So one of the things I have ventured into is serious strength training. I've been using weight machines for the past few months, and while I saw some strength gains in my lats, legs, and using the back extension machine, I wasn't really getting the results I wanted. I was typically doing 10-15 reps with 2 sets each on about 8 different machines.
As I've been making good progress on the cardio front, though, I've been keeping an eye out for strength training stuff as well. YOOVIE here on SP really got me thinking about free weight training and started that mentality of "free weights aren't just for guys." And hearing GETSTRONGRRR talk a lot about the importance of ST for endurance sports like biking and the gains he has been seeing pushed me even more in that direction. I finally found NerdFitness, read a bunch of blog posts on there about ST, and it pushed me over the edge.
One of my big goals right now is to be athletic. I don't want to lose weight and still have a high body fat percentage. I want to be strong, have some decent muscles, and be all Amazon Warrior (RAWR). I definitely want to increase my endurance with the whole triathlon thing. And I'm pretty OK with losing weight slowly if need be (with what I've been doing, my health is actually great right now), but I would like to tone up and drop some dress sizes.
So not only am I doing the triathlon training, I'm implementing a serious ST program as well. I'm basing it off this blog entry at NerdFitness (how to design your own workout) for it's simplicity and variety:
Basically you pick one exercise from each muscle group to create a full body routine:
Then (to burn fat/build muscle), I'm starting off with 4 sets of each exercise with 8-15 reps each. I do one exercise after another until I complete all 5, then I'll start back with #1 (circuit). I'll do that 3 more times to complete a workout. Rotating through the exercises helps give me time to rest muscle groups properly and it helps keep my heart rate up a little more.
For example, here are the three workouts I've come up with so far:
Workout A: 8lb dumbbells, Exercise ball, Step
1) Dumbbell Rows (15 reps)
2) Squats (15 reps)
3) Overhead Press with Dumbbells (15 reps)
4) Step-ups with Dumbbells (15 reps)
5) Exercise Ball Crunches (15 reps, then 15 reps each side)
Workout B: Resistance band
1) Rows with resistance band (15 reps)
2) Walking lunges (10 reps each leg)
3) Bridges (15 reps)
4) Plank (30 sec.)
5) Modified Push-Ups (15 reps)
Workout C: 30lb barbell, 10lb dumbbells, 6lb medicine ball, Step (1 level up), regular bar
1) Deadlifts (10 reps)
2) Incline Dumbbell Press (15 reps)
3) Box Jumps (10 reps)
4) Medicine Ball Russian Twists (20 reps, 10 each side)
5) Inverted Body Weight Rows (10 reps)
Each workout takes about 30 minutes, and I wind up burning at least 200 calories during each one.
The goal is that each time I complete a workout, I push myself a little more. Like next time I do the dumbbell rows, I will probably go for 10lbs instead of 8lbs and end up doing 8-10 reps. Then I'll add 1-2 reps a week until I'm ready to move to the next weight. Or for the plank, I will try to do 35 seconds next time I do that workout and increase my time by 5 seconds each time I do it.
There are some tweaks that needs to be made. Like, today I did workout C and had box jumps right after the deadlifts. Not too smart. My thighs were very angry with me and did not want to cooperate, especially since it was 6:30 in the morning. Need to space out box jumps to either #3 or #4 in the rotation. I'm actually not too thrilled about the box jumps, so I might switch those out eventually. That's the beauty of this kind of plan. As long as I pick something from each exercise group, then I can switch stuff in and out if something isn't working for me.
I also like that I have a variety of workout tools. I can use the free weights at the Y, the stuff in the aerobics studio, or I can do a workout at home (or at B's) with just a resistance band and my own bodyweight.
After just a week of one of each workout, I already feel stronger. I was able to get back to my PR of 57 minutes/15 miles on the bike last night, and that was with a constant pace of over 15 mph the majority of the time. Usually I'm all over the place with 17 mph here, 12 mph over there. So the endurance part is already showing itself.
I hope I can continue to stick with this workout and get over my fear of the free weights side and all the guys hanging out there. I'm sad to say I did my deadlifts in the studio this morning, away from prying eyes. Which is not good if eventually I want someone to look at my form. But I was too nervous I wasn't doing it right and really didn't want to look like a weenie. I'm going to continue to watch videos on form and one day I will be brave enough. Hopefully.
As always, tips or suggestions are appreciated.