I still owe updates to my Thanksgiving post, but somehow the time has flown and we’re past the holidays and on to another new year! I’m pretty happy with how my physical fitness went in 2014, but I definitely have plans to ramp it up in 2015. My biggest fitness accomplishment was my commitment to and improvement in climbing. I can’t believe that it was a year ago that I was gifted a membership to Central Rock Gym, but what might be more impressive is that I kept a regular routine there for the entire year, woot! I went from a casual climber doing 5.6/5.7s and working on V0s, to regularly red pointing 5.9/5.10s and flashing V2s. That still makes me a “beginner” in climbing classification, but it’s also motivating to keep going along with finding ways to get to the next level.
My biggest focus right now is footwork. I’ve watched hundreds of hours of climbing videos (literally) and have worked a little bit with trainers and I’m left with mentally understanding what I need to do with my feet, but not executing it properly…especially when I get tired which is exactly when the technique would really help me. So lots of work on soft feet, trusting the grip and pressing my weight into my toes. I will get there! The other focus is general fitness (esp. core fitness) and projecting more so I can stretch myself.
Today I did a power endurance routine that I modified from other climbing workouts online. Many of the climbing workouts I’ve found have been for people who are at the V5/5.11+ level of climbing. I’m not there yet and there are some things I can’t do safely: e.g. finger training, as I already managed to inflame the tendons of my right hand by overdoing finger training. My hands will strengthen as I climb more and eventually I’ll be able to get on the hangboard, but for now my focus is technique and, the topic of the day, power endurance.
I’ve been top roping and leading a lot lately, which is great for endurance but not ideal for power. Since CRG opened a new bouldering gym in Cambridge with morning hours that alternate their Watertown location I’ve been able to get in on Mondays and boulder. They also have an excellent fitness area so I’ve begun making my own routines to keep myself challenged and my heart rate up. This was my workout today. The intent was to build up sustained strength (aka power endurance). It was intense, rewarding, exciting and definitely got my heart rate up! I was bright red by the end of it!
- 5-10 mins stretching, focus on shoulders and hips.
- Pick a bouldering level that is two grades below your redpoint level, so for me that’s a V0. Do a V0 three times in a row. For the first one I took my time and stretched out on each hold. You will repeat this for every V0 in the gym (that was 10 problems at CRG). After each set of three take a “break” by doing one of these:
- Pushups to exhaustion.
- Tornado situps to exhaustion.
- Leg lifts to exhaustion.
- Tricep dips to exhaustion.
- Side sit-ups to exhaustion.
- Plank or forearm plank to exhaustion.
- Insert your own challenging core exercise here.
- Once done, work at least 5 mins on your project. Don’t have a project in the gym? Pick something at least one grade above your redpoint level.
- Think you’re exhausted? Great, do one last round of a challenging core exercise (I did TRX plank knee-ins and sit-ups on the balance ball) and then pull-ups to exhaustion, which was just two for me because I’m still working on my pull-ups.
That whole workout took me an hour. There was very little rest time. The trick is to manage the on and off the wall time so your forearms don’t get too pumped. The “break” time when you work on core should be equal to the time you’re on the wall. IF you run out of problems in your low grade at the gym go to the next level up (e.g. V1 in my example) and try your three rounds, or drop to two if you’re getting really pumped.
In theory, this workout will build strength, help you learn to get through the pump and help you burn some calories with the cardio rush. Since I was working on easy problems and repetition I was able to focus more on my footwork and also play with different ways to climb each problem (I tried to use slightly different body positions each time since V0s are loaded with holds).
If you’re a climber and you try this I’d love to know what you think of it and what your favorite climbing workouts are!
Things have been going so well with my knee that I’ve stopped blogging my daily workouts and am going back to just writing about unique workouts and nutrition! It also doesn’t help that it’s school season again so my full-time job has ramped up and I’m once again at the mercy of teachers and students needing all things technical.
Yesterday I signed up for The Heist!! This is an all-women’s bouldering competition held at Central Rock Gym (my home gym) in Watertown, MA. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I heard about it after CRG’s Ring of Fire comp back in March. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to compete due to my knee, but I’m back in the gym twice a week and I’m feeling strong so let’s do this!
I’ll admit, I’m nervous. I’m still very much a beginner climber; my height to weight ratio really works against me in the gym. So even though I’ve been climbing twice a week since January, my techniques’ just so-so and I’ll be competing at a beginner’s level. This means I’ll be attempting 5 bouldering problems rated V0-V2 over the course of 3 hours. That is a LONG comp, much longer than the one I did back in March. I honestly rarely do gym sessions that are so long and while the length is really to give people time to rest between attempts, folks who need more attempts (as I might due to my level) will just end up climbing more. My goal is literally to not come in last. This is a real goal for me because in my last comp, well, I came in last.
Due to the healing time for my knee I missed out on the chance to train with The Heist CRG Team so for now I’m on my own. I’m training by bouldering once a week to gain strength and skill and top roping once a week to help me with endurance. I also just treated myself to new shoes (I’ll blog about those another time) since my old shoes were starting to fall apart and really weren’t ideal for bouldering. On the days I’m not in the gym I’m doing a mix of cardio (biking for my knee), tabata/HiiT workouts, kettlebell strength training, and yoga.
It’s been interesting, as I work to strengthen my legs and upper body I’ve been gaining weight. A chunk of that is from new muscle, but if I’m honest with myself a larger chunk comes from allowing myself to drift into a summer junk food diet cheating more and more on my allergy diet. I’d still say overall I’m a very healthy eater, but I’ve had fried clams/oysters, lobster salads, bagels with lox, burgers and beer, Mexican and margaritas, and all sorts of things that are great once in a while but not once a week. It’s time to slim down, which means being strict about not eating foods I’m allergic to and keeping my portions reasonable with a paleo-tilt. Every pound in my body is a pound I’m dragging up the wall with me. Thankfully, this is also harvest season so my kitchen is FULL of local, organic produce, most of which from my or my Dad’s garden.
This week I’m trying out a few new recipes. The first one was Punjabi Baingan Bharta, which is an eggplant dish that I actually enjoy (I usually hate eggplant). I basically followed that recipe to a T except that I quadrupled the amount of garam masala, added a little turmeric and cardamom, and used an immersion blender at the end. Its was so good!
Last night though was INCREDIBLE!! It was adapted heavily from this recipe, but I’ll put my whole recipe here.
Grilled Chicken with Raw Peanut Ginger Lime Veggies
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 tbsp olive oil, or an oil of your choosing
- 3 large or 5 small carrots, spiraled or peeled into noodles*
- 1 large zucchini spiraled or peeled into noodles*
- 1 medium beet spiraled or peeled into noodles*
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter if you’re strict paleo)
- 4 tablespoons coconut milk (use canned or “cooking coconut milk”)
- 2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
*Note: I use the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer but have my eye on the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. The GEFU works well for zucchini but for the carrots and beets I just used a vegetable peeler to make strips.
- Preheat your grill (if it’s not grilling season you can pan-fry the chicken in coconut oil, ghee or an oil of your choosing). In a small bowl mix olive oil, salt and pepper and brush on chicken (note: if you’re pan-frying just sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken).
- In a medium bowl mix the nut butter, coconut milk, aminos, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and lime juice.
- Begin grilling the chicken, depending on the thickness it should be grilled about 6 minutes per side to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
- Mix spiraled/peeled veggies with cilantro and stir in sauce.
- After chicken has cooled for ~5 minutes cut it into bite-sized chunks and mix in with the “pasta” until fully coated in the sauce.
- Serves two!
Finally, here are two of my favorite DIY workouts from the past two weeks. These are both core and lower-body intensive to compliment my climbing and knee recovery, but they are still full-body workouts (and both started with 30 mins on the exercise bike doing intervals and end with 15-20 mins of yoga):
8/22/2014 3 Rounds for Time (my time = 20 mins)
- KB backward lunge row and pass under x 20 (26lb KB)
- Weighted sit-up and butt-lift x 10 (15lb dumbbell)
- Single-leg lateral lift x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
- KB Single-leg deadlifts x 5 each side (26lb KB)
- Single-leg kick-backs x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
9/3/2014 – 2 Rounds for Time (my time = 22 mins) – I purposely lowered the KB weight for this per my Physical Therapist as I get back into weighted squats. I’d normally use a 26lb KB so choose your own weight that’s right for you.
- Weighted double-leg lifts x 15 (5 lb ankle weights)
- Single-leg lateral lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
- Single-leg medial lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
- 2 X 20 Kettlebell One-Arm Swings (15lb KB)
- Figure 4 Squats x 12 each leg (15lb KB)
- Weighted Deadlift kickbacks x 15 each side (15lb KB + 5 lb ankle weights)
Enjoy the beginning of the change of season and remember to eat those fresh veggies!!
I’m continuing to find improvement with my knee! Next week I’ll only be heading to PT once and as long as things are still going in the upward direction she shouldn’t need to see me again for a month, woo!! I’ve learned a lot during this process and I’m thrilled that not only did I manage to not lose fitness during my recovery period, but I’ve actually gained a ton of glute, hip, core and leg strength. I can’t say this enough, if you’re in PT do your exercises. Seriously. Your recovery is your responsibility. They’re not giving you exercises for their health, they’re giving you exercises for your health. Do them.
With that said, here’s my week in review of exercise. It was my “hell week” at work as we prepare for students to return to school so that included rolling out new machines on campus, reimaging the entire campus, rolling out six new servers and completely re-doing the server rack. In other words, it was a very physical week at work for me. I adjusted my workouts accordingly.
- This was my “rest day”. I took Toby for a short hike and a swim at Burgess Pond. It was probably 45 minutes of activity and much more of just lounging. 🙂
- 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
- 30 minute Barre Pilates class
- 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
- ZuzkaLight’s Kettlebell Series Workout #1 – I was particularly thrilled to get back to working out with Zuzka. This was the first time since I’ve been injured. I did have to substitute one exercise, but this was a fantastic workout. I’ll post the workout here (with my modification) for posterity, but for the record if you like high intensity workouts I really recommend her ZGym. It’s paid, I have no affiliation with her, but I’ve been doing her workouts for three years now and I love them! You can find many free workouts from her on YouTube.
- 2 Rounds:
- 40 Side-to-Side Kettlebell Swings
- 10 Warrior Rows (LEFT)
- Standing single-leg kick-backs x 12 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights)
- 10 Warrior Rows (RIGHT)
- 20 Clams
- 2 Rounds:
- 20 mins yoga, focused on legs.
- This was the day we loaded out all the new machines, mostly desktops. It was 8 hours of lifting and being on my feet. If I knew in advance that’s what my day was going to be I would not have done the above intense workout. Thankfully, my knee made it through ok!
- 15 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike.
- 45 minutes advanced yoga. I didn’t go into it expecting it to be as hard-core a class as it was. After Monday I needed some recovery, but this was intense!
- Another full day of being on my feet along with some lifting but not as much as Monday.
- 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
- Double-leg-lift w/ crunch x 15 (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
- Side leg-lifts x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
- Standing single-leg kick-backs x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights)
- Completely redid the server room solo. LOTS of lifting, crawling, bending, etc.
- 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike.
- 30 minutes of Anusara for Head, Neck, and-Shoulders
- 75 minute Intermediate Yoga class
- 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
- 15 minutes restorative yoga
- Gave 2.5 hours of deep tissue massage
- 1 hour gentle yoga practice
- I’m hopefully also going to do a round of my PT exercises today. The day is still young. 🙂
You may notice I didn’t climb this week. That was more due to my energy level this week and the amount I used my upper body at work. I’m looking forward to getting back to the rock gym next week!!
August has been a pretty crazy month for me, but while my blog entries cooled down, my workouts continued to fire up! I’ve been traveling a lot, which means my routine has needed to shift to accommodate my locale.
The first adventure was a five day intensive Lomilomi retreat. Lomilomi is a style of Hawaiian massage that I’ve been studying for about two years now. This was my third class and it was incredibly inspiring. I knew that I would be in a calorie-friendly environment, as our meals were all vegetarian, mostly made from ingredients found right on the land we stayed at. Speaking of the land, I already knew about Dreaming Mountain in Johnson, VT, but now that I’ve spent four nights there I’m absolutely in love with it! I had done a mini-cleanse before the trip, so I had already cut out alcohol, red meat and was strict to my food allergies diet (generally no sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, coffee and a slew of other random things). This meant that I didn’t feel the need to do my really intense workouts on the retreat. Instead, I did yoga daily, a martial arts dance that’s part of the Lomi training, and, of course, I was giving and receiving massage daily. I ended up dropping 5lbs just from living a healthy stress-free active life for a week!
The next adventure was much more challenging. My company recently opened up a new store in Key West, FL. It was my job to head down there to set up all the infrastructure. This meant taking three planes each way to a hot, sweaty tourist playground, working five 12 hour+ days in a row and attempting to stick to my diet and exercise. The first thing I learned is that the sun rises LATE in Key West, after 7am. So to keep up my workouts I had to just deal with getting up in an unfamiliar place in the dark. I did a combination of creating my own workouts in the hotel’s (really spectacular) gym and yoga on the beach. I should have recorded what I did in the gym but I didn’t think to. It was nice varying between being in the gym and being on the beach. I really didn’t get much time at all to enjoy the island so at least doing yoga under the stars, next to the ocean, and then slowly watching the sun rise through my vinyasas was pretty spectacular. I’ll admit diet was much more of a challenge there, and I made myself outright sick once or twice, but you gotta live too, right?
It’s nice to be back home and back to a more normal routine. Though, it seems my yoga is going to be ramping up as I’m trying to hit the minimum pre-req hours for a yoga teacher-training I’m hoping to start in January. I only just found the program and they require 35 hours in their studio before I can enroll. Since I live an hour away this is a challenge, but I’ve been wanting to get my yoga certification for years now and it’s a teacher I really like. Wish me luck!
So, today’s workout was really unusual for me. It’s a little bit of everything. I started out doing someone else’s workout (some of you may recognize the first few items) and then decided I wanted it to be more dynamic. This was LONG. My arms were shaking at the end and I was dripping with sweat. I feel it’s a good mix of cardio and strength training, though the cardio portion never really ends. Check it out:
- 1 Min High Knees
- 1 Min Sprint
- 1 Min Low-Jacks
- 30 Weighted Burpees (I used 5lbs)
- 30 Knee Tucks
- 30 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
- 30 Plank Side-To-Side Jumps
- 10 Prisoner Getups
- 10 Weighted Sit-Ups (I used 15lbs first 5 and then 10lbs last five)
- 10 Push-Ups
- 20 Knee Tucks
- 20 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
- 10 Side Crunches, Right
- 10 Side Crunches, Left
- 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Tricep Kickbacks in Lunge Position (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
- 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Bicep curls (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
- 10 Weighted Lunge Twists, 5 Each Side (I used 10 lbs)
After that, I needed some protein and amino acids!! Cut to today’s smoothie!
This beauty contains pomegranate juice, coconut milk, spinach, flax seeds, fresh local blueberries, frozen mangoes, and a half-serving of vegan protein powder (Fat Flush). I’ve honestly moved away from using protein powders in my morning smoothie because I feel adding flax or chia seeds plus spinach gives me enough protein without making me bloat. But, today I really killed my upper body so it seems right to add in the protein and help rebuild my muscle tissue.
I also am on a daily gut repair formula from my Naturopath which includes l-glutamine. While new research is always coming out, there’s a lot out there showing a direct correlation between l-glutamine and muscle recovery. It’s recommended post-workout, along with protein and carbs (1:4). We always hear protein protein protein after workouts, but that’s one time when I think it’s important to have carbs to help with the recovery. Frankly, I do think there’s such thing as too much protein. I’m definitely trying to build my muscles, but that doesn’t mean I need to eat 10 eggs and a bucket of protein powder in one day.
What post-workout drinks/meals/supplements work for you?