Training #78 – Bang the drum all day

Monday morning, training with J. Today was all about new warm-ups and very ab/core focused. A lot of stuff I have done before or already on a List somewhere, with a few new goodies thrown into the mix.

Super excited about this. While it seems like a “light” day in terms of working hard at a weights List, warming up is something I tend to take very seriously. I have my standard that I have performed daily for several months now, but this is somewhat of a big booster enhancement. On its own as a warmup, running through a single set would be maybe 15 minutes once I get the rhythm and timing of it down. I am already contemplating pairing it with the cardio List as well for a super set before an older go-to workout. Hazy plan to try it sometime this week, depending on energy.

While I am waiting for J to update my List for today, I am pondering a lot of gym-related thoughts.

The warm-up routine suited me perfectly today, because I felt a little low-energy and not much in the mood for training this morning. I got plenty of sleep, did pilates yesterday and felt pleasantly buzzed about exercise, but just was not in the training session zone this morning. Probably this feeling relates to new things I am doing to streamline my mornings, but I was feeling apprehensive and anxious about going this morning. Sort of silly, and I was fine once in the gym and working.

But moving along through my usual warm-up and training itself, I felt … off. Like I’m not working hard enough. This has been an enduring feeling of late, like I am not paying enough attention or working hard enough or giving enough genuine effort. Every day I think it will pass, and most of the time I have been fine, pushing myself to push harder to overcome those feelings. Last night I began to realize I have been spending more time than typical on social media sites. Not only is it a complete time-suck, it’s damaging to my mental health. Most people can probably do these sites successfully; me, I end upon taking it way too personally and starting to feeling inferior and inadequate. Time to stop and just say no.

It’s not that I am slacking … too much. I am in the gym and working 6 days out of 7, and I am doing pilates on Sundays. I have been hitting yoga classes 2 or 3 night per week for the least few weeks. But (and isn’t there always a “but” when I say these things) M expressed some concerns about my sedentary work and how it impacts my lower legs. One tiny comment, made out of genuine concern, and I’m diving down the vortex of doubt and failure. Failure I say! Let’s go forth and embrace my old friend and throw out ever List and accomplishment of the last year.

Mental and emotional muscles are still on the weak side under pressure.

About the comment – I have this tendency to wrap my right leg around my left while sleeping or sitting, hindering circulation, and the result is ongoing bruising in my lower leg. Being diabetic, M imagines the worst possible outcome. It’s why I have a treadmill desk at home. It’s why I should have one installed at the office as well.

The bruising has faded significantly in the last year since I began my quest for regular exercise. However, the last few months have been insane with work, and I have not been using my treadmill desk as frequently as I might. So M noticed a couple of new spots appearing on my leg and has grown increasingly concerned. While he does not nag or yell, there is a “tone” in his voice that immediately makes me defensive and angry. Imagine a fire and brimstone preacher looking down from the pulpit and glaring and singling you out in the congregation while yelling “REPENT!” and you’ll get an idea of how I hear that tone. I know he speaks from concern – this is not him trying to be controlling or worse – but that tone in my ears implies bad things about my character. When we have discussed this at various times through our years together, heatedly and within shoot-to-kill type intensity, he defends himself in not saying anything of the sort, and I defend myself with this is how my head hears it so adjustments must be made. So we end up taking a step back, a few (dozen) deep and calming breathes, and then wade back in and try again in a less vitriolic manner.

Yep, human here. And in a normal, healthy relationship complete with arguments and fights.

But in the back of my mind, I feel like maybe M is confronting me on my lack of effort in my exercise pursuits. Maybe I need to work harder?

Which is, to borrow a favored phrase from a good friend, utter bollocks. That’s my shit, and the responsibility for it lies on me. If M felt I needed to put more effort into my exercise pursuits, he’d say so, possibly without that tone in his voice.

Not sure what is going on with me. Probably nothing. Possibly fatigue from the rest of my life leaking into my typically protected gym time.

A lot of negativity swirling around lately. People whining about fatigue, yet staying up way too late doing whatever it is they do. Complaints too much work or not enough time to do what they wish to do, yet floundering around trying to figure out their own priorities and such. Gossip and trash talk about families and friends. The election and politics needs a whole other blog post for the litany of hysteria surrounding it.

All this stuff impacts me on some level or another. This morning, I simply was not in the mood to work really hard. And I hate that. I hate feeling as if I have the potential to waste my hour of opportunity to learn new things, ask questions that occur, hone my focus on my exercise technique. Consoling myself that it is one hour out of however many I have left in this series and of however many future series I will pursue. My point here – one day of not feeling on top of things is not going to cripple me today much less forever. Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to give it a try. Or I may cruise into the gym tonight and run through a List, just because I can.

And it just occurred to me – J is sneaky. J is smart. J is pretty well prepared for our sessions. J probably has already uploaded the List while I’m sitting here navel-gazing and weenie-whining about my diminished attitude. Of course, there it is, waiting. So, about what we actually did today:

Bands

  • Squat-to-row
  • Right horizontal choppers (double band)
  • Step-to-press
  • Left horizontal choppers (double band)
  • Straight arm pulldowns
  • High-to-low choppers (double band)
  • Low-to-high choppers (single heavy band)

Stability Ball Core

  • Glute bridges
  • Ball pass
  • Hamstring curls
  • “Russian twists”
  • Bird dog
  • Stir the pot
  • Roll outs
  • Reach up crunches

So that was lunchtime, and here I am long after the office workday is concluded and after running through several tasks for my own little business. Busy week this week.

Despite my low energy and general feeling of internal apathy today, I really enjoyed this new warmup stuff. It was not super hard working at weights type training, but it is an important part of my daily routine.

The bands are all familiar exercises that have appeared on various Lists throughout the last year. The squat-to-row does appear on another warm-up List, but for some reason I have never really taken to it. I don’t ever really tire of goblet squats, so that could be why. I can see how this is a more compacted version of the daily warmup I typically pursue.

Keeping it real, horizontal choppers with a double band are not a favorite. They are not nemesis, but they are in that limbo land of if they never appeared on a List again I would not rejoyce but I would also not be whining about it either. The horizontal choppers, especially with the double band, are such a pain. If I am not completely focused on what I am doing I am falling over sideways on the return. I know they are effective; they are just not an exercise that makes my mind perk up and take notice at the challenge it presents.

Step-to-press, once situated so that band is not slapping me in the neck or the face on the press portion, is a favorite. I have zero aspirations to take up boxing of any stripe, so this is about the closest I will ever come to throwing punches. Imagining myself actually hitting someone I’m irritated at is rather exhilarating, and I find myself smiling more and more every time I do these kinds of presses with those sort of violent (for me) imaginings in my head.

I do straight-arm pulldowns with the bands every single day I am in the gym practicing or training with J, so I was and am happy to see they are retained on this List as well. Still working hard at standing up straight, or tall and upright, and keeping shoulders down and back. These computer use-induced shrugging habits are so hard to break.

The high-to-low choppers with a double band are not nearly as ho-hum as their horizontal brethren. Part of it is the set-up makes more sense to me. Part of it is the band stays in place and doesn’t creep when draped over the TRX bar up top. But the biggest draw is the downward motion and the sort of side bend/rib tuck. Now that I know for sure how it feels and such, I like the challenge of the form without having to contend with band creeping down the stanchion. When J demonstrates he’s perking along in a graceful, elegant manner that is a much peppier pacing. When I am going through them myself it is slower, more deliberate, and the difference in our ages and gym experience is very apparent. But oh well. I doubt anyone is standing around with a stopwatch timing me.

The low-to-high choppers with a single heavy band are mostly okay. I am getting the hang of them now, and then today J mentioned and these being kind of that motion. Gotta say, kind of ruined the experience for me. I hate golf. I am so not a sporty girl anyway, but golf – I just don’t get it. At all. I will have to contemplate my imagery to get through these. That will be fun.

Going through this sequence as a warmup was fun and not terribly challenging. I worked, but not as feverishly hard as I feel like I do on a typical training day. And today, it was just right. The stability ball section was where the intriguing stuff came today.

Today was a first foray into glute bridges on the stability ball. Man, I loved these. I have no idea why – maybe my glutes and core were completely numbed from yesterday’s pilates class, which was all abs almost all of an hour. For whatever reason, I just really, really dug these. It was kind of weird at first – I was maybe not listening or thought I heard hamstring curls? Anyway, once I got it straight that this was bridges, not curls, I found them delightful. No idea why the feet elevated on a ball makes such a difference, because I hate them when my feet are on the ground and have been trying desperately to figure out new ways to distract myself through the long hits of them when they occur. These were fun.

Watching J demonstrate the ball pass, I was doubtful. Really doubtful. Of the things we did today, I thought sure these would be fast track to nemesis-ville. But no, they were not so bad. I have observed others doing these and thought they looked really hard. In reality, they have a level of challenge, but I think I am mostly up to it. Going to take some practice, but I believe I have the basic shape down and can probably replicate it tomorrow. We shall see.

Finally we reached the hamstring curls. Not that I was eagerly anticipating them so much as these were at least familiar. Still find I am having issues with the tighter positioning of the knee tuck, especially at the end where the most contraction happens with the tightest tuck. Keeping hips elevated remains key, and I apparently do not want to keep hips elevated. Nice thing about these as a warmup is that if I am doing them all the time (read: daily) I am bound to improve my technique. It happened with Bulgarian split squats and it can happen with these.

Another first, the Russian twists. These look so deceptively simple, but alas there is some technique involved. The lean back with tall spine makes a difference in whether or not I’m feeling it in my low back. Once I got the basic shape down and the hang of the twist portion with the tall spine, they were not bad at all.

The bird dogs on the stability ball are more of a challenge than just doing them on the mat alone. I cannot quite articulate why, maybe it’s just because the ball is pressed up against the core, but I feel these more in my abdomen than I do from the mat on the floor. The look so deceptively simple – lay on ball, raise arm and opposite foot. Except nothing is ever that simple anymore, or probably ever.

While I know we have previously done stir the pot, it’s been quite awhile. Another one of those deceptively simple movements that require some technique and concentration. Just body stretched out from knees, elbows resting on the ball, making small circles to the left and then to the right. Sounds really simple, right? Except it’s not. I feel this in my shoulders, my abs, my middle/upper back. All good. Not a fav, not a nemesis; just an ongoing challenge.

Once I grasped the complexity of the roll out, I knew they would either go straight to nemesis stable or hover above it until I get a better feel for just how freaking complicated they are to perform. It’s not the rolling the ball beneath the hands to forearms to elbows while keeping body straight that is the hard part. It’s the getting back to starting position with hands on the ball while keep spine straight and tall and pressing forearms down onto the ball. For the most part I understand what the objective is with this one, but I can already tell just thinking about it 13 hours later that it’s going to take some focused practice to feel competent.

The reach up crunches are still my favorite ab exercise, mostly because I love the part where I am just laying on the ball before and afterwards. Feels fantastic on the back and shoulders.

And that was our training session today.

My low-energy mood and funk-light has lightened significantly after an email ass kicking/pep talk  from friend J. Plus as the day passed and work flew by so quickly my spirits began to really perk up as well.

I am excited to test this warm up tomorrow and to return to my roots with an older List. It’s also work from home day, so I need not be in an uber rush to get in and out of the gym.

There are definitely some new challenges in these warmups and I like that. I also think backing away from social media and too much communication with certain factions of people within our lives is in order. I am on a good roll with my eating and my exercise habits. I don’t need to screw it up by letting peripheral drama harsh my daily buzz.

 

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