Giving Yourself A Break

I had a really rough week last week with a loss in my family.  It’s one of those things that I know takes a long time to “get over” – I’ve been there before.  

But. . .I’ve also had a lot of conditioning that makes me feel that I’m a burden if I’m feeling down, or that I have tp put on a happy face…even when it’s the last thing I want to do.

Part of me agrees with the idea that I need to keep going – one foot in front of the other, and sticking to my routine is more helpful than it isn’t – I get out of my brain, for one (which frankly isn’t firing on all synapses at the moment.)

And part of me feels like…let me get through this, and then I can go home and cry when I need to…because it is just as important for my wellbeing to “allow” my emotions” as it is to be stoic.

I haven’t had much energy, but I still go through the motions.  Form is integral, though, and no matter if we are doing lighter weight, or just running our “usual” on autopilot, we have to pay attention to the form.  I’ve made it a habit to really focus on the muscle that should be working when I exercise, so fortunately I’m in tune with what’s moving (and what shouldn’t be.)  I listen to my body and always try to respect when it needs a break…and to give it a little bit of a push if it needs it.

Today was one of my leg days – I have two.  I used to do EVERYTHING on one day, but it’s overboard for me at this stage in the game. Instead, I like having two manageable but challenging days that aren’t to the point that I make myself sick thinking about them (which used to be the case.)  What’s the point if you are stressing about what’s supposed to be fun and / or good for you?!

My usual Tuesday exercises include the following (I try to keep some of my rests “active” to knock out my ab work without tacking on a ton of time – I don’t want to live at the gym the way I used to back in the day!)

  • SQUATS – 5 sets, narrow and wide stance (with a reconstructed knee and no ACL in one, I opt for smith machine for these.  Yes, Physical Therapist approved! 🙂 )
  • PLANKS – 4 minutes total, main core and obliques, interspersed with squats
  • LUNGES – 3 sets each side, smith machine (free weight done on my other leg day)
  • CRUNCHES – 2 minutes total, varied, flutter kick and bicycle variations, interspersed with lunges 
  • STEP-UPS – 3 sets each side, smith machine and bench
  • BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS WITH DUMBBELLS – 3 sets each side
  • DUMBBELL DEADLIFTS – 3 sets of 12 to 15 (using 2 45 lbs dumbbells. If I’m at another facility, I’ll use the 110 lb bar.  Too much weight here really hinders kicking in Martial Arts!)
  • AB VACCUUM – 3 minutes total, interspersed with the three exercises above, as they fit
  • DUMBBELL HIP THRUSTS – 3 sets of 16, using the 45 lb weights.. (If at another gym, Ill use an 80 lb bar.)
  • JUMP SQUATS – 2 sets for 30 seconds each
  • BENCH JUMPS – 3 sets of 8 to 10 (IF my legs aren’t total jello)
  • KICK UPS – 3 sets of 15 (with a dumbbell if I want to add one more exercise in)

As I look at it here…it’s A LOT.  I’m even happier that I split it up!

So today wasn’t my finest – I wasn’t feeling great, and I’m incredibly over tired.  BUT…

BUT…

I went to the gym, I put on some music, and I went through the motions (carefully.)  I didn’t get upset if I couldn’t do everything as well as usual, or if I had to cut my reps.  Movement is helpful even when it can’t be as much as I normally do.  It’s SOMEthing, and that’s what matters.

We have the opportunity to melt down at any given time.  We also have the opportunity to pick ourselves up and move forward as best we can.  I choose both, and that’s okay.  One allows me the freedom to be comfortable with myself and what I’m feeling – to acknowledge that those emotions are acceptable.  The other reminds me that I’m goddamn strong, and I will get through ANYthing.  

 

Triceps Workout

So it seems a bit odd but sometimes I don’t do multiple muscle arm workout…sometimes I just do ONE group.  I train in Martial Arts several times a week so for me, overtraining could become and issue.  That aside, when I am too sore in too many places, I compromise my training.

SO…the other day I was working on my tris.  Having “guns” as a woman – to me – is a great thing.  I love the feeling of being strong and holding my own.  I’m not exactly pressing 50 lb dumbbells behind my back, but I use a good amount of weight for my size, and it gives me results.

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The exercises I do generally include the following (though changing it up here and there IS a good thing!):

  • Overhead Triceps Extension  – Using a bench
    • I keep my feet up ON the bench deliberately to ensure my lower back is pressing down, and not arching.  I see that too much!)
  • Diamond Pushups
    • Often, I will do more reps on my knees – I have a clicky tendon in my elbows and this allows me to complete the movement without exacerbating that too much.  It’s an AWESOME exercise to target tris.
  • Dips – Weighted pull up machine
    • I do these on a weighted machine (the same one I will do pull ups and chin-ups on.)  This allows me to get a good amount of weight for the exercise, but to also be able to do more than one!  My whole bodyweight is too much!
  • Dips – Using a bench
    • Putting my hands behind me with a 90 degree bend in my arms, I do a higher number of reps for these, for about three sets
  • Triceps Pushdown
    • This can be with a cable or on a machine.  I alternate between both.
  • Triceps Extension – Using a cable
    • I face away from the cable station and extend my arms up and over my head (facing forward) to get a nice burn.
  • Dumbbell Kickback
    • I will sometimes do these standing (bent over of course, with my free arm on my knee for support) or I will lean forward on a decline bench (chest against the bench.)
  • Pulses
    • I turn lighter dumbbells horizontally, and pulse them behind my back in a smaller range of motion.  These are deceptive – they burn!  And, they get the smaller muscles I recruit less when moving heavier weight.
  • Bench Press – Close grip
    • This is great to target the tris!

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There are, of course, tons more options, but these are my go-tos most of the time.  I don’t have enormous triceps by any stretch, but I feel strong, and appreciate that I can move furniture all by myself! 😉

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Found on Pinterest (if anyone knows the credit, please let me know!)

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Leg Day Changes

I LOVE leg day(s) – they are definitely the most exhausting workouts of the week, but…I love them.  

I know perfectly well that “no pain, no gain” doesn’t completely hold water but…I’m “one of those”! I like to feel the soreness because it indicates I’ve actually done something worthwhile.  (Zero soreness?  Sorry, I didn’t put the effort in!)

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I generally do HIIT sprints on the treadmill the same mornings I have leg workouts – it is a lot, but I balance it out with days of active rest, or Martial Arts training and less stressful lifting.

My routine can vary but I do have a few favorite “staples” like squats, deadlifts, and leg press – I mix it up so I have both “heavy hitter” exercises, with less heavy-duty supplemental ones.  I also generally add abs in there at the end…

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The other day, though, our Smith Machine broke… It’s funny because I know a lot of fitness gurus who might well have gone to pieces! Can’t do a staple you are used to doing, and suddenly the world ends!  (Do you know the type?!)

Well…it SHOULDN’T.  Changing things up, even if we are forced while the equipment is down, isn’t a bad thing…  (I don’t do free bar squats because I have one reconstructed knee, and one missing an ACL – the Smith offers a security my physiology does well with!)

So my regular squats were out, as were my single leg lunges on the Smith.  End all be all?  

NOPE!

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I supplemented the workout with Goblet Squats (using a kettlebell), extra dumbbell curtsey lunges, and weighted walking lunges (love these!)

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It was a nice change because sometimes by the time I’m done with cardio, I just want to plow through my “regulars.”  The forced change offered me the opportunity to jump to a few other exercises, equally as effective, that kept my body guessing.  

So if change indeed DOES occur, especially the unexpected kind…just embrace it and do something you haven’t done in a while.  Your body will actually appreciate the alteration and give you some lovely gains in return! 🙂