Fitness Challenge and Other Thoughts

It’s Monday!

It’s also the last week of my summer vacation.

It’s also the last day of my 20’s.

EEK.

I know. I feel the same way. 

So since I’m on the verge of a traumatic breakdown over the loss of my youth, today’s post will be a little random.

First order of business: Your Fitness Challenge for this week! Did anyone do a sprint workout last week?

Anyway, your challenge this week is inspired by a couple of things.

1) My friend Cal, who I just found out does 100 pull-ups per day(!) He mixes up the grips, and does sets of pull-ups, chin-ups, and neutral grip pull-ups, to combine for about 100 per day. This is impressive, no? Heck, I don’t even do 100 per week, ever.

2) My pull-up game has been slacking lately. I’ve gotten up to 3 unassisted chin-ups (I’ve done a set of 4 once), but I seem to have stalled there. And I know exactly the reason why: I don’t do them nearly enough. I add them into a lift probably once per week, with about  20 total interspersed throughout my workout.

We all know that practice makes perfect, and that applies to getting stronger and improving on exercises/lifts too! The more you do something (without overdoing it) the better you’ll be at something. So the fact is, I really just need to do more pullups. A whole lot more pullups. I’m trying to get to 5 unassisted chins,and 3 unassisted pullups. Reasonable, right? So my challenge to myself to kickstart this progress, and thus my challenge to all of you, is this:

If you can’t do unassisted pull-ups, that’s ok! You can do them assisted with a resistance band, with a partner, or you can even count your pull-up negatives for this challenge. (I described those in this post).

Of course it will take more than a week to increase my reps, but you’ve gotta start somewhere, right? And there’s only one way to get better at something. Do it (a lot). If you have a goal of increasing your pull-ups, or even of doing your first unassisted pull-up, I encourage you to tackle this challenge!

Random thought #1:

I’ve recently added more cardio back into my training sessions. Not long, steady state cardio, but I’ve been adding in more metabolic work at the end (Tabata sessions, intervals, bodyweight circuits, HIIT, etc.). I have been running a little bit more, trying to get out to do stadiums 1-2 times per week, and also riding a bike to the gym on most days (about 5 miles each way). For a good portion of the year, I was hardly doing any cardio and was really just focusing on increasing my strength and improving my form for my big compound lifts (back squat and deadlift). I know a lot of you out there don’t do any cardio and have great results with that, but I have realized that for me it just wasn’t working. I started out this summer a little bigger than I should have been, and since I’ve added more cardio back in, I’m seeing a lot of improvements in body composition. Just goes to show– what is best for one person may not be best for others!

I just ordered these bad boys. Woo! I’ve always been an Asics girl when it comes to running (the little bit of it that I actually do). I love my New Balance Minimus for lifting, but nothing has ever beat Asics for running in my book! 

Random thought #2:

As much as it pains me to say this, I may be staying away from back-loaded barbell lifts for a little while. (I’m shedding a tear for back squats, the love of my life). For the past several months, I’ve been having a very point specific pain over one vertebrae in my thoracic spine. After trying to ignore it for a while, I’ve finally been getting some deep soft tissue treatments on the area surrounding it for about 1.5 months now. While I do feel great improvement in general, the second I load up that bar and put it on my back, I feel that one specific point of pain. I haven’t decided for sure, but I may try avoiding back loaded lifts, increasing my upper back work, and sticking with front squats for the time being. (Blegh).  I reluctantly did front squats on Friday and miraculously had no pain without the weight of the bar across my back, so I’ll let you guys know if I actually do this, and if it helps!

I really don’t enjoy front squats. But I might just have to suck it up for a little while! 

Random thought #3: 

I’ve realized recently that I have 2 rather serious addictions. String cheese and buying sunglasses. No, they’re not related (although I wouldn’t put it past me to be eating string cheese while sunglasses shopping), but I’m starting to realize I have a problem. I guess there are worse problems to have!

That’s all the random thoughts I’ll leave you with for the moment, since I’m sure most of you don’t really care very much about my addiction to string cheese.  Who’s going to join me on the pull-up challenge? Do you do cardio or just lift? Do you front squat regularly? Does anyone else share my strange addictions? 

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15 thoughts on “Fitness Challenge and Other Thoughts

  1. Happy birthday for tomorrow!! I’ve been adding more cardio back in lately. I’m doing about three sessions a week. I do not enjoy it all, because it detracts time from my lifting but I agree that it can be beneficial physique wise. I only do tabatas or intervals because otherwise I get crazy bored!

  2. I did do the sprint workout, and I also didn’t know what tabata’s were (until I looked it up) Interesting.

    Also, happy almost birthday. 🙂

  3. HELL YES for birthdays, pull ups, sprints and front squats! i did a variation of the sprint workout last week in the park – there weren’t any specific yard markers but i just used random landmarks & noted the times… thoroughly kicked my ass. ive also been adding a lot more conditioning to my training instead of going heavy and i definitely notice the same thing with the body composition. AND, added bonus, being a little lighter helped with my pull up game – so that’s a win-win for your programming! and last (but certainly not least) – embrace the front squats!! learn to love ’em, they do a body good / they’re some of my faves. try lateral squats too (either with a cable, dumbbells, or the bar) – it might help get your hips centered more & fix that back issue you’re feeling with the backloaded squats. i was having a similar issue and did a lot of unilateral and asymmetrical work and found it helped tremendously!

    • I will love front squats I will love front squats… HAha! THANK YOU, you are the best!! Glad you did the sprints, I really really love and hate that workout at the same time. It kicks my ass! Also Thanks for the tips on the squats! I do a lot of unilateral and asymmetrical work, but it looks like I’ll be ramping that up too. Always good to have you on my side! 🙂

  4. I did a few sprints, I’m not going to lie … I DID however have TABATA’s at the end of my workouts 3 days last week. I am taking this with me to read some more. I just read it this morning and I’m kicking that I missed this for yesterday – I REALLY REALLY want to do unassisted Pull Ups, and I don’t know what my hang up is, each time I start going at them I get frustrated that I don’t seem to be getting better and kick myself with “I can’t” – I’m printing your little blue pic and putting it in my w/o book, I will DO THIS. The only way to get better is to DO.
    I am sorry to hear of your back pain, I do hope that the comment from sten may help, but I must say you ROCK the front squat! Seriously some Sparta Abs you got going on. Good form, love it. Very motivating. Have a fantastic day and I’m staying true to the challenge, its time I stop “wanting to” and … well 😉 hehe ciao!

    • First of all, I would love to lie and say that is me doing the front squats, but I can’t! I love the fact that you thought it was me though 🙂 If I ever have abs that look like that I’ll never cover them up! And Secondly, YES about the pullups!! You can do it, it just takes a TON of practice and work. A little while ago I linked to a post from Sten, above, where she describes her program for increasing her pullups, you should check it out if you haven’t already! Good luck with the challenge this week — remember, we’re in this together!

      • Thank you !!! LOL 😉 I’m sure someday you will.
        As for the link I’ll go back and find to read, I did my 20 yesterday on the gravitron. According to the scale w/ a 50 plate I’m lifting 62% of my weight. I really felt it! On to day 2!

  5. Reblogged this on JennyO's Weblog and commented:
    Great challenge this week, if you have read some of my fitness posts you know Pull Ups are my goal that I keep for some reason thinking will happen without doing them, well this week? Lets do this,

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