PEAK WEEK, Day 75: AAA from Phase 1 (aka The One Where You Can Feel Yourself Shredding Out)

I came up with multiple aka’s for this program during the course of the workout:

  • The One Where You Can’t Stop Grabbing Your Ass In Public;
  • The One Where You Want to Run To the Nearest Mirror to Check Out Your Abs;
  • The One Where You Might Faceplant Because Your Arms Give Out.

Since nobody remembers this workout (so much has happened since then), here’s what you have to look forward to:

Three series of four exercises each.

Series 1: Upright Row, Bent Over Fly, Frog Sliders, Glute Bridge with Loop.

Series 2: Push-Up, Skull Crushers, Weighted Ab Sit-Up, Quad Ped Heel Press.

Series 3: Bent Over Row, Hammer Curl, Knee Tucks, Fire Hydrant.

The lift scheme is two sets of 15 reps, where you take it all a series at a time; that is, you do all exercises in a row for 15 reps each, then go back and repeat before moving on to the next series. As a result, the workout moves along nice, though still clocks in at 53 minutes.

Also as a result, you will get some booty pump and dead arms. I am having to take breaks as I type this to shake my arms out at my side to get the blood flowing. My biceps/triceps/shoulders literally start spasming if I keep my fingers on the keyboard for too long. It’s too much work for those tired muscles.

It’s not that these exercises are hard. They are. But the intensity is different. You’ll sweat, but nowhere near as much as you did in the Phase 3 AAA workout. You will also notice that there are almost no compound movements. For example, if you recall the last time we did skull crushers, we did them while up in a glute bridge and with loops around our thighs. You would think that without the loops and glute bridge, the move is therefore a lot easier.

My shaking arms stay otherwise.

Without the extra moves, you can focus in on one particular muscle group – triceps for the skull crushers – and try and lift a little heavier. Surprisingly, the static focus acts as a shock to the system. You get a good burn going; so good, in fact, that afterwards you’ll want to run to a mirror to see if your tricep muscle is popping because they are going to feel extra defined.

Same goes for your abs on the slider moves.

But the true test of strength, the real measure of how far you’ve come, is push-ups. I guarantee you that is why Autumn chose this workout. You might not be able to find your Phase 1 tracker sheets to see what you lifted at the end of that Phase; and, even if you find your tracker sheets, your weights today might differ from your weights back then. But when you do that first push-up, you’ll feel the difference.

Autumn will be calling out cues, and you’ll find you can follow along. Don’t let your back arch; head in a straight line; lift your butt and pelvis a bit more. Instead of dreading these normal push-ups, you’ll relish them. If you’ve made it this far in the program, this move, more than any other, will be the true testament to your progress. You’ll surprise yourself with how strong you feel, especially in the first few. You can actually LOWER yourself with some control and come up with some power. And you can do this for multiple reps! Sure, it gets a bit sloppy at the end, but remember when you FIRST did these push-ups? you were on your knees! Check out how far you’ve come. You might even feel good enough to go back and take a few photos to share:

Push-Up
Amazing how such a simple move can tell such an important story.

Aside from the push-ups, you will be afraid that your arms are going to give out during the quad ped moves and the fire hydrants and the knee tucks and the frog sliders. Don’t think this is just you. You are not alone. And it does not mean you are weak. It just means your body isn’t used to the workout and it’s a good wake-up call. Which is the whole point of PEAK WEEK, to shock your body off any plateau it might have reached.

It will also have you grabbing your ass a lot because of the focus on your glutes.

Again, when was the last time you did an exercise on your hands and knees, using the loops? Maybe Phase 2. Which is why when you do it during Peak Week, your ass can tell. It feels EXTRA big after all those reps, and I guarantee your hands will be wandering back to check and see how many sizes it grew during the exercise.

Regardless of the Booty gains made during this workout, it’s Day 75, and if you’re like me, you’re going to be happy to say goodbye to this workout. It’s nice to FINALLY have one in the books for good…until next time.

Get some sleep for Cardio Flow tomorrow. It’ll be fun for once, I swear.

Link to the Beachbody goods here. Message me with any thoughts or tips or hopes or dreams.

xo

Phase 3, Day 69: AAA (aka The One Where Autumn is a Hot Mess)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that not every day will be perfect in an 80 day workout program.

So it is with 80 Day Obsession.

But there is a huge difference between being the hot mess yourself, and seeing a celebrity super trainer also struggle with hot-messy-itis just like a normal person.

Today’s workout finds you doing AAA for the last time in Phase 3, and the rep scheme is one that feels like it moves quickly, even though the workout still takes close to an hour (58 minutes). As previously described, there are three series of exercises, four exercises to a series, and this week you’ll do each series for two sets of 15 reps each, before moving on to the next series.

While you will enjoy pushing yourself with the weights with this workout, you will mostly enjoy watching Autumn struggle.

I don’t say that to be cruel. What I mean is that for the past 68 days, Autumn has been with you for every rep in every set. She has done every curl and every lunge, every jump and every squat. You see her sweat and see her have to go down in weights because her forearms can’t handle a heavy pair of dumbbells.  Through it all, amazingly, she talks. She calls out cues and counts and reminds you what you should be doing to lift safely and get the most out of the workout.

In short, she is superwoman.

Which is why on Day 69, it is refreshing to be reminded that she is also human.

Today, she will do the side lunges with only one dumbell instead of two, and have to make the correction for the second set.

She will grab loops and start to put them on when all she needs is a weight for twisting roll downs.

She will continuously grab the wrong weights for the exercise she is doing and have to switch them out right before she starts her countdown to begin.

You would think her messiness would be irritating; after all, she’s supposed to be leading the workout –you look to her for guidance and reassurance that you are moving in the right direction.

Yet it is exactly her hot messiness that is so reassuring. It’s those moments that remind us Autumn Calabrese is human, and if she can do these workouts when even she seems to be a step behind, then by God, the rest of us can as well.

I happened to switch on a teaser program for a new workout regime coming out this summer with a different celebrity super trainer, and as I watched him move around and critique form without lifting a weight himself, I admit that part of me switched off. I didn’t realize how much I liked seeing Autumn work out with us until I watched a different program where a trainer didn’t do the same. I remember that in 21 Day Fix, Autumn always at least started the exercise and did a few reps before moving about the room to correct form. With 80 Day Obsession, however, she starts every exercise with you, and she finishes every exercise with you.

I had no idea how motivating this would be until I tried watching another program.

I suspect it might be hard for me to start a new fitness journey with a different trainer who doesn’t acknowledge that the struggle is real. That is, by joining in herself, it’s almost as though Autumn is telling us is okay to struggle because this shit is HARD; after all, if it’s difficult for her, then it should be difficult for the rest of us!

So yeah. Enjoy today’s workout. Know you are not alone in your struggles or your journey. Know also that the journey is almost done and you have come pretty damn far. Enjoy these last two weeks and make them count!

Now for your moment of zen and the usual link:

IMG_0669

 

Phase 3, Day 63: AAA (aka The Countdown Begins…To The End)

Reality Check: There are only THREE WEEKS left in 80 Day Obsession.

Let that sink in for a moment.

You have only 17 more workouts to get through before you finish the program. For every workout you do this week, you will only have to do it two more times.

At this point in my first 80 Day Obsession journey, I knew immediately I wanted to do it all again. I couldn’t imagine my life without the structure and discipline and challenging workouts.

Now, however, I am looking forward to taking a break. I want a break from the 1/2 Turkish Get-Up with Push-Up Hell. I don’t want to go to the damn zoo every week with Cardio Flow. (Seriously, if the workouts still came on DVDs, I would be burning the Cardio Flow DVD in a backyard bonfire to celebrate.)

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy today’s workout. I absolutely did. I think AAA in Phase 3 is not only my favorite AAA workout of the program, but also my favorite workout in Phase 3 period (though Leg Day runs a close second). Today, you do the three series, consisting of three exercises each, one series at at time for 3 sets of 10 reps each. The pace is quick but manageable. The moves burn in all the right place, and it’s easy to go up in weights if you need to. You even get to spend one entire series on the floor (though that certainly doesn’t mean it’s easy). All in all, AAA is a great way to start the week.

But after I finish these 80 days, I want to do something different. I need to mix it up so that I can come back to this program refreshed and not dreading an entire phase full of renegade rows with a twist.

So, in these final weeks, I’m not only counting down to the end, but I’m also counting down to my next workout program. I have to. What I love about 80 Day Obsession is that it flipped a switch in me so that my day is not complete WITHOUT A WORKOUT; I’m focused on eating right and in the correct portions and at the optimum times of the day. But to keep that momentum going, I have to have a plan. I’m gonna have to literally plan out the rest of my year with workout programs. If I don’t, it’s too easy for a week-long break to turn into “crap I haven’t worked out since August.” That is exactly what happened to me last year, and I ended up doughy around the middle by New Year’s as a result.

I don’t want to yo-yo this time. I want to be consistent. I want to keep building the booty gains I’ve been seeing in 80 Day Obsession. Exhibit A:

Bridge Lateral Press
What goes up goes down into the booty.

I want to continue to shred out and reveal the abs that are finally starting to peek through after a lifetime of hibernation:

PROGRESS
Work is showing in all the right places!

And while I know that 80 Day Obsession gets me results, I know that mentally I will need a break from it all when it’s done. Which is absolutely fine.

But I don’t know what that means for this blog or continuing to share my journey. I started this thing 60+ days ago because I was so impressed with what 80 Day Obsession did for me mentally and physically. I still am. The program saved me. It gave me structure when I needed it most; it allowed me to find a shred of victory when it felt like I was sleeping in the jaws of defeat. 80 Day Obsession gave me the feeling of control when everything was careening off the tracks. I know that when I am lacking that control in the future, be it in my personal life or my own health and fitness regime or whatever, I can turn to 80 Day Obsession and pick up the tools I need to right the ship.

I wanted to share that excitement with others, and provide something of a roadmap for those who will come after me. Plus, I was a newly minted Beachbody coach, and this seemed a good way to put myself out there and perhaps attract others who might need exactly what 80 Day Obsession has to offer.

The problem, I have learned, is that while I have no problem with coaching, I’m terrible at selling. Just awful. It’s not that I have a problem talking about 80 Day Obsession – I don’t. Or that I can’t answer questions about the nutrition – I can. It’s moreso that hawking this product feels like it cheapens what the program did for me. I don’t want to sell this program to make a commission or build my genealogical chart (no real idea what that is, btw); I want to sell it to someone like me who is at a point in their life when they need it.

I’m rambling, I know. And I know there are other coaches out there who would say there is an obligation to reach as many people as I can with this product to try and change lives for the better. I just haven’t figured out what works for me. This blog was fun, but I’m pretty sure no one reads it. It will likely just live on infamy, forgotten in the dusty corners of the internet with the millions of failed blogs that have come before it.

I’m okay with that. If even one person out there has gotten something useful out of any of these posts, mission accomplished.

At the very least, this is the most consistently I have ever blogged. EVER. Just like 80 Day Obsession, I’ve stuck with it. That’s just another example of how 80 Day Obsession can change you for the better if you stick with it and work the program.

So even though we have 17 days left to go, if you’re reading this, thank you. I hope you’ve gotten something out of this. And if you didn’t but are wondering if other Beachbody products might be more your jam, check out the usual link.

 

Phase 2, Day 57: AAA (aka The One That Putzes Along Nicely)

Last week I ran through the different exercises found in AAA in Phase 3 of 80 Day Obsession.

I admit, with the lifting scheme shifting to three sets of 10 reps this week, where you do all the exercises in a row for 10 reps each, three times, I worried that the workout would stretch on FOREVER.

Surprisingly, that was not the case. Out of all the workouts we’ve done thus far in 80 Day Obsession, this one feels the most carefully planned. That is, the workouts transition nicely from one to the other. Have loops around your legs for side lunge, the last move in the first series? No sweat – keep those loops on for bridge pull over, the first move in series two.

Trying a 15 pound dumbbell for Camel Bicep Curl? Sweet! Stick with it for weighted twisting roll down.

Back to double or triple loops for marching bridge? Keep those babies on as you transition into bridge bilateral press.

There’s transitions, but none of the rushed scurrying around Autumn sometimes infuses into the workout, usually when she realizes she needs to cram 65 minutes of work into a 55 minute timeframe. I wasn’t running from the weight area to the tile floor in a rush to throw down my sliders and join for the first rep of abs. Speed walking, yes. But not the sprint I usually have to use to start on time.

All in all, this workout putzes along nicely. It gets the job done and you don’t feel as though you’ve been in the gym for an overly long period of time.

Also, SPOILER ALERT, don’t be surprised when Autumn throws in some weights for the last set of curtsy lunge pulses. She does. Just savor the burn and know that it’s building a full, round booty. Here’s me mid-burn:

Curtsy lunge pulses with weight.
I’m not a mouth breather unless I’m working out, I swear.

With the logistics out of the way, I have a pro tip to avoid a pet peeve of mine.

PRO TIP #2: DON’T LIFT IN FRONT OF THE WEIGHT RACK. YOU’RE BLOCKING THE WEIGHTS YOU ANNOYING DOUCHE.

For whatever reason, I have only ever seen men engage in this terrible weight room etiquette. Me, I hoard weights, yes. But if you were to approach me and ask to work in, I’d have no problem with that request.

BUT WHEN YOU STAND DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE WEIGHT RACK DOING YOUR DAMN LATERAL SHOULDER RAISES, YOU AND YOUR F-ING WING SPAN ARE MONOPOLIZING ALL THE WEIGHTS.

Again, this habit seems to be limited to MEN. I don’t know why. The thinking must be something like: I’m just gonna bang out a few reps and won’t be long so everyone can wait and admire my biceps as I sweat all over the free weights. Or maybe: THIS IS THE PERFECT PLACE TO STAND WHY IS NO ONE ELSE HERE?!

I imagine it has to be a mixture of the two. Regardless, don’t be that human diaper. Be mindful of others in the gym and make sure you are lifting far enough away from the weight rack so that if someone else wants to pick up or return a set of dumbbells, they can do so.

Also, PRO TIP #4: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY PLEASE GO EASY ON THE COLOGNE.

Seriously. This one should go without saying, but apparently needs repeating.

You can tell I’m low on sleep because it was all I could do tonight to not chew out the greaser with the slicked back hair who decided to do the majority of his weights in front of the weight rack while wearing an entire bottle of AX body spray. YES I WILL GLARE DAGGERS AT YOU AND THROW THE WEIGHTS DOWN FOR EMPHASIS.

I think I need some sleep.

So on that note, I hope you got your Week 2 off to a wicked start and your work week off to a jumping Monday. It’s summer and it’s Phase 3! Enjoy how far you’ve come and focus on making these last few weeks really count!

Link to the usual Beachbody goodies here.

 

Phase 3, Day 51: AAA (aka THERE’S AN EARTHQUAKE IN MY PANTS)

Get ready to love this workout.

AAA in Phase 3 is the right length, the right combo of moves, and comes with the right tag line: THERE’S AN EARTHQUAKE IN MY PANTS! Thank you, Autumn.

Let’s go through the logistics.

Three series, consisting of four exercises in each series. Of those four exercises, two work your upper body, one works your core, and one works your glutes. Here’s how it breaks down:

SERIES 1: Czech press, front raise, slider windshield wipers, and side lunge hold.

SERIES 2: Bridge pull over, camel bicep curl, weighted twisting roll down, and marching bridge.

SERIES 3: Bridge bilateral press, tricep kickback in lunge, weighted knee drops, and curtsy lunge pulse.

As with the usual AAA set-up, for all exercises EXCEPT the glute moves, you press up or contract for a three count, release in a one count.

For the glute moves, you do either a three-second isometric hold, or pulses on the slider. That is, for the side lunge hold, you lunge to the side…and hold it for three seconds. For the marching bridge, you bridge up on one leg….and hold it for three seconds.

But for the curtsy lunge pulses….you pulse for a three count then come up in a one count. This is the exercise you will hate.

BUT, that said, there is not an exercise here you will loathe. There’s no plank tricep kickbacks or lunging bicep curls or whatever else you dreaded in previous AAA workouts. Even those curtsy lunge pulses, while shit-tay, fly by and are not done with weight.

Even better, the workout will keep your attention because every move works a variety of different muscles. I mean, you can tell from the names: Camel Bicep Curl.

Camel Bicep Curl.
Yay summer! Yay shorts! Yay for 80 Day Obsession for making my legs look good in shorts!

Do a camel while doing a bicep curl at the same time. In so doing, you will work not only your biceps, but also your core, quads, butt and hamstrings.

Another example: Bridge Bilateral Press.

Bridge bilateral press
Good form.

Hold a bridge while you do chest press.

THIS exercise is about when Autumn squeals during the workout: “THERE’S AN EARTHQUAKE IN MY PANTS!”

She’s not wrong. Almost every exercise targets your glutes, even if it’s in a roundabout fashion. Series 2 sneaks up on your ass; you don’t realize how much glute work you get in until you’re on the last five reps of marching bridge and find your supporting leg shaking.

Which leads me to another pro tip.

PRO TIP #333: YOU SHOULD BE DOUBLE-LOOPING EVERYTHING.

Do not underestimate how much stronger you have become in the last 51 days.  As a result, even though you might have started out doing exercises with the yellow loop (the easiest one), believe it is time to upgrade to double loops. Even if it’s just a blue loop and a yellow. Push yourself. It is time. Plus, if you don’t double loop, that shit will roll. Trust that you have gotten stronger and that you are capable of at least double-looping, if only to ensure your loops stay in place.

I hope you enjoyed this workout as much as I did. I loved all the exercises, revelled in the fact that we didn’t have to do push-ups, and felt super strong. This AAA is a great start to Phase 3 because it reminds you of how far you’ve come. Yeah, you may have an earthquake in your pants, but believe you will still get that last rep in. Plus, how good does it feel to sweat? It’s summer! The heat is here and thanks to 80 Day Obsession, it’s time to enjoy shorts and tank tops – gotta show off all that lunge and shoulder work.

The only bad thing about today’s workout? It’s followed by Cardio Flow tomorrow. Yuck. But at least it’s only 4 reps. You’ll see. Autumn changes it up, thank God, otherwise I don’t think I could have handled 8 reps. The only reason I’m looking forward to Cardio Flow tomorrow night is it’s about to be 80+ degrees and I’m a walk up to that park and conquer that shit in the evening sun on my grassy knoll.

Shhh don’t tell. Summer in the PNW is the best kept secret.

I mean, it’s raining. All the time. Stay away.

Link to Beachbody products here. Any comments or thoughts about today’s program, let me know. Or, if you want to drop some knowledge bombs, those are welcome too.

Regardless, push play and slay today!

Phase 2, Day 49: AAA (aka The One Where You Hate Autumn)

I have nothing good to say about this workout other than I did it.

It’s long: 62 minutes to be exact.

It’s hard: I was constantly lightening up my weights in the middle of the single-tempo set because my shoulders were about to give out (always the shoulders).

It’s not fun: I effing hate the plank kickbacks.

It’s the perfect storm of terror that has you cursing Autumn’s name by the end of it.

And maybe because it’s Friday and I was tired from the long week and knew I had to go play soccer right after the workout I wasn’t my usual positive can-do self. But this time after the workout, I didn’t have that sweet sweet sense of accomplishment that normally floods my veins. I just wanted to cry that it was over and get the hell out of the gym.

While this workout feels like an adventure at the beginning Phase 2, by Week 4, it’s just a slog. It’s two sets of 15 where you go through each series twice for 15 reps before moving on to the next series. BUT, this time, instead of only doing one rep of single-tempo burnouts, there’s a burnout round after every three-count exercise.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this previous post for more info.

As with a few other workouts, I found this one slightly demoralizing. Yes, I did it. And yes, I was stronger on a few of the exercises. But I didn’t FEEL strong. My arms were shaking and I wasn’t able to power through with the same set of weights and I felt so weak on the sliders.

I share this because this is my second time through 80 Day Obsession. And for whatever reason, this shit doesn’t get easier. It feels just as hard now as it did the first time around. I suppose, then, that the only thing I have going for me is I KNOW I can do it at this point, because I did it before. That mental certainty is sometimes all that keeps me going as I grit my teeth and hold back the tears and eke out another rep.

Which is all to say, if you felt the same way today, you’re not alone. It’s normal to hate Autumn for causing you to faceplant after you arm gives out in the weighted plank kickbacks. It’s completely acceptable to swear up a storm when you’re f-ing triple loops roll down your legs during the scissor kicks in the third series BECAUSE THAT EXERCISE JUST DOESN’T WORK WELL WITH LOOPS. It’s cool to draw dirty looks because you are squirreling away all the free weights in your small sweaty corner of the gym.

Just go with it. And when you feel like you can’t take it anymore, step outside yourself and look at the workout as a means to an end. That’s what I ended up doing tonight. My workout went from being me doing 80 Day Obsession, to me looking at it as a super good warmup before tonight’s soccer match:

IMG_0486

At least I felt strong and smooth while running. Which at the very least, tells me AAA did the job and ended up being worth the pain and struggle. It got my muscles and joints all lubed up so I hopefully didn’t pull anything.

Hang in there. You’ve made it this far and we are about to get to the fun stuff in Phase 3, where we tackle even more complex moves but with slightly lighter weights. You’ll do stuff you haven’t seen, stuff that you’ll love, and stuff that I swear will make you hate Autumn just a little bit more. Even as you begrudgingly thank her for whipping your ass into shape.

Day 50 tomorrow. If you’re in need of more loops, check out the usual link. Otherwise, catch you on the flip side for another day at the zoo.

Phase 2, Day 43: AAA (aka Fri-Yay)

AAA is the perfect Friday workout.

It gets a good sweat going, works all the muscles, and when you go to lift something heavy when you get home and find your arm shaking, you know it got the job done. You can then head into your weekend knowing that even if you slip up a little on nutrition, you worked hard enough on Friday that it shouldn’t matter. (At least, that’s what I tell myself.)

Case in point: I had to switch out my winter tires for “summer” tires today. Which required me lugging tires to and from my parents’ storage closet. While my Mom and Dad each carried one tire, I handled two; but during the interminable minutes when my father had to sort through the key ring looking for the right key without his glasses, I suddenly realized my arms were shaking, trembling with exertion from holding up two tires.

Instead of being pissed for feeling weak, I took it as a sign that I had a great workout. Because I did.

I felt strong and steady, even though my arm threatened to give out on the plank tricep kickbacks (hate that one). I even went up to 22.5 pound dumbbells on the renegade rows:

Renegade Rows
Strong but steady wins the race.

As per usual at this point in the phase, I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share. Today’s workout scheme was three sets of 10 reps, but where you do it all one series at a time. You know what it all looks like and what to expect.

That said, I do have one pro tip.

PRO TIP #89: IF YOUR LOOP CONTINUES TO ROLL UP, ADD ANOTHER.

The exercise I’m talking about is Loops Scissor Twist, where you put a loop around your thighs, lie down on the ground on your back with your feet straight up in the air, then proceed to lower the right leg as you crunch up and twist to the left leg, which remains straight up in the air. Lower for a three count, then bring up in one; at which point you lower the left leg as you crunch up and twist to the right. Repeat for 10 reps.

I have struggled with this exercise because every time I’ve attempted it in Phase 2, the loops slide too far down my thighs to the point of being worthless.

Until today.

Today, I added a THIRD loop, so I was doing two blues and a green. My circulation, amazingly, was fine. But more importantly, this time when I lowered a leg down, the loops remained in place at that crucial spot about four inches above my knees, where I get the most resistance.

Frankly, the reason it took me so long to add a third loop was because it didn’t occur to me to do so until Autumn did so herself today in the workout. Something about doing more than two loops seems bizarre, like trying to lift with two dumbbells in your left hand but only one in the right. But it made sense today. And more importantly, it worked. I suspect I will really know it worked when I go to sneeze tomorrow and my abs let me know they are tired. Yay.

I’m keeping this short tonight because my arms are barking even just typing this. AAA got me good. Huzzah for Fri-Yay.

If you want to learn more or buy more loops, check out the link. Otherwise, cheers to the weekend!