Saturday 24 March 2018

Workout Shake-Up

   So. I've mentioned it a few times and given it a couple of weeks of thought, and decided to go for it.
   It's a fact: women don't get bulky from lifting weights. At least not without spending hours on it every day for years. I've known this for a long while. It's why I've been so comfortable using workout DVDs that incorporate dumbbells, like most of Jillian Michaels'. I also enjoy it more than cardio - a lot more.
   There's also no difference in results from low reps with heavy weights or high reps with light weights; muscle fatigue is muscle fatigue, but it comes quicker with heavier weights due to fewer reps and it's also more empowering.
   Weights offer a greater variety of short-term goals (lift heavier, more reps, more sets, etc) which can be achieved in a reasonably quick amount of time, easily (bloating alone can make sizing or measurement goals hazy even when achieved), and can then be adjusted to ensure progression.
   Weights are also great for building lean muscle and improving mobility - as is body weight resistance training - and in increasing muscle, metabolism is also increased which means the calories burned at rest are also increased than by doing cardio workouts alone.
   Weight and resistance training also uses up the energy in your body without tiring you heart and leaving you out of breath, which means when you finish a 30-45 minute weight session, you still feel able to do cardio, and by that point, your body has resorted to using fat for fuel as it's used up all the energy it had readily available, making your cardio that much more effective and, most importantly to me, also means you can get away with 15 minutes of cardio rather than 45.

   It's resistance training that tones and chisels your body. If you have a layer of fat over the top of it, the cardio will get rid of it, especially if done after a resistance workout, while the resistance itself will also increase calories burned after your workout and in your every day life, further contributing to that fat burn.
   I've always liked slow-paced resistance workouts that focus on quality over quantity and muscle fatigue over timing. I still preach HIIT because it's a great fat-burner, but when it comes to resistance, I prefer to reach muscle fatigue and get the most out of it.

   I'm sure you can see where I'm going.

   I can't trust myself to do a good job on a cardio workout if left to my own devices. I won't go for long enough, I'll rest for too long, I'll avoid burpees (I won't because I know they're good for me, but I'll willingly slow down towards the end of the set), and I will generally fatigue and run out of motivation much faster than if I have a DVD. It's true that the lady on the TV can't actually see me, she doesn't know if I'm doing a good job or not, but at least with DVDs I have the best music for the activity, I have timing prompts and cues, and I have generalised encouragement. But it all works for me. A 30 minute cardio workout with a DVD can feel like 15, while a 30 minute cardio workout using a magazine or plan can feel like an hour.
   In contrast, I can definitely trust myself with resistance. There's no point phoning any of it in, but as it's slower-paced, it's easier to keep at and I can move at my own pace and get into my own depth with it. Squat as low as I can and take all the time I need to get there without resting at the top or bottom. And I don't rest for long because I love the empowering feeling and consistent sense of victory that comes with every final few reps of every set.

   I've got loads of resistance workouts in magazines, and workouts I've found on Youtube and Instagram I've wanted to try, but my weights weren't heavy enough to make them worth trying. For a long time the heaviest weight I had was a 8kg kettlebell. To make it heavier for deadlifts or squats I would thread my two 2kg dumbbells through the handle - the largest that would fit - but even that wasn't heavy enough for my lower body workouts when following DVDs because I could never hit muscle fatigue by the end of the timed set.
   So: I decided to buy a barbell. It was actually quite a daunting decision because it's 'serious' weights, but I knew that a basic 20kg barbell (2x 5kg plates, 2x 2.5kg plates, 2x 1.25kg plates and a 2.5kg bar) would give me more than enough weight for lower body and lots of room to grow. Plus it was ridiculously more cost-effective than buying new dumbbells all the time, especially when my 2.5-4kgs and my 6-8kg kettlebells are still more than enough for an upper body workout. How cost effective? A pair of 6kg dumbbells (12kg total) would cost a minimum of £30. I got this 20kg barbell for £40. I know. And it doesn't feel cheap.
   In finally having a heavy weight, I also picked out a few workouts - three from Whitney Simmons and one from Women's Health (links to the workouts themselves will be up next week) - and decided to finally give my routine an overhaul.

Women's Health 20kg Barbell, and my favourite gloves from Blogilates ♥

The Plan
   I still really, really enjoy trying new DVDs and streaming programs every few months, whether they're cardio or not, so I've decided that I will continue to do so, but I will be using these Youtube/magazine workouts before hand. As of Monday the 26th. There's no sense in wasting time.
   Each workout is about 30 minutes, which means I'm working out for about 50 minutes to an hour a day now, but still only 4 days a week, with a yoga session on Tuesday. I'll provide all links next week, but for now: Monday is Whitney Simmons' lower body, Wednesday is Gemma Atkinson's total body, Friday is a different Whitney Simmons' lower body, and Saturday is Whitney Simmons' back and rear upper body, all of which are followed by whatever else I've picked out for that month. This month and next, I'm moving my kickboxing onto Saturday and continuing to double up FitFlow on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
   I want to stick with these resistance plans for 9-12 weeks and then switch them up into something else for another 9-12 weeks, which means I should be using one resistance plan for about 3 months, covering two months's use of a tough DVD and one month on a lower-impact one on each rotation. If I use this one for 9-10 months then it will cover all of FitFlow and its end will coincide with the end of what I have lined up to follow.
   Because none of the resistance plans are DVDs or full videos, I'll be using more or less free resources which I will also be reviewing at the end of it all. Yaaay, free resources!

   I've read from multiple sources - such as Jillian Michaels and UP Fitnss - that a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week for 9-12 weeks are needed to see results from a resistance training program, and by adding additional work on afterwards, like HIIT, kickboxing, Jillian Michaels DVDs or FitFlow, for example, means I will be getting more than the minimum 30 minutes and better fat-burn, especially if I ensure that the majority of these extra workouts have a good cardio element. So far, FitFlow has had two HIIT workouts a week, with the exception of this third week that has three, and that doubled with a FitFlow routine (yoga-HIIT fusion) or 25 minutes of kickboxing on Saturday means that, at least until the end of April, I should be getting some good cardio in after every resistance session bar one.
   I am excited. I can't wait to finally be able to push past my comfort zone and find my limit. I'm sick of timers on my resistance and small weights holding me back from fatigue.


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