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September 2017

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Word of mouth

Jun. 19th, 2017 04:26 pm
wshaffer: (deadlift)
Last week, I offhandedly mentioned to Tim, my personal trainer, that if the reaction on Twitter/Facebook was anything to go by, the Wonder Woman movie was going to bring in a lot of women interested in strength training. Tim hasn't seen a movie in the theater in about 5 years, but went to see Wonder Woman and loved it.

Now I really have to go see it, because he keep dropping Wonder Woman references while training me.

New PR!

Oct. 21st, 2016 06:03 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
I finally hit 210lbs on the deadlift today. I've tried to lift 210 a couple of times before, and was only able to get the bar a couple of inches off the floor, so to be able to actually lift it was quite satisfying.

Making a bit of progress on the push ups, but it's still very slow.
A scoop of Optimum Nutrition vanilla flavor whey powder plus a teaspoon of matcha powder actually makes a tasty enough protein shake that I might be tempted to drink it even if I didn't think that it would help my lifting performance and recovery.

My push ups progress has kind of plateaued for a while, so I'm changing things up a bit - trying things like more reps with my hands elevated higher, more negatives, etc. It's too early to tell if it will actually increase the number of push ups I can do, but my triceps are growing, which is kind of nice during tank top season.

Deadlift continues to come along nicely. I got really close to lifting 210lbs last week - I got the bar about 2 inches off the ground and then couldn't pull it any higher. Soon!

Deadlift PR!

Jun. 9th, 2016 05:13 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
I hit a new deadlift PR today: 205lbs.


New Trainer

May. 23rd, 2016 03:39 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
So, I had my first session with a new personal trainer today. I was pretty sure that this guy would be good for me to work with, since my previous trainer had referred me to him. I think we're going to get along great. I mean, he's clearly not used to middle-aged obese women whose goal is to lift things that weigh more than they do, but he's more than happy to train for that. And he did a nice thorough assessment during our first session, asked smart questions about my injury history, clearly keeps up with new developments in the strength and conditioning field by reading and going to conferences, and has a nice laid-back style.

One of the nice thing about going through an assessment with a new trainer is that you get a nice set of benchmarks of how far you've come. I can now hold a plank for 30 seconds easily. I may need to stop making jokes about how I have a set of old rubber bands where my abs should be.
Well, I've been sneaking up on it for weeks now, but today I finally did it. I deadlifted 200lbs. Twice. W00t! It feels good to set a goal and achieve it.

In some ways, though, I was even more exciting about the fact that we worked on back squats today. Back squats have generally been a complete train wreck for me for a variety of reasons involving poor shoulder mobility, poor core stability, excessive spinal arching, knee pain, and poor ankle mobility, among other things. Today we tried out a couple of sets of 5, maxing out at 55 lbs, and I learned the following:
* I just barely have enough shoulder mobility to hold the bar on my back in the correct position. I can get into the correct position without a problem, but my shoulders hurt by the end of the set.
* With some cueing from my trainer, I can stabilize my trunk well enough to avoid flopping forward or excessively arching my back.
* My squat depth is not great. But, a rather fascinating thing happened - I warmed up with a set of bodyweight squats, did my two sets of back squats, and then did another set of bodyweight squats. And instantly gained a couple of extra inches of depth on my bodyweight squat. It's weird - I've gotten some improvements from goblet squats, but never anything that dramatic. Must experiment more!
* I have homework, which is to stretch my calves and work on my ankle mobility.

Anyway, it's not going to be easy, and I doubt that I'm ever going to squat as well as I deadlift, but I have some hope that I might be able to learn to back squat competently. Which would be awesome.


Feb. 22nd, 2016 01:35 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
I can do 14 push ups with my hands elevated on a weight bench.

I also tried some TRX pushups just for giggles. Giggles as in "Ha ha" I managed a few, but my left elbow kinda hated me. I try not to do things that make my elbow hate me.
My trainer is going out of town for a week, so I think he wanted to make sure I got a really hard workout in.
After we did warmup and foam rolling, we did the dreaded deadlift/rowing machine combo:
Deadlift 135lbs x 8 reps
Row 200m
Deadlift 185lbs x 3 reps
Row 100m
Deadlift 185lbs x 3 reps
Row 100m
Deadlift 185lbs x 3 reps
Run 100m on the treadmill because someone else was on the rowing machine
Deadlift 195lbs x 2 reps
Row 100m

Then we did a couple of sets of a walking lunge/single arm overhead press combo followed by a particularly evil dynamic plank variation where you walk your feet around in an arc while keeping your hands in pretty much the same spot until your feet are pointed 180 degrees from where you started.

We finished up with some TRX and Rip trainer stuff. And some stretching.

If I can deadlift 195lbs for 2 reps, I suspect I can manage 200lbs for a single rep. Gonna give myself a little recovery time before trying to prove that, though.


Feb. 10th, 2016 02:18 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
Thirteen pushups in a row with my hands elevated on the weight bench. I creep ever closer to the elusive push up from the floor.

I also did some messing around with power cleans for the first time in a while. I think I probably need to ask my trainer for some pointers on technique. I can clean 65lbs. fairly easily, but I'm not comfortable putting more weight on the bar until I'm more confident of my form.

As I was leaving the gym, I overheard this conversation between my trainer and another client.

Client: Trainer, I have to confess! I had half a bagel this morning.
Trainer: That's good. That means you had some carbs.

This is part of the reason why I train with this trainer, and not the dude who goes around telling people not to eat carrots because they have "too much sugar".


Jan. 28th, 2016 12:42 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
12 push ups in a row with my hands on the weight bench today.

I've also been doing this shoulder warmup routine lately, and it seems to help a lot with the shoulder stuff.

It's funny how rehabilitating an injury like frozen shoulder is kind of like peeling an onion. Each time I regain some bit of range of motion or functionality, I go looking for some new exercise that exposes the next bit of restriction or muscle imbalance. And then I work on fixing that. Case in point - if you just ask me to lift my arms overhead, my left arm looks just as functional as my right. Hand me a kettlebell, have me press it overhead with one hand, and then walk around with it, and the left arm doesn't look so great any more. I can do it, but what is a pretty easy and natural motion with my right arm is a mess of wobbly stabilizing muscles and trying to avoid ugly compensations when I do it with my left. So, I'm working on that.

Also did some goblet squats, lunges, and sumo deadlifts today just so that my lower body doesn't feel neglected.

Double digits!

Jan. 8th, 2016 12:36 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
I can now do 10 pushups in a row with my hands elevated on a weight bench.

I'm now interspersing sets of 4 hands-elevated pushups between my other sets during my workout. I completed a total of 74 hands-elevated pushups today.

I also accidentally did an asymmetrical farmer's walk today, when I picked up a 40lb dumbbell and a 45lb dumbbell instead of two 40s, and then didn't notice until I'd walked across the gym and back. Duh.
I can now do 8 push ups in a row with my hands elevated on a weight bench. Double digits, here we come.

Also had a good deadlift workout today:
135lbs for 5 reps
155lbs for 5 reps
175lbs for 3 reps
185lbs for 1 rep
195lbs for 1 rep <-- New PR

Also, apparently the grip strength work that I've been doing for the past couple of months has really paid off, because I did all of those with an overhand grip. (In addition to the deadlift itself, which is a pretty fantastic grip exercise, I've been doing farmers' walks and dead hangs from the pull up bar.)

I was kind of tempted to sling an extra 5 lbs on the bar and see if I could pull 200lbs, but I really want my trainer to be there to see that, and he's off this week visiting family for the holidays.

Also, I don't normally do heavy deadlifts and lots of push ups in the same workout, and now I know why. After finishing the deadlifts and push ups, I was *done*. I managed a wonky set of goblet squats and a fairly lackluster set of dumbbell rows, and then decided to just finish out my workout with an extra long foam rolling and stretching session.
I can now do 7 push-ups in a row with my hands elevated on a weight bench. Did a total of 49 hands-elevated push ups in today's workout. Did not go over and correct the form of the dude doing push ups (from the floor) next to me, though I was sorely tempted. "Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Saviour, Range of Motion?"

I'm slowly improving my goblet squat as well. Even if my range of motion in the squat is not what I would like it to be.
I can now do 6 push-ups with my hands-elevated on a weight bench. During today's workout, I did a total of 48 hands-elevated push-ups, most of them in sets of 3 interspersed between all the other exercises I did. That's more push-ups than I've ever done in a single workout before.
The International World Weightlifting Championships have been going on all this past week in Houston, and many of the sessions have been streaming on, so I've gotten to be a total sports nut this week. I think I've now watched more Olympic weightlifting in the past week than I had previously in my entire life.

There have been some pretty dramatic moments in the competition, but I don't think anything will beat what happened in the women's under-75kg weight class competition yesterday. Just to give a little bit of context for those not familiar with weightlifting: Each lifter has to perform two lifts - the snatch (lifting the bar from the ground to overhead in essentially a single movement) and the clean and jerk (lifting the bar from the ground to the shoulders, and then overhead). They get three attempts at each lift, and the highest weight they manage on each lift is added together to form their total score.

In the video, you'll see North Korea's Rim Jong Sim perform two successful lifts in the snatch. Her third lift goes wrong, and she lands pretty hard on her left knee and has to be helped off the platform. At that point, I thought she was probably out of the competition. But she comes back for the clean and jerk, successfully lifts 150kg, and then falls over. And then manages to limp back onto the platform a few minutes later to lift 155kg. And then falls over. And then has an unsuccessful try at 157kg. She ended up with silver medals in the snatch, the clean and jerk, and the overall total. And if there were a gold medal in sheer guts, she'd have that.

By the end there, I was in agreement with the ESPN commentators, who were asking, "Is it possible for a doctor to stop this, the way they can stop a fight in boxing?" (Apparently not.) The news articles I've read make it sound like it was Rim's decision to keep lifting, and not her coaches', but, wow, it was both inspiring and painful to watch. I really hope she recovers quickly, because, damn, she's earned herself another shot at the Olympics next year.

(This video doesn't show the medal ceremony, in which Rim was helped to the podium by the gold and bronze medal winners and then had someone standing behind her the entire time holding her upright. I don't think the IWF deals with injured medalists very often - I'd have brought the poor woman a chair.)

I tried something a bit different today for my pushup training. I got the idea from an old episode of The FitCast that had a Q&A with Jim Wendler, author of the very popular "5/3/1" training program. He had a question from a listener who could do about 7 chinups in a row, but was having trouble increasing his reps beyond that. Wendler's advice was to pick a number of reps well below his max, like, say 2, and do a set of chinups after each set of all the other exercises he did in his workout. The idea is that you a) end up doing more total reps than you would if you did a more conventional 3-5 sets to failure and b) you never hit the point where your form breaks down.

So, I tried this today. Went to the gym, warmed up, did a set of 2 pushups with my hands elevated on a weight bench, then did a set of some other exercise. Repeated until done. I ended up doing 17 sets of 2, which does add up to quite a few more reps than I'd do with my previous routine.

Also, I finished my workout with the most amazing upper arm pump. I nearly took triceps selfies for y'all.
So, I decided to have another go at trying to combine running regularly with lifting heavy things. I did a short run/walk yesterday. It went well. Today, my quads were a little sore, and my left hip was a little sore (gotta watch that), but otherwise, I feel great. (My knees always feel fantastic after I run. You're weird, knees, but you do you.)

I was a little worried that post-run soreness might interfere with today's weightlifting workout, but it didn't seem to. (Though in the future, if I'm smart, I'll run on Saturday morning, to give myself more recovery time before weightlifting.) I deadlifted 175lbs for 3 reps, which is a new record. My goal of deadlifting 200lbs looks like it may be in reach sooner than I ever expected. (Of course, the day after I lift 200lbs, I'll set a goal of lifting 250lbs.)

Tomorrow is definitely a rest day. After that, we'll see. Right now, I'm aiming to run just once a week, although I am hoping to increase that to twice a week in the, er, long run.
At my training session today, we did a lotta deadlifts:

10 x 95 lbs
8 x 115 lbs
6 x 135 lbs
4 x 155 lbs
2 x 165 lbs
4 x 155 lbs
6 x 135 lbs
8 x 115 lbs
10 x 95 lbs

Between my second to last and my last set, my trainer told me, "Don't worry, we'll do something nice and easy after this."

And like an idiot, I joked, "Like heavy goblet squats?"

And so we did goblet squats. Because I don't know how to keep my mouth shut.

(no subject)

Sep. 18th, 2015 01:09 pm
wshaffer: (Default)
I don't really intend to post about every pushup workout. Just the ones where I feel like I've made significant progress.

Pushups with hands elevated on weight bench:
2 sets of 4
1 set of 2
2 sets of 10 negatives

So, in the space of a month, I've doubled the number of reps I can do. I doubt I can keep up that rate of strength increase for long, but it does seem to validate the strategy I've been using.