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)
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
Arm/upper body day today. But because the scale have gone up instead of down over the long weekend, my PT threw in some whole body/fat burner stuff just for funsies (his funsies, not mine). I totally hadn’t mentally prepared for it after Sunday’s humungo hike (I’ll write about that later in the week when I’ve got some time), and my legs weren’t too happy, but I found some ways to mentally push myself and be reasonably happy with the workout.
- 8 x pull-ups on the pull-up machine (50kg, 45 kg x 2)
- 8 x dips on machine (50 kg, 45 kg x 2)
- 8 x raised push-ups on lowest pull-up machine step
- 30 seconds x battlerope slams (31 – 35 slams each round)
- 30 seconds x wall ball squat throws (12 – 16 throws each round)
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)
I went into the gym with the intention of doing deadlifts today – but all of the deadlifting stations were being used. The workout I ended up with wasn’t the best – I mucked around for too long trying to figure out what to do, so I didn’t get in as many sets as I’d have liked. Ultimate lesson – always have two workouts ready to go before hitting the gym floor!
- 5 mins rowing machine (at a pace that I could breathe through my nose)
- 3 sets:
– 10 situps
– 10 pushups
– 10 jump lunges each leg
– 10 prisoner squats each leg