Feb 232012
 

Squats, overhead press, and deadlifts. The squats and overhead press are still embarrassingly easy, but the deadlifts are starting to make me work a little, at 125 lbs. Still concerned about my form on those, because I dread a back injury.

Grabbed a sampling of 30g protein bars from the health food store, since I’m now working out hard enough to be hungry more often.

First up, Supreme Protein Peanut Butter & Jelly: not bad, but sickly sweet. Wouldn’t want to eat them often because I can imagine getting sick from them.

And why do these bar makers love peanut butter so much? Tri-o-plex makes at least five varieties, and SP makes three. I HATE peanut butter-flavored things unless it’s actual peanut butter. I really miss the Very Berry Tri-o-plex bars; wish they still made them.

Feb 212012
 

The weight for squats and bench press is still embarrassingly easy, to the point that instead of 5×5 for bench press, I did 5×10-9-8-7-6. The barbell rows, however, at 80 lbs, are starting to require a little effort.

I still think my form for barbell rows isn’t quite right. I’m trying to keep my back flat while still rowing from the floor to my chest and back, and getting everything coordinated is tricky.

I must have slept at a bad angle last night, because it hurts right over my left shoulder blade when I inhale, though it felt fine when I went to bed.

Feb 132012
 

Since Mom had to work this weekend, and her birthday was Sunday, had her over Friday after work. Took her to a nice dinner at Cafe Felix downtown. They had just started their new menu that very night, so we got to be the guinea pigs. All lab animals should have it that good. I had the poached salmon with herb mashed potatoes, and she had panko-crusted chicken hiding under a bed of greens (the proverbial “bird in the bush”?).

Afterward, we wandered down Main St. and into a couple of shops she thought looked interesting. There are so many cool little stores on Main, that I’ve just never considered going into unless I needed something specific. I’m going to have to make a point of checking out more of them. I found a gift for Aaron for V. Day that I hadn’t thought of until I actually saw it in a case at Peaceable Kingdom.

Then we had to stop at the Cupcake Station for birthday cupcakes before heading home. The snow had really picked up and we were ready to put our feet up and digest. Connor and I played on our laptop and iPad, respectively, while Mom watched Say No to the Mess Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. Despite my determination to ignore it (and my previous post bitching about it), I got drawn in enough to make snarky comments. The parade of train wrecks were kind of entertaining. Hmm…bridal gown…train…train wreck…does that work as a pun, or is it too obscure?

The roads and weather were a mess, so Mom stayed overnight on the sofa bed and left for work the next morning. The rest of Saturday and most of Sunday was spent on Minecraft and tending to some things around the house. Aaron hinted strongly that I should take a stab at making dinner, so I opened the Book of Rachel (Ray) and chose a menu of stuffed pork chops, cream cheese mashed potatoes, and sautéed sugar snap peas.

One trip to Kroger and a couple hours of intermittent panic resulted in a pretty good dinner, considering I’ve only cooked a full meal like that about four times in the ten years(!) since I met Aaron. Everyone seemed really happy with it, though the snap peas were slightly overcooked, and the stuffing didn’t bind together very well for some reason. Maybe because I didn’t chop the apples fine enough, or used packaged mini corn breads instead of corn muffins (Kroger had none). I managed to cook the pork chops near perfectly, though: white all the way through, but still very juicy. The hardest part was the timing; starting all the various dishes so everything finished at roughly the same time. I started the snap peas too late, and probably turned them up a little too high to compensate, hence the overcooking.

For his part, other than showing me proper chopping technique, Aaron stayed completely out of the way, for which I was grateful. Had he been there, I would have constantly second-guessed everything I did, expecting him to correct me, and I might have given up in frustrated anger.

I did learn new appreciation for why Aaron wants everyone out of the kitchen when he cooks. Connor started to get underfoot at first, and I was on the verge of laying down a smiting. LOL

Feb 102012
 

Went to the Anytime Fitness near Arbor Lakes. It’s smaller than the Maple Rd. one, but newer and nicer.

Again, the squats and bench press were embarrassingly easy at 55 lbs. and 50 lbs., respectively. The barbell rows were a little harder at 70 lbs., and I was having a hard time rowing all the way to the floor without rounding my back. At first I thought it couldn’t be done without larger diameter plates on the bar, but no, I was just too stiff to squat down far enough. After making some adjustments I managed to reach almost to the floor on the last two sets.

Something tells me that in a few weeks I’m going to miss how easy this is now.

Feb 082012
 

I started a new workout routine Monday. I’ve fallen so far from my peak of about 18 months ago that I had to get back on the wagon. I was doing so well, then right around Thanksgiving of 2010 all my motivation simply fled, and it’s been downhill ever since. I’ve managed to rein in my weight when it threatened to get out of control, but I’ve lost a ridiculous amount of muscle mass. I’ve made a few false starts, but nothing as regular as I was doing.

Sunday night I was searching for a workout routine, because the one I’d been using from Men’s Fitness was worn out. I’d decided to go back and do the modified DC-style workout a previous trainer had me on that worked pretty well, and I’d gotten as far as planning my workouts and setting them up in a spreadsheet.

I hadn’t written down, and couldn’t find in the old forum I’d used to track my progress, the proper technique for some of the exercises, so I started hunting. I stumbled upon an article about compound exercises on skinnybulkup.com, which led me to stronglifts.com. It sounded intriguing, and I couldn’t find anything wrong with the theory, so I put in my email address, downloaded the report/instructions, and started reading.

Some of the writing sounded a bit “As Seen On TV!”, which initially made me detect a whiff of snake oil, but as the author is from Belgium I cut him some slack; his English is far better than my Flemish (or German, or French). Besides, anyone casually throwing around the word “bullshit” in his writing is unlikely to be a salesman.

The gist is this: three workouts per week, three exercises per workout, fives sets of five reps per exercise (one set for deadlifts). The kicker is that you start the program with an empty 45 lb. barbell. The next time you do the same exercise, you add 5 lbs. (total, not per side). The other main point is that you do squats in every workout: three times per week, adding 5 lbs. each time. I HATE squats, but they really are the most effective compound exercise you can do; they work nearly every muscle if you do them right.

After reading through most of it (skipping the overabundance of testimonials and before/after pics), and still finding no sales pitch, I decided to bite the bullet. It sure beat what I was doing, which was nothing.

Because technique is so heavily stressed, I decided to wait until 10pm Monday to hit the gym, so I could practice getting everything right without hogging the power rack. It went pretty well, though I was concentrating so hard on getting everything right, I forgot to put weight on the bar for the barbell rows (one of the two exercises that start with more than an empty bar). Jumping from 45 lbs. to 70 lbs. next time I do them will be interesting.

Tonight was the second workout, which also went well, but let me tell you this: NOTHING will test your ability to ignore what others are doing, or what they might think of you, like lifting an empty barbell for five sets.

There was a short blonde kid working out next to me, in a “U of M Medical School” hoodie and “US Naval Academy” shorts. Tight, muscular body; very intense; had “future officer” written all over him. He’s doing barbell chin-ups, then crunches, then one-armed rows, then running over to do lat pulldowns, then repeating the whole cycle at least five times.

Meanwhile, I’m standing there with my barbell, a 2.5 lb. (yes, I said two-and-a-half) plate on each side, doing squats, then taking those OFF to do overhead presses. I feel like a complete schmuck, while Mr. Type-A is engaged in warrior training not five feet away. Still, I gritted my teeth, focused on doing everything right, and kept my eyes off of him while doing my sets.

I console myself with the fact that, if all goes well, I’ll be squatting more than my own body weight by the middle of April.

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