Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Part of my new routine is based on Lou Schuler's The New Rules of Lifting for Women (written with Cassandra Forsythe and Alwyn Cosgrove). The book itself is very easy to read, with easy to follow explanations. I got through it in about two days, with an extra day to look at the workout routines and meal/nutrition advice more thoroughly.
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at the lack of cardio as part of the workout. I know that steady cardio exercises are not really the way to go if you want to achieve results and instead high intensity interval training (HIIT) is what I should really focus on, but this book didn't even focus on that. It was all based on lifting weights. Well, what do I know? Obviously since my past workout routines haven't been as successful as I would have liked then something wasn't right. Also, at first glance, the workouts seem easy, simple - just 2 sets at 15 reps of 5 exercises? That can't be enough, can it? As I said before, what do I know -- let's see how this goes.
Today was day 1 of the 6 week-Stage 1 program. After spending some time learning the exercises and making my own chart (I found the one in the book to be very confusing) I headed to the gym.
I started with some basic warm-up stretches followed by 20 minutes of light/medium intensity cardio on the cross-trainer. I then headed to the weight room to do the first exercise - squats. I was a bit distracted in the room as there were quite a few people there and they were talking. I also couldn't remember how much weight I had used before, so I just started with 6 kg on each side. I was a bit annoyed that the two women in the weight room (I didn't know either of them) seemed to be including me in their conversation and standing rather close to me and trying to make eye contact -- could they not see that I was busy? I tried to ignore them, but they were distracting me. [Blog post on gym etiquette coming up soon!] I had to hurry up and finish because a class was going to start in that room so before I knew it, I had finished my 2 sets ... and as I left the room, I regretted not having put more. Oh well, I'll remember it for the next time.
I decided to head upstairs to the women only section of the gym to do the remaining exercises. Since the routine was new for me I wanted a bit of peace and quiet and didn't want to be further distracted or too self-conscious trying the exercises out.
The next portion of the workout was easy ... until I got to the last exercise. Holy Prone Jackknife is all I have to say! OMG who created this exercise? I knew as soon as I read about it in the book that I was going to have difficulty with it. I positioned the exercise ball, made sure there was a mat under me, and stared at the ball for some time. I was trying to visualize the exercise in my head, but since I didn't have to book with me, I couldn't completely remember what I had to do - do I walk my hands in? Push my legs out? Curl my knees in? What was it again? Time for my iPhone ... I did a search for prone jackknife and came to this post on 3fatchicks.com. The first thing that caught my eye was the entry that read "I CANNOT DO THIS MOVE." More comments related to this exercise were "Are there any alternatives to this move?" and "Impossible" ... that's when I decided to close all those sites and just look for an explanation of how the exercise was to be done ... (oh, for some reason I couldn't connect to YouTube, and I'm kinda glad I didn't because this demonstration of the prone jackknife does not nearly indicate how tricky the exercise is) ... anyway, back to the explanations ... I read through it, visualized it, and said to myself - you ARE going to do this. No excuses.
So, I steadied the ball (which I think was a bit too big for this exercise) against the wall, firmly planted my hands on the ground, and lifted one leg up to anchor my ankle on the ball ... and here starts the wobbling - it took me several tries to steady the ball with just one leg on it --- let alone two! Still, I was determined. I kept telling myself, you can do this; there's no reason you can't. It wouldn't be in the book if it was impossible. I steadied my arms, tightened my core, and concentrated on keeping my ankles firmly on the ball -- and then slowly started to bring my knees towards my chest. 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... ok, need to move faster if I want to finish this set without flinging the ball out of the studio ... 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. *Whew* I can't believe I did it ... and knowing that I could do it once made the second set much 'easier.' I totally understand why they only listed 2 sets of 8 for the first workout.
And that was it -- I put in another 50 minutes on the treadmill - at a pretty moderate pace with a few sprints every once in a while ... and I was done.
So, my verdict for the first day of NROL4W - the workouts look simple, but the focus has to be on form and on using the correct amount of weight that challenges your muscles.
I definitely think I did not use enough weight for my first time, but I think it's ok since it has been a while since I've lifted any weights. I'm more confident now and I'm looking forward to Workout B day after tomorrow.