Last week when posted my workout log, commenter Jess asked about my strength training routine.
Let’s all go ahead and thank her for providing some blog fodder. Otherwise I probably would have subjected you guys to a post about the fruit fly problem* in my kitchen.
And for what it’s worth, I didn’t take her question as judgey. I did take it as implying that my workouts might not be as efficient as they could be, which is a totally fair point. So let’s talk about that.
As I’ve mentioned, strength training is not my favorite activity. But during my “summer vacation” from running, I’m trying to get stronger, and lifting weights is a good way to do that.
Typically, when I head to to weight room, I first decide whether I’m doing upper body or lower body. Then, I make myself do ten exercises, which I select as I go.
For example, that week’s upper body workout was: (1) Bench press, 75#, 3X10; (2) Lat pull down, 70#, 3X10; (3) Low row, 65#, 3X10; (4) Assisted dip, 80# assist, 3X8; (5) Assisted pull-up, 80# assist, 3X10; (6) Back extension w/ 25# plate, 2X15; (7) Bicep curls, 15# dumbbells, 3X12; (8) Overhead shoulder press, 15# dumbbells, 3X10; (9) Overhead tricep press, 20# dumbbell, 3X10; (10) Push up ladder, 10 down to 1.
Sometimes I’ll add core work in, too.
A few things to note:
– In spite of the fact that I dislike lifting, I know my way around a weight room pretty well. A few years ago, I worked with a trainer pretty extensively and learned a lot about proper form and such. I go for free weights instead of machines whenever I can.
– As I mentioned in my response to the comment on the other post, an hour of lifting doesn’t seem like that much to me. Ten exercises, five minutes on each, plus a few minutes of transition time or whatever.
– I try to lift relatively heavy. Generally, I shoot for barely being able to complete the tenth rep. If I can do 12+ reps, I go up in weight. If I can’t get through 6-8, I lighten it up. (Sometimes, there are exceptions: for instance, I’d like to go up in weight for back extensions, but the the weight of the plates jumps from 25# to 45#. So I just increase the reps and call it good.)
– My trainer used to say that if I didn’t doubt that I could finish the set, I wasn’t lifting heavy enough. I think that’s a pretty good guiding principle.
– I try to focus on more on the big muscles, less on the “beach muscles.”
– Because I’m lifting pretty hard (to failure/exhaustion), I take quite a bit of recovery between sets. (Maybe too much, and maybe that’s why I can’t get in and out of the gym in under an hour.)
– I dawdle quite a bit. My gym happens to have excellent people watching. But that’s a post for another day.
– This approach to strength training is definitely different from what I’d do if I were in training for a marathon. Lifting heavy makes me sore and exhausted.
– Although, interestingly, it doesn’t seem to have affected my running pace as much as I thought it would. Last time I went through a lifting-heavy phase, I eventually stopped because I was annoyed at how slow it made me. This time around, I’m still able to run decent workouts. At least so far.
– But it does make my body tweaky and cranky. I blame squats for my achy hip. And I blame my achy hip for my DNF at Saturday’s 5K.**
– Then, because I didn’t want to aggravate it by running, I went to the gym on Sunday. And lifted weights. Maybe I don’t hate strength training as much as I thought I did.
SO. That’s what I’m doing in the weight room for an hour.
I’m not sure that this was any more interesting than a diatribe on kitchen pests. But that’s what y’all get for asking questions.
And seriously: I’m sure a lot of you are better weight-lifters than I am, with your NROLFLOLs and WODDDDs and such. If there’s something I’m doing stupidly wrong here (i.e. taking a six-minute “water fountain” break***), I’d be happy to discuss it.
*Annoying little shits. THERE IS NO FOOD HERE. AND I JUST DOUSED YOU IN BLEACH. WHY WON’T YOU DIE?
**Yep, I DNF’d a freaking 5K. I suck. But my hip was hurting and I wasn’t exactly on PR pace. I don’t want to talk about it.
***Which is really just an excuse to eavesdrop on the two guys who are having a very serious conversation about whether they are more Charlotte or Samantha or Carrie or Miranda.