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Catrin
08-05-2012, 12:15 PM
Vent warning...ignore if you want.

This is just plain frustrating and a little embarrassing.

I can leg press 250 pounds (10 reps) - 250 is so easy that I know I can increase that. Squat machine? 260 pounds for 15 reps - cervical spine issues prevent me from doing back squats with this amount of weight (and probably grip as well) - I really don't like to do back squats with anything heavier than the unloaded bar for this reason.

All good, but when it comes to over-head stuff I am a serious wimp. It gets embarrassing, especially since I do well with lower body stuff. I wouldn't mind increasing my lower body strength this winter but don't want to put further stress on my knees. Right now I am more concerned about taking care of muscle/strength imbalances.

Ok, so this is part of why I do the group training and he is seriously targeting my shoulders/upper arms in a very focused fashion but it is still a bit frustrating. I just have to stop comparing my upper body strength with the others in my group. The trainer doesn't expect me to do what they can yet, and neither should I... We all have weak points and, for me, that is my upper body strength. Oh it is certainly better than it was 3 years ago, but still :(

I am sure this isn't uncommon for someone who waited until an...errrrr....older age to build fitness and strength, but knowing this doesn't help all that much. Thankfully I am very stubborn ;)

indysteel
08-05-2012, 02:14 PM
I haven't progressed as much as I would have expected with respect to my upper body since I began working with my trainer. But I am where I am. Maybe I'm just not as motivated as you are, but it's just not something I care to beat myself up about. My advice is to stop being so hard on yourself all the time. You are a very active person; try to applaud yourself for the positive.

thekarens
08-05-2012, 02:20 PM
I wouldn't base your fitness on the weight you can squat or lift etc. Check out the American women's Olympic lifter. She can lift a whopping amount of weight, but there's no way she is fit, though I do admire her strength.

Sounds to me like you're doing fantastic. Keep it up and celebrate what you have accomplished!

Crankin
08-05-2012, 03:25 PM
My shoulders continue to be very weak, and no amount of the difficult stuff I've been doing is improving it. I guess it'smarginally better, but this is the reason I can't swim well. It hurts me in the shoulder area to lift weights above my head. I can do lateral stuff fine, but when I say hurts, I mean, I get muscle spasms and feel fatigued, unless I use the baby weights. I'm not beating myself up over it, but it's annoying.

thekarens
08-05-2012, 03:35 PM
Is it possible there's a medical reason? Couldn't hurt to have it checked out.

Catrin
08-05-2012, 03:42 PM
Thanks for the encouragement. The frustration comes from ignoring all of the other fitness metrics that shows vast improvement in the last 3 years, from lower body weight to core strength, and focusing on one thing. As Indy pointed out, I am very active and actually the most active in my life!

The group trainer has had success with a couple of other women my age with the same issue, so I am hopeful. I just have to do my part and NOT overdo things the day after he works my arms to failure - which he has started to do - I've not had upper body workouts quite like this before, or really even seen one like it. It doesn't hurt me in the shoulder area to lift things over my head - the problem is having the strength to do so.

Crankin, have you had that checked out? If it is causing you pain then could something else be going on outside of strength issues? I realize that might sound kind of funny coming from me (doctor? who needs a doctor?) but I have hopefully learned my lesson...

indysteel
08-05-2012, 04:12 PM
I hope I didn't sound entirely unsympathetic. I understand the frustration. I work out with my trainer in the fitness room used by the US Marshals. There's one woman who's often down there who is SO strong. It's really easy for me to get in a funk when I see her lifting 3x as much as me. But she's also been doing this for years. Now I could be wrong, but I think she's mostly just a gym person, so I bet I could show her a thing or two on a road or mountain bike or in a yoga class. At least that's what I tell myself.

I could get stronger if I was willing to add another strength day into my routine, but there's just not enough room in my schedule at the moment. I've been trying to do some stuff with free weights at home.

I do think you should focus on the positive Catrin and appreciate that if you work at your upper body strength, it will likely get better over time. Just don't stubborn yourself into an overuse injury. I, personally, have to recognize that I can only do so much. I could ask my trainer to really kill me each week, but it would then impact my ability to do other things. Balance, balance, balance.

Speaking of balance, make sure you work on that, too! :)

Crankin
08-05-2012, 04:24 PM
No, this is not "medical." I've always had this. It just seems harder to work past the "suffering" in this part of my body. My upper body has always been weak, but I build muscle quickly, say, in my biceps, triceps, even my back, once I start lifting and doing other stuff. Given the fact that I am almost 59 and probably in the best shape of my life, I won't stress over this. I have plenty of other muscular/bone/injury issues that are on-going, that I can complain more about!

Catrin
08-05-2012, 04:28 PM
.....I do think you should focus on the positive Catrin and appreciate that if you work at your upper body strength, it will likely get better over time. Just don't stubborn yourself into an overuse injury. I, personally, have to recognize that I can only do so much. I could ask my trainer to really kill me each week, but it would then impact my ability to do other things. Balance, balance, balance.

Speaking of balance, make sure you work on that, too! :)

Yep, all of this :cool: I am not at the gym any more than normal, and I am getting enough riding in AND the rest days I know I need. I gave up a couple of activities when I took on the group training so I wouldn't give myself over-use injuries; no over-use injuries are allowed this year! As far as the OTHER kind of balance, Bosu class is great for that - though right now I am only doing that once a week and that's only a 30 minute class. More would be too much for now.

My arm/shoulder strength is better than it was 3 years ago, it's just taking a lot longer to develop. I HAVE noticed since starting this group training/metabolic/functional training that I've gotten a lot stronger/faster on the bike and THAT is a good thing :) In the end, all of this is to support my riding/mountain biking (and of course general health and fitness). I am probably in the best shape in my life, even if I do have a bit more padding around the middle than I would like, and that is indeed worth celebrating!

Crankin - glad to hear that isn't a matter of concern!

Irulan
08-05-2012, 07:11 PM
Most women have much less upper body strength as a general rule. And then, there's rangy/stringy strength vs bulky big strength. Keep at it, keep pushing your weights and sets to failure, and you'll get there. I think the biggest mistake women make is not pushing it for upper body. "oh my arms will get too big" or whatever. Ignore them. Go for the 12# dumbell instead of the #10. :D

Catrin
08-06-2012, 02:11 AM
Most women have much less upper body strength as a general rule. And then, there's rangy/stringy strength vs bulky big strength. Keep at it, keep pushing your weights and sets to failure, and you'll get there. I think the biggest mistake women make is not pushing it for upper body. "oh my arms will get too big" or whatever. Ignore them. Go for the 12# dumbell instead of the #10. :D

Thanks Irulan - I know I don't have to worry about "bulking up". Indeed I really want tighter/more defined upper arms - as much work as they have received over the past 3 years they don't LOOK much different, though they are stronger than they used to be.

OakLeaf
08-06-2012, 03:26 AM
Lots of good feedback here, but I'd also wonder whether your history of neck injuries is contributing.


Check out the American women's Olympic lifter. She can lift a whopping amount of weight, but there's no way she is fit, though I do admire her strength.

I don't know whether you mean Sarah Robles or Holley Mangold. And I'm assuming that you're making that sizeist judgment because of the weight class they lift in.

I'm assuming you mean one of them because this year the USA didn't send a woman lifter in a lighter weight class. As one of the articles about Mangold pointed out, weightlifting in the USA in general is the red-headed stepchild of sports. But would you conclude that Canadian lifter Marilou Dozois-Prévost (https://www.google.com/search?q=marilou+dozois-prevost&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=GIM&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=9aMfUNLPJOL16AGmmYDgAw&ved=0CEwQsAQ&biw=1595&bih=794&sei=-KMfULaPK6f56QGu1oGYDQ) is "unfit" because her chosen sport doesn't require a lot of cardio training? Or would you conclude that she's fit because she lifts in the 48kg or 53kg weight class?

I surely can't think of any other reason than size, that you would conclude that an Olympic-caliber athlete, one of the top ten athletes in her sport in the entire world, is not "fit."

Catrin
08-06-2012, 03:55 AM
Lots of good feedback here, but I'd also wonder whether your history of neck injuries is contributing.

This is certainly possible - and I am vigilant for any signs of stress/pain in my neck - both during/afterwards/next day. The known issues with my neck didn't arise until last October, though there was likely some underlying problems with it prior to that point.

This is one reason I am not doing weighted back squats - the squat machine seems to actually stretch my neck and it feels better afterwards than before. All in all my cervical spine seems to feel better than it did before I started with the new group trainer almost a month ago and he is aware of my neck issues. I have't needed to use heat on my neck since we started - and prior to that I was using it several times a week.

Catrin
08-06-2012, 04:12 AM
I surely can't think of any other reason than size, that you would conclude that an Olympic-caliber athlete, one of the top ten athletes in her sport in the entire world, is not "fit."

I saw an interview with her trainer the other day who said that she is the most fit in her in life, he almost sounded in awe of her. I also didn't know that she played linebacker in her high school football team. I've read a lot of comments about her that would never have been said if she were male. They should have been ashamed of themselves.

Crankin
08-06-2012, 04:53 AM
Went back to bootcamp for the first time after my vacation. Of course, the evil instructor is still teaching, as the regular one went to see the Olympics! Thankfully, it was a bit rainy and she didn't take us outside. I always use slightly smaller weights with this instructor, because she makes us do all of the exercises for an amount of time that is unbelievable. Today, I used the 2 lb. weights instead of 3 lb. for my smallest weights. They really were too easy, but I was able to do everything without too much annoyance. With the other one, I use the 10 lb. and 5 lb. and 3 lb. if she says to use "baby weights." Today I used 5 lbs. and 2 lbs. Of course, the cardio part is a "break" for me, which is funny, because that is where a lot of the other people die out (except for the marathoners and tri-athletes). There is one woman, who I expect is close to my age, although probably younger. She only comes sporadically to these classes, although I think she may attend at night. She spends most of each class taking a break, coughing, and not being able to do anything. I'd like to show her some modifications that would keep her moving, because no one else does. I feel badly for her.

Catrin
08-06-2012, 05:11 AM
...There is one woman, who I expect is close to my age, although probably younger. She only comes sporadically to these classes, although I think she may attend at night. She spends most of each class taking a break, coughing, and not being able to do anything. I'd like to show her some modifications that would keep her moving, because no one else does. I feel badly for her.

The instructor isn't helping her with modifications? She is indeed evil - that is part of her job... I don't know how our own boot camp compares with yours - I've noticed they do a lot more running in our boot camp classes than I am comfortable with so I've never checked it out.

I generally start with the 8-10 pound weights and go up from there - though the next time he tells us we are going to add 5 pounds at each set I will start with the 5 pounds. In Bosu class I typically grab the 4 or 6 pound body bar for when we do standing or kneeling flys. Doing this on the Bosu ball adds a whole different level of complexity.

He does watch out for us though - he always partners us up with whoever is closest to our strength level/size and last week when my arms started fatiguing my partner spotted me to help get the 15 and 20 lb weights up until I reached true failure - so I got the benefit of increased weight but not so much that I hurt myself. There are usually only 4-6 of us so it works out well and there is a woman who is very close to my level in upper body strength so we make good partners - we suffer together :)

The group trainer pushes us pretty hard - but he is very focused on safety. He is a firecracker for sure, as intense as his group sessions are, I can't imagine what it would be like to work 1-1 with him! I really like the team approach, much to my surprise!

Wahine
08-07-2012, 09:11 PM
My shoulders continue to be very weak, and no amount of the difficult stuff I've been doing is improving it. I guess it'smarginally better, but this is the reason I can't swim well. It hurts me in the shoulder area to lift weights above my head. I can do lateral stuff fine, but when I say hurts, I mean, I get muscle spasms and feel fatigued, unless I use the baby weights. I'm not beating myself up over it, but it's annoying.

All of the nerves that go to your shoulder muscles come out of your neck. People with neck problems often have weakness in the shoulders and/or muscles around the shoulder blades because of the nerve connection. This often changes your movement patterns, puts stress on structures in positions that they can't take it and/or impingement of tendons around the shoulder with over head work...

Catrin, don't you have some neck issues too, or am I remembering wrong? Maybe this could be related to your slow progress in the upper body exercises.

Catrin
08-08-2012, 01:20 AM
All of the nerves that go to your shoulder muscles come out of your neck. People with neck problems often have weakness in the shoulders and/or muscles around the shoulder blades because of the nerve connection. This often changes your movement patterns, puts stress on structures in positions that they can't take it and/or impingement of tendons around the shoulder with over head work...

Catrin, don't you have some neck issues too, or am I remembering wrong? Maybe this could be related to your slow progress in the upper body exercises.

You remember correctly, but they are recent. This is the first time my upper body has received this level of intense attention, so we will see. My neck seems to feel better during the process so I am hopeful.