PT-72.2: Happy feet

Monday morning, training with J. We are still in the update the peripheral heart action (PHA) Lists (forever and ever known as huffy-puffy Lists).

Key Takeaways

I am obsessed with foot placement, and since getting to know other tribe members and observing the ways they do the same or similar movements, I note they do not always have their feet in the same pattern as my own. Having hung out with friend C while she’s working with J, there are certain chops we both do that her feet are reversed from the way my feet are placed. J has explained it – C has different restrictions than I do – but there are so many things we do with different footing that I have to work at it to keep them straight.

When we revisit exercises, I am amazed by the ways my abilities have changed. Some stuff – shoulders anyone? – I still struggle with. But others, I have improved and my strength shows.

The huffy-puffy Lists are focused on peppier pacing and getting the heart rate elevated. Except, my peppy pacing switch must be out of service. I do okay, for sure, but my effort could be better, a recurring theme, and not a terrible recurring theme. Teaching days like this, though, I don’t much care if I’m leisurely and slow through training days. I will just keep working at it and eventually my peppy pacing switch will be reset.

What We Did

We only got through 2 blocks today, but it was a pretty heavy-duty teaching day today. The List:

Anterior Lunge → Curtsy Lunges 
Band Speed Row→ Band High Row or Rear Delt Fly 
Band Low-High Chop (emphasis: lateral lunge) 
Landmine Squat – 10 lb. plates (2) 
Landmine 1-arm Press – 10 lb. plate 
Landmine 1-arm Row – 10 lb. plate
Landmine Rotations – bar only

How It Felt

As far as lunges go, the anterior lunge is among the more benign. I used to call these walking deadlifts, but the name has been corrected in my head now. No matter – I can do these. I can lunge my way all the way across the room with 15 or even 20 lb. dumbbells in my hands. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel my legs working, and that I’m not delighted with my growing strength and confidence. Just means that for me, these are the easiest of the lunge family.

From there we went directly into the curtsey lunges, not very common on my Lists and on the really challenging stable of Lists. While their formal name is curtsey lunges, in my head they are icepick lunges, because the effective muscle contraction results feels like what an icepick would feel like stabbed into my side glute. But last time we did these, I struggled mightily. I feel that cold hand of icy dread as soon as J said “curtsey lunges.” But despite the distance between their last appearance on a common List and present day, I was better this time. Imperfect, need more practice, but better. Adding these to my warm-up rotation to improve my future efforts.

The peppy pacing switch comes into play with the band speed row. These are supposed to go until limbs catch fire or fall off – whichever may come first – and I rarely pursue it to the bitter end. I don’t typically count reps in session, and I’m sure I am shorting myself pretty dreadfully and am well aware of it. Training days, realizing now that I should try harder when MAX reps is the the goal. This is not me trash-talking myself so much as a reasonable, rational observation of my efforts. Often I am engaged in thinking about what we are doing, questions bubbling, thoughts churning, all while working and engaging in active listening and conversation. In my own practices I put forth a more concerted effort, because ultimately I do want to improve on whatever pace and rep range I can comfortably (or not) manage. Sometimes I think it does not always show up and shine through on training days. And always I am my own worst critic.

What is it about rear delts and shoulders? Using the lightest yellow band and stretching arms out for the band rear delt fly, it’s so hard. Does not seem to make much difference if I try to go faster or slower, these are just hard. Shoulders, I am reminded again and again and gain, are just complicated joints and muscles and gain strength and endurance more slowly. Switching over to the band high row, it was less difficult yet still a challenge.

Oh one more in my nemesis stable, the low-to-high chop, simply because of the lateral movement/lunge emphasis. Intellectually understanding how this is supposed to work, seeing and feeling the shape of the exercise is not really helping in this matter. My hip joints and do not seem to like the side-to-side movement of a lateral lunge. Probably that means I need to do a lot more of them, too. When I hit it right, I can feel the impact and muscle contractions in the core, particularly the obliques, and it is very gratifying. It’s just significantly more mental and physical work to make myself pretzel-bend (or so it feels!) into this chop shape. I’ll keep trying. Chops are unlikely to fade from my List library.

Second block was where real teaching began. It was interesting, fun, and very exciting to utilize new tools. Trying to stay in control of my own body while learning to utilize new tools is always an adventure. It’s been a long while since I have felt so brand new to something. And for the record, while I have used the big barbell in the past and even visited ever-so-briefly with the landmine floor hinge over a year ago, this was my actual first outing with it as part of a List. So while I am surprised by how different it feels to do this essential basics with the barbell/landmine, I probably should not have been caught off-guard. Live and learn.

We started off with the landmine squat with 20 lbs. of weight. While the squat part of the exercise seems universal, positioning my feet with the bar became the tricky part. J’s instruction – look in the mirror and body should be about 90 degree angle to the bar. Except the way the mirror and the bar/landmine positioning makes it a little hard to determine if I am positioned correctly. Experience will make this happen more naturally, without a bazillion tiny baby steps forward and back to ensure heels and feet stay grounded. Between the feet staying firmly on the ground and my hands getting used to being grasped around the end of the bar, a lot more thinking going into this version of the squat.

Next up was the landmine 1-arm press with 10 lbs. of weight. The angle is different than a 1-arm overhead dumbbell press and it seems to work the tiny little top shoulder muscles differently. Either that or those tiny little top shoulder muscles are lazy and weak, because oh my they ACHED the rest of the day. But oh well. No serious issues with these, except for my very first try, when I realized the landmine hinge also twisted side-to-side as well as up and down and arm started to drift wildly. Immediate feedback was MUST pay attention. Other than that, though, the weight is challenging without being too heavy. It feels different than other 1-arm overhead press movements and works the shoulder in new ways. I am enjoying the challenges.

The landmine 1-arm row with 10 lbs. of weight reminded me of our earliest days of training. J demonstrated and I watched closely, observing his foot placement (because I am obsessed with foot placement) and how he pulled the weighted bar straight up and down. So when it was my turn, I got my feet situated and into what kinda/sorta felt like proper position and started the row movement. Except where J’s arm and movement seemed very straight up and down, mine seemed to be going more in a rounded arcing fashion. So I set the bar down, had J demonstrate again and explain to me where I was going wrong (this time), and tried it again. Second time I did much better with the regular straight up, straight down motion, although I have to remind myself to now let elbow lock, keep the bend at the bottom.

Final exercise in the block was the landmine rotations. I immediately felt this in the obliques. My technique was imperfect, but this dancing with the barbell takes some adjustment. Still, the primary discipline is holding the arms still and steady while following through with the twist portion. It was brand new, needs a lot more practice, but not bad.

My Second Kitchen Sink

Mini-version of this – as if the first part of this post were not enough for a few kitchens.

I love teaching days – I always have, always will. Anymore I’m not concerned about all I don’t know with regard to the gym and exercise so much as I am delighted when it becomes my time and turn to learn new tools. Maybe I dig the new tools and want to use them all the time until I achieve some sense of mastery over them. Or maybe I only do them when J says “we’re going to do [insert nemesis exercise here]” on some random Monday or Thursday session. Anymore, a good attitude to have. I am unlikely to fall apart or be horrifically imbalanced because I only do lateral lunges once in awhile.

Attitude seems to play so much a part in this exercise adventure. I’m strive to maintain high spirits and positivity toward the better health quest, particularly in light of it will be with me forever. Life is far too short to live with poor attitudes toward things I must change or stubborn unwillingness to try new things as I become capable of advancement.

The landmines and big bar activities are very exciting, but hard. Once upon a time hard would have been daunting and paralyze me with fear. Now, I might sidle up and examine it closely a day or two (or 5 before requesting a review session) but I know I will return to it and try again.

I’m very happy with where I stand with regard to my exercise and better health efforts. Because I am making noticeable progress getting fitter.