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Archive for April, 2009

Wow, it’s been a while #2

I have a feeling there will be a lot of these “Wow, it’s been a while” posts — assuming I don’t forget about this blog completely…

The blue Raleigh was finished, if I never mentioned it. C seems to be getting used to it. I think it looks great with the whitewall tires and the light blue bar tape. I used black electrical tape to secure the wrap in the middle, and it looks all right, but I might still put blue tape over it later. That bike is about 33 pounds with no rack or fenders, just a tiny bit lighter than my Sekai with rack and fenders, and he’s fast on it. He got up to almost 20 mph on flat road — pretty good for somebody who doesn’t ride a whole lot.

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Coworker of mine works out, lifting weights, about 5 days a week. When I went with him to a client site an hour and a half away, I joined him at the gym and he showed me a few exercises I could do to work on my arms (strapless wedding dress, and all that, now that the wedding’s 2 months away and I realize I haven’t actually done anything to make myself look good, since my normal exercise isn’t enough). Two days later I could barely move my arms; it was glorious. Later on I worked on my shoulders and back and it took about four days to get most of the soreness out. Then I worked my legs, and that wasn’t so bad, probably because I’ve spent so much time cycling (and didn’t really work the muscles as hard as I probably could have).

So I signed up at the same gym as my coworker (since it has locations in most areas, there will probably be one when I go to a client site) and I’ve worked out three days a week for two weeks. I’ve also been reading a lot and put together a workout of mostly compound exercises using freeweights and cable machines. There are a few reasons for using freeweights, which women tend to be intimidated by:

  • Machines (the non-cable kind) hold you to a specific range of movement. Freeweights make you stabilize yourself, which works the muscles required for the purpose and gives you better coordination.
  • Machines tend to isolate a particular muscle. This means you have to do more sets on more machines, which takes longer. For example, I could do 3 reps on each of four machines to work my legs…or I could do squats, which work the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and gluteal muscles all at once. I could do extra sets of bicep curls and tricep extensions…or I could do dips and pull-ups and work my back at the same time.

I’m not sure I’m actually saying this right, as the information hasn’t quite settled itself into my brain yet, but that’s the general idea.

Much as freeweights are touted, though, there are some things you can’t do against gravity. Pulldowns are easier than pullups, especially when the only place you can do assisted pull-ups (because you’re 30 pounds overweight and female) has a bar whose grip is too wide for you (because you’re a 5’3″ female). Plus the movement is slightly different, which makes exercises that work the same muscle feel like different exercises — helps with boredom.

So. My goals are simple:

  • Build muscle, which will burn fat
  • Gain strength and coordination

From what I’ve been reading, it’s a common fear among women that if they start lifting weights, they’ll bulk up and get too much muscle and be all unfeminine and shit. Also from what I’ve been reading, it’s damn near impossible for a woman to do so without spending hours and hours at the gym every day and eating a very particular diet involving protein powder (ew). So I’m going to focus on building muscle rather than “toning” it (focusing on endurance), which means I need to use enough weight that I am unable — not unwilling, but actually physically not able, as in the muscle simply won’t do it — to do more than 10 reps in a set (and if I can only do 6 on the last set, that’s just about the right amount of weight). Rest for two minutes or so, then do it again, 2 or 3 more times.

I haven’t actually read or heard this anywhere, but it seems to me that if I don’t have trouble scratching my nose after my workout on Arm Day, then I haven’t worked my arm hard enough. If I get on my bike after Chest/Arm Day and don’t wonder if I’m going to be able to hold myself up all the way home, I didn’t push myself as far as I could go. If I don’t get out of the gym on Leg Day and think how glad I am that I drove instead of riding my bike, I should have used more weight.

So here’s my method, which may will almost certainly change as I go:

  • Compound freeweight exercises working major muscle groups
  • 6-10 reps per set, 2-4 sets, 2-3 minutes rest in between sets
  • 3 days per week, no more than an hour per workout
  • Rough schedule:
    • Mondays: shoulders, back, and abs
    • Tuesdays: bike ride or legs
    • Wednesdays: chest, arms, and abs
    • Thursdays: light bike ride
    • Fridays: legs, abs
    • Saturdays (maybe): chest, shoulders, arms, back — lighter weights, more reps, less rest in between sets
    • Sundays: bike ride

I’ll mix it up as I need to, depending on circumstance.

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