Training #77 – Let it be

Thursday morning, training with J. We had a nice and breezy training day, which is not to say we took it easy and metaphorically ate bon bons while going through the List. I felt relaxed and ready to work when I arrived this morning, mind was excited and anticipating working on this particular List.

What we did today:

Alt Seated Side Laterals (still “hang n bang”)
T-stab (arm rotation) Push Ups (torso elevated on bench)
Band ABC Extensions (2 works well – new orangeish)
Front Alt Raise w/ Side Step (step to opposite raise side)

1-arm Lying Chest Press from Stability Ball
Band Low Speed Rows
1-arm DB OH Press (split stance press side=back leg)
Bird Dogs on Stability Ball

Band Chest Flyes
Good Mornings (KB held in goblet position then hip hinge)
TRX Push Ups
TRX Fallouts

Medicine ball Alt Reaching Lunge off Step w/ Press
1-arm Band Chest Press w/ Rotations
Stability Ball DB Pullovers
Stability Ball “reach up” Crunches

Shoulders are challenging. I mean, really challenging. I mean, like nemesis category all their own kind of challenging. A few years ago, I took a tumble while out hiking with M and fell down, wrenching my right knee and right shoulder. Then a few minutes later, I fell down again, wrenching same right knee and right shoulder. Things healed up pretty much without any drama, yet this 3 or 4 years later, when something gets stiff or sore I have occasional stiffness and pain in that knee and that shoulder.

I try hard not to complain unless it’s a bigger deal. Typically I’ll take a motrin or an aleve before going to the gym or the yoga studio if either is giving me grief. Both have improved dramatically during the time I have been working with J. But still, occasionally I have issues with fatigue coming on faster than I feel is appropriate. Frustrating to me. But oh well. Saturday is coming and I will do a lot better. Grit my teeth, take as many rest pauses as is absolutely necessary, and simply do better.

The alternating seated side laterals are not terrible, horrible, or all that hard. These are a shrug-up exercise, and I find myself watching the shoulder to ensure I am shrugging adequately. What a change from my usual “don’t shrug, don’t shrug, don’t shrug” on so many other exercises.

There are lots and lots of push-up variations in my rotation and my Lists these days. I am not delighted with any of them, but I am doing okay and making small, incremental progress. T-stab (arm rotation) push-ups on the bench are not the worst; the worst remain the TRX push-ups I have been doing since our very earliest weeks (but they are getting better). I do pause and stretch the shoulders regularly and feel like they could someday be a more fluid movement for me. Time will tell.

Band ABC extensions are a double-whammy – works the shoulders and the abs/core. And they are absolutely exhausting! These make me feel like the gym’s biggest slacker, in that my shoulder is popping, my arms tire quickly, and I’m dripping in sweat and want to quit immediately after starting. Ugh!

I know the front alternating raises with side step to the opposite side. It challenges me and my focus. Opposite arms and legs always make me

New favorite is the the 1-arm lying chest press from stability ball. I believe we used a 20 lb. dumbbell for this, and once I get the balance thing down, the rest of the movement felt natural and challenging in the best ways.

On any and rows, including the band low speed rows, my primary thought is “unshrug, shoulders back, shoulders low” and counting reps. This is another MAX opportunity, and while we were not counting much (if at all) today, I feel pretty good about the effort.

What is it about split stance, opposite side or same side things I find so confusing? Probably because there is no one, true way to do various exercises. The 1-arm dumbbell overhead press I started wanting to go the opposite, a confusion that comes from the offset split stance squat, which means the weight in the hand next to the lead leg. Anyway, on this one, it’s opposite. J had me try it with opposite as if it were a split stance squat, and that didn’t work out so well. So now I know, and I should remember.

In practices and trainings past we have done bird dogs or bird dog holds. I tend to rever these as “deranged dogs having a seizure” and have yet to figure out how to say it in sanskrit so it sounds elegant and mysterious. J added a new wrinkle to this by converting it to bird dogs on the stability ball. Weirdly more difficult. Weirdly strange to balance on the ball with one hand flat and one foot on tippy toe. But I think I have the hang of it. Surprisingly, these are one of the things I am most looking forward to working at again on Saturday.

We used the new purple stretchy bands for the band chest flyes. These are not easy, but they are not unpleasant in their not easyness. From the TRX stanchions where we set up I can see my upper arms doing the work. And here’s my vanity speaking – I have a cool little  crease between my bicep and the lower half of my arm that is not flip-flopping like a batwing.

The other new wrinkle for the good mornings/KB edition is using a 10 kg (not 10 lb., correction trainer J called to my attention this morning) kettlebell held like a goblet squat with arms bent and held tightly against the chest and then hinging. I can feel it in my biceps and forearms as well as the hamstrings and glutes. This was interesting. This was intriguing. Now I want to try the good mornings with the bar and with the kettlebell.

There are TRX push-ups and they are still not much fun. Improvement is happening, though. I had minimal swearing inside my head. Progress. All the other push-ups I am down on all the others Lists is paying dividends.

The TRX fallouts are another planky shape thing that looks deceptively simple. I have a pretty good handle on proper form on these, and for the most part I can do them and feel the work in my abs.

The complicated exercise of the day has to go to the medicine ball alternating reaching lunch off step with press. Anything with more than 1 or 2 steps becomes complicated. These are step off the step with the medicine ball, bend over in an anterior reach, then step backward back up onto the step and press the medicine ball overhead. I like the challenge. There is a sense of balance and timing in these that appeals to me, even when I am feeling some or a lot of fatigue and falling over in any given place. Good things.

We do all sorts of presses with the stretchy bands. The 1-arm band chest press with rotations are in the same class as the archer rows – my favorite of the rows I have learned thus far. While this are not my absolute favorite presses (close, though), they are pretty fabulous. I like that I can feel the muscle that is supposed to be working (the one right below my collar bone) and I like the way it made me feel. Kind of visions of punching friend J when I see him next. Only I won’t. Because I’m not violent that way. But it’s a fun thought.

Better and better I go with the stability ball dumbbell pullovers. There is much balance to be learned with the stability ball, and I have noted that I rarely refer to it as an instability ball anymore. .

Stability ball “reach up” crunches remain my favorite of all versions of crunches and were a nice way to finish this series.

And that was that for another Thursday.

What is notable about today is the work, but it’s always about the work. I always marvel at J’s ability to think up new things to do, new adjustments to make that update or alter the List on the fly.

I am unhappy about my performance with the ABC bands, but they are hard. They look relatively simple, but they are a challenge. Anymore, I wonder if I need to work more on my stamina. This particular series is very cardio intensive. I wonder if I am grossly out of cardio shape.

Finally today I remembered to ask J about warming up.

Every day I get to the gym and I go through a warm-up series J designed for me several months ago. In the time since then, I have gotten to the gym 6 days out of 7 and dutifully run through the series of exercises. I use the same tools month after month, and it seems periodically I discovered something new or some else I can do to assist me with the rest of my practices or training sessions. Because training days I arrive 20 to 30 minutes before our designated start time and run through the warm up. It’s my thing. It’s kind of my security blanket, part of my OCD routine that gets me into the gym mindset and into the work at hand.

Today I finally remembered to ask J about it. While I cannot recall the precise context as it came up months ago, but I learned how to do a proper warm-up. But everyone else I see coming in to train with him or with someone else seems to jump onto a treadmill for warming up. I remember doing it myself before I had my little warm-up List.

I have been concerned that maybe I needed to be updated and refreshed, that my warming up is ineffective for the stuff we are now doing. Lists back when this warm-up was fresh and new looked very different than they do today.

Even now, after this much time, the need for reassurance that I am doing the right things rears its ugly little head every now and again.

But no, I’m fine. However, if I wanted to be more like fab trainer J, I could do my first couple of sets with lighter weights to warm up the muscles. I do this to some degree anyway, since he introduced me to the step-up in weights technique awhile back. But I think I will be sticking with my little warm-up List. It’s my thing.

Overall, yet another fabulous training session. Despite shoulders being really hard, it is not irreversibly terribly hard. Sometimes I think the shoulder anxiety might be all in my head. Except for the popping that happens from time to time when I start using it. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s mildly anxiety-inducing when it happens. Since I had been working shoulders the day before, I wonder if the early fatigue is from extra use rather than just the dreaded, horrible, obnoxiously difficult ABC bands.

It’s been a few days of my protein shakes for meals and such, and surprisingly, it’s going very well. While I feel I “cheat” a bit with my pre-workout shake, plus the breakfast shake (divide my protein powder portion in 2), other than after the gym and before work I am rarely hungry. I drink my shake for lunch (chocolate protein powder and powdered peanutbutter) and rather than smooshing half a banana in with it, I just eat the half a banana. Dinner has been chicken and broccoli or a big-ass salad with chicken. I am a pretty simple soul. With that, though, I have not gotten on the scale this week. I’ll check in on Sunday and see how the diet is impacting the scale.

I feel good, though. I am not suffering from energy drain or fatigue, and once I got the eat every 4 to 5 hours down I have had no other blood sugar drama. I did get bloodwork done on Tuesday and have an appointment next week to review, so we’ll see how things are going. Not expecting any big or dramatic change, but I am kind of eager to see if things are as stable as I perceive them.

Training was wonderful as always, quite a chill, relaxed session. Despite my haze on the rep counts and mild anxiety about my stick-to-it-ness, I know it was not bad, I did not do terrible things, and tomorrow is another practice day and it will be great.

I love my Lists, and I am quite excited about running through this again at Saturday’s practice.

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