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May Markers

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Given my inspiration to elevate my fitness regime and that we’re starting a new month, I felt it would be a good time to take all that energy and give it direction.  I have some goals for this month that I hope to achieve to keep my motivation, and to increase my body’s strength and endurance. Since April was pretty hectic for me, I didn’t really set any goals, but I feel like now is a good time to remedy that.

One caveat: I’m about to transition to a new job.  That’s partly why the end of March and April were so hectic- in addition to my first half marathon, my spring break and some other stuff, I was interviewing and then getting a security clearance for my new position (it’s with the federal government, nothing super fancy, clearances are pretty routine in this area).  I’m planning to go into this more later, but I’m anticipating longer work days, and definitely a longer commute, which may throw my work-out schedule off for a bit while I figure everything out.

Still, I want to have some goals to gauge potential progress.  I just won’t beat myself up if some of it is a casualty of the new lifestyle.  So, here’s my May Markers:

RunningRebuild my running base.  I want to build my endurance so that I’m regularly running 4-6 mile runs about 3 days a week, and then a longer run on the weekend of 7-8 miles.  Don’t ask me why I’ve settled on these numbers.  I just know I want to move beyond the 3-3.6 miles I’ve been trekking lately.  I also think running these distances regularly will help make training for my next half easier.

Strength Training: Keep mixing it up.  I’ve talked about this a lot the last few days, so I’ll just say that I plan to keep my muscles on their toes by changing my routine every week, and upping the intensity.  There are so many studies that say it’s good to modify your routine, otherwise your muscles adapt and don’t improve anymore. Also, you don’t get bored, which means you’re more likely to keep doing it.

Strength Training: Take core strengthening classes. My core is the one area of my body that I’m struggling to really improve.  I’m upping my planks, and adding new exercises, but I just don’t feel or see it.  I did really feel it in Pilates and at the end of my spin class today with some of the strengthening exercises we did.  I think it’s an area that I just do better when I have someone else telling me what to do and ‘watching’ me, making sure I don’t slack off on it.  I don’t do it purposely, but I do think I sometimes don’t hold proper form.  So I’m going to try to work this in more.

Cross-training:Expand my spinning and yoga class repertoire.Last weekend, I took a Pilates class.  This morning, I had a different spin instructor who incorporated new moves and some strength training in the end.  I’m finally ready (and brave enough) to try a full Vinyasa class.  I had been hunting around for new studios and classes to join in the spirit of keeping things fresh, but have been turned off by the addition fees.  I then realized that I have plenty of variety in the classes I already pay for- I just need to take advantage of them.

Personally: Just keep enjoying life.  It’s been a good last few months.  I’m planning to keep it that way.


Taking it Up a Notch

The end of the week and weekend got a little hectic and I wasn’t able to complete my review of last week’s workouts, namely my second set of weight training last week.  So before I move into this week, I wanted to briefly recap my last Monday and Friday sessions.  Partly this is because this was the session that really gave my strength training the jolt of life it had been desperately crying out for.  But also because I took the pictures, might as well post them!

For Monday, I focused on my lower body, with a little bit of core and arm work thrown in.  I had anticipated repeating this routine Wednesday.  But my plan to switch things up and challenge my muscles paid off- between this and my Tuesday morning spin class when I put in an above average effort, my quads were the most sore they have been in a very long time.  It hurt a bit to walk! So I decided it would be better to wait a few more days, and actually took Wednesday off all together for reasons I don’t really recall.  By Friday my legs felt good again, so I managed to squeeze in a repeat in the midst of a very eventful workday. 

So after a brief warm up and a plank to start, here were the exercises:

Stationary Lunge, starting position

Stationary Lunge, end position- front thigh should be more parallel to the floor

Hamstring Curls, start position

Hamstring Curls, end position

Side Plank, start position

Side Plank with Shoulder Press, end position

Now all of these exercises have been a part of my routine in other forms, but I changed them to give my muscles something to think about.  So instead of just alternating lunges, I did it all on one leg before switching and with 10 lbs dumbells in each hand.  I think this was the exercise that really got my quads burning- I had initially planned to incorporate bicep curls, but man this was much harder than anticipated on its own! I also added the chest press with 5 lbs dumbells to my hamstring curls, and the shoulder press with a 5 lbs weight to my side plank.  The last one was a move I haven’t done since last spring.  It’s a little easier now- but not much! My shoulders were also a little tender.

So these exercises really worked my body and totally reinvigorated my dedication to my strength training.  I’m going to post these in my strength training tab soon (hopefully).  I really recommend trying these for a great 30 minute or less work out.

In addition to this, my upper body work out and Tuesday spinning, I also managed to squeeze in a Power Hour yoga session on Monday, two short 3 mile runs and a Pilates class on Saturday, which I’m going to blog about later this week (again, hopefully).  I’m really getting back into the swing of things and seeking out new challenges for my body. Go me!