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Alright, due to some arm twisting gentle encouragement from @Mad Hatter @KB Girl and @starpuck I'm back to the forum for an actual challenge.

 

I've been toying with the idea of a class or two at the local circus studio to get back to my assassin-y habits, but the call of the iron has been irresistible for the past few months, so this assassin will be spending some time attempting to blend in over at the warrior's camp. My roots are there, since I lifted for about a decade before all my silks and rope shenanigans, so I shouldn't stand out as too blatant a tourist.

 

For this challenge I'll be continuing my lifting according to the free Stronger by Science templates. If you aren't familiar with the Stronger by Science folks, you can check them out here https://www.strongerbyscience.com/newsletter/ Their free templates are fantastically well thought out, free, and just smart. Their newsletter is excellent and science based (as you may expect) and also highly recommended if you like to get into the how's and why's of training, exercise, and nutrition.

 

I started with a couple runs through their beginner templates (starting in April-ish). At the end of August I finished my second run through their intermediate templates. I took a de-load for a few days then promptly came down with the mother of all head colds (no positive rona test, though). As of today I'm about 90% back to normal so should be able to get back to lifting in the next day or two for my third (and final--probably) run through this part of the program.

 

The template runs for four weeks at a time, so given some of the unforeseen circumstances that inevitably come up, that's an ideal training bock to fit into a challenge. Once complete, I will likely swap over to a program out of their paid bundle ($10 for 6 different 21-week programs including a Program Builder to create your own--excellent deal), with the intent to bulk. It'll be my first real bulk and I'm slightly terrified of it, but that is an issue for FutureSylph (and also gives current sylph 4-6 weeks to come to grips with that).

 

Background-y intro stuff:

Spoiler

40-something, I lifted somewhat haphazardly to semi-seriously throughout most of my 20s and early 30s. I spent about 5 years in my mid/late 30s doing mostly circus workouts--aerial silks was my main apparatus, with a little rope thrown in for good measure.

At the very beginning of the pandemic we moved from MI to central FL and had most of the challenges that everyone else had during lockdown and such.

Now we've settled into our FL house, assembled our power rack in the garage, and I've been back to pretty regular workouts since the spring of this year.

I (apparently) joined NF on 1/1/2012 (resolution of some sort, perhaps, though I don't recall that being the case, so perhaps just coincidence)  and have been here for most of that time, I think, though I fell off shortly after the challenge where they made us post challenges to our profiles instead of the forum (anyone else remember that?), and don't always make a challenge...or post that much. But I lurk supportively.

Oh, I also spend a lot of time in the NF discord, so feel free to say hi over there, too.

If you're interested/curious about anything else, just ask.

 

Oh, and I suppose I should have some sort of goal thing, eh?

 

Lifting

The way I have my SBS templates laid out currently is to bench 2x week, squat 2x week and deadlift 1x week, split into three different workouts. So the goal is 3 lifting days per week. Sometimes life stuff happens and this gets pushed to only 2 per week but I'm okay with that. If I start the 4-week program tomorrow or Monday and finish it by the time this challenge is over, cool.

 

Think About Bulking

As mentioned, I've never done a proper bulk. I know I will have Feelings about that as a good part of my identity is wrapped up in being a smol person. I will likely spew some musings about that here.

 

Show Up for Myself

I tend to get too caught up in other people participating in my thread and get sad when it's just me talking to myself or reporting progress and as such my participation in my own thread goes down. I love you all, but you shouldn't have that much control over my mood. :) So, I will continue to report out here and will make an effort to be less of a silent lurker in everyone else's threads as well.

 

I guess that's about it. My head's still a little stuffed up and my voice sounds like I'm a pack-a-day smoker (better than earlier this week when it was more like six-packs-a-day) so depending on how all of that resolves, either tomorrow or Monday will be lifting day 1 on traversal 3 through my SBS Intermediate templates.

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So, after finishing up last training block on 8/30 and starting a rest week/deload then getting sick, I finally got back into the garage (gym) to lift some things.

 

I have my templates laid out so that the first workout of the week is squats (yay!)

NOTE: I tend not to be terribly specific here. I track my actual sets/reps/weights in the RepCount app on my phone so I don't need the extra step of adding them here as well. That said, my lifts aren't a secret so if you are curious about what weights I'm using for a given lift, feel free to ask.

OTHER NOTE: As there will be musing about bulking and gaining weight in this thread at some point, I will also be talking (in actual numbers) about how much I weigh, body fat estimates and all sorts of other specific things. If that is a no-go topic for you, I completely understand if you bow out of the thread this time around. ❤️

 

Squats

3 warm up sets

5x5 @ 80% of my 1 RM

These were ROUGH to come back to. Last couple reps were slightly questionable on depth but not bad for day 1 back in the gym.

 

Glute Bridges

I usually do these unilaterally with a pause +/- pulse at the top. In deference to being not 100% recovered, I did them with both feet on the ground and a slight pause. Felt pretty good MMC-wise.

 

Calf Raises

I'd planned to bump these up in weight, but just stuck with my same sets/reps/weight from before deload instead.

 

I dropped my other exercises: cable rows, DB OHP and face pulls so as not to go too crazy.

And, over on discord @bigm141414 suggested some stretching as a a very adult thing to do so I wrapped the whole thing up with that.

 

I'm definitely not at 100% yet, but am VERY happy to have gotten some movement in. Next scheduled lift will be bench and the second day of squats on Tuesday.

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Today my quads hate me (despite yesterday's stretching). Nothing much on the fitness schedule today, though so I should have enough time to recover appropriately before tomorrow's session.

 

I do have some laundry to finish up from the weekend and various house chores to tackle.

I have an idea on how to better optimize my side of the closet, so perhaps that will get some thought today as well.

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On 9/11/2022 at 5:06 AM, sylph said:

the call of the iron has been irresistible

Get Stronk!

 

On 9/12/2022 at 3:29 AM, sylph said:

the first workout of the week is squats

10 hours ago, sylph said:

Today my quads hate me

 

Didn't see that coming, eh :P 

HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

Intro Thread   Challenge Log   Bodyweight Exercise Library   Recipe Book   Shuffle Club 

 

Level 2 Ninja

Strength: 13 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 6 Dexterity:14 Constitution: 12 Charisma: 11

 

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13 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

 

Didn't see that coming, eh :P 

After two weeks off, jump straight in for a relatively heavy 5x5 squat session. Quads'll be fine. heh.

I am enjoying getting back to weights I haven't lifted in more than a decade. It's fun to lift heavy things.

 

Thanks for popping in!

 

8 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Yaaay!

 

I don't see why these should be mutually exclusive. :) 

Hi! Glad you're here.

 

 

I wouldn't have thought so either, and I didn't think I would be bothered by a bit of weight gain--I'm 40+ years old and my circus nickname was Tiny Beast, FFS.

 

but

(numbers talk ahead)

Spoiler

For 95% of my adult life I have weighed between 115 and 118 lbs. Like, the horizontal progress line of my weight almost never goes outside those parameters. For twenty years. My weight set point is very stable.

 

At the end of August/beginning of September I was routinely 120 lbs. Doesn't sound like much, right? Normal daily variation, retaining water, whatever (it was also right before the mother of all colds hit, though I didn't know that at the time). Even though I hadn't seen that number on the scale since I was 16 and spent an 'exchange student' summer in Switzerland eating amazing bread and not much else, it should be No Big Deal.

 

Except I freaked out. The sinking feeling of dread when I stepped on the scale was ridiculously disproportionate to the fact that I was 2 lbs heavier than I had been for the last 25 years. Even while I was appreciating the fact that I could see and feel my muscles filling out, was giggling over the fact that I was hulking out of my t-shirts, felt like I looked pretty good, and was getting spontaneous compliments from my husband, I simultaneously felt ginormous and heavy and like my body didn't belong to me. Over 2 lbs. (you may all roll your eyes. I recognize the absurdity even while I'm dealing with the emotional baggage around this)

 

Hence why I know that I have feelings about weight and body image and all that jazz even though I've not really noticed it until now. So purposely gaining weight will be a mental adventure for sure.

 

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Back in the gym today for first bench and second squat. Second squat session is programmed as front squats but after 8 weeks of trying to make them not hurt my back, I've decided that's enough of a fair shot and so I've swapped them out for goblet squats.

 

Goblet Squats

Some range-finding, higher rep stuff to figure out where I want to be on these.  Real work sets next week, probably

 

Bench Press

4 sets of 5 reps at 80% 

2 triples at 85%

These were HEAVY (surprise!). Coming back from a layoff is a bit rough, to be sure.

 

Pull Ups (well, neutral-grip chins, really. My elbows hate WG pull ups)

I'd gotten up to 4 sets of 4 pre-deload/getting sick so... I was super happy to hit that mark again. Next week I'll think about adding a rep or two

 

 

DB Press/OH Triceps Ext (superset)

Skipped

 

Hanging Knee Raises

Skipped

 

Feeling a bit wiped, so skipped my last few exercises. Even as much as I did took about an hour (slightly longer rests than usual) so not too shabby, really. Now for some protein and a shower.

 

Thursday is second bench and deadlifts :)

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Artemis Prime said:

Just checked out the Stronger by Science free programs. They look like they could keep me busy for a while.

They are pretty fabulous--enough guidance on progressive overload and enough "figure out how to make the whole thing fit together and work for you". I've been lifting for a long time so like the ability to pick and choose how I want to do things, but I know that I also have the tendency not to push myself and hesitate to increase weight for lifts when I probably should. These have been an excellent fit for me for those reasons.

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Deadlift DAAAYYYAYAYAYYY!

 

But first...

 

Close-grip bench

4 sets. Elbows are always a bit angry with these, but nothing serious.

 

Deadlift

4 sets of 5 working sets then a bunch of lightweight triples EMOM. Whew.

Had to bust out the straps for the last two working sets. My super-cheap-had-them-forever straps got lost in the move somewhere so I had to buy new ones. Apparently super cheap all cotton webbing straps are no longer a thing. These have neoprene padding and silicone grippy things and they are just NOT AS GOOD as my super old school pair. :(

EMOM triples are... a thing. :P

 

Skipped split squats because ... well, because they are split squats and I was pretty wiped from deads. I promise I will do them next week.

 

DB Flyes superset with Tri Kickbacks

Two sets of each.

Kickbacks always make me think of 80s aerobic routines for some reason.

 

Internal and External DB Shoulder Rotations

for the prehab/rehab

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Yay you're challenging! :)

 

On 9/10/2022 at 11:06 PM, sylph said:

I tend to get too caught up in other people participating in my thread and get sad when it's just me talking to myself or reporting progress and as such my participation in my own thread goes down. I love you all, but you shouldn't have that much control over my mood. :) 

Oh I feel you on this one. 

 

On 9/13/2022 at 2:37 PM, sylph said:

I wouldn't have thought so either, and I didn't think I would be bothered by a bit of weight gain--I'm 40+ years old and my circus nickname was Tiny Beast, FFS.

 

but

(numbers talk ahead)

  Hide contents

For 95% of my adult life I have weighed between 115 and 118 lbs. Like, the horizontal progress line of my weight almost never goes outside those parameters. For twenty years. My weight set point is very stable.

 

At the end of August/beginning of September I was routinely 120 lbs. Doesn't sound like much, right? Normal daily variation, retaining water, whatever (it was also right before the mother of all colds hit, though I didn't know that at the time). Even though I hadn't seen that number on the scale since I was 16 and spent an 'exchange student' summer in Switzerland eating amazing bread and not much else, it should be No Big Deal.

 

Except I freaked out. The sinking feeling of dread when I stepped on the scale was ridiculously disproportionate to the fact that I was 2 lbs heavier than I had been for the last 25 years. Even while I was appreciating the fact that I could see and feel my muscles filling out, was giggling over the fact that I was hulking out of my t-shirts, felt like I looked pretty good, and was getting spontaneous compliments from my husband, I simultaneously felt ginormous and heavy and like my body didn't belong to me. Over 2 lbs. (you may all roll your eyes. I recognize the absurdity even while I'm dealing with the emotional baggage around this)

 

Hence why I know that I have feelings about weight and body image and all that jazz even though I've not really noticed it until now. So purposely gaining weight will be a mental adventure for sure.

 

Sooo interesting how our brains/feelings work. No eye rolling here. Curious what is making you want to bulk despite these feelings though? 

Main Quest: becoming a decent kettlebell lifter and a great coach

Current challenge: KB Girl puts down the phone

2023 Battle Log: over here

my instagram - my gym's instagram

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15 hours ago, KB Girl said:

Curious what is making you want to bulk despite these feelings though? 

Hi! :D

 

A few reasons, I think.

  1. Despite my mental shenanigans with the accidental weight gain, I liked seeing the changes from working out. Seeing my quads start to pop and feeling my shirts get tighter across my lats was super fun.
  2. I like being strong (or rather, I don't like being weak). When we moved, I'd not been working out regularly. It was really noticeable when hubs was depending on me to help move furniture and heavy boxes. In the past, I'd have been able to somewhat compensate for my lack of height with some brute strength, but instead I felt like I couldn't help much since I didn't have that strength to fill in the gaps.
  3. Partially because of all the feelings--I think that a purposeful bulk will help me address these surprising (to me) mental hang ups and be good for my overall mental health. I don't want to be defined (even by myself) by fitting into the very narrow box I've constructed for myself.
  4. Vanity. I think muscles are hot and I want mine to be more visible :)

Good question--thanks for making me think about the "why" of it.

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I feel like most of the dinners I made are one-dish meals, but every time I visit your thread my mind goes completely blank. Eventually I'll remember what I feed myself in the evenings and report back here.

 

We appear to have very similar feelings on working out. Like you, my weight has been crazy consistent since high school, and while it doesn't freak me out to see the scale creep up a little, I do have a much more sedentary job than I used to, and I'm having to do a lot of self-examination to make sure I'm not shrugging off weight gain as GAINS. I take a lot of pride in my reputation as tiny but mighty, and I really take a hit whenever I get away from working out for a while and start to struggle with things I used to do easily. Also. vanity. All the vanity when it comes to my muscles.  I got really annoyed when I first started getting serious about working out and people kept trying to reassure me that I didn't need to lose weight. Because, no, I'm not trying to lose weight, I'm trying to get jacked!

"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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On 9/14/2022 at 10:26 PM, sylph said:

If anyone has any favorite one pot, sheet pan, or crockpot dump dinner recipes, I'm always on the lookout for easy things to cook.

I have a few of my favorites in the recipe book link in my sigature.  The Chicken & green pepper stiry fry and the Chinese style teriyaki chicken are the ones I usually go with when I don't want to put in too much effort.

HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

Intro Thread   Challenge Log   Bodyweight Exercise Library   Recipe Book   Shuffle Club 

 

Level 2 Ninja

Strength: 13 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 6 Dexterity:14 Constitution: 12 Charisma: 11

 

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On 9/16/2022 at 9:16 AM, Artemis Prime said:

I feel like most of the dinners I made are one-dish meals, but every time I visit your thread my mind goes completely blank. Eventually I'll remember what I feed myself in the evenings and report back here.

 

We appear to have very similar feelings on working out. Like you, my weight has been crazy consistent since high school, and while it doesn't freak me out to see the scale creep up a little, I do have a much more sedentary job than I used to, and I'm having to do a lot of self-examination to make sure I'm not shrugging off weight gain as GAINS. I take a lot of pride in my reputation as tiny but mighty, and I really take a hit whenever I get away from working out for a while and start to struggle with things I used to do easily. Also. vanity. All the vanity when it comes to my muscles.  I got really annoyed when I first started getting serious about working out and people kept trying to reassure me that I didn't need to lose weight. Because, no, I'm not trying to lose weight, I'm trying to get jacked!

One of my favorites is this one: https://www.budgetbytes.com/italian-wonderpot/ which I make not-one-pot by browning up a pound of Italian sausage to mix in at the end. It's minimal prep (aside from chopping an onion) and takes about as long as pasta and sauce out of a jar--I mean, a little longer but not that much, since I do the sausage and the chopping while waiting for the pot to boil.

Also this one: https://easyfamilyrecipes.com/hawaiian-meatballs-crockpot/ which is literally dump everything in the cockpot and stir. Which, then I cook up some egg noodles to serve them over.

I guess the theme is "mostly one pot, but essentially just low effort"

 

Small but mighty peeps unite! I feel like @starpuck should be in this club too.

 

10 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

I have a few of my favorites in the recipe book link in my sigature.  The Chicken & green pepper stiry fry and the Chinese style teriyaki chicken are the ones I usually go with when I don't want to put in too much effort.

Thank you--I'll take a look :)

 

 

 

Must grocery shop soon (like TODAY) and also have to get laundry sorted, get my squat on, and the front mulch beds need weeding and pruning. It's supposed to start raining soon so outside stuff will probably have to wait until tomorrow morning.

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Squat 1 day done!

 

BB Squats

4 sets of triples.

Still a bit heavier than they probably "should" feel, but depth was good and I did not feel like I'd been run over by a truck afterward. Progress!

 

Glute Bridges

3 sets of unilateral bridges

 

Calf Raises

Bumped up the weight on these with a corresponding drop in reps. Will work back up to sets of 12 and then raise the weight

 

Cable Rows

Some days these feel really good with a good MMC and corresponding pump.

This was not one of those days.

 

DB OHPs

My shoulder has been slightly cranky today so I took it fairly easy on these.

 

Face Pulls

Some rear delt love to round it all out.

 

 

That's the first workout of week 2 of my SBS 4 week template

 

Next up will be Squat 2/Bench 1.

As I have officially given up on front squats, we'll see what kind of accessory help I can do with some goblet squats. It would probably be smarter to have subbed in RDLs or lunges for these, but oh well!

 

 

I spent a little time tweaking my training plan for my next block (where I'll switch to the SBS paid program). Debating running the 3x week version or the 4x week version. In reality, I shoot for working out every other day so if I did the 3x week version, I'd probably finish mostly on time given the occasional need to skip a day, but the 4x week is a little less time commitment each day meaning I'd (possibly) be less likely to need to skip it.

4x week also adds OHP as a main focus lift, which I haven't seriously paid attention to in quite awhile, so it might be smart to add that back in. We'll see how I feel in a few weeks.

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Given up on front squats? 🥺

 

On 9/16/2022 at 2:04 PM, sylph said:

Hi! :D

 

A few reasons, I think.

  1. Despite my mental shenanigans with the accidental weight gain, I liked seeing the changes from working out. Seeing my quads start to pop and feeling my shirts get tighter across my lats was super fun.
  2. I like being strong (or rather, I don't like being weak). When we moved, I'd not been working out regularly. It was really noticeable when hubs was depending on me to help move furniture and heavy boxes. In the past, I'd have been able to somewhat compensate for my lack of height with some brute strength, but instead I felt like I couldn't help much since I didn't have that strength to fill in the gaps.
  3. Partially because of all the feelings--I think that a purposeful bulk will help me address these surprising (to me) mental hang ups and be good for my overall mental health. I don't want to be defined (even by myself) by fitting into the very narrow box I've constructed for myself.
  4. Vanity. I think muscles are hot and I want mine to be more visible :)

Good question--thanks for making me think about the "why" of it.

oh yes I can see it helping as you describe in point 3. Hope it does :) the way you talk about it seems helpful!

Main Quest: becoming a decent kettlebell lifter and a great coach

Current challenge: KB Girl puts down the phone

2023 Battle Log: over here

my instagram - my gym's instagram

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13 hours ago, KB Girl said:

Given up on front squats? 🥺

 

Yep--I spent my last two 4 week training blocks trying to make them work, reading a lot, watching videos, taking videos and finally toward the end of last block, tweaked my back pretty good whilst doing them. Since I have JUST gotten my back to a place where I can do my beloved deadlifts again, and I had to try so hard to make them not horrible, I've opted to sub them out going forward.

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1 hour ago, sylph said:

Yep--I spent my last two 4 week training blocks trying to make them work, reading a lot, watching videos, taking videos and finally toward the end of last block, tweaked my back pretty good whilst doing them. Since I have JUST gotten my back to a place where I can do my beloved deadlifts again, and I had to try so hard to make them not horrible, I've opted to sub them out going forward.

Makes sense. Personally I love front squats, but if they're not working for you it's definitely not like they're irreplaceable. 

Main Quest: becoming a decent kettlebell lifter and a great coach

Current challenge: KB Girl puts down the phone

2023 Battle Log: over here

my instagram - my gym's instagram

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On 9/18/2022 at 1:29 AM, KB Girl said:

Given up on front squats? 🥺

 

oh yes I can see it helping as you describe in point 3. Hope it does :) the way you talk about it seems helpful!

We'll see! I have a few more weeks to think about it.

I'll be swapping lifting templates for sure, so it's a logical time to adjust eating patterns and other goals.

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Yesterday was supposed to be a lifting day, but we made a run to Costco and then Best Buy and by the time we got home it was late. But, we adapt and overcome! This is fine anyway since we have plans on Friday so I would've had to skip/reschedule that day anyway. I'll get a workout in today, Thursday and Saturday instead of yesterday, Wednesday and Friday.

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Alrighty--got that workout in.

 

Bench Press

2 sets of 5 then three sets of heavy triples

 

Goblet Squats

I like my ROM on these

 

Pull Ups

last week was 4, 4, 4 and felt pretty solid

This week I aimed for  5, 4, 4, 4 and got it so next week the goal will be 5, 5, 4, 4

I think the two minutes of rest (timed) between sets is key for me to keep progressing these. I'm not going to failure--I could probably squeeze out another rep (maybe two) on each set, but I'm not trying to rep out each week, just make steady progress and keep my elbow happy. So far so good.

 

DB Press SS w/ OH Tri Extensions

two sets of each just for some bit of volume

 

Hanging Knee Raises

3 sets for dem abzzzz

 

I also did some hip stretches to try to figure out if that'll help my snappy, slightly angry hip. (only makes noise/hurts when I go from external rotation to internal--so, like, froggy legs back to center). Quads and hamstrings and psoas stretching might help me out here.

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