I have an entire file of Lists from the last 21 months of training. From the very first session through to yesterday, I have quite a pile of Lists to choose from on practice days.
Mostly I keep these for historical reference. I am going to be scanning those I do not have in my electronic dropbox file and discarding the papers. Those that I still pursue or plan to pursue in the near term I carry in my gym bag. The rest? Well, it’s extremely gratifying to see how far my adventure has taken me, but time to set that tangible reminder aside and just admire it in electronic form.
The Lists I carry around with me in my gym bag include the upper/lower splits we were pursuing in the final months of 2016, and a series of quad-plexes for various body parts that J developed and trained with me on over the summer. It was our first venture into body part splits, and I can still remember the ouch factor as I was learning and trying to build some endurance for maximum reps for more than one or two sets at time.
Recently my attention has been focused on what we do during training days and the more recent upper/lower splits Lists. Except today I decide to mix things up and go retro to the summer throwback List and to write about the experience. This is sort of a bonus training recap, although probably not as long and detailed as my typical session reports.
What Day 1 includes (as designed and written by J):
1. Full Squats (DB Optional) or BB (3 sets, 12-15 reps)
2. Lower Body Inchworm (2-3 sets, 5-10 reps)
1. Squat Jumps (2-4 sets, 15-25 reps)
2. Step Ups (single leg) (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
3. Bulgarians (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
4. Alt Lateral Lunge w/ Reach (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
1. Stiff Legged DB Deadlifts off Box (2-4, 15-20 reps)
2. Stability Ball Leg Curls (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
3. Curtsy Lunges w/ Floor Touch (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
4. 1-legged Glute Bridges (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
1. 1-legged DB Asymmetrical Split Squat (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
2. DB Sumo Squats (2-4 sets, 20-25 rep)
3. Anterior Reaches (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
4. Mini Band Swinging Hip Abductions (2-4 sets, 15-20/side)
What I actually did looks a little different, though.
I cannot actually remember what full squats are like, if they are somehow different than power squats, so I did the variety pack of squats – a 15 rep set of bodyweight power squats, then a set of goblet squats and sumo squats, each with a 15 lb. kettlebell. Probably close enough to not maim me for life.
Hate, hate, hate the lower body inchworms, so I did the sapre minimum of 2 sets of 5. My animosity toward them does not make them get easier or me improving.
On the quad-plexes, I went through 2 full sets of each and hoped for maximum reps, but was not always successful.
I was not in a jumping frame of mind for the squat jumps, so pulled out a lighter set of 20 lb. dumbbells (usually use 30 lb. set) with a mind toward maximum reps of power squats. Let me tell you, even with a lighter than usual set of dumbbells doing 25 of those bad boys in a hit is a lot of work. Not so much my legs feeling the brunt of the work so much as my hands gripping and holding onto the weight. If I am going to substitute, I force myself to do max reps indicated on the List. It’s a rule.
The step-ups (single leg) (versus alternating) were not so bad, especially since I was not hip hinging once on top of the box. Today I tried to focus on the step-down portion, where I did not just collapse and drop off the edge of the box and onto my foot. I tried instead to have some minimal amount of control over my descent, with mixed results, mostly that I did not land quite so hard on my foot. But I was pretty pleased with my effort – 20 per side for 2 sets.
Is there anyone in the whole entire world that likes Bulgarians? While I know I do better with these, I still felt a bit like the tilt-a-whirl with balance toward the end of the second go-round. Since this List did not specify dumbbell or weight accompaniments, I went for the 20 reps and in the peppier pacing we have been pursuing of late. My best effort was 18 straight without stopping for a quick breather, but I was so huffy-puffy at that point it truly was necessary. My lean is improving, too, because there was zero back ache afterwards. Yay me!
Whatever my deal is with lateral lunges with reach (or without), I am very wary of them and obsess over what my knees are doing. I have been working hard at the smooth return to standing, and sometimes I think I may have my foot in the wrong position so that it make my knee squeak ever so softly when I push back upright. Forced myself to do the entire 20 with 8 lb. weights in my hands, and boy howdy was I glad to take a rest break and big giant gulps of water between sets.
Not sure why the stiff legged dumbbell deadlifts off box require a box – could not recall the details and decided to skip the box. With the higher than usual rep count, I used the lighter 25 lb. dumbbells (usual for me is 30 or 35 lb. set) and went for the max, standing on the floor. Still working at holding the weights to trace the front of the legs, but mostly improving and not letting them drift off and dangle from the shoulders.
If there is a way to do stability ball leg curls so there are individual sides I surely do not remember, so assumed typo and did them the normal way. I keep thinking these get easier in time, but not happening for me. They are effective, thouhg.
I have been working at my curtsy lunges as part of the dumbbell matrix, but today I did just the body weight version with the reach across floor touch. No matter how I do these, I feel that icepick-in-the-side-ass every single time. But like the Bulgarians, my rib-tucking lean is improving and no lower back irritation from these. I did make the max reps of 20 per side on the first set, settled for 18 on the second side and called it good enough.
So exhausting are the leg curls and curtsy lunges, I made the executive decision to do glute bridges on the stability ball rather than 1-legged glute bridges. Since I was using both legs, I decided to shoot for double max reps, because I was using both legs and again, substituting means max reps are required, because it’s a rule. In theory it seemed terribly sensible. In practice and reality, I worked really hard to do good glute bridges and 40 reps later, I was so grateful to already be lying on the floor to catch my breath between sets.
It has been awhile since split squats of any stripe have appeared, but I remember the 1-legged dumbbell asymmetrical split squat from summer where we went through this List and I put forth a lot of effort with practice on it. Today I used an 8 lb. dumbbell, because I honestly cannot recall what I was using 5 months ago. It worked out fine and had no difficulty making the 20 reps per side.
The dumbbell sumo squats are part of the regular rotation. Today I used the 25 lb. dumbbell – lighter than my usual 30, but rep counts are higher. Surprisingly competent with them, although sweaty and gross does not even being to cover it. The sumos are my favorite of the squat variety; they seem to make sense to me and I can definitely feel those muscles working.
With anterior reaches, I nearly always prefer the walking version to the static, stand-in-place edition. Got my trusty 8 lb. dumbbells and traveled to and fro across the room until my count reached 40 (20 per side). My work with the dumbbell matrix is showing, because it was tedious going back and forth across the room to hit the magic number, it was not as hard or exhausting as I recall when last I went through this List.
It has been months since I actually used my mini bands, and today with the mini band swinging hip abductions, I realize my legs are stronger than the last time I used them. No issues at all with the heavy band around my ankles doing these, and next time I will definitely upgrade to the extra heavy or double up. I thought I might be sad about that, feeling as if I have sort of outgrown the band that once seemed so hard. But nope – exhilarated that I can actually perceive progress.
While I did not go through this precisely as ordered, I did stick close enough to feel the impact and the overall burn from the sheer volume of work. Huffy and puffy? Let us just say that those fairy tale pigs in the straw and stick houses had absolutely nothing to fear from me when I was done this morning. I walked out of the gym with soaked clothes and had to peel them off me before showering as if I had been standing outside in the rain and gotten soaked to the skin that way.
This was day 1 of the a series of Lists that J wrote for various body parts, and I am suddenly remembering why I once allotted 2 hours daily for practice. Because at first, no way, no how was I getting through even 2 sets of this List within my then typical 75 to 90 minute practice time. Even skipping my usual warm-up I would still be shaving sets or entire blocks off to get out of the gym on time.
It is intensely satisfying to go back to Lists that were once so very challenging and finding they still challenge me – this one completely kicked my ass this morning. Yet, I am so much stronger and yes, fitter, than the last time I remember going through this. Huffy and puffy when I left the gym, but not feeling completely wiped out and wondering how much additional time I should plan on to get through it next time. This morning I found I am more efficient now, my need to slow down, sit down, or just completely stop for a period between exercises or sets has decreased.
So gratifying. So delightful to see and feel that I have made some measurable progress.
While I went small or not at all with added weight today, it was good to test these waters again and see how it felt. Warm-up and 2 full sets took 90 minutes today, but perhaps I shall do better once I refamiliarize myself with the order.
I do not feel as if I faltered or even failed today. When I left the club this morning, I was walking pretty normally and without wincing. Several hours later and sitting at my desk, my glutes and legs are turning to stone. I am having to stand up and walk around to be able to continue to get up and move around, my lower half so sore from the fairly mild thrashing I put it through this morning. I phrase it that way because there was a time when I would get through 3 or even 4 sets of this List on a weekend day. Now, just returning to it after a several month absence, I feel like I have been bench surfing during my hours at the gym pursuing other Lists. Makes me grin hugely that they still have that much punch with so much new stuff in between.
For February I shall be back in this particular series of Lists on practice days, because there is enough overlap with the other exercises we are pursuing in training sessions to allow me to feel as if I am working at trouble spots or things I have forgotten about from lack of use.
It was an excellent practice, though. Anymore, anything that makes me think my limbs are made of curing cement from my early morning efforts is a Very Good Thing.