Tag Archives: weightlifting

Diary of a Strong Mom: Days 4 & 5

On Friday (day 4) I finally lifted. For weight training, I’m going back to the basics, which means the Starting Strength program. This is a quick, simple program that is as basic as you can get with a natural progression built in. Basically, you switch between two workouts with three lifts each and just do three sets of five for each lift. With a warm up, it never takes me more than 30min to complete.

This week I did:
3×5 squats @ 100#
3×5 strict press @ 60#
and 3×3 power cleans @ 70#

The picture above (aka my evidence) is mid-clean.

The squats felt pretty heavy, especially by the last set. The presses were very hard. But the cleans were easy – I probably should have started heavier. Technically, this is not my first workout of the program. I’ve been off and on trying to get started with this since February. If it were, my squats and press would be substantially lighter. Since the goal with this program is to add weight every single workout, you’re supposed to start out super light. And I did – my first squats were at 65# and my press were 45# (aka empty bar). So it’s okay that they’re heavier now.

I talked already about my goals for running, but I haven’t touched on my goals for lifting. I could just say I want to get strong, but what does that mean? Well, first I would like to get back to my old strength. For me that means being comfortable with 5×5 135# squats and being able to squat 165# x3. This also means getting back to 175# x5 and 200# x3 deadlifts. I was cleaning 115# x3 before I got pregnant, so that’s a good number to aim for.

After I hit those numbers and feel like I’m back to my old strength, I’ll reassess and set new goals. But I think it’s simpler to focus on just getting my strength back first.

And then this morning I went for another run. Almost 3 miles! What! It felt great and I got to watch some folks paddling around the nearby lake in funny, viking-esque boats while I ran.

Looks like I’ll be able to hit 5k much sooner than I thought. Not on the next run – I want to run with baby next, and so that’ll be a shorter run by necessity – but the one after that I will see if I can hit 3.1 miles.

My, what a difference sleep makes, huh?


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Filed under defiant, fitness

Diary of a Strong Mom

Before I got pregnant, I was working on getting stronger. Pregnancy kicked my butt when it came to strength and having a newborn was its own WOD*. Also, don’t get me started on sleep deprivation and exercise.

But now things are getting better. Sleep is improving. Diet is (almost) back on track. My deadlines are all under control. I’m feeling more and more like me. So of course, instead of accepting and celebrating that, I want to turn my sights – and my very limited amount of free time – on regaining my strength and becoming the Badass Mom Who Can Lift a Car Off Her Kid (TM) that I’ve always wanted to be.

I have the equipment, I’m working on building the program, I have the time three days a week at least (I just have to jealously protect it), now I just need the accountability. It’s been much too easy to push starting off on tomorrow (tomorrow, always tomorrow**), but my reasons are becoming excuses. The problem is that I have started a number of times already, only to get derailed for one reason or another (see: exhaustion).

I’ve been thinking of posting once or twice a week here re: fitness and what I’m doing, thoughts, goals, etc. I’m on the fence because I know some people are not in a place where they can exercise and seeing stuff like that might not be helpful. I know seeing fitness stuff just stressed me the fuck out until a month or two ago. And/or it might just not be interesting to y’all. I have the speckruns.tumblr, after all, and could post there.

But, at the same time, maybe some of you are in the same place. I would love to have/find some buddies and work towards our various goals together. Plus, this blog has never really had a singular focus aside from what I’m focused on at the time. It all started as a book review blog, then became a Whole30/Crossfit blog, which turned into an account of my time doing the Autoimmune Protocol, then morphed into a TTC blog, and is now all things Lady Jr and gay momhood. Adding in a layer of strong!mom seems like a natural evolution.

Anyway, that’s all to say: if y’all have a strong opinion about whether or not you see strength training posts showing up on your dash, now is the time to chime in. ‚̧

* Workout of the Day, a Crossfit term. WODs are short, intense, and you spend every second dreading the next and wishing it was over.

**Morgen, morgen, nur nicht heute, sagen all die faule Leute


Filed under crossfit, fitness, helpful tips

Maternity meets Birthday Photos

Every year for the past six years, I’ve tried to take some sort of ridiculous/appropriate/fun self portrait around my birthday. I’ve skipped one or two years because of depression, but I still feel like it’s a tradition worth keeping.

At first I wasn’t sure what to do for this year’s photos, but then it was obvious. My goal/aspiration/word for 30 and beyond is Strong. I want to become the strongest I’ve ever been, and can be, and I want to be that kind of badass 30/40-year old woman that I’ve looked up to for the past half decade. I can’t really begin work on that goal until Lady Jr is out and stable and I’m fully recovered, but in the meantime I can prepare.

In the meantime, I have been preparing. Even though I pictured myself a Crossfitting, consistently lifting, 5k running, pregnant lady and I fell way short of that ideal, I’ve continued to lift throughout and I wanted to reflect that. I wanted photos that helped me remember I’m still meeting my goal. I wanted photos that make me feel like the badass I want to be. Also I wanted to thumb my nose at the fertility doc who told me I should stop lifting altogether. ūüėõ

Obligatory note of caution: listen to your body and listen to your doc. All ladies can lift, but not all pregnant ladies should lift. I’d been lifting for 4 years before I got pregnant and I’ve also had a complications-free pregnancy. I know the movements backwards and blindfolded and I know my body. I have stopped workouts when I felt something wasn’t right and I have been dropping the weights I lift since first tri. Only you know your body.


With that out of the way, have some photos below the cut.

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Crossfit while Pregnant

I always assumed I’d keep doing Crossfit up until week 39. It wasn’t until my RE told me that I would have to stop lifting entirely that I even considered an alternative. Mostly, I just ignored him because at that point I didn’t think we would ever get there.

Then I got the BFP and within the week I was down the rabbit hole of researching exercise and pregnancy. Did you know that pregnant ladies should only walk and do yoga? Only not yoga, because you can easily overstretch, so mostly just walking. Only not walking, because you can easily overheat, so maybe you should just sit pretty on that couch. Only don’t sit pretty, because then you’ll get gestational diabetes, so maybe you should lift. Only don’t lift, because weights are scary and you don’t know what you’re doing, so maybe just take the stairs at work. Only don’t take the stairs, because then your heart rate might go above 140bpm, so just take the elevator –

Jesus Mary and Joseph. I was ready to go run a marathon out of spite after reading all the conflicting sources out there, and I hate distance running. Thankfully, I was able to chill my heels, take a breath, and look again after a few days, which is when I realized that most of the advice for only walking/yogaing is based off of research from the 80’s and 90’s, and more recent research is a whole lot more accommodating. And simple.

In fact it boils down to two basic rules:

1) Listen to your body and

2) Don’t push yourself.

There are some sub-rules, like don’t train for and run a marathon (phew, dodged that bullet), avoid high impact and contact sports (no rugby), and drink a shit ton of water. Yes, your body is flooded with relaxin and your ligaments are getting all smooshy, but mostly this just means don’t try to max out your squats and, again, listen.

So after briefly worrying I’d be barred from Crossfit and lifting, I became even more convinced to continue. Granted, with some small changes that will become bigger changes over time. From week 5, I could already feel my ability to push hard waning. Now at week 7, I’m the slowest in the class, hitting a wall really quickly and having to simply take more breaks and work at a lower intensity. I actually tried to push through this (because I’m smart) and was rewarded with a small mouthful of barf. Okay then, body, I hear you loud and clear.

Honestly, that’s the hardest part for me, the mental game of listening. Crossfit teaches you how to push through the I can’t signals your body is throwing at you and finish strong. But now I really need to listen to those signals and be okay with finishing last. I was really proud that I was one of the ones who could do 95% of the workouts as prescribed (as they were written, ie not scaled down) and still finish strong. Now everything is scaled and I’m still finishing last and it’s… it’s hard.

It definitely helps now that all of my coaches know. I should have told them as soon as I started feeling my endurance wane, but I didn’t want to jynx it. But it’s very important – I absolutely do not need encouragement to go faster or push harder and I don’t need them batting an eye when I’m lifting far less than usual.

I’m also looking forward to when I have a visible excuse for being the slowest, although I hear 2nd trimester is when your energy and endurance pick back up again.

Aand of course I can’t wait to wear something like this:


Filed under gaybies, pregnancy, simply informative

Switching from Starting Strength to 5/3/1 Program

When last I mentioned weightlifting, we were in the middle of a second 10-week session of the Starting Strength 3×5 program. The Starting Strength book is the foundational text that (almost) every power and Olympic lifter swears by. It took me nigh six months to finish reading, because it was just that dense and technical. Needless to say, the author knows what he’s talking about, and so it follows that his program would be an excellent place to start programming for yourself.

The program is super basic and straight forward. You warm up, then start doing sets of 5 until you start to slow down. This ridiculously low number is your starting weight. You then do three sets of five (3×5) at that weight. The following week, you add five pounds¬†(or ten, if you’re a guy) and repeat. Ideally you will work up to your max 5 rep weight over the course of several weeks and be able to push beyond, but plateaus do happen, in which case you try to either increase your reps or decrease your time resting between them. You do this for a 10 week cycle before resetting.

I initially picked this program because it was simple and steady gains were built into it. The ten weeks gave a long enough time to start seeing some progress before restarting. I also liked that the lifts were basically: squat & press & pull-up, squat & press & deadlift, and squat & bench & clean. Since my initial goal was to strengthen my squat, doing lots of squats seemed like the ticket.

But after two cycles, I’m ready to switch things up. Squatting every single workout was getting old and the ten weeks was a little too long for me to see real progress. I was plateauing too much and didn’t have a good way to push forward or allow myself to reset in the middle. And weirdly, while my bench and deadlift were seeing appreciable gains, my squat and press felt stalled.

I’d read about the 5/3/1 program before, and even tried it for a cycle or two. I liked it at the time, but it was hard to stick to because we were doing Crossfit simultaneously, so I didn’t see any results. I’m going to try it again because a) it’s a four week cycle, b) it’s more varied, and c) it allows for a whole lot more wiggle room beyond the main lifts, which will let me work on problem areas when I have time. So one week I might add some back extensions to squat day and the next I might just get my squats in because that’s all I have the time and energy for. Both are cool. Also, squats are only once per week – hooray!

The program, basically, is:

Find your 1RM, then multiply that by 90%. This will be your starting weight. For example, I just tested my deadlift and have a 1RM of 220#. 90% of 220 is 198 – or 200, since our weights only go up by 5# increments. You then use that number – 200 – for the rest of your calculations.

Week one: 5 reps at 75%, 5 reps at 80%, 5 reps at 85%

Week two: 3 reps at 80%, 3 reps at 85%, 3 reps at 90%

Week three: 5+ reps at 85%, 3+ reps at 90%, 1+ reps at 95%

(+ means do at least the number prescribed, then go beyond if possible)

Week four: 5 reps at 40%, 5 reps at 50%, 5 reps at 60% (aka, deload)

You can technically do this program with any lift, but the prescribed version is squat, press, deadlift & bench, each on separate days. But – you are encouraged to do any variation on those lifts, as long as you are consistent within each four week cycle. That means you can back squat one cycle, then switch to front squat the next. Or you can sumo deadlift one cycle and Jefferson deadlift the next. Military press one, push press the next.¬†Is all good, and the variation lends a little color to a sometimes¬†dull regime. Just as long as you don’t confuse your numbers when you switch.

Needless to say, it’s good to be excited about a lifting program again. I’m starting vanilla¬†– i.e., the basics of each lift – but I kind of can’t wait to play around with it and throw in some sumo deadlifts or even goblet squats. I don’t know when we’re going to go back to Crossfit – that’s the problem with stopping, hard to start again – but in the meantime I need some variation in my life.

Do you lift? What program do you follow?

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