After posting my last waist goals update I’ve pondered the fact that I really haven’t been putting much effort into my diet. Yet gradually (very gradually) my body shape has been changing.
So I went back through my old blog posts to see if I could answer the question: “what’s changed?”.
The answer: my workouts.
From Fall 2011 (when I was training for my marathon) up until this past August when I started my waist goals, I wasn’t doing a lot of training with heavy weights and I wasn’t focused on building strength.
March-May 2012 – Full Body Circuits
I put aside strength building to do full body circuit workouts. I had goals to increase my strength too, but I didn’t put any concrete focus on them. So I made myself a 3 day full body circuit which got boring fast so I switched it to a 6 day full body circuit.
June-July 2012 – Slow Tempo, Light Weight, High Reps
I decided to start working with high reps (8-12) and pushing less weight around. I don’t know what I was thinking.
I wanted to fatigue my muscles in a different way so I worked on this Tempo Weightlifting Routine which focused on slowing down my weightlifting and increasing the amount of time my muscles were under tension.
It was so. fucking. boring. I hated it.
Looking back I believe the combination of having just come out of marathon training and then choosing circuits with low weight and high reps is really what shaped my body in a way that I was uncomfortable with by August.
This is when I started to make some changes to my workouts and decided to set a goal to lose size from my waist.
August 2012 – Olympic Lifting
After watching the badass women’s weightlifters at the Summer Olympics I was inspired to start an Olympic Lifting routine.
I would hog the squat rack for my entire workout so it was the kind of routine that I could only pull off during the summertime when people forget what the gym is.
Olympic lifting opened me up to a whole new world of high intensity lifting. It made me sweaty and hungry and tired so it basically emphasized my 3 favourite things (sweating, eating, and sleeping). It was fun and tiring and although I wasn’t lifting anything very heavy I felt like I was making improvements every week.
It was about 2 weeks into a 4 week Oly lifting routine that I set my Waist Goals although I didn’t post about them for a few weeks after that.
September-December 2012 – Crossfit Football
I didn’t have a specific workout routine which is really weird for me so I had to look back at my Fitocracy profile to figure out what I was doing at the time!
It was Crossfit Football. These workouts start off with Olympic lifts or big multi-joint exercises and then end with a high intensity conditioning component.
I really liked this style of workout because it incorporated heavy lifting with high intensity in a way that worked better than anything I had tried to come up with up to this point.
…and then I learned about 5/3/1.
December 2012-May 2013 – 5/3/1
When I heard about 5/3/1 I knew it would be great for me because 1)It focuses on strength building and multi-joint lifts, 2)There is room for creativity with the accessory lifts, 3)Having my loads pre-determined really forces me to improve my strength.
I’ve completed 21 weeks of this programme so far and it is awesome. By adding a high intensity conditioning component to the end of my workouts, I’ve set this programme up to be just like Crossfit Football but with a stronger focus on strength improvement which has helped me blast through PRs.
Now I think if I put even a little effort into my diet I think I could whittle my waist faster but it’s tough-going to cut calories when your workouts make you hungry all the time and when all you really want to eat is cookies.
I could probably make some healthy substitutions in my diet without sacrificing my quality of life in the process. This is something I need to work on.2 Comments
I haven’t run in a really long time.
I’ve done some sprints (mostly on the treadmill because the rains we’ve been experiencing lately are level: British) which are fun but not a lot of “oh I’m just heading out for a quick 5-miler” stuff.
I’m trying to maximize my cardio and minimize the amount of time I spend working out so I can increase my weekly yoga practices. It’s really as complicated as it sounds.
As I mentioned in my last 5/3/1 recap I am swapping out accessory lifts for crossfit-style complexes and circuits which can potentially get my rate of perceived exertion up to an “I’m gonna die“ level.
So four days a week, after lifting the big lifts (squat, bench, deadlift push press) +1 accessory lift then I do a circuit like the ones I’ve listed below.
Here are some that I enjoyed recently (and by enjoyed, I mean loved-to-hate because they were torturously exhausting)
Run 1000m (0.6mi)
50 Inverted Rows
30 Wall Balls at 12lb
30 Sumo Deadlift High Pull at 45lb
30 Box Jumps
30 Push Presses at 45lb
30 Push Ups
30 Squat Jumps
Repeat circuit once.
5 Push Press at 75lb
10 Deadlifts at 75lb
15 Box Jumps
Repeat circuit for 10 min (ie. AMRAP 10)
20 Kettlebell Swings at 35lb
10 Goblet Squats at 35lb
Repeat circuit twice.
I have been keeping track of my times or the number of rounds I do for these circuits so that when I repeat them I strive to do at least as well.
For more cool circuit exercises check out this programme.3 Comments
As of today I’m deloading from cycle 4 of the 5/3/1 for Women Training Programme.
My original plan was to follow the program for 3 cycles but I’ve been loving it so I’m going to keep going for another 3, at least.
Each cycle is 4 weeks. It focuses on building strength in the big multi-joint lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press by increasing weight and decreasing reps each week (5 reps/ 3 reps/ 1 rep/ deload, hence the name 5/3/1).
Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 Training
I’ve slaughtered PR’s in 3 of the 4 big lifts in Cycle 4 which feels totally empowering. I was pretty content with my loads in Cycle 1 so being able to push heavier weights than ever is kind of blowing my mind right now.
Deadlift: 225lb for 3 reps
Push Press: 115lb for 4 reps
Squats: 210lb for 3 reps (though I don’t think my form was spot on for these ones)
Bench Press: 135lb for 3 reps (not a PR, unfortunately)
I’ve recalculated my loads for cycle 5 by adding 10lbs to my Cycle 4 1RM for Squats and Deadlifts and adding 5lb for Bench and Push Press, then taking 90% of these as my baseline number. This is putting me at some frighteningly heavy lifts that I’m quite nervous for, but I’m going to try to crank them out to the best of my ability and if I can’t make them then I’ll have to take a couple steps back.
I was doing a variation of the ‘boring but big’ accessory lifts:
- the Main lift, then
- the Main lift in a different form (eg. squats + front squats, bench press + dumbbell bench press, etc), then
- 3 accessory exercises with a higher rep range (10-15)
Unsurprisingly, this was getting boring so I’m switching it up for the next 3 cycles to include more cardio.
Cardio time! I’m doing some variations of complexes and circuits that I make up myself or steal from crossfit football. I like it because I get an elevated heart rate and a good sweat in 10-20 minutes.
Something like this took me only 8min:
5 rounds of:
10 Inverted Rows
15 Kettlebell Swings
3 Burpee Broad Jumps
Deload week is awesome. It gives me a chance to recover and gives me more time for cardio and yoga.
I’m getting most of my cardio from my accessory lifts now. I’m cutting back on my ‘cardio only’ workout days so I can have more time for yoga (. . . for super exciting reasons which I plan to divulge soon!).8 Comments
I recently read this post in The Cut: I spent Two Weeks Working Out ‘Like a Man’ and I was slightly annoyed.
The author writes about a 14 day period in which she tried out a bunch of different workouts she determined to be ‘manly’, like Crossfit, P90X, Martial Arts, and Bootcamps.
Showcasing to women these workouts that traditionally appeal to men is an awesome idea. The author could have done so much to encourage women to add them to their fitness regime.
For one, she could have refrained from defining male and female dominated exercise styles as mutually exclusive. She might have highlighted all the great fitness and women’s health benefits that come with these workouts, or the fact that women are often welcomed and made to feel comfortable in male dominated fitness environments, or the fact that the challenge of trying new workouts can be extremely rewarding.
But she doesn’t. So, to me, the article is a total failure.
Instead the author draws the line in the sand about what makes a workout ‘manly’ (we’re trying to break down these stereotypes and she just sustains them). She complains about the smell of the mats in a Muay Thai gym, laments about how she couldn’t keep up in many of the classes, and dramatizes about how her unbearably soreness is making simple daily tasks impossible for her.
Even I don’t want to try any of these workouts after that sort of review. Evidently neither do some of the commenters:
“I’m pretty happy with Tracy Anderson‘s workouts”
“I will stick to my yoga, spinning, and elliptical circuit, thank you. Just reading about not being able to put my shirt over my head is not appealing to me personally.”
Men should feel comfortable in a yoga studio or aerobics class. Women should feel like it’s okay for them to lift weights or kickbox. Can we just stop with the stupid exercise stereotypes already?
I think it’s awesome that the author tried out so many new exercises (and I’m kinda jealous too). Trying new forms of fitness is a great way to learn new skills and discover a new passion. But by framing the article around the fact that the workouts she chose to try are traditionally preferred by men does nothing to encourage women to try them out.
She missed a great opportunity to get women excited about trying something new.9 Comments
I just finished my first cycle of the 5/3/1 for Women Training Programme which focuses on building strength in the basic multi-joint lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press.
Each cycle is 4 weeks with increasing weight and decreasing reps each week (5 reps/ 3 reps/ 1 rep/ deload, hence the name 5/3/1) and the weight to be used is calculated in advance and is based on 90% of your one rep maximum.
Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 Training
When I initially did the calculations I was concerned about how light the weight was going to be for the main lifts. At 90% 1RM, the loads that I calculated were weights that I could crank out for 4 to 6 reps already so I used 95% 1RM as my baseline instead.
This 95% figure worked out really well and it got me PRs in both my back squat and push press. Yay!
In Cycle 2 you are to add 10lbs to your 1RM for Squat and Deadlift and 5lb for Bench and Overhead Press to create your new 1RM and then recalculate 90% of this.
But, since the 95% 1RM figure worked well for cycle 1 and I still had some gas in the tank after my lifts, I’m going to continue with use 95% as my baseline figure. If it starts to get progressively more difficult in future cycles then I’ll scale back.
I did a variation of the ‘boring but big’ recommendation for bodybuilding. So each day I lifted
- the Main lift, then
- the Main lift in a different form (eg. squats + front squats, bench press + dumbbell bench press), then
- 3 accessory exercises with a higher rep range (10-15)
I’m going to keep doing what I was doing. I find that I get bored by the 8th rep or so but I really think I need the change from low reps and I want to build up my muscle a bit.
Deload week is mentally challenging because you really want to keep pumping out heavy weight, but you’re supposed to use this week to let your body recover.
I never understood runners who don’t like tapering (running less miles in the weeks before a race) because, to me, a break from all that mileage is more than welcome. But now I think I see where they’re coming from.
Luckily, my deload week coincided quite nicely with both PMS and a crappy cold so I wasn’t really feeling like pushing myself anyway.
If I’m not sick or menstrual in my next deload week I imagine it will be mentally frustrating.
My cardio hit the backburner when I got sick but I was doing a lot of sprints in the pool (since hill sprints and road sprints have been killing my achilles lately).
10 minutes warm up – easy laps
10 minutes of sprints (20s sprint + 20s rest with a break after every 4 cycles)
10 minutes cool down – easy laps or drills
But on Saturday Vicki and I did a Master Swim Classs at which we were only slightly pathetic. It involved an hour and a half and at least 2km of swimming. EXHAUSTING! (I’ll tell you more about it soon)
I plan to add back more running sprints as long as my achilles holds up.2 Comments
I’ve been working on the same workout programme for about 3 months now, incorporating lots of Olympic style lifts and high intensity, cross-fit style lifting into my daily workouts read more about it here and here. It’s been great so far because my workouts have had a tonne of variety and I’m completely spent after almost every session (all that intensity!). I’ve been noticing more definition in my traps and biceps, and my legs are stronger than ever. All in all, it’s been great.
But I rarely stick with the same programme for more than 3 months. I like to keep a lot of variety in my workouts to keep my body guessing. My focus for the next programme is strength and body building. Normally I put together my own thing but this time I figured I’d try someone else’s programme: Wendler’s 5/3/1
This programme created by powerlifter Jim Wendler uses the basic principles of strength training and has been getting lots a good feedback on the internet for being a great plan for increasing strength. Says Wendler about the programme: “I want be able to do a bunch of different activities and still kick ass in the weight room. I want to be as mobile, flexible, strong, and in as good a condition as I possibly can. That’s how I came up with 5/3/1.”
5/3/1 revolves around the basic multi-joint lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press.
The theory is to start with weights lighter than what you’re doing now which gives you more room to progress slowly and build strength.
I’m concerned that my inflated ego will bust and lifting less than I’m used to might bring me down and psych me out of wanting to lift. But eventually I’ll be hitting will be better than what I’m doing now, so that’s what I’ll have to look forward to.
The plan is based on slow progress. You can’t progress quickly. It just doesn’t happen. I know this.
I had delusions of grandeur in January when I published weight training goals to increase my squat by 70lbs (to 225lbs) and my bench press by at least 50lbs (to my body weight). Umm . . . yeah right, Sam.
So I’m hoping this programme will allow me to progress a little more reasonably while still seeing some motivating improvements.
Here’s how it works:
You can do as many cycles of the programme as you like. You could practically cycle this programme forever.
Each cycle is 4 weeks long and you’re training 4 days per week—one of the major lifts (bench, squat, deadlift, overhead press) each day. The sets and loads used for each of the major lifts are:
Week 1: Warm-up, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5+
Week 2: Warm-up, 70% x 3, 80% x 3, 90% x 3+
Week 3: Warm-up, 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1+
Week 4: Warm-up, 60% x 5, 65% x 5, 70% x 5
+On the last set each week means really push for as many reps as you can get.
The base number used in your calculations is actually 90% of your 1RM (one rep max).
So if your 1RM is 100, then you’re calculating based on 90 so 65% would be 58.5lb(=65%*90%*100lb) not 65lbs. I calculated my 1RM from here.
Use this lovely spreadsheet to calculate your daily lifts for 3 cycles of 5/3/1: 5-3-1 Training Calculator
After 4 weeks, you repeat the cycle adding 5lbs to the 1RM for your presses and 10lbs to the 1RM for your deadlift and squat and then recalculate your loads. (again you can use this spreadsheet to calculate your daily lifts: 5-3-1 Training Calculator)
The core lifts aren’t the only thing you work on though. You also do additional exercises that supplement the major lifts and assist with your goals with plans like these:
Boring But Big. Main lift, the main lift again @ 5×10 (50% 1RM), and another accessory exercise for 5 sets.
The Triumvirate. Main lift, and two assistance exercises – 5 sets each.
I’m Not Doing Jack Shit. Main lift, and nothing else.
Periodization Bible by Dave Tate. Main lift, and 3 exercises – 5 x 10-20 reps each.
Bodyweight. Main lift, and 2 bodyweight exercises such as the pull up, sit ups, dips, etc.
For myself I wanted a “bodybuilding” style so I planned:
- Main lift
- Main lift in a different form (eg. squats + front squats, bench press + dumbbell bench press)
- 3 accessory exercises with a higher rep range (10-15)
What I’m digging:
I like the specificity of it. I know exactly what I should be lifting before I even get into the gym (or I should know, otherwise I’ll be hauling a calculator with me to the squat rack every day) and there is clear progress every week.
Lately my progress has been stalling a bit, especially on squat and bench, so I’m excited to see what happens on this programme even if it means starting lighter to get there.
What concerns me:
Wendler seems very specific about using 90% of your 1RM as a base for calculations but I’m not convinced. The loads that I calculated for my last set in week 3 (the one rep set) are weights that I can crank out for 4 to six reps of right now. What’s the point? Even after 12 weeks I won’t hit my current one rep max even once.
So instead I tried calculating my lifts based on my 1RM alone but the result seemed a lot more difficult in the second and third cycle of the programme and I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to hit the numbers.
95% of my one rep max looks like the magic number here. It’s offers the most reasonable progress. I’m going with that as the base of my calculations, at least for cycle 1, and then I’ll reassess from there.
My Variation of the 5/3/1 Plan:
Click the thumbnail for a Workout PDF of my 5/3/1 Variation.
P.S. It prints best as a booklet.
Cycles: At least 3 cycles (ie. 12 weeks) to start with. I’ll reassess from there.
Schedule: Mon: Bench Press, Wed: Push Press, Fri: Squat, Sun: Deadlift
Load Calculations: Base cycle 1 lifts on 95% of my 1RM then reassess the base number for my calculations (maybe I’ll drop to 90% of my new 1RM for cycle 2).
Accessory Lifts:Main lift , main lift in a different form (eg. squats + front squats, bench press + dumbbell bench press, etc.), 3 accessory exercises of the same muscle group with a higher rep range (10-15) varying from week to week.
Cardio: Tue & Thu: HIIT (sprints on the treadmill, spin bike, or in the pool)
I plan to start this week. I’ll keep you updated with my progress after cycle 1. (added: Read my cycle 1 recap here)
P.S. I called this 5/3/1 for Women because I am a woman and I couldn’t find a tonne of info online on women using this programme (here’s one and here’s another). It’s identical to the 5/3/1 plan because the programme isn’t for men only. Women can lift like the best of them.18 Comments
I deadlifted 225lb for one rep during my workout tonight. That’s four 45lb plates on the bar.
I’m pretty ecstatic about that.
That is all.2 Comments
I wrote up a new workout routine to get me through the next 4 weeks.
For the last couple months I haven’t been going on a routine at all. I’d do a couple major lifts like squats or bench press or push press at the start of my workout and then do a random ‘workout of the day’ that I found on crossfit websites like this one or this one. I was switching up my workouts every day.
It was fun, but I needed a set routine because my workouts were scattered so sometimes I’d be overworking some muscles and neglecting others. Also, I was hogging the squat racks for at least 30 minutes some days. That’s something I can’t do anymore now that the weather is getting cold and the gym is getting busier.
I wanted to incorporate some of the same variance in my new routine 3 day lifting routine. So Mondays & Fridays include both strength training and cardio & endurance based supersets, and Wednesdays are scheduled for 2 major lifts + a random conditioning workout (a finisher if you will).
Click over for my new routine:
(See the “Conditioning Workouts” tab too!)
Monday: Snatch, Back Squat, Bench Press, Triceps Push-Ups, Thrusters
Wednesday: 2 Major lifts (eg. Push Press, Deadlift, Front Squat, Bench Press) + Conditioning
Friday: Power Clean & Jerk, Overhead Squat, Barbell Row, Bicep Curls, Push-Ups
Saturday: Yoga or Rest
Sunday: 3-5 mile Run or Rest
I wrote in “swimming” at the last minute into my HIIT days. Over the summer I went swimming few times to do laps and I enjoyed it, especially when I went with Matt and we raced each other! I’m going to try swimming sprints at least once in the next 4 weeks.3 Comments
In the last two weeks, no less than 3 different people interrupted me in the middle of my weightlifting workout to ask if I was training for something.
“Are you a powerlifter? No? What are you training for?”
“You must be training for something.”
“You don’t see women lifting like that just for fun.”
No, really, I’m not training for anything.
I promise you that I’m doing this just because I like lifting heavy things. I know, it’s shocking, but just try to wrap your mind around that for a second and then let’s all get back to our workouts, mmmkay?
When I told these people (and others who have asked me in the past) that I was just training for fun they seemed a bit surprised and maybe a bit confused, but ultimately impressed, or at least mildly impressed.
It kind of makes me feel like maybe I’m just wasting my time. Maybe actually I should be using my skills and training for something specific.
But I wouldn’t even know where to start or what to train for.
And then, maybe, when up against other people I wouldn’t actually be any good.
Or maybe if I were competing then weightlifting would feel like a chore and wouldn’t be fun any more.
I guess I’m actually really happy just weightlifting for fun.
In any case, it’s flattering to be noticed at the gym, that’s for sure. I’m getting noticed for doing something different, which just goes to show how few women are lifting heavy weights. That should definitely change.
Weightlifting improves your confidence, your body composition, and (evidently) gets you noticed.
Here are some great inspirations for women and weightlifting.7 Comments
This post, like my stream of consciousness is very random.
My old hand-me-down laptop died this weekend. At home now I’m computerless until those brief moments when Matt steps away from his computer and I swoop in like a vulture to check my e-mail. He said that he’s going to buy Bagigis a new computer since I am adamant about not buying one right now. We spent an hour last night talking about what exactly our dog would need in a new computer and I suggested something fast with lots of hard drive space and a normal sized monitor (no Matt, Bagigis does not want to have to crane her neck in order to use the 60″ TV screen as her monitor).
So in any case, the dog is probably going to be getting a new computer soon. She’s already on facebook so this is just the next natural step.
I’m in my third week of my Olympic Lifting programme and I’m exhausted. Last week my hip flexors were more sore than they’ve ever been, a situation I rectified with a good yoga session on Sunday AM.
But mostly I’m just really tired at the end of the day. In a good way. In an “I worked my ass off and all I want to do is sleep” way. Sleep feels so good.
Yesterday when I got home from the gym Matt took one look at my sweaty self and asked me if I went for a run. No dear, this is weightlifting sweat.
So yeah, Olympic lifts = exhausting.
2012 Beast Mode Goals
And speaking of weightlifting, I was going through my old posts recently and found my 2012 Weight Goals from January. Since we’re 2/3rds through the year I should probably check-in.
Back Squats- Goal: 225lb; Current: 175lb for 5 reps.
My progress has been plateauing here. In September I was squatting 145lb. In February I was up to 165lb. And currently I’m at 175lbs. So in almost a year I increased by 30lbs. What are the odds I can increase it by 50lbs in 4 months? Pretty slim. But then again I only have to do one 225lb squat to hit my goal, not five.
Bench Press- Goal: body weight; Current: 135lbs for 3 reps.
I could blow this goal out of the water if I amputated my legs to decrease my body weight. But that would make reaching my squat goal much harder, so I guess I’ll leave my legs where they are.
I’m not at body weight yet, but I can see this happening. . . just probably not by the end of 2012.
Pull Ups- Goal: 5 unassisted; Current: A solid 3, plus a really weak 4th one.
I’m super happy with this. When I was marathon training I couldn’t even do a chin-up. Now I’m doing 4ish pull ups? Sah-weet!
Push-Ups- Goal: 100 consecutive; Current: 35
I’ve basically stagnanted on this one, but I haven’t really been doing push-ups so I can’t complain.
The London Olympics being over is bittersweet. It keeps me from spending hours on my ass in front of the TV, but also I love the Olympics and having nothing to cheer for makes me feel a bit empty inside.
On the bright side there are less than 2 years until the more awesome version of the Olympic games: Winter Olympics.
I was ecstatic when our boys won the bronze in the men’s 4x100m relay. And then I was devastated and on the verge of tears 5 minutes later when they got DQ’d. If you were watching with me you’d think I had lost the medal. I was that worked up.
Good show though guys. You still made us proud.4 Comments
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- Lose 6cm from my waistline
Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Oct 31: 81cm/ 88cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb