I am so glad I restarted doing the New Rules of Lifting for Women program. Since I have done the program before, I did tweak the program a little. Overall, it worked well for me. Phase 1 (which took longer than I had hoped (11 weeks instead of 6), but I got it done. I really wanted to finish before the 14th, and since I was running out of time, I had to double up on my workouts. It probably wasn’t ideal, but I got it done and I’m pleased with that!

obligatory gym selfie

I’ve found a work best when I have a set program to follow. This way when there are days when I’m tired or not feeling particularly energetic, I don’t have to think about what I need to do. I just look at the plan and go for it.

This last part of Phase 1 involved completing 3 sets of each exercise for 8 reps each. Here’s my progress chart below.

today’s 80 kg deadlifts — they weren’t easy, but I got them done!

Another great thing about having a program and keep track on a chart is that I can see my improvements.

Comparison – Workout A – Week 1 (Jan. 28) – Week 8 (April 12) 

The breakdown:

Squats: I more than doubled the weight on my squats. Doing a set of 8 at 70 kg was tough. I need to work at that weight for a bit longer before I move up – at least when I’m doing more than 5 reps.

Incline chest press: I’m most happy with my 14 kg dumbbell incline chest presses. That’s a PR for me.

Seated row: The seated rows at 35 kg were challenging. I feel like I didn’t get as deep of a range of motion on them as I would have liked – again, something to work on.

Dumbbell row: The dumbbell rows at 18 kg — definitely another PR! I felt so strong reaching for them today!

Vertical traction: I don’t use many assisted weight machines, but this is one of my favorites. I didn’t include the exercise until a few weeks into my routine, so the the range of 32.5-47.5 was over over the past 4 weeks. I was pleased with my final number.

Step-ups: Man these are tough! My left knee is a bit wobbly so I took some time on the height of the step. My final step-up was with a step bench+6 blocks to raise it … it was challenging, but I felt good doing them at that height and with that weight.

Push-ups: I’m still doing them on my knees, but I’m getting better at them. I like my range of motion and I’ve been making sure to keep my elbows close to my body. Still need to work on them though.

70 kg squats – form isn’t as great as I’d like for the 8 reps, so I need to keep working on it

Comparison – Workout B – Week 1 (Jan. 30) – Week 8 (April 12) 

The breakdown:

Deadlifts: I was happy to double my weight on my deadlifts. Lifting 60 kg feels really good – going beyond, 70-80, was tougher, but I think I can work at that weight. I’ve got to focus on my grip strength and keeping my core tight as I lift.

Shoulder press: Another double increase, which is good … but I really was hoping I could move up to 14 kg dumbbells. Finishing a set of 8 as 12 kg wasn’t easy, so I know I need to stay at this weight until all my presses are clean.

Lateral pull: This is another assisted machine that I love. Looking at the numbers, a 15 kg increase isn’t that much. However, today’s final set felt good. I think I’m ready to move up a weight.

Kettlebell squat to Upright row: I started with a super light kettlebell in the beginning, just to get used to the exercise. Today’s 20kg reps felt good to me. By the time I got to this exercise today, I was tired … so the weight felt like it was enough.

Lunge with dumbbell: Lunges are so hard for me. Again, my left knee is wobbly. I don’t feel stable. I need a lot more practice. At least I moved up from just doing body weight lunges to holding an 8 kg dumbbell in each hand. That’s progress, right?

Swiss ball crunches: I would do 100 each time.

Glute bridges: I’d do 100 of these as well – definitely felt the burn!

The Next Step

From Monday, April 16th I’m hoping to start Phase 2. Once again, I’m continuing with the New Rules of Lifting Program, but I’m adding a few extra exercises within the basic formula. Although I want to continue to build my strength and lift heavy, the three main things I want to work on are:

  • better range of motion with bodyweight exercises – mainly push-ups and lunges
  • explosivity in my movement – I need to add some jumps into my workout, from jump rope to jump squats to burpees
  • cardio – I have been trying over and over to complete the C25K program. I don’t know if I ever will, but I’d at least like to get to the point where I can jog steadily for 20 minutes without feeling like I’m going to pass out! Today I did a few jogging intervals at 8.5 km/hr. That’s the fastest I’ve ever gone, but I felt pretty good. I think my pranayama practice is paying off!