Happy New Year, everyone!
I finally made it to the gym today for my first strength workout in 2014. I’m still recovering from the cold-from-hell, and am still a bit weak. I pushed myself, but I was also acutely aware of (1) proper form and (2) driving up with power.
These are my weights for today:
Squat: 85lbs, 5×2; 75lbs, 5×3
Deadlift: 85lbs, 5×5
Chest Press: 55lbs 5×3; 65lbs 5×2
Back Extension: 3×10
I love lifting weights. I cannot describe to you the wonderful feeling of strength, balance, and power that lifting creates in my body. In his documentary, “Pumping Iron”, Arnold Schwarzenegger has a classic quote describing the euphoric effects of ‘the pump’. While I, personally, have not achieved this climactic effect in the gym, ‘the pump’ of pressing through that final rep of that final set makes a girl feel damn invincible. It grounds me. It fuels me. It lifts my soul.
I’ve been following this foundational program for the past month, three times each week. While also working the chest, and quadriceps, the compound movements of this workout primarily strengthens the posterior chain (and therefore, your back, and all of the muscles protecting your spine). When I began in December, I began with the following weights:
SQ: 55lbs 5×5
DL: 50lbs 5×5
BP: 40lbs 5×5
BE: BW (3×10)
Quite a difference! And I’m so happy that today, even on a ‘weak’/recovery day, there is significant improvement in not only the lifting weights, but also in form. Four weeks ago, I couldn’t even squat properly. It took about a week to correct the form to squatting to parallel. And today, I squatted past parallel to a low bench. There are still weaknesses and mobility issues that need work; however, overall, my form is significantly more even and aligned. Weights did that! Lifting weights changes your neuromuscular connection to movement.
Even though I am doing the same workout each time, I am never bored with this workout. Each day is different; I notice what my body needs and I am able to adapt the program. There was one day last week that I really didn’t feel like lifting. I went into the gym anyway, and instead of completing the 5×5 program, I did each exercises with the bar (45lbs) for three sets of then (3×10). Obviously, this is a completely different workout. I did not gain much strength or mass. Instead, I worked up a nice sweat, while practicing excellent precise form. I left the gym feeling totally rejuvenated.
I have not gained weight. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’ve lost about 2-3 lbs as well as a full percentage point of body fat (this is now a off due to recent week-long illness–not recommended). Surprise, surprise, I am not becoming overly bulky or overly muscular (despite the fact that this is a ‘gains’ program). I am more muscular, but not in an unfeminine way.
I have made no significant changes to my diet other than possibly eating more! I eat 2-300 calories at regular intervals throughout the day, and specifically after a workout. I learned that I must eat after a lifting workout; otherwise, I experience a major crash and become very overwhelmed (grouchy and tearful) and mentally foggy (grr). I also eat a very big breakfast of eggs and tahini toast every morning; sometimes I eat two breakfasts, hobbit-style. And I highly recommend it.
Because I am so pleased with this past month’s results, I will be continuing this program for the recommended three months foundational period before transitioning to the full Phase 1 of Reg Park’s 5×5 Workout Program (eventually there will be a link here).
Over the course of the next two months, I will spend some time with you focusing on nutrition, safe and proper lifting form, and how to generate hip power through torque. I will also post about my workouts as a reference source for other women seeking to start a 5×5 lifting program for strength. There will be before/after pics, etc.
Until next time, I leave you with the following Arnold wisdom:
Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer!