Monday, August 17, 2015

Training with a Weak Back | Operation 健康アップ Week 7

I've a weak back since young due to scoliosis. I went for an operation for that when I was 15, but will still get back aches pretty often in my lower back. Sometimes it'll be sharp, throbbing pain while other times it'll just be numb discomfort. Been living with it so long that it has become my way of life and I've learnt to just "deal with it"... especially with {some} exercise, stretches and massages.

Being in the office most of the day also adds on to this problem of my back and core being generally weak due to sitting for long periods of time. When I had my first consultation with Coach Jon, I told him one of my fitness goals is to strengthen my back too.

Gym Workouts
Since Monday was a public holiday, I went to Genesis Gym on Tuesday and Friday. Justin took me for both days which is always great since I like training under him. He's a great motivator and knows his fitness and nutrition stuff well.

I didn't continue training/ exercising much in my early adulthood so I'm kinda rusty, but since growing up as an athlete and being married to a body-builder, I can tell when someone is truly an expert and knowledgeable in health and fitness, and when someone is just a noob and trying to wing it.

This is my latest gym workout plan with weights I'm using:

A1. Barbell Deadlift, 4 sets, 8 reps - 38kg
A2. Flat Dumb-bell Bench Press {Pronating}, 4 sets, 8 reps - 12kg
B1. Lying Leg Curl, Toes Up, 4 sets, 8 reps - 35 + 32.5kg
B2. Kettle-bell Swing, 60s - 16kg
C1. Seated Supported Dumb-bell Shoulder Press {Neutral}, 8 reps, 9kg
C2. Dumbell Half Squat Thrusters, 60s - 4kg

I've progressed on from using the kettle-bell to barbell for my deadlifts. The weights are still manageable, but my grip is pretty weak so I've to use weight-lifting straps to help me hold the weight in my hands. Basically you loop one end around your wrists, and wrap the other end around the barbell, thus attaching the weight to your wrists/hands. This improves your grip on the weight you’re holding and helps prevent it from sliding out of your hands.

Some people say using the straps may help with the grip but cause you to lose out on building your wrists, forearms, hands, fingers and overall grip. However if your grip is giving out too soon and hindering your ability to perform a given exercise with a weight you’re otherwise capable of using, then by all means I think the straps are necessary. I'm trying to train my lower back, butt and abs when doing the deadlifts and that's all that matters, not so much my grip and lower arms.

In Genesis Gym all clients have a workout file with them to carry around each session to record the workout progress. Mine has a big red sticker in front and notes to say that I have back and knee pain, so the trainers know they have to exercise caution when training me. However, I don't think all of them know the extent of my back and knee injuries unless they have taken me for a few times or I've talked to them more in depth, like Jen or Justin and maybe Superman.

So when I do my Deadlifts, Lying Leg Curl or Kettle-bell Swing, Justin is extra careful and checks regularly whether I'm feeling it in my back or not. That's the great thing about having a personal trainer I guess - someone to watch your form and make sure you won't cause {further} injuries to yourself.

The Deadlifts are fine, and Lying Leg Curl isn't that bad, but I do think that the Kettle-bell Swing is kinda taxing on my back. It's not like sharp pain, just kinda strained which is ok for me as "normal pain", but Justin says I shouldn't feel it like that.

On Friday we scrapped the Lying Leg Curl and Kettle-bell Swing, and did some simple rehab back exercises instead, After that he said he'll talk to Jen and the team to see what other exercises they should change my Super Set B to to not tax my back too much.

He told me to rest my back for the weekend, and just skip my Sat workout so that the next time I come in on Monday, they can assess more on my back because right now, I'm finding it hard to tell them what is a "pain" and what is a "sore" :P To me... they are all about the same already haha.  

Home Workouts
Since Monday was a public holiday after National Day, I went to the club to work out, in addition to a session on Wednesday and Saturday. Yeah... Justin said to rest my back and skip my session over the weekend but now that I'm in the groove, it's really hard to! Now I know how the boy feels when I tell him to just skip a workout haha.. but I didn't do my usual home workout on Saturday, just worked on my arms a bit with the dumb-bells.

This is my latest home workout plan with weights I'm using:
A1. Leg Press, 4 sets, 8 reps - 230 pounds {104.3kg}
A2. Walking Lunges, 4 sets, 16 on each leg - Body Weight
B1. Supinated Lat Pulldown, 4 sets, 8 reps - 67.5pounds {30.6kg}
B2. Dumb-bell Chest Supported Row to Chest, 4 sets, 16 reps - 7.5kg
C. Declined Crunches, 3 sets, 15 reps

In weight training, there's a thing called "progressive overload" where you gradually increase the amount of weight you lift on each exercise. This adds tension to the body that's above and beyond what is has previously experienced and forces the body's muscles to grow, gain strength and performance. That's why my trainers usually "force" me to increase weights in all the exercises every time I go to their gym. Read more on how often you should increase weights here.

However you can’t just haphazardly add more weight to each exercise for the sake of adding more weight and to unrealistically progress. This will cause bad form so the target muscles won't work properly and reps will fall below the proper range.

The weights I'm using for my home workout are still a bit heavy for me so I'm not ready to change them much from Week 6, although I think I might be ready in Week 8. I might be able to do it if I had my trainers there with me, but then when working out alone.. I tend to have less motivation :P

Food Nutrition
Ok kinda happy this week as I've been reeeeeeally anal at making a conscious effort to at least hit my daily protein target. Admittedly, it's with help from protein shakes {1 scoop of Arnold Iron Whey Cookies n' Cream + 400g low fat milk} and protein bars {QuestBar Chocolate Brownie} but still.. baby steps ;)

Jen also recommended getting the Yonanas machine to make soft-serve out of any frozen fruits. A solution to my sweet tooth!! With it you can instantly churn 100% frozen fruits to create a healthy dessert without additional fat, sugar or preservatives compared to other "ice cream" or "yogurt" like treats. I'll check it out but we have so many kitchen appliances and machines at home now e.g. blender, air fryer, juicer etc. and the boy wants to get a cake mixer soon.. I'm not sure if we'll be getting it at the moment.

For my sleeping problem, he recommended me taking more magnesium, which is a mineral that the body needs in order to relax, and many people are deficient in it, especially when their diet is not balanced. Yup.. that's me.

He reiterated that sleep is important in helping me stay lean, because of the growth hormones that your body produces during this time. I've been taking ZMA {Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate and Vitamin B6} pills the past few nights and so far I think they've been helping.

Thoughts for the week
I think this quarter passted by pretty quickly and can't believe we'll be entering Week 8 already!

Justin reminded me that some people slack off after knowing their progress for the first part of the training, or lose motivation in the last few weeks. It's a good thing I've got my PTs to push me then. It's true, I'm already feeling a bit of fatigue and mental tiredness, especially when I'm juggling workouts with work, family and also blogging.

I've got to press on and keep the end goal in sight. I've already decided on what I want to reward myself with when I complete this fitness training program heh... and it'll be even sweeter if I do it with my fitness goals reached.


Theresa Mahoney said...

I didn't know you has scoliosis when you were younger. I can see where workouts could be a little challenging with the back pain from that. It's good you have attentive trainers to help you along the way!

Keep up the good work, Ai!

An Apel a Day said...

I do hope your back does ok with this. My husband suffers with back pain. His mom and dad both have bad discs in their backs. I'm hoping he maintains a healthy back.

The food you have shone looks so good! I like many healthy foods, so I would love to try that.

Masshole Mommy said...

You guys workout barefoot over there? What if you drop a weight on your foot by accident?

Small Kucing said... really "terrer" leh. Jiayoh!

Ai Sakura said...

Theresa: Yes I did.. had to go for a back op when I was 15 to somewhat fix it. Very thankful for the attentive trainers too!

Alissa: Oh dear.. back pain can really be so frustrating. Both my sisters suffer from it too actually and it does hinder life a bit.

Masshole Mommy: Yup they do that I think for hygiene, and also to strengthens the muscles and improve the arches. But it's ok to wear your shoes too and I do usually, just that I forgot to bring my indoor gym shoes that day :P

Small Kuching: haha no la... :P

Indah Nuria Savitri said...

you are really doing a great job. I salute you commitment. Good to know that you have PT to ensure you are right on track.

Unknown said...

Hi there! I've really enjoyed reading your fitness journey posts. Would you recommend the personal training programme at Genesis Gym if my aim is weight loss? From your posts, the training programme seems really structured and comprehensive and i'll thus like to give it a try. Thanks so much :)

Ai Sakura said...

Indah: thanks a lot :)

Wanyi: Yes I would. I like the structure and reliable support from them too. You should talk to them and they can recommend a suitable program for you.

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