Welcome to this Fitness and Wellness edition of Hot Tea, Travel, and Thyme.
Lately my exercise diary has been full of references to the Weight Lifting for Women course I am currently undertaking. So, what kinds of exercises have I been doing since starting the course?
A lot of exercises I do are bodyweight exercises, meaning no equipment is required. Once we have completed our warm-ups as well as a lot of work on our corrective exercises, we start to introduce weight-bearing/resistance training exercises to the routine. For example, to begin with, planks, push-ups, squats, and lunges are all things you can practice with no equipment. I’ve also started to add weights and other equipment to my routine – these items include things like kettle bells, dumbbells, bands, and an exercise ball.
To help with functional movement, here are some of the specific exercises I have been doing:
Foam Roller Warm-Up – My warm-up is specifically for low back, lateral upper body, and upper back.
Toe Touch – Progression: feet are on an incline, first with toes elevated (10 repetitions) and then with heels elevated (10 repetitions). This one is a great all-over stretch for the legs and back.
Split Squats – 2 sets of 10 repetitions per leg. Using a dumbbell in each hand, I started with an 8 pound weight per hand, then moved to 10s, and now I’m using 12s.
Incline Bench Press – Double arm and two dumbbells (similarly I started with 8 pound dumbbells, then moved to 10s, and now 12s).
Pull-Ups – I’m new to this exercise so at this stage I aim for just 1 set of 10 repetitions (I use gym equipment for these) and I can definitely feel myself getting stronger the more I do it.
Push-Ups – 3 sets of 10 repetitions; no equipment required for these, although I usually use a yoga mat.
Incline Push-Ups – 3 sets of 10 repetitions; a bench or low table is required for these.
Plank – 3 sets of 3 repetitions; hold plank for 15 seconds.
Incline Plank – The same amount of repetitions as the plank exercise directly above; use a bench or low table for these.
Incline Mountain Climber – 3 sets of 15 repetitions; use a bench or a low table for these.
Double Arm Deadlift – Currently I aim for 1-2 sets of 10 repetitions (currently using a 35 pound kettle bell).
Single Arm Deadlift – 1 set of 10 repetitions per arm (currently using a 15 pound kettle bell).
Bar Bell Deadlift – I aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions; currently using a total of 65-75 pounds (the bar itself weighs 45 pounds plus my trainer advised a 10 pound weight added to each side and has now increased this to 15 pounds of weight per side). I begin the practice with the 45 pound bar (10 repetitions), then add the extra 20 pounds to the bar (10 more repetitions) and finish up by adding a total of 30 pounds to the bar (final 10 repetitions).
The more practice I get at these exercises the stronger I feel (and the more I improve at each one). Don’t be afraid to start small: light weights (or no weights at all), less repetitions, and more rest time if needed. Our course runs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday which is perfect for fitting in a rest and recovery day from strength training in between each workout. Also, don’t be disheartened if it seems like too much to begin with; as I have mentioned in previous posts, I worked my way up to this after going through surgery in the second half of 2013, and I know what it is like to take “baby steps” and slowly gain strength and stamina, starting off with very gentle stretches to eventually being able to head outside for a ten minute walk. I never could have dreamed that a year after my surgery I would be running 5K and 10K races, and less than 18 months after the surgery I would be training for my first-ever half marathon. I’m also experiencing many other firsts, such as trying out several new and different types of exercises. Whatever your fitness level, little by little you can get better and better each day and work your way up to exercises you never thought possible.
(As always, get your doctor’s “okay” before beginning any training program).
All the best with your health and happiness,