In which the Swan admits she has no upper body strength

See that icon? Yeah, I’m nowhere near that.

These numbers will be a little embarrassing, but I want to record for posterity what I’m lifting here at the start of my exercise regimen, on the principle that I can then feel proud when I look back and see how far I’ve come. (In theory.) So here is what I’m doing for strength training right now.

  • Bench press: 2 x 12-15, 12 lbs. (It was disappointing to discover that the bar alone on the normal bench is heavier than I feel capable of. Not sure how much that thing weighs. Fortuantely, they have these nice, padded weight bars in a variety of numbers. I’ll start with those and work my way up.)
  • Shoulder press: 2 x 15, 12 lbs. (See above about the weight bar. I quite like those things.)
  • Row: 2 x 15, 5 lbs. (Nothing like a single-digit number to make you feel pathetically weak, but since I do the exercises in this order, by the time I get this far, those muscles are already tired.)
  • Lat pulldown: 2 x 15, 30 lbs. (A higher weight, at last! And I’m going to add to this one the next time I do it; it isn’t tiring me much at all, at the current weight.)
  • Back hyperextensions: 2 x 12, no weight. (Today’s addition to the regimen. I really need to strengthen my lower back more.)
  • Crunches: 2 x 15. (God, I hate crunches.)

So there you have it. I’m not doing lower-body stuff as yet; leg muscle has never been a problem for me, and my cardio work alone will give me some of that. I think I may add “pullups” on the lat machine, though, as a step toward doing proper pullups, since those always look cool.

I don’t have any particular goals regarding what I want these numbers to be in six months; I don’t have enough experience with weights to know what’s reasonable to aim for. But I’ll be keeping an eye on the stats, and reporting back in when I feel like I’ve made progress.

0 Responses to “In which the Swan admits she has no upper body strength”

  1. errol_q_spunkle

    I think the weight bar weighs 45 lbs.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’ve seen that number before, but wasn’t sure if I should trust it. Might be right, though.

      • gollumgollum

        45 is my understanding, too.

        If it makes you feel better, you know the bar-squat exercise that’s on Stumptuous, where you put a bar across your shoulders and squat straight down? Yeah, i can barely do that *without* the bar.

        I’m cheered to know that i’m not the only one lifting 15 pounds at a time.

        • Marie Brennan

          I will never be able to do squats without something under my heels; I am structurally incapable of crouching that low with my heels flat on the floor, unless I stick my butt out (which is a bad idea with a weight on my shoulders). Short achilles tendons, yo.

          • kurayami_hime

            You do stick your butt out with squats. It’s not a plie. You just have to do it exactly right or you hurt yourself. And there’s nothing wrong with doing squats with something under your heels. I can’t remember what we used in my weight training class, but I swear there was something (though I could just be delusional).

            The bar weighs 45 pounds. Unless you have at your gym something that isn’t the standard weight bar.

          • Marie Brennan

            Plies: something I was never good at. But I mean more than just the usual sticking out of the butt; I mean full-on leaning over so the force would no longer be centered. As in, shoulders in front of my knees. Trust me: it would be bad.

            I may have to switch to the nearest thing we have to a bench-press machine when I get between 24 lbs. (the heaviest body bar we have) and 45 lbs, unless some of the other barbells are intermediate. Because I think adding 21 lbs. in a go is probably a bit much. Of course, I have to get to 24 first, ne?

          • kurayami_hime

            Some gyms have lighter weight barbells. The bar plus weights will be 30 or 35 pounds, for example. It sounds like yours may not.

            As you get to higher weights (and really just in general), you’ll want a spotter when you do your bench presses and squats. That’s why I haven’t done free weights in so long – no spotter. ;_;

          • Marie Brennan

            Yeah, the no spotter thing has me concerned, too. But I won’t really worry about it until I hit the point where I’m not longer okay with resting the bar on my body in between sets — and that’s a ways away.

  2. mindstalk

    Are you doing anything with dumbbells? That’s where most of my experience is. Not that I have special advice or anything, but they’re easy to keep at home, and allegedly exercise some side muscles more, since you don’t have the bar keeping weights aligned for you.

    • Marie Brennan

      I honestly would rather lift at the gym; somehow I seem less likely to do the work if I can do it at home. Plus, things like the lat pulldown can’t be done without equipment.

      I might switch to dumbbells at some point, but for now I do the first two exercises with a bar; it means there’s one less thing I have to pay attention to as I work.

  3. coyotewatches

    Do yourself a favor. Take these numbers, seal them in an envelope, and then put them somewhere so you will remember and open the letter in six to eight months.

    I promise you that it’ll get a smile from you if not a righteous guffaw.

    You’re doing everything right. Start slow, build slow, and stay persistant.

    You’ll be doing one-armed pushups in no time. When you do, I promise that I’ll come take a picture of you doing them and you can use THAT as your icon.

    Cheering you on!!!

    • Marie Brennan

      <laughs hysterically>

      I appreciate the vote of cofidence, ‘yote, but “one-armed pushups in no time” seems just a hair on the optimistic side.

      I won’t be sealing these numbers in an envelope, but I’ve tagged this post so I can find it again, which will serve the same purpose.

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