Don’t hate me!

Time for recap. I started training seriously around mid April. I combined my usual weight training with 2 HIIT sessions – Tabatas cycling – so I’ve been in the gym 5 days every week, for a whole month. It was difficult, it was awful, I was dead tired all the time. It built endurance, for sure. I didn’t lose much fat, though. Next to nothing, to be honest. Part of me thinks I got denser. It was a struggle, but somehow, this kickstarted my fat loss. I switched to V-challenge instead of HIIT and things looked promising for a while.

I’ve spent the next couple of weeks travelling and eating carbs, yet I managed to lose weight during that time. Since I got back I’m experiencing serious post-holiday DOMS and I’ve lost another kilo of fat.

Here comes the catch. It turns out I don’t get jokes anymore. One day we were chatting with a friend after her jogging session. She was complaining that she registered for a 5k race as a team, but her partner decided to quit. So she had a team, but she was all alone. Somebody suggested I should join her and I laughed. Funny! Me running? Right… I don’t like running, I hate running!! And I’m not very good at it. I’ve never been.

However, I woke up the next day thinking about it. 5k seemed very possible. It was a challenge, the time to prove that all this crazy gym training meant more, that it got me strong enough to tackle activities which were beyond my reach in the past.

So I started running. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a runner. This is just a phase, a small obsession. I got myself a new pair of shoes. They’re comfy, but I wish they had a flat sole. Those bumps don’t mix well with muddy asphalt or other slippery surfaces and I won’t be able to use them for weight training.

I’ve started slowly, doing intervals. I’m roughly following this schedule here. I jumped in at Week 4 and I’ll try to progress every 2 sessions. The race is on the 14th next moth, there’s not much time to train. Yesterday I ran, and partly walked, 7.5 km in 1h 5min. Not bad, I’d say.

Until now, my general feeling about running hasn’t changed. Whoever decided to run just for the sake of running was surely insane. I’m convinced there are better ways to train which don’t involve stressing every joint in your body and kicking all your insides around at every step. The first ten minutes make me think of death and quitting and promising myself I’d never do this again after the race. It takes a while until endorphins kick in and I’m sure it happens because my body wants to die peacefully and it decided not to struggle anymore. Thus, the last part of the run gives me hope, enough to go running the next time. Poor fool!

I also figured out why runners are so skinny. After a weight session I’m so hungry I could eat a cow every two hours. After a run I’m hungry as hell, but I can’t feed myself. My stomach is so stressed, it can’t bear any food. I guess I’m lucky the Turkish shop is near the park and not on my way back from the gym.

Something colourful

I thought I’d share this here. It’s healthy and colourful and almost unbelievable – tasty vegetables! Tasty on their own, cooked without any meat.

I wanted to make ratatouille, but found something more interesting here. It’s easy to prepare, it only requires a bit of patience. The result is worthwhile, it tastes divine.

I had it with grilled chicken, obviously.

[Later edit] I remembered I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I added some sliced garlic to the pan. Everything tastes better with garlic. :D

Sweet confusion

I told myself I’d stop writing all the minor things happening in the gym, but this was too good to ignore.

Today was quite crowded. The girls were having their usual strength and conditioning session and I was happily doing my single-leg RDLs. Suddenly, their main coach walks in. I’ve seen him around before, but he never enters the power room. All the girls welcome him cheerfully, but he stops in front of me and says something like

“It seems we have a new player here.”

I stop midway through my set, holding the barbell in my arms and stare in disbelief. He smiles and repeats his sentence. My oxygen deprived brain comes up with

“What are you playing?”

Now it’s his turn to be confused.

“What are you playing?”

At this point, it becomes clear to him, if it hasn’t been already, that I am not training with the girls.

“Netball.”

Ah, finally, I know. I always wondered if they were rowers. My brain is trying to wrap around the answer. Which one was netball?

He gives me a thumbs up and walks quietly towards the other coach.

I have no idea what happened there, but on his way out he smiled and said something – either “Good luck!” or “Good work!”. I was so tired, I could barely utter a “Thank you.”

Strange conversation, but the guy was supportive and encouraging. I finished my RDLs smiling and I could tell that everybody was staring at me.

Routine

Lately I have been writing down all the tiny details happening in the gym. All the interaction, all the pain, all the progress. I don’t feel the need to share everything anymore. Which is a good thing, it means I’m getting used to the new pace and I don’t find things so out of ordinary.

I’m still training like crazy every day. Form and strength are improving. The fat is still stubborn. I know it’s slowly going away, but sometimes I feel hopeless. Especially after another week passes by and the weekend is approaching. I feel that sitting on my ass during the two recovery days is making me lose all the progress I’ve made during the week. Tomorrow we’re going on a bike trip, that should help. Oh boy, I’m going to be soooo hungry.

What else? I’ve watched a stupid guy in the gym today. Nothing new here. Everybody was watching, actually. I was so scared for his life, I mumbled something like “That’s not very smart!” hoping he would hear. I’m not sure how the exercise is called. He was standing on his toes on the edge of the small plyo box, with his heels outside the box and pushing with his back against the bar of the Smith machine. How does that help? Is it good for glutes, calves? There were steppers all over the place, why did he take the box? OK, it wasn’t THAT dangerous. The problem was the box was too light and would flip under his weight. It took him a while to figure out he could pile some heavy plates on the other side. I think somebody suggested that, I’m not sure it was his idea. I decided to ignore him instead of saying something like “If you’re really going to do that stupid exercise, you might want to add some weight to the box…” That sounds offensive, doesn’t it? I think I’m becoming too mean. I do stupid things in the gym too, like constructing unsafe boxes for split squats and planking in the most unusual places. I’m glad nobody dropped weights on me yet. I’ve optimised my routine and my use of boxes, though, so things go smoother now.

I did Tabata front squats at the end of my workout. I was already quite tired and miserable, so I used only 32.5kg, but focused on increasing the number of reps. I managed to do 7 reps for the first two sets and 6 reps for the others. There was a lot of panting, grunting and  even some mild screaming involved. After I finished my sets I noticed people were staring. A lot…

Girls in the power room

I’ve had a weird day so far. I promised a friend I will take her around the city centre this morning. I hesitated about having breakfast, then I realised nobody counted me in during cooking. I felt relieved, no temptation to skip my morning protein shake!

Our short morning walk turned into a couple of hours of circling the main sights and, eventually, I dropped her at the train station and went to the gym. It was already lunch time, I was starving and tired.

The power room was full and I was feeling dizzy. I did my squat jumps and my single-leg hops on the small box. Next to me, a guy was jumping on the big plyo box. I was so jealous. I hope I’ll able to do that soon. Meanwhile, my left leg kept embarrassing me and refused to jump properly. I kept pushing until I managed to complete a rather decent set.

Then I went on to front squats. I asked the guy if anybody was using the squat rack and he replied panting. I felt bad for interrupting his break. So I started unloading the bar in the rack and forgot that the weight is so heavy it could tilt it. As I was taking the last plate, the guy ran desperately towards the other end of the bar. I stopped and apologised. I felt really ashamed and I thought I didn’t deserve to be in the gym and I’d better wake up if I wanted to continue my session.

As I was struggling with 55kg on the front squat another girl was easily squatting 60 kg. She did a few sets and disappeared. I’ve noticed this. Girls come in, squat some rather heavy weights smiling and leave in 5 min. What’s this?? Why aren’t girls having a proper training session in the power room if they’re so good?

Anyway, I went on with deadlift. It was getting quite crowded at this point and some other dudes were setting up a bar in front of me. They seemed to be taking turns, I wasn’t paying much attention to them. I did some warm up sets and decided to lift 75kg for my main sets. The first didn’t go well. I did one rep and felt like I was doing something wrong. So I took a short break and attacked again. I managed to lift the weight two more times, but I wasn’t sure my form was correct.

It was time for the YTWL holds and I had to ask a guy to move his ass off the bench. I always feel bad when I have to ask people to move so I could do some silly looking exercise, but this guy wasn’t even resting. He was staring at the dudes deadlifting and, it turned out, he was waiting for me to finish so he can take the bar. I did the holds and he moved next to my bar and leaned against the squat rack.

So it was time for my final set. I wasn’t sure I could do it. The guy in front of me started his set and his form was terrible. The weight was obviously too much for him. He wasn’t arching his back, he struggled to lock the bar…I’m not sure he even did it, I stopped watching the ordeal at some point. And it was my turn. The guy I moved off the bench was standing behind me, the other guys were mumbling something about adding more weight to their bar and I felt watched. And I wasn’t worried about people staring at my butt, I was worried I would do a crappy deadlift, with my back rounded and my knees wobbling around. So I did my best to finish my set and let the guy start his.

Now, the guy said my weight was perfect for him and I was expecting he would do some warmup reps and increase the weight for deadlifts. I knew it would be impressive because he was a tall African dude with lean muscles – not a lot of volume, still strong. But then he just grabbed the 75kg bar, did a super fast power clean, followed by an overhead press and a squat. It all happened so fast, the weight seemed to float around him like it was a light wooden stick. And he went on like that for a while. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t even follow all his movement, my brain was incapable of recording it.

After I finished my accessory exercises, I was still bothered by my deadlift and, since the guy was resting, I approached him and asked him to watch my form. I did an extra rep and he told me my back was arched properly, but I could stick out my chest more. I didn’t realise that, I always focused on arching my back, not on keeping it as vertical as possible. I know I sometimes tend to lift my butt and then pull the weight, so I need to focus on this more. I was relieved it still looked decent, though.

Overall, not a bad day. Tired as hell, yet, I managed to push my deadlift a little bit more.

Grumpy

Today I was feeling a bit stressed out because we have some guests over this weekend and the house is still an epic mess. I rushed this morning, took 2 pills of Thermopure instead of fish oil and, although I was eager to train, I wasn’t in a good mood.

To make things worse, the gym was already packed when I got there and the girls were warming-up in the stretching area, so it was bound to become worse. 

I set up my power clean+plyo exercises trying not to bother anybody. The sheet said 27.5kg and I remember struggling with this weight at some point in the past. I knew it wouldn’t be much of a problem this time, but I did a warm-up set anyway, just to focus on my technique better. Yeah right! The first set was a mess, I couldn’t coordinate anything, I was simply all over the place. Then my brain refused to jump on the box while I was holding 6kg dumbbells. I can do it, I know. It’s just my brain that’s fucked up. So I went back to 4kg. I did an extra set to make up for the joke of power cleans in the beginning and on the final plyo set I managed to jump holding the heavier dumbbells. But only 4 times because my brain decided it was going too well. I couldn’t do the waiter carry because some dude piled up all the dumbbells around him and was doing…God knows what, I don’t even know  what it’s called. 

So I was already annoyed and it was time for dumbbell bench press. The dude was still holding all the dumbbells around him so I skipped to single-leg RDLs. That went peacefully. But I had to bench press. The only available bench had been dragged across the room under a Smith machine. The guy was still very possessive with all the dumbbells I needed. I didn’t feel like carrying the bench next to him so I shyly started setting up my stuff around the Smith machine. Then the girls showed up and after bumping into each other a few times I’ve decided I needed to move. So I grabbed the bench while all the dudes in the gym were sitting on their asses and staring at me. I didn’t really need help, but it was annoying because they generally help each other, not just sit and stare. The most difficult bit was to align the bench next to the other ones because the wheels were broken, actually, missing altogether. Then I waited for the guy to finish his angry set and asked him if I could borrow the 10kg dumbbells. I asked, he didn’t say anything, so I took them and just when I was about to start my set he took his headphones out of his ears and asked me with a panicked face what I was doing and if we can take turns. Of course, chill! He didn’t really need them that very instant, actually, he didn’t even touch them afterwards. 

The weird guy went on to bicep curls, no, it was some other monkey business, something I’ve never seen before, and abandoned all the dumbbells on the floor. Another huge guy was doing bicep curls next to him and I was getting ready to start my last set – 12 kg, my record so far. Suddenly, this dude shows up out of nowhere, stands between the huge guy and my bench and starts piling weight on a small bar. Probably for bicep curls. Damned mirror, we were all crammed in a squared metre and, although I told him there’s definitely not enough room for everybody, he couldn’t care less. I let him finish his goddamn set, then started mine. I was barely holding the dumbbells above my chest when he decided to change his weights. I was lying on the bench, staring at the ceiling, and I could see his head!! I told him I don’t trust myself with those weights and he didn’t get the hint. I finished my set, three painful reps, and got the hell outta there.

I put all the dumbbells back, except the 14 kg ones because I was too angry, and looked for an empty squat rack. Some guy said he had one more set to go and he actually approached me and told me when he finished. How sweet! Just that he left the bar loaded with 20kg and 25kg plates, hanging somewhere above my head. Thanks, but no thanks! I’m not unloading 90kg for you. Luckily the rack next to it was empty so I didn’t have to yell at him. 

Last exercise –  front squat Tabata. I was hoping to increase my speed, but I had to increase the weight. So overall, 6 reps in the first two sets and only 5 for the rest. Quite lame, but 35kg and better form, for sure. I’m happy about it. After 6 sets, I was enjoying my 10s break when this guy showed up asking if he could take something. I assumed he wouldn’t start unloading my bar, but I had no idea what he was saying so, barely breathing and desperate that he was wasting my time, I just replied “Take whatever you want!”. He seemed puzzled, said “Cheers!”, grabbed a barbell pad off the floor and ran as quickly as possible away from the crazy little person. 

So yeah, I was grumpy today. 

Reconsidering?

It was pouring outside early this morning and part of me was tempted to stay in bed for the rest of the day. I checked the weather forecast on my phone and figured it should clear a bit in an hour. So I rolled over and forgot all those thoughts about skipping sessions.

Between sets I had some time to ponder on the efficiency of my new routine. I’m tired and I  insanely push myself. I’m worried I’m not recovering fast enough. I’m worried my workouts are not the best for fat loss. This should be my main goal at the moment, and instead it’s more of a by-product. The scale is showing a small decrease and my jeans are slightly looser. And that’s about it. My lifts are getting better slowly. I’m almost at the end of the 2nd week and I’m not seeing any of the results I was hoping for. For a second, I thought it might be better to swap the Tabata sessions with the V-challenge. But then it crossed my mind that could possibly kill me. So I’ve decided to keep this going for another 2 weeks. By the end of it, it might be too late to achieve my fat loss goal in due time. But the 3rd week should bring some results if, indeed, I’m doing anything right.

Keep pushing!