Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Individualized Upper Body Strength Training (and some really good food)

Wednesday. It's here...which means the week is halfway through. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to whittle away my workdays, I just get very excited when Friday nears. It means I don't have to wake up early. I don't have to punch in at a time clock. It means I can do whatever I want, essentially whenever I want. And this produces quite a bit of calm for me, as I'm sure it does for you. But anyways, it's still Wednesday. Which means that many of us still have things to do, workouts to complete and work meetings to get through so that we CAN enjoy our individual weekends. So let's get to it.

I must admit that my obliques are screaming today. Yes, a little delayed onset muscle soreness is currently flaring up in my sides. I kinda like the feeling, though. It produces a sense of accomplishment, a reminder that whatever I did to make my muscles sore—it worked to make them stronger, too. In this case, it was side bends. I put them on the menu every so often in my Circuit Sculpt class, but I recently upped the repetitions to fifteen to increase the challenge.

Guess that was a smart call on my part.

Have you upped the repetitions in your workouts lately? Try going from 10 to 12, or from 12 to 15 if you're feeling up for the challenge. Sometimes, and I am a walking billboard for this right now, sometimes those extra one or two repetitions really push you up and over your limit. And we all need to be pushed on occasion. That said, it doesn't hurt to push each of your sides individually. Especially when it comes to your upper body. We tend to favor one side over another, but the more balanced we are in terms of strength, the easier it becomes for us to perform everyday tasks like lifting grocery bags out of the trunk. Or moving furniture. But when we constantly train both sides at the same time, it becomes easier for our weaker sides to back off the action of moving the weight since, well...since the other side is more capable. And this we might not even notice. So grab a bench and some hand weights and try the following:

Single Arm Side-To-Side Sequence

Yep, you should do 15 repetitions per side, two sets per side. Start on your right, completing each move before starting on your left. And then start your second set back on your right side. Confused? I didn't think so. The moves in the sequence aren't unknown, but it's the act of doing them in a sequence...doing them with one arm at a time that ultimately switches things up a bit. Try it, lemme know what you think.

And now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move on to another important topic otherwise known as "good food." You know I love me some good food. Wait, I should clarify: You know I love me some good, HEALTHY food. (There, that's better. I'd hate to mislead you.)

Example #1:

Yeah, alright. So the chocolate chips make this a slightly sinful treat. I really only added them for visual effect, otherwise it would have made for a very boring bowl of oats. And you also needed to know that this bowl of oats contained chocolate...well, 100% natural Cocoa powder. There's a difference. At least I think so. I give you Chocolate and Banana Oats. Creative title, I know.

I mixed a teaspoon of Cocoa powder in once the oats had cooked. And of course, I cooked the banana in the oats from the get-go. I also added a small drizzle of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon to up the flavor factor. Once topped with some peanut butter, it was deliciousness defined.

Example #2:

Strawberry Mango Salsa. You may also refer to this as Mother Nature's candy bowl. SO. STUPIDLY. GOOD that I can't stop eating it. I followed this recipe, and added some freshly pressed garlic and chopped tomatoes to the mix (in place of the cilantro because cilantro makes me gag).

First, I tasted it atop a tortilla chip.

Which proved to be a delightful move. And then I did this:

I slapped some in between two corn tortillas, and added just a bit of Pepper Jack cheese to glue it all together. Despite the fact that the fruit juices made for a sloppy quesadilla, it tasted wonderful. Lunch tomorrow? I think so...I really think so.

PS: The inspection went well. Nothing major needs our immediate attention, although there will be a few things we'll need to take care of. But these things we already knew about. Such is the story when you buy an older home. Well, there was one small surprise. I'm just thankful it was dead. I hate mice.

(I'm thankful my new kitchen will be full of light, too. It's much brighter, much more open than what I'm currently working with. Looking forward to experimenting in the food photography department. Really looking forward to it, actually.)

Question: Do you feel as though one side of your body is stronger than the other? Why do you think this is so? Is it golf, maybe you play tennis or perhaps it's just because you write with one hand versus the other. I think my right side is stronger, and I blame it on gymnastics. Tell me what you think.

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