Tag Archives: weight-training

Can We Talk Functional??

Talking with a friend about my workout philosophy I tried to explain that I’m about every day functional fitness.  It confused her, as I’d just bragged about Monday’s workout.

“What is there in your life that resembles deadlifting 120#?”

A LOT!  My bad-hipped dog Katy need picking up and lifting into the car.  Katy is about 65#- far short of that 120#- but she also wiggles and waggles as I lift her.  Also? grocery bags and laundry baskets and dog food bags, heavy cast-iron casseroles, bags of dirt.  While few of these things are the exact shape and weight as a barbell loaded with weight plates, they are all lifting.  And, because I can lift heavier weight, I CAN lift Katy up.  I can pick up friends’ kids who have fallen, and carry grocery bags from the car to the house without needing a nap afterward.  The heavy lifting makes the rest of my life easier.

That is the essence of functional fitness- exercises to make your day-to-day life easier.

Besides lifting heavy objects, I also make myself workout in controlled but unstable ways – working with stability balls and air cushions and 1/2 foam rolls.  I used to use the BOSU at the gym before it broke.

Do I like these workouts?  Not particularly.

Do I do these things well?  Nope

However, we’ve all read and heard the stories of people who’ve fallen and broken bones.  People whose injuries have made them alter their life forever; older folks who’ve died from a broken hip.  In many of these circumstances, the person didn’t know how to recover.  By training my body and mind in these “predictably unpredictable” situations I am training my brain and body to recover.  To fall without doing too much damage.  To catch myself and stay upright.

That too is functional fitness.

Some of the most “functional” exercises you can do?

1. deadlifts (you guessed this one already, right?)

2. lunges (work those glutes and the abductors/adductors/ obliques)

3. squats (strong glutes/hammies/quad and a different plane from lunges)

4. pushups. Your whole body working as one unit?  And getting yourself up off the ground?  Hello!

5. pullups.

6. step ups.  Yeah.  step on a bench and hold it.  Don’t fall or dip a hip or shoulder while stepping up.  Your whole body works this to get coordinated.

7. side shuffles. Balance, adductors, obliques.

8. Farmer’s carries.  Basically pick up something heavy and carry it.  Because we do this ALL THE TIME.

What physical (functional) challenges do you face every day?  And what exercises make it easier for you do these things?


Still Ill – NOT

I have been sick since I left BlogHer on July 19th.  I definitely got influenza which can kick your butt for a long, long time.  For me, it’s a kind of weakness and some nagging chest congestion that’s slowing me down.  A different medical problem this past week really had me knocked down (drug reactions?  NO FUN!)

I kind of fooled you all by finding draft posts that I thought I had published.  Made it look like I was feeling better and back to my old self. Well, it was my old self though I was not back.   Now I’ve run out of those posts.  (note to self: when healthy, rebuild that draft bank.) Oh, darn!  I have to start writing again.

I got to the gym (finally) for 3 days last week – Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Then that remnant bit of the flu combined with nasty new drug side-effects had me knocked on my butt.  I could barely leave the house; I could not drive; there is no way I could go to the gym.


I missed my gym.  The stupid cardio, the boring floor exercises, the frustrating balance stuff, and delicious weights.  Missed it all!  It doesn’t matter that I was physically unable to be there; that I would be dangerous in there.

I missed my gym.

Things began to turn around Saturday evening.  I kept grabbing my small hand weights and playing around with them.  Not doing anything very serious, but working on concentrating on a muscle group and working it.  Feeling the squeeze.

Sunday I finally got back!

Since I still feel like I’m getting my fitness back, I took things fairly easy.  A simple 20 minutes of cardio at a fairly low pace.  A set for the hip flexors.  Chest press with easy 15# hand weights; bicep curls with a 20# bar.  Some sitting rows.  Squat sled – I hate thee, but I worked thee! – and leg press.  Just under an hour of work.

My mind cleared completely while I was in there working.  My mood improved… and there was peace, love and happiness everywhere around.

OK.  that might be going too far.

But I am back to my calm, easy-going mood.

So how was your weekend?

Review:The New Rules of Lifting for Women

A couple months ago, while browsing the shelves at my local library, I spied and checked out The New Rules of Lifting by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove.  While I absorbed much of the information, finding it helpful for me in figuring out my daily workouts and nutrition, in starting to think about a workout template, I felt at the time that some of the exercises/moves/suggestions may need to be adjusted for women.

I LOVED that the book contained named templates and a series that guided a man through an entire year’s of workouts.  From initial skill-building (the break-in program)  through a fat-loss program and several strength building programs: endurance and muscle building.  Each program was NAMED giving me a clear way to understand why the changed in routines were put there, how each change should impact a workout, and what the goal of that month would be if I were using it.

I was thrilled to see that they were publishing a companion edition of the book that I hoped would fill my needs: The New Rules of Lifting for Women. With the original two authors, they added Cassandra Forsythe to reinforce any changes required between the men’s information/exercises and the women’s.

I LOVE how they have adapted the diet and exercise information for women to include our lower testosterone levels, and how female hormones may effect diet and exercise.   I re-read the section called “Core of Babylon.”  because I think it explains how some of my chronic ache and pains are related and gives a clue about how to reduce their impact their on my life.

I LIKE the photos and demonstrations of different exercises, especially some of the alternatives.

I HATE that the workouts for women are labeled Stage One, Stage Two, etc.  What the heck does Stage one mean?  And why couldn’t the authors simply have equated to the men’s “initial skill” level?  What am I concentrating on in Stage Two?  Is it stability, endurance?

Personally, this feels like a cop-out to me.  Like “women can’t deal” with workout named to conform with exercise regimes like NASMs OPT models. (which I simply chose because I could find it.)  Now I can carefully study the recommended exercises and sequences and likely figure out for myself what the authors were aiming for, but WHY SHOULD I??

With all the respectful, thorough and useful information in this book, why did the authors have to back away from naming their different stages by some kind of function?  I’d love to hear a reason that make me feel condenscended to.

Goal Setting: The Pull Up

I’ve set a new goal for myself. This is one Zandria has expressed, too, but I am putting my goal on a clock:

By October 16th, I will do an unassisted pull-up.

Krista @ Stumptuous says in Mistressing the Pull-Up:

Pullups are a cool exercise. They look tuff, they feel butch, they’re low-tech, and they are one of the best exercises for all-round upper body strength. Not only are your back, biceps, forearms, and shoulders involved, but you may also feel them in your abs. (Gawd, my abs were sore for a week after my first attempt at pullups… felt like I’d pulled my ribcage out through my nostrils)

Guido thinks I already can do one. Part of me is egging myself: when we work out together next to ask him to help me see if this is true. Part of me wants to hold back.

Today I was able to “practice” for this with a normal lat pull-down (there was a LINE at the assisted dip/pullup machine). I managed 3 sets at 60#, so I’m half-way there. And a 1x rep instead of a set? Maybe Guido is right.

Shoot. I want to aim for a hard goal that I accomplish on October 16th. OK, I’ll solicit any suggestions from my peanut gallery. (<a href=”http://mizfitonline.com/”>MizFit</a&gt;.. I am talking to you!)

What’s so special about that date? This will be the second anniversary of my first workoutthis time around. My first session with Guido. My first step to where I am today. It’s a big day for me. Last year I marked it privately and quietly. This year, I want to celebrate it.

Question is HOW?

Workout: The BOB

I usually do this workout late in the week, when I know I’ll have a full two days to recover.  It’s not one I’ve seen written up anywhere, and it really needs a companion workout The FOB.  The BOB is a workout that targets the entire Back of the Body.  It’s best if you can do it in a push/pull manner, but when the gym is busy, I take the moves however the equipment allows.

First: Assisted Dips.  Find a assist weight that challenges you but let’s you do reps of 15/12/8. For a stable/unstable workout pair with foot pushes, or another balance move.

Second: Back Extensions.  15/15/15.  Any variation you favor.  Going unstable?  Stretchy-band tricep pushups on one foot.  10 each foot.

Third: Leg Extensions: 15/15/15  Do not go too heavy here.  Concentrate on finishing the move.

Back on our feet for the Fourth: One Footed/ One Armed Cable Rows. 15/15/15 each side.  Alternate paired sides (r arm/r leg) and opposite sides (r arm/l left).  Going more unstable? Pair with one footed tricep pull downs.

Fifth: Leg Press.  I’m still doing one leg here to get the strength up, but choose your own poison.  Going unstable? Pair with a balance move.

Sixth: Lat Pull Down.  Because of the arthritis in my one shoulder, I tend to do these in drop-weight fashion.  Heavy for 5-8; drop weight, increase reps.  At 20#, it’s until I hit functional fairure.

Remember to stretch during rest periods and treat yourself to a good stretch (or foam roll) afterwards.  Then hit the showers.  We’ve earned it.