Being Adaptable

This week has been a bit of a crazy one with limited access to go to the gym. And I know, I know. Excuses. But I’m sorry, if I’m working until 7 most nights and then have to go to a work event AFTER that and barely have time to scarf dinner I actually don’t have time for the gym. There are some times when we are just making excuses, and there are some times when we legitimately don’t have the time. So what to do on those occasions?

My plan of attack involves 3 things:

  1. Get the diet spot on so the extra cardio won’t go amiss and ruin your weight loss efforts
  2. Try to get in some at home exercises when you can, even a couple sit ups is better than nothing.
  3. The few times you can get to the gym, do more body parts.

That last one is key for me. Normally, I split my weeks into a pull day (back and bi’s), a push day (chest, shoulders and tri’s), a heavy leg day and a plyo leg day with maybe some yoga done in there and cardio on most of those days.

Well that only works if I’m in the gym at least 4 days a week!

This week will probably be more like 2 times. Knowing this, yesterday I decided the normal split would not cover me, so I did a full upper body workout plus a pretty intense interval session. Today I plan on doing a leg workout that incorporates some heavy moves and some plyo ones so all my bases are covered.

Doing a full upper body workout can actually be nice. You work each muscle fewer times so you can go a little heavier/harder in each set than you might otherwise. I usually switch between a push movement and a pull movement each exercise so the alternate muscle group has a chance to recover. Yesterday’s workout was awesome… here’s what I did.

Cardio

30 minute interval run – I warm up for 2 minutes, then do 4 minute intervals increasing the speed from 4 mph to between 7-9 mph depending on the intensity I want. I do 5 of the 4 minute intervals, bringing me to minute 22 and then walk for 2-3 minutes and end with a tabata at 10 mph. By the end I’m usually drenched and feeling pretty good about myself!

Devil-angel2jpgFull Upper Body

Exercise Sets Reps Weight
Lat pull down 3 12 85/100/100
Bench press 3 12/10/6 95/105/115
Bent over row 3 12 70/80/80
Bench dips 3 15 Body weight
Lateral raises 3 12 15 lb dumbbells
EZ-bar curls 3 12/10/8 40/50/50
       

Since I did cardio first I was already pretty tired for the workout, but I must have pushed hard anyways because my whole upper body is definitely sore today.

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Planning, banana bread and circuits

Wow I’ve been busy. Not quite accounting busy season busy just yet; but definitely, “I have very little time” kind of busy. Yesterday I got home at 8:30 ish after leaving work at 7:45 which is a long day on it’s own, but I had also gone to the gym that morning. I’m so glad I did, because there is no chance I would have gone at 8:30 at night!

I didn’t think I would be working that late so I made a classic error for those of us trying to live a healthy lifestyle… I didn’t pack enough food! I nearly fell prey to my hunger and bought a Kind bar (which are somewhat healthy but LOADED with sugar). But last second I put the bar down and decided that I had already been hungry for 3 hours, I could wait one more and stick to something good for me.

I have talked about the awesomeness that is bacon before… specifically peameal bacon in a healthy diet. Peameal bacon has saved my bacon this week (I’m so funny). Seriously, I have eaten in for Monday breakfast, this mornings breakfast AND last nights dinner. Why? 1) It’s one of the tastiest things ever and is one of few cuts of pork that cooks up super tender and juicy. 2) It cooks FAST. Like I’m starving and need something in my belly in less than 10 minutes kind of fast. Faster if your peameal isn’t cut super thick by your awesome butcher Marlon Pather of Marlon’s Meat…. but more on him later.

Wednesday’s breakfast

Tuesday’s Dinner

Monday’s Breakfast

I  have been eating peameal with a side of greens because I can pull it together in about 10 minutes. That’s key in the morning or when you have been ready to chew your arm off for over an hour already and the dark chocolate and granola you just bought are calling to you, telling you that they don’t even take 10 minutes… they are instant! Sidenote: I may have lost my mind and think that inanimate objects are communicating to me.

Seriously though, get some peameal bacon. You can’t beat a super quick cooking protein. It takes about the same time as eggs but packs more protein and less fat gram for gram.

Anyhoooooo, I have been a bad blogger and promised you guys some things and didn’t get around to it due to the aforementioned business (the 21DSD banana bread and my morning workout from yesterday via twitter).

Paleo/21DSD Banana Bread (based on this recipe from Civilized Caveman)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 bananas (unripe if you are doing the 21DSD like me)
  • 2 eggs plus ½ c. egg whites OR 4 eggs (I only had 2 eggs left)
  • ½ c. almond or other natural nut butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ c. coconut flour
  • ¼ c. almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine your bananas, eggs, egg whites, and nut butter, and butter in a food processor or blender or whatever you have that blends/chops things up real nice and transfer this to a bowl to mix the rest of the ingredients in
  3. Add in your coconut flour, almond meal, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and sea salt to the blended ingredients and mix well
  4. Grease a 9×5  loaf pan with a fat of your choice (I used butter)
  5. Pour in your batter and spread it evenly throughout (it will be pretty thick)
  6. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (using a metal loaf pan with make the bread cook faster, a glass one will cook slower and your oven is definitely not the exact same as mine, so just use a toothpick to gauge)
  7. Remove from oven and flip your bread out onto a cooling rack
  8. Slice and serve with some salted butter or nut butters on top to add to the deliciousness

I had a pretty large portion of this for breakfast before my workout that I am about to share and was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get an cramps or other food related problems while running. Normally if I eat something too dense right before a workout I get a cramp during my run or I feel sick if I workout really hard… but that didn’t happen and it was definitely a hard workout.

Upper Body Circuit plus a some Tabata Sprints

Warm up: walk/jog for 5 mins on treadmill

Upper body circuit: Repeat 3 times with as little rest as possible (mostly just because I didn’t have much time). You will need access to a bench, plus a heavy, medium and light set of dumbbells… for me that means 30 lbs, 15 lbs, 10 lbs, for my friend that was 20 lbs, 12.5 lbs and 7.5 lbs. Choose what is right for you.

  • Lawnmowers (AKA one arm dumbbell rows) – heavy weight, 10 reps each arm
  • Pushups – no weight, 15 reps
  • Bicep curl to Arnold press (start with palms facing forward, curl, at the top of the curl rotate your arm so the palm is forward again, lift your arms straight overhead into a press and then reverse the whole motion) – medium weight, 10 reps
  • V sit-ups on the bench – no weight, 15 reps
  • Seated Rear Delt Flyes – medium OR light weight, 12 reps (I do these with 15 pounds, but the motion itself can be difficult and neuromuscularly hard to learn, you have to target you mid back and not use you trapezius to get through the movement, so if you are new to this exercise, use the light weight)
  • Pec flyes on bench – medium weight, 12 reps
  • Tricep bench dips – no weight, 15 reps
  • Side leg lifts off the bench (AKA side V sit-ups) – no weight, 12 reps each side

*** If you aren’t sure about any of these exercises, head over to Bodybuilding.com and look them up 🙂

HIITs: 2 sets of tabatas

  • Walk 1 minute at 2.5% incline; step off treadmill and increase speed to a sprint (for me it’s 9.0 mph)
  • Perform a sprint set of Tabata: 20 secs running, 10 secs off the treadmill repeated 8 times
  • Slow the treadmill down and walk for 1 minute: Step off the treadmill and increase incline to 12.5% and speed to a hard jog (for me this is 6 mph)
  • Perform a hill run set of Tabata: 20 secs running at a steep incline, 10 secs off the treadmill repeated 8 times
  • Cool down by walking for 2 minutes or until you can actually breath again 🙂

I loved this workout and I finished it off with a protein shake and an apple… no DOMS for me! Yay for modifications to the 21DSD.

Oh and just for randomness sake… crispy bacon is an awesome replacement for tortilla chips when trying to stuff your face with too good to be true guacamole.

Split or not?

Have you ever seen the guy in the gym with a shredded upper body like the hulk supported by toothpick legs? Even if they are normal sized, they look small because it is not proportionate. These guys look ridiculous (and I may make fun of them behind their back).

We’ll come back to this in a minute. So my boyfriend an I usually workout together pretty regularly. He used to be a cardio only kind of person, running 5 km and 10 km races and always on the go. I introduced him to weight training and eating a variety of foods that aren’t pizza and chicken fingers, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has put on quite a lot of muscle and he (and I 🙂 ) really like the outcome. However, recently with the move and my competition, we haven’t been working out as much together. I still get to the gym 4-5 days a week, but he might only go 2 times. Going to the gym twice a week is fine and you will still maintain results… except he did something that he knows is ridiculous, but I understand it. He decided that if he was only getting to the gym a couple of days, he would focus on “the glory muscles”.

This is not good. He was only working his chest and biceps for almost 2 weeks before he told me what he was doing, and he had not done a leg day in over a month! My own boyfriend was falling victim to one of the worst weight training traps a man has. Sometimes women forget that men have funny ideas about their bodies too.

Balance and proportion are so important to overall health an appearance. Muscle imbalances (i.e. training only your front and not your back) can result in injuries or poor posture. Plus it just looks funny if you get to a point where it is noticeable. So how to deal with this? There are a couple of different ways to train.

Whole body training – You train all major body parts in one workout

Lower/upper split – You train all lower body muscles on one day and all upper body muscles on another.

Muscle group splitting – You train a specific muscle group in each workout and never consecutively (i.e. pull muscles, push muscles, abs and shoulder, legs)

These basically go up in complexity and timing. Whole body training works well if you can only get into the gym 1-3 times per week and if you have a little bit longer to train on those days. One of the problems is that you usually don’t get to all the muscles and smaller muscles tend not to get trained. This is best for people looking to get into good overall shape and not training for anything specifically.

Upper/lower splits are the next level up. This is also good for people whole can only make it to the gym 2 – 4 times per week, but you should be going at least twice in order to hit both upper and lower at least once a week. This allows you to do more than one exercise for each muscle and work them a little harder, or to shorten your workouts a bit if you don’t have the time. Smaller muscle groups are less likely to be left out in this type of schedule.

The muscle grouping split is what I use and is what I started my boyfriend on which unfortunately led him to focus on certain glory muscles. I train with this schedule:

Monday – shoulders and abs + cardio

Tuesday – legs (heavy and slow)

Wednesday – cardio (longer session but light)

Thursday – Push muscles (chest and triceps) and abs +cardio

Friday – Legs (bodyweight and plyometrics)

Saturday or Sunday – Pull muscles (back and biceps) + cardio

I hit legs twice with different methods because I want to make sure that I am giving them as much attention as my upper body; my lower body tends to develop slower. This schedule allows me to really focus on the different angles of muscles and make sure that all aspects of the muscle group are worked in different ways so I look balanced and proportionate. It also allows me the flexibility to work a muscle group more or less if I feel like it is not developing proportionately. It’s a great method, but is time-consuming and is more geared towards higher levels of weight training. So if you are limited for time just do either whole body or lower/upper split.

If you are looking for a program to start you out bodybuilding.com has some really great options.