Tuesday, July 30, 2013

15 Minutes

I'm trying to bring a little more structure to my life, so I have been setting my alarm clock in the mornings for a while, and bringing the time forward a bit every few days.  Sure, there are some nights I still stay up late because I can't sleep (usually when this happens, I'm just not tired), or I feel bad/sick and need a distraction greater than lying in bed waiting to fall asleep, or I'm sort of pumped up and talkative and can't be trusted not to keep Robert up half the night talking to him, but I'm doing pretty well on this score.

One other area I've really wanted to add structure to is my exercise.  I used to exercise daily, but I stopped doing that because I didn't need as much exercise as I was getting (I typically did 80-90 minutes on the treadmill, about 5 miles, and I was getting repetitive use soreness in my knees).  But without that daily schedule, I'm now getting less exercise than I'd like.  So I decided this week to try exercising every morning after breakfast, but only doing 40-45 minutes (i.e., one TV show on Netflix) on either my treadmill or bike.

I enjoy strength training but haven't been doing much of it because I have this problem--I do it, and the next day I'm wasted and sore, and then the next day I'm wasted and sore, and so on, for long enough that I sort of don't want to do it again.  This is because I am falling prey to the typical failing of doing too much of it at one time.  (This is exacerbated by the fact that I am wimpier than I used to be, so what was once a reasonable amount is now too much.)  So I thought I would try doing strength training also as a daily routine and forcing myself to keep the sessions short--only 15 minutes--with alternate days for upper body and core/lower body.  I did my first session this morning, and 15 minutes goes by really fast.  (I used a timer.)

To keep things interesting, I have put together several weeks worth of workouts using exercises from Women's Home Workout Bible, and every session has a different set of exercises.  (I hate resistance bands, so I selected exercises that use body weight or dumbbells, with or without a stability ball.)  For upper body days, I do 5 exercises, one each of shoulders/delts, back/chest, pecs, biceps, and triceps exercises.  For core/lower body days, I do between 4-5 exercises, covering quads, glutes or hamstrings, calves, and core.  (I repeat exercises, but no two sessions have the same exact set of exercises, if that makes sense.)  I am following the book's recommendation to cycle through low weight/high rep (15) days, medium weight/medium rep (10) days, and high weight/low rep (5) days, of up to 3 sets for each exercise.  The book recommends 3 sets, but I honestly can't do 3 sets of some things.  I mean, I about killed myself doing 3 sets of 15 modified pushups a few weeks ago and was sore for over a week.

This is what I did today.  (DB = dumbbells.  SB = stability ball.)

Shoulder press with DB - 15 reps, 2 sets
Prone lat pull with SB - 15 reps, 3 sets
Countertop pushup - 15 reps, 1 set
Arm curl with DB + SB - 15 reps, 3 sets
Triceps kickback with DB - 15 reps, 3 sets

Looks pretty easy, doesn't it?

Well, my whole thing here is that I am trying to underdo it on a daily basis so that it feels achievable and easy, which I think is key to my being willing and able to do it enough times to make it a habit.  I'm also making an effort to respect my current level of strength and focus on getting stronger--rather than feeling bad for not being strong enough, or not being as strong as I used to be, or not being as strong as a "beginner" should be according to this magazine or that web site.  (Everybody's idea of "beginner" is different.  It reminds me of how on the MUD Tam and I used to play in college, different regions of the game, created by different people, had animals with the same basic name--deer, for example--that varied greatly in how tough they were.  One person's deer would be super wimpy, another person's deer would kick your ass.  Workout creators also seem to vary a lot in how strong they think a beginner strength trainer is.)

I enjoyed this morning's 43 minutes of biking during Castle and 15 minutes of strength training, and I'm basically looking forward to doing it again tomorrow, when I will be doing these exercises.

Bench squat - 15 reps, 3 sets
Leg curl with SB - 15 reps, 3 sets
Standing calf raise with SB - 15 reps, 3 sets
Plank - 30 sec, 3 sets
Side plank from knees - 30 sec, 3 sets


mom said...

You're going to get into shape with that schedule for sure!

jen said...

Great approach. Better to form the habit by not killing yourself, and you'll be so much healthier in the long run. I started doing a headstand every day 5 years ago (started for a minute against a wall and worked up to free standing for as long as I could stand without being bored), and it fixed my back. I've gotten out of the habit, so that reminds me that I need to add it back in, for at least a minute or two.

Sally said...

I was still feeling a bit sore yesterday so I took the day off from strength training, but I'm ready to get back to it today. So far, I'm liking this 15 minute plan.

As for headstands, I haven't done one of those since gymnastics!