I believe there are two periods in life, one for the bike, the other for becoming active on one’s work.
– Bernard Hinault, French former cyclist (1954-present)
A bear, however hard he tried, grows tubby without exercise.
– A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)
Ever since I began my new and specialized workout routine catered to my gym goals, which were briefly mentioned in +air+, my perspective on life changed. First and foremost, I began to love Mondays because Mondays were always leg day. I chose Monday as the designated leg day because I would start off my week with a challenging and fun workout, as opposed to arm or shoulders, which are very week – raise your hands if you have noodle arms 🙋🏻.
As I love football (soccer in America*), and used to dance, though I’m slowly getting back into dancing again, I’m no stranger to being active on my feet.
* NOTE: even though I was born and raised in America, football has always been a sport where you kick a ball with your feet across a field to score a goal, and it’s understood internationally as such, so we as Americans should also acknowledge that what we call football is more akin to rugby or something. I wouldn’t know, as all I know about American football is that as a New Yorker, I should support the Giants.
However, incorporating new machines and routines to my leg day workout opened my eyes to how much room for improvement that I have. Below is an example of a leg day routine, though it may change by week, so my muscles don’t get used to doing the same thing and stop improving
- Cardio: two 15-minute interval run on a treadmill on an incline with a two-minute break in between
- Smith Machine: three different types of squats (4 sets)
- No added weight: 20 reps
- Light weights: 15 reps
- Heavy weights: 12 reps
- No added weight: 20 reps
- Leg Extensions: three sets
- No added weight: 20 reps
- Light weights: 17 reps
- Heavy: 15 reps
- Seated Leg Curl: three sets (similar to leg extensions)
- I can’t remember the name of the machine but I do the same set routine as leg extensions
- Abs: three sets, minute break in between
- Plank – minute
- Crunches – 20 reps
- Bicycle crunches – 20 reps
- Leg raises – 20 reps
- Side crunches with a medicine ball – 20 reps on each side
- Cardio: rowing for fifteen minutes
I’ve gotten questions about my use of the Smith machine because many do think that it can be useful and counterproductive, but to me, it’s a godsend. Without a Smith machine, I can barely hold up the bar, let alone lift it, so to have the assistance when I squat is extremely helpful. I know that I can have someone spot me constantly, but sometimes I feel self-conscious when I work out and don’t appreciate the feeling of dependence.
Clearly, even if my goals are to tone my muscles and improve on my endurance, I still have a long way to go. The cool thing about going to the gym is the humbling experience of realizing that you can always improve. It may sound like a blow to your self-confidence when you see fitter people out there, but the only person you should compare yourself to is yourself. Now I can confidently go the gym with my imperfect body because I know that I improved from a month ago, and I’m fine with that.
the girl who used to think running was enough
IMAGE CREDIT: Odyssey
“To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.” – Gene Tunney, American professional boxer (1897-1978)
NOTE: This will probably be the first and last Sunday post, but I just had to schedule one for Sunday because I’m brimming with ideas and excited to be back to sharing them to the world. x enc
An issue that I’ve struggled with all my life is my endurance. My muscles rarely get to feel the sore and satisfying feeling of a good workout because my breathing hinders my progress. Running can be a struggle because sometimes I feel like I can barely breathe. I never really thought much about it and would just take a minute breather in between, but then in the recent months, something strange happened.
For about two hours a day, five times a week, my friend and I exercise at the gym. Along with daily cardio and ab routines, each day is targeted to a specific part of the body, e.g. Monday=legs, Tuesday=shoulders, etc. While the framework is the same, our routines are different, as we have different body goals – here are some of our differences.
What I do
- More cardio and abs
- Reps catered towards endurance
- Lower weight classes in consideration for my noodle arms
What my friend does
- More time spent on the target body area
- Reps catered towards strength
- Higher weight classes because I am the only one who has noodle arms
However, three months ago, my friend would comment on my blue lips while we worked out. At first, I didn’t think much about it, as I didn’t feel any other symptoms. As a side note, I suffer from migraines and tend to get bad cases of vertigo. A little while later, I would get dizzy during my workouts, and was unable to tell if I was standing upright or if everything was perpetually sideways.
Fast forward to the visit to the doctor’s office, he put me through a stress test and other evaluations to see if there was a problem. My results all came clear – I was pleasantly surprised to find out that in terms of health, my heart was like a professional tennis or basketball player. Just to be safe, he also checked my oxygen absorption, and my absorption percentage actually went up during exercise.
He concluded that I probably just had an endurance problem, something that I already knew. This made me frustrated because how could I condition myself when my breathing couldn’t sustain my workouts? It was like a case of the chicken or the egg and I wished that I could get a concrete answer.
The doctor’s solutions were to spend each day, workout day or not, practicing breathing exercises. He even recommended tai chi because the movements encourage practitioners to open their lungs. He also suggested that whenever I felt dizzy or tired during my workouts to pause and spend a few minutes practicing my breathing exercises. From his words, it was clear that there wasn’t one quick solution, and it would take a while before my endurance would improve.
Denouement: Looking back, I understand why I wanted an easy solution, considering as this was a problem I had all my life. However, I also laugh at myself because the first rule of working out is to keep in mind that results don’t happen overnight – it’s a journey, and fixing my breathing endurance issues also fit into that category. Though if anyone has a solution they recommend, I would love to hear a few because I am lazy 😏.
the girl who like a good workout