Yesterday morning was one of those mornings in the gym…
You know, those mornings where you’re tired. You’re achy. Your mind just isn’t in that #BeastMode and you are feelin a bit low on motivation.
Yesterday morning was all of the above for me.
Now normally when I’m really tired I can snap out of it once I really get going in the gym but unfortunately that mental fuzziness just did not let up and I was thankful by the end of my lift that I was done for the day. Yes, I have those days too.
So those days are frustrating yes BUT I have to stop myself from coming down on myself because you know what…?
I’m a human being. I’m not a machine. At least, that’s what one of my spotters told me when I complained that I wasn’t lifting to my standards.
It’s true though. We all have our off days and we have to push back that negative self talk and accept the fact that EVERYONE has these days and that it’s not the beginning of a downward spiral of crappy workouts. Plus, be proud that you pulled through the workout despite not feeling up to par!
You know what else helped to reassure me that my strength was not magically disappearing?
Starting a new workout log.
You see, I track my workouts in a lil notebook every day so that I know how my lifts are going. I write down my routine with all my weights and reps so that I can…
- Remind myself what weights I’m using
- Use those weights and/or reps to compete with myself and see if I can do better
- Check out the routines of the past few weeks worth of a given body part so that I don’t end up placing lifts in the same order
- Track new PR’s
That last point is what I wanted to share with you today and what gave me some pride after a tough workout, mentally and physically.
Whenever I finish a notebook and start a new one, I always look back at the previous few weeks and write my personal bests (reps and weights) on the first page so I know my starting point in that book and figure out what new goal weights I’m looking to hit that are reasonable given my current lifting status. After completing this current notepad and looking at my PR’s that began that book, I was amazed by the progress I had made in some of my major lifts.
After a substandard workout, this was a nice change of pace for me.
So, I decided to share with you my progress not because I want to boast about strength gains but because I want to always be open and honest with you guys about myself and these kinds of things are truly what make me proud of myself and keep that passion burning in the gym. It’s also a great log for myself too because if I’m ever in that ‘lack of motivation’ state as it shows how hard I have worked and where it has taken me.
So I started the book that I just finished on December 15 2012, which was midway through my final year in undergrad. Now, this seems like a long time ago (this book was quite large as you can probably tell) as it has about a year and a half worth of workout logs in it, but hey, progress is progress and any increase in strength is a win for me.
So without further ado, here are some of my major lifts and the corresponding progression from Dec 15/12 to now.
Squats. This one is quite a difference for me. I started off using dumbbells for squats because I was afraid of the barbell. I mean come on, I’m five feet tall and I’m pretty sure the bar is greater than that. So yes, I was scared. After making my way up to using 55lbs on each shoulder, I kept being asked by my spotters why I didn’t just go over to the squat rack so that I wouldn’t always need someone to help me with the weights. First response: I would be wobbling all over the place because the bar is so long. Second response: Because of said wobbling issue, I would have to drop my squat weight dramatically and I would loose what I had gained. After a few more weeks of being stubborn about it, I decided to be brave and go on over just to ‘test the waters’ with the bar and you know what? Said wobbles I was so afraid of lasted for only a few sets and I was able to throw a few plates on the bar that first day. Since then, lookee where I have worked up to! I will say that I enjoy being able to easily squat the bar with a 45lb plate on each side because I’m so lil and the weight looks huge. 😉
Overhead Barbell Press. Okay this one is meh BUT shoulders are my lagging body part, or that area on my body that seems to respond the slowest to training stimulation. It doesn’t gain muscle or strength very quickly. At some point, I did isolate shoulders out into their own workout because I wanted to work on them and I have really been loving this decision. In fact, shoulders have actually become my favourite workout of the week now.
Walking Lunges. This is another proud moment for me. I have gone from lunging 100lbs to 130lbs for 5 to 6 reps. A 30lb difference is quite a good jump for someone of my size I think. Okay, so size shouldn’t matter but hey, I can be proud that I’m 5 feet tall and can be lunging with these babies on my shoulders!
Bench Dips. Huge progress here! Weeeooo. This is one of the lifts I’m known for in my gym (along with lunges and wall sits). I’m super proud of where I have gotten with this lift and now I’m really focusing on slower and lower contractions to hit those tri’s even more.
Dumbbell Chest Press. I have enjoyed seeing my weights going up for this lift in particular because these weights look massive when I’m lifting them. I’m super proud that I can now rep out about 8 good quality reps with 40’s on decline bench press with no spotter. Chest press makes me feel really strong probably because I have always considered my upper body to be weaker and slow to progress in comparison to my legs (hello captain obvious, legs= bigger muscle which should tell me that they will be faster to see progress, but you know we are all irrational when it comes to critiquing ourselves).
Weighted Wall Sits. Now this is not within the same time frame as the other lifts but I wanted to show it because of the HUGE gains I have made with it. So I first started doing wall sits as a super set to another leg exercise back in October of last year as a way of burning out my hamstrings and wow 1 plate to 6 is quite the difference. My spotters now have to put these on my lap in 2 additions, amirite Dean?
So that’s it guys. Those are the major lifts that I had progression stats for and I have to say that I’m pretty happy with my gains. I have also put together a new lil list of new lifts that I have begun to incorporate in my training….
To end off this post, I wanted to share with you all the
death day lovely leg workout I pushed myself through this past Wednesday. As per usual, it was a doozy and I definitely felt it for the next few days. My body also told me loud and clear that I did not stretch long enough with my clicking hip flexors and tight calves. Opps. Do yo stretches peeps! Don’t be stupid and lazy like me.
Warmed up doing weighted planks with a 45lb plate on my back for 1:30 for 3 sets. I have added some dynamic movement into these as well through either stepping my feet one by one off the platform OR doing mountain climbers. I super set these planks with weighted (40lbs) decline situps. The situps include a 35lb drop set. ~15 mins to complete.
For the barbell squats, a normal stance was used and I did the last 3 sets with 155lbs for 6 reps, with the final set being a drop set with 135lbs. Due to the focus being on my squats and me just wanting to activate the hams and the glutes, I kept the hip thrusters a touch lighter at 105lbs for 6-7 reps with a final drop set at 95lbs.
Weighted wall sits were at my max of 6 total 45lb plates on zee lap for a whole 1:30 minutes. These were really tiring that day for some reason. I thought perhaps it was because I hadn’t done hip thrusters in a while and because I did glute cable kickbacks during my second working set, my hams and glutes were getting mighty tired at that point.
Lastly, the leg extension burnout round was set at my usual 145lbs for 7-8 reps with a final drop set at 115lbs until fail. I think I got like 3 at this point. These are done in conjunction (super set, no stopping) with goblet squats using a 60lb dumbbell. The goblets also have a final drop set where the goal is to really just die….err I mean burn out the booties through doing both pop squats and pulses.
I then crawled my way to the locker room, ate my post workout muffin, foam rolled, stretched and biked my sorry lil tush home to prep for 8 hours at work. Yeah, fun times.
Do you track your progress?
Which body part progresses the fastest for you?