So I had planned on sharing a really awesome, Easter-y, brunch worthy recipe this morning but currently I have had no working sinks in my apartment for the past 2 days, no working garbage disposal, and have discovered a small hornet's nest between one of my window panes and the screen. Clearly, cooking is not in the cards
but bourbon is. So instead, let's talk fitness.
After finishing a modified version of LiveFit trainer, I was in the market for a new weight-lifting program. I absolutely loved LiveFit and was looking for something similar but slightly less intense since I knew I would be ramping up my running to train for the Monument 10K and LiveFit's 90-min long, intense workouts wouldn't really be doing my recovering foot and bad knees any favors.
Through some web research, I stumbled across the book and training program The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I remembered that Meghann over at Meals & Miles was doing the program and after reading her recaps, it seemed like something that was a.) interesting and b.) would be compatible with my running/training efforts. I quickly downloaded the book on my iPad and got to reading. The majority of the information in the book wasn't new to me but was still very interesting and I think it would be a great read for anyone who is new to strength training. The actual program looked a bit confusing but I was able to navigate and started on Stage 1 at the beginning of March.
After looking at the all of the workouts in Stage 1, I decided to cut it in half and only do 1 month worth of workouts instead of 2 months. I did this for a few reasons: 1. Doing the same thing for 2 months would drive me crazy and make me bored. 2. I've been lifting heavier weights consistently since November and this stage seemed to be geared towards true beginners. 3. Currently, I'm more focused on cutting rather than adding muscle mass. 4. I was working on rehabbing my foot and upping my running mileage so my feet need a break! 5. My body was/is craving strength in the form of yoga so I'm listening.
With that said, I actually really enjoyed the Stage 1 workouts. At first, they seemed a bit too light but as the reps got lower, I quickly realized that they were kicking my butt, in a good way. Since I love lists, let's do a little pro and con breakdown, shall we?
Pros: - I made great strength gains for only 4 weeks - I can't imagine what I could have done if I did it for 8 weeks! - Short workouts - Each week felt challenging but not out of reach
Cons: - I would have liked more exercises; coming off of LiveFit trainer made the first few workouts feel far too easy - Very leg heavy which is good but did cause me some foot pain when combined with my yoga and running - Repetitive
Overall, this stage was a great "reset" button that I needed and complimented my 10k training really well. I will admit that the last two weeks of March, I was definitely slacking on my lifting. I was running a decent amount so I wanted to take it easy on my feet/knees and honestly, my head wasn't in it. Despite the slacking on actual gym-time, I'm proud of the progress I made. So with all that said, here's a look at where I started and the improvements I made:
Stage 1A: Squat: One of my favorites. I haven't squatted in a looong time thanks to the foot so I'm glad I made progress here. Workout 1 (2 x 15 reps): 75lbs (includes oly bar weight) Workout 4 (3 x 8 reps): 105 (includes oly bar weight) - pretty sure I could have gone a bit heavier on this but my foot felt a bit sore so I didn't push it.
Sidenote - on the last day, I was talking to a regular gym go-er who bodybuilds and he asked if I needed a spot since he figured I was going up to an insane amount of weight. I laughed and said "I wish!" to which he replied "I've seen you in here, you will definitely be able to get there". Thanks guy for making me feel awesome!
Push-Up: Workout 1 ( 2 x 15 reps): Regular push-ups here, slightly challenging doing 15 in a row Workout 4 (3 x 10 reps): It's supposed to end with 8 reps but I always did between 10-12. Had to make these harder by doing toe touch push ups which go like this: get in wide push-up position, lower down and do a push up, then take left leg across body and touch with right hand, do another push-up and repeat on the other side (right foot, left hand). That's 2 reps.
Seated Row: Workout 1 (2 x 15 reps):60lbs Workout 4 (3 x 8 reps): 80lbs
Step-up: I do this using a small box and an Olympic barbell Workout 1 ( 2 x 15 reps): just the 45lb barbell Workout 4 (3 x 8 reps): 10 lbs + oly bar
Prone jack-knife: I subbed this for hanging knee raises on the pull-up bar since this exercise irritates my wrists. Workout 1 (3 x 8 reps): knees bent, not too bad since I've been doing this for awhile Workout (3 x 15 reps): knees bent with some straight leg, also alternated sides to work obliques
Deadlift: I've always struggled with this lift because I feel like my arms are much shorter than my legs but I made progress, woohoo! Truth be told, I really could have worked harder on these. I workout alone and form is huge for this lift, so I've gone light since I don't have a spotter - I may set up a quick session with a trainer to work on my form so I feel more confident. Workout 1 (2 x 15 reps): just the 45lb oly bar Workout 4 (3 x 8 reps): 75lbs (bar + 30lbs)
Dumbbell Shoulder Press: My least favorite exercise, ever. Ironically, my shoulders are my favorite body part. Workout 1 (2 x 15 reps): 12.5lbs Workout 4 (3 x 8 reps): 17.5lbs (this almost killed me)
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown: This increase is a bit scary to me, in a good way. Also, my lats are getting serious. Workout 1 (2 x 15 reps): 60/70lbs Workout 4 (3 x 8 reps): 90lbs with 100lbs for 4 reps
Lunge: I subbed this for split-squats because of my knee issues Workout 1 (2 x 15 reps): 40lb - 2 20lb. dumbbells Workout 4 (3 x 8 reps): 55lbs (bar + 10lbs) - switched to a barbell because my tiny wrists were aching holding that much weight.
Swiss-ball crunch: I subbed this with another ab exercise I felt like doing that day to keep it interesting, usually it was my favorite hanging knee raises.