re too subjective, so did sit ups instead)
- 1 minute of alternate lunges: 32 (I’m not really sure how I’d beat this, I was going at a decent pace. I think I’d be best to add weight and work to match this result)
- Plank for time: 1 minute 11 seconds
- Jump squats: 53 (low squats with good form)
Leg day today. J asked me how it was afterwards, and I reflected that given the low energy I’ve been feeling all week I was pretty happy that I dragged myself out of bed, showed up, and completed the right number of reps and sets (in the past, energy like this has resulted in less sets). So with that in mind I was happy – and I worked through some technique issues too. Having said that, today’s workout involved at 45cm box jump which I seemed to be only just clearing. In the past I’ve easily clear a metre, so I’ve definitely lost some punch there! Something to work on, I suppose.
- 10 x box jumps (45 cm)
- 20 x walking lunges
- 15 x horizontal leg press (90kg)
- 10 x horizontal leg press (90kg) – reduced reps to work on where I’m driving through in my foot. I’ve been finding I drive through the ball of my foot on this machine, so we were working on driving through the heel instead. It’s a bad habit, so the heel work made it a lot harder – thus the reduced reps.