I’m almost finished week two of the twelve week weight training program I committed to this year.
So far, so good, basically. The first week was unbelievable exhausting. By day three, I dragged my tired body to the gym only to realize that I wasn’t even finished of the first week! I was shocked by how physically draining it was to focus on weights like that. Obviously, that’s not rocket science, but I haven’t stuck to a real weight training program (that required any more than weights twice a week) in about eight years.
(On a side note, I meant to take a picture of myself wearing a sports bra and shorts at the first, at week four, eight and twelve to see any difference. Since I don’t weigh myself, I figured pictures would be a good way to measure progress. I forgot to take any at the beginning though, so I’ll just start at week four.)
I wanted to talk about what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. The first month of the program requires four days of weights, old school style. Chest/tris, back/bis, legs, shoulders/abs. To fit my life and workout style, I changed it around the slightest bit. The biggest difference between what I do and the program website is that I do cardio. And by “cardio” I mean run and hike with a 30lbs backpack. This program preaches getting fit without doing cardio for the first month, and while I don’t argue that works for some people, especially for someone starting new into fitness, no running is not an option for me. The end. I don’t know if that will make the changes less noticeable later on once cardio/interval training is introduced, I guess we’ll see.
Next, I super-set a lot of the exercises. For two reasons: one, because I have zero interest in spending an hour at the gym and by pushing the exercises into super-sets, I can bang it out in 25-35 minutes. Secondly, as far as maximum return on a workout goes, intensity is key. I’m not looking for hue muscles. I’d be flat out lying if I said that aesthetics weren’t (a big) part of why I’m doing this, but I’m looking for strength, not necessarily bulk. So while a super-set may require me using a slightly lighter weight, the trade off is worth it for me.
Also, I completely changed leg day. I changed it from hamstring curls and leg extensions (things that I see as utterly useless, to be bluntly honest) to barbell squats, jump lunges, jump squats, ball hamstring curls, calf raises and butt lifts on the exercise ball. It still gives me a really good leg workout, but won’t give me anymore bulk. I have large quads, and while I am actively trying to embrace the Thunder Thigh, I also have zero interest in making them any bigger. Plus (and perhaps more importantly), these exercises will be more beneficial for running.
Lastly, and I honestly think that this is the biggest flaw of the entire program, I work core everyday. For runners, a strong core can be the difference between injuries and running injury free. It can be a ten minute time difference on a long race. For weight lifters, a weak core can compromise your form to the point of injury. I alternate between planks and back extensions plus do crunches on a ball or old school sit ups at least each day I lift weights (sometimes, if I’m feeling ambitious, I do planks at home while I’m watching tv).
As far as the eating plan goes, I’m not really changing how I was eating. I eat mostly healthy, mostly fresh food with the occasional cupcake with ice cream thrown in. I do find that I need to eat more often or else I crash. I’ve been focusing on eating a snack between 9:30 and 10:00 in the morning and between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. Generally speaking, I’m in a constant state of hunger from 4:00 until I eat dinner anyway, and to be honest, at least making myself eat an apple and some almonds prevents me from eating cookies while I’m making dinner (usually).
So basically, my conclusion, thus far anyway, is: Weights make you tired and hungry. And make you kind of feel like a bad ass. Like I said, so far, so good.