01 April 2011

Gymming it Up

"Damn girl, you've got great arms"

And so my morning (a few days ago) started with a compliment, albeit one from another female, which, I'm going to admit, was a bit awkward at AM. 

I have been super stressed out over this Concepts essay and so have found it necessary to take some 'personal-time' each day in order to keep perspective as to what is important. (I can tell you what isn't important - Hardt & Negri's 'Empire'.) On Tuesday, this meant a 9-mile run at a 7:27 pace. Wednesday, because my legs are still somewhat fried after Saturday's 20-miler, it meant going to the Kinetic Gym at Waterloo. As I believe I've mentioned before, it's a fairly simple set-up (a few bikes, treadmills, nice range of strength machines, weight room, and cardio room) compared to some of the snazzier gyms I've seen in London, but it suits my needs nicely. Plus, its only about 1.75 miles from my flat so I can easily run or walk there. Brilliant.

I knew it was not going to be a running day after my 'easy' run to the gym felt like a workout in and of itself. This frustrates me to no end since I used to run on the treadmill at SMCM every day and sometimes twice a day! But I suppose that pounding the asphalt, concrete, and cobblestones day in and day out are taking their toll on my worn-out body. A friend told me yesterday that you are only as old as you feel. In that case, I am roughly 110 today. Anyway, I ended up riding the cycle for 20 miles and then headed to the cardio room for my strength workout, which is where I received the unexpected compliment. 

Since I have received several emails (like 2 if one really wishes to be accurate) asking about the type of strength training that I do, I've decided to post my most recent circuit training.

Strength (Repeat entire circuit twice) **I do this using 3kg dumb-bells (1kg -- 2.2 lbs)
 *30 seconds running arms (Stand with right foot forward as if about to run. While feet and legs remain stationary, mimic running movement with arms while holding weights. Perform for 30 seconds and then switch to repeat exercise with left foot in front)

*10 single leg squats (While holding weights at sides, lift right foot off ground and slowly lower into shallow squat with left leg. Repeat 10 times and then switch to perform exercise with left foot off the ground.) (Note: Only squat as low as is comfortable. This is a tricky exercise and it takes a while for strength to build! You can also modify by performing the exercise without weights.)

*15 leg lifts (Lying on your side on the floor, bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle and rest your head in your hand. Bend bottom leg at a 45 degree angle and extend top leg. Lift 6 inches off the floor. Slowly lift leg another 6 inches before lowering (slowly). The key to this exercise is about maintaining proper form rather than lifting your leg as high as you can. Make sure that your upper body weight rests on your elbow and that you do not lean over-forward or backwards. Repeat 15 times before switching to other side.)

*15 inner thigh lifts (For proper form, see: http://pilates.about.com/od/pilatesmat/ht/ThighLift.htm)

*15 knee pull-ins (Assuming the same position as when performing the leg lifts, extend top leg and raise 6 inches off the ground. Making sure to remain on side, bring knee in as far as you can towards your chest, before extending out straight again. Repeat 15 times and then switch to other side.)

*15 Abs Matrixes (or should that be matrices?) (In the standing position with a free weight in each hand, raise arms at 90 degree angles above head. Extend right leg in front of you so that you are balancing on the left. Maintaining this pose, straighten right above head. Return to 90 degree angle. Then raise the left arm above your head. This makes 1 repetition. Repeat for a total of 15 reps and then switch so that you are balancing on your left leg.)(If this description does not make sense, see: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-263-266-13384-0,00.html . Click the  'Abs Matrix' illustration at the bottom for a demonstrational video).

*15 bicep curls (Self-explanatory. Remember to keep arms tucked in to your sides (elbows should not flare outwards) and keep motions tightly controlled.)

*15 overhead presses (In a standing position with a free weight in each hand, raise arms to a 90 degree angle over head. Raise both weights in the air until arms are straight (but not locked). Lower slowly and repeat for a total of 15 reps.)

*15 triceps kickbacks (In a standing position, hold free weights loosely at sides. Lean forward and kick back with your right leg while extending arms behind you (in a controlled motion) to work the triceps. Return to starting position and repeat exercise with left leg. This makes 1 rep. Repeat for a total of 15 reps.) (*Note: You should never be swinging the weights behind you. The benefit comes from maintaining control.)

*15 triceps dips (See: http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseworkouts/ss/tricepexercises_7.htm for information on how to perform this one. Note: I perform it standing, but it may provide additional benefit when performed on a ball.)

*15 dumb bell chest fly (In a standing position, raise weights to chest level so that they are parallel to each other and your elbows are flared. Slowly extend arms to sides so that your body is making a 'T'. Return to starting position and repeat for 15 reps.)

*15 dumb bell rows (Yet another exercise I can't begin to describe. See: http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseworkouts/ss/backexercises_6.htm ).

Core (Repeat entire circuit twice)
*15 Bird Dogs (Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Extend your right leg behind you so that it is roughly at the height of your back (this is not a donkey kick where it goes higher than back level). At same time, extend your left arm forwards so that your body is making a straight line from extended right leg to extended left arm. Hold for 5 seconds and then return to starting position. Repeat exercise with left leg and right arm. This makes 1 rep. Repeat for 15 reps.) (See: http://exercise.about.com/od/abs/ss/abmoves1_3.htm )

*15 Russian Twists (While lying on back on floor, assume the same position as if you were getting ready to perform a sit up. Holding a medicine ball (3-5kg) between your hands, raise chest and shoulders so that your upper body is at a 45 degree angle off the floor. Twist with medicine ball so that chest is facing towards the left. Slowly return to center and then twist to the right. Return to center. This makes 1 rep. Repeat 15 times. *Note* These can be performed either slow (if using a heavier weight) or fast (if using lighter weight). If performing fast, the benefit comes from performing as many as possible in a set time length (say 30 seconds.)

*15 Lunges (Pretty self-explanatory. Perform 15 lunges on the left leg and then 15 on the right. Only lower as far as is comfortable for your body and make sure that knee never extends out over your foot. Also, if you find yourself unable to keep your balance when lowering into the lunge, engage your core muscles.)


*15 Bridges(See the image to the right. When you raise butt and hips off floor, hold for 5-10 seconds at the top before lowering to ground. Repeat 15 times. *Note: To make this exercise more challenging, you can alternate extending your legs whilst performing the bridge.)


*15 Metronomes (See picture at right. Lying on back, extend arms out to either side. Raise legs in air so that your body is making a 90 degree angle. (Alternatively: if you find keeping your legs completely extended uncomfortable, bend knees so that they are at a 90 degree angle). Keeping hips on floor, swing legs to the right so that they are parallel to the floor (but are not actually touching the ground). Return legs back to the center and then swing to the left. Returning to the center makes for 1 rep. Repeat for a total of 15 reps, without letting legs rest on the floor in between),

*50 Situps (Self-explanatory)

*NOTE: I am obviously not a doctor or medical professional. Heck, I sometimes have trouble just keeping myself in one piece. I'm just posting this because: a) someone asked, and b) it has worked for me.

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