Martial Arts Humor (for Ladies) – Leggings

Part of me loved this because I was a dancer – working in the Fashion Industry left ZERO time for anything beyond my very tight routine of work, more work, dance, eat, sleep….repeat.

I wore leggings to the office most days, and simply changed into my dance shoes when I got to the studio – I had enough time to stretch and that was it!  

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As a Martial Artist, I can also appreciate the wonderful flexibility of leggings…  Wearing them as “pants” works well as a defensive technique – Come at me in the street and my “pants” can flex so much that you will end up with the ball of my foot under your chin, in your teeth, or at the side of your head.

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How about THAT?

Sorry, jeans.  You’re fun, and you can be hot, but…I like my ROM*!

(*Range of motion. 😉 ) 

Leg Day Splits

I try to split up my leg workouts these days, not because I can’t finish a workout focusing on quads and hams together…but more so because I am FAR too sore when I do both in the same day!  The ramifications of that are not only discomfort on a higher scale, but the inability to train as well in the Dojo / Dojang / on the mats.

Glute recruitment happens either way, but some of the heftiest quadricep dominant and hamstring dominant are relegated to two separate days...meaning I split up the squats and leg press from the deadlifts and single leg deadlifts.

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Now obviously, I’m using those muscles in all of the lower body exercises, but I have found that doing all of them in one day can be too much of a good thing, and I get better results when I am not totally decimated…

LEG DAY 1

  1. Deadlifts – 4 to 5 sets of 10 to 16 (depends on weight)
  2. Single Led Deadlifts – 3 sets of 12 with 45 lb dumbbell
  3. Hip Thrusts – 3 sets of 16 with 80 or 90 lbs (varied foot placement)
  4. Leg Curl – 3 to 5 sets (weight depends on machine)
  5. Straight Leg Cable Kickbacks – 3 drop sets using heavier weight, 3 sets lighter weight
  6. Abs

LEG DAY 2

  1. Smith Machine Squats – 5 sets (varied weight and foot placement. I don’t go heavy here.)
  2. Walking Lunges or Step-Back Lunges – 6 sets, or equal to about 120 lunges, including both sides
  3. Leg Press – MAJOR Drop sets (3 sets with 10 45 plates, 3 sets with 8 45s, 3 sets with 6 45s, 3 sets with 4 45s, 3 sets of single leg presses with 2 45s.)  Nasty.  *LOL*
  4. Sumo Squats – 3 sets of 12 with 65 lb dumbbell
  5. Bent Knee Cable Kickbacks – 3 sets only if I’m not too sore!
  6. Leg Extension – 3 sets at 90 lbs, not too heavy
  7. Abs

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Basically at the end of the week it’s hard to walk! 😉  I LOVE lifting heavy, but I’ve also learned that sometimes I have to go easier, especially these days – because I do Martial Arts, flexibility is MASSIVELY important.  

I need to be mindful and stretch, as well as foam roll (I need to be better about that) – heavy lifting WILL impede your flexibility, like it or not.  Can you have both?  Absolutely!  But the reality is that you will be more limber when you don’t destroy your legs, so either going a little easier…or really making that time to stretch out…will make a difference – your goals will determine what works best!

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Muscle Does NOT Mean Inflexible

I know a lot of ladies (in particular) who are afraid to lift out of fear that they will gain too much mass and look masculine, or that they will lose flexibility and movement.

Well…neither is true!  

We women don’t have the level of testosterone needed to GET there (there may be a very select few who do, but it is FAR from the norm, rest assured – you would know it by now if that includes you!)  

Lifting will not cause severe bulking.  It won’t even cause serious definition if that’s not what you want! – varying rep, set, and timing schemes can help you achieve a toned looked, or a ripped oneyou have control.  You can choose what works towards achieving your specific goals.  But lifting in and of itself isn’t going to morph you into a monster!

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The other important factor is flexibility – you aren’t going to lose it.  HEAVY lifting can make it tougher, because your muscles are tight – that’s where proper stretching comes in.  Stretching will keep you limber while you lift…and if you are troubled by it, just lower the weight.

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As a dancer, stretching and movement have been hugely important to me – not only from a physical standpoint, but a mental one.  

It makes me HAPPY.  

I feel good when I can dance and move…so I keep it up.  

A fun song comes on, and I’ll jam…yes, even right there in the gym!  And you know what?  My lifting and my muscles do NOT prevent me from being ABLE to…

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If you keep up with your stretches…and busting into movement if you feel like it!…I’m pretty sure you will find you look just as feminine, and move perfectly well!  

Lifting is great for your bones, your body, your mind and your spirit…and it won’t suddenly limit you in your ability to stay flexible and fluid and feminine. 🙂

Opening the Dojang

I started Martial Arts much later than most but, at 34, I felt undaunted – I always wanted to learn and I’d never have known unless I tried.  A woman in my class started her training at 45 and was working on her second degree when we met – that alone helped to reassure me that my “hell with it, I’m going to start!” was still a good idea.  I always encourage others who express interest to absolutely do so – regardless of age!  You can always modify movements, or find a class that will work for you – but it is truly never too late to start.

My Grandmaster entrusted me with a key early on, recognizing my habit of getting in before class to stretch, warm up, and clean the Dojang.  The latter part was something I always felt was important – Martial Artist or not, the Grandmaster certainly shouldn’t be doing it, and it was my way of quietly contributing to the community.  

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That hour or so before class is kind of like my bit of peace for the day – it allows me to get into a zone, and specifically devote time to getting limber – over the years I have done that less, and it IS a use-it-or-lose-it deal with flexibility.  Skating six to seven times a week, in addition to dancing at least twice, as well as school sports, meant very little time to tighten up.  Fast forward many moons…HAVE to make it a habit or it isn’t going to happen!

I enjoy the time alone and feel incredibly blessed to be able to be in the Dojang when it is also at rest.  There isn’t any noise to distract, save for the nearly silent buzzing of the lights, or the cars going by outside… 

Whatever your little sanctuary is…or wherever you can catch a few moments of peace in your day…embrace it.  

Embrace that time.  

Feel the physical sensations of your body when you are relaxed.  

Life is so hectic these days – remember those moments of inner rest, because just by tapping into the memory, you can evoke a sense of much needed calm.  Kind of like you have your own little Donjang to pop into for a few minutes…even in a crowded street.

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Scuba and Splits

I try to make stretching a twice daily habit.  I fall short sometimes but it’s very much a use-it-or-lose-it deal.  As we get older and rack up the injuries, well, it’ gets harder!  BUT…it’s not impossible by any (er…no pun intended!) stretch.  Each person has a different full ROM (range of motion) so it’s important not to compare oneself to other people – believe it or not, super flexible people have their problems too (snapping hip sounds like it involves a rubber band and an eight year-old torturing his little sister.  NOPE!)

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So baby steps are fine – work with what you have, and be mindful of what your body is telling you.  Most of us athletes like to push to the extreme – I went several weeks with a collapsed lung and pneumonia because it just “felt weird” but I could still skate.  DON’T do it.  The “hurt” is the message – if we don’t pay attention, we end up out longer.  

The weather has some effect too – this morning it was a wee bit chillier than it has been, so I layered in my thermal shirt and my Lululemon Scuba hoodie.  I know, I know…they’re trendy.  As I’ve made clear in other posts, “trendy” isn’t really my scene – my former Life was deciphering and decoding the of-the-moment items but…I dance to my own drum beat.  And heavy guitar rifts.

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Anyway…the Lulu Scuba hoodie is AWESOME.  Their fits are akin to a good pair of gloves – and as a skater and dancer, I L ❤ VE close-to-the-body.  This particular hoodie is thick – the material is heavier so it would be more for Autumn and Winter (or, as today, a transitional temp.  I live in the Northeast of the USA, by the way, so it was mind to upper 30’s F this morning.)

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The seams are always perfect with Lulu, often also managing to mimic the logo design (that’s kind of a chicken-vs-egg coming first thing – not sure in which order it all panned out.)  The photos are from the Lululemon site, and of a color where you can actually see what’s going on (instead of my black out, as usual!)

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They do offer a version with stretch, which I WOULD suggest – mine stretches, but it doesn’t have the same “give” that a stretch material would.  I like to feel like I’m not constricted in any way, and this cut isn’t loose…but I love that it feels “tailored.”  Most of the Lulu stuff does, and frankly, it’s uber flattering.

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! 😉

A/W 2015/16 RTW – Roland Mouret (Accessories)

Back in my Footwear days, we did a lot of STRETCH boots and booties.  It always seem to be a hot seller, and always in demand, so when I saw these booties at Roland Mouret (style.com photos) I had flashbacks!

I always loved pointy toes – I feel like a pointy toe is automatically imbued with sexiness and sass – they just have attitude!  

A/W 2015/16 Roland Mouret RTW style.com photo

A/W 2015/16 Roland Mouret RTW style.com photo

These little stretch numbers worked well for the Collection by hugging the silhouette of the foot, and therefore maintaining a long line for the retro-mod looks (despite the contrast of the color with bare legs.)

The uppers featured…

  • Toe-to-top golden zips
  • Set-back heels…
  • Leather piecing at the heel counter.  
  • Stitching was sleek, and more or less only where it had to be.
  • Colors ranged from inky black, to olive, to peacock blue.

My favorite looks (robin’s egg blue pant suit, and the side-slit, long black dress) demonstrate why the close-to-body, painted-on look of stretch works so well – ultra slim lines!

A/W 2015/16 Roland Mouret RTW style.com photo

A/W 2015/16 Roland Mouret RTW style.com photo

A/W 2015/16 Roland Mouret RTW style.com photo

A/W 2015/16 Roland Mouret RTW style.com photo