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sledge_antilles

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Accidentally posted this in the boards for previous challenges. I'll see if I can get rid of that; in the meantime have copied it here:

 

This is my second challenge, just finished my wrap up in the Recruit forum here.

 

I'm posting in the Assassin guild, though I'm not totally sure if these challenges belong here (I'm sure that's common for us level two folks). But, a couple of Assassins reached out to me and were a source of encouragement on the Recruit boards, so I'd like to test the waters around here if all y'all don't mind...

 

My main goal so far, which I know will change eventually, is still the generally amorphous "become stronger." Some of the motivation comes from one of my hobbies, which is volunteering on a tall ship. Climbing in the rigging and hauling all the lines on a square rigger is exhausting work. The fun kind of exhausting. But still exhausting. This is the second season I've sailed and after the last year I've been telling myself I would start lifting so as to be stronger and make some of the work on board a bit easier.

 

I signed up for the gym soon after, but never went. I dropped six months worth of membership dues and set foot inside maybe three times if I remember correctly. The last six week challenge saw me at the gym twice a week learning to be more comfortable there and becoming familiar with the facility.

 

So, for my challenge goals:

 

1) Continue going to the gym at least 2x a week, with the caveat that one of those days must include practice of one of the Stronglifts 5x5 exercises with an empty bar. So now that I'm more comfortable in the gym I need to raise the discomfort level and practice with an empty bar. I'm afraid to look foolish not using any weight, but I'm going to do it anyway. My concern with this goal, though, is that it seems like the Assassins are focused on bodyweight work. Does wanting to learn to lift in a gym mean I should be posting somewhere else?

 

2) Use my Groupon for Krav Maga classes. I bought a Groupon for a set of Krav Maga classes, and it expires soon. I don't plan to continue with it necessarily, but it looked like some fun and I want to try it. I'm keeping the gym goal above as just a baby step above the last challenge because of this class. I don't want to overdo it by going to a martial arts class a few times a week while alternately diving head first into Stronglifts. So this is just a fun little goal to keep me active and out of the house.

 

If I remember correctly it's okay to limit your diet/fitness goals to two per six week challenge, so I'm going to keep it at two this time.

 

3) Life Goal: Make a morning habit of using my productivity schedule. I made a life plan at a conference early last year but have yet to really implement the productivity strategies I learned. I want to use the schedule every morning so that it becomes a habit. As I said in the last challenge I often let perfect become the enemy of the good. Rather than just starting in and using the schedule I keep trying to tweak it so that it's perfectly set up for me. Not helpful. I'm going to jump in and work out the kinks along the way. The overarching goal here is that I'm more productive during work hours so that I can actually make progress on all the various life goals, not just work. So this is a first-thing-in-the-morning-right-out-of-bed goal.

 

I'm going to leave it there for the moment as I need to run and meet a friend, but I look forward to your feedback and suggestions and comments and questions and concerns and all that rot. :) In the meantime I'll try to think of a suitable small reward for successfully completing all three challenges. I noticed some folks doing that in the Recruit boards and it seemed like a good idea.

 

Stay on target!

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I'm posting in the Assassin guild, though I'm not totally sure if these challenges belong here (I'm sure that's common for us level two folks). But, a couple of Assassins reached out to me and were a source of encouragement on the Recruit boards, so I'd like to test the waters around here if all y'all don't mind...

 

Any guild is fine for lvl 2! Which one you should choose depends on you overall goals or your current quests. Although Assassins know a lot, the Warriors know most certainly more about lifting and krav maga would be in the monks field of expertise. On the other hand, you do all that to improve climbing (on a ship, how cool is that?!), which is somehing very assassiny, therefore you would certainly fit in here with us as well!

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My concern with this goal, though, is that it seems like the Assassins are focused on bodyweight work. Does wanting to learn to lift in a gym mean I should be posting somewhere else?

 

Absolutely not!  Lots of us lift!  I'm a huge Stronglifts fan myself - that's where I started.  Check out the phone book (though it's still only partially complete) to find other lifters.  Plenty of folks here doing all sorts of different things!  For lots of lifting expertise in this guild, you could chat with Urgan - off the top of my head, she's one of the most knowledgeable.  Myself and blkhole24601 are other Stronglifts grads. :)

 

"Assassin" is a state of mind. :)

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Sailing on a tall ship sounds like an amazing reason to be training. I think you'll find that Assassins in general are just trying to master their bodies to accomplish xxxxx. For some that is parkour, others rock climbing, others gymnastics, and others (now) tall ship rigging climbing. While we pursue strength training it seems to be strength for something.

 

How have you constructed your life so that you are able to volunteer on the ship? I've always sort of dreamed of doing that but not seriously considered it for time/commitment reasons.

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Absolutely not!  Lots of us lift!  I'm a huge Stronglifts fan myself - that's where I started.  Check out the phone book (though it's still only partially complete) to find other lifters.  Plenty of folks here doing all sorts of different things!  For lots of lifting expertise in this guild, you could chat with Urgan - off the top of my head, she's one of the most knowledgeable.  Myself and blkhole24601 are other Stronglifts grads. :)

 

"Assassin" is a state of mind. :)

 

Cool, glad to hear that - I'm sure I'll be touching base with you guys as I dive in deeper. Thanks for the recommendations!

 

Sailing on a tall ship sounds like an amazing reason to be training. I think you'll find that Assassins in general are just trying to master their bodies to accomplish xxxxx. For some that is parkour, others rock climbing, others gymnastics, and others (now) tall ship rigging climbing. While we pursue strength training it seems to be strength for something.

 

How have you constructed your life so that you are able to volunteer on the ship? I've always sort of dreamed of doing that but not seriously considered it for time/commitment reasons.

 

It's a bit of a cop out answer, but I got pretty lucky with the program around here. It's relatively close to home, and the boat stays docked most of the year as a living history program. As long as we put in a minimum number of hours per month doing maintenance on board we're considered active crew, and have the opportunity to sail it during the summer for a few weeks. So the time commitment is up to each volunteer, really. Like I said, pretty lucky deal. It's a lot of fun, though - if you can find a place to try it out for a couple weeks take the plunge. Don't quote me on this, but I think you can pay for a crew spot on the Lady Washington for a couple weeks at a time if it's something you'd want to try as a vacation.

 

Okay - Week 1 update:

 

Goal 1 - I made it to the gym twice. And I finished my second workout by practicing squats with an empty bar in the squat rack. They were...ungainly squats at best, but I did them, so I'm chalking that up as a win. More so because I've never stepped foot into a squat rack before. I took a stroll through the rest of the free weights section and there were a few different flat benches set up for bench presses - not sure what the differences were, but I've chosen that as the exercise to practice next workout, so I'll pick a bench and see how it goes.

 

Goal 2 - I've been playing phone tag with the krav maga folks, but the ball is rolling on attending classes.

 

Life Goal - I have been using my productivity schedule during the week. I'm starting to work out some of the kinks of using it, but it's still a bit of a learning curve. I'll keep plugging along, as that's the point of this goal, and we'll see if it becomes second nature later.

 

And a question to round out things:

 

Can anyone recommend a pair of inexpensive ($15 or less) over-ear headphones that they like? Long story short I've tried earbuds a few times and they're not for me. They pop out, they tangle easily, and earwax. 'Nuff said.  

 

 

Stay on target!

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Krav Maga is on my radar to try next Spring sometime, it is something I've been wanting to try for a long time.

 

Great job at getting to the gym this week and working on your fitness.  Do you have someone to help you ensure proper form when you are at the gym?  Correct form is very important with weighted lifts, especially lifts like squats.  If you don't have someone helping you with form, have someone take a vid of you doing the exercise and post it over in the "Form Check" portion of the weight lifting forum.  There are lots of people there who will help you out.  Good form will help you lift heavier, progress faster, and most importantly, avoid injury :)

 

Great first week!

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Do you have someone to help you ensure proper form when you are at the gym?  Correct form is very important with weighted lifts, especially lifts like squats.  If you don't have someone helping you with form, have someone take a vid of you doing the exercise and post it over in the "Form Check" portion of the weight lifting forum.  There are lots of people there who will help you out.  Good form will help you lift heavier, progress faster, and most importantly, avoid injury :)

 

I don't have a gym buddy, no, so I might have to shoot some videos at some point for sure. Thanks for letting me know about the form check area.

 

As for today, I have to admit to a small set back - went to the gym and did some warm up before heading to the free weights area. The squat rack was occupied so I went over to another area to try out the bench press, but there were so many folks around I let fear get the best of me and didn't go for it.

 

I'm not beating myself up too much - there's plenty of days left in the week to get in and try something new. Might need to rethink my strategy, too.

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The 5x5 stronglifts is the staple of my workout. I believe there are great articles demonstrating the correct techniques on what to do.

 

With the 5x5 stronglifts are yours - squat, deadlift, overhead, bench and bent over rows?? I would also try to include chinups/lat pulldowns to ensure you are hitting a push and pull for ever direction. 

 

If the bar is too heavy it is good to start with dumbells and work your way up.

There should also be preloaded barbells with weights lower than the bar so you can always use these. 

 

Once you get into there are a fair few 5x5 programs but depending on your goal I can help.

 

Hope everything goes well.

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Okay - Week Two recap:

 

Goal 1: Made it to the gym three times, and practiced squats two of those times. One visit also practiced a set of deadlifts, and overhead press. I've not done either of those movements before so they felt uncomfortable, but I think I'll get the hang of 'em with time.

 

Goal 2: I made it to a krav maga class. Had a lot of fun and looking forward to the rest of them left on my groupon.

 

Goal 3: I've been using the productivity schedule every day. I don't always stick to it, but it's flexible which I like. To improve in this area I need to fill it out earlier than I do right now. Right now I'm not hitting it until after breakfast or sometimes around lunch. I want to make it a just-out-of-bed habit.

 

Onward then. Comments and questions and suggestions welcome as always.

Stay on target!

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Week Three Recap:

 

Goal 1 - Made it to the gym twice, and practiced squats and barbell rows. Squats with an empty bar, and rows with 10 pound plates on each side. The squats feel a little more comfortable but I'm going to try to slow down on them to really make sure the form feels right. The barbell rows, on the other hand, were awkward. First time trying them - I think I need to watch the Stronglifts videos for them a couple more times before I try again. I felt like I was all over the place in terms of relationship between my legs, back, chest and arms. So...need more practice with that one.

 

Goal 2 - My schedule precluded attending any krav maga classes this week, but I should be able to hit at least two if not more this week.

 

Goal 3 - Still using the productivity schedule, but still not the first thing in the morning. I find the earlier I use it the better I'm able to stick to it, so I need to rework my space to make it the first thing I do when waking.

 

So...as I'm pretty new to the gym still, and definitely an alien in the free weights section, here's a basic, probably a bit silly, question: What do you do with yourself when you're waiting for the squat rack or bench or what have you to open up? I tried to go at times it wouldn't be so busy so that I could practice in relative anonymity, but a couple of times I've gone so far have been fairly crowded. And it felt like these folks were taking their sweet time finishing. I didn't know what to do so I went to the rowing machine or treadmill instead. Suggestions?

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Week Three Recap:

 

So...as I'm pretty new to the gym still, and definitely an alien in the free weights section, here's a basic, probably a bit silly, question: What do you do with yourself when you're waiting for the squat rack or bench or what have you to open up? I tried to go at times it wouldn't be so busy so that I could practice in relative anonymity, but a couple of times I've gone so far have been fairly crowded. And it felt like these folks were taking their sweet time finishing. I didn't know what to do so I went to the rowing machine or treadmill instead. Suggestions?

I'm not super familiar with gym etiquette and not much for social interactions when I am there. I typically do as you did and find something else to work on. Some things that might be acceptable would be to see if they would switch off with you and you can spot each other or to switch out between sets (assuming they are taking long enough rests to accomplish this). I say might because that is how I've handled sharing equipment with a workout partner in the past, not with a stranger.

 

If you don't get a lot of response here you might head over to the Warrior main forum and ask there. I think they probably get a lot of gym etiquette questions like this.

 

 

Nice job on week three! Is there a way to link you Productivity Schedule with your wake-up routine? I was thinking of locating it near (or on top of) you alarm or setting it by your coffee cup or water glass. Then the habit you already have integrates with the new desired action...

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Thanks for the suggestions, tinkerer. Not sure I'm comfortable enough yet to switch off with a total stranger. Maybe someday. Having a gym buddy would help, no doubt. And yes, as for the productivity schedule, that's the plan, to move it somewhere I can hit first thing. I haven't found that spot yet, but I'll latch on to something.

 

Week Four Recap:

 

Things went well in the beginning of the week, and then the past couple of days I went space cadet and completely forgot about pretty much everything. Not sure what happened. I didn't realize until this afternoon that I had only made it to the gym once so far for the week, so I went late this evening after meeting up with a friend. To my surprise, though it was nearing the middle of the night, there was no racks or benches open. Some dedicated bros, I guess. :) I was glad to have already practiced some lifts during my visit earlier in the week.

 

Made it to two krav maga classes this week - both fun. The second was more intense than the others I'd been to so far - left me with a bruised leg and sore arms. But I'm looking forward to the classes I have left.

 

And, last but not least, hit the productivity schedule, except for yesterday during my day of obliviousness. Still not totally sure how I blanked on everything in my routine yesterday, but I guess it happens from time to time.

 

Here we go with week five, folks - stay on target!

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It seems like the challenge is going well for you! One of the things I like about posting here is that it reminds me to mentally check in and make sure that if I've started to forget what I was working toward I can make a correction.

 

Was it better/worse/the same to hit the gym with your friend?

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Okay, I've procrastinated on this update far too long now...

 

Week 5 Recap:

 

- Made it to the gym twice and worked through one entire Stronglifts workout for one of the trips, including the (wait for it) bench press. Feeling good about that. My concern going into the next challenge when I actually kick off a Stronglifts program is maintaining a consistent routine. I am all over the place in when I go to the gym right now - will need to work out a better system. But I'm on my way with that one. Have also been to the gym once so far this week.

 

- Went to krav maga class. On my way there last week I wasn't looking forward to it. The previous couple of times had been...less than fun. But man, what a difference the instructor makes. I had a blast, and hope he's around more often as I finish out the groupon sessions. I am heading out to my next class when I sign off here.

 

- I was under the weather a couple of days last week and fell out of the routine of doing my productivity schedule. As I got back into it I realized I had made an error earlier in the challenge and only made enough copies for a month, rather than the entire six weeks. So I'm out of copies and need to make more tomorrow. Big goof on my part. For whatever reason, filling out my productivity schedule has been the hardest part of this challenge. I'm glad of that, though, as it's helping me see some areas where I need to change habits. In the past this would have been a defeat, but I can see it as an opportunity for growth now. I plan to finish out the challenge completing these daily schedules, so I need to make those copies.

 

 

It seems like the challenge is going well for you! One of the things I like about posting here is that it reminds me to mentally check in and make sure that if I've started to forget what I was working toward I can make a correction.

 

Was it better/worse/the same to hit the gym with your friend?

 

I had to look back at my previous post to figure out what I had said, and realized I wasn't clear - I didn't go to the gym with anyone, I just went after I had visited a friend. So, still a lone wolf at the gym for now - fingers crossed for a gym buddy.

 

That wraps up Week 5 (now that Week 6 is halfway done!).

 

Almost there...

 

Stay on target!

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It really sounds like you are doing well with this challenge, especially with the gym trips and the Krav Maga classes.

 

I think I was just reading too quickly on my comment about the gym buddy. I do hope you find someone to go along though. Especially with the heavier weights it has been helpful to me to have someone there to encourage in addition to spotting. I wonder if it would be worth taking a weights class in order to meet a few people who might also be looking for workout buddies.

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I wonder if it would be worth taking a weights class in order to meet a few people who might also be looking for workout buddies.

That is not at all a bad idea. I have used classes as excuses in the past to try something or meet people. Thanks for the suggestion. And thanks very much for following along as the challenge progressed - much obliged.

 

Okay - finally getting around to a quick wrap up. For whatever reason I keep procrastinating on these posts.

 

Goal 1 - I made it to the gym twice and practiced a complete Stronglifts workout with just the bar.

Goal 2 - I made it to two krav maga classes, and had a blast both times. We started practicing breaking choke holds and the like, among other exercises. Don't ask me why that was fun, but it was. We've also done some...interesting...core exercises, including crunches while someone presses their fist into your solar plexus. That was still sore the next morning. :) Still have some classes left on the groupon that I'll finish up next week. If it wasn't as pricey as it is I would keep going, alas.

Goal 3 - I used the productivity schedule for the last few days of the challenge, but not as consistently as I want.

 

Based on my results I'm assigning stat points as follows:

Goal 1 - Gym 2x/wk with one as a Stronglifts practice - 100% - Since the goal was to work past worrying about the other folks in the room while I practiced, I'm counting this as +3 STR and +2 CHA

Goal 2 - Use Groupon/attend krav maga classes - 100% - Admittedly this wasn't difficult to complete, but if I hadn't set the challenge I probably would have let the Groupon expire. And it was a lot of fun - definitely recommend trying it to anyone who feels like letting out some aggression and learning new skills +2 STA +2 WIS +1 DEX

Goal 3 - Use my productivity schedule every day - 60% - I didn't plan or execute this task well, but it's okay, because I've learned some more about myself in the process and that I need to make some changes in my habits. +1 WIS

 

A couple of quick follow up observations: 1) Barbell rows are still awkward and uncomfortable for me. I don't know if it's because I have longer legs or am not very flexible or what the issue is, but I need to work on my form with this exercise. 2) I need to set a time to sit and think through my morning habits to figure out where I can tweak and adjust so that the productivity schedule is easier to hit - as it did help me stay on task better throughout the day when I used it. That seems about it for now.

 

On to the next challenge - stay on target!

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