ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
[personal profile] ratcreature
I suffered from some nasty lower back/sciatic nerve pain during the last months. Both my primary care physician as well as the orthopedic specialist thought that there isn't anything particular wrong with my back (like a disc injury or such), but that it was the unspecific kind of back pain due to weak muscles, bad posture, being too sedentary etc. and that it ought to improve with exercise.

So I had about a dozen physical therapy sessions, also took a class for back pain exercises, and thankfully my pain got indeed better, albeit with ups and downs. But of course I should keep doing the exercises to remain pain free, yet the ultimate goal of "I want the pain to not come back" alone isn't great to sustain motivation for me. It's too general and doesn't really offer any accomplishments to work toward and such.

Because the exercises I learned are basically a mix of bodyweight strength exercises, balance exercises and stretches, I figure that I should be able to use the strength exercises to measure progress somehow for motivation. I enjoy tracking things, but I'm not sure how to go about it with exercising.

I mean, I have noticed some progress with exercises becoming easier, so I can manage more repetitions, and sometimes when there were different versions I can now even do the more difficult exercise than just the easiest kind (though overall my fitness level is still pretty bad, like for example I can't manage any push-ups, not even the easier kind where you are on your knees rather than toes, but am still at the level where you push against a wall). But I'd like to properly track things and have a couple of realistic, concrete goals so I see improvements.

I tried looking at the bodyweight strength training books in my library to get an idea for how this is usually done, but I have to admit that the books I found were all rather off-putting. Like the ones aimed at women all seemed to be a horrible assemblage of body image and weight loss issues, and the ones aimed more towards men had a slightly different set of body image and weight loss issues that were almost as awful and often mixed that with some kind of, I guess, weird power fantasies? I'm sure there must be decent strength training books out there, but my skimming led me to think that it is one those genres you best not venture into without recs. So I mostly backed away from consulting those.

Basically I'm looking for advice with which kind of exercises or exercise progressions (like with the different kinds of push-ups getting more difficult) are good to see your progress and motivate yourself, when you don't track increased weight like with lifting stuff.
rydra_wong: (strength -- pudgy)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
How I Learned to Love Pumping Iron by Hieu Truong

It discusses her experiences as a "a self-identified (and helpfully identified by my peers) small Asian female nerd" getting into powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting.

Barbell sports also reinforces the idea that different body types are okay. That may sound strange in a sport where there are weight classes and where you have to weigh-in to ensure you make weight. However, because of weight classes, I better appreciated the breadth of body types that can exist within a particular weight range. Also, different body types provide different strengths and weaknesses to your ability to execute different lifts. I can squat more than my other lifts because I’m short, and my hips have significantly less distance to travel with lifts. I also have big ol’ thighs and a butt too, relatively speaking for my height/weight. You long-limbed folks that seem so graceful and elegant? You’re probably going to have a hard time with the squat but you’re probably fantastic at the deadlift. Short-armed folks? Bench press. Bench press is your friend.

Also, I love her thoughts on "pretty numbers".

Also there's a link in the comments that may be relevant to people's interests:

Decolonizing Fitness: An anthology on Women of Color, Feminism, and the Politics of “Fit” Bodies
coffeetime: (bbq)
[personal profile] coffeetime
tl;dr rant because I just can't eat like an athlete )

The thing that bugs me the most: how am I going to maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass as I get older (I'm 48 now) and get stronger, if I have to live on white carbs and cheese? I have seen several dietitians in the past few years, all of whom have answered, "Gosh, I don't know."
lyorn: (Default)
[personal profile] lyorn
Due to a combination of too much time at the computer, a suspectability for arthrosis, and an accident caused by attempting to out-stubborn a yoga exercise, my right shoulder is a mess. Mobility is limited (slightly: I can still get my fingers together behind my back with left arm top, right arm down, but it hurts), stability isn't what I could be, and it hurts most of the time. The doctor I visited a good two years ago sent me to manual therapy, which helped, but getting back into the gym helped more.

However, now I'm doing heavy lifts, inlcuding overhead presses (dumbbell and barbell variant), and front squats. And I feel that my shoulder actively hates them. The trainer in the gym confirmed that these moves strain the shoulder tendon, which seems to be involved in my problems anyway. However, there is no trainer in the gym (anymore) with a specific heavy lifting background (or I just do not want to accept "no more heavy overhead lifts"), so I'm asking here:

I wish to continue the heavy lifts, including overhead, but I do not want to mess up my shoulder completely. What to do? Maybe supportive/flexibility exercises?

ETA: To all, sorry for taking so long to reply. I try to limit my computer time, because, shoulder. :-S
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
hey there.

i am doing stronglifts 5x5, started in early november. have serious mobility problems that are so far preventing me from doing proper barbell squats, so i have replaced them with goblet squats for now (at lower weights, but i am progressively increasing them). am working on improving my mobility, and am otherwise progressing well; just slower than normal. but hey, i am fat, old, and have lived a sedentary life for much too long. i don't mind the slow part, i just want to get stronger.

i signed up for the "inner circle", but i am having a hard time with it because i have plain run out of patience for sexism and homophobia. "pussy", "sissy", and "fag" are commonly used to denigrate outsiders, the former two also to exhort insiders (eg "don't be such a pussy, and work through it") and nobody sees anything wrong with it. and while i don't identify as a woman, i hate the way women are treated as well; ostensibly supported, but that often results in flirtatious calls for more booty pictures, which marginalizes fat women (because only conventionally attractive women are asked for those). the majority of women on the site are silent, the only ones who participate are the ones who seems to enjoy all that male attention. motivational images often consist of bikini babes beckoning. in short, the place oozes testosterone poisoning.

there is also not much room for people who diverge from the basic program; if you pursue other sports and activities you're lucky if you don't get written off or insulted (don't mention crossfit. ever.). doing your own research to find what works for your own body is frowned upon. i understand some of that -- a lot of the guys come from self-designed gym routines that never did much for them, so the thrust is "stick with the program and don't mess with it". but i have to "mess" with it because i am not a healthy, young guy.

nutrition-wise the place is a total mess, with broscience paleo clogging every artery. no room for veg*ns.

and i find it hard to justify supporting those attitudes with my money. but i am in need of support, advice, and encouragement, something at which that forum is pretty good (if you can overlook the above problems). nobody in my circle of friends can provide that. do any of you know of a decent forum that's less macho?
rydra_wong: Tight shot of a woman's back (Krista of stumptuous) as she does a pull-up. (strength -- pull-up)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
The legendary John Gill (incredibly strong climber, father of modern bouldering, mathematician) has made a little video of himself exercising (aged 76).

A little gentle hiking, a round of pull-ups to warm-up, a few push-ups with his feet elevated, and then it's time to play ...

His website includes sections on bodyweight feats through history and interviews with senior athletes (and by "senior" he means "over 70").
rydra_wong: Tight shot of the shins and arms of a young woman (weightlifter Zoe Smith) as she prepares for a deadlift. (strength -- zoe deadlift)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
For anyone who's into podcasts --- I've just discovered:

Mental Meat Heads from Agoge Fitness Systems

It's basically a treasure trove of interviews with interesting thinky people in the strength/fitness industry (including folks like Sally Moss of Gubernatrix, Krista Scott-Dixon of Stumptuous, and Chip Conrad of Bodytribe).

I've just been listening to the fascinating interview with Mace Clinkenbeard, in which he talks about how gender transition has affected his experiences as a lifter and coach/trainer, in both physical ways (the impact of testosterone on muscle-building) and social ways ("passing" as male versus being perceived as a "butch dyke").

And training a roller derby team, and the metaphysics of throwing things, and using sandbags to teach cleans ...

(Oh, and now Dave Hall's interviewing Kat Ricker and talking about how he fell in love with feminist science fiction ...)
lyorn: (Default)
[personal profile] lyorn
I banged my head badly on an open window yesterday (badly means, I fell back and sat on my butt for a few minutes before I was able to get up again, and I have a bruise now right above the hairline that has started migrating towards my right eye). My neck muscles are still somewhat in shock from the impact and cause pain and some numbness in my right arm. My vision did not do anything weird, and there wasn't even much of a headache.

I know from experience that it would be a very good thing for the muscles if I went to the gym and did some lifting. But I fear it might not be that good for my head.

What's your opinion and advice? Rest days? How many? Or back to the gym tomorrow?

To make this more annoying, I'm trying to get back in shape after a summer break that somehow extended until after my vacation earlier this month...
rydra_wong: Text: "Your body is a battleground" over photo of 19th-C strongwoman. (body -- battleground)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Just found this:

Twintown CrossFit: Illness and Weightlifting

It's an interview with Carrie Patrick (author of Of tiny pink dumbbells and fat chicks), in which she goes into more detail about her personal strength training history -- I hadn't registered that she actually first got into powerlifting during chemo.

More badass quotage, in which she kicks shit out of the way exercise can be turned into another pressure on people dealing with illness:

I want to add something here that’s very important, though – one of the most upsetting things about going through cancer treatment is the amount of additional emotional stress a patient also receives, usually from well-meaning people, who imply that if you only did this or that, or ate this food, or had different thoughts, or tried the latest bullshit magical secret they heard about on a talk show, you’d be just fine. I cannot describe the amount of pain and guilt this adds to an already stressful time. It’s important to understand that when a study says exercise helps deal with the treatment, it often means ANY exercise short of lying in bed all day. If getting up and walking once around the room is all you can do, then you can do that and it will help.

One of the things that always concerns me is that someone will read my story and feel like they should be doing it too. I want to emphasize that my treatment lasted six years, and in that time I was on different medications, some of which allowed me to live a semi-normal life, and others that wiped me out completely. There were times when I was benching 145 lbs, sure, but there were also times when I was working on walking slowly from the front door to the end of the driveway and back, once a day, without passing out or throwing up.

(Discussion of weight gain from medications.)
rydra_wong: Weightlifter Cheryl Haworth with a barbell over her head, yelling. Text: "SHOUT." (strength -- shout)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Carrie Patrick: Of tiny pink dumbbells and fat chicks

Carrie Patrick talks about her personal history of lifting through illness and injury, and the extreme folly of thinking you can judge someone's level of effort or work by looking at them:

The amount of discipline, time, and effort that a person has put into their physical training does not always show.

(Which makes me all hells to the yeah, as a nearly-middle-aged dyspraxic climber who has fought ridiculously hard for every tiny bit of climbing skill I possess.)


I saw a picture on Facebook recently: a smoking hot woman, all abs and skintight shorts and straining bra, deadlifting multiple plates over the slogan “STRONG IS SEXY.” And inspiring as that visual might be, I couldn’t help asking myself … okay, if strong is sexy, why do all the people making “strong is sexy” images make sure to only show people who look like that? Why not, say, Sarah Robles? Holley Mangold? I’m pretty sure either of them could put any 20 randomly chosen Facebook commenters into a basket together and overhead-press them. Or getting away from international-class strength, there’s the ordinary schmuck like me who is certainly much stronger than the average woman who doesn’t lift, but also knows damn well what I’d get from the caring folks of the Internet if I put up a picture of my middle-aged ass deadlifting in spandex panties. No, Internet, we know what you mean when you tell us strong is sexy. You mean “looking like this is sexy.” And we’ve heard that one before, for any given value of “this.”

(Brief mentions of weight and weight loss.)
lyorn: (Default)
[personal profile] lyorn
This year, I bicycle to work most days, for a daily total of at least 38 km (about 24 miles). It's easy going, level, good roads, not much wind, and good for my mood. Still it's two hours of exercise, and my legs are tired at the end of the day, despite 2300 km (1400somthing miles) of practise this year so far.

I haven't lifted much during the summer, and now really need to go back to the gym. But I don't feel like doing sqauts, lunges and deadlifts after a day's bicycling.

What to do? Commute by car one or two days a week and go to the gym on those days? Or just stop at the gym on the way home, and hope the muscles will sort themselves out? If the latter: Better reduce the weight on the leg exercises, or reduce repetitions?
daedala: line drawing of a picture of a bicycle by the awesome Vom Marlowe (Default)
[personal profile] daedala
I was wondering what my one rep maximum (1rm) was for the weights I've been lifting in Stronglifts 5x5. It's easy to find a calculator that will tell you what your 1rm was based on your 5rm, but it took a while to find a conversion for 5x5.

The conversion factor is about 1.2. (Pavel Tsatsouline is definitely a character. The shtick can be annoying, but his actual information is generally very good.)

Anyway. That means my calculated 1rm for back squats is...just over my bodyweight. OMFG.

Some other notes:

If you don't make your lifts for the day, double-check your form or reread that section of Starting Strength -- chances are pretty good that better form will help a lot. Also, if you're at a gym, the trainers on duty are usually very happy to watch your form for a set and tell you about any issues, if they're not doing anything else. They have to keep quiet when people use terrible form, so in my experience they find being asked for a critique is a relief! This is how I know my form for squats is still good even though I'm close to failure.

My gym put out the bumper plates (they used to be in a room). Oh wow, that's so much better! If you have access to bumper plates for deadlifts and the like, use them!

Here's the official word on warmups. This means that I've been doing a bit too much to warm up, and may do better if I cut down a bit.
some_stars: (Default)
[personal profile] some_stars
hi :D I have admired this comm for some time, and I've been meaning to get back into strength training for ages, and since I will be starting school in a couple months and have access to a nice gym, and because I've gotten back into swimming a lot, this seemed like a good time. I'm moving cross-country in two weeks, so I just got two five-pound weights to work with a little until whenever I'm able to start using the gym.

Basically, what can I do with them that won't hurt me, especially my shoulders or knees, and will be useful for swimming? I used to lift weights but that was like ten years ago, and I'm pretty weak now. (I tried a 15-pound-equivalent resistance band first and had to return it.) I also need to start working on my core, because all those muscles are basically completely atrophied, but my problem with that has been that because I'm SO weak in that area, even when I try gentle exercises I end up using my back and hurting it. So I guess I also need tips on how to make sure I don't do all my lifting with the wrong muscles.

Also: how do I work my lower body without using machines, but without using my entire body weight as the weight?
daedala: line drawing of a picture of a bicycle by the awesome Vom Marlowe (Default)
[personal profile] daedala
I thought I'd post an update on how I'm doing with my semi-made-up program, now that I've gotten through 16 sessions.

thoughts )

Pros of the program: The constantly increasing weights help keep it interesting. Doing 5x5 across can be meditative. You repeat the lifts enough to really develop good form and muscle memory. Completing a workout feels pretty strong. It's adapted well to my needs.

Cons: The recommended initial weights are geared to the average man; your mileage may vary. The barbell row seems maybe a little iffy. The workouts can pretty long if you need to rest longer between sets.
lyorn: (Default)
[personal profile] lyorn
Last weekend, I got compliments for my posture and walk.

While wearing Birkenstock clogs.

That never happened before, Birkenstocks or not. I credit it to lifting!
lyorn: (Default)
[personal profile] lyorn
I finally managed to get started, after I lost two weeks due to a pulled muscle in my back when lifting a rather *light* thing at a very stupid angle. So of course I *still* did not attempt that one rep max deadlift. I suspect I'm chicken.

Anyway, back at the gym now.

The first attempts were quite wobbly. Those dynamic stabilisation exercises do not look like much, but, holy smurf. This will need practise.

I'm doing the heavy lifts, not the metabolic work, because I want more muscle, and according to the latest measurement I really shouldn't want any less fat. Also, with swimming and bicycling, I feel my metabolism is doing just fine. And heavy lifts are fun.

Though I didn't get up to really heavy yet -- I still need to find the right form.

I also finally lost patience with the short barbell of unknown weight, dragged the scales up to the free weights area and put the damned thing on it. As I suspected, it's 12.5 kg, not the 7.5 that one of the employees had guessed.

Anyway, fun. Hard work, too. Bicycling home was a challenge...
daedala: line drawing of a picture of a bicycle by the awesome Vom Marlowe (Default)
[personal profile] daedala
Hi all. I just realized I've been stalled on deadlifts in my current program for two months. Yikes! That means it's time to move on.

I am thinking of doing Stronglifts 5x5. It's a pretty basic squat/bench/row/press/deadlift program where you do 5 sets of 5 reps, start very light, and add weight every workout.

However, I have a few concerns, and I'd like some advice on modifying the program. )
lyorn: (Default)
[personal profile] lyorn
That was fun. More fun than I thought when I saw the amount of planks.

Details, and abs, or not )

One week rest now. Then maybe attempt a one rep max deadlift, I wanted to do one for ages.

For stage 2, I am unsure if I should do metabolic work or heavy lifts. Losing fat is not a high priority, and I could do with more muscle mass. But maybe I just want to do the heavy lifts a lot more than I want to do the metabolic work...
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