Ramping Up My Strength Training


The last week of May, I started on a plan to work my way up to 10 minutes of upper body strength exercises (done tabata-style).  I’m narrowing it down to upper body because I do miles of walking per week carrying a backpack full of books: the legs are looking good (even added a couple of running sprints on 6/20…first in decades!).  The arms and trunk, on the other hand, are not doing as well.

I use a a portable gym made from two military web belts and some handles from a band exerciser. This way I can exercise when I get to campus (or wherever).

Here is the schedule.  I’m planning on two sessions per week minimum (I may ramp this up, but we’ll see).

. week of rest seconds work seconds rounds total seconds minutes
. 5/31/2010 10 30 4 160 2.67
. 6/7/2010 10 40 4 200 3.33
. 6/14/2010 10 50 4 240 4.00
. 6/21/2010 10 50 5 300 5.00
. 6/28/2010 10 50 6 360 6.00
. 7/5/2010 20 40 7 420 7.00
. 7/12/2010 20 40 8 480 8.00
. 7/19/2010 20 40 9 540 9.00
. 7/26/2010 20 40 10 600 10.00

I use a random number generator (in Excel) to create each session in order to keep some muscle confusion (especially given the narrowed focus). Options on my list are:

  • Wide rows
  • Narrow rows
  • High rows
  • Low rows
  • Wide push ups
  • Narrow push ups

As of 6/21 I am keeping up with my plan with a slight glitch: last week, while finishing up class time in a doctoral course, I only did one workout (why push the cortisol levels any higher, I think). Other than that, I’m up to speed, planning on two 5×10/50 sessions this week.

As of 7/11, I am on track with the tabata counts, though I have modified the timing to 20 seconds of rest and 40 seconds of work (call me a wimp, if you will, but 40 seconds by seven sets whipped my butt last week. I’ve also switched to band and ball sets, with good mornings (see below).

  • Ball overhead toss
  • Ball rounds
  • Band pull downs
  • Band rows
  • Band reverse flies
  • Good Mornings

What are you doing to build muscle?

About Laura

My name is Laura and I am on a journey, pondering the implications of God's glorious design of humanity and integrating every aspects of this design into a description of whole life health.
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2 Responses to Ramping Up My Strength Training

  1. Jonathan says:

    I think the front/back balance is very good – the focus is too often on the bench press, which tends to produce a kyphotic spine and hunched shoulders. I know you walk a great deal, but I think squats are pretty awesome and are catalytic to other muscular growth. Deadlifts could work too if the knees couldn’t handle squats. Maybe once a week or something.

    As far as my own exercise, I’ve been doing for the last 2 1/2 weeks and am already noticing gains. There’s something organic about moving one’s own bodyweight.

  2. Laura says:

    You are correct on the benefit of whole body lifts. Given the current knee issue, I’ll be adding Good Mornings (wimpy dead lifts) before my Saturday long walk. I also do them in the morning if the body is having a tough time warming up.

    Squats are off my list for good, unfortunately. Going lower that a few inches pops out the knee again. I may try them again in a few months, but no sooner.

    Someday, I’ll be adding actual dead lifts…which means I’ll be needing a barbell and weight plates. 🙂

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