Although I haven’t quite achieved my aspirational goal of doing all the workouts I want to do, I have been getting workouts in, and they’ve been going pretty well. Last week I did my club swinging workout twice, my kettlebell clean & press workout, my kettlebell swing workout, and my HEMA practice all once each.
I’ve gotten this week off to a good start by hitting the fitness room and doing a bodyweight circuit (jump rope, negative pull ups, Hindu squats, Hindu push ups, and my 3-way core circuit) for three rounds, plus some incline press and some dead hangs.
The negative pull ups, in particular, were better than I’d expected. Something I’m doing—probably the kettlebell swings, but perhaps also the club swinging—is working the lats and biceps more than is obvious while I’m doing them.
I’d gotten my workout log notebook out for writing this post, and failed to put it away, with the (dog induced) result visible above.
I captured three videos of my exercises today. They’re mostly for my own use (to look at my form), but I thought I’d share them here as well.
Content warning: I didn’t mute the audio on these, so you get to hear quite a bit of me groaning through the final two or three reps of each exercise. If you don’t want to hear that, you’re advised not to play these.
It’s a great fitness room, and I’d really enjoyed using it for workouts over the previous six years or so, but once I started doing my workouts outdoors with gymnastic rings, I found that I liked that even better, so I carried on with my outdoor workouts even after the fitness room reopened this spring.
These last couple of weeks, the weather is no longer as nice as it has been since early April, so I’ve started experimenting with ways to move my workouts back indoors, without losing the extra fun I’ve been having with gymnastic rings.
Last week I did an indoor workout that was very similar to what I’d been doing a couple of years ago. Today I tried to something more like my outdoor workouts—specifically, by bringing my rings along, and putting them up on the chin-up bar.
I did my usual morning exercises before heading over. Once I was in the fitness room, I put my rings up at the right height for dips or inverted rows, and did just a bit of additional warming up, doing some straight-elbow rows and straight-elbow push ups.
That done, I proceeded into my circuit, which consisted of the following for three rounds:
Skater hops x 35
Dips x 3 full dips + 4 negative dips
Goblet squats 35 lbs x 12
Inverted rows x 12
Hollowbody holds 60″ first two rounds, then 30″ for last round
Prone angels 2.2 lbs x 12
I still had a little energy after three rounds of that, so I did two rounds of a little mini-circuit to hit my deltoids, biceps, triceps, and forearms:
Zottman curls 15 lbs x 12
Dumbbell runners 15 lbs x 12 each side with one foot forward, then x 12 each side with the other foot forward
The whole workout took just over one hour, and left me feeling pleasantly tired, without making me feel so worn out as to imperil the run I have planned for tomorrow.
A few years ago I made a shift in my thinking about fitness—a shift from trying to get enough exercise to trying to fill my days with movement. I haven’t changed my mind about that being the right way to go, but this year, especially since the pandemic started, has seen me step back into exercise mode.
I have to say that it has turned out pretty well for me this year.
One thing about exercise is that it gives you a bunch of metrics you can track, and on the metrics I’ve done pretty well. At the beginning of the year I could do 3 pushups and now I can do 4 sets of 12. At the beginning of the year I could do zero pull ups, and now I can do a set of 3 followed by 2 sets of 2.
Having the metrics is great for someone like me who’s a big ol’ nerd about tracking that sort of data, but it’s not just a matter of numbers. Those bigger numbers correspond to real-world capabilities. I’m definitely stronger than I was at the beginning of the year, in all kinds of ways. I’m also leaner. (I have more muscle, plus I let myself lose about 5 pounds in a so-far vain effort to be able to see the abs I’ve built.)
A lot of my fitness goals are related to attaining and maintaining specific capabilities. I want to be able to:
Pick something heavy up off the ground
Take something heavy off a high shelf and lower it safely
Clamber on top of a wall
Jump down from a wall
Jump over a ditch
Run away from danger (or toward someone in need of help)
That’s not a comprehensive list; merely a brief sketch of the sort of things I want to be able to do.
Even a quick glance makes it clear that many of them are skill-based activities. I’ve worked on some of them before (click through the parkour tag to see six or seven years worth of reports about my efforts in those directions), but I felt that my efforts were limited by a lack of strength. That probably wasn’t even really true—parkour is scalable—but to the extent that it was true, it’s much less true now.
The way to get better at a skill-based activity is to practice it. And most of that practice should not be practicing whole activities, but rather individual pieces of them.
There’s a word that means practicing all the individual bits that go together to make a larger move: training—something that’s been really hard to do during the pandemic.
The real reason I’ve switched to exercise is that during the pandemic, although I’ve been able to move, my opportunities to train have been limited.
I’m hoping to spend the summer training. I’m thinking parkour, but if I can’t get it together to do that, maybe I’ll go with rock climbing. (Indoor climbing would be a great winter activity, if the vaccines roll out fast enough that I feel like it’s already safe to engage in indoor activity before summer weather. But there’s no rule against indoor climbing during the summer either.)
It’s possible to do parkour training during the winter, as long as it isn’t too icy. I tend not to get out in the cold or wet to do so, but I’m working on overcoming that—with some success: I’ve been doing pretty well at getting out for runs, even during chilly/damp fall weather. But I’m at the point where I could really use some instruction in parkour, and that’s out-of-bounds during the pandemic.
In the meantime, I’ll go on doing my exercise, figuring it’s the best way to get myself ready for training, once circumstances align.
Like everyplace else, Winfield Village has closed down all the “non-essential” places people might congregate, including our fitness room.
Losing access to the fitness room is particularly annoying to me because I’ve just recently—starting about seven weeks ago—gotten my act together about lifting, and been getting to the fitness room at least three times a week.
Determined not to lose this momentum, I’m trying to cobble together an adequate workout routine that I can do with just equipment I own.
I had already been including quite a bit of bodyweight exercise, but since the dumbbells were right there, I’d often use them (for dumbbell rows and for goblet squats, in particular). I also used the 45 lb kettlebell in the fitness room all the time for my HIIT workouts.
The other thing that I’m really missing is the pull-up bar. To replace that, I’ve ordered a pair of gymnastic rings that should arrive Tuesday.
About all I’ve got that I own to replace the dumbbells and the kettlebell is a 15 lb kettlebell that I purchased so Jackie could join me in my workouts if she wanted.
With the kettlebell (even in advance of the arrival of the rings) after about a week of social distancing, I’ve started to put together a routine that feels like I’m getting in a good workout.
For the core of the routine I’m doing hindu squats, hindu pushups, and goblet squats with the kettlebell. I’ve heard claims that just hindu squats and hindup pushups combine to form a pretty good, almost full-body workout. I’m adding in the goblet squats because the hindu squats seemed very focused on the anterior part of the legs, and I don’t want to lose the gains I’ve been making on the posterior parts.
My opportunities for “pulling” exercises are kind of limited until I get my gymnastic rings. I’m making do with the kettlebell to replace the dumbbells for rows. At 15 lbs, the kettlebell is kind of light for that, but on a temporary basis I can just do more of them. (The same logic applies to the hindu squats and the goblet squats: What I’m not getting in intensity I can largely replace with quantity.)
Once the rings get here I should be able to do hangs and inverted rows, and attempt to do pullups. That’ll cover my “pulling” exercises very well. I’ll also be able to attempt to do dips, which is another exercise that I haven’t found a good equipment-free bodyweight solution for.
One other piece of exercise equipment I have is a jump rope. I got it five years ago, after reading about how jumping rope is great training for running because it develops the springiness in your ankles and calves.
I haven’t made much use of my jump rope though. One year back in junior high or high school the phys ed class did one of its very few units that wasn’t focused around some team sport, and jumping rope was one included activity. I very much enjoyed the non-team aspect of it, put in the practice, and got quite good at jumping rope. Sadly, it turns out that you can’t let something like that go for 45 years and expect to just pick it back up again.
However, I figure this is a perfect circumstance for regaining my ability to jump rope. The weather is kinda crappy for running, but not so terrible that I can’t go outside at all. Yesterday I spent six minutes jumping rope, which was about as long as I wanted to spend outdoors in the cold, but also a good amount of practice for recovering the skill. I figure if I do the same every other day, by the time we start getting some nice weather I’ll be as good at jumping rope as I ever was.
I’ll use the jump rope for a HIIT workout. My HIIT workouts with the 45 lb kettlebell are off the table, and with just the 15 lb kettlebell I won’t be able to achieve the level of intensity I’m used to for my two-handed kettlebell swings. Besides the jump rope, I’m thinking I’ll do one-handed kettlebell swings with the 15 lb kettlebell. Less intensity, but the asymmetrical nature of the exercise will add a nice core workout aspect to the whole thing.
It’s come together pretty well, except that I’m not quite there with the hindu pushups yet. I need to develop both my strength and my flexibility, if I’m going to make those a key part of my workout routine. I’m close though. We’ll see.