I haven’t really been talking much about workouts lately here, but I’m still working out.
Still primarily doing strength training as my main form of exercise, aiming for 5 times per week ideally (though I don’t always hit 5). I walk “most” days for ~20-60 minutes, as I can.
Formal, higher intensity cardio has not been making a grand appearance lately, but this really does need to change…. I keep kicking the can down the street on it but I need to prioritize this. Yesterday I sketched out my upcoming week and have scheduled a couple sessions. Gonna make it happen. It’s just… cardio. Eww.
Also- stretching/yoga of any kind has fallen off as well. I did one little stretching workout a couple weeks ago and omg!! I was SO tight. I really need to work on maintaining some semblance of flexibility before I turn into the Tin Man.
My “ideal workout week”, for me, looks like:
- 5 strength workouts
- 3 short cardio sessions (~20 minutes each but higher intensity- not just walking. Cardio can be an add-on on a shorter strength day.)
- 1 stretching/flexibility workout
- some casual walking most days
A couple gym-related things:
1) Paper notebook for tracking workouts
Last week I was resting in between sets in the squat rack and was jotting down my reps in my notebook. There was a teenaged boy at the rack next to me, and he glanced over and pulled his headphones off.
He stepped over by me and asked me, “Do you just find it easier to keep track in a notebook, or what?” (I think meaning versus recording somewhere on my phone, as it seems all the Young People do.)
I replied, “Well, I don’t know, maybe I’m just old (he laughed), but I’ve just always done it this way. I really like being able to keep these notebooks and look back on my progression and my past months’ workouts. And besides, I stare at my phone enough…. I don’t really want to have to pick it up after every set.”
He just kind of nodded, like, Ah, nice. Cool. 🙂
This is an area that digital tracking would certainly be easy and do-able… in fact, the monthly workout membership I do even comes with a tracking app.
But I’ve just done it this way for so long, and it works, and I really do prefer to not have to unlock my phone 40 times during a workout to record stuff.
Example page from my May workouts, chest/shoulders/triceps:
I started this month’s workouts late due to being a way the first week of May. So 5/11 was my first shoulders/tris workout of May so far. Next week when I do it again I’ll list the date, and my weight + reps, etc. After 4 weeks, I’ll move on to the next month’s workouts and make new pages for those with new exercises.
I like having the previous week’s sets/reps right there. For example, on the dumbbell overhead presses, I bumped up to 20# DBs, which felt heavy for me (after some time off especially). I can see I only made it to 7-8 reps (instead of the prescribed 10) on the last few sets. Next week I’ll aim to get at least 8 reps on all 4 sets, or maybe even up to 10 reps on a couple.
Progressive overload is the name of the game.
2) Rest time
I’ve also started paying closer attention to my “rest time” between sets.
I had gotten very lax on this… often just sort of sitting and staring off into space in between my sets for too long, or more commonly, I’d end up checking my phone…. and before I knew it, 3 minutes had passed.
No wonder my workouts were stretching WAY too long!! I think sometimes, if it was a tough exercise, I was basically just procrastinating the discomfort. LOL.
The “prescribed” rest is usually only about 1 minute in between sets.
I’m now glancing at my watch as I finish a set and actively making a point to start up again after exactly 1 minute of rest. Definitely helps to keep things moving along! Keeps the intensity up, too.
(Also, I was starting to get really annoyed with myself for looking at my phone all the time during my workouts! I mean, seriously. This should be part of my “me-time” in my day- a nice break from emails and screens and scrolling and everything else. Usually I listen to a podcast or music, which I enjoy. Do I really need to be further entertained for the 1-2 minutes that I’m just resting between sets?!!? 🤦♀️NO, I do not. So I’m trying to just keep my phone put away at the bottom of my bag!!! Jeesh.)
Speaking of workouts, I’m off to do my first CARDIO session in a while! I have to drive Asher to a soccer tournament almost 2 hours away for 2 games this afternoon…. so, I’ll be gone for most of the rest of the day….. sigh. And, yay, because it will simultaneously be fun, I know. 🙂
What are you doing for workouts these days? Do you track your workouts, and if so, how?
I am grateful for a clean home office. I deep cleaned it right before I went to Texas, and it’s still in such a nice, clean and uncluttered state….have been enjoying this all week!
29 thoughts on “Workout update + a couple gym things”
I do use the Empowered app and enjoy it because 1) you can see progress on exercises that you’ve done over time. Ex. Curtsy lunges might have been the October, Jan and April plan so I can see all of that quickly and see progress over a longer period of time. 2) I do use the 1 min timer to keep it moving and then I know it’s accurate vs looking at watch or clock. Also you need to kind of keep it open so it knows the workout is still running (and it times it) so it keeps me from looking at anything else on my phone. Enjoy your cardio today! Def not my priority lately at all. Tough to fit it all in so am with you on prioritizing lifting and steps.
Hmm, interesting! I think I tried it once and my phone kept locking after a minute and I found that annoying… but maybe I should try it again. I do like the idea of the rest timer!! I also agree that could be easier for looking back at past workouts- I know sometimes when it’s a new month I’ll be like, oh I think we did this exercise recently… what was I lifting on it then? And I’ll have to page back through my workouts to skim and try to find it. I didn’t know the app had a way to look back on a single exercise like that.
Ooh I have thoughts on this!!! I’m very pro-digital BUT there are certain things that really are better on paper. I use a ton of apps but none of them have a good way for me to pull data and see trends.
I switched from 99% cardio to a mix of strength and cardio about 9 months ago and I’ve never looked back. I never thought that I would go from running half marathons to doing 20 minute power walks on the treadmill but here we are and it’s a good life. For strength I do Caroline Girvan Youtube videos. The format is easy for me to follow, they hold my attention, and all of the rest breaks are programmed in. My natural tendency is to either take 10 second breaks or 5 minute breaks with nothing in between;-)
Woohoo, way to go! That’s awesome that you’re enjoying the new system. I feel so strongly that prioritizing strength is the way to go, but I also know at least some weekly cardio IS definitely important too, so I’m really working on that!!! That’s my weakness!!! Do you feel any different now that you’ve switched up your plan? What about body composition- same/different?
Body comp is always going to be better with strength in my opinion (and in my experience) 🙂 Doing mostly running is terrible for it – catabolizes muscle but then you are STARVING (or at least I am) so probably just replacing with fat. I fully acknowledge that and ALSO for right now am still focused there because I am obsessed with improvement and the ‘sport’ of racing against myself 🙂 But it’s definitely not for vanity!
Exactly- you are doing a “sport”!! So I feel like that functions totally separate from working out for any body comp goals. It’s all good!! You’re doing amazing and running so fast and enjoying it, and, you’re healthy- sounds perfectly reasonable! From photos anyways you seem to be just fine body comp-wise too!!
So funny as I just wrote about running today! I am like your literal opposite in terms of what I actually enjoy. Currently running 6x/week (sometimes 7) and strength 2x for like 20 min each. I want to do 3x though AND I also need more yoga/stretching in my life! I have kind of gotten lazy about logging running details on paper since strava // apple workouts collects so much data AND I have to type it into google sheets for my running coach! BUT strength is different as nothing is going to track data as automatically I think. . . I remember loving the paper Beachbody templates and filling in weights so I could see strength improvements.
I do find it so funny how people tend to be either Team Cardio or Team Strength!! (In terms of what they just naturally enjoy/gravitate to.) It feels like maybe it’s some kind of inherent trait.. ha!
I think I get the same “fix” you get from watching your running paces increase by either seeing my weights increase and/or noticing a bit more muscle definition! 😆
What are you doing for workouts these days? Do you track your workouts, and if so, how?
I feel like I shouldn’t be commenting but I do absolutely nothing. There are zero excuses: I have (or can find) the time, I have the equipment in the basement (treadmill+rowing machine+ weights), we have a bike upstairs (fake Peloton 🙂 and I just do not use it. Over the years, I would start and fail, start and fail. I’ve tried rewards and tracking. Nothing seems to work. Sorry to be sounding so down! But it’s the reality 🙂
Awwww, well… is this something you actually want to incorporate in your life? I think it’s hard to do when deep down you don’t really want to. That said, some activity is healthy of course, but just walking with the kids can mostly accomplish that goal too. 🙂 (I will always argue that some strength work is important, but, baby steps. 😉 ) If you want an accountability buddy or something though, just email me!! 🙂
Thank you for responding. I think deep inside, if I were to be completely honest with myself, I don’t value exercise and the benefits it brings. I like what Katie2009 is doing perhaps I’d follow her example and check out Nerd Fitness. :))
I get kind of intimidated reading this, because I am NO WHERE near what you are doing. I do strength training 3x/week- basic stuff I am learning from Nerd Fitness. I do tons of walking and chasing my kids around, but I would love to start adding cardio in the form of swimming. But it’s kind of a hassle to get to/from pool in a timely manner!
Where did you learn about lifting weights? Like I said, I read the website Nerd Fitness and I finally worked up the nerve to start doing some stuff w/ dumb bells.
Awww don’t be intimidated!!! Note that I said that is my “ideal” week, NOT what I’m currently always doing. The real version has been more like ~4 strength plus some walks. I just would like to get back into more formal cardio and a bit more structure/consistency- it’s been up and down for me. But, I am busy…
Re: learning strength, it’s been a LONG process!! I lifted some during my high school volleyball days so that laid the foundation. Post-kids when I got back into it I learned more by following some strength coaches online, Instagram etc. A great resource is Sohee Fit https://soheefit.com/ , an online creator who is super super into balance, intuitive eating, healthy functional strength etc (and she is a phd in exercise science- very research based). And just delightful personality.
I have also been doing monthly online programs for the last several years so I don’t have to write my own workouts. I used to purchase monthly plans elsewhere but currently am using the monthly membership from Macros with Em. (See link in my post.) This makes it sooooooooooo easy. She includes a video for every exercise so it’s great for even beginners. She also includes a home workout version for those who can’t get to the gym. It’s $20/month. I love having it all figured out for me!! I’d suggest maybe finding something like that and before you know it, you’ll be super comfortable in the gym. 🙂
(For Sohee Fit, I just like her newsletter and I follow her on social media where she publishes lots of really helpful stuff too.) She also has a book out a few years ago called “Eat. Lift. Thrive.”
I need to check Nerd Fitness out!
It’s a really great resource! I have this saved and have been working on the basic workout. I have really struggled with knowing what/how to workout ESPECIALLY after having kids! https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/beginner-body-weight-workout-burn-fat-build-muscle/
I track all my workouts – just walking and running – once a monthly in a spreadsheet. I track the number of workouts, total distance, average distance etc and that is it.
I should do strength training and I should do more yoga/stretching, but it’s just not a priority for me right now. Maybe in another season of life?! I used to do a bunch of fitness classes and loved those but it’s just too hard where I’m so frequently solo parenting, classes tend to be in the evening (or at school dropoff time) and my kids aren’t old enough to stay home solo.
Obviously this is a very personal decision, but your oldest seems definitely old enough to “babysit”, no? So you could theoretically get out?? But I totally get it not being a priority right now, and that’s ok! You are plenty active it seems in your day-to-day. 🙂
I have a Garmin watch so it tracks my workouts for me, and also I “schedule” them in my paper agenda. I don’t schedule yoga though, because that is just a given for me personally. But everything else I do, and it works nicely. I don’t really look back on my workouts though, and I did start adding strength about 2 1/2 years ago, and I kind of wish I HAD tracked my weights. It would be nice to see progression in that area; I started with like 3-5 pounds and now it’s 15-20. But hey, no biggie.
I am also Team Strength, despite being Team Cardio for most of my 20s and 30s when I was a regular runner. I realized that I actually enjoy lifting a lot more and I am not going to lie, I am also motivated by the body comp results 🙂
Like Beckett above, I do Caroline Girvan YouTube videos at home, which is ideal for me because she has lots of short (30-40 min) workouts and they are time based instead of rep-based so I know exactly how long a workout will take me and the rest periods are built in. I think when my kids are older and can be home for longer periods of time I’d love to return to the in-person gym and be able to do more than just dumbbell-based strength training (mostly just for the variety/interest factor). But right now when I usually only have a short period of time to work out, I love how efficient these workouts are, that they are free, and that I can do them fully from home now that I have built up to a full set of DBs (ranging from 8s to 35s). One of the reasons running was my go-to for so long is because it felt similarly free, easy, and efficient, but now I feel like I’ve reached a point with strength training where that is almost the case too (obviously the DBs did cost money up front though, and my husband also bought me a workout bench for Christmas this year).
Because the workouts are time based I don’t actually track # reps but I do track the amount of weight I use in an Excel spreadsheet. Because I do many of Caroline’s workout programs multiple times (my favorite is Iron), I pull it up before each workout so I can see the date when I last did it, and how many lbs I lifted for each specific exercise so I can focus on progressive overload. It is fun and motivating to me to see progress.
Sounds like you have a very good thing going!! I’ve never tried the Caroline Girvan workouts, but they seem wildly popular! I just really have not invested in enough home equipment/ heavy enough weights. I have enough to get by with like Beachbody style workouts (or those that tend to be more higher rep/ lower weight), etc, but in terms of truly doing all of my strength training at home…. I’d need more!! What I have fits well in the limited space I have, but occasionally I think about slowly starting to at least invest in a few heavier sets of DBs, like a 20#, 25#, 30 range maybe.
my current workout routine: 5 runs a week prescribed by my coach, usually includes 1 workout and one long run on Sunday. Then I’d do 2-3 strength training full body usually for 30-45 min. if I do only 2, the third day would be core and mobility. Then I’ll do 1 stretching yoga on Tuesday or pilates if I’m super energized. Saturday is full rest day. nada.
I keep track loosely on my weekly pages, not recording the weight/sets, but whether it’s full body, lower, upper, or core.
I try not to check phone during sets or I’ll take too long rest too.
As an avid exercise HATER, getting a peloton changed me!! The rides are entertainment to me, which makes me usually actually WANT to do them. I also am STRONGLY motivated by wasting money, so I need to use it or I’ll feel guilty about that. Entertainment is apparently my peak motivator – not health lol.
I’m on a 17 week streak of working out which is certainly more than I have done in many years. Now I’m settling into every other day of doing something with peloton – probably 2-3 bike rides a week, and often I’ll do one that alternates intervals on the bike and arm weights because again, that’s more entertaining/interesting to me. It has not changed my body (because I haven’t changed my diet) but I can tell that I’m stronger and the rides are MUCh easier than when I started – it is nice to see progress! I did a month long strength program and did really enjoy that to get me into strength training more but the instructor was boring (for other peloton people – Ben Alldis – zzzzz). I am finding that I REALLY love doing three 10 minute things in a row, vs one 30 minute thing – so I can do 10 minutes barre (really enjoy that), 10 minutes upper body strength, 10 minutes core or something like that. For other exercise haters, it really is something that’s worth trying at least the app (you can get a free trial for a few months and app only is something like $13/month) – there are TONS of non-bike workouts on there and many that require zero equipment, including guided outdoor walks/runs, barre, yoga, stretching (I really like those a lot), strength etc etc. I am not sponsored by them I swear lol
That’s awesome that Peloton is working for you! I have heard lots of good things about it. I was surprised how enjoyable I found working out at home to be during the pandemic… so much that I really struggled to get back into the gym consistently after things settled down! But I feel like I’m finally back to a point where I’m really “back” at the gym, in the groove again, etc. Like I commented above, I just don’t have enough heavy weights and equipment at home to really do the strength work I’d like to do, so the gym is my best bet. And I live SUPER close to my gym, so there is really not a good excuse! I think it’s smart how you have paid attention to what works for you (that you prefer the variety, versus 30 minutes of the same thing.) Totally key to sticking with it is that you have to enjoy it!!
I LOVED this post and reading all the comments. Currently, I am doing a strength/HIIT video (usually Lindsey Bomgren / Nourish Move Love) three to four times a week, and walking daily, between 2-4 miles each day. I love Lindsey because she is super positive and offers plenty of advice about alternative exercises you can do if the ones she is doing cause pain or aren’t doable due to injury. So many of the bloggers I read love Caroline Girvan, so I have tried her a few times but I am not used to the silence! I guess I prefer Lindsey’s style of talking through the entire workout, although I can understand how that wouldn’t be everybody’s thing!
I am so impressed by your notebook, which seems like such a great way to keep track of what you’re doing. And honestly I’m impressed by anyone who goes to the gym — I find gyms so incredibly intimidating, and I feel like the few times I’ve been to one I sort of wander around aimlessly. Having someone tell me exactly what to do and show me the right form is super helpful! The way I track workouts is via my apple watch, which is useful but not particularly good at counting reps. And I do videos pretty haphazardly, too, so I’m not sure if I’m doing things “right” in terms of helping with progression. I did recently move up to 12# dumbbells from 10# ones though, which seems like progress. Hopefully one of these days I will be strong enough for 15# or 20# dumbbells! That’s the goal.
I think lots of people start with the videos like you are, and then eventually branch out into other types of strength training (or not, if you’re happy to stick with the videos!). The key is doing SOMETHING consistently, I think. 🙂 I know you’ve said you’ve struggled with motivation and consistency over time, so it sounds like you’ve made some awesome progress!!! I do think it’s true that to get “best’ results you’d do the same program repeatedly over a certain amount of time, with an emphasis on pushing yourself to increase/improve something each week, versus “program hopping”, or doing a totally random workout each day. But on the whole, I think the most important thing is just moving your body and not stressing over all the details. 🙂
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Interesting! You’re so organized about it.
Well, I hate exercise, so I do whatever it takes to get myself doing something. I mostly do classes through our healthcare system and because I never know what those classes will consist of (it’s usually a sort of vague title like “Body Blast,” I just keep 5 pound and 7.5 pound dumbbells close at hand and hope for the best.
But I’m also slowly working my way through some Caroline Girvan videos on YouTube (on the days when classes aren’t available) and I just have a sheet of paper with the common exercises listed and the weight I used the last time written down. If I go up (or down 😦 ) in weight, I just cross it off and rewrite it. But your notebook is making me think I should reconsider y slapdash method!
It’s so funny to me that you say you hate exercise, because I’m consistently amazed and impressed by your accountability posts and how VERY consistent you are with your workouts!!! You had me fooled. 🙂
I can relate to your struggle to “fit it all in”… I am constantly trying to add strength, yoga, stretching to my cardio (run, bike) schedule and it’s definitely a challenge.
As you know, I do a lot on the Peloton platform, so all of my workouts are recorded there and I also then push it to be saved in my Garmin app (where I record all outdoor activities as well).