Once upon a time (maybe two months ago), I embarked upon a strength training journey. My family joined the YMCA and after dabbling in a few classes, I scheduled a strength assessment, free with my our membership. Let’s take a look at what’s happened since then!
A Trainer Assessed My Strength
Before I could really begin strength training, we needed to see where I was at. After a series of questions about my goals, health, and limitations, the assigned trainer took me around the gym to test out five different machines. He set them them in the proper position for my height and leg/arm length, and watched as I completed up to 15 exercises at the weights he set. When we were done, he set me up with an app that would populate workouts for me, with the parameters I requested: four days a week, 45 minutes at a time, alternating arms and legs, and body weight exercises acceptable.
It was time to go to work.
I Began Moving Through The App
While the ActivTrax app is not my favorite, it gets the job done. On the plus side, it presents a series of workouts, with reps and associated weights, with the ability to check off each one. Users can also opt to change the recommended weight to their comfort level and ability. Love these features. On the other, the app only shows one day at a time. There is no way to look back or forward to see what’s been done or what’s to come. I don’t love that, but I’ve learned to live with it.
Supplementing With The Trainer
I met with the trainer two more times after my first assessment. The first time, he walked me through an app session, and used the time to critique my form, make suggestions on ways to maximize my efforts, and generally check in with me. The second time was a thirty minute workout that he created, utllizing the machines I was used to, but also introducing the Smith machine, TRX bands, and other elements the app didn’t offer.
My Thoughts On The Regimen
So far, so good. Every day, I get a series of workouts for either my upper body or my lower body, rounded off by four to five ab moves. There is a not a lot of variety in the moves, although sometimes the app will throw in something wildly different. I like the feeling of “being told” to do certain exercises, even if I loathe them. This means that the neglected parts of my body are getting attention, and that’s always a good thing. For four days in a row, I work out, and then I take a three day weekend. This balances out perfectly with my current schedule.
What I’ve Noticed After 30 Days
Even though I keep forgetting to write down my workouts and weights so I can compare, I am most definitely stronger. Every time or two, I can make small increases in either my reps or the heaviness of what I can lift. Upper body days continue to be challenging (I think they always will be), while leg day is much easier. I see muscles forming in my arms and my legs that haven’t been there in years. Can I balance on my right leg again? Yes: yes, I can! The biggest victory is that I am squatting again! It’s still not perfectly comfortable, but I’m getting down so much lower than I have since my accident. This brings me great joy.
Has Strength Training Improved My Running?
My running has absolutely improved over the last month, but whether it’s due to cooler temperatures or weights, we’ll never know for sure. What I can say with certainty is that the little aches and pains that plagued me no longer seem to be an issue. I’m running 5:1 intervals, which is way more than I’ve done in quite some time. And my stamina feels better. I haven’t gone for anything more than six miles of running, yet, but I’m confidently building, and see the Gate River Run 15K in my future.
What Are The Next Steps?
The reality is, I’m in a good (comfortable) place with the app. I plan to schedule a 4-6 week appointment with the trainer, just to check in and get some tips and pointers. He really brought a lot of great suggestions to the table, and while I don’t know that I will implement them all the time, it’s good to have them in the toolkit. Strength training can be overwhelming, and I’d like a guide to the more intense side of the room (where the plates are). It may be a great idea to mix things up, and try my hand at racks and barbells. What could go wrong?
Do you have a trainer? How do you come up with workouts for the gym? Do you use the machines and body weight or do you move to the “big girl” area, with the barbells and racks?
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