Tag Archive | Squats

Legsssss!

Well I’m feeling super after a kick a** leg workout this morning. I got up a little earlier because I wanted to do a longer workout to make up for a fun weekend with family. I took Friday-Monday off from the gym while traveling to Massachusetts to spend some much needed time visiting my sister, dad, and grandmother…and even got a surprise visit from my brother on Saturday!  It was awesome and after going HAM last week at the gym, it was good to have a few days off to rest and allow my body to recuperate.  Sidebar: even though I know that rest is just as important as working out, I have to admit I often feel guilty for taking more than a day or two off from the gym. Of course, if someone else told me they were sore and felt like they needed several days or even a week off, I’d encourage them to take the rest rather than overdo it…funny how it’s easy to give advice but not always easy to follow it!

Anyway…back to legs. I am proud to say that I’ve still been using the power rack instead of the smith machine…If you remember, I blogged about making that switch on my birthday last month.  Today I started off with a lil cardio on the elliptical and then went straight to squats. Normally, I do seated leg curls & extensions first (and on the same day as squats), but I know squats use a lot of energy and you generally get more power if you do those first. So I did a warmup with the bar and then did a combo of narrow and wide-legged squats for 15 reps each at 10, 15, 20, and 25 lbs. The weight is moderate, but I know if I try to go heavier right now, I’ll sacrifice form.

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Next up, 3 sets on each leg of weighted static lunges with 15lb dumbbells. Emphasize the glutes and give them a good squeeze on the way back up, and you’ll feel those puppies burn! haha It hurts so good!  Followed those up with donkey kicks for 3 sets of 25 reps each leg with foot to the sky and 25 reps each leg with a lateral raise.  You start off feeling okay, but toward then end, your booty and thighs will be screaming. Trust me.

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Donkey Kicks

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In the spirit of true masochism, I finished up with a combo ab/side leg raise for 3 sets of 20 reps each leg, and wrapped it up with about 100 calf raises (50 with toes pointed straight, 50 pigeon-toed).

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Iso-Ab With Straight Leg Raise

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I’m hoping for a little delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) tomorrow morning…Told you I was a bit masochistic 😉

On that note, have a super week!

Ciao for now,

E

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Squat Rack City, Chick

Ok, yes, this title is a play on the Tyga song “Rack City,” but I thought it was clever and I’m going with it.  As you may have read in my birthday workout post, I have recently graduated from doing squats with the Smith Machine (which is nothing to scoff at, but in the workout world I hear they aren’t considered the “real deal”) and put my big girl pants on to mosey over to the power rack (which is like, legit squatting).

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So Monday (my birthday) I did a few sets of squats at the power rack, using (2)10lb plates on each side…so altogether, about 80lbs with the bar. I was mainly trying to focus on good form since, without the gliding track that the Smith Machine provides, you can really hurt yourself if you don’t have everything in the right place.

Tuesday I did back and biceps, and Wednesday I did triceps, cardio and abs, so when I woke up this morning I was itching to do some more leg workouts (I love working legs, in case you can’t tell). I woke up nice and early this morning, stopped by Starbucks for a grande blonde roast with cream and sugar (no fake stuff for me…if I’m gonna drink coffee, I want the real deal), and I headed to the gym.

I like to start with cardio (today I did 30 mins on the elliptical at a 10 incline with a level 8 resistance). I know some people say you should do cardio after weights, but I’ve tried it and it doesn’t really do it for me. Something about starting with a burst of cardio gets my blood pumping and puts me in “gym mode.”

Alright so now for the highlight of the gym session…

After cardio I was itching to get back to the power rack. I marched upstairs and went straight to setting up the bar with the same weight I squatted Monday. Then I stretched my chest a bit and I did a few squats sans bar/weight just to get my muscles fired up and make sure my form felt good. At this point I noticed a few of the guys upstairs watching (probably to see what I was going to do next), and then I did something a bit out of character…

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Before starting my first set, I walked over to one of the guys that was watching me set up. I’d seen him squatting in the gym before and noticed he had good form. And I told him that I recently “graduated” from the Smith Machine and am focusing on getting my form right on the power rack before increasing weight and wondered if he would mind coming over for my first set to give me feedback on my form.

Of course, he said yes, and he came over and watched me do my first set of 10 reps. His only critique was that I could lift my head up just a tad to keep it in line with my spine. I was being extra cautious not to hyper-extend my neck, as I’ve read that’s a big no-no, so I think I was overestimating how much to keep my head down for it to be in neutral position.  For positive feedback, he said he was very impressed that I kept didn’t let my knees bow in, that I didn’t let my knees go past my toes, and that I was able to get great squat depth. He also commended the nice shelf I created for the bar with my traps and that I didn’t use the sissy pad (woo-hoo Tara would be proud ;)).

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After I finished the rest of my workout, I stopped back over to my “squat supervisor” and thanked him for taking time to come make sure I was doing things right. He said that he was impressed to see a girl using the power rack, and even more impressed that I could put my ego aside and actually request criticism. He told me that while I was doing some ab work in the back of the room, another guy who had been watching me ask for feedback came over to him and asked him to give him feedback too. It was great to see even the manliest men put aside their egos and make sure their form is proper. It makes all the difference in being able to gain strength without injuring yourself, and if I was able to inspire someone to ask for help, then that’s great!

Needless to say, I felt awesome. It was one of the best workouts I had in a while, and really boosted my confidence about trying new workouts. And to top it all off, I felt like I earned some gym cred with the boys 😉  Next leg day I plan on bumping up the weight…Stay tuned 🙂

“The strong individual is the one who asks for help when [s]he needs it.” – Rona Barrett, columnist and businesswoman.

Ciao for now!

-E

My Birthday – Older, Wiser, and Stronger!

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Me recreating the iconic “The Son Of Man” painting by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte

Well, yesterday was my birthday. Yayyyyy for being another year older, wiser, and stronger. If you read last week’s post, you know I was feeling a bit stressed out (which actually happens just about every birthday because I get overly pensive and reflective about things I wish I would have accomplished). And thankfully my head cold was practically gone on Sunday. I spent the weekend with friends and went apple picking upstate, which was super fun and actually a pretty physical activity as we had to hike through the hills to pick the apples!  It was like a full-body workout, we got to be outdoors, and it was fun to boot!

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So yesterday, I kicked off my birthday with an early morning workout. It felt great to be back in the gym!  I started with some cardio on the elliptical and then was feeling so good that I did squats at the power rack (instead of using the Smith machine) for the first time ever!  To my pleasant surprise, I was able to do about the same weight as with the machine, even after taking a week off from the gym!  I really focused on my form, squeezed my traps together to give the bar a nice shelf, and let my legs and glutes be the power source. It was awesome! And it reassured me that I’d done the right thing by giving my body a rest last week when I was feeling run down.

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These were delivered to me at work! How cute!!

The rest of my birthday was better than I could have imagined.  Between phone calls, texts, facebook posts, private messages, and in-person interactions, I think I received somewhere around 300 well wishes for a happy birthday. I mean, wow. On top of that, I got flowers, a cake and singing at work, several over-the-phone serenades, and scheduled dinner and drink plans for the next 2 weeks to celebrate my born day.  The outpouring of love was surprising, overwhelming, and incredibly humbling. What touched me most of all were the countless messages that express how much I’ve touched someone else’s life by being a source of encouragement, motivation, or support. That, to me, is about the best compliment a person could receive. ❤

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Grateful for another year…Happy Birthday to Me!

On my birthday this year, I’m reminded that it’s not about being the best…it’s about being YOUR best, and evolving every year.  It’s about becoming wiser, stronger, and healthier.  It’s about leading by example and inspiring others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.  Erma Bombeck said it best:

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.

Ciao for now!
-E