GIRLS CAN LIFT

A Dainty Diary of Lifting


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Braving Bootcamp

I often stop and ask myself how come I’ve managed to lose weight when so many people set the same goal and fail. I had failed to reach my own weight loss goals before and then one day, it stuck. I’ve reached a few conclusions – and I’m convinced that one factor in my success is the fact that I will force myself to try anything at least once. It was in this mindset I forced myself to try a “Bootcamp” class at my gym, today.

Now, I have nothing against group fitness – hell, I did zumba almost exclusively for months and months – but the more fit I become, the less the idea of group fitness classes appeal to me. After all, “Hardcoreness is not achieved in groups. Hardcoreness is achieved via a journey into the sweating painful depths of yourself. Hardcoreness is achieved alone.” So how did I accidentally wander into bootcamp today?

Flattery. I am a sucker for flattery and it’s as simple as that. How could I resist when the personal trainer who teaches the class came up to me last Friday and said “Hi, I’m Kristy. I teach a bootcamp class on Monday nights and I’m trying to get some fresh faces out. I see you here a lot and you seem to know what you’re doing, so if you’re interested in trying something new, you should come out.” And of course, since I am a sucker, I felt obligated to give it a try. I’m supposed to be seizing the day and trying new things and all of that other mumbo jumbo.

The class: I had never been to a bootcamp class before, so I tried to research what I was getting into before I showed up at the class. As far as I can tell, “bootcamp” is just a generic term used to refer to a group workout class that incorporates strength and cardio intervals. I’m guessing that every bootcamp is different and depends a lot on the training philosophies of the instructor. In my case, we did supersets of isolation exercises in a circuit for 1-minute intervals. Ugh. It pains me to even type that phrase.

The good: I train for strength. Endurance isn’t even on my radar and when I suddenly decide that I should do some conditioning work, I always end up being a total baby and giving up because endurance is hard! And I get all sweaty and out of breath! I mean theoretically endurance is a good thing, although off the top of my head I can think of approximately zero reasons why – but I may be biased. And I’m always lamenting the fact that I wish I was more muscular, so doing some exercises for hyptertrophy is probably exactly what I need. Having people there to tell me quit being such a pathetic wimp and just keep going for more than 5 reps was a definite benefit.

The other thing that this class had going for it was all of the goddamn burpees that I had to do. Since the PT alternated burpees with all of her isolation work, I know that I easily did 200 burpees in that hour. Burpees suck. But there is a reasons that big strong fucks like Johnny Pain endorse burpees: they work. For the sheer number of burpees involved in this class, it would be impossible for me to say that today was a crappy workout.

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The bad: There are some things like conditioning work that I hate, but I still know they’re good for me. There are other things that I hate because I know they’re a waste of my time. Isolation exercises are a waste of my time and for most people with a moderate level of fitness they will continue to be a waste of time. When you’re picking up a giant rock or replacing the jug in the water cooler, your muscles aren’t working in isolation. I am totally an advocate of compound movements and doing a ton of isolation work is just an ineffective approach to getting stronger.

I also have an issue with doing reps for speed or time – in fact, it’s one of my main beefs of with crossfit. Working past the point of good form is just stupid – and even though my endurance sucks, trying to squeeze as many reps as possible into 1 minute is just asking for an injury.

Finally, my biggest pet peeve with this class was the use of the bosu ball. We did bosu ball step ups. Bosu ball crunches. Bosu ball mountain climbers. Bosu ball push-ups. 1-handed bosu ball push-ups. I’ve basically fulfilled my yearly quota for the bosu ball, which is basically the antithesis of a burpee. Do you think Muhammad Ali ever worked out with a bosu ball? Fuck no. The bosu ball is a gimmick. Fitness hipsters use the bosu ball, when they could easily opt for some variation of a bodyweight exercise that is equally or more effective and looks a million times more badass. I feel like I have to question the training philosophy of an instructor who makes me do 5 million reps on a bosu ball.

The verdict: If I were the type of person who measured the success of their workout based on their level of sweatiness, this would be the best workout in the history of the universe. But instead, I’m the type of person who believes an effective workout involves not doing an ineffective routine and so I’m left with mixed feelings. I didn’t expect to love or agree with everything we did today and I think this was the appropriate mindset for going in. I did get some benefit from the class and would consider going back in order to focus on my body recomposition goals, but it won’t be replacing squats and deadlifts, that’s for sure.


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Fuel your mind, fuel your body: Fitness for Women

So, there’s a lot of misinformation that circulates when it comes to fitness – especially for women. One of my fitness goals is to educate myself as much as possible on all things health and fitness so that I can spot the bullshit. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

Peculiarities of Female Training @ 70sBig.com

I’ve read before that women can handle a higher volume when it comes to training and reading this article this week was a helpful reminder. Lately, I’d been wondering why I didn’t feel like I’d put in 110% at the gym and after reading this article, I added in some volume work – a great decision. Also found it interesting to read about how women’s 3RM and 1RM tend to be much closer than in men – I can only say that I’ve experienced this in my upper body lifts.

The one thing that I will say is that even if women can handle more volume, I still refuse to drink the crossfit kool-aid as a matter of principle.

Shattering the Myth of Fasting for Women: A Review of Female-Specific Responses to Fasting in the Literature @Paleo for Women

This article was sent to me by a friend this week. It’s a bit of an older article, but she sent it to me because she is a big proponent of IF and I am trying to do it again, despite the fact that I usually give up on IF quite quickly. The science in this article is awesome and it took me a couple of tries to digest the whole thing. She is right to point out that a lot of fasting literature is male-focused, although I feel the same is true of almost all medical phenomena. I disagree somewhat with how quick she is to discount the evidence that has been found in men for its applicability to women, but at the same time, I just said I can’t stick to IF for any amount of time, so there is that…

 

I’m Still Waiting to Get Too Big @louschuler.com

I will always have a soft spot for the writings of Lou Schuler: the first lifting program I ever attempted was New Rules of Lifting for Women and although I’ve come a long way since then, I still retain a lot of the philosophy that he introduced me to. This article was particularly appealing this week, since one of my coworkers told me she didn’t lift as much as she could at the gym because she didn’t want to put on too much muscle. The more fit I become, the more my ideal body type shifts towards being more muscular, and after lifting for 9 months, I have to say that I’m still constantly disappointed by the amount of muscle that I’ve put on. I sometimes forget that other women don’t feel the same and I wish I could spread the Lou Schuler gospel.


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Squat PR: 225lbs

So, I was lucky enough to go on a road trip this weekend, to meet up with some people who know a thing or two about lifting. Their awesome strength must have rubbed off on me, because I was able to squat 225lbs!


It wasn’t the prettiest squat in the world, and I did get stuck at the bottom. And it took me 3 attempt. On the first attempt, I paused too long at the bottom, which is an on-going and seemingly incorrigible issue for me on my squat. On my second attempt, I got thrown off by hitting the rack, which I chalk up to being in a different gym setting and being somewhat sleep deprived.

At the end of the day, it happened and I feel bad ass. It’s a bit of a squat morning, but I think that’s the sign of a true max, so I will take it.

I consider this to be a significant landmark for girls, especially a new lifter like myself. Everything is lining up for my meet and I feel badass.

 


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Welcome to my blog

Hi! Welcome to my blog! If you’ve stumbled on to my corner of the internet, you’ve probably realized that I’m setting up a place to unleash my musings on health, fitness, nutrition, life, the universe and everything. Well, who am I?

Well, I guess that’s me in a nutshell. In June 2011, I realized I was dissatisfied with my life. I had no hobbies. I was depressed and afraid to leave my apartment. Most of all, I was fat. I mean, I was really fat. I was 232 pounds of morbid obesity. And I decided to make a change. Turns out, I made a lot of changes and a year later, I was the girl on the right. At present, I’ve lost about 70lbs and I’m still shrinking. More importantly, I’m preparing to run a 5K Run in the September, and then compete in my first ever powerlifting meet.

I’m going to use this space to document my musings because with everything that’s happened in my life is taking up a lot of space in my head, and I’d like to document the rest of my journey. My “philosophy of healthy living”  can be summarized as follows:

  • Nutrition should be enjoyable but responsible.
  • Physical activity should be fun but challenging – and rewarding.
  • I have a responsibility to myself to be both mentally and physically strong.
  • Education on health and nutrition should be simple, straightforward and accessible.
  • I can only be better today than I was yesterday.

Welcome to my blog.