Phase 1, Day 18: AAA (aka The Strong One)

One round into today’s workout, I realized I was sweating profusely.

And not in a cute glow kind of way.

I mean in a leave a trail of sweat drops behind you as you go to swap out your weights on the rack at the gym and get disgusted looks from the people next to you at what you’re getting on the floor kind of way.

It was that kind of workout day. Which was awesome.

I was sweating hard because I had increased the weight in almost all the exercises, and my body noticed. It responded by getting my heart rate up and making it look like I took a shower in the middle of the gym. I love getting this sort of sweat on without spending an hour on a treadmill, or doing cardio.

To briefly recap AAA: You work the negative. That is, to get technical, you work the “eccentric contraction,” i.e., you load up the muscle while it’s lengthening. For example, in round 3 of AAA, you do hammer curls. You curl the weight up in a one count, then slowly lower the weight back down in a three count. Do this 10 times. Repeat for 3 sets.

If you want a more indepth look at the moves, check out my first blog on the subject.

I like AAA because the workout is so different from any of the others in 80 Day Obsession; really, it’s different from any other workout I’ve done, what with the focus on the negative. It also allows you to play around with the weights. Not sure you started out with a heavy enough weight? Load it up in the second set. Think you went too hard and can’t sustain it through the last set? Lighten it up.

Last week in AAA, I managed to bump up my weights for a few exercises, but only in the last set. So my goal for today’s workout was to start with that heavier weight in the first set to see if I could carry it through.

I made it! I struggled, and my form started to go and in the skull crushers I was worried I was going to drop the weights on my head, but I did it. Probably should have lightened up a little, but not today, Satan.

That said, there was one exercise where I did NOT increase the weight: Bent over rows.

Real talk: My lower back likes to say hi sometimes. Like a, “hey remember me? Don’t go TOO heavy.” My back punctuates this hello with a slight twinge.

Tonight, when I bent over to row with my 25 pound dumbbells, wondering if I should bump up to 27.5s, my lower back spoke up. So, instead of increasing the weight, I tucked my tailbone, sank into my heels, and focused on keeping the obscene arch out of my lower back. Suddenly, for the first time, I felt my glutes AND my back engage, just like Autumn said they should. Go figure. So I stuck with the weight and focused on my form.

My point being that even though I talk about using this week to test your strength and lift heavy, listen to your body. I guarantee that if you have been following this program, you WILL feel stronger. You WILL be able to lift heavier. But if you’re starting to get weird twinges, slow it down and consider lightening up. Don’t sacrifice safety for a higher weight on your tracker sheet (which I hope you’re using btw – I am this time around and it’s a total game changer).

Case in point, the knee plank heel press. Here is my form:

Knee Plank Heel Press
Gotta watch that form.

I’m happy I took the picture so I can see what I was doing, because this was another one of those exercises where I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right.

PRO TIP #48: IF IN DOUBT YOU’RE DOING AN EXERCISE CORRECTLY, TAKE A PICTURE OR VIDEO OF YOURSELF DOING THE EXERCISE.

I finally took my own advice, and the picture above tells me I need to tuck my tailbone. If I do that, I know I will feel it more in my ass, which is just as it should be. Ignore my form and that terrible curve in my lower back. Looking at it, you can see why my lower back likes to talk.

So, lesson for the day is to listen to your body. And if you’re not feeling an exercise in the muscle Autumn says you should be working, be proactive and record yourself doing the move. I guarantee that if you do this, you will be able to spot what you’re doing wrong, correct the problem, and then get the most out of the exercise.

I’ll close with a picture of one more move I did where I know now what I need to do to improve my form.

Yay pushups
Almost there, but not quite

I gotta get my head in line with my spine. Once I do that, I will get the most out of this simple move.

Side note: I blame that neck position on the basketball coach I had in high school who would insist that we touch our nose to the floor in pushups. I never had great upper body strength, so what I lacked in strength I made up for with neck extensions. The bad habit has carried over, unfortunately. Now I have to imagine how much stronger I would have been had I done 80 Day Obsession in high school. I guess we’ll never know.

Hope you know how much stronger you’re getting. Get ready to test your newfound strength again tomorrow during Leg Day!

 

 

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