On the morning of Day 2, I wake up with an upper body that feels like it has spent the previous day doing a lot of waterskiing; stretched-out, sore, arms kind of floppy. I’m hoping this is a sign that the work I did on Day One was effective. On Day Two of the LiveFit Trainer, we are focusing on what Jamie refers to as ‘the bombshell muscles’, biceps and back, on Day Three, we move on to legs and calves, and we finish out the week on Day Four with Shoulders and Abs
I like not having to decide what I am going to do each time I enter the gym. So many days I stand outside the locker room pondering which form of torture I will choose (Elliptical? Noooo, I got a side stitch yesterday when I did that……Stationary bike? Noooooo, I don’t feel like having a forty-five minute wedgie………….Treadmill? Nooooo, too many skinny people running too quickly, I’ll look like a clumsy oaf). With the day pre-planned, I don’t have to waste time hemming and hawing, and my workout feels less like torture and more like a challenge. Learning how to use the machines and pushing myself to complete the required sets and repetitions is turning out to be pretty fun and appeals to a facet of human nature that can help us all out: our innate competitiveness. Even if you don’t have a gym buddy (I don’t, my Fitness Freak Friends all go while I am still sound asleep), you can compete with yourself to make sure you are trying your hardest.
The thing I am having the most trouble with in these workouts is ensuring I am isolating the right muscle group during each exercise and not allowing other muscles to help out. This is much harder than one would think; it is counterintuitive not to use your core muscles to help you lift something that your bicep alone is having to work pretty hard to lift, and as I look around the gym during my rest breaks, I notice that I am not the only one facing this problem. If, especially when we are doing any of the standing-up exercises that we come to as we move along, for example the front delt raises on Day Four, we are using our lower back to help lift or give us momentum, we are not exercising effectively for two reasons. Reason one is simply if we are using our back to complete a move designed for the shoulder, our shoulder won’t get any stronger. Reason two is that we are going to hurt our backs. I have decided that I am not impressed with the muscle-bound beefcakes who are grunting and sweating to lift a super-heavy weight but are using their lower backs as a fulcrum to help swing the weight to complete the exercise. Trade down, dude, and save your spine some grief! There is no shame in using lighter weights as you move along and your muscles get tired. It is good to push yourself, but not to the point of a herniated disc.
The workout that left me the most sore was a HUGE surprise to me. I was pretty sore after Day One, but Day Three, the legs and calves workout, left me mincing along like I had peg legs for the remainder of the week. Day Three was a Thursday for me, and on the following Monday, I was still feeling the burn in my quadriceps (their friends call them quads). My legs are the most in shape part of my body thanks to the amount of walking I do daily and my frequent horseback riding , so I felt comfortable challenging myself and did not expect to to be sore at all. Leg press, leg curls, calf raises, no problem. What really got me was the wide stance barbell squat. I underestimated the power of the squat! To perform this exercise, I used just the barbell, no extra weight, and it was difficult to keep my balance when I lowered my body, and then my poor little legs had to propel both body and bar back to an upright position. My quads griped for several days about being over worked and under paid.
What is your biggest challenge when you exercise? Boredom, fatigue, or maybe, like me, you have wimpy quads that threaten to give out on you instead of push you back to standing when doing a squat?