Fitness Humor – Apparently Not Fit For Stairs!

There’s an irony to this scenario, especially if you are an active person. This happens to me ALL THE TIME! Weirdest phenomenon, positively hysterical in some ways (a little disheartening in others)…and I think more common than people like to let on.

If you feel badly about having trouble with stairs…don’t! You aren’t alone.

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.  

 

The Weight Of The World

I suppose this doesn’t need much explanation…

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For me, working out is a stress release.  When I am focused on goals, I forget about worries for time.  Everyone has a different release, but activities of some kind are important – they help us to control our anger better, to see things more clearly, to stay in the present moment instead of jumping too far ahead (I’m guilty of that for sure!)  They allow us to do something good for our bodies while also aiding the mind.

Some days it’s hard to motivate but…

There’s nothing quite like kicking my own ass to take things down a notch.  I aim to live as positive and happy a Life as I can – anything that helps to control the “tougher stuff” is great by me.  Plus…nice buns… 😉

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! 🙂 

 

 

Leg Day

I love leg day…  It takes it out of me, but…I love it.  I was going into it tired today, but I wasn’t about to forgo the routine – I knew I needed it, and I’d be happier if I pushed through.

Leg day is actually the only workout day(s) during which I feel sick. My gym rat buddies would say that’s a good thing…it means I’m “working.”  *LOL*  How very old school.  (And how funny that I’m saying the same thing in my mind! *LOL*)

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I’ve actually split up quads and hammies these days, in part because of time constraints (I can be at the gym for HOURS if left to my own devices!), but also because I need to maintain some level of flexibility and I want to recover better.  

When I would do everything on one day, I was sore for daaaays.  I’m still sore after splitting it up, but recovery is more manageable, so for right now I’m sticking with it.  I do glutes both days, but vary the exercises (except cable kickbacks – I bring my own ankle strap and tend to do those regardless – yay for perkiness! 😉 ) 

The tougher quad exercises I do first – everyone is different, but this works for me physically AND mentally (the latter is important!) So leg press, squats, and weighted walking lunges go first in the group!  It gives me both a sense of accomplishment, as well as a “phew, that’s done!” feeling…and I have more energy to push hard, having not exhausted myself prior.

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I can’t say it was my most stellar day, but I maintained my form and got it done.  

Some days we are stronger than others, and there is nothing wrong with that.  So even if it is leg day…and that happens to be your toughest too…just hang in.  

You don’t have to be a superhero every time you step foot in the gym – safety and health are first!  You will feel great even if you manage some of it because…well…endorphins!  🙂  They come to the rescue the second you start jamming, so don’t give up!  

Leg Day!

There’s really no day more satisfying than L E G  D AY …when you complete it, that is! 😀

I generally mix things up, doing a day of lighter lifting mid-week, and heavier (and more) on Saturday.  I will vary the exercises as I go, depending on how my body feels, and what my goals are.  

In recent weeks I’ve actually been doing a mix of heavy and light on both “leg days,” and it’s worked nicely as a split – I push hard, but I’m not so super tapped that it compromises my training in the days following.

I decided to sport my X-hi Chuck Taylors today, by the way.  My friend said I looked like a “Drill Sergeant.”  I’ll TAKE IT! 😉 

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One of the MOST important things for me to do – especially on Leg Day! –  is stretch.  Most martial artists don’t go heavy.  My issue is that I L ❤ VE lifting – I fell in love with it at 13 and haven’t really looked back!  

I ALSO fell in love with Martial Arts, but that was a good 19 years later!  So…in order to stay balanced, I stretch and foam roll at the gym, and at home.  Having decimated two parts of my left knee, in combination with a nasty muscle tear and contusions…I’ve got one “reconstructed” side.  The right is completely severed but after the brutal recovery, losing three inches on one thigh, and unable to do a stair by myself for ten months…I just wasn’t going THERE again!

So the other key is that I do lighter weights and proprioceptive work to strengthen the stabilizing muscles surrounding my torn ligaments.  I am not always as diligent as I need to be there, but I don’t neglect it all together – I was religious about my physical therapy, and still do many of those exercises.

Mid week I did two heavier exercises, but a lot of “lighter” stuff:

  1. Bilateral leg press (heavy, drop sets)
  2. Deadlifts (heavy)
  3. Weighted hip thrusts (back on floor)
  4. Weighted hip thrusts (back on bench)
  5. Cable kick backs
  6. Cable kicks (short range of motion, balancing)
  7. Dumbbell curtsey lunges 
  8. Weighted or body weight walking lunges (depends)
  9. Hanging leg raises
  10. 2 minute plank
  11. STRETCH

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Today, I did rather a lot, but weight wasn’t substantial.  Moderate to light, but enough that it is super effective:

  1. Unilateral leg press (lighter, drop sets)
  2. Deadlifts (heavy today)
  3. Squats (I use a Smith for these, but with my various knee and hip issues, it is a safer bet for me.  Free weight is wise to be able to do, so I’d encourage that, and less so the Smith.)
  4. Weighted back lunges
  5. Weighted walking lunges 
  6. Body weight front to back lunges
  7. Hack squat
  8. Leg extension
  9. Lying leg curl
  10. Sumo or goblet squats (skipped these today because my hip is flaring up.  Yay, overuse and age! 😉 ) 
  11. Cable kick backs
  12. 2 minute plank
  13. STRETCH

I also sometimes sneak some supported pistols in there, because those are great too!

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I absolutely love working legs…and while some of my buddies do more than I do, it’s still a LOT.  I tend to eat a bit more the evening before, and on the day of, because of the extra burn.  I do cardio on the spin bike beforehand, so nutrition is important, as are aminos (for me personally, they make a big difference.)  I also make sure I get the sleep I NEED.  SO important!  

I will be sore for a few (Sunday nights are always fun) but…it is so worth it! 😉