Pain. A poem.

Pain is my best friend.
He lurks in fibre and ligament,
playing hide and seek
amongst time-worn bones
and weary blood.

He enters my thoughts
and hopscotches through my brain,
tugging on discontent
and dreams better left alone.

He wanders through
my cells, arteries, and veins,
grasping at the walls of my heart
in a gentle bear hug of regret.

He is the one friend
who will never leave.
Eventually, he will set the table
and dine upon the last of me.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Chest Day!

Today was chest day in my 4-day body split workout (Back/Chest/Shoulders/Arms). My workout for each body part changes each time to dupe muscle memory (so the muscles don’t get used to the range of motion and stress), but here’s the routine I did for chest, today.

I’ve included links to the main exercises, so you can see how they’re done.

Warm Up

  • 20 minutes – multiple arm and leg stretches, oblique twists, strong man overhead raises, 3 sets x weighted sit ups (30 reps each), yoga stretches

Push ups

5 x supersets – each superset includes:

  • Kettle Bell Push Ups x 10 – this time around, one kettlebell resting on floor, two hands in diamond over bell. Works chest and triceps. Haven’t got a kettle bell? Balance on a basket ball (harder), medicine ball, or books. The image above shows what I mean, except using a medicine ball. 
  • Incline Push Ups x 10
  • Decline Push Ups x 10
  • Dips (unweighted) x 10

Slow movements for the exercise, then move quickly to the next.

Flyes

5 x sets – includes:

Tabata Finisher

  • Tabata – 4 minutes – intense and fast – jump lunges, jump squats, push ups, burpies

That was today’s workout. Very enjoyable, in a painful sort of way.

 

Warning: I’m not your doctor. If you haven’t exercised before, or are out of condition (read: unfit, overweight, etc.), talk to one before attempting strenuous exercise. You have been warned.  

Armistice Day! Oops, I mean arms day.

I just finished an arms session and thought I’d talk about it.

My body part split workouts involve clustering exercises for Back/Chest/Shoulders/Arms, split over four days. The arms workout is split into triceps and biceps, and I change this every session, so the following information is only reflective of today’s session.

Why change? So the muscles don’t get used to the type of exercise I’m doing – it’s easier to shock the muscle into growth. I also like variety – if I get bored I lose motivation. And we can’t have that, can we? My exercise is part of my mental health routine, and I, like most people, prefer not to be depressed all the time. Although, sometimes I get depressed anyway…okay, moving on.

I’ve included links to the exercises below, so you can see what they are and how they work.

Warmup

Warm up includes leg, torso and arm stretches, yoga stretches, 3 x sets of bicycle crunches (80 reps each set) (20 minutes)

Note: I vary warm ups each session – sometimes I do weighted crunches instead, however these have less reps.  

Triceps

5 x supersets, which involve:

Tricep Cable Pull Downs/Push Downs (20 reps)

Tricep Dumb Bell Kickbacks (10 reps each side)

Tricep Overhead Extensions, with dumb bell instead of cable (10 reps)

Note: I do weighted parallel bar dips on my chest day. By inclining forward with chin against your chest, as you lift your body mass and extra weight via a belt, you hit your chest more. It also hits triceps as well (many people would normally include dips in their tricep routine, but that’s just me).  

Biceps

5 x supersets, which involve:

Standing One Arm Cable Curls (15 reps)

Concentration Curls (8 reps each side, with dumb bells)

Barbell Curls (10 reps)

Cardio Finisher

Tabata – Intense cardio – jump lunges, jump squats, push ups, burpies (4 minutes)

 

Normally I do laps for two kilometres, stopping to do push ups and lunges each lap, but it was raining today. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

You’ll notice I combine some high rep exercises with low reps. I like to go for a balance of size and strength building. In a superset you perform each exercise slowly, but move quickly to the next one, so that you push the muscles to failure rapidly.

Phew! The blog was harder to write than the workout!

 

Note: If you are unfit, overweight, have medical issues or are not used to exercise, please consult with your doctor prior to undertaking any training programs.

Work Out Woes

(‘So, you’ve been resting for a week,’ says Alpha Girl. ‘Does your arm feel any better?’

‘Well, it did,’ I reply, ‘But I just worked out and now it hurts again.’

‘Did you go to the doctor last week?’

‘Yes, I did. He’s referred me for an ultrasound on my elbow in four weeks.’

‘Well, make sure you go to it.’

‘No worries. You know you sound like my Mum.’

‘There are worse things I could be.’)

 

So, the week of rest is over, and I’m back into working out.

I did my back workout this morning – 5 supersets of wide grip chin/pull ups (8-10 slow reps per set) combined with bent over dumbbell rows (10 reps each side per set), 5 sets of neutral grip chins (8-10 slow reps per set), 20 sets of push ups (20 slow reps per set), and 20 laps of the back yard (2 kilometres). Yes, I know push ups are for chest, but I was doing them after each lap, as part of the cardio.

And my left arm was in pain. It still is.

I know I have to get something done about it. But I’m not about to rest for 6 months. My workouts are not just physical training, they’re part of my mental health routine.

Tomorrow is chest day. We’ll see how that goes.

 

(‘Dude, you still working out?’ says Beta Max. ‘You should take a leaf out of my book, man.’

‘And do what, exactly?’ I reply.

‘I just rest 24/7, man. And I never strain anything.’)

Tabata This, Tabata That…

So, I’m a bit of a fitness freak (well, less freak and more fitness). Exercise is not only great for physical fitness, but for mental fitness as well. Research has shown that regular exercise can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and contribute to improved self-esteem. So, I need to exercise to keep reasonably on track, head-wise.

I work out regularly and also do tabatas. So what’s a tabata, you say? I’m glad you asked that very intelligent question.

A tabata is a 4-minute routine that utilises four different exercises done at full intensity for 20 seconds each, with a 10 second break in between. These exercises are then repeated to complete the 4 minutes. By the end, you are exhausted. It’s designed to improve your cardio fitness and to burn fat.

Want to see one? Check out this YouTube video.

So, now you know what it is, I can tell you it is one of the best short exercises I’ve come across for improving fitness and burning fat. You can also customise the tabata to target particular body parts. I’ve included examples below of some of the routines I use:

Kettle Bell Tabata

  1. Single-Handed Kettlebell Swing (core and shoulder – one hand at a time, between legs to shoulder height, transfer to other hand at top of arc)
  2. Double-Handed Kettlebell Swing (core and arm workout – two handed, usually with heavier kettlebell – between legs to shoulder height) – see the picture above
  3. Kettlebell Spider Power Plank (core workout – legs are raised during plank one at a time to touch elbows)
  4. Kettlebell Power Plank with Renegade Row (for core and latissimi dorsi muscles – the “wings” of your back)
  5. Repeat each of the four exercises again

Bodyweight Tabata

  1. Push Ups (chest exercise – can be normal, incline or decline)
  2. Wide Grip Pull Ups (back exercise, using chin up bar)
  3. Dips (chest exercise, using dip rack)
  4. Mid-Grip Chin Ups (arm exercise, using chin up bar)
  5. Repeat each of the four exercises again

Keep the intensity high throughout the tabata. By the end your heart rate will be elevated, and you’ll probably be puffed out. The high intensity and increased heart rate kick starts your fat-burning.

So you’re interested in doing tabatas? You’ll need an interval timer, to set alarms at 20 and 10 second intervals, so you can keep track of where you’re up to. Here is the one I use:

If you already do tabatas as part of your routine, please share in the comments!

 

Warning: If you haven’t exercised before, are unfit or carrying an injury, check with your doctor prior to commencing any exercise routine.

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