Leg Day is (and always will be) a favourite of mine. But last Leg Day was ever better due to the unexpected, but very welcome, surprise I got when I saw some definition happening in my arms.
The image above is an edited video capture from my training session, but I just can't get over how great my shoulders look. To me, this highlights the importance of setting and sticking with goals, because if you're not moving towards anything, how can you measure your progress? Be it a number on the scale, a body-fat percentage, losing or gaining centimetres, wanting to lift heavier, go faster or look great in a bikini (all valid, achievable goals, by the way) if you can see and feel what you're moving towards you'll always go further.
And on that note: sometimes we can't see our progress or we don't feel it, and that's why I take so many videos and photos of my training. To some it can seem vain to be constantly videoing and photographing yourself, but it's a tangible measure of progress and one you can look back on when you feel as if you've hit a plateau.
Plateaus are a normal, healthy part of any training program. They don't last forever but you really do have to push to get through them; it's like those famous 'last five kilos' in weight loss that just don't seem to shift. When the plateau hits, that's when it's time to start doing things a little differently and discipline becomes more important than motivation, but looking back on videos or photos of your training can be helpful to ensure you keep going. Once you reach a certain level it's easy to forget how hard you worked to get to that level in the first place, so looking back on it can be a helpful push when you're feeling frustrated by the seeming lack of results.
I'm pleased to say I haven't reached this point in this program yet, although I clearly remember it from last program and it was fustrating as hell! But having my videos was a real boost and it helped keep me focused on what I wanted.
And as everyone knows, this time around, what I want is Winter Soldier Arms!
This is the video that the two above captures are from. I feel the definition is most apparent in the view from the side just before I go down and then again just before I come up. And don't let the singlet fool you either; it was fucking freezing in there. I was warm because I'd been warming up and then lifting weights, but both my trainers were in jackets because the studio doesn't do much to keep out the cold. But it's still the best place in the world and there's something about working out and getting warm when you know it's cold. But, of course, safety first: to stay warm I tended to put my hoodie on in between times and I kept moving to ensure I didn't seize up. Satisfaction wouldn't be worth much if you ended up cold, injured and miserable just for a few seconds of results footage.
I'll end this post with another video, but this one is more about fun and less about definition. One of the things we do regularly at EP is lift in front of a mirror, so we can check out our form and Pat and Hilal can point things out to us for the next set. While Hilal was filming my squats last Monday she deliberately took a few seconds of footage that captured both me and my reflection, so please allow me to present, the showdown of the week: Jewels vs. Jewels!
The Winter Games are well and truly underway at EP and it wouldn't be EP without a bit of healthy competition. Each week in the Winter Games there is an individual challenge completed by all team members, and then our scores are added together and averaged out, before being placed on the Winter Games Scoreboard. From next week I will be posting my challenge videos weekly, but (as you all know) I'm very behind at the moment, so below are the videos from the challenges I have already done.
Week One: Push Ups
Week Two: Sit Ups
Week Three: Squats
Week Four: Up/Down Planks
While all the challenges had their moments, Week Four's Up/Down Planks were the worst. I did this challenge on a Wednesday, after Arm Day (not the best idea I've ever had) and Up/Down planks are had enough without burning shoulders. Finishing this challenge was a real #wintersoldierdetermination moment, particularly when my legs gave out and I collapsed onto my knees. Honestly, if it hadn't been for Pat and Hilal cheering me on, I don't think I would have been able to see out the minute.
Which is the other thing I just want to say: cheering someone on means a lot. Maybe you feel a bit stupid yelling 'Go! Go!' or 'Come on!' but if someone is struggling, particularly when you're in a team and their score will mean something for everyone, cheering them on will give them a real boost. It might not affect their score, but it will push them to keep trying if they know there are people around them who want them to succeed.
Wonder what next week's challenge is gonna be?
I'm the kind of person who likes to personalise everything I get into. From my weight training to my pole dancing, everything I do has a personal meaning, and the Winter Games have been no exception. My goal, of course, was already very personal but I thought long and hard about my theme before deciding on The Winter Soldier (those of you not familiar with my goal setting or my theme can click on the link for more information). I'm pleased to say that I've been seeing results (HOORAY!) but I've been a little slack in posting because I've been having a seriously crazy week and I've wanted to get this post up before I really got to town with my progress.
Many of you will know that I have an instagram account attached to this blog, and I'm going to introduce you to two new #hashtags you're going to see floating around on @barbelldancer.
So, what do they mean for me, my program and my progress?
#wintersoldierdetermination: As mentioned in a previous post, one of my reasons for choosing The Winter Soldier as my theme was the character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a character, the Winter Soldier won't accept defeat and sees everything through to its end, no matter how long it takes or how hard things get. While my mission is far less bloody and brutal than anything the Winter Soldier was set to, I'm taking that kind of determination with me into the Winter Games: no surrender. I'm in this to the end and I will smash through every challenge I am put to. When I hashtag this, it means I've achieved something worth celebrating, met a goal or pushed through barriers.
#wintersoldierarms: Linked directly to my goal of gaining strength and definition in my arms, I have used the metal arm sported by the character as a fun metaphor to describe this. Similar to the way people might describe having/wanting 'abs of steel', I want strong arms and I'm using this as my motivation. If I'm struggling with an exercise (especially on [my least favourite] arm day), I will often say this out loud to myself to help me get through the exercise. So forget conventional metaphors, I don't want 'guns', I want Winter Soldier Arms! If you see this hashtag, it will relate to muscle and/or strength gains in my arms and is directly related to my goals.
So, there it is, a little introduction to two small personalisations which will be making an appearance within the next new days. Watch this space while you're at it, as I have quite a backlog of content, for both Weight Lifting and Pole Dancing, and will be doing a large update this weekend.
But, for now, goodnight.
I'm not quite sure how I'm writing this post right now, because I'm not sure my arms are still attached. In fact, I'm certain they've fallen off and my keyboard is magically typing this post by itself.
As you can appreciate, I've worked hard tonight. Arm day has never been one of my favourite days, although I'm learning to love it and this is the day that will bring me closer to my goal of stronger, more defined arms. Right now, however, they feel like spaghetti, although I'm taking that as a sign of a good workout. After all, if I ain't feeling it, did I actually DO anything?
Pat had me doing the bench press, dumbbell shoulder press and dumbbell flys (I know my shoulders are still there because [FUCK] can I ever feel them!), before we finished off my workout with the weekly Winter Games Challenge.
The Winter Games Challenge is a set exercise each week, performed by all members of all teams with the individual scores tallied, added up and averaged to create a team score. So far, all Challenges have taken place over a minute: week one was push-ups, week two was sit-ups, and this week it was squats. How many squats can you do in a minute?
As it turned out, I managed 52 squats in a minute, which I'm very happy about, given I was aiming for 30. Maybe I need to start believing in myself a little more...
Let me close my post by being super vain and saying that I'm not-so-secretly in love with my new workout tights! As anyone who has spent any time with me knows, I'm a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (although a little behind on my movie watching, so no spoilers!) and my workout tights, Natasha Leggings from Fandomanix, were designed to look like the pants from Black Widow's S.H.I.E.L.D uniform from The Avengers. Love 'em!
Wow, it's been a while!
It's actually Week 3 of the Winter Games and I'm only getting to posting now. My bad. In my defense, I've had a hell of a lot going on and have only just recently recovered from a moderately serious head injury, so please forgive my lack of weight training posts recently.
I'm not going to play catch-up, but I'll just jump straight into what's happening and where my goals are going this program.
Evolving Physiques Inaugural Winter Games
My overall goal for this program is to tone and develop muscle in my arms. I was amazed at how good my arms looked at the end of my last FIRE program and, with a European holiday just around the corner (come at me September!), I want to look my best. My arms have never exactly been a 'problem area', but I'm really enjoying liking my body and not only for what it can do.
Don't get me wrong, I really do love my body, but I've always been more proud of what it can do, particularly since I started pole dancing, than how it looks. But since I got more serious about my weight training, I've been seeing so many positive changes to my physique that I've really begun to like the way I look.
And most especially my arms.
As with my last FIRE program, there is a theme for my personal Winter Games goal. I was crowned as a 'GOAL SMASHER' at the end of my Autumn FIRE program. My goal then was to prepare for Pole Addiction (which is coming up in August and I'm super excited), but also to audition for UNLEASHED, a Pole Divas Student Competition. UNLEASHED is super hard to get into, but I was determined to try this year and I actually made it my theme for my Autumn Program.
It was a play on words, actually, because by making UNLEASHED my theme, rather than my goal, it became about throwing off my inhibitions, giving my all and putting myself out there, not only in pole but also with my weights. I'm very good at talking myself out of doing things I really want to do and then regretting it later, so I decided that my Autumn FIRE program was going to be THE END of that kind of behaviour and I was going to unleash it all!
But, I digress!
As mentioned above, this Winter Games goal is all about toning and shaping my arms and my theme is... (drumroll please):
THE WINTER SOLDIER
Once again, we head into the territory of word play with my theme, but please allow me to explain.
The first is fairly simple: winter sucks. It's dark, it's cold, it's usually raining and nobody wants to leave their nice, snugly house. While there are some people who like winter (just like there are some people who like mornings) I'm not one of them. I'd quite happily curl up under my bed covers and drink hot chocolate for three months.
But I'm soldiering through it.
The Winter Games is about stepping up to the challenge, pushing yourself through the dark, rainy months and refusing to let it get you down. It's easy to say 'I'll get back to it when the weather's better', but there's always going to be an excuse, and doing the Winter Games is about making sure winter is not one of them. After all, as Pat and Hilal would say, summer bodies are made in winter.
The next reason I chose this as my theme: those of you who are familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be familiar with the character of the Winter Soldier (a/k/a Bucky Barnes). The Winter Soldier is actually one of my favourite characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but this isn't why I used his name as my theme. While his story arc is far more complex, one of the things that makes the Winter Soldier such a dangerous adversary or powerful ally is that he doesn't accept defeat. He continues on the task he's been set until its completion and refuses to surrender, letting nothing and no one stand in his way. He sees everything through to the end and I am taking this mentality into the Winter Games. I am finishing, I am completing, I will not surrender and I will triumph.
My third and final reason for choosing this as my theme: my goal this program is to gain strength and definition in my arms and the Winter Soldier has a metal arm. This is a fun metaphor for what I'm trying to achieve.
So there you have it, my goal, my theme and the start of the Winter Games. I'll be posting some videos over the next few days, but before I sign off for the night, I have one final thing I want to share with you: my numbers.
Because, after all, this is a weights program and I've gotta have something tangible I'm aiming to lift
100kgs for a working set of four reps.
120kgs for a single set of one rep.
BARBELL BENCH PRESS
35kgs for a working set of three reps.
60kgs for a working set of four reps.
80kgs for a single set of one rep.
And I am heading straight for the J-ZONE!
Barbell Dancer, out!
Nothing like smashing your goals... SIX MONTHS EARLY! Bring on the rest of the year.
And coming on Monday... THE WINTER GAMES! The Winter Games is an EP first, where weight training is combined with team challenges and we tackle winter head on as a group, competing against the other teams, while meeting our individual goals. The first challenge will be announced on Monday and I'm SUPER excited!
As for my individual goals this program, take a look below:
Bring on Winter 2018!
You don't find the willpower - you create it.
Me With No Apologies.