Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Training Regimen: Days 4 & 5

Yesterday morning, I decided to take another run, but since 1) my calves were still a bit stiff from Tuesday's run and 2) I was looking at a league tennis match later that day plus 3) I needed to take our 3-yr-old to a tennis lesson, which meant that I couldn't go out too long if I wanted to work out in the morning (and I do, because I'm not a big fan of running under a heavy sun). I wasn't really sure how far it was to run down to one of our corners, but I thought it might be a mile. It wasn't--more like .81. So I ran there and back a bit faster than what I did on my longer run on Tuesday.

It was something like an 8-minute mile, but I can't say for sure because the stopwatch app on my iPod did something very weird: it didn't start right away. I started it (I thought) as I took off down the road. When my second song came on, I realized that I was on the wrong playlist (yes, it makes a difference), so I went to change it, and the stopwatch was only at :36, even though I was sure I must have been running longer than that. When I got back to our house, the stopwatch app said 10:30-something, even though I left at 6:48 and got back at 7:01. I started walking at that point, but then decided to take an easy jog down to the other corner from our house, which turned out to be about a quarter mile each way. So ended up doing 2.1 miles.

Day 5
I was back to a strength-training day, but I wanted to mix it up, so I decided to give a different bodyweight workout a shot.  It mixed in some different exercises and a different approach: a circuit workout instead of doing sets of the same exercise before moving on to the next exercise. The cycle went from Handstand push-ups to One-armed push-ups to pull-ups to one-legged squats to knee jumps to headstand leg raises and finishing with Mahler Body Blasters, which are either named after the guy who put together this workout (Mike Mahler) or else requires you to whistle, hum, or sing (depending on your fitness level) the tune to your favorite movement from a Mahler symphony. The idea was 5-10 of each of these, except the last, which was a lot more than that. And doing 5 circuits. So how did that go?

Handstand push-ups: I've been doing these previously with my feet on a high stool because I couldn't do them straight up. I figured I'd try to actually do them, and I actually got 5 of them the first time through. I only ended up doing 3 circuits, and I got 3 each of those next two times through. I was pleasantly surprised.

One-armed push-ups: So, clapping push-ups are easy enough that I'm getting more than 15 on my first set and quite a few on subsequent sets, so one-armed push-ups seemed like a good step up. Except that I can't really do them. I eeked out 3 each circuit, but only by using the other arm to offer a bit of support (but not too much--I mean, there's a reason I only got three on each side!).

Pull-ups: Okay, I can rock these: 10 or more each time.

One-legged squats: I'm right where I have been all week: I'm doing 5 each time, but I don't have the full range of motion--you're supposed to get all the way down, with your butt barely off the ground. Cripes. I can't do that with both legs. I'm getting down about as far as I usually get with back squats (the one with a bar on, you know, your back), which is to say not far enough. If I'm ever able to actually do one-legged squats the way God meant them to be done, I will feel like the biggest badass in the history of badassery. And you will all know about it, either because you'll see me strutting around like God's gift to one-legged squats, or because you'll read about it here and/or on Facebook, 'cause you know I'll be bragging if I get there.

Knee jumps: I wasn't familiar with these, and the description on the workout didn't quite do it for me (thank you to Youtube for clearing matters up, even if the video didn't deliver on the promised "tips"). Basically, you start out in a kneeling position, resting on your knees and the tops of your feet, butt down on your heels. You use your arms a bit for momentum with a backward and forward swing, and spring up into the bottom of a squat. It sounds harder than it is. I went ahead and stood up from there, which made it marginally more difficult, but even so, I didn't find it that hard. I was managing 20 of these in the third set, which my math skills tell me is more than the requested 5-10. Does that make up for my poor performance on Handstand and One-armed Pushups?

Headstand Leg Raises: In the first round, my basic conclusion was "What the frak are these?" I couldn't figure out any way to make my body do what it was indicated that I was supposed to be doing. So during the 3 minutes I took between cycles, I looked it up--thanks once again to Youtube, though the first video I looked at was not very helpful--yeah, thanks for showing me you can do them, now how about some advice since I can't? Getting my back up against a wall helped, but I still found these to be crazy hard. With the wall, I did 3 each time, but they were quite possibly the crappiest headstand leg raises in the history of headstand leg raises. I had to use momentum to get them going, I bent my legs, struck deals with the devil mid-rep, just to get up there. It was not pretty. Oddly enough, I won't feel nearly as hardcore mastering these as I will if I ever get the one-legged squat.

Mahler Body Blaster: this is like a 1st cousin once removed to the classic burpee that everyone knows and loves and/or hates. Start out in a full squat, rock back on your back all the way so that your feet touch the ground behind your head, then roll forward so you get back into a squat. Hands down, kick back into the top of a push up, do the obligatory push up, bring those legs back, and stand up. Which, I now see, is not quite how this guy interprets it. He doesn't roll back as far and doesn't stand up, but he's more explosive in the way he gets to the push-up position. And, looking around, I see that Mike Mahler describes it differently elsewhere, in way that's exactly what the guy in the video was doing. Nowhere did I hear a symphony theme, though.

All in all, I'm a little bit ambivalent about today's workout. I cut it down to 3 circuits because I was short on time and short on energy too. I felt like the workout was hitting my quads pretty good, but most other things weren't getting as much--no doubt that's in large part because I couldn't actually do the requested 5 reps of several of the other exercises, so even though I was getting to the point of muscle failure, I wasn't really getting quite that feeling of muscular exhaustion that I might have expected. I don't think I'll do this same workout next week, but maybe I'll come back to it later in the summer with hopes of being able to complete it more fully (I was stoked about getting 5 real handstand push-ups the first round)--I may also incorporate a few aspects of it into what I'm doing.

Oh, and when I do get around to this workout again, someone remind me to throw Symphony of a Thousand in my playlist.


  1. He who overdoes it, injures muscles, tendons or ligaments, spends a lot longer regretting it and healing than he would have spent working up to the desired number of reps in the first place. Just sayin'. Proud of you for taking this on!

  2. I'm good--I've been working out consistently for the whole year so far. Actually, it's probably two or three solid years now, with occasional weeks off here and there. Despite my protestations of sore calves, I'm really not jumping into anything over my head here. The real challenge is finding the right level of challenge: I've built a base of strength that's sufficient to make some bodyweight exercises too easy. That happens to a lot of people, which is why trainers come up with more challenging ones--I've just got to find the ones that are more challenging but not too challenging. And I think I'm closing in on the right combos here.