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Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Masochist in Me Loves Fitness Sessions ;)


I had another personal trainer session today with the lovely Steve (InterS.E.P.T Fitness) and I ache now, but I feel very satisfied :).

Sorry I didn't post about my last session, but it was the same day I went down with the stomach flu that laid me out until the following Wednesday and I didn't have the energy.

We started off today with me showing Steve how I had mastered the advanced plank with ball, where mastered means I did not fall flat on my face as I did the previous session where Steve first showed me it. Rather than being on the floor for this one, your hands are on the floor with straight arms and your knees and lower leg are on an exercise ball with the rest of the body completely straight (it's a great exercise for core and abs).

When Steve first showed me this one there was much hilarity as I kept collapsing in a heap just trying to get into the initial shape. However, this week I figured out how to do it by coming from above the ball and moving across into the position rather than trying to lift up from the floor.

To make it even harder you then sway your legs from side to side to your tipping point and back up - this uses all the muscles down your sides (I can do between 4 and 6 of those before I end up in the aforementioned, hilarious heap :)).

Then we moved on to the real workout. Today we did something of a circuit using the exercise bike for legs and to keep up my heart rate and then exercises for my upper body in between.

  1. 1 min on the exercise bike - not flat out, but keeping the heart rate up.
  2. 10 pushups (Steve's choice - I only do them from my knees because I can't get my feet in the right position to do full ones - here's one of Steve's tips, if you are finding them impossible, stick your bottom in the air and partially bend from there - it will take off some of the pressure, but allow you to still do the exercise and you can use the proper form once you are strong enough)
  3. 1 min on the exercise bike
  4. 10 Russian twists (My choice - I use a ball between my hands rather than a weight and I sit on the floor - you need to remember to keep good posture for this one because it twists your back and you might hurt something it you aren't holding yourself correctly)
  5. 1 min on the exercise bike
  6. 10 in front and behind head lifts with the barbell. Steve's choice - I'm not sure what this one is called precisely, but you sit with your back straight (I was on the large exercise ball so it was working my core for stability too, but a bench or chair would be fine) you use a wide grip on the bar and you push up, then bring the bar down behind your head to the level where there is the bobble on the back of your skull, then push it up again (don't let it go lower or it puts too much pressure on the back of your shoulders). This is one rep.
  7. 1 min on the exercise bike
  8. 20 crunches on the exercise ball - my choice :)
  9. 1 min on the exercise bike
  10. 20 seated rows using resistance band (Steve's choice - I actually had the band on our Reebok bench rather than my feet, but it looks like the same movement in the linked vid)
  11. 1 min on the exercise bike
  12. All of the exercises back to back without the bike in between (this part is evil ;))
  13. Few minutes on the exercise bike at a gentle pace to bring the heart rate down slowly. This is important because if you just stop after keeping your heart pumping fast, the blood vessels that have all opened up thanks to the exercise remain open, but there is less pressure so you can become light headed as the blood stops pumping as fast. If you ease your heart rate down gradually the vessels contract as well and you won't find yourself with a need to put your head between your knees :).

Next Steve, the gem that he is, has figured out a way I can do deadlifts. As I mentioned before, me doing a tradition deadlift is likely to end up with the barbell somewhere it was never meant to be and me sprawled across the room :). So Steve has come up with an exercise which uses the same muscle groups, but has me kneeling.

Now the basic movement without weights is great for the quads. You kneel on the floor and sit back so your bottom is on your feet. Now for anyone like me who has fixed ankles, this might hurt a bit, or put too much stress on your tendons - fear not, pop a partially rolled up yoga mat or towel or cushion under your lower legs to relieve the pressure.

Keeping your back straight use your legs only to come into an upright kneeling position. The instinct will be to bend forward and use a rocking motion to help - DON'T, this is cheating :). Your legs should be doing all the work.

So this is the basic motion and then Steve gave me two dumbbells to hold with straight arms while doing the same exercise. You are allowed to rock forward a little when doing it with the weights, but always remember to keep your back straight and at the end of the motion push your chest out and your shoulders back to complete the movement, before lowering back down again.

Following this I was delighted (sarcasm ;)) to discover I have been doing side leg lifts wrong my entire life. I have been exercising the strong muscle at the front, when in fact I want to be exercising the small, underused muscle on the side.

However, it is easy to correct. You have to make sure your hips are thrust forward as you lie on your side so your body is in a straight line, then you lift your leg in a scissor action. You can tell you are getting it right because you will feel the muscle you never realised you had as you lift your leg, go 'ow, you silly arse, what do you think you're doing?!' ;). Your hips will want to slide backwards, so clench those bottom muscles and keep them thrust forward. I did 10 of these for each leg.

Next came the joy of the glutes combo - oh how I love this one ... NOT! :) Ladies, you will be glad to hear we are usually better at this one than the gents at first go. I mentioned this in my previous post, but I will mention it again for clarity. Start on your hands and knees:

  1. 5 toe taps (leg straight out the back so your toe is resting on the ground, lift up the leg, without twisting your body, then lower back and tap the ground - this is one rep)
  2. 5 kick backs (leg bent at the knee, bring it up to the chest and kick backwards, straightening the leg, without twisting your body, then bring it back in)
  3. 5 leg cocks (this looks just like a dog cocking it's leg, bend your leg at the knee then lift it up to the side as if you are looking for a lampost before bringing it back down again ;))
  4. 5 side kickbacks (bring your leg up to the side like the previous exercise, then push it back until it is straight before bringing it back to the original position - this one is the hardest)
  5. repeat for second leg

Steve also adapted one of his other exercises for me. You need a chair or something of a similar height for this one.

Normally you stand and bring your leg round, up and over the chair (stand back from the chair - you don't actually have to be in range, it is just so you can judge your leg sweep), just letting it tap the ground before you do the same again. You do this 10 times for each leg.

You can also do it sitting, just aim for something or relative height. Your aiming for a circular motion to exercise the whole hip area.

We moved on to some boxing next and I have finally finished my first boxing set. I have just had to send Steve an email to make sure I am remembering it right because I was an idiot and didn't write it down straight away, but I managed it during the session :). Boy, hitting things can be fun ;).

Then we did lots of stretches to finish up - so important to make sure you stretch out the muscles. 20-30 secs per stretch is what's recommended by Google, but I just did them for however long Steve told me to :).

  • shoulder stretches (put your arm across your body out straight and pull it towards you, keeping your shoulder down)
  • shoulder stretches using ball (put your arm across the ball, brace your other arm on the floor and lower your body until you feel the stretch in the shoulder)
  • leg stretches with bent knee (lie on your side, grab your foot and pull it up behind your leg)
  • triceps stretches (lift your arm above your head, reach down behind your neck and pull on your arm with your other hand)

So there you have it, my personal fitness session today with my awesome personal trainer Steve (InterS.E.P.T Fitness) :).

When I started the session I was feeling somewhat apprehensive because I'm still suffering the after effects of the stomach flu, in that I can't quite do as much as a I could before, but Steve is wonderful. He made sure that everything was set up so I could push it as far as I wanted and pull back if I needed to. By the end I felt so much happier and confident that I can actually do this. I ache now, but it is an accomplished ache.

I think this is one of the reasons that a personal trainer is so useful. I've been feeling less than top form all week, even though the symptoms of the bug I had are gone and exercising has been hard and a bit soul destroying. I wouldn't have bothered today if not for my session, and now I feel so much better about it all and raring to go again. The fact that I told Steve I was having a little trouble and he said it was perfectly normal after an illness like that was exactly what I needed to hear, even as he still showed me options to push on.

Do you ever look at a sport or exercise and wish you could do it, but are afraid to try?

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