Tag Archives: weight training

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.


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. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_fat_percentage)
Current body fat = 23.8%
Performance Goals 
1. Lift the following amounts of weight, for 6 repetitions, using good form (no cheating!): http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/BenchStandards.html
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: http://www.adultfitnesstest.org/
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.

Fitness goals update, oh how they’ve changed!

Wow. It’s been one month since my last blog post, and about 6 weeks since my return from Spain. I still think about that experience every day, and how much I miss that beautiful country. I know I will return, MUST return, but in the meantime I’ve been focused on work and self-improvement. But my definition of self-improvement, at least from a physical standpoint, has changed dramatically in the last six months.

When I started this blog almost a year ago, I was in the thick of training for my second half marathon. All I did for exercise was running, and I preferred it that way. In October I ran that half marathon, not as fast as I’d like, but it still felt like an accomplishment nonetheless. It was, after all, 13.1 miles!

At some point during the race, I injured my knee. In the weeks following the race I tried various means of rehab, with no improvement. I got really depressed, and had several crying episodes to which my husband was witness to at least a couple. After one such episode he suggested that perhaps I needed to find something different to do, and recommended that I start resistance training at the gym we belonged to. I resisted the resistance training. I HATED WEIGHTS!!! Why on earth would I want to lift dumbbells repeatedly when I could do CARDIO? But deep down I knew he was right, and so I signed up for some personal training sessions in early December 2011. The sales rep who sold me the package said my new trainer was a perfect match for me, as he was also a runner who had dealt with injuries. I was skeptical but forked over the bucks and made my initial appointment.

My fears were unfounded. My trainer and I hit it off right away, and he soon started pushing me beyond my self-imposed limitations, which was exactly what I needed. I’ve now been lifting weights 2-3 times per week religiously for the last six months, and oddly, I LOVE IT! I love seeing strength gains almost every week. I’ve lost 13 pounds of FAT and gained 8 pounds of lean muscle. My body fat percentage has dropped from almost 33% to 24.8% (as of this writing). My clothing size has dropped from 8/10 to a 4/6. But most importantly, I feel strong, healthy, and better than I did 10 years ago. I am not overstating matters when I say that lifting heavy things, plus my Paleo diet, have completely changed my life.

But I’m still not done. I have some fitness goals and some body fat % goals, but I have no idea what my goal “weight” is and I don’t care. Yes, I still jump on the scale a couple of times a week just to keep an eye on what’s going on, but it’s no longer my focus.

By the end of this Summer, I want to:

-Do an unassisted pullup
-Run a 5K in under 27 minutes
-Acheive 22% body fat or lower, which would move me from the “normal” to “fitness” level of body fat

Will I achieve these goals? I believe I can. I’ll keep you posted!

Confessions of a (former) cardio junkie

Happy New Year!

If it seems like the only thing I’m writing about lately is exercise, you’re not imagining things, and I don’t blame you for stopping reading right here, either!  I’m going to the gym a lot these days (5-6 times per week) and when I’m not at the gym, I am usually eagerly looking forward to my next visit there. What has happened to me?

This all black outfit will surely give me super ninja powers!

It’s not like I’ve suddenly transformed from couch potato to gym rat. After all, I’ve been fairly active most of my life – trying everything from dance, to skiing, to hiking, to swimming, to most recently – running. I’ve been pretty much obsessed with running since “discovering” it in 2009, after a horrible car accident that inspired me to try and shed the 25 pounds that crept on over the last decade. Over the past two years, I’ve run many 5K’s, a few 10K’s, and two half-marathons.

After my last half-marathon and a stubborn knee injury that refused to heal itself, I started to look for other ways to stay fit. As I mentioned in my last post, I finally committed myself to strength training – twice a week with a personal trainer, and once per week on my own, using routines that my PT set up for me.
In addition to the 20-30 minute cardio sessions I do prior to lifting, I add an additional 2-3 cardio sessions every week ranging from 45-60 minutes, incorporating intervals as much as possible.

I’m now a full month into serious weight training, and I’ve already noticed the following physical changes:

  • A two-pack emerging from my previously zero-pack abs.
  • No more back fat.
  • Starting to see definition in my arms, particularly the triceps and biceps.
  • Thighs are looking more defined, although that’s where I carry my weight so I have a loooonnnggggg way to go there.
  • A general feeling of well-being and invincibility – when my trainer asks me to crank out a bunch of full-body pushups, I no longer groan in protest as I know I can handle it.
  • My body CRAVES protein, and I no longer have any problems consuming enough of it. Important when you are trying to trade muscle for fat.

It took me a LONG time to fully embrace weight training, and I fully credit my personal trainer with giving me the boost I needed to finally take it seriously. What I’ve learned the past four weeks is that a good trainer will take all of the guesswork out of the equation, so you can focus on executing the exercises to your best potential. Your trainer will also work around any injuries you many have, and perhaps most importantly, motivate you to do those last two reps when your arms feel like they may just fall off at any minute.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. My workouts are very difficult (for me) and I am often VERY sore the next day. In fact, my whole upper body is on fire as I type this and I’m wondering how I’m going to be able to do even one push-up tonight. But the rewards, even four weeks in, are keeping me energized and focused.

I still love my cardio – especially running and my new BFF the stair mill, but am very excited to see how things progress with the weight training over the next few weeks.

Onward and upward!

Still Injured, Still Crabby, But Turning a Corner

For the first time in a week, I went to the gym to attempt to get a workout in without aggravating my Patellofemoral Syndrome aka Runner’s Knee. It’s been a long time since I’ve been sedentary for an entire week, and I didn’t like it one bit. I was determined to find a workaround for exercise while my knee continues to heal itself.

It turned out that the elliptical trainer with arms was the answer. I dialed the resistance down to 5 from my usual 8 or 10, and pulled and pushed hard with my arms so they took most of the load from my legs. I was skeptical that I would be able to get my heart rate up into a decent range, but at my peak I was up to 162BPM, which is equal to a moderately hard run for me. Sweet!

After 30 minutes on the elliptical, I moved to the recumbent bike with the intent of doing another 15 minutes of cardio, but my knee didn’t like the bike AT ALL. I jumped off after 5 minutes and moved to the weight room where I did:

Dumbbell chest press on bench: 30 reps, 12 pounds
Deadlift: 30 reps, 40 pounds
Crunches on ball: 30 reps
Inner thigh machine: 30 reps (I forgot the weight)
Ouer thigh machine: 30 reps (I forgot the weight)
Plank: full body, held for 60 seconds!

I then did the deadlifts and chest presses again, but quit as I was getting a little light-headed and didn’t have any fuel with me. My weights were nothing to brag about, but a good start after not doing any resistance training for almost two months.

At the end of the workout, I burned 529 calories! Not bad for someone with a gimpy knee.

Although I miss the feeling of running a lot, I’m looking at this injury as an opportunity to become a more well-rounded person. As a cardio junkie who HATES strength training, this injury is forcing me to try some things in the gym that I usually ignore, and that’s a good thing.

Making lemonade out of lemons, that’s my goal …