PT-21.2: Maturity rising

Monday morning, training with J. More review days, but with new twists. Today we worked on lower body, sort of hip-heavy emphasis. What old is new and fresh once more, especially since some of these things have not been on the review table in awhile.

Key Takeaways

No matter how far I may drift with machines and dumbbells and weighty weights, I love, Love, LOVE my mini bands. Along with them, the 15 yard blue grass carpet is starting to grow on me as well. Like a fungus. Seriously, no idea why they chose blue fake grass; I googled just to be sure, but it seems to occur nowhere in nature.

I try to remember what body felt like before I began regular exercise. Every now and again I completely fall apart and eat or drink crappy food that used to be part of my normal before I began the long, slow slog to organizing my life into the better health quest. Junk food Tuesday was moved to Monday (yesterday now), and while that In-n-Out cheeseburger tasted really good, my first french fry (all 5 of them) in months was a mistake. Under the very best circumstances, In-n-Out fries are a mistake for me and food to be avoided. But sometimes it is good to feel the consequences of our choices to remember why things are a bad idea.

Yoga last night with a couple of pals from the office. Really glad I went, yet find I do not miss it all that much now that I go only occasionally. While I periodically think I could potentially be more bendy and flexible if I spent about half as much time in the studio as I do in the gym, it is so far away from my priority it is an impossible thought to seriously consider. Truth is I am not a good candidate for classes on a long-term basis, and I vastly prefer the one-on-one of training with J so I can actually ask the questions that are pertinent to me, no matter how inane they may seem in the moment. Yoga seems to talk about the impact on internal organs and that is so far removed from where my understanding and way of thinking thrives. After the gluts-focused training session and sitting through meetings and such much of the day, the stretching made a difference.

The build a better project continues. This was not really a lower body day so much as a hips and glutes intensive kind of day.

When writing these recaps, there is no rule that I have to write them in the order of sections I have selected. Periodically I find myself stumped about what it was I meant to say, and I will sit here staring at the screen trying to force my mind to pony up the goods. Mind is a stubborn beast; it tells me in effect to go pound sand, it will reveal what I want when it is damn good and ready. Moving on to something else and circling back would probably be a lot more productive.

What We Did

Names may not be quite right because J had not updated the List as of this recap writing, but what we did today:

Mini band lateral walk
Mini band forward walk
Mini band backward walk
Mini band straight leg glute kickbacks
1-legged Romanian deadlift with dumbbells

Bulgarian split squat
Goblet squats

Step-ups
Curtsey lunges

Sumo squats
Lateral lunges

How It Felt

As noted, I love my mini bands. From the introduction over a year ago, I find my concern about tripping over my own feet doing the mini band lateral walk has all but disappeared. Now my biggest concern is keeping upper body still – no swaying back and forth, please – and keeping the band stretched around the ankles hip width apart while taking tiny steps sideways. Looks kind of strange, but who cares? Plenty of weird looking activities going on all around me.

For the mini band forward walk, I feel like that Stay Puff monster from Ghostbusters. I mean, seriously, the boy had some major thighs on him, and he had to sort of step out sideways to walk forward. Such is the case with the mini band forward walk – you sort of step out wide and forward down the blue astroturf. I believe it is the pressing outward against the restriction of the band wrapped around the ankles that causes the effect, it works. My legs and hips feel the impact.

Walking backwards under any circumstances is a challenge for me. I mean, it’s seriously unnatural. The mini band backward walk seems only slightly more challenging than the whole leap of faith that you’re walking backwards and not going to trip over something or someone you cannot see in your path. Once I got the slight lean forward and the pretensioning hips with each step into place, everything seemed to work better.

We closed out the mini band series with the mini band straight leg glute kickbacks. Love these things, and they are extremely effective. An essential exercise in the build a better butt project. After the walking sideways, forward, and backward, it sort of layers neatly on top of this series and my glutes are lit up like the national Christmas tree.

The struggle with the 1-legged Romanian deadlift with dumbbells continues. Whether the 15 lb. dumbbells were too heavy for my balance or if I am simply going to have to work harder at getting gazelle intense on my focus remains to be seen, but I am back to using rear foot as a kickstand and slowly elevating it off the ground as I find my balance point. What seems like it should be a setback is merely another step in an ongoing journey. I find it gratifying that I am not at all freaked out about this ongoing nemesis symptom. This is another version of the same 1-legged RDL; I will learn and adjust to doing these with weights in my hands. After all, if everyone was good at everything right out the gate, J would be out of a job. Cannot have that.

I wonder if there is anyone anywhere who likes Bulgarian split squats. They are effective – huffy puffy personified. Not doing badly with them, although it is the sure fire way to get me to break out in visible, dripping-down-my-shirt kind of sweat. I just need to remember to stay rib tucked and maintain that on the up and continue trying to break my pop-tart status at the end of the repetition and my tendency to stand upright. We also went through how far away from the bench the forward leg – way far, where the shin bone is perpendicular over the ankle versus closer, where the knee is pressed forward out over the foot. The impact seems to be on where you feel in the lead leg, although it has an interesting effect on the back leg as well in the way it folds and bends under and makes me understand the range of motion that entails. Left to my own devices, I am sort of between the close and far positions, probably leaning more toward the far. Not incorrect, just another lesson in the various ways to get this done.

Back to basics with the goblet squat. Before this session, the various foot position differences between the power squat, goblet squat, and sumo squat had never really occurred to me. This was the first squat I learned, and while it is not difficult, it gets confusing to remember all the tiny fine details when they have not appeared on a List for awhile. I like them. I am competent with them. I am mostly trying to stay aware of the butt back, upper body still portions of it. And not shrugging. It is amazing to me how many occasions I want to shrug up when shoulders should be mostly relaxed or pushed back.

Step-ups have been step-ups with hip hinge at the top, which is always fun and kind of flashy. This time we did them sans hip hinge but with dumbbells. What I recall from the last time we did these, I have been working on the lean forward prior to stepping up. This time, J said to continue the lean forward but to try to incorporate it into one smooth step-up motion. So something new, another element to focus and work on.

Which brings us to curtsey lunges. Ugh. Dislike these only slightly less than the lateral lunges yet to come. But this was the biggest refresh of the day. Last review, we worked on the upper body and its shape and placement. This time, it was about the backward step portion and it seems my reach was a bit long. J demonstrated and I have a much better feel for these, even if my execution remains in need of more practice. At least I have a clearer understanding of what to do now to get the greater depth of contraction in the muscle. Icepicks in the sides of my ass.

The sumo squats – had a strange new problem with these yesterday. Got the wide stance down, had the right weight of kettle bell, focusing on form with butt back and pressing knees as widely apart as possible. However, all of a sudden I let my upper body relax and was dropping a shoulder with the weight of the kettle bell and going sideways like Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills. J caught it immediately after my concentration fell apart and I knew immediately what went wrong. Shoulders back, keep upper body tight. All this cuing running through my head and if I lose focus for even a second, it all falls apart. Seems regrettable when it happens, but in truth I learn and have lessons reinforced when I make mistakes.

Someday I will have to figure out what it is about lateral lunges that has such an ick factor for me. Maybe it’s the non-bendy part of me? Either way, I feel like I should do a set of these per day along with the arch nemesis pushups to develop something akin to affection for this particular brand of lunge. But for now, I settle for the endurance test of getting through it. Not terrible, not horrible – just a grit my teeth and get them over with.

Practices Between Now and Thursday

Thursday (today) was an upper body day on the FreeMotion machine. All went pretty well until near the end, when I inadvertently attempted a high concentration curl with too heavy a weight and tweaked my weaker shoulder. No snap, crackle, or pop, so obviously not the end of the world. I am sure I have had worse tweaks over the course of this journey.

Tomorrow will likely be a full-body huffy-puffy List. Because maybe I have not had enough lunges of late.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Find them here. My final thought from the day:

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