Tag Archives: climbing

Never Compare to Others in the Gym

Never ever compare yourself to others in the gym. Heck, don’t compare yourself to others in other parts of life, too! I have always had trouble with this. I’m a competitive person and also a critical person. I’m very tough on myself and expect the best. This can be a deadly combination if you let your focus stray outside yourself. It can initiate a viscous self-hate cycle where you never achieve anything you want to and always harp on yourself for doing something wrong or being weak. Don’t do this. 

Creep shot of Chris' back from last night's workout...spoiler: he's not doing a back exercise

Creep shot of Chris’ back from last night’s workout…spoiler: he’s not doing a back exercise

I typically workout with men…as in Chris and some of our friends. This makes it doubly important not to compare yourself to who you may be working out with. I’m not saying to not draw inspiration or motivation from others–that is most important! It is great to have a partner who works hard and keeps you working hard as well. However, if it comes to a point where you’re comparing your strength, body composition, or speed to that person, it can get rather unhealthy. Even past unhealthy–dangerous. If I tried to compete with Chris on any strength exercise, tried to match his squat, I’d be snapped like a twig from the weight.

Triceps shot from a recent workout

Triceps shot from a recent workout

It’s important to understand your strengths and limitations before you barge into a workout. Are you ready for that heavy weight? Are you reaching too high? You need to re-evaluate why you’re working out and what you’re working out to. Write down your goals and write a healthy, safe way to get there. Sure, I want to get back into lifting heavy, but I’m not going to jump into huge weight right away. That’s a ticket to injury. I may be comparing myself to other strong-lifters and wanting to go farther faster, but I am me, and this is where I’m at right now. I’ve taken long steps to realizing this and saying this to myself. Understand who and where you are and understand how you can go forward.

Back shots, before and after

Back shots, before and after

If I compared myself to all the expert climbers in Boulder, I’d feel absolutely down in the dumps, angry and disappointed. However, I’ve only been climbing for months compared to them. Why on Earth would I compare myself to them? If you let yourself get caught up in the emotion of envy and self-hate, you aren’t going anywhere with your fitness goals. I remember a time when several workouts have been ruined by my bad attitude of comparing to others and my mood goes to the sharks.

Leg shot from a workout a little bit ago

Leg shot from a workout a little bit ago

Learn from this. Don’t compare to others around you. Compare to yourself. What did you do yesterday? What can you do today? Challenge yourself. Work hard. Train with a purpose and never, ever give up. Stay focused on yourself to stay hungry and fit!

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BONUS KITTY PIC

double head kitty pic

double head kitty pic

Hiking for Fitness

Chris often says that hiking is a tougher workout than running. Master Kim, our old Tae Kwan Do teacher, said that hiking is the best form of exercise besides Tae Kwon Do itself. If you believe anyone about fitness and life, it’s that guy.  I like to go hiking sometimes when I’m planning not to run that day. And almost always, I am passed out on the couch afterwards, zapped of energy. Which is a good thing! I know we are lucky enough to be in Colorado and thus have a seemingly-infinite amount of hiking trails, but there are hiking trails everywhere. Yes, even in Iowa. You just need to go find them.

A dam

A dam

This post is encouraging people to hike for fitness and not just spend all of their time in the gym. And there will be pictures from my most recent hike in Lyons, Colorado at Button Rock. Now, as you all know, I have nothing against gyms–nothing at all! In fact, we spend 2 hours there per day, usually. But we must never forget the beauty of nature and what we can enjoy outdoors. We must always find a balance between the indoors and the out.

photo (19)

Hiking is a great form of exercise. It (usually) costs nothing, spare the gas or parking fees, and it is almost enjoyable. Some people detest gyms and if you are one of those people, take a hike! Hiking has an extraordinary amount of benefits including cardiovascular endurance training or as we like to shorten it to “cardio.” Not all hikes are uphill, but I know that ours definitely was. Hiking is walking on steroids. As you continue going upwards, the air gets thinner, and your body has to work harder to gain its homeostasis (basically, the “normal” state of our body at rest). And even if you’re not necessarily going straight uphill, the terrain of hiking is often unsteady, thus your body fights to maintain balance and recruit muscles to stabilize yourself.

My friend and her dog

My friend and her dog

There are incredibly cardio benefits to this (in fact, it is almost just as powerful in this way as running is, as your body has to try to regulate your breathing just as it does while you run or jog), but there are also just as many muscular benefits as well. After I’ve hiked, I feel that I ran a 5k and did a heavy leg workout. It of course has these effects, because of the strain you put on your “cardio” system (as we spoke of earlier) and the amount of work your poor muscles have to do!

Her dog loves to be thrown sticks and retrieve them in the water

Her dog loves to be thrown sticks and retrieve them in the water

After a hike, I can almost certainly not do a heavy leg workout. I remember one time I did this hike and it was a planned leg workout that night. As soon as I got home, I passed out on the couch for an hour and then I dragged myself to the floor to do some leg work without weights. Just when your body is trying to balance upon the unsteady terrain, your legs (all the way from your feet to your glutes and even core) recruit all the muscles they can to maintain that stability. Your glutes help you power up the steep hills and rocks, your quads help slow your descent downhill, your calves help to delicately step up a pile of boulders, and your hamstrings keep you going. It is a fully functional total leg workout. And the legs almost never get a break the whole time!

photo 1 (4)Even with just the slight amount of benefits I’ve already told you, why aren’t you lacing up your hiking boots already! Take a day off from the gym, or even combine the two, and go for a hike! My traps even feel sore afterwards too. If the workout benefits haven’t convinced you, then maybe the rest of these pictures will! Go hiking to stay hungry and fit!

photo 4 (1)

photo 3 (2)

photo 2 (3)

photo 2 (2)

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Back to Back… and Biceps… Yet Again

It’s another cover of one of our workouts, which have been getting a little bit better… I hope. It’s been very challenging balancing working 7 days a week and still finding time, with gyms not being open 24 hours, to work out and work out well. Furthermore, it’s been most challenging to not neglect any body parts. Ideally for me, aside from cardio workouts and recreational workouts, I like to focus muscular isolation workouts on legs, core, chest, triceps, biceps, back, forearms, and neck. Combinations can be made freely, but again, ideally once a week with proper rest is a good start… twice a week when we’re in killer shape. Never more than that, especially with strength training.  We’ve been struggling with hitting every body part on a good reliable consistent rotation but back and biceps are rarely missed because of their size, and for now, their role in climbing. So here is my coverage of a decent pull muscle workout.

We hit the gym around 9:30, a little late, we like to get there around 9, and I put some Tiger Balm and Tiger Balm Muscle Rub on my upper body pull muscles and joints. Prior to coming, on an empty stomach, I took 1.M.R. A pre-workout supplement, one scoop a day before my muscle workouts, for nothing else. At 9:37 the fun began, on a day where I was feeling pretty good, a little sore throughout the body, especially in the lower back, and my cold I have now hadn’t hit me yet.

(by the way, as a foreword, before you ask about rest or reps, it’s minimal rest and every set is to failure, seriously)

9:37: Super set 1: (4 super sets)

a. Alternating pullups and chinups

b. Seated d-bell lat flyes (it’s the proper spelling, seriously, but I don’t care how people spell it, Alana did standing)

9:47: 2 (4 super sets)

a. lat pull downs (narrowing grip every set)

b. seated hammer curls

(during this set, while we were swapping equipment because two pieces for two people is more than fair, some gym jerk decided to try to take our incline bench, so I told him to beat it and he did. I was polite)

10:01: 3 (4 super sets)

a. low seated cable rows

b. incline pinky offset curls (have your pinky be touching the head of the d-bell, so the thumb is around the middle)

10:17: 4 (3 super sets)

a. kettle bell sumo romanian deadifts

b. back extensions

And then around 10:30, we bouldered for about 20 minutes until my forearms felt like they were about to split. Typically, we get kicked out of the gym, but that day we left a couple minutes early. If you ever get that sensation, just stop.

So now, the reason why I wrote this post was to dedicate a section to bodyweight or near bodyweight lower back exercises. While sometimes I work out lower back with back or legs, it really could be classified as core. Depending what your weekly split is, you can cater your lower back workouts to match those days. For instance,

If you are trying to do lower back with legs, deadlifts and squats are great exercises to focus on good form and strengthening your lower back. Whether it is a romanian dead lift, straight leg, front squat, olympic squat, etc you should focus on good form! If you squat 600 lbs for 1 rep and your back isn’t straight, I don’t count it. You can, but you’re lying to yourself.

You can also use the back extension apparatus that is actually a glute/upper hamstring piece of equipment. Hit a few birds with one stone. If you’re doing shoulders or back, kettlebell swings are a great workout for lower back. But if you’re trying to work body weight, lower back is a great group to focus on with your core.

Back extensions on the apparatus are I think the most convenient one here. It is bodyweight and weight can be added, but it requires a piece of equipment, and if you don’t have it just do…

Supermans – laying stomach down, extend your limbs outwards and slowly or quickly contract upwards, then slowly or SLOWLY stretch back downwards to the floor. Thirty reps is a great goal for body weight exercises, especially for your core.

Any deadlift can be done bodyweight. Single leg are the most challenging and if done improperly can hurt your lower back a lot more. I recommend a straight leg romanian deadlift where your only pivot point is at the lower back. Rep it out again with the same execution as the superman.

Never, in any circumstance, bend your lower back or arch it towards your stomach. Try to keep it tight, keep it straight and if anything, but try not to, arch it away from your stomach.

Do a plank, and a side plank on each side. Planks are arguably if done correctly the best core exercises and this includes your lower back. Do not overlook these. Do them for as long as you can maintain proper form, and when form deteriorates, rotate onto your side… or rest! Then repeat.

If you have a stability ball, you can do reverse extensions where you bring the ball into your chest with your feet on it. Keep that spine straight and try to rep it out. I usually shoot for 20.

Don’t forget about bridges. These will be used in some yoga classes. It’s kind of a reverse plank, with your back to the ground.

And on that note, consider yoga poses! Cat pose, cow pose, cobra, scorpion, chattarangaaaaa (or however you spell it). These are difficult glorified stretches that can really work. Just make sure you don’t only do these. I have a thing against just doing “static stretches” but I understand yogis that these aren’t JUST static stretches so stay back.

Any questions?

Work Those Push Muscles: Chest and Triceps Workout

So there are some workout match-ups that tend to be our favorites. One of those favorites is the sweet chest and triceps pair. It’s a great combination and leaves you exhausted afterwards (my arms are very upset with me now that I am typing). So Alana, you’re probably saying, why is it a good combination? Lemme spit some reasons at ya (not literally, come on).

Triceps brachii, large arm model - Muscles of ...

Triceps brachii

1. Convenience: being able to do your chest and triceps at once can really open your workout schedule. This is especially for the people who tend to try to workout every day or every other day. It gives you a few days to work on other muscle groups without worrying about overworking those muscles. Because ultimately, that will lead to injury. And that’s a no-no.

2. Effective: you’re going to get a much better chest and triceps workout if you work them together. If you’re doing it properly, every chest exercise you do will work your triceps a bit and every triceps exercise will work your chest. That’s just how our body works.

3. Power: it makes you feel huge. Think about the strength, effort, and power that goes into benching.

Anyhow, there’s a few reasons for you. Now let’s get to our actual workout. We have a few pictures for you of yours truly.

1. We started out with a super-set (one exercise after the other, no rest) of push-ups and triangle push-ups, working our chest in the first and triceps in the latter. You don’t need any equipment for this, so no excuses! Go until failure.

2. Our next super-set was incline chest press and incline pec fly. This really requires good strength and power (especially chest press). Unforunately, no pictures of us doing this. For chest press, you sit on the inclined bench, and push your arms straight up.

For pec fly, get in the same seated position. But start your arms out, like you’re going to give a tree a hug, and bring inwards (you tree-hugger!).

3. For this we didn’t do a super-set, because we wanted to spot each other for bench press. Personally, I’ve lost a lot of my strength, and can’t bench nearly what I used to (you’ll see low weight in the picture, the bar = 45 lbs). It’s just good to be there and spot for each other to get the weight up and getting help getting it down. We did decline bench press. Go for a good weight and, as usual, go til failure.

4. For our last super-set we combined triceps cable press and double-hand triceps extension. This really killed our triceps (in a good way!). For anyone uncomfortable with triceps exercises, I find that the cable press is an easy pathway to get comfy with working those triceps. You position yourself with the feet shoulder-width apart, facing the cable, and press down the steel triangle or horse rope down and bring your arms back to 90 degrees.

For triceps extension, grab a good weight and place behind your head and do vertical raises.

5. And lastly, to end our muscle workout, we did a cable cross-press. This will get a good pinching burn in your chest and triceps. We juiced out the rest of our strength through these. Always go to the end of your workout. Never stop pushing. Unless you feel sharp pains, THEN STOP. Stand away from the cables, grab each cable in each hand and cross over your hands.

For this entire workout, we did four sets of everything and pushed to failure. It could range from 8 to 100, it’s up to your body and your strength. We ended it with some excellent twenty-minute bouldering where Chris finished a new route that had been challenging him for weeks!

Please let us know if you have any questions! Cheers!

Let the Haters Hate but Keep Working Out

So, we were in the BRC last night working out, even though it took over an hour to motivate ourselves to get dressed and go. A, we were tired from a week of hard work. B, it was really cold out. C, it was the first Friday night of the month, so people either were here from gym trade or paid $8 to boulder for the night. (It’s really busy Friday nights) Nevertheless, we found ourselves in the weight room first.

We did a great back and chest workout. It was probably our most extensive workout in five to six months. Many exercises, many sets, many reps, great form, great pumps, no injuries or serious pain, and a wide variety of muscles hit. We often did super-sets alternating from chest to back exercises, a technique that can stretch out your opposing muscle fibers in order to make greater gains while you lift for the opposite. While we were doing decline bench press, some little guy who came in the weight room with a girl he was trying to impress did one exercise but made one stupid comment. First, I’m not being mean saying little guy.

English: an exercise of chest

Regular chest press

He was an older man (30s or 40s) a shorter man (5’5′) and a lighter man (100 lbs) but he was wearing some SERIOUS climbing gear and most likely had some great strength to weight ratio. That happens with a lot of smaller guys, they can handle their body weight very well, which is something everyone should aim for as a goal. At the same time, I don’t think it’s a smart idea to limit your body’s growth by trying to stay small, because you could be sacrificing overall power, whether it be great strength, speed, or explosiveness. Picture this, he can do 100 pull-ups with his body weight but what would happen if he ran into a coyote up on the foothills? He’s dinner. But back to what actually happened (I have nothing against smaller people!)

English: Coyote at Ridgefield National Wildlif...

Dinner!

Second, at some point while showing her how to do an upper-body elevated push up on gymnastic rings, (again, while we were doing decline bench) he said, very loudly and out of the blue, something along the lines of… “by doing this, we’re actually building/using practical pectoral/chest muscles.” Practical pectoral muscles… doing elevated ring push ups… Really? I am a very protective and defensive person, and I generally hate know-it-all people, even if they have a basis for their claims. More so, I hate those people that will smack talk everywhere and anytime except to someone’s face. (This guy’s aura made him seem like one of these people.) Was he trying to make himself look bigger in front of his lady-friend by putting us down? Tisk tisk. Let’s look at what would have happened if we discussed his comments face to face, because he obviously meant for us to hear it, little did he know that we know more about this stuff than he does.

There are two major muscle groups in the pecs, and although there are a countless number of exercises to work various areas in those groups, and hit every muscle fiber in the process, we were nearly working out the same muscles. His exercise, performed properly, targets the upper chest. (Inner, mid, or outer depends on the width of the rings.) Our exercise targets the lower chest, with the same width principle. By using an Olympic bar, we are not trying to build our stabilizer muscles in our shoulder joint, but by using dumbbells (or to a lesser extent rings) you can strengthen MORE stabilizers. That does not mean that we aren’t also strengthening SOME stabilizers, but throughout our workout we did plenty of work with dumbbells for them. We ALSO did some elevated push ups of our own before he got there, but he didn’t know that… no surprise.

Rectus sternalis and the great pectoral chest ...

Chest

Next, I’d love to figure out what he meant by practical chest muscles, since anatomically he failed already. He must have been talking about how we would use these muscle groups that he doesn’t fully understand in real life, right? So, tell me this because it’s never happened to me. Have you ever needed, in the “real world” outside of a gym, to use gymnastic rings in order to push yourself upwards using your pectoral muscles? I highly doubt it since gymnastic rings aren’t just hanging around everywhere in pubic. From our point of view, have you ever needed to push an object that fell on your chest off of you, whether it be a log, sibling, car, or anything else? Our scenarios might not be totally likely but they are certainly more plausible than that one for the rings, so who is actually working out more practical muscles?

So next time you find yourself in the gym ready to say something stupid, loud enough for everyone to hear, think about it for just a second and ask yourself if you could actually defend yourself. Also, if you’re on the receiving side of some snippy comment, like we were, don’t let it get you down. Never let any bully in the gym make you feel bad for something that you’re doing, unless you’re risking getting hurt and they’re trying to help. (Anyone trying to help wouldn’t bully you, or else they aren’t really trying to help.) Instead, let it motivate you to put up 155 on your last set of the decline for 12 reps after 6 months of not hitting any type of bench press.

Raging Bully

Ignore them bullies

Let the haters hate, ignore them, and keep working out because you’re doing a phenomenal job and we love your effort!

Rest and Recovery Days (We Take A Lot)

Looking at this past week, we only went to the gym three out of five days. Sunday was shoulders and climbing, Monday was legs and climbing, and Wednesday was arms and climbing. (Climbing=Bouldering, until we get more gear) That means that Tuesday and Thursday were more or less rest or recovery days, but this isn’t completely the case. Everyone works out for a different reason. Some people want to feel better, some want to look better, and some actually enjoy it. Although the first two are true for myself, I would never work out as much as I do if I didn’t enjoy it.

Rock climbing on the wall of Voiron, Auvergne ...

Rock climbing on the wall of Voiron, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes championship (Isère, France). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Going to the gym is considered a leisurely activity in my daily planner because 95% of the time, a trip to the gym is on the same level as playing video games. The other reason that they weren’t rest days is based on how active one’s lifestyle is outside of designated workouts. On both of those days, I biked over ten miles to and from jobs throughout the day. It was on a cheap mountain bike, and there were lots of uphills and changes of direction and pace. Also, I was in the water for hours treading and teaching children how to swim. I was never moving too quickly, but overall I probably “swam” a thousand yards (I should calculate, or try to, some day.) Finally, everyday I walk a dog in the foothills, and those hikes/walks are usually around 3 miles long. According to my former Taekwondo master, hiking is the greatest form of exercise in the world… even greater than taekwondo. (He is an 8th degree black belt)

Hiking Symbol

HIKE OR DIE

So never feel bad about taking a day off from the gym! Especially if you have an active and healthy lifestyle. Many people don’t realize just how active they are! Do you clean the house? Pick up your children and carry them around? Mow the lawn or garden? Walk the dog? Shovel snow or rake leaves? Walk up and down stairs all day? All these activities can be extremely taxing on the body and while you might not get the same effect of lifting weights in sets and reps, you can still get a heck of a workout from it.

Houseworks

Houseworks

Furthermore, rest is good as long as you don’t take too many days off it you’re trying to reach a certain goal. Some studies show that you won’t lose muscle gains for eight days, and cardio gains for three days. Now, I would not recommend taking more than two days off in a row because that should be enough recovery time for your muscle fibers, but don’t be too hard on yourself for taking some rest!

Collage of varius Gray's muscle pictures by Mi...

LET THOSE MUSCLES REST

Letting your body over-recover is much better than not letting it recover. You want those fibers to undergo fancy scientific processes like protein synthesis so that they come back bigger and stronger. Skip the process, and risk losing the growth that you worked so hard for. Working out, eating right, and sleeping right are the easy parts… your body is doing all the hard work, just get your mind in the right place. Never be too hard on yourself (I can’t take my own advice) and always try to enjoy what you’re doing. Working out every day, or nearly, for four years is really boring, unless you love the pain and struggle.

Keep up the good work!

A Walk to Remember

No, I am not talking about that overly-sentimental book/movie by Nicholas Sparks. I’m talking up uphill, climbing rocks, push to get to a Flatiron. Remember that time I talked about how you can use other exercises than using machines for a good leg workout? Forget that. Climb up to the freaking Flatirons. I may have done a leg workout the day before, but that hike accentuated my leg ache more than I can explain. I was hurting the next day, which is always a great thing (if it’s the good kind of pain).

We climbed up to the one on the right

I had made a date with a friend from the nursing home I work part-time at to go for a hike. She told us about Chautauqua Park (where we saw the Reel Rock Film Festival) and how it had tons of trails. We had never gone there to explore any hiking–we had just adventured there once to see those films. Well, let’s just say it wasn’t what we were expecting or what we were prepared for. I, sadly, forgot water for Chris and I (good job there, bud) and we had bellies full of food eaten at the dining hall at the park.

According to my pedometer, it was 4 miles up. It was a steady slow incline at first, and then at the actual flatiron base, it got rocky and steep. My friend was doing it pretty well (she brought water) and suggested we do this at sundown for an amazing scene. Well, we got pretty amazing views without a beautiful sunset to coat the sky. Since it was a Saturday, there were lots of other people, from a group of twenty college boys to couples to dog walkers. Everyone had great trail etiquette and was very friendly.

View to the East

It took about an hour to get up to the top of the flatiron, winding around it, up rocks, and steep hills. Though we were sucking in oxygen the whole time, having a serious case of dry mouth, and cursing our legs for being so sore, we had a great time.

View to the West

The views were absolutely incredible, and I can’t wait to see it during sunset and also when more leaves change.

Leaves slowly starting to change…

We were exhausted afterwards and pretty sore the next day, but it was definitely worth it and we will do it again very soon.

Made up to the top!

Oh and just to throw in here…Misty’s gotten quite adept at walking on small surfaces. Who doesn’t like a kitty picture at the end of a post?

Help, I’m adorable!

How to Get Thor-Like (or Wonder Woman-like) Legs without Machines

Sometimes in life, you don’t have all of the resources you would like. When it comes to fitness and gyms, you may not have all the equipment you would like (or think you may need). This is actually something we’ve stumbled upon as the Boulder Rock Gym doesn’t have many (or any) machines, not counting cables. It is very tough to do a leg workout without machines because it’s difficult to isolate and work each muscle of the leg. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and honey, we’ve got it!

All you really need is 30 minutes to 1 hour. Not bad! As you might have read in our last postwe’re not in the shape we’re used to, so this was a relatively light workout for our standards, but nonetheless, a good leg workout (without machines). Let’s get started.

1. Start with a warm up. Since this is a workout “without machines,” ignore what we did (biked), and go for a run or use a real bike. Try for 15-20 minutes of moderate intensity cardio.

2. Strength time. Get some weights, a barbell, whatever you have. You can always be flexible and substitute for what you don’t have. It’d be great to pull out a jump rope too.

Start with squats. This can be with dumbbells, barbell, or just with your body. I wanna see 10-15 reps, 3 sets. 

Chris performing proper exhalation. VERY IMPORTANT

3. We did a superset (meaning performing a squat and then, with no rest, another exercise), matching squats with jumping rope for however long the other did squats.

4. After that, we did (explosive) step-ups with weights. Get something you can step up onto, at least a foot high. You could use a bench, a chair, whatever. I used our couch the other day (oops). So basically, step onto the platform, weight in hand, and raise your other knee as you do so. Let’s go for 8-15 reps, 3 sets, reps depending on what amount of weights you use.

5. And, for a superset, we did box jumps. You can see the “box” in the left part of the picture above. Basically, do as many jumps over that as you can while the other person finishes their step ups.

6. By this point, we’re feeling pretty tired because most of our exercises have been high-intensity cardio. We move onto plie squats, which I covered here. Turn your feet out with wide horse stance, squat, turn left lunge, then turn right lunge. That’s one rep. Again, look at the other post for more details. Try to get 8-10 reps, 3 sets. 

7. Finally, we end with deadlifts. This is basically a squat, but you start at the bottom position. Keep your back straight and form pristine. 8-12 reps, 3 sets. 

And there you have it. Afterwards, we were pretty exhausted, but we did bouldering for 25 minutes anyways, making our forearms scream. You just need to push yourself to your potential, you can make something great out of any workout. And you didn’t need any machines for this great leg workout! Remember, this workout does not take long. Again, let us know if you have ANY questions, we would really love to help out.

Cheers!

How We Are Going to Get Back in Shape (and you can too)!

So after figuring out our job situation, for the most part, we finally decided that it was financially reasonable and responsible to sign up for a gym membership. Ideally, as a personal trainer and a swim instructor, it’s a common perk of the job to (depending on where you work) get a free membership. As I work at a small scuba diving and swimming school, there is no fitness facility other than the pool, unlike the YMCA that I worked at before moving. Alana has a free membership to the YMCA that she works at but as it is over fifteen miles from home, it’s not worth me getting a membership, so she has that. As I look for another job for some extra hours on the extended weekends, it would be great to find a place with a lap pool where I can start some swim workouts, but until then it’s going to have to wait.

Looking around Boulder of all places, and trying to maintain a budget, we passed up on what seemed the logical choice in 24 Hour Fitness and joined the Boulder Rock Club. 24 Hour Fitness is not the kind of gym that I like to work out at because I am against that chain-feeling in general. At this location, I really got that feeling and, unless I am travelling and need a week pass to a place with everything, I don’t feel any sense of attachment to a place like that where it seems members are more so a person that is counted as they walk through the door. Again, since we’re in Boulder, we wanted to start climbing, but we also wanted a location with a general gym feeling… a locker room, a fitness center, weights, machines, etc. At a reasonable monthly rate for all these services, we took a chance with the BRC. Obviously I sacrificed a pool for the time being seeing as I am still very much so in a second job hunt.

So, having signed up two days ago we made our first trip yesterday. Time to try to get back into shape. Now, to go a little bit more in depth, there were some other factors that made us decide on the BRC. This location was a bit of a premature impulse decision but, in theory, we have no regrets because one of the best ways for individuals like us who are out of shape, but were once in shape not too too long ago, is easing back into things. We were athletes and we have ton of injuries that have healed and some that haven’t healed.

Joining a climbing club, and this location particularly, motivates us to do more body weight exercises and start to re-develop what really matters: joint strength and the like. You can have the biggest strongest muscles with amazing muscular endurance, but that doesn’t matter if your joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, and everything else supporting and interacting with your muscle systems are not prepared to handle the routines that you put yourself through. I know from experience. So we took yesterday at a snail’s pace as an opportunity to ease back in and make sure nothing was acting up before we start to kick it into higher gears.

Here’s our workout, then we’ll talk some more.

At 8:40 a.m. with an empty stomach I applied some Tiger Balm Muscle Rub to my shoulders, upper back, lower back, and neck.

Then we went through about a 30 minute bouldering session at a relatively light pace, doing novice level routes, and earning massive forearm and hand pumps in the process.

Next we moved to the weight room, which is modest, and went through a short and VERY modest shoulder routine. (I have a superior lesion from anterior to posterior in my left labrum so this is always a cautious day, especially first day back.)

1. Standing Resistance Band Rear Deltoid Flies: 3 sets with a fitting band, 15-20 reps a set

2. Standing Lateral Dumbbell Flies: 3 sets with 15 lb weights, 10-12 reps per set

3. Seated Shoulder Press: 3 sets, ascending weight from 35-45 lbs, 8-12 reps

4. Olympic Bar Shrugs: 3 sets, ascending weight from 95-115 lbs, 16-18 reps

5. Roman Chair Dips: 3 sets, body weight, 6 reps

6. Back Extension Apparatus, 3 sets, body weight, 10 reps

Now obviously, this was more or less our workout. We had to keep it short because we had to get to work and because we wanted to ease back into a fitness routine, and this was very much so easing. We hit most of our major and minor muscle groups in our shoulders, namely neglecting our front delts, scaptions, and rotator cuffs, which I rarely miss. It was not a tough workout because our warm up was not complete so I did not want to risk anything. I always warm up my shoulders before an upper body workout, especially shoulders, in order to prevent injury.

Also, we always try to incorporate some core-specific exercise into every workout, even on isolation days. Here is was the back extensions, because my lower back is very weak right now. The Tiger Balm also acts as a sort of warm up although it’s not meant to be a replacement. Why didn’t we isolate back, chest, arms, or legs first? Because I need to make sure my shoulder can withstand a workout before moving to another body part. It is extremely difficult to properly workout any body part when something is not working properly. Your muscles work tandem with one another. If something is out of whack, your whole body will be screwed up.  When I further ripped the tear in my labrum, my squat numbers plummeted because I was no longer able to balance the bar with one shoulder. So that is why we started with shoulders.

A complete weight training workout can be perf...

Weight training, brah

Now that it more or less passed the test we are prepared to hit the other body parts, and once they are all conditioned well enough we will begin complex circuit training routines. So my path I am hoping to follow, if all resources are in place, and always injury pending:

1. Mix isolated muscle group workouts with light bouldering and climbing

2. Increase weight and rep range within isolated muscle workouts

3. Increase duration of isolated muscle workouts

4. Begin to build cardio vascular capacity through cardio based workouts (run and bike)

5. Add cardio to muscle workouts through super sets

6. Begin full body circuit training 

The ideal workout week: ( I never allow for enough rest)

  • Isolated muscle workouts every/every other day, i.e. chest and triceps/back and biceps/lower body/shoulders and forearms
  • Full body circuit training, i.e. Spartacus workout version 1, three times a week
  • Bouldering and climbing every day in the gym, with these workouts
  • Cardio-based workouts (bike and run) three times a week

So that might look like: (in no particular order for each day)

Monday: Chest and triceps in the gym, circuit training session, bouldering

Tuesday: Back and biceps in the gym, 20 mile stationary bike ride, top-rope

Wednesday: Lower body in the gym, circuit training session, bouldering

Thursday: Shoulder and forearms in the gym, 3 mile treadmill run (probably not), top-rope

Friday: Core in the gym, basketball in the park

Saturday: back to the start…

I am never good at following those and I kind of ran through that but more or less we will want to start incorporating everything, easing back into our routines while adapting to our new lifestyle and workout resources. In terms of sleep, I try to get seven a night, and I take my vitamins and minerals and try to eat healthy, lots of fish… and dairy. I try to load carbs in the morning and taper off throughout the day, having a protein filled meal at night. I won’t include the scientific explanation for that process unless it’s requested.

But seriously, feel free to ask any questions about our workout or nutritional plan, and PLEASE feel free to ask for some help finding a way for you to get back into shape. Give us your background, resources, and goals and we can make it work. I love helping people achieve fitness goals.

Email us at alana.ppowell@gmail.com

Movie Night V2: Reel Rock Tour 7

For the past six or seven years (and we had no idea), the Reel Rock Tour has been spreading its love for “climbing” throughout the world (mostly the U.S.). This is obviously a big deal in Boulder, a hub for climbing and outdoor enthusiasts, so they decided to kickoff the tour here.

Marga and Megan were super nice enough to not only invite us, but also get us tickets to this amazing and popular event. The mini film festival started at 7:30 p.m. last night and we had made it just in time. One of Marga’s friends, Sheri, had saved us some great seats so we were very fortunate there because these were films you would not want to miss. They announced that the “theatre” at Chautauqua Park held 1300 people and that the event sold out for last night and tonight as well. On the trek up the hill to the big log cabin/barn where it was being held, we were given not one, but two free Clif bar samples! Awesome stuff Boulder. As Alana said, if Clif was trying to push their products, then they are in the wrong place since they’re already so popular here. And then the event began…

After some announcing and thank yous and introductions and what not they finally turned the lights off and began the show. First up was The Dura Dura, or the hard hard for our non Spanish speaking readers. Chris Sharma, a very “rad” American climber”, and Adam Ondra, a very not-rad Czech climber, competed against each other to conquer the hardest route ever climbed. It was old school vs. new school but in the end, they bonded and learned from one another. Afterwards, there was a short segment on the recent surge of powerful women climbers that have decided to not just sit back and do the easy routes, but get hungry and do the 5.13s and 14s despite the powerful moves that are required. It was a well-put together and informative film that capture some great climbing of the new hardest routes in the world that have been found in Spain. Really great stuff from amazing climbers.

Chris Sharma

English: Adam Ondra Deutsch: Adam Ondra Adam Ondra 

Then they decided to show what I thought was the best film of the night, The Shark’s Fin. The Shark’s Fin is a part of Mt. Meru in India and it is a ridiculous climb for alpinists because of the weather and altitude. The film gives a lot of background on Conrad Anker, one of the greatest alpinists of all time. After failed attempts to climb the fin in his past, Conrad has some unifinished business with his deceased best friend. Conrad puts together his 2008 expedition, despite one of the three members having gone through a skull-shattering ski accident. Through strokes, broken equipment, -25 degree temperatures, and frostbite, the close crew tries to make it to the “center of the universe” (as Hindus dub it) in their final attempt. The emotion of the story and beauty of the mountain make this film one anyone, climber or not, cannot miss.

Then there was an intermission with poorly organized giveaways! We could have gotten free gear but they didn’t explain what was going on! There was a headstand contest for the best prizes, but we are both HORRIBLE at them, especially me, so we didn’t even try. Alex Honnold, the star of the 4th film, signed posters and Sheri got one for Alana! We just wanted the next films to start asap because, thus far, they were incredible.

Next was the Wide Boys, a shorter film about crag climbing (climbing off-width cracks, using and contorting your body to hang on). It’s an insane looking and painful sport that is far less common than other forms. It is like ultimate fighting against a rock, or so they say. The film highlights Pete and Tom, two Brits that decide to leave the weak off-widths of Great Britain to climb all the cracks in the American Midwest. After two months of training in a cellar, the boys conquer them all and even end their “world tour” with an attempt at the Century Crack, the hardest off-width (that we know of) in the world. It has never been done before. This film had some great footage, but it was short and failed to really develop their story; there wasn’t the same connect as the first two films had. The emotion didn’t emerge.

Finally, the film that had everyone’s hands sweating, Honnold 3.0. Climbing is actually very safe if done with proper prep and gear. Alex Honnold is the exception to that notion of safety. Alex is arguably the greatest soloist in the world, and not a shabby sport, speed or boulderer at that. This film shows his reclusive life living out of his van with his new girlfriend. Alex trains in Bishop, CA, where Chris Sharma lived for quite some time, in order to prepare his next big feat, something that has never been done before, a triple crown of Yosemite up Mt. Watkins, the Nose, and Half Dome, in under 24 hours. He’s done all three by himself but 7,000 ft of vertical walls with free soloing (NO GEAR) 95% of his climbs, and fatigue setting in, just how safe can this invincible fearless superman be? The footage of an amazing attempt at an amazing feat was top notch and Honnold is such an interesting character that getting to see him not in hiding is a treat. A great film.

Well that’s it, we left afterwards and forgot to support the Access Fund and the American Alpine Fund by joining both for 35$, usually it’s way more than that! Silly us, we were tired and forgetful. See if the tour is coming to a place near you because its worth it!