Super sets . . ouch

Last night I actually tried to do super sets for real. I am now very sore. I have written out programs with super sets often in the past, but I never really did them properly. I would arrive at the gym with good intentions to do it, but those plans would always fall through. I would just do regular sets. I did it mostly because I started to to feel selfish at the idea of hogging two pieces of equipment at a the same time. I didn’t want to be that person at the gym that manages to use every good bar, bench, and dumbbell in the gym and spreads their belongings from the free weights to the pec dec to mark equipment in use like they were saving spots for their imaginary friends.

Last night I decided I would go gym and really do super sets. I went a little later so the people there would be at the end of their workouts. And I know from the past that the gym typically empties out between 8:00 and 8:30pm. I figured I would be able to hog two pieces of equipment at a time without getting in anyone’s way or anyone else getting in my way. Well it worked. I am already feeling the soreness set in. The super sets also made for a fast workout with a bit of a cardio effect because they reduced the amount of time I spent resting. I am looking forward to trying super sets on leg day tomorrow.

I also found out who keeps storing the lat pull-down bar on top of the cable pull weight stack thereby setting up the next user of the cable pull for an accident. I watched as a lady unhooked the bar from the lat pull down and very carefully laid the bar across the weight stack of the cable pull next to her ignoring the equipment rack full of empty hooks she could have hung the bar on instead. So many people leave their brains at the door when they get to the gym.

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Alternative 3-day & 4-day splits

If I only have time for 2 or 3 days lifitng days per week, I like to do full-body workouts each day. One type of split I am looking forward to trying is a 3 day split using 1 full-body day, 1 upper body day, and 1 lower body day instead of the standard 3 full-body days.

Sample 3 day split: 1 full body day, 1 upper body day, 1 lower body day

Day 1-full-body:
1) incline bench press
2) chin ups
3) shoulder press
4) back squat
5) kettlebell swings

Day 2-upper body:
1) clean & press
2) bench press
3) seated row
4) pendlay row
5) lying leg raises

Day 3-lower body:
1) front squat
2) sumo goblet squat
3) dumbbell walking lunges
4) step ups
5) bird dog

Side note: To challenge your balance and stability more, you can carry only one dumbbell for your walking lunges and for the step ups. Just make sure you alternate hands and work each side equally.

If I have more time, I like four day splits also. For those in the past I have always done a completely different body part each day. An easy way to break it down is to to do 2 upper body days and 2 lower body days.

Sample 4 day split: 2 upper body days, 2 lower body days

Upper body day 1: chest & shoulders
1) bench press
2) incline dumbbell bench press
3) dive bomber pushups
4) shoulder press
5) upright row

Lower body Day 1: gluts & hamstrings
1) back squat
2) stiff-leg deadlift
3) cable-pull throughs
4) weighted bridge
5) sumo goblet squat or side step ups

Upper body Day 2: back & core
1) assisted or unassisted pullups
2) face pulls
3) seated rows
4) lying or hanging leg raise
5) bicycle crunches or cable wood-chops

Lower body Day 2: quads & calves
1) sissy squats or jefferson squats
2) front lunges
3) leg extensions or modified camels
4) seated calf raise
5) standing calf raise

“Oops. I guess I needed help with that after all.” Part 2

As part of my responsibilities working in the weight room as a student I suppose to try to keep the plate weights, dumbbells, and other equipment in some kind of order. This was usually a never ending task given how zealous people could be about loading their machines and doing their reps then walking away. (And holy excercise balls rolling everywhere! Why do people find it so difficult to return the exercise ball to the rack they got it from?) It really annoyed me when the same person who would be too lazy to unload the leg press after using it would have the audacity to approach me while I was tidying other weights and ask “Hey, can I help you with that?”. My response was always a polite “No. Thank you, this is part of my job. Thanks for offering”. Because that was what was expected of me, but I what really wanted to say to that person was “No. I don’t need any help thank you, but that little old lady over there who wanted to use the leg press after you really could have benefited from you unloading machine when you were done.”

Being asked “do you need help with that” in the gym environment also sometimes felt like some kind of commentary on my strength and/or ability to lift the weights in question. I admit some of the really large dumbbells were tough because I couldn’t always grip them with two hands and my greatest limiting factor is my grip strength. But I generally managed. Moving the 45lbs plates was no problem (the shape made them easy to grip). But guys would see me begin to shuffle the plates and interrupt me to offer help as if they didn’t think it was possible for me to do it. (And holy crap people, if you put your weights away properly to begin with I wouldn’t have to.) I was always polite of course, and in the case of the really large dumbbells that needed to be moved I occasionally accepted their help. 

The question also gnawed at me because of the possible sexist connotations it hid. I didn’t accept the occasional bit of help because I was “weak little girl”. I accepted help because I acknowledged that there was a limit to my personal strength and some of the weights were past that limit. One male co-worker actually complained about how the girls were offered help but he wasn’t. The point is that if these helpful patrons were really just being helpful then 1) they would have put their weights away to begin with and 2) they would offer to help all staff not just the ladies. 

I also had a female co-worker who never put weights away herself. The guys working during her shift did it for her. She would brag “my boys are well trained.” Although whether that worked because she was gorgeous or because they were afraid of her (she was a scary type A personality) I was never sure. Or maybe her thinking was simply that these guys used the weights so she was going to teach them put them away properly. 

A friend whose girlfriend had complaints about guys getting in her way at the gym asking if she needed help when she clearly didn’t, suggested that next time someone asked us if we “needed help with that” we should turn them down then later accidentally drop the weight on the guy’s foot and say “Oops. I guess I needed help with that after all.”