Traveling? Modify Your Workouts!

Anyone who has traveled literally ever knows how challenging it can be to try to find time to exercise on a trip. Especially if that trip is one for work and your days are almost entirely consumed with work-related activities.

Between days full of meetings and education sessions, and evenings that have multiple events requiring your presence or attention, finding time to get even a 20 minute workout in can feel impossible.

That’s the situation I’m faced with this week. I’m on the road for the annual conference that the association I work for puts on. Fortunately, the hotel we’re taking over has a fitness facility and I’ve committed to working out at least three times during the five days I’m working there. Ideally, I’ll be able to make it happen all five days, but you know as well as I do that sometimes, you’re just too wiped by the end of the day.

Now, what might seem like a challenge is figuring out whether or not I’l be able to continue with my current workout routine. Currently, I’m doing a lot of barbell work – front and back squats, cleans, push jerks, thrusters, bench press, deadlifts… Without a barbell, these things seemingly become more difficult.

But that’s just how it seems. What’s cool is that al of these moves can be scaled or adjusted to be performed with Dumbbells or kettle bells. And some can even be done with body weight alone (I’m looking at you squats).

So, this week, depending on the equipment available to me, I’ve been doing my normal workouts or body weight workouts, based on the following:

Monday – bi tri/cardio
Row – 50 cal warm up – The likelihood that the hotel has a rower is slim, so I’ll probably just jog for five minutes or so
Standing curl – 4×8 (20)
Hammer curl – 4×8 (17.5)
Ez bar curl – 4×8 (35) – All of these cable-related lifts will be dependent on equipment. No cables? Tricep push-ups and kickbacks instead!
Tricep pushdown – 4×10 (55)
Rope pull down – 4×10 (38.5)

4 rounds
10 KBS (20)
10 burpees

Tuesday – legs
Back squat – 4×8 (185)
Box jump/air squat superset – 3 rounds, 10/15
Sled push – 1,2,3,2,1

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Wednesday – back
3:00 AMRAP (3 rounds)
Deadlift/push-up super set 185/135 – Deadlifts can be done with Dumbbells or kettle bells easily enough. I won’t be able to get up to my normal working weight, so I’ll probably up my AMRAP time to 5:00.

Barbell row 4×8 (135) – Dumbbells, lower weight, higher reps.

Cable row/lat pull down superset
4×10 (121) – If there’s no cable machine, I’ll add to my pull-up reps in the next movement.

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Thursday – chest
Straight bench – 4×8 (135-7,6,6,5) – Will sub with Dumbbells if necessary. Or push-ups if no Dumbbells are available.
Seated Fly – 4×8 (30×4)

15 min EMOM
18/12 cal row – If no rower, I’ll run!
18/12 air squat
18/12 dips

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Friday – shoulders
Thrusters – 4×8 (85) – Modify this with Dumbbells if necessary
Push press – 4×8 (75) – Modify this with Dumbbells if necessary

6 min EMOM
Wall ball thrusters max
Jump squats max

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Saturday – rest
Saturday is a travel day, so working out is a maybe. If I have time to do a short workout in the morning, I will, but I’m not going to scramble to make it happen.

Having a workout plan and schedule for the week should make my goal of working out while at Conference easier to achieve, but as well all know, things happen. In the event I can’t stick to my schedule, I’ll improvise, and that will be good enough. Because as long as I get to move my body and zone out for a little bit, I’ll be in a good spot.

A Few of My Favorite Things

With the beginning of the new year, I’ve got yet another new fitness regimen. We’ve worked up some new strength programming and have put a new focus on some HIIT-inspired movements.

Sweating for the wedding is real right now.

In an effort to stay inspired in the gym and feel good about the work we’re putting in, in conjunction with Clay’s new role at work being very focused on helping lead PT for his unit, our workouts have started to look very different.

It’s awesome.

What’s even more awesome though, is that Christmas meant new fitness accessories – and consequently better workouts. Its always interesting to me how having the right equipment can make such a big difference in how efficient your movements and lifts are. I feel so much better in the gym now that I’ve solved a couple of workout woes.

So what am I loving right now?

Nike Metcon 2

These shooooesssss you guys. If you’re doing weightlifting and cross-training workouts, these shoes are going to be your jam. I’ve read about them for a long time (I read a lot of fitness blogs, okay) and many athletes have shared how much they love this shoe. It’s an ideal cross-trainer, because while it’s the tiniest bit weighted and flat-soled for lifting stability, it also have a flexible forefoot, which means running and agility drills are comfortable. (I was going to say no sweat, but that is not the case at all. There is a lot of sweat.)

I’ve been using these bad boys for a couple of weeks and I’ve already noticed a significant difference. Squats, thrusters, push presses, and deadlifts all feel better – the flat sole of shoe connects me with the ground, and the solid heel helps keep my form correct. Workouts have gotten harder, but my feet are happier.

Nordic Lifting Wrist Wraps 

Originally, I bought wrist wraps and straps for Clay for Christmas. He was about them and has used them pretty much every day he could since then. Of course, his raving made me want to try them… and I borrowed his wrist wraps on days when we were bench pressing and immediately I noticed the difference. I’d never really thought I needed or wanted more wrist support, but the added stability has really helped me to continue to move heavier weight at higher reps. My wrists feel safer all around.

Qalo Ring

I’ve written about my Qalo rings before, but I can’t stress enough how much I love them. Qalo offers silicone rings to wear in place of your wedding or engagement rings while you workout, work or play outside. Throwing around weights and barbells can do gnarly damage to your jewelry AND your fingers if something gets caught wrong. Not to mention all that sweat. No good can come from that. I have a couple of these rings and I wear them a lot – always when I’m at the gym, sometimes when I go to Kazaxe and on days when I’m doing a lot of cleaning or hiking or playing outside. They have a ton of fun colors and styles, and even some rings whose proceeds go to charitable organizations.

It’s important to remember, thought, that at the end of the day, fitness equipment is just that – equipment. It doesn’t work unless you do. It’s not meant to turn you into a super athlete, its meant to help you be more efficient, more effective and safer in your workouts so that you can get the most out of them. So, lace up, strap in and get going!

 

Weekend Hangover and #WeddingWednesday

I’m writing this post to you on Tuesday, for Wednesday, but it was originally supposed to be up Monday.

That should give you some idea of how this week has started for me.

I had a three-day weekend, which you think would mean that I got lots done or rested or got my ish together. Unfortunately, none of that was the case. The things I took off to do on Friday? Not done. Lunch with friends? Spoiled by a parking ticket (that I didn’t even deserve!). No time for the gym for three days between running errands, and rehearsals and choir concerts. Football Sunday was shaping up to be a good day, and then the Packers lost.

And then it was Monday and I forgot to write a post. So, here we are.

I think I’ve managed to move past that nonsense though, finally getting back in the gym yesterday with Clay (he’d been traveling for two weeks for work). Brilliant us decided that leg day was the best way to get back at it and though these deadlifts look easy, they were just the beginning of a “let’s just slay ourselves” evening under the barbell.

Picking up heavy things really helped me shake off the weekend and the general bummer that it was. I remembered that my guy was finally home and how much more I like working out when he’s with me. I remembered that even though the Packers lost, I still got to spend Football Sunday with good friends and enjoyed good food. I remembered that despite a parking ticket, I got to see some of my favorite people, even if it was just for a couple of hours. And at the end of the day, all the weekend lameness was just that. Lameness. It goes away.

There are so many more things to be grateful for – I really don’t need to complain about anything at all.

My mission for the rest of this week?

  1. Sleep more. I’ll feel a lot more together with more than 5 hours of sleep each night.
  2. Meal Plan.  Now that Clay is home, I can’t just skate by with half a grilled chicken breast for dinner anymore. Back to the list making!
  3. Gym. Our schedules are pretty normal for the next couple of weeks – time to find our routine again.
  4. Work on Wedding Playlists. We’re doing our own DJ-ing, so I’ve been collecting song ideas for the ceremony, cocktail hour and dance portions of the evening. Time to sit down and spend some quality time with my iTunes library and a spreadsheet.

Happy Hump Day!

What are some of your must-hear wedding jams? What gets you on the dancefloor? I’m taking suggestions!

We Are Never Getting Back Together: The BMI Scale

Weh-heh-heh-hehlllll…. this post has been a long time coming. This particular issue has loooong been one that I’ve had strong feelings about, but recent developments have really begun to grind my gears. Maybe it’s because I’ve changed my fitness routine that I’m facing it more head-on, but damn if I’m not righteously pissed at what that crappy height-weight ratio has done to my brain.

plate curls

Some background:

The body mass index scale (BMI) was established in the early nineteenth century – so, you know, it’s vintage – by a guy named Adolphe Quetelet who was working on what he called “social physics” and the BMI was meant to measure obesity rates in populations. Seems simple enough, but therein lies the problem.

This crude scale, which calculates your BMI indicator by diving your weight (in kg) by your height (in m), really only measures tissue mass as a whole and doesn’t take into consideration your body composition at all. So, when calculating your BMI, it doesn’t matter if you carry more belly fat or are a body builder – the numbers on the scale are the only ones that matter.

Though science has advanced significantly since 1830, this calculation, unfortunately, has not. In 1973, scientist Ancel Keys said of the BMI calculation: “…if not fully satisfactory, [it is] at least as good as any other relative weight index as an indicator of relative obesity.”

Um. WAT.

That’s basically saying “this calculation we’ve been using for more than 100 years is pretty bad, and even though we have new math and new science things that would probably be more accurate, it’s fine.”

And thus we see how society has adopted BMI as the accepted, “easy” indicator for who is overweight and what a “normal” body type looks like.

Numbers. We’ve been conditioned to respond to numbers with a positive or negative reaction regardless of the type of work we’re putting in at the gym or how our body is built. Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 7.13.06 PM

That’s total crap if you ask me. And I say that as someone who is just as susceptible to those reactions as anyone else: according to that scale, I’m overweight.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks the scale is a loser. Recently, Hellogiggles published an article discussing a recent study that debunks the BMI scale as a measure of health. It’s a good read and definitely preaches to the choir – as an athlete, I’ve long felt misrepresented by the scale.

From the time I was 3, I’ve been involved in some sort of athletic activity. I played basketball from the time I was 6 through college. I was a double varsity athlete in high school and was voted “Most Likely to be on the Cover of Sports Illustrated” my senior year. I skied, snowboarded, ran, and hiked every year of my childhood. As an adult, I’ve continued playing the sports I love and began running and lifting weights. I love being active and I know I’m a pretty healthy individual.

For equally as long, I’ve been able to find things about my body I didn’t like. Or a thing, rather. No matter how active I’ve been, I’ve always – always – had a little belly. My teammates all had nice flat tummies and I was over here with my belly pudge. I also always weighed just a little bit more than my friends. Not a lot. But enough that I never really liked to bring it up. But I actually didn’t think too much about it because I was so athletic, and I would say that growing up, I had a very healthy relationship with food and body image.

As an adult, however, I’ve encountered instances where the numbers on the scale have predetermined something about me to someone else, and that’s really not a good feeling.

abs

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that in the last 6 months or so, I’ve really taken to lifting weights in favor of running or cycling. I’ve built a ton of muscle and I’m so proud of the strides I’ve made. The gainz have been in my favor.

But, gainz in the gym also mean gains on the scale. Muscle is more dense that fat – a fact many of us are familiar with. More muscle therefore equals more weight. Not a bad thing, right? If one’s goal is to build muscle and strength, you want this result. I want this result.

Unfortunately, because society has warped my brain, I still have a hard time with this paradox. Stepping on the scale at my doctor’s appointment last week and seeing “158” blink at me from the display, I felt… disappointed. Like all the work I’ve been doing in the gym wasn’t helping. Like all of that 158 pounds was sitting right around my tummy and everyone could see my gross muffin top.

I texted my lifting partner (who is also my boyfriend) and whined. His response was perfect: “Muscle mass. You squat 185 pounds for reps. That happens. Ignore the number.”

After some more whining from me and some more rational words from him, I felt better. He was right. That number is just a number. It doesn’t say anything except how much gravity is affecting my body mass, and that’s a pretty empty statistic.

I still have my hang ups, but I’m working really hard to focus on making progress in the gym and reaching my fitness goals – which have nothing to do with the number on the scale or what the BMI says that I am and everything to do with feeling good about what my body is capable of accomplishing.

Weight Lifting Wednesday

It’s been a while. Oops.

The holidays happened. Then I moved. Now January is almost over and I feel like I don’t know where it went. Gah.

In all of this busy-ness, running has kind of fallen to the curb. I’ve run maybe twice since the Baltimore marathon in October. I’m signed up for a couple of races this spring, but honestly, I’m enjoying the break. From running at least.Look at those musclesssss

What have I been doing in the meantime?

Lifting a lot of heavy things.

The boyfrannnd is a Marine and that means being in shape and PT tests and since we both like fitness (and beer and pizza), we find ways to workout together so we can eat and drink together, too. We’ve crafted a workout schedule that is mostly weight training, balanced with some cardio and I’ve really been feeling great. Physically and mentally. It’s a huge boost to my self esteem to see the numbers on the plates tick up week to week.

By no means are we preparing for any body building or bikini figure contests, but damn if my arms and traps and lats don’t look way better than they used to.

Weight lifting can be super intimidating – I get it – but with the right plan for you, it can be the best workout you’ve ever gotten.

Just to give you a taste, here’s a week in the life of my current training schedule:

 

Monday: Back/Shoulders

  • Pull-up pyramid(5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5)/push-ups (10) superset
  • Military Press: 65#; 4×10
  • Barbell Rows: 115#; 4×10
  • Lat pull downs: 104#; 4×10
  • Tricep pull-up pyramid (5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5)

Tuesday: Legs

  • Squats: 165#; 4×12 (we opted for reps over weight here, whereas our last training cycle was focused more on heavy lifts and I was squatting 195#-200#)
  • Deadlifts: 165#; 2×10

Wednesday: Chest

  • Straight bench: 105#; 4×8
  • Incline bench: 95#; 4×8
  • Decline bench 105#; 4×8

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Bi/Tri

  • Standing curl (27.5#)/dips (10) superset: 4×10
  • Reverse grip pull downs : 55#; 4×10
  • EZ Bar Curls: 50#; 4×10
  • Tricep pushdowns: 55#; 4×10
  • Rope curls: 55#; 4×10
  • Plate curl drop sets: 45#, 35#, 25#

Saturday/Sunday: Cardio 
IMG_2009
I mean, one of the most frustrating things I hear from women is that they “don’t want to get big.” Now, I totally get the not wanting to look like some juiced-up East German Olympian with a lady ‘stache, but muscles are hot! And being strong is sexy. I love looking in the mirror and knowing that the reason my shirt is a little tighter or my jeans are filled out more is because I can squat more than what my boyfriend weighs.

Stringing together pull-ups, a thing I haven’t been able to do since I was a kid, is awesome. The day I finally put up 135# on my bench press? I felt like such a badass. Not to mention the fact that lifting weights is an incredible way to build core strength (without having to do a million crunches or other silly ab workouts) and is great cross training for running, biking or other cardio-based workouts.

If you’re at all intrigued by weight training – ask a trainer about it! When you’re at the gym, don’t be intimidated, just do some reading and research and give it a try. Make a plan, start light and get lifting!