Workout 02/03/2016

Arm day! A five car pile up on the freeway meant I arrived 10 minutes late for my half hour training session today. I started my workout with my PT, then he gave me instructions for the rest of the session and left me to it. Normally in these situations I have a tendency to reduce either sets or reps, telling myself that I have to get to work and don’t have time to finish. Today I finished the full sets prescribed, with the right number of reps, without blowing out my rest time. It’s tiny, but I feel proud of myself for doing it.

3 sets:

  • 20 x raised push-ups (on a bench)
  • 20 x angled pull-ups

5 sets:

  • 5 x jump pull-ups (jump, aim to pause at the top then have a controlled lower)
  • 10 x barbell clean and press (20 kg x 1, 25 kg x 4)

Workout 16/02/2016

Arm day today! Some new stuff in there, but (as usual) altered to ensure the safety of my dodgy shoulders.

3 sets:

  • 12 x reverse grip lat pulldowns (25 kg, 30 kg, 35 kg)
  • 8 x kettlebell clean and press  each arm (clean to rack hold, then press to palm facing forward) (12 kg each arm)

3 sets:

  • 5 x jump to pull-up with slow release
  • 15 x angled pull-ups
  • 15 x angled full-motion push-usp

Finding motivation: counting down to Spartan

Spartan-Race-Spartan-Logo2

I’ve lost some motivation recently. Not only with my eating (which didn’t surprise me at all), but also in my training (which did). Losing training motivation snuck up on me and yes, it surprised me a bit, because for the majority of the last 18 months my motivation’s been strong. While I’ve not enjoyed specific exercises, or had down days in the gym, for the most part I’ve wanted to be there and I’ve wanted the results. But over the past couple of months I’ve found myself consistently thinking about skipping-out on PT sessions, and dragging my way through them when they do happen. My PT’s noticed it too. At the start of the year I set a couple of goals for myself- weight loss (not specific), to be able to deadlift my own body weight, and to do a pull-up.

Turns out I’m very motivated by an end-point, but when I set that end-point myself I don’t work so well. This isn’t new to me- I’m constantly dealing with this exact same thing in the workplace when it comes to deadlines- but it’s a new concept for me in the gym. Needless to say, with no ‘other-imposed’ due date on those goals, they weren’t pushing me very hard.

Late last year I completed The Stampede, a 10 km obstacle event. It’s not a race- it’s supposed to be fun, supportive and non-competitive. My partner couldn’t do that event, so we’ve been keeping tabs on the obstacle race calender for a similar event to do together ever since. There’s been plenty happening across the first half of the year, but none of them at a convenient time. Anyway, Spartan Race recently announced their next Melbourne dates and races – on September 12 their running a 7 km, 21 km, and completely insane 42 km. So we signed up for the 7 km.

It’s crazy, but the day after I paid my cash and signed up, my motivation in the gym shot through the roof. Suddenly I had a six month time frame in which to achieve some fresh goals, and my mind was really really happy with that. Spartan seems to have a lot of monkey-bar style challenges (although it’s hard to tell, because they don’t release a map of the course), so my first goal is to improve my grip and upper body strength enough to be able to complete at least one of those obstacles. And if I can do one, hopefully I can do more.

We’ve signed up for the 7 km, because let’s face it, 21 km is just a bit nuts. The furthest I’ve ever run non-stop is about 3.5 km, and I’m definitely not up to running that right now, so my second goal is to get my running back up to a fairly decent standard. I’d like to be able to run 5 km of the 7- which should be doable, seeing as there’ll be obstacles breaking up the running. So it’s back to the Couch to 5km running app for me- and with six months, I know that’s realistic. I think the time-frame is the best bit about all of this. Not only do I have my motivation back, but I also have goals that I can actually achieve in the time frame. Run 5 km, do one monkey bar obstacle, and of course generally kick the rest of the course’s bum.

I know Spartan is a tougher, more competitive course and environment than the very family-friendly Stampede, but I’m really looking forward to giving it a go- and giving my body a go at pushing hard.

Pull-ups and t-rex arms

t-rex

This is how I feel this morning. My arms are swollen from the top of the bicep to mid-forearm, and holding them in any position other than a weird kind of bent right-angle hurts. A lot. Straightening them out is pretty much a weird kind of hell, that results in my fingers going tingly. It started yesterday, the day after I did the most full-on pull-up training session I’ve done. I’ve set a goal with my trainer for 2015 that I want to be able to do one unassisted pull-up by the time the year is out, so the pull-up activity has been upped recently.

I most often do pull-ups on a machine, the kind that counterbalances your weight so you’re only pulling up with the weight you’re capable of. I also use the bands, but only when I’m working with my PT- even with the thickest band I still need help. Traditionally I’ll use the thickest band, and do 3-4 sets of 10 pull-ups. The first 5 are easy, the next 2-3 get harder, and I need assistance with the final 2. I’ve also done jumping pull-ups: jumping to the ‘up’ position, then focussing on a controlled ‘negative’: the decent.

On Monday we tried a whole new ballgame though- a very thin elastic that, while providing some resistance, seemed to go further in stabilising my movement that relieving weight from my arms. My trainer was lifting me when I needed the help (the whole time), then I was doing a controlled decent. Because this was pretty foreign to my body, we did 10 sets of 5 reps with a good minutes rest in between (minimum). I played with different techniques during the session and walked away feeling pretty positive- until I woke up Tuesday morning. The T-Rex arms had hit.

Since then, even the most basic tasks have brought tears to my eyes. Brushing my hair, opening a door, typing, holding a coffee, eating soup, holding a phone to my ears… they’ve all become very complicated tasks, given my very swollen and sore arms.

I consulted Dr Google (I know, I shouldn’t), pretty much to get an idea of whether I’m being a big baby or whether I should be thinking about heading to see a doc. My body’s experienced a lot of new and foreign things since I started training with a PT, and many of those things have been painful- but never in a way that made me think something was wrong. Only in a way that made me realise I’d worked my body hard, and it was repairing.

So Dr Google (and the gazillion Cross Fitters online) reckon that my symptoms add up to some kind of mild form of Rhabdomyolysis. The general consensus seems to be that it’s pretty normal when starting out on pull-ups or doing a lot of negatives. It can be super serious in that it can effect your kidney functioning, so I guess for now I just keep an eye out for other symptoms. Given that it’s day 3 post-workout, and my range of motion has definitely improved overnight (albeit mildly), I’m going to see what tomorrow brings. When I experience soreness post-workout it normally flares up on day 2, and by day 3 is starting to go away again, so this is an interesting exercise in pain threshold and sensibility. Stay tuned- I’ll keep you updated on the T-Rex arms in the next few days.