Thursday workout

I really love that the New Rules workouts are so quick, yet so effective.  Today I was done in 22 minutes (must have been more efficient at getting from the free weights area to the kaiser room to switch between alternating sets!), not including warm up/cooldown.  I had a better performance in every exercise, either by increasing weights or by actually managing to finish the reps!

  • Deadlift – 2 x 12.  Set 1 – 40kg, set 2 – 45kg.
  • Dumbell shoulder press – 2 x 12.  8kg dumbbells.
  • Wide grip lat pull down – 2 x 12. Set 1 – 28kg, set 2 – 35kg
  • Lunges – 2 x 12/12. Set 1 – 8kg dumbells. Set 2 – bodyweight.
  • Swiss ball crunches – 2 x 10. 10kg weight on chest.

The shoulder presses and lunges are the biggest challenge for me in this workout.  My shoulders are a weak area, so finishing the reps is HARD.  With the lunges it’s the sheer time it takes to do 24 total reps (12 each leg); maintaining good form for that time is a challenge.  Oddly it’s my grip that fails first because the 8kg dumbells are so chunky.  I just couldn’t hold onto them for a second set, so I may scount around the gym for a different set with a narrower grip.

I’m off to London tomorrow to go to the Friday of Hard Rock Calling, so that’s 2 days that are technically rest days.  I reckon it’ll do me a lot of good, and I’m looking forward to really nailing Sunday morning’s workout – my first foray into the world of 3 sets!


Jackknifes, ARGH!

Today was my second attempt at workout A from Stage 1 of the New Rules of Lifting for women.  For the most part it was great – a challenging, varied workout that hits my whole body.

But the jackknifes.  Oh, the jackknifes.

There’s just something about them.  I have a love/hate relationship in the making – I just want to love them, but at the moment they’re not making it easy.  See, it’s a great whole body exercise that forces you to engage the entire core to maintain stability.  Trouble is, I can’t!  I can do maybe 4-5 reps in a row, and it feels great – I can feel my whole core working and I start to really sweat.

And then I fall off the ball.

And after mayb 20 seconds rest, I can manage another 3-4 reps.  Then 2-3.

I don’t get it.  Well, I do – I’ve always had horrendous balance and proprioception – but I don’t know what to do to go about improving matters.  I guess all I can do is keep doing jackknifes every time my workouts demand it, and try to get an extra rep or two every time.  It’s so frustrating because I feel pretty strong in the rest of my workout (increased my seated row weight today), but right at the end the damn jackknifes are there to trip me up, rub my face in the mud and laugh at me.


Maybe next time I’ll manage 6 reps…

New Rules, Workout B

The New Rules of Lifting for Women is split into several stages; stage 1 has 2 workouts, named A & B which are to be performed 8 times.  So far, I love them both…but then I’ve only done them once, and haven’t had time to learn to hate them!

Workout B is just as simple as workout A, which I wrote about a few days ago.  It consists of deadlifts, shoulder presses, lat pull-down, lunges and swiss ball crunches.  This time I was done in 26 minutes (not counting some cooldown stretches), and once again I felt great afterwards.  My only problem at the moment is that the first few workouts have high reps, so that I’m forced to keep the weights a little smaller than I’d like.  I’m getting very fatigued by the end of each set but recovering pretty quickly, so I’m looking forward to the later workouts where I do more sets of fewer reps.

From memory (my training log is in the other room and I’m feeling far too lazy to fetch it!), my workout looked something like:

  • Dead lifts – 2 sets at 40kg, 15 reps each.
  • Dumbbell shoulder press – 2 x 15, with 8kg dumb-bells.  These were HARD.  My shoulders are pretty weak, and I couldn’t finish the 2nd set.
  • Wide-grip lat pulldown – 2 x 15, with 28kg on the stack.
  • Lunges – 2 x 15/15, bodyweight only. alternating legs.  I started the first set holding 8kg dumbells, but after about 5 reps each leg I could tell that wasn’t going to work!
  • Swiss ball crunches – 2 x 8.  Set 1 was bodyweight, set 2 with 5kg on chest.  Need to start with 10kg next time I think.

This program is really showing up some interesting imbalances.  For instance, I couldn’t finish the prescribed number of jackknifes in workout A, but the crunches in workout B barely even registered.  Have I become so conditioned to crunches through years of group fitness that they do nothing for me?  Or is it just because jackknifes are a more challenging, whole body exercise?

I was meant to be doing workout A again today, but I defied New Rules authors and twitter buddies alike, and trained on my rest day yesterday by doing a spinning class and body pump.  Big mistake!  So today has become a rest day instead, which is fine, and I’ll do workout A tomorrow while the OH is spinning.  Poor sod is jealous that while he’s doing counter-productive (for him) endurance cardio, I’m getting a great workout.  That’s the hazard of working in group fitness!

New Rules, Day 1

Finally!  It feels like I’ve been waiting for weeks, but my copy of the New Rules of Lifting for Women arrived yesterday.  I read the whole thing  before bedtime (except exercise descriptions – will get to those as and when needed!) and was determined to start ASAP – which meant this morning!

Stage 1, workout A is pretty straightforward.  Not easy, but straightforward; squats, push-ups, rows, step-ups and jackknifes.  My weight selection was a little hit and miss but I had a great workout!

  • Squats – 50kg, set 1 15 reps, set 2 14 reps.  Not sure if my form was quite there – I maydrop the weight back to 45kg or so next time, just to be sure, or take advantage of the shorter sets to make sure my form is PERFECT.
  • Push-ups – 30 degree option, 2 x 15.  These were HARD!
  • Seated row – 15 reps at 30kg, then 15 reps at 40kg.  I actually put 20kg on the stack when I first sat down, but after 1 or 2 reps it was clearly too light so I increased it and started again.  Next time I want to start at 45kg.
  • Step ups – holding 2 dumbbells, 10kg each, 2 sets of 15 reps each leg.  Again, these were much harder than I expected, and I could barely finish the reps second time through.
  • Prone jackknifes – I had never done this exercise before, and had no idea how hard it would hit my entire core.  I mis-read my notes and did 12 first set with pretty bad form – the ball was far too close to my knees.  Second set was much better, but I only managed 6 reps out of the 8 demanded.  Definitely one to work on!

I felt great at the end – I had worked hard (and left a little puddle of sweat on the mat as proof), but I wasn’t totally wrecked.  I really enjoyed the alternating sets (push-ups/seated rows and step-ups/jackknifes) and the fact that I got a total body workout in about 25 minutes.  I know that’s entirely possible (and even preferable) with kettlebells, but I’ve never followed a structured program with those….and tend to keep going for a good 40 minutes because I’m having fun!

I’m meant to rest tomorrow, but I’m not sure my brain can process that thought.  I may take part in OH’s body pump class as a kind of active recovery, or have a very light kettlebell workout.  Next NROL4W session: Saturday morning, workout B.  Can’t wait!

New Rules & kettlebells

Finally – my copy of the New Rules of Lifting for Women arrived today.  I’ve already read a couple of chapters, and really enjoying Lou Schuler’s unique style of writing.  The comic touch helps all his excellent points hit home, and stick that little bit easier.  I’m looking forward to finishing the book and starting the most important part – the workouts.

Meanwhile, I’ve been training much as usual the last few days.  Yesterday consisted of a spin class first thing (OH’s regular Tuesday morning), then a kettlebell session later on.  KB training consisted of:

  • 5 x 20 swings, double-handed. 20kg.
  • 5 x 5/5 bottoms-up presses, 8kg.  These are HARD!  I know it’s silly to do ‘small’ exercises first, but I fatigue too quickly to do them later.
  • 5 sets of  2 single-hand swings & 2 high pulls with the 20kg.  I really want to improve my snatches with the lighter bells and since we don’t have the equipment (YET!) to do double-bell work, I’m going for the big weights. My grip won’t tolerate more high pulls with the 20kg – yet.
  • 2 x 5/5 windmills, 16kg.

I really enjoy Tuesday night kettlebell class.  It can mean a lot of compromises with equipment – if we have 3 women turn up needing to use only 2 ‘ladies size’ bells (the 8kg and 12kg), things can get a bit sticky.  But the experience of working out in an environment of friendly support and encouragement is totally worth it.

OH is hoping to start some form of kettlebell club soon.  There’s already one in the region that we don’t want to compete with, just encourage more people to get lifting.  It will probably be called Northern Kettlebells, and he’s already in correspondance with a guy who runs a very successful fitness business and who is supplying lots of advice and support.

Watch this space 🙂

32kg, revisited

I am absolutely wrecked after this morning’s training, and my hands aren’t talking to me anymore.  Today I had some real fun with the new 32kg bell – so much so that I really need to have a nap shortly!  But first, my training diary.

I started with a 5 minute snatch test…except I forgot my watch.  OH lent me his which I though was set for 5mins work/2mins rest….only to have it go off when I was 2 minutes in.  After a bit of flustered button mashing I decided to carry on til the rest timer reached 2 minutes – 2+3=5 minutes right?  But there were too  many number buzzing round my head but this point and I lost count of reps.  I think I was in the high 60s at that point with about 90 seconds left, but I can’t be sure.  I’m going to give my hands a few days to recover before I try again.

Then it was swing time.  OH had the 32kg bell out but had finished using it, so I went for 10 sets of 5 reps.  The challenge of keeping good posture, especially keeping my shoulder blades properly retracted was immense, but the buzz was worth it.  I think some of the blokes in the free weights area were a little bemused to see little old me swinging that massive bell for all I was worth!

OH and I both finished off with 5 sets of 5/5 Russian twists.  I was only using the olympic bar with a single 5kg plate on the end but by the last set my entire core was screaming at me – what a great exercise!  It’s something I’ve messed with before, but never done any full sets.

So after a big meal (me, OH, one roast chicken, two forks; awesome) it’s time for a nap and some heavy duty moisturiser for my hands.  I have a feeling I may need a rest day tomorrow….

32kg baby!

My fiancé has been trying to buy some new kettlebells for a while, but the whole world has been out of stock – or at least it feels that way.  We wanted an 8kg & 12kg for his clients (our existing 12kg isn’t very nice at all), and a 28kg for him.  We managed to find an 8kg in John Lewis yesterday (which is absolutely fine apart from its silly rubber base, which we may have to rip off in disgust at some point), but still no luck on the 12kg or 28kg.

But we did find a 32kg

In a clearance sale.

For £45.

You just can’t say no to that kind of thing, can you?  Especially when it’s a tax deductable expense….

So it arrived this lunchtime, and we took it straight out to play with.  OH was happily snatching, jerking, windmilling and TGUing with it straight away, and I certainly enjoyed swinging it.  A friend took some video, which I’ll try to get a copy of.  While OH was playing (and being grateful that he bought some chalk the other day), I had a great session:

  • 32kg swing, 5 reps
  • 16kg snatch, 5×5/5.
  • 16kg windmill 2×3/3
  • 32kg swing, 10 reps

So today’s workout broke records in more than one way; I’ve never even seen a 32kg in the flesh before, never mind lifted one!  And I’ve never managed 5×5/5 snatches with the 16kg before; did 2×5/5 last night during kettlebell class, but I got too distracted chatting to members to finish my sets.  I need to work on getting more TGUs and windmills in, but it’s proving a challenge with the 16kg, while the 12kg is just too light.  I may try some kind of strategy that alternates the 12kg & 16kg every set, because I feel I’m neglecting those movements, which I really like.

Speaking of kettlebell class, it’s a great atmosphere in there; never any more than 4 or 5 people, who all come along because they’re really interested in doing something a little different.  We hope to expand it to a proper kettlebell club at some point; there’s an existing kettlebell club here who we don’t want to compete with, but we do want to offer a bit more to these cool people who’ve been supporing OH for a long time now. In any case, the OH chose yesterday to announce to the class that if he’s ever busy (which he often is when newbies come in), then folks were to come to me with any questions.


What a huge compliment!  It’s a small class, and everyone is aware that I’m advising as a keen amateur with no qualifications, but I was rather gobsmacked.  And nerve-wracked.  But mainly hugely flattered.

Thanks hon 🙂

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