Strength September: resumed with caution!

Strength September: resumed with caution!

I'm back on it! I'm at goal weight now, so into maintaining, but I still want to find a sustainable way of incorporating strength exercises into my routine. My chart shows that I've had a few days rest, and I've definitely benefitted from this. This is because I developed back ache and a weird bruise on my lower back at the weekend. Also, as I was confronted by a challenging few days where I wouldn't be at my home anyway, it made sense to take time out. Now, having taken this break, it feels like my 'Strength September' has got two halves. The first half is gung ho, building the squats by 5 or 10 more each day, launching in with innocent sounding 'abs' exercises, and then crashing down to nothing. The second half will be characterised by caution: I'll alternate my exercises - crunches one day followed by squats the next (the crunches are from the NHS 'abs' exercises - I've dropped the 'planks'!) I have also found some lower-back exercises on the NHS site which are really good for gently stretching my lower back out - I'm doing these everyday (well - today and yesterday so far), and they seem to be helping. I also took a break from running, but went out again yesterday, so I feel like I'm back on track there too.

Looking back, and thanks to Lucca's suggestion, I think the weird bruise on my back came from doing crunches straight on the floor, with no mat, in normal clothes. I think the belt on my jeans was digging in and gradually causing a bruise. So, as obvious as it sounds, I'm now using a mat (which I had all along - doh!), and wearing softer clothes. So a word of advice if anyone else is trying out exercises like this for the first time, it may sound obvious but wearing sensible kit, putting a mat on the floor, alternating exercises so you don't strain muscles etc - these are all things worth paying attention to!

So, going forward I've dropped the planks but keeping the crunches from the 'abs' exercises. I've also reduced the squats. So far today I've done 40. I think I'll keep it at that, and increase 2 at a time rather than 5-10 as I was doing before. I'm also taking stretches etc really seriously, and now incorporating exercises specifically aimed at my lower back, which is my weak point. Hopefully this will become something I can sustain long term, rather than crashing and burning like last time :)

How is anyone else getting on with strength exercises? Has anyone else crashed and burned or made changes according to their needs? Anyone actually managing to follow the 30 day squat challenge with no problems?!

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38 Replies

  • Hi Ruth,

    Good to see the progress you have made and that you are back on it. I going to make myself a chart aswell and back onto it from Sunday.

    Thinking about getting myself a kettle bell!!!


  • Hey Lizzy. Good luck with your chart, I definitely recommend it. It feels good to fill it out each day. Kettle bell sounds pretty serious - don't go too heavy. I have some weights I bought on gumtree a while ago when I did circuit training classes for a bit (worth a look - people are often selling unused good-intention fitness stuff on there). The weights I got are all different - 1.5kg, 2.5kg and 3kg. To be honest, I've only used the 1.5kg ones, they're more than heavy enough for me. But I haven't used weights at all this month. I'm focusing on non-weight bearing exercises to start with, but may introduce weights into the squats and crunches later on (with caution!) Hope you get on well with re-starting on Sun :)

  • Didn't re-start on Sunday. Not sure what is holding me back. And I haven't bought the kettle bell yet!

    You are doing great. Hope to join you soon :)

  • Just do it now Lizzy :) Look up some exercises on the NHS livewell pages, or do the first session of couch to 5k. No time like the present :)

  • Hi Ruth, hope you had a fab few days away at the engagement and OH parents, did you manage to fend off temptation? You are on full steam by the sounds of it, like you say though - cautiously does it. Congrats on being goal weight, many would think that is the hard bit over - oh no, but you have it covered.

    I have limited my squats to 50 a day, but have hit the gym 3 times a week as planned ( slightly more really). Still walking a lot, but not hitting 150km in a week yet ( my toe is still giving me a little gyp). The bike hasn't been out for the last couple weeks either. I am decorating the kitchen and gutting the cupboards, so lots of up and down ladders stretching. ( does this count exercise ways? lol)

    Have a super weekend 😊

  • Hey Shellie, DIY and up and down lifting etc definitely counts as exercise. After days like that I've definitely felt the 'burn'! I bet you're excited to be getting a new kitchen - or will be once it's done anyway :)

    Great that you're still getting to the gym 3 times a week, very impressed. 50 squats a day sounds good to me. I'm thinking I may need to think of a 'limit' and stick to that too. Getting up to 107 was a bit mad really. Although the 30 day squat challenge does aim to build you up to 250, so I wasn't being completely mad...

    Hope you get the bike out again soon and that your toe heals enough to do more walking again. We went out on our bikes yesterday evening to the pub. Now - does that count as exercise? We had cider and crisps (I held back on the crisps, but not the cider - well only had 2 halfs, which is good for me).

    I did manage well I think at my bf's parents (and also at his brother's for a big lunch too). I put things on my plate in a way that looked like healthy portion sizes, and mostly had fruit and held back on the sparkling wine at Sunday's party too (just 2 drinks again - I'm a pro now!) :) I'm not taking my eye off the ball just yet!

  • The units are staying, but I am having a huge clearout and retiling and painting. I am making some new blinds too. I tiled the bathroom a few years ago ( never tiled before, but got a step by step dvd) and It looked pretty good, so tackling the kitchen...... I may live to regret it, but hey, you don't know what you can do until you try. An electrician is coming to put in new light fittings. I will be regrouting the stone floor and finally painting the walls/woodwork.

    Today I got in from work at 11am and got straight into emptying the cupboards.... unbelievable amount of clutter!!! I have scrubbed the walls and paintwork and measured/cut/pinned the blind. I am pooped and not doing anything else tonight. Tomorrow the electrician is here at 8am, I am off to a vintage fair for a few hours, then home to do the tiling and regrouting. Sunday is painting and putting up the blind. Monday is putting everything back and work in the evening.

    No, I know, I don't make things easy for myself. It'll be worth it. 😊

  • We have some tiling to do here, if you fancy popping round with your dvd and some grout ;-)

  • Sounds amazing. I do all that sort of stuff myself too, putting up shelves, repainting walls, creating strange bean-plant supporting structures on the balcony, etc! It's very satisfying when you see the results :)

  • OK I stopped reading at the first line so I'll probably come back.

    T A R G E T W E I G H T

    A W E S O M E ! ! ! ! !

    You are a complete star!

    Well Done!

  • Yay! Thanks :)

  • Some exercise is better than no exercise! I've struggled with exercising every day but I'm building back up to it! Honest! Good to see you doing so well. Have you got a Gym ball which will be better for your back?

  • No I haven't - I live in a very small studio flat so I think I'd struggle to find room for something like that! But maybe there are classes somewhere that use them... I'll investigate.

  • Hi Ruth

    nice to see that lovely chart being populated. Also relieved to see you pivot in the light of what you learned. How deep are you squatting? I never in my while life got below 90 degrees.

    I am absolutely delighted that you have hit goal weight. 😀

  • Thanks Gonti! I've mainly been doing 90 degrees but I actually started doing a slightly different type called 'sumo squat' last week where you point your legs out at 45 degrees, stretching your inner thigh muscles a bit more. But in light of lower back pain etc I've gone back to the standard ones. I have done 'deep squats' at my running club, where you go really low and hold onto the front of your feet to balance, but this isn't something I could do a lot of. I have the flexibility, but then I get strains and pains afterwards. I think I need to make sure I don't always push as far as I think I can, but stop slightly before my limit instead.

  • I didn't realise you were doing those crunches in jeans with a belt without a mat - I'm not surprised you've got a bruise on your back !!! Anyway, glad to hear it hopefully isn't anything more serious and you aren't bursting blood vessels with your 'Super Strenuous September Squat Schedule' (my new name for it :-) - don't try to say it when drunk...)

    I've ditched any squats or lunges for now because i'm trying to keep my knees fresh, and they were definitely beginning to twinge. Been doing the arms and abs and I included a session of 'carrying a pick-up truck load of logs from the front of the house to the back log shed' in my chart :-) (Wasn't doing any strength after that !) But I have a few days missing due to monthly grumpiness, but other than that all ok. Just did W3R3 this morning. I'm trying to keep to schedule but did add an extra 3 mins onto my last 3 min run this morning (just checking I can do the 5 min ones next week !)

  • Monthly grumpiness is definitely a very valid reason for a break, I think that may have been another factor in my lower back pain too, but who knows. All I know is I don't want it to happen again!

    I know, what a numpty doing exercises on the floor with a belt on - I was just focusing on fitting the numbers into the day. Turns out it wasn't such a great idea. I like the sound of increasing upper body exercises as a complement to running. As you're building up muscle in your legs through doing c25k anyway, it makes sense not to overstretch by doing squats etc. But squats are a good long-term complement to running, as I think they're meant to help build knee strength etc. I want to make them a permanent part of my routine if I can.

    Good luck for the 5 min runs next week, hope there aren't too many more logs to carry around, and that you can stick to virtual lifting for now :)

  • No more logs - just lots of lovely log fires (if this bloomin' hot weather would go away !!).

    Hopefully the running should go ok - I'm dying to run a bit further, but being very good. What I have found though is that building it up slowly is definitely keeping away any aches and pains I normally suffer when I start trying to run again.

    How are you finding switching to the 'maintaining' mindset ? What are you doing differently ? (if anything ?)

  • I'm doing a lot of things differently already, which I'm finding mildly alarming. I really want to keep my habits pretty much the same. I stopped entering my food on mfp from Sunday, but I may resume if I think I need the discipline again. I'm also mentally tracking my food a lot less, i.e. not always 100% sure how much of anything I've eaten. But I'm following similar meal patterns, steering as clear of alcoholic temptations as I can, and making sure I don't add in extra snacks between meals.

  • Sounds good - I think the snack thing is vital. I always have this image that once I've lost weight I can go back to eating doughnuts or suchlike - but need to change to the mindset that even then these things are (mainly) banned !

    The similar meal plans is also a great idea - that's one of the things that I've stuck to this time, and it seems to have made a load of difference. I think just catching any small gains in weight quickly is the key, and adjusting accordingly.

    Well done anyway - you've done great to get to this stage and hopefully you'll keep succeeding :-)

  • Thanks. I'll keep weighing-in for a while. If I do put weight back on I'll be straight back on it like a shot. Not letting this hard work get undone!

    For me it's red wine, I can really visualise going back to being the sort of person who opens a bottle of red wine at dinner time. But I think this could really easily lead me back into old habits - another glass of wine, followed by another portion of dinner, followed by another glass of red wine, etc, etc. I think some things need to stay off limits (but I'll still allow myself red wine outside my home, VERY occasionally :) )

  • Hi Ruth,

    I like the way your chart is looking - you're definitely succeeding in the Challenge. You've made some excellent points in terms of things to consider when undertaking a challenge like this too.

    My progress so far looks like this:

    I've been doing repetitions of the following: a) squats; b) press-ups; c) sit-ups and d) cycle crunches.

    1st - 3rd September: 25 of each.

    4th Sept: Rest day

    5th - 7th Sept: 50 of each

    8th to 10th Sept: 3 rest days! (how did that happen!!!)

    11th-12th Sept: 50 of each

    13th -15th Sept: 3 rest days! (it happened again!!!)

    16th Sept - 17th Sept: 50 of each

    18th Sept (today): hoping to do 50 of each today, but not done any yet! :-)

    I'm so glad you are doing 'update' posts regarding this Challenge, Ruth, because it's made me realise that I've had a couple of long rest periods that I didn't realise I'd actually done! Interesting!

    I am definitely feeling more toned and fit than I did at the start of the challenge, and I would even go so far as to say that my tummy 'looks' slightly toned - so that's a definite improvement!

    Thanks so much for keeping us all on track with this. It's a brilliant challenge!

    Hope everyone has a great weekend.

    Lowcal :-)

  • Hey Lowcal, when you list what you've achieved like that, it definitely looks impressive. I (now!) think rest days are a good thing not a bad thing, although it's important to remember to get back onto it after a break!

    Great you're seeing the effects - wow, a toned tummy! The holy grail :) :)

  • Wow Lowcal - that is looking pretty impressive. Not surprised you've got into those slinky jeans :-) (just don't do any crunches in them ;-) )

  • You have made me think about strength exercises. I was not going anything before. I brought some light dumb bells a few weeks ago, I don't really know what I am doing with them. I just get them out to play with at the mo. I am now thinking of formulating something I can do each evening before bathing the boo and bed. I need some inspiration. Also just want something light, that will make me warm and a little worn out before bedtime, rather than a sweating heap and begging for a bath. Also that I can just easily get up and do in the lounge, without needing anything. I have got those dumb bells. Mainly for Mr Boo not to see me ;-)

  • Hi MrsBooboo, I originally started to think about doing strength exercises because of the expectation on the 12 week plan to do 2 sessions a week (which I struggled to motivate myself to do at the time). There are lots of strength exercises you can do without weights as well as with weights, but the effects are all different too. I'm not sure I can advise, as the only exercises I've done with weights were ones I was shown at a circuit training class I used to go to a couple of years ago, and my memories of that are pretty sketchy to be honest! Have you done something like that too? If not, maybe go to a couple of classes somewhere to get an idea of what you need to be doing - I think it's worth asking someone who properly knows how to do weights-based exercises without potentially injuring yourself... Alternatively, the internet is full of videos and diagrams etc. All I'd say is be careful to ease in gradually, don't throw yourself in at the deep end, do warm ups, warm downs and stretching, and stop if anything starts to hurt. Good luck :)

    Edit: I just remembered, Gonti recommended a book 'Fitness for dummies' in another post. I think this might be useful for getting started (look for it in the library)

  • Hi Ruth and well done with all those squats you've been doing, your numbers are amazing. Glad to hear that you found the cause of the bruising to your back and it is nothing more serious hun.

    I have been keeping up with the squats but only do 45 a day 15 x 3 and that's enough for me, but I can really see how the running as well as the squats are helping to tone my legs so I am pleased with the results and the longer I continue with them the more toned I will become.

    Keep up with the maintaining your doing great :-)

    Trafford1 x

  • great, target weight, well done Ruth and I'm sure maintaining wont be a problem for you.

    I wish I could get enthusiastic about exercise, I just don't seem to be able to get on and do it, not a physical thing more a mental block I suppose?

    Well done Ruth.

  • Maybe you don't need to in the same way? I've always been quite active, my body sort of needs to do exercise, and I really feel the benefit from it (most of the time anyway). I think finding an exercise that you can keep up is to do with finding something you enjoy. People stay active in different ways. I'm sure you find you're at least more active now you've lost the weight. You're definitely doing something right, as you've lost all that weight now anyway :)

  • Thanks Trafford1, useful to know you're feeling the benefit of doing 45/day. Maybe that's the amount I should aim for, rather than trying to do some kind of squat marathon. I've also noticed the difference in my legs, and also noticed I'm getting less tightness in my hamstrings after running, feels like I'm getting more of a balance somehow. Hope your knees are fully recovered by now, and that everything is going well. I'm hoping to do another 6k run this weekend (it will be my 4th). I think of you each time - just going for it! :)

  • Hi Ruth, lovely that you're back! And so pleased the bruises were not serious....big congrats again on being at target too. Although I didn't start the was just because of the op I had....two more weeks and I can start exercise full on ish again.

  • Sounds like you have a very good excuse! I put off starting doing strength exercises for months, whereas you're still at a very early stage, plenty of time to start incorporating something when you're fit and ready to do it :)

  • I too had an op 2 weeks ago. Thought I was feeling back to normal so walked 5 miles today with my daughter in her pushchair. Now I am suffering. Too much too soon. So annoying!! Must remember to pace myself 🚶not 🏃

  • Yep, the limit of what we can do isn't necessarily the amount we should be doing. There's an art to knowing at what point to actually stop. Hope you aren't suffering too much! Or at least feel your normal self again soon. I like your cute strolling and running people :)

  • Lol I go to classes that encompass strength training too lazy to do them at home - so abs after spin15 mins x2 a week insanity has some strength X1 a week and 2 x 60 mins body pump this gives me good arms! From the front anyway, have decided not to stress about the bingo wings at the back since I can't see them 😜 have put them on my profile pic!

  • Wow I just saw that pic - your arms look great! I know my arms have definitely shrunk, as I can put shirts on that wouldn't go over my arms before. But I'm no poster girl! You must know your way round a gym so well. I'm the opposite - I can't motivate myself to go to the gym, but can motivate myself to exercise in my home. I think it's the illusion of fitting things into my routine better.

  • My arms were huge and 40f chest! I carried my weight on my top half . What I love is we have to find what works for us! And we have both found it 👊 rather than making excuses - l love the idea of squating while the kettle boils - watch out for that tip at the start of next weeks thread and your chart........

  • I've always carried most of my weight on my lower half. Thought it was a nice surprise when I had to get refitted for new C cup bras (big for me!), unfortunately it was a sign I'd put on so much weight it was showing on my top half too. I didn't have the excuse of being a 'pear' shape anymore - I was just generally getting bigger all over!

    I haven't just been squatting while the kettle boils. Last week when I got up to 107, I was fitting them in everywhere. I've massively scaled back now though. But I also love the way that you can just find ways to fit these things in, if you keep trying.

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