Friday, January 19, 2007


Since restarting my workouts and weight training, my main focus over the last 4 weeks has been to rebuild some lost strength. A couple of good things have come out of that. The first is by getting more strength back in the arms, shoulders, and back my pain and discomfort level has been reduced greatly. I can't remember the last time I had to take a muscle relaxant or pain medication. I realize, of course, that time is a great healer, so the passage of time is a factor. But I really don't believe that by sitting and doing nothing that I would have recovered to this point this fast. The second thing that has happened is my 5k time is improving like I was hoping it would, as it did in the past, using this same routine.

But I couldn't help but notice that my muscle tone was not what it used to be. After sitting for 2 months and doing nothing while I waited for all the bones to heal, and then almost another month waiting for some of the tissue to heal, I lost a lot of muscle, and that meant muscle tone. I lost 5 pounds, which I have gained back, and the loss of muscle tone was obvious, at least to me. The naked truth is harsh. Everything I had gained over last year was wiped out in those months.

Up until now I have mainly concentrated on increasing weight to rebuild strength, and while I have been happy with the progress there, the muscle tone thing has been really bothering me. But then something caught my eye in one of those women's magazines lying around the locker room. It was opened to an article about reshaping yourself--thighs, butt, arms, etc. It showed the before and after pics and gave the before and after workout routines. Most of the women featured in the article worked out regularly, and most included running in their routines. Reading some of the article, I couldn't help but notice what differences were recommended for their workout routines in order to get more shape and definition. The main thing was lighter weights and faster workouts. Even calisthenics were mentioned! That meant pushups, jumping jacks, etc. I didn't think anyone did those anymore.

Naturally, that got me thinking about how I could improve my own weight workout routine. I still feel I need to work on keeping heavier weights to maintain strength, and I do know that you plateau and then gain more, but I seriously believe that I have reached almost my max on most things. And I still get on the treadmill for my speed workout immediately after. What can I change?

So yesterday, I tried something new. I still used many of the same weight routines I normally do, I just lowered the weight and increased the reps. I could definitely feel a difference, both in terms of fatigue level and heat in the muscle worked. When I was done, I hit the treadmill for a speed workout. That seemed a little easier, but I know it is from progression.

I want to get back the look I had many years ago, which is a stretch, I know. But I am going to try to work on building shape and definition, to my arms especially. I am hoping to break down the fat areas and send the flab packing!


Anonymous said...

I have heard that increasing the reps helps but I am far from having any first hand knowledge. Good job!

Anonymous said...

I've been working on weight training for the last month and I've found that high reps seem to work best for me. I use a weight that allows me to do lots of reps but that will bring the muscle to failure. For instance, I will use 8 lb dumbbells for biceps. I will do curls and hammer curls to failure(at this point that's about 50 reps). I also vary the movement by time. For example, doing a bicep curl I will curl to a count of 4 and uncurl to a count of 4, do that a few times, then curl to a count of 3 and uncurl to a count of 1, do that a few times, then do 2 up , 2 down, then single counts. Does that make sense. I picked that up off a video and I find that it stresses the muscle in different ways. After 4 weeks I'm starting to see definition in my arms and shoulders. I still have a long way to go but I'm defintely moving in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

This is my night to lift - just got home from work and tired tired tired... but I think I'm getting motivated with all this lifting success. Thanks

Fe-lady said...

I try to get in some pushups several times a week...but it usually ends up being about two sets of 20-30. I need to get them in daily. I remember reading abut Amanda Beard and how her coach required pushups of her for her swimming...she has of course a beautiful back and shoulders...but of course she is significantly younger than us! Me- I hate the camel knee syndrome! I used to have the best tone in my legs...but taking that year off for the Master's degree and sitting so much at a computer sure didn't help much!
We will work on this together and give each other motivation ok???
(ps- I am "doing" weights after work now....:-))

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work! I love the way you're returning to training and racing. I love it!