I would be lying if I said I did not feel my workouts from the last two days after a week of barely any training. But to be honest? I am one of those people who just love to feel the burn and have stiff, well used muscles! It makes me feel like the workout I did must have been EPIC haha even though I logically know in this case it was me that changed and not necessarily the workout haha. Whatever the cause, those stiff muscles have given me great sleeps, and super motivated me to hit the gym with Trainer Britt (find her here: http://www.yogi-strong.com).
Today, our focus was a full body workout, which I personally find is a great way to start the day. As I mentioned, one concern for me is my knees, so that was definitely a focus in today’s workout. In our 60 minute session, we did the following:
- 5 min full body warm up on the rowing machine
- Superset (SS) 1: Inclined push up
- SS1: Single leg squat with rings
- SS2: Romanian deadlift with barbell
- SS2: Alternating dumbbell shoulder presses with hold
- SS3: Seated cable row
- SS3: Kettlebell suitcase carry
- SS4: Side plank with oblique dips
- SS4: Plank with shoulder taps
For all of these exercises we did 3 sets of each exercise, with a small rest after the second exercise in the superset pair. So for example, I would be doing inclined pushups, while Britt would be doing single leg squats, as soon as we were finished our set, we would switch and start immediately, her doing pushups, me doing squats. Then we would take a small rest, sip some water, and start back into the second set for this superset pair.
1- The inclined pushup: I don’t know about you, but pushups are one of my weakest exercises! They take consistent solid effort, but they ARE attainable! The reason to choose inclined pushups over knee pushups here is purely based on your current fitness level. Think of your body as a lever, the longer the lever, the harder it is to raise, hence knee pushups being less intense than toe pushups. But even after you master the knee pushups, it is a huge jump to toe pushups (at least for me it is!). Inclined pushups, allow you to add weight gradually. Going back to our lever idea, the longer the lever, the harder it is to raise, but the closer it is to vertical, the easier it is to raise! So, once you can handle the knee pushup, try moving to toes, but with your hands on a box set at the highest setting. Remember to keep your core tight, and your glutes engaged and tucked under! Once this feels doable, move the box to the next lower setting. Repeat. Until finally, you are on the level ground! You’ll be doing DECLINED pushups in no time!! (for the record, I am still at the second highest box setting…. I’m a work in progress!). We did 15 pushups in each set.
2- Single leg squat with rings: This exercise takes a bit of patience to find the proper form. And I can not recommend having a buddy watch your form strongly enough! There are so many things to keep in mind, it’s honestly hard to keep them all in your head as a beginner. But having someone give you reminders as you go? Helps so much!!!! The rings are there as a safety net, NOT to lower or pull yourself up. I am working towards pistol squats (where your other leg is straight out in front of you as you lower and raise on the other) but currently, this is out of my reach. For now? I place the the toes of the unused leg GENTLY beside and behind the engaged leg’s foot. This just helps you FEEL more natural and balanced. Try not to put any weight in those toes, all the work should be in the engaged leg doing the squat. Things to remember? Try to keep your weight centred, try not to round your back, and keep an eye on those knees! Make sure they are tracking out over the pinky toes! We did 8 reps per leg in each set.
***The other thing I would like to mention here, is if you are gymming alone, these two exercises can be hard because you know what your ultimate goal should look like (beautiful pushups, and that seemingly elusive pistol squat!), but leave that self consciousness at the door!!! We are all at the gym to sweat and get a good workout! You don’t get to the final product without putting in the work at every step of the game, and that deserves huge respect! Plus anyone you see doing those perfect finished products? Also started exactly where you are! There are no shortcuts!***
3. Romanian deadlift with barbell: For these, I struggle more with my grip then with the actual lift itself. Here we used a 60 lbs barbell, and I felt it in my forearms! Unfortunately, there is nothing to do here except keep working on that grip strength! This exercise, as well as the suitcase carry later, definitely worked on that today! For these, remember to stick your butt out, slow the bar down as you come to the bottom, knees track wide, and keep an eye on that back. You want To keep it straight. Not bowed forward and not curved in at the lower back. Keep that bar nice and tight to your legs as you lower, you want the weight to be as close to you as you can. And lastly, if you struggle with grip strength like me? Focus on squeezing those pinky and ring fingers tight! Here, we did sets of 10.
4. Alternating dumbbell shoulder press with hold: There is nothing particularly fancy with this workout, but it definitely gets the job done. With these, you want to keep an eye on your form as you get tired (which you will, especially with the hold!). Your wrist should stay over your elbow during and your elbow should stay level with your shoulder during the hold. The tendency when you get tired is to let the weight lean in toward your head, and to let your ‘hold’ arm drop below your shoulder and take a break. No breaks! Feel that burn!!! For these, we used 12.5 lbs dumbbells in each hand, and continued until the other was done her 10 deadlifts.
5. Seated cable row: This exercise is deceptive. If you let your arms do all of the work, you can probably set the weight higher, but not really get the benefits of the movement. Here, your arms are just along for the last little tug of the cable. Realistically, it’s your back that should be the main focus. It helps if you think about squeezing your shoulder blades together, drawing the shoulders back (not up!), and then drawing the arms back to your chest. And when you release, you don’t lean forward. Your back stays firm, straight, and in place during the full set. Today I did 2 sets of 10 at 60 lbs, but then my right shoulder started creeping up towards my ear, so my last set of 10 was done at 55 lbs to ensure I had proper form.
6. Kettlebell suitcase carry: this is a great exercise that works your grip strength, your arms, and your core. It looks exactly like it sounds (carry a kettlebell like a suitcase as you walk) EXCEPT you should leave a gap between the kettlebell and your body, hold it away from you. This makes you use your core to keep you upright and walking straight. And your grip is tested as you hold the weight away from your body. I used a 35 lbs kettlebell and walked an aisle of the gym between machines while Britt did the cable rows. Then we’d switch!
7. Side plank with oblique dips: I have a love hate relationship with core workouts. I LOVE doing them, but oh my they hurt so bad! Haha I tend to count out loud so that I can HEAR that the end is close! For these, you want to stagger your feet, keep your core firm, and lower and raise your hips in line with your body. You don’t want to roll forward or back. And feel the magic happen! One set was 10 per side.
8. Plank with shoulder taps: THIS. This is an excellent core exercise! I’m calling them shoulder taps, I actually tapped the elbow crease of the other arm, but somehow, that didn’t have the same ring to it…. anyway! The goal here is control. I didn’t call these shoulder slaps! Dont frantically hit your arm then slam your hand back down before you fall over. Control. Stay with regular planks until you can hold one for a minute. Then you’ll be set to try these. Start by setting up in a plank in your hands, then slowly lift one hand and place it on the opposite’s arm elbow crease. Hold it for at least one second (can you go for longer??). Then place it back down. Try not to rock your hips as you lift hands either. Trainer Britt says to imagine a full glass of water balancing on your sacrum. You don’t want it to spill as you do this exercise. Engage the core. Firm the glutes. Control. These we did for as long as it took the other person to finish the oblique dips.
And THAT was our workout! Not bad for an hours work!! Left me feeling energized and ready for my day! I even took a 6km walk on my lunch hour! All in all, not a bad move day!
How did you move your body today?