Strength Friday – 07/06/12

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In my quest for lean superhero-ness, I’m following the Wendler 5/3/1 strength training program. Twice a week, Dave and I are hitting the craptastic gym in our Converse to lift heavy and crank through a mini-metcon.

Consistency is sexy.

As I explained on Monday, I’m committed to taking a 60-minute walk every day this month. This was my workout plan for the week, and so far, so good:

Sunday — walk 60:00 – Done!
Monday — weights / walk 60:00 – Done!
Tuesday — walk 60:00 / kundalini yoga – Done!
Wednesday — walk 10:00 + run 1:00, rest to full recovery for 20:00 + walk 30:00 – Done!
Thursday — walk 60:00 – Done!
Friday — weights / walk 60:00 – Weights Done! Walk scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Saturday — walk 10:00 + run 1:00, rest to full recovery for 20:00 + walk 30:00 / hatha yoga

A few observations from the walking trail:

It’s felt really good to get out and move every day.
This is the first time in months that I’ve made time for activity every single day, and the difference has been pretty dramatic already. I feel active. Engaged. It’s not the same kind of buzz as CrossFit, but damn! it feels great to have that consistency of activity again. And the running intervals workout was challenging in that painful-ish way that I love. I’m using a heart rate monitor to make sure I fully recover between intervals, based on the advice I read here. Specifically, this is what guided my new approach:

1. Traditional weight training with plenty of time between sets (3-5 minutes between sets). This is the original interval training as it teaches the body to exert and then recover. You can also engage in short complete recovery intervals.  This means you push hard for 1 minute and then you move in slow motion until the heart rate returns to resting before repeating (limit this to 20 minutes or less).  The most dysfunctional metabolism will only be able to do one work bout because the heart rate will never return to resting. This method allows you to measure your progress.

2. Leisure walking, restorative yoga (not intense power yoga) and/or tai chi.  All of these train the parasympathetic nervous system to regain function.  Some will need brain chem training as well such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness meditation to quite the mind which can be an insidious trigger for sympathetic overdrive.

The recovery of walking has made it easier to go hard.
Both mentally and physically, I’ve pushed harder in my “hard” workouts this week, knowing that the next day (and in some cases, later that same day), I’d be talking a stroll around the lake. When I wrote this piece for Breaking Muscle, I emphasized the value in designating hard workouts and hitting them like you’re a sledgehammer — and then alternating those with recovery days. I’m actually taking my own advice now. Look at that!

Consistency makes me feel good.
I’ve been honest about my desire to lose weight, but whether my body gets leaner or not, I feel better emotionally when I’m consistent with my eating habits and my training schedule. And in the “I’m so vain,” department, it’s been three months since I started my new supplement protocol, and I think I can see some progress in my upper body and legs. There were a few miserable moments at my appointment with Dr. Sebring in which he squeezed different (mushy) parts of my body and identified the hormone responsible for the squishiness.

[pinching my upper arm] “This… this is the lack of testosterone.” [squeezing my belly roll] “This is the cortisol.” You can imagine the rest for yourself.

I will brag about this, however: When he got to my thighs, there wasn’t much flab to grab, and he said, “Oh! That’s pretty good.” I take my small victories where I can.

Anyway, that was wildly unpleasant. But now, a few months later, my arms, shoulders, and chest are looking a teensy-weensy bit leaner, and my legs look super strong. I’m hoping this trend continues as the supplements work their healing powers and my new training plan plays out. (I have my follow-up appointment with Dr. Sebring next week so we can see if there’s any change in my blood work.)

5:00 elliptical
straight-leg march
10 air squats + 10 rotations
10 prisoner squats + 10 rotations
PVC shoulder mobility
10 PVC good mornings
low squat hold


Back squat:
5 @ 75% of max = 105#
3 @ 85% of max = 120#
max reps @ 95% of max = 135# – I did 5.
My squats were low, but I’m not sure they were quite low enough. I mighta maybe cheated a little. But there was no judge, so neener! I’ll take my 5 reps.

Bench Press:
5 @ 75% of max = 85#
3 @ 85% of max = 95#
max reps @ 95% of max = 105# – I did 3.
Um… 105# is heavy. I would’ve liked to eke out one more rep, but it was not happening.


10:00 minutes, 5 rounds:
on the minute: 5 inverted pullups
on the minute: 5 perfect pushups

Meet Mark Schneider

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  • Rossana Bogorad says:

    What kind of supplements do you take? I am not taking anything right now, only bio cells in the morning.
    I work out hard myself, I am 52 and I can kick some ass 🙂 but due that my knees hurt I can’t do jumping, low squats or anything related with working hard the knees.
    Love your posts and I read them diligently.
    Thank you very much.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for your kind words about my posts! Glad you’re finding them helpful.

      I was prescribed a supplement protocol by Dr. Sebring to deal with my adrenal and thyroid issues. It’s a long list, including one that’s an actual prescription from a pharmacy. Will try to transcribe it here in the next few days.

  • Jen says:

    What a horrible way for your doctor to treat you, I am sorry you had to endure that!

    • Mel says:

      It wasn’t as mean as it sounds, but it was not super awesome. I mean, I do that, too — pinch and prod and poke the squishy parts. But it was weird to have someone else do it.

  • Mariah says:

    I really like this post. I can hear your enthusiasm as you’re continuing throughout the healing process. Wonderful. Now if I can just force myself to take your advice, follow your lead, and allow my body to heal…

    These nagging injuries (plus a self-diagnosis of moderate adrenal fatigue) of mine have been getting worse with more computer time, sitting, and less overall activity. I’m only allowed light mobility work with the roller, and I have found even the lightest workouts and lifts to cause pain, including swimming!

    I was going to complain about it being hot here in Wisconsin (too hot for hour-long walks, in my opinion), but then I remembered you posting about trying to fry an egg on the sidewalk… I best not complain to a Texan about it being hot outside. 😉

    Anyway, I love this post… and here’s to healing! 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Mariah! The “enthusiasm” you mention comes and goes, but I’m trying to keep my attitude up. My problems could be so much worse.

      Take it easy on yourself and do what you can — pain is your body telling you to knock it off.

      And yes, it’s hot as blazes here, but I just give myself over to it and let the sweat roll. I also keep the A/C CRANKED in the house, so when I get home from a walk, it’s blessedly cool.

  • Mariah says:

    Oh, and that article you posted for Breaking Muscle? It’s been a favorite of mine for a long time, I even have it pinned. 🙂

    I feel like I’ve lived your experience.. the overweight bookish adult, the ignition upon discovering CrossFit/lifting/metcons, the going hard, balls-to-the-walls attitude for 6 workouts a week, including strength and metcons for about 4 of those.

    Then just in the last 2 months, the burn-out plus injuries (hip flexors, lower back, right shoulder, tendonitis). Plus some severe thyroid and/or adrenal stress/fatigue which has completely affected my social life, my work (I’m self-employed), my poor husband, and my complete inability to cope with stress.

    And all this at my ripe old age of 24. Sigh.

    Anyway, I’m trying to learn… cutting out stress anywhere I can, forcing myself to go to bed on time (which I still need to improve), very low-intensity cardio and/or resting completely from working out.

  • Kymme says:

    Working through the Wendler at the moment to. Boom it makes me feel strong!

  • Laura Schmieg says:

    Love the point you make about consistency. I made a decision this year that for our annual 4th of July vacation, I wanted to stay with my training schedule and 90% paleo nutrition. For some reason I always thought I was “treating” myself by taking a break for vacation. After doing some fun, easy running and swimming, as well as being careful about my nutrition, It dawned on me that I was spending my “time off” feeling like crap. MUCH better this way!

    • Mel says:

      You know, I have a tendency to do that, too. “I deserve a break, it’s a holiday… wheeee!” and then I feel terrible after.

      Good on you for sticking with your plan. YAY!

  • Lydia says:

    [pinching my upper arm] “This… this is the lack of testosterone.” [squeezing my belly roll] “This is the cortisol.”

    Now I totally want my new doctor to do this for me. HOW FASCINATING! Because my upper arms and belly fat are ridiculously out of proportion to the rest of me, too. He just started me on some stuff to lower my estrogen and more stuff to help regulate my cortisol.

    Jeez, could we be more alike? I AM SO SORRY. =/