While it is now Sunday and I am less than 12 hours away from my next training session, at the end of 2017 I want a complete set of recaps from my training sessions attended throughout the year. Besides, each session deserves its own recap, no matter how many days it takes to write. I started this on Thursday as I do ever week, but did not get back to it to finish until tonight.
Thursday morning, training with J, speed racer edition. We had a lot to get through doing a new upper body routine (rather than review of Monday’s List, which takes more time than the strict hour session time allotment today). It was fun. It was zoom-zoom-zoom. and it was very good.
The zoom-zoom-zoom pacing is not something I’d want to do every single session or practice, but it is good to experience and to know how it’s done and that I can and will if necessary. And work really hard and with focused intent on pacing. I like that. Maybe this will be a new Thursday theme? In truth it doesn’t matter to me at all. The skills I acquire each and every session apply and can be utilized on so many other Lists as well as life outside the gym.
I am more capable than I realize, yet still vulnerable to depth of muscle fatigue the causes lingering ouchies a few days after the fact. Not terrible and not gym tweaks, just muscle fatigue from lots and lots of stretchy band work at a furious pacing.
Mixing it up works well for me, physically and psychologically. I like variety; I will eventually grow bored if I don’t have enough different variations to Lists. Even doing the same or similar Lists at huffy-puffy pacing works for me as well. Having the library I have now, I could probably get through a good long stretch with just them and variations on weights, rep counts, sets.
What We Did
The speed racer edition of our Thursday went like this:
A1 Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown (4 sets)
A2 Band Speed (3 sets, max reps)
B1 Seated Cable Row or 1-arm DB Row (4 sets)
B2 Band Speed Straight-Arm Pulldowns (3 sets, max reps)
C1 DB Pullovers (4 sets)
C2 DB Overhead Press (1- or 2-arm) (3 sets, max reps)
D1 Flat or Incline DB Press (4 sets)
D2 Band Pull-Aparts (3 sets, max reps)
E1 Rope Triceps Pushdown (4 sets)
E2 Band Speed Alt. 1-arm Curls (3 sets, max reps)
F1 Low Cable Biceps Curls
F2 Band Speed Overhead Triceps Extensions
How It Felt
What I have found with the neutral grip lat pulldown, it honestly does not seem to matter to me what grip we are using, I have the strongest desire to lean back and not shrug up enough at the top. In this peppy pacing session, I felt myself finally starting catch on the correct ways to do this. Back arch seems key as well as pulling to just below the chin. On the up-shrug at the top. I am getting there. I at least know how it’s supposed to feel and how the up-shrug looks and the last little bit of up-shrugging feels like. After months and months and months of training myself not to shrug, it does not surprise me at all that I have to put forth the same effort to train myself to up-shrug.
I have been doing band row since very early in our training program. We have done them high, we have done them horizontal, we have done them alternating arms, warp speed and normal pacing. This particular Thursday, we did band speed rows standing up straight (I always thought it was knees slightly bent for horizontal version) and both arms. Fast. Peppy, peppy pacing until the arms were burned out. First set seemed fresh and new, lots of reps in me, all about spreading the ribs and chest up and pulling with the shoulders. Second set was trying to remember the cueing and the pacing and fatigue came on much more quickly and powerfully, Third set, I thought my arms were about to fall off completely. Been quite awhile since I burned out quite that way. It was quite gratifying.
We did seated cable rows today (none of the optional 1-arm dumbbell rows). Despite doing cable rows on many Lists and many previous occasions, I seem to finally, FINALLY be getting the lean forward with the shoulders and the pulling back with the shoulders. Maybe I do not practice enough where these appears on the Lists. Maybe I find the big boys’ room still intimidates me. Whatever the reason, the same cues and gentle corrections have continued every single time we visit this cable machine. Slowly, I am learning proper form, but the thing with me, the thing I feel better about and that makes training days so valuable for me, I am learning.
Speedy sets of straight arm pulldowns – exhausting in the best ways. I chug along doing my best to max out my sets and it happens so quickly I actually find myself wondering if I am giving up too soon or if I I am really, truly, that tired that quickly and trying hard to going zoom-zoom-zoom pacing. Yep, faster I go, faster those muscles fatigue.
First of my favorite block of the day – the dumbbell pullovers. We used this fancy-smancy bench in the big boys room that offered a lot more supportive space to put feet up on the end and unrestricted room overhead to move the weight to and fro. Part of the reason these are part of my favorite things is I am realizing how much more range of motion and flexibility I have in my shoulders. When we started I was using a 10 lb. dumbbell and barely able to get it extended overhead. These days, I am using a 25 lb. dumbbell and on some benches the weight it touching the floor from where I am lifting it up and over my head. This must be what happens when one learns to work her arch.
The dumbbell overhead press – today we did these seated in a slightly leaned back chair-like thing that I have seen before yet never known what it was used for. Seated, leaning back slightly, it feels just a little different, like I am working the front of the shoulder a bit more rather than the top of the shoulder. This was interesting, and fun, for me. Little professor that lives inside my head was quite intrigued by it. This little chair-like thing was fascinating in the difference it makes. Sitting or standing, 1-arm or 2-arm dumbbell overhead presses are several times per week; the slight incline made the exercise new and different. Speed of this block makes a big difference.
We did incline dumbbell presses – boom, boom, boom. While I did well with the tempo and pacing, the fatigue made my arms wanter on the upward press portion. But I still feel great about the effort, and especially my how my arch continues to evolve. Cannot recall weights we used – whether it was a pair of 20 or 25 lb. dumbbells.
The band pull-aparts are fine in warm-up, but exhausting when going for speed and max reps. A couple of days after the fact, I could still feel the effects of both the presses and pull-aparts. Not a bad thing at all; a rare (anymore) and pleasant reminder that I did some work.
The rope triceps pushdown – hard to retrain myself now to split the rope until the very bottom and then only a small amount. Since my triceps are firmer than they were, and bulkier now as well, the weights we were using were still effective and making their impact. I am not-so-secretly pretty pleased with the way my upper arms are shaping up, especially with summer and sleeveless tops and dresses upon us now.
Been quite awhile since the band speed alternating 1-arm curls have appeared on a List, although I do them fairly regularly as part of my warm-ups. Keeping the elbows in the same spot and speed curl at peppy pacing for as many reps as possible. Biceps were burning before we got into the next block.
We switched to low-cable biceps curls, and after do the alternating speed version, burn biceps burn. I like it when we use the bar on these, because it is a 2-arm curl and the reps pass more quickly. And yep – effective. I do have biceps now.
Band speed overhead triceps extensions are a new preference for triceps and bands. They are effective, and after all the other speed racer work we had already done, I am actually surprised at my ability to do the reps I completed of these. By the time we were done with the third set, I think we had 4 minutes left before my friend C’s session time.
F1 Low Cable Biceps Curls
F2 Band Speed Overhead Triceps Extensions
Kitchen Sink Thoughts
Time passes and while we are busy living our lives, it seems to pass in a blink. I speak of this phenomenon fairly regularly, referring to a time when I could not do something and now I am doing so much more than I ever imagined possible. And truthfully, I am not nearly as strong as other women I see and have met who have been working at it longer.
If negative girl weasels her way out in zillions of small ways, inspiration happens at least that often if not even more frequently. And if negative girl is a constant, familiar presence, inspiration is a sneakier, surprising thing that happens unexpectedly. Good things happen, I know this, have always known this. I just never believed it happened or happens for me.
Maybe it’s true – we make our own luck. Or maybe luck, good or bad, has nothing at all to do with any happenstance in life. Perhaps as I have always believed, hard work is typically the great decider in such matters. I do not have great genetics or athletic gifts, so I have to try hard, work hard to get to my next point B.
Sometimes even that’s not enough, though. But more often than not, it is the defining edge that means success or the alternative no so much.
In a blink, things happen and change. Or maybe I have such low expectations for myself I am continually surprised by any positive change. Altering that perception is a slow and steady thing, where I have to continually keep the pressure on myself to believe it and to make it happen. Occasionally a new breakthrough catches me completely off guard.
Or I wake up again and realize just how far I have come in the time I have worked at my better health quest.
Today my friend C was telling me about her plans this weekend, being on the committee planning her 50th high school class reunion. It was a little startling. Not that C would be on the committee but that she is old enough to have 50 years since acquiring her high school diploma.
In a blink, she went from there to here.
In a blink – happens for many of us with our big and small accomplishments. In the context of health and fitness, it is hard to believe that in the time span of working with J and pursuing practice on my own I am using the weights I’m using. But even more than that, my arms and legs have more muscle, less fat. No small feat, not really. I am stronger, fitter, healthier. Blood tests agree.
Wishful blinking. Seems to be the way I live my life. And I am not at all unhappy about that revelation.
At my core, I am a very practical, pragmatic person. I do hope for the best yet plan for the worst, so while I am a glitter-bombing unicorn in life who wants the very best for everyone I know and like, I am realistic that life is frequently about the choices we make and the consequences that impact our lives. Bad things happen that are well beyond our control, but it seems to me that’s much rarer.
After today’s speed racer session, I was pondering choices, how I choose the Lists, and then how I go through them every day. I might think peppy pacing, yet I might not actually pursue peppy pacing in the same way J tries to coach me through it. Part of it is confidence – am I doing this right? – and part of it feels more challenging than it is when I am under the gun with trainer/coach J standing there observing with that super vigilant trainer eye.
Yesterday, I was thinking about the psychology of rep counts, and it flittered through my mind again today. Doing the max reps with the bands, I could see how the fatigue was layering in with each set. It was not so much that I was slacking – a regular thing I have to evaluate and reject or agree with and strive to overcome – but muscles were feeling worked and tired. The pace of going faster – I equate it with working harder. If I am not pursuing the peppy pacing and the speedy band work, I feel as if I am not working hard enough.
I was just reading a description of feelings as a feedback mechanism, not something factual or based on events in reality. Learning to trust the feedback, trust that our feelings are working and accurate is not an easy process for me. But like so much I have read about exercise and fitness, the whole “listen to your body” process, has me evaluating how things feel and what I think about how I feel. Sometimes it feels overly complicated, like I am making a great big something out of a not very big anything.
Counting is something that keeps me focused, most of the time. Like so many numeric measures, though, I wonder if this is another numeric sequence that negative girl uses to judge me with. Once the thought occurred to me on Thursday, I have found myself doubling down on rep counts on other practice days to see how it felt to my mind. There is a correlation, a tenuous one. If I focus more on the rep counts, in some ways I get a more quality practice. I am thinking more about form. I am feeling the fatigue build. And I know when it is time to say when or I have reached the maximum suggested reps, I can make an accurate judgment call about how much work I have done, how much more I am capable of doing, and not feel poorly about my efforts.
It seems the wishful blinking applies to progress. The time I have invested thus far does not seem like very much at all thus far. And I never really thought about what I would do, where I would be at this point in the journey.
Because back when I started, I could not imagine sticking with it this long.
Wishful blinking – it’s a thing.