Category Archives: Weight Training

Dumbbell Diaries #5: 3 weeks since injury …

I’m a few entries behind in posting workouts, but the last few have been mostly HIIT-based anyway, due to my limitations in lifting heavy things. However, yesterday I had a FANTASTIC workout with my trainer – he devised a great full body resistance training program that worked around my thumb sprain. Here’s what we did:

Group 1: Reps/Weight (if applicable) or just # Reps if bodyweight only
Goblet squat: 10/15; 10/25; 10/35
Oblique v-ups: 15, 15, 15 (per side)
Decline crunches: 12, 12, 12

Decline crunches always make my abs feel like they are being ripped out of my body – in a good way. I think I need to incorporate these more frequently as it doesn’t take a lot of volume to feel the burn.

Group 2: Reps/Weight (if applicable) or just # Reps if bodyweight only
45 degree leg press: 10/230, 10/230
Superman back extensions: 10, 10/3, 10/3

Was supposed to do a third set of leg press, but the machine kept getting hijacked. I cannot WAIT until I can start doing good old barbell back squats again – leg press machines are for gym bunnies! LOL

Group 3: Reps/Weight (if applicable) or just # Reps if bodyweight only
Cable cross fly chest: 10/10, 10/10, 10/10
Cable cross fly back: 5/20, 5/20, 5/20 (each side)

Group 4: Reps/Weight (if applicable) or just # Reps if bodyweight only
Lat pullover: 10/65, 10/65, 10/65
Forward raises: 10/12, 10/12, 10/12
Single arm row: 5/20, 5/20, 5/20 (each side)

I’m going to do this same routine this weekend, and will attempt to increase the amount of weight on a few of the exercises.



Dumbbell Diaries #4: Still Injured …

Tuesday night I did my first solo, post-injury resistance training workout. The first item on my program was running shuttle sprints back and forth across the gym, which I wasn’t too keen on, but MAN did I get my heart rate up! That translated to a fantastic calorie burn in a fraction of the time I used to spend doing steady state cardio. If this HIIT doesn’t blast the fat off me, I don’t know what will.

Workout duration: 65 minutes
Calories burned (per Garmin HRM): 602
Average Heart Rate: 134 BPM 
Max Heart Rate: : 177 BPM

The program looked like this:

-Warmup for 10 minutes walking semi-briskly on treadmill at 3.8 MPH.

-Shuttle run sprints across gym X 5 with 2 min recovery in between.
(Sprint to closest 3-point line, sprint back. Then, sprint to mid-court, sprint back. Then, sprint to further 3-point line, sprint back. Finally, sprint to the far end and sprint back.)

Sprint 1: 40 seconds
Sprint 2: 38 seconds
Sprint 3: 38 seconds
Sprint 4: 39 seconds
Sprint 5: 39 seconds

Then it was time to move to the weight room for the following circuit:

Leg Press (5 sets)
12 reps @ 90 pounds
10 reps @ 140 pounds
10 reps @ 160 pounds
8 reps @ 180 pounds
8 reps @ 230 pounds

I feel like I could do a LOT more on the Leg Press, but this is a new machine for me so I didn’t want to force it. It pretty much sucks as a leg exercise, but I can’t exactly squat or deadlift right now so I am making the best of it.

Superman Back Extensions
3 sets of 10 reps

Front Plank – Hard Style
3 sets of 45 second holds

Side Plank – Hard Style
3 sets of 45 second holds on each side

And that’s it! I was pretty well spent after this session. Looking forward to seeing what the trainer will devise for Thursday.

Dumbbell Diaries #3: Injury Edition

It figures. Just days after committing to some new fitness goals and completing only two workouts in the pursuit of those goals, I get injured!


I was just ten minutes into Saturday morning “boot camp” when I got to the plyometric box jump (see video) part of the circuit. Except the “box” was one of those gigantic tractor tires. I swung my arms back and jumped onto the tire with all the power I could muster. Except I never made it all the way onto the tire because my left thumb slammed – hard – into the side of the tire. The pain was so sharp it took my breath away. And then I looked down and saw the top of my thumb was bent in an unnatural direction – away from the rest of my fingers. I popped it back into place and taped it up the best I could with what the gym had on hand.

I drove myself to Urgent Care, and then my husband met me and we drove to the hospital for x-rays. After a painful week I finally got in to see an orthopedic doctor, who told me to come back in another week! (sigh) The bright side was he didn’t think I would need surgery, which was a huge relief. The doctor cleared me to work out again, but obviously with the caveat that I couldn’t do anything that required my thumb. I made an appointment with my trainer for Saturday morning, reluctantly as I was still down in the dumps and in pain, but I knew I needed to get myself back into working out as soon as I could.

So, with my core lifts out of the question, here’s what we did instead:

Workout duration: 63 minutes
Calories burned (per Garmin HRM): 692
Average Heart Rate: 143 BPM 
Max Heart Rate: : 184 BPM

Circuit #1

We did interval circuits, where each exercise was performed for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between. Repeat 3 times.

One-legged glute bridge lift
Alternating toe touch on step bench
Bunny hops through “ladder”

Circuit #2

Just like circuit #1, each exercise was performed for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between. Repeat 3 times.

30 second “hard style” planks
Alternating step ups on step bench
“Icky shuffle” through “ladder”

I had hardly caught my breath from this intense cardio series when my trainer informed me we were going to do shuttle run sprints across the gym floor. So, start at one end of the gym, sprint to closest 3-point line, sprint back. Then, sprint to mid-court, sprint back. Then, sprint to further 3-point line, sprint back. Finally, sprint to the far end and sprint back. We repeated this 4 times (!!!) and my legs were shaking. Who needs arms to work out? 😉

We then (thankfully) transitioned from HIIT to lifting weights. Since I can’t grip a barbell, we alternated sets of 45 degree leg press, side planks, and the prone hamstring curl. I don’t have exact sets and reps, but I did two sets of the hamstring curl at 55 pounds for 12 reps each, which was a record for me.

I ended my workout exhausted, and glad that I had forced myself to show up even though I couldn’t do the workout I “wanted” to do. It was a test of my committment and inner strength to show up, and I beamed the rest of the day knowing I could still push myself even when everything wasn’t going in my favor.

Dumbbell Diaries #2

So … today I met with my trainer for the first time since I emailed him my goals. I asked him about frequency of workouts, and we agreed that my new schedule would look like this:

Sunday: Lift
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Lift
Wednesday: Easy Cardio with a little HIIT
Thursday: Lift
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Boot Camp (HIIT)

So, three days of pure strength work, one day of “HIIT” and another day of cardio with maybe a little HIIT. We agreed I would limit to five days, because four out of those five workouts are pretty hardcore, and I don’t want to risk burnout.

On with today’s program, which, I really liked:

Workout duration: 50 minutes
Calories burned (per Garmin HRM): 520
Average Heart Rate: 140 BPM 
Max Heart Rate: : 176 BPM


On days I deadlift, I always start with deadlift, and don’t superset with other exercises in between like I did on Tuesday. Oops. Never more than 10 reps per set. Today we did 4 sets as follows:

10/95 pounds
8/110 pounds
6/115 pounds
4/125 pounds

The deadlift is CRITICAL to do with impeccable form, I guess a lot of people try to do them and wind up injuring their backs. My first set was a little shaky but I got better as the sets progressed. By the end he said my form looked really good. Progress. Even though that 240 pound deadlift is looking pretty far away right now.

Superset #1

Dumbbell Flat Bench Press
10/22.5 pounds
10/27.5 pounds
8/35 pounds (!!!)
Dumbbell Reverse Fly
10/10 pounds
10/10 pounds
10/10 pounds
Lateral Walk w/ Resistance Band (video)
40 steps (20 each direction)
50 steps (25 each direction)
50 steps (25 each direction)

Notes: First of all, PR on the dumbbell bench press! I felt so studly lifting 35 pound dumbbells! The lateral walks SUCK, my least favorite exercise, but apparently it is REALLY good for the glutes.

Superset #2

Goblet Squat
Shoulder Press

Notes: I can’t believe that last set of shoulder press. That is a really heavy weight, considering I used to do 8 pound shoulder presses! I totally failed out on the last rep too, arm just wouldn’t go up!

Superset #3

Hamstring Curls (Prone)
Twisting Crunch (like a V-sit, with weight held up to chest, 10 reps to each side)
20/10 pounds
20/10 pounds
20/10 pounds

Notes: We were also supposed to do 3 “hard style” planks – which is the same position as a regular plank but you contract every muscle in your body as tight as possible – but ran out of time. I’ll be starting with 30 seconds and working up from there.

Whew! After that workout I downed a 200 calorie protein shake (homemade with a scoop of Any Whey, a cup of So Delicious coconut milk, blackberries, and nectarines). And you can bet I’ll be hoovering down a sizeable portion of protein with tonight’s dinner too – gotta feed those muscles!

Dumbbell Diaries #1

So now that I’ve announced my goals to the whole world, it’s time to start documenting my progress towards those goals. Tonight was my first “after new goal-setting” workout, and I was excited to get started, even though I was tempted to just keep driving towards home after a long and busy day at the office.

As I pulled into the gym parking lot, I knew that I had missed the window where it wasn’t so busy, and this was confirmed as I walked in the door. I knew that I might have to do some exercises out of the order that I planned, but I wasn’t going to let that deter me from getting a good session in. Here are today’s stats:

Workout duration: 70 minutes
Calories burned (per Garmin HRM): 658
Average Heart Rate: 134 BPM 
Max Heart Rate: : 170 BPM

10 minutes on rowing machine

Weights: (# reps/weight in pounds)
-Deadlifts: 10/95; 10/105; 10/115
-Superman Back Extension: 10
Notes: I was supposed to do two more sets of back extensions, but there was a girl hogging the equipment and I was too sore to get all up in her grill and tell her to share. 

-Back Squat: 5/135; 8/105; 8/105
-Tricep dumbbell extension: 10/25; 10/27.5;  10/27.5
Notes: 135 shouldn’t be hard for me on the back squat, but I almost bit it tonight. Not sure if it’s still me coming back from bronchitis and being a little weak, or if my back was fried from deadlifts. Whatever, the reason, those numbers were a huge bummer – better luck next time.

-Dumbbell Bench Press: 10/32.5; 10/32.5; 8/32.5
-Decline Situp: 10; 10; 10
Notes: On the other hand, the dumbbell bench press looks really good! I have done this weight before, but only 20 reps, tonight I cranked out 28 before muscle failure. Progress!

-Lat pullover: 10/65; 10/65; 8/70
-Shoulder dumbbell front raise: 10/10; 10/10; 10/12
Notes: Not much to say here. I really need more lat work if I’m ever going to be able to do an unassisted pullup.

Closing thoughts: A pretty good workout, considering how tired I was from my long day. I need to talk to my trainer to find out why my back squat numbers tanked today, and have him check my form on the deadlift again to make sure I’m doing the move correctly.

Coming Out Of The Closet: End Of Year Fitness Goals

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing some interesting things that probably merit some posting.
In fact, it has been a pretty full Summer so far. I’ve been busy taking fun day trips, working out, attending concerts, checking out new restaurants, and of course, working my day job. But I just haven’t been able to discipline myself to sit down and write with any regularity, especially now that beautiful weather has arrived in Oregon. I want to spend ALL of my free time outside.

However, it’s time to return to blogging more frequently – I enjoy the activity of writing, I enjoy looking back on old entries to see where my head was at during different periods in my life, and I enjoy “meeting” the people who happen to stumble across my blog and are kind enough to leave a comment.

Since my day-to-day job isn’t terribly interesting and I don’t have the time or money to travel all the time, I’ve decided that I’m going to start writing about my fitness journey on a more frequent basis. Not only will it help me to stay accountable, but I’ve also found great inspiration in reading other bloggers’ workout journals, and perhaps I can return the favor by inspiring one of you!

Today, I’ve got goals on my mind.  

When I first started working with a personal trainer, he asked me to fill out a goals worksheet. Although I admittedly rolled my eyes at what I perceived as silly busy work, I figured I was paying a lot of money not to do things his way, and so I dutifully filled out the worksheet and shared it with my trainer.

My primary goal at the time was to acheive a body fat percentage below 24% before my birthday on June 20 of this year. It seemed almost impossible, being that I started my journey at 32%! But, by faithfully lifting weights three times a week without fail and eating a clean diet, I acheived my goal of 23.8% on my birthday this year. It was an amazing feeling, and having my goal written down and shared with my trainer definitely kept me going during those times when I found my motivation lacking.

No, this isn’t me, but it will be some day.

I’ve recently hit a bit of plateau. so my trainer and I decided it was time to write down and commit to a new set of goals. In order to help keep myself focused and accountable, I’m sharing them here. So, here we go!

By December 31, 2012, I will achieve the following:
Appearance/Health Goal 
-Reduce body fat % to 20%, which is at the top end of the “athlete” range for
women. (
Current body fat = 23.8%
Performance Goals 
1. Lift the following amounts of weight, for 6 repetitions, using good form (no cheating!):
Assumes body weight of ~ 148 pounds and “Advanced” level of strength per above table.
Bench Press: 135 pounds
Back Squat: 185 pounds
Front Squat: 135 pounds
Deadlift: 240 pounds
Pullup/Chinup:at least one pullup or chinup, unassisted
2. Take the Adult Fitness Test (President’s Challenge} and score at the 90th percentile for my age/gender group:
Aerobic Fitness:
—1.5 mile run
Muscular Strength and Endurance:
—Half Situp – how many performed in one minute
—Pushups (full body) – how many to failure
—Sit and Reach test – record measurement
I will achieve these goals by doing the following:
-Lifting weights 3x per week, using programming designed by my trainer
-Incorporating as much “slow movement” into day as possible, including
walking at least 4 miles 4-5 times per week
-HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) 1-2x per week, either as part of weight training or separately (can incorporate sprints into walks, also)
-Continue eating Paleo diet – emphasis on meat, fish, fresh veggies, low glycemic
fruits. Add variety with small amounts of nuts and fermented dairy (kefir or yogurt)
—AVOID: grains, legumes, sugar, anything processed
-Smart supplementation with EPA/DHA (fish oil), multivitamin, Vitamin D3,
magnesium. BCAA’s and whey protein on lifting days as needed.

I’ll be writing more about the how and why, but for now I wanted to get my goals documented in a public place.

So, what do you think? Have you found that having documented goals helps you to achieve them? I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have on the topic.

Race Report: Run For The Roses 5K, Saturday June 30

Race: Run For the Roses: 5K, 10K, 15K
Distance Ran: 5K (3.11 miles, but Garmin said 3.36)
Time: 30:27
Splits: 8:05, 9:42, 10:33
Age/Gender Group Ranking: 5/7 (jeez there were some fast women there!)

This was probably the most unusual race I’ve ever run, not because of the race itself, but because of my attitude leading up to it.

As my five readers know, I’ve recently put running on the back burner in favor of weight lifting and high intensity interval training, and the benefits have been spectacular. I’ve lost a few pounds, sure, but more importantly, I’ve gained a lot of energy and self-confidence.  At the same time, I still enjoy running shorter distances – particularly outside in the fabulous mild Portland Summer – so I decided to sign up for this 5K to see how I’d do with almost no running training.

I was excited for the race and had a time to beat in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t worried about it. I wasn’t worried about negative splits, pacing, or anything. I just didn’t care. My main objective was to just get out there, have fun, and see how far my “power” could carry me. Answer? About one mile.

I clocked in at 8:07 for the first mile, which for me is FAST. My legs felt super strong and I could feel my glutes and hams powering me down the road. I felt awesome! However, I soon reached the limits of my endurance and for the rest of the race I alternated between running a decent pace and walking when I needed to get my heart rate down to a manageable level.

My absolute FAVORITE thing about every race I’ve ever done is the finishing kick – the last 100 meters or so before crossing the finish line. Even if I’m completely worn out, I’m always able dig deep and cross the line at what is – for me – a superwoman pace. Anticipating the energy I would need for that finishing kick, I stopped to walk a bit about 500-700 meters from the finish line. I wasn’t walking for 10 seconds when a young woman tapped me on the shoulder and said
“C’mon. You’ve got this”.

“You’ve got this”.

How many times has my trainer said that to me, when I was faltering on the last few reps of a heavy weight, or when I was feeling completely exhausted at the end of a Prowler session? I had busted through my limits then, so why not now?

So I took up the younger lady’s challenge. That whippersnapper wasn’t going to beat me! I think I said “I am gonna die” and she said “so am I” and we laughed, knowing the finish line was getting closer and closer.

As we rounded the corner and hit the track, I could see the finish line. Some force took over me and I hit a 5:42 pace. It felt amazing, and I beat the whippersnapper by few seconds, too.

That’s me in the black, just edging out the younger woman. Heh.

After I got over the urge to vomit and regained my breath, I walked over to her and thanked her for her motivating gesture.

And then I never saw her again, which made me a little sad.

I really do love the running community. I’ve always felt so welcomed, even though I’m hardly an elite with my 1o-minute miles. I think all of us just share a love for movement and it makes us happy to see others out there feeling it, too.