Ok, I decided to follow dogbone's suggestion and start a gym log. I'm experimenting with a new routine so it'll help me track my progress and at the same time share stuff with others, like what works and what doesn't (for me, that is).
Today I started the 14-day Body Scultping Workout, Weeks 1-2, from The Body Sculpting Bible for Women. The authors are big believers in free weights, so there are no machine-based exercises in this workout (at least not in the first 2 weeks).
I have done free weights before, like for bicep curls, Back Rows, Shoulder presses, but machines are much easier because you don't need nearly as much skill as you need for free weights - the machine guides your movement, you don't have to use your own balance, core muscles, etc nearly as much on a machine. Result: my workouts have been performed on machines exclusively for the longest time. And needless to say, I wasn't thrilled with my progress of late.
So I was excited to start this free-weight workout. To make sure I did the exercises properly, I drilled them one by one (just the ones for today) before I went to the gym, following the directions in the book - I sure didn't want to get injured the first day! (not that I plan on later, but you know, there's something particularly embarassing and annoying about getting hurt the first day you try a new routine
The first 2 weeks of the 14-day workout you do modified compound supersets
- that is, you do 1 set of the first exercise, rest, do 1 set of the second exercise, rest, then start over. There are 8 exercises in total, paired up in 4 (modified compound) supersets:
#1: Back & Chest
Pushups (I'm a wimp, so I did Flat Barbell Presses instead)
#2: Shoulders & Calves
DB Shoulder Press
1-leg DB Calf Raises
#3: Biceps & Triceps
DB Bicep Curls
Overhead Tricep Extensions
#4: Thighs & Hamstrings
I started with very light weights because I wanted to focus on my form - I made a grid so I was taking note of which exercises I can do with heavier weights the next time, and on which ones I should stick with the low weights.
I decided to try training my calves: apparently training my calves will have a stabilizing effect on my knees, so I thought that'd be good; also, the rep range recommended is higher than the other exercises so I they should thicken up much. I found that for the time being, I should stick with doing the calf raises without any weight - at least the single-leg ones. The rest is ok.
I was really surprised about my lower body: the leg press was simply not challenging anymore, even when I upped the weight - I didn't really feel as if my muscles were being challenged
But after two sets each of Squats and Deadlifts, my legs were SINGING!
Boy I loved this routine. I could feel my muscles so much more. And because I have to focus on the muscle and on my form, I don't get bored and space out, so my workout is done faster (or at least it feels like it!
) and I felt so much stronger afterwards than I ever felt when performing exercises on the machines! Amazing - I didn't think it would make such a difference
Afterwards I did 25 minutes on the stationary bike, then stretched.
I already love this routine
and on Sunday I'll experiment with lunges, ballet squats, tricep kickbacks, 2-leg calf raises and upright rows... plus deadlifts, squats and 1-leg calf raises, which I already did today
Boy, this is going to be good
I feel like I might actually reach my body goals!