PT-73: Landmining

Because I am again more than a week behind in session recap posts, back to labeling them with dates. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday morning, training with J. I initially thought we would be doing Monday review and adding in the third block, but somewhere in the intervening days J changed his mind about what to do next. Or he had changed his mind about the order, both of which are perfectly fine things to do. However, today it was mid-session that he changed his mind completely about direction. Full-on teaching day, and it was amazingly fun. Our session quickly morphed from “we are developing a formal List” to “we are putting together something new so let’s throw a lot of stuff at the walls and see what sticks.”

Love that. Works for me. Training. Not a job, not an adventure, it’s awesome-sauce amazingly big fun, balm for an enduring soul.

Key Takeaways

The more I have to pick up and move the big tall bar around the slightly more confident I get about my ability to do so without hurting myself or others. Because it’s 41 lbs. And long, tall, awkward to lift up out of its holder, walk 10 feet, and insert into a landmine.

New trick when using 20 lbs. on the bar is to use use a single 10 lb. plate and 2 5 lb. plates, because the 5 lb. plates are easier to get on and off when paired with the 10 lb plate. For whatever reason I thought there was some scientific trick to using the least amount of plates possible.

There is a shape and angles difference with the landmine and barbell versus the dumbbells. It’s fascinating to observe, and I feel all nerdy girl in noticing the differences.

Because of the way the barbell is positioned, it did not seem like the way I held the bar in my hand on various moves matters. Yet it does, and only through a fair amount of trial and error do I learn the subtle differences.

For the first time in a long time, I spend a lot of time making small adjustments on each exercise. I understand it was a teaching day; this is primarily new stuff. But there are so many small adjustments to make and be made. But oh well. If I have to move an inch or so every other rep (or even every single rep) until I get the feels right, so be it.

What We Did

Today was all about the landmine and learning how to work with it. The teaching List:

Squat
1-arm row (wide stance)
1-arm press
Thruster

Reverse lunge
1-leg Romanian deadlift (2 holds)
1-arm row (narrow stance)
Chest press (demonstrated but not officially tried out)

How It Felt

The squat is intriguing if only with trying to get myself into the correct angle to the bar. For the first time ever, I actually appreciate the mirror across from where I am working. Typically I hate looking at myself do anything in the gym, but with this landmine stuff, I find myself trying to get the angles right and need the mirror to see if I am in the ballpark of correct with my footing. Still using 20 lbs. of plates on the bar and do fairly well with the rep range.

Not sure what it was about this exercise, but I kept reaching for the bar with the wrong hand to 1-arm row. Did pretty well with a 10 lb. plate, but the intermittent forearm weak pain it has me feeling cautious. For the most part I get the basic shape, and while this is framed as a huffy-puffy List, it felt a lot more like a strength-building List with the rows.

There is a definite awkward feeling handing the barbell for a 1-arm press. First the landmine on the floor pivots to and fro, and my first effort has me being very careful to make sure I press it straight ahead versus letting my wrist and arm get loosey-goosey and sort of rotate it around in a circular fashion. I have the shape down down now, and where my elbow should be (in front of me, not all the way down to my side), and foot placement – the oh-so-important foot placement – in a split stance.

Thrusters are in slo-mo or I lean forward too much and elevate my heels. After 2+ years of doing squats, I am back to having to thinking butt back and standing up straight. How strange it is the distribution of weight with the barbell and ensuring my hand placement is correct for both the squat and the overhead press at the top. I’m working on the timing and pacing, but in my head it is not going very well. But oh well. It’s not that I don’t care – because I do care very much – but not too much or I will get lost and overthink all the small details that I ultimately need to memorize and absorb.

The reverse lunge with the landmine requires a lot more focus and concentration than bodyweight or with dumbbells in hands. It was not terrible, but turning the rear foot slightly inward for stability – goodness where have I been? It made a huge difference, and I am trying to retrain myself to always do this with all lunges going forward. But with the barbell in hand, it seems so important to do a side at a time, all at once, rather than alternating. Still, it was tiring. And thinking about and controlling the bar in my hands seems a lot trickier than the dumbbells. Maybe be cause it’s new, but more likely because it’s heavy and awkward and a lot more risky should it slip from my grasp.

We used 2 different holds on 1-leg Romanian deadlifts today. First we did them with me facing the bar and holding onto the end with my palm facing down (in my mind this was the wide way) and then with me standing at the end of the bar with my hand turned to the side (the skinny way). (I learned later that they are referred to as perpendicular and parallel relative to the side of the body.) Unsurprisingly, these were a challenge to stay balanced. But again, foot placement matters. This time, it’s the elevated foot turns slightly inward to square off the hips and keep everything upper body tight and still through the whole movement. I actually did better with these than I would have anticipated, and I feel more confident going forward. The barbell is far more controllable with balance than the cables.

The 1-arm row with narrow stance felt more like a regular dumbbell 1-arm row, in that there was a split stance and pulling upward with the shoulder. The distribution of the weight is different, but I understood the shape, how my feet were supposed to be positioned, and could definitely feel myself pulling the weight upward with my shoulder. I actually have no strong preference for these over the wider stance rows, and unless J is specific about doing one over the other, I would probably alternate styles back and forth between sets.

J laid down on the floor and demonstrated a 1-arm chest press and it looked interesting, but he chose to not have me try it today.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

I speak of measures a fair amount in terms of my better health quest. I have dates and time frames in my head. I have lots of other numbers as well – everything from my starting weight to what the scale reported this morning, to my A1c when I started and what it was in August. The range of numbers of statistics that I am aware of and loosely track in are primarily data points; snippets of information that ultimately tell a story about my overall forward progress.

But it is far from the whole story. On its own, it appears to be a smooth, steady line of progress. There is no way to accurately track and measure for the anguish, the frustration, the buckets of sweat, the puddles of tears. The sense of the empty emotional devastation at how my untrained body has struggled and flailed for every tick of the scale or the glucose meter, for every extra pound of weighty weight I can wield safely and sanely. All that negative noise is mostly in my rearview mirror, but I am still close enough to that version of me that my eyes tear up thinking about the uphill slog and how hard that part of any change of lifestyle habit. And how richly satisfying it is to reach the next summit and look backward at my most recent climbing-up point.

The landmines and barbell are just another toolset in my fitness toolbox, yet in my head they loom large like the peak of Mt. Everest. It’s a new and exciting accomplishment for me, something I have worked very hard for without knowing it was looming large as a potential Next Big Thing. I have earned any and all measures of success with it. The weight plates I am using are not meant to impress, but I could be using lighter, heavier, or no added weights and feel the same way. It’s the next phase of training, of being capable enough to learn to use these different tools that makes me feel this strange mixture of pride and humility.

I am a weird emotional headspace, so I question a lot of my feelings and impulses. Of late I have this sense of being underestimated. Or maybe undervalued? Not sure precisely, but the sense of irritation when old and banished to outer circles of friends act surprised at my appearance persists as an intermittent annoyance. Whereas my arms were once judged as getting too big, now they seem perfectly normal and just blend with the rest of body’s pieces and parts. Sometimes I think my glutey-booty needs its own red wagon to be carted around behind me, but it’s a passing sense of self adjustment showing. I imagine M and J – both on a manorexia journey and steadily slenderizing – have similar feelings when they look at their changing frames in the mirror or while going through their own fitness pursuits. Only for them it’s more fist-pumping triumph feelings versus the weird stew of push-pull in my own heart and mind.

My point here, underestimated, undervalued – by whom? No one who matters to me in my orbit. I have made new friends that make me feel awesome. And brave, so very brave. Courage is uniquely individual, and overcoming my gym crazy was just a single step in a very long journey of shedding ugly feelings of inferiority and shame.

Cool new tools today, and while I’m not perfect in their use, that I have come this far and am capable of using them imperfectly is just huge.

True confession: telling M about using the landmine on Monday, I was really happy. Telling him about today, I got all emotional and teary kind of happy with my little baby step accomplishment. I have worked so hard. I have tried really hard to work so hard. My intellectual curiosity about fitness and exercise has grown by leaps and bounds, and it tends to go hand in hand with my efforts to stay focused and actually implement all I am learning about in print, video, random conversations with others while keeping my eye on the better health quest.

All around me, people I know are getting sick with serious illnesses. I’ve learned of 4 people diagnosed with different forms of cancer in the last 6 weeks, and I have heard from clients and friends about other friends or relatives receiving similar bad news. There have been deaths this year, and I am dreading more sad news into the future with a former boss.

Sometimes it’s just genetics or bad luck that brings serious, life threatening illness. However, more often than not there are chronic conditions that can be avoided, controlled, even reversed with a more active lifestyle and  healthier eating choices. With the diabetes, I am living, breathing proof of the possibilities. I am under no illusion that this diabetes drug-free state will last forever, and I have no idea how much damage I may have done to myself before embarking on my better health quest. But oh well. The past is past; mistakes and poor choices were made. It is not something I look back upon with regret or despair. Nothing I can do about it now except to make better choices going forward and enjoy the whatever allotment of good health and vitality comes from present and future efforts. From this point forward, though, I will regret knowing I can do better and yet refuse to undertake the challenges to make those better choices a stronger habit. I am inherently lazy, and if body and mind had not become so smitten with the effects and feelings that come with regular exercise, chances are excellent that I would not be spending quite as much time in the gym honing my skills.

I don’t particularly like where I was when I started. My simplest goal is to avoid having to return to the medication to control my blood sugar. Avoid simple sugar and processed foods. Limit the starchy carbs. Eat lots of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Sounds so easy, but when the sugar/fat/salt evil triad has you in its thrall, it’s so hard.

Nor would I be so happy about the cool new tools that I start to cry happy tears telling M about my training adventure.

Progress? Oh Hell yes. And for once the tears that accompany the sweat were of a celebratory nature rather than angry frustration or recrimination.

Progress. I’ll not only take it, I’ll celebrate it.