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.

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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.

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!

No more, please!

I knew this dreaded moment would come. Last night I was lying in bed and I couldn’t sleep because my body was horribly tired and my muscles were still boiling from the Tabata sets. Every cell was screaming “Please, please, we don’t want to go training tomorrow!!!”

Obviously, that was not an option. Today was weights day and I wouldn’t want to miss that.  This time I made sure I train within a time frame. I managed to keep up the pace and I was out of the gym in 1h. Ok, plus the warm-up and 3×5 assisted pull-ups in the other room.

A lot of funny things happened today. The guy filming his squats probably got more videos of my feet. This time I stayed away from the camera while he was doing his sets.

At some point I helped a girl adjust the height of her bar in the squat rack. She had no idea how to do it and she was struggling to reach a bar that was at eye level!! I helped her put the bar down, adjusted the thing, then left. She called me to put the weight back. The bar was only 30kg so I assumed she can manage it. Oups! So I grabbed the end of the bar and pulled it up, then I realised she was seriously struggling with the other end. My bad, again! It turned out we should’ve set it a notch lower, but she said she’s fine  and started her squats with the bar high on her shoulders. I wanted to say something, then I stopped because I don’t want to baby-sit people in the gym and, in general, people in the gym don’t like baby-sitting. Two other girls showed up later on, but I didn’t notice what sort of exercises they were doing. One of them was training with a bunch of guys and looked really fit. Heh, good old days…

I’m definitely getting stronger, but I’m still far from the truth. So, in order to keep my balance, I’m doing all the single-leg exercises barefoot (actually, I wore socks with sheep if you must ask). I did my single-leg deadlifts, then spent some serious time setting up the rack for split squats. On my first set I managed to scrape my toe-nail against all the crevices on the plyo box. That didn’t feel good at all!! No blood was gushing through my socks, though, so I went on with the rest of my set. I wished I had my shoes on at that point and I noticed he guy next to me was wearing some that seemed more appropriate for weight training. I was a bit jealous, I admit.

While I was stretching between sets some fat dude that looked like a manager showed up with two other guys and started showing off all the stuff in the power room. I didn’t know what’s the policy of the gym regarding shoes, but I was pretty sure they shouldn’t see me struggling during split squats so I sat down quietly in a corner. Then I realised the guy next to me was supersetting deadlifts with pull-ups and wasn’t wearing his shoes anymore. Who knew I was a trend-setter?? 😀

I finished the day with my embarrassing inverted rows. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the bar each time. Meanwhile, the rest of the gym is probably thinking “What the f is she doing??” Anyway, I think using the Smith machine for inverted rows is acceptable.

I should be cleaning up the house because we have guests this weekend, but all I want to do is sit on my ass.

Week no 2

Finally, I’m catching up. I’m still struggling, but the numbers are close to where I left them last November. I did a 55 kg front squat today and couldn’t get back up after two reps. Next to me, the nice instructor that I met during my induction was effortlessly squatting 80 kg. She’s awesome! I could barely deadlift 70 kg today.

I had a little chat with one of the guys in the gym. I walked into the room and left all my stuff in a corner while he was finishing his set. It turned out he was filming his squats and I stood in front of his camera the whole time. He now owns a video of my feet. Seriously, I’m a jerk.

On my way home I’ve decided it’s time to leave the earmuffs in my backpack.  Also, I’ve spent the entire afternoon cleaning up our garden. It must be summer now, British summer. I’m not ready for flip-flops, though.

Tabatas tomorrow!