I can’t do a push-up. No, I don’t mean the modified kind where you drop down on your knees, but the kind I’d need to do if I was in the military. Let’s pause for a moment so I can hang my head in shame.
Six weeks ago, I would’ve felt no shame admitting this. However, that was before a strength training plan designed to get me to “lift heavy” and build muscle.
I completed stage one of the The New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLW) last Saturday with the second of the bonus workouts. Stage one consists of two alternating workouts, A and B, done 8 times each. From workout 1 to workout 8, I grew much stronger and looked forward to each workout. I was excited to get back in the gym, put on my gloves and make more notations in my makeshift workout journal. Overall, I’m happy with my progress (see below for numbers), but there are a couple downsides.
The good stuff:
I’m definitely stronger and lifting heavy (for me).
I can see and feel the muscle growing in my arms, legs, back, etc. If I flex, I actually have something to show.
The workouts don’t take long. If I didn’t have to wait for any equipment, I could get a warm-up and workout done in 45 minutes or less.
I really like protein shakes and look forward to them after a workout. I use the CytoSport vanilla whey protein from Costco.
I’d feel stronger if I could actually do more than one or two push-ups. My 30 degree angled push-ups against a bench are pretty weak.
My gym is not that big. When crowded, it took me a few minutes to find the dumbbells I needed or I had to wait for someone else to finish with them. Sometimes I couldn’t find what I needed and lifted lighter than capable (in that case I added reps). The NROLW book offers at-home modifications, but I preferred the gym.
I’ve gained weight and some of my clothes fit tighter especially in the upper body. That purple dress was not that tight last time I wore it 9 months ago. My brother and Sean say the extra pounds are muscle. I’d like to believe them, but it’s still messes with my head to see the numbers on the scale go up when I’ve been working out almost every single day. To be fair, the book offers a meal plan with recipes, but I haven’t used them or tried cutting calories (not recommended in the book). Otherwise, the main difference in my diet is adding the protein shakes.
I don’t feel like I’m working my “problem areas” enough. The workouts are designed to work major muscle groups and not focus on something like just triceps or butt. I’d like to add in some specific tricep moves to help tone up my jiggly arms.
Squats: I did these at home with 10# dumbbells. I probably started too light since I worked up to 85# on the squat rack. For the bonus workout with as many reps as possible without rest, I did 31 squats with original start weight of 10# dumbbells.
Push-ups: I started with a modified 45 degree push-up against my kitchen table. The authors don’t want you on your knees so they suggest wall push-ups, 45 degree push-ups, 30 degree and then flat. As you get stronger, you should drop down lower. Around workout 5, I dropped to 30 degrees; those are tough. Bonus workout: 21 push-ups (45 degree).
Seated rows: I began with 8 or 10# dumbbells at home (bent over), but won’t count those. I tried 30# in the gym, that was too easy. My real start was 40 and I worked up to 75. I could barely complete 7 (of 8) reps with 75#. The weights on the row machine increase from 60 to 75, and no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find the small 5# weights. Bonus workout: 17 rows at 50# (forgot I started lighter).
Step-ups: I left these out of the initial workout, because I misread what was included. My start was 10# and I worked up to 25# (fewer reps, more sets). My only adjustment to the difficulty was the dumbbells. I might start with a higher step for stage 2. Bonus workout: 50 with 8# (again, forgot I started with 10#).
Prone jackknifes: I left these out too, since you do alternating sets with step-ups. I worked up from 8 to being able to complete a full set of 15. I probably should have done them on the same size stability ball every time for a better measure of my improvement. Bonus workout: 20 jackknifes.
Deadlift: I started out just lifting the 45# bar. I worked up to 75#. Bonus workout: 31 deadlifts at 45#.
Shoulder press: 10 to 15# dumbbells. I could have lifted a couple pounds more than 15, but the dumbbells go from 15 to 20 and the 20 were too heavy for me to do a full set. Bonus workout: 20 with 10# dumbbells.
Wide-grip lat pull-pown: Started at 30, found that was too easy so 40 would be my initial baseline. I worked up to 60#. Bonus workout: 31 reps with 40#.
Lunges: Started with 10# dumbbells, went up to 20#. These left me really sore initially and I even had to cut out reps or a set in the first workouts because they were painful. I did one workout without weights to not aggravate my glutes. Bonus workout: 21 lunges with 10#.
Swiss-ball crunch: The first workout called for 8 reps, I did 15 for one set, 8 for the next. I later made them tougher by holding a 10# plate and did 25 reps. Bonus workout: 50 crunches (no weight).