Mixing it Up: Strength Stats and Routine Changes

I used to set specific strength goals that I wanted to reach by a specific date.  (Example A, Example B, Example C) And while these goals were excellent for providing motivation, unfortunately they caused my form to suffer in order to reach them on time.  Ultimately they just put me at an increased risk for injury and gave me inflated strength measures.

So for the past couple months I decided to ditch the goals and instead focus on perfecting my form.  I started doing VERY deep squats and made sure everything I called a “rep” was indeed a full rep.

obligatory “ab progress” shot

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Valentine’s Day RESULTS

I originally said I was going to reach my Valentine’s Day Goals by working out 5 days a week.  As I continued to read Beyond Brawn: The Insider’s Encyclopedia on how to build Muscle & Might, however, Stuart McRobert began to advocate working out less and resting more… specifically only lifting hard 2 (maybe 3) days a week.  He said this schedule was not only easier to maintain but would provide you with bigger muscle gains in the long run.

At first I thought this sounded lazy, and so for the first 2 weeks I stuck to my original workout plan.  But then my numbers started to level-off and my class schedule started to pick up.  Suddenly I found myself with less time, less energy, and no improvements in the gym.  And at that point I figured I had nothing to lose, so I decided to give Stuart’s workout less/rest more approach a try…

And the weird thing was… it worked.  I began to have more energy and started making consistent progress in the gym again.  And ultimately was able to reach 5 out of my 8 Valentine’s Day goals.

Abs on January 15 vs. Abs on February 14th

Goals:                                                            Results:

Bench: 95 lbs x 5 reps                               Bench: 92 lbs x 5 reps
Squat: 165 lbs x 5 reps                              Squat: 165 lbs x 5 reps
Front Squat: 95 lbs x 5 reps                    Front Squat: 100 lbs x 5 reps
Overhead Press: 75 lbs x 5 reps            Overhead Press: 75 lbs x 5 reps
Deadlift: 145 lbs x 5 reps                          Deadlift: 145 lbs x 5 reps
Chin-up: 2                                                       Chin-Up: 1
Pull-Down: 8 x 5 reps:                               Pull-Down: 7.5 x 5 reps
Dips: 5                                                              Dips: 5

So all in all… I’m going to count the day as a success.  I even got a surprise Valentine… my adorable nephew Wally 🙂

500 Jumps Challenge

A couple weeks ago I bought myself a jump rope that I’ve been using for warm-ups before I lift.  It only takes about 100 consecutive jumps to get me fairly out-of-breath and decently warmed-up.

And while 100 jumps is a respectable number… 500 jumps would seem a lot cooler.  So considering my Valentine’s Day Goal deadline is a convenient 5 days away, I figured over the next 5 days I would take it there.

Starting today I will jump 100 times, tomorrow I will jump 200 times, Sunday I will jump 300 times, until I reach Tuesday where I will jump 500 times.  And then I will hopefully maintain that number for all my future warm-ups.

Here we go!

Valentine’s Day Goals

So lately I’ve been reading Beyond Brawn: The Insider’s Encyclopedia on how to build Muscle & Might. I found out about it through Martin Berkhan’s list of “Ten Great Books to Expand Your Horizons.”  While I’m only about a third of the way through it, so far it has been an incredibly informative and motivational read.

One of the training tactics Beyond Brawn emphasizes is the importance of setting measurable goals for yourself within a specific time limit and maintaining a detailed training journal of your workouts while you work towards them.  While I have been setting specific goals for myself lately, I really need to start keeping an organized training journal.  A training journal helps keep your memory accurate, your workouts consistent, and holds you accountable to your goals.  So this month I will begin tracking my progress by recording the exact weight, number of reps, and number of sets for each exercise as well as how I feel physically for each workout overall.  I found some good workout log templates from Answer Fitness.

Abs on January 15th... lets keep the progress comin! 🙂

By Valentine’s Day I will reach the following strength goals.

Current Strength Measures          Strength Goals
(January 15th):                                 (February 14th):  

Bench: 90 lbs x 5 reps                       Bench: 95 lbs x 5 reps
Squat: 155 lbs x 5 reps                      Squat: 165 lbs x 5 reps
Front Squat: 85 lbs x 5 reps              Front Squat: 95 lbs x 5 reps
Overhead Press: 65 lbs x 5 reps      Overhead Press: 70 lbs x 5 reps
Deadlift: 135 x 5 reps                         Deadlift: 145 lbs x 5 reps
Chip-Up: 1                                          Chin-Up: 2
Pull-Down: 7 x 5 reps                         Pull-Down: 8 x 5 reps
Dips: ?                                                Dips: 5

Plan of Action:

Break these 8 exercises into 2 separate workouts.
Workout A: Chin-Up, Pull-Down, Bench, Overhead Press
Workout B: Deadlift, Squat, Front Squat, Dip

Monday: Jump Rope for 100 reps, Workout A or B, Stretch
Tuesday: BodyRock workout
Wednesday: Sprints, Workout A or B, Stretch
Thursday: REST
Friday: Jump Rope for 100 reps, Workout A or B, Stretch
Saturday: REST
Sunday: BodyRock

Diet: 90% Paleo & Intermittent Fasting – only eat between Noon and 10 pm

2011 Goal Progress

I apologize for this post being about a week overdue.  After I went to the gym last week to officially check my strength progress, I went home to my parent’s house and officially checked out for the week.  I didn’t read any e-mail, didn’t read any blogs, and truly just focused on hanging out with my family and relaxing.

Two of my cuter family members: Hattie Hale & William Wallace

But now that I’m moved back to my apartment, and snapped back into real-life, I’m proud to say that I was able to reach all of my Christmas-Eve Goals including the 25 days of Burpees Challenge and, more importantly, that elusive pull-up!

Ab Progress...

Goal by Christmas-Eve            Current Strength Measures
(December 24th)                         (December 23rd)

Bench: 90 lbs                               Bench: 90 lbs
Squat: 150 lbs                              Squat: 155 lbs
Deadlift: 130 lbs                           Deadlift: 135 lbs
Pull-Up: 1                                     Pull-Up: 1
Front-Squat: 55 lbs                      Front-Squat: 85 lbs
Ground-over-Head: 45 lbs           Ground-over-Head: 55 lbs

Happy New Year everybody 🙂

25 Days of Burpees

This past Thursday was December 1st… a day that marks the beginning of many things, but specifically the 25 Days of Christmas Movie marathon on ABC Family.  I don’t know about you all, but sometimes there is nothing better than sitting on the couch and watching cheesy made-for-TV movies.

A Scottish Santa wishing you a Merry Christmas!

In order to make myself feel less lazy about the increase in TV consumption this month… I decided December 1st should also mark the beginning of a fitness challenge: the 25 days of Burpees!

December 1st I did one burpee.  December 2nd I did two.  This afternoon I did threeAnd I will continue to increase the number of burpees by 1 each day until I reach 25 on Christmas. 

I can currently do about 10 all-out burpees in a row without being really winded.  So while this challenge has started off easy, it won’t be long before it gets a lot more intense.

So happy start to the Holiday Season everybody!  I hope you get to spend it watching as many made-for-TV movies as your heart desires… and maybe even doing a fitness challenge too! 😉

 

Christmas-Eve Goals

Oh pull-up… when will you stop playing hard-to-get?  I must admit I was pretty disappointed when I still couldn’t do a pull-up last week.  But… it’s rare for things to go exactly to plan, which is why I’m choosing to celebrate the goals I did reach (and even surpass) instead of focusing on the one goal I didn’t.

Last month I made some Thanksgiving Eve goals for myself.  And even though I still can’t do a pull-up… I was able to surpass my Bench Press & Deadlift goals by 10 lbs and meet my Squat goal.  Since my current diet and work-out regimen allowed me to reach 75% of my goals, I’m going to continue to follow it for my Christmas Eve goals.  To keep things interesting, however, I’m going to add in a couple new lifts which will force me to master some new lifting techniques.

Ab Progress...

Current Strength Measures                 Goal by Christmas Eve
(November 23rd)                                      (December 24th)

Bench = 75 lbs                                          Bench = 90 lbs
Squat = 135 lbs                                         Squat = 150 lbs
Deadlift = 115 lbs                                      Deadlift = 130 lbs
Pull-Up = 0                                                Pull-Up = 1
Front Squat = 0                                         Front Squat = 55 lbs
Ground-Over-Head = 0 lbs                  Ground-Over-Head = 45 lbs

Plan of Action:
(same as last month)

Workout:
Sunday: Strength/Cardio workout, BodyRock style
Monday: Strength workout, LeanGains style
Tuesday: Light cardio, MarksDailyApple style
Wednesday: Strength workout, Leangains style
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Strength workout (Leangains) OR Strength/Cardio                         (BodyRock) workout… depending on time available, energy level, etc.
Saturday: Rest

Diet:
100% Primal combined with Intermittent Fasting** (eat only between the hours of noon and 9-10pm).
…Except for Friday Night – Saturday, I will eat when I’m hungry.

**Intermittent Fasting is NOT dieting.  You eat the same number of calories that you would normally consume, you just condense it into a 9 hour period.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress… and in the meantime you should make some fitness goals of your own.  Who says you need to wait until New Years? 🙂

Thanksgiving – Eve Goals

I’m a firm believer in the saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going then any road will get you there.”  Yes, life never goes exactly according to plan… but it certainly still helps to have one.  That’s why I’ve decided to set some concrete strength goals for myself, and why I’m giving myself until Thanksgiving – Eve to reach them.

I chose “Thanksgiving – Eve” for two reasons.  One: a whole month is enough time for me to gain legitimate strength without rushing it and potentially hurting myself.  And two: by making my cut-off date Thanksgiving Eve, I can fully enjoy my Thanksgiving feast knowing that it is truly well deserved.

My current stomach... lets see if this gets any more ripped! 😉

Current Strength Measures:     Goal by Thanksgiving Eve
(October 20th)                                      (November 23rd)
Bench = 60 lbs                                      Bench = 65 lbs
Squat = 125 lbs                                     Squat = 135 lbs
Deadlift = 95 lbs                                    Deadlift = 105 lbs
Pull – Up = 0                                          Pull – Up = 1

Plan of Action:
Workout:
Sunday: Strength/Cardio workout, BodyRock style
Monday: Strength workout, LeanGains style
Tuesday: Light cardio, MarksDailyApple style
Wednesday: Strength workout, Leangains style
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Strength workout (Leangains) OR Strength/Cardio                         (BodyRock) workout… depending on time available, energy level, etc.
Saturday: Rest

Diet:
100% Primal combined with Intermittent Fasting** (eat only between the hours of noon and 9-10pm).
…Except for Friday Night – Saturday, I will eat when I’m hungry.

**Intermittent Fasting is NOT dieting.  You eat the same number of calories that you would normally consume, you just condense it into a 9 hour period.

Well that’s my game plan for the next month!  I will keep you posted on the results 🙂