Tag Archives: lifting

2017 Prep Update: Day 240 of 275

School is out for summer!  Yay!!  I’m teaching a morning session of summer school starting on June 19, so I only get a week off, but that’s OK.  The summer school session will help me stay busy and that might help a little with the nerves I’m going to feel as the show gets closer.  The negative voice in my head keeps reminding me of the last time I was on stage, when basically, my biggest fear that I would not be taken seriously as a bodybuilder was confirmed.  So I’m getting back up there to be judged again.

Have I done enough?  I don’t know.  Improvements have been made.  I have worked hard and continue to work hard.  It’s impossible to know what will happen in a bodybuilding competition because some factors, like genetics and age, are beyond my control.  But no one will out work me.  I’m consistent and methodical.  I can control that.

July 2015, 128.6 lbs

A couple weeks ago, I lightened the loads on my leg press.  I’m smaller now and the loads I wanted to use started to strain some old quad pulls.  Better to lighten things up a bit and keep working than to risk an injury.   Coach took direct shoulder work out of my program for 4 weeks to allow for a full recovery in those joints.  I got my lateral raises back last week – so happy!  I felt like a kid who got her favorite toy back after having it taken away.  My back movements are still progressing, but progress is slowing down.  Tricep work is stalled out now and I have to keep using the same loads.  After this many years of lifting, I’m at the point when progress can take months or longer.  It did take me about 3 years to add 5 pounds to my bench press.  That’s another lift where I needed to drop the loads.  It seems I lose my strength there right away when I’m in prep.

But lifting is still going well and lifting is the thing.  Competing sets a goal for the lifting – which is something I need.  I don’t enjoy competing that much that I look forward to it.  It’s just a finish line for a certain phase of training.  I love the look of bodybuilders on stage – the tan, the poses, the lighting – but I’m an introvert, so spending the day hanging out with all those people…well, it’s a bit stressful.  The first two times I competed, the stage part was fun.  I’m getting back up there with the intention of fighting off a bunch of negativity and finding that fun part again.

DISCLAIMER: In order to be competitive in the division called “women’s bodybuilding” ,  fat loss has to be pushed to the extreme leanness that the athlete is capable of achieving in that contest prep. When I talk about what I’m doing, please keep that in mind.(Bikini and figure divisions have a different criteria for leanness.)    Even though I’m losing fat by creating a caloric deficit, which is how anyone who wants to lose body fat has to do it, I’m doing it longer and trying to lose more weight than is appropriate for general fitness.  Most people should not compete.  Anyone who struggles with food-related issues should not compete.    I’m not jeopardizing my health and would stop if I was because competing isn’t what is important.  I don’t use fat-burners,  I don’t cut water,  I eat well, and it’s all monitored by an extremely smart and protective coach.  And we will carefully reverse the diet afterwards to keep my metabolism healthy – like we did in 2015.

Ok, that said – my scale weight is currently fluctuating between 1 and 2 pounds below my previous stage weight.  Which means, assuming I’ve gain a little muscle in the last two years, I’m leaner, lighter, but might have more muscle density.  I think the fat I’m working on right now has been there since the 70’s.  LOL!!  Even so, the meno-pot on my lower abs is hanging in there.  I’m seriously on a mission to lose it just to prove it can be done, damn it.  The loose skin in various places is a bit discouraging, but there isn’t much I can do about it.  Just looks like my skin-suit is getting a little too big, like my clothes.  The plan coming out of the 2015 show was to limit the amount of weight I gained in off-season so that the skin wouldn’t be stretched more.  I did that, but I do think it will take YEARS to tighten up, not months.  I’m not interested in using fancy lotions, wraps, or anything like that.  Solid nutrition and time will either take care of it, or it won’t.  I’m 55 and I’m grateful to be 55, so if I look like a 55 year old bodybuilder, so be it.  I’m just getting started, so I expect to look like a 70 year old bodybuilder when I’m 70, too.

Hair game took a dramatic turn in recent months.  First, I asked my hair coach to shave off half of it.  Then I asked her to start adjusting the color so that my natural gray would blend better.  The current color looks gray in some light, but usually looks more ash-blonde.  I like it.  Still want more silver highlights in there, though.  Especially for stage.  And speaking of stage – decided to use my velvet black suit for pre-judging and night show.  No sparkles.  Might wear simple stud earrings at the night show, but that’s going to be the extent of the sparkle.  I’m going to do this one “old school”.  I’ve been watching video from the 1980’s, which is when I first fell in love with this sport.  Those are my peers – even though they are retired now and I’m just starting.  Doesn’t matter.  I don’t care.  Everyone else can sparkle.  I’m here to do this thing the way I want to do it.

My “Yay I’m FREEEEE for summer vaca!!” post on Facebook from last Friday…

Taken with a flash.


As I said before, I expect my nerves and battle with my internal self-doubts to be more of a challenge this time around.  Which is why I’m so grateful that my friend Michelle will be flying in from across the country to be there for this show.  In the last few months, I developed a little game I play with myself called “I don’t have to actually go to the show if I decide not to”.  Knowing she is coming out stopped that destructive little train of thought at least 3 times this last week.  Just in case anyone else is in the Sacramento area, here is a link to the show information.  If you’re up for it, I’d love to have some screaming support at pre-judging.  I think I can battle back the self-doubt by telling myself that because I gather courage from others to do this scary thing, others will be able to gather courage to do something that scares them, too.  If I can meet you in person, wow.  That would change the dynamic of this day in a big way.



Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Contest Prep, My Lifting Log

Results of Max Test Week

Every fourth week in my program, I test the major lifts* I’m doing to set new 1-5 rep maxes for the next phase.  I also deload the secondary lifts.  It was nice that the test week landed on the first week of spring break from school.  I was able to get caught up on sleep and I also had a couple of days of maintenance calories.  The combination of rest and food made for a successful test week.

*We switched out the standard powerlifting exercises to ones that I could progress on with a lower risk of injury.

Bench Press

  • Last month: 105 x 2
  • Now: 110 x 3
  • All Time PR: 120 x 2 in July 2014

Hammer Smith Delt Press

  • Last month: 45 x 3
  • Now: 45 x 5
  • All Time PR: 55 x 4 in Dec 2013

Barbell Row

  • Last Month: 140 x 2
  • Now: 145 x 3 – New PR

Leg Press

  • Last Month: 410 x 5
  • Now: 500 x 5 – New PR.  This one is significant for me since I had three quad pulls from August to January.  This lift replaced squats and I started it in February hurt.


  • Last Month: 200 x 3
  • Now: 205 x 4 – New PR?  I’m not sure.  I think I have done 225 waaaaay back when, but I don’t know where the log book is right now.

Leg Extension (Ok, this is a secondary lift, so I didn’t test it last month, but since I’ve had so many quad pulls, I used this lift to get a feel for my recovery.)

  • Now: 220 x 6 – New PR.  (Actually did 220 x 7 this morning.  Yay! It’s just been increasing steadily, but 220 feels heavy, so I’m working on adding reps now.)

Screenshot from Gym Buddy App


I don’t know how long I’ve been in “contest prep” mode officially.  Did that start in January or February?  I don’t know . Some people (like my coach) keep track of these things, I don’t.  I know I’ve been doing some version of a cut/maintenance cycle since last September and it became a bit more aggressive in February.  Loss of strength was expected, but I like doing the unexpected.  I was very pleased to see legs are recovering and holding their own, but was not happy about the bench press.  I also wanted to see something more dramatic with the delts since I’ve been focused on bringing them up.

So, annoyed by what I perceived as negative data, I sent this information to Alberto (coach) last weekend.  His reply was that “usually two lifts going up is a great pace”.  I increased every lift over last month’s test and actually set 3 (4) lifetime PRs.

And I lost 3 pounds over that month.  As of this morning, I’m about 4 pounds over my weight one week out from the last show.  That makes me about 12 weeks ahead of schedule compared to my last prep, right?  Ok. That’s good.  I have more muscle, but let’s be real – I’m a 53-year-old, intermediate, female, natural lifter.  I don’t gain pounds of muscle anymore.  Ounces.  Maybe a pound or two.  The goal this time around is to improve conditioning without losing a bunch of what I’ve built over the last couple years.  I hope to appear bigger, but I won’t be.  Body composition will be different, though.  (Fingers crossed)

So yeah, I guess things are going well.

Soon, we’re going to pushing the bod where it’s never been before.  I’m not sure what to expect.  I’m mentally preparing for a roller-coaster ride.  I’m already experiencing and upsurge in mood swings.  Yay hormones.

On a side note, the cortisol seems to be playing nice.  That’s a relief.

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, My Lifting Log, Weight Loss

62 Weeks Out – Pushing Through

Historically, the week before AP exams has been a very stressful week.  This year, I’ve been so overwhelmed with stuff*, that I’m in survival mode and coasting.  Just hanging on to the roller coaster with a white-knuckle grip.  I can see the end of it from here.

*AP exams start next week.  I have 50 kids testing on Wednesday, May 7th.  The stress of pushing 50 teenagers when we all really want this to be over … well, let’s just say being disciplined about exercise and nutrition is NOTHING compared to being disciplined enough to get seniors with “senioritis” ready for an AP calculus exam.  In previous years, I’ve made a pancake breakfast for them before the exam.  This year, I decided to have it ‘catered’ by the culinary arts program here at school.  Same cost, no work for me.  Perfect!


*The decision to transfer schools was made last week and the plans regarding the logistics of that move are beginning to be made.  I’m excited about the change, so I’m OK with the stress of going through nine years of accumulated stuff.  I honestly have no idea what’s in this drawer…



*Hubby and I are still navigating life with one vehicle.  This week, it’s been easy because he’s been doing tons of spring yard work.  I call him a “grass-whisperer”.  It’s impressive what he can get to grow in a our high desert climate this early in the year.  Most lawns on our street are a little brown.

lawn pic 1 lawn pic 2
*A couple major life issues came up this week that are not appropriate to discuss in a blog, but they have been challenging for me to process. A couple of restless nights, so sleep deprivation was an issue earlier in the week.

All of these things are more important than bodybuilding, but this blog is about that part of my life, so it may not be surprising that lifting wasn’t awesome during the first part of the week.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: Heavy upper body was the plan, but there were issues.  Woke up feeling like I should take a second rest day.  Low back strain from leg day on Sunday was still nagging me.  Or maybe it was from deads last week?  I went into the gym before work anyway.  Once there, my wireless headphones wouldn’t pair with my phone and I didn’t have another set.  My primary gym is a small lifting gym, so they don’t have one of those little in-gym shops.  They play great music, but that’s not why I wear the headphones.  There are too many little groups of people lifting in too small of a space.  All those conversations distract me.  So I wore my useless headphones anyway just to block out the noise a little bit.  I was able to get my bench press and incline press work done, but I could not add weight.  I actually had to drop a rep from each set.  I only did 6 sets of chest and called it a day.  Heavy back work just didn’t feel like a good idea.

Wednesday: Finished Tuesday’s planned workout with the heavy back work.  It went much better than it would have gone the day before.  I added 10 lbs to my Pendlay rows last week, so on this day, I added reps.  I ended up adding reps to most things instead of weight and that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

Thursday: It had to be another rest day.  Life was just too busy, so I planned to get more sleep.  “More sleep” is a priority now.

Friday: Friday afternoon lifts are one of my favorite things.  This leg workout did not disappoint.  It may have saved the week, actually.  Goblet squats with blood flow restriction – weight up.  Barbell Hip Thrusts – weight up.  This was a PR from the floor.  A bit of back strain again, but it was gone the next day. (Carbs, ice, ibupofen, sleep)  Calf Raises – added reps.  Not sure what’s going on with my calves.  They are getting stronger faster than other parts.  I think I will have to use other exercises than that standing calf raise machine to work calves.  The weight pushing down on my shoulders feels like it compresses my spine too much.

Saturday: Upper body hypertrophy lift.  Nothing exciting happened with chest work.  Actually failed on the last rep of the last set of incline presses and had to put the barbell on the floor.  But I was able to do one arm rows with 70 lbs for 3 sets of 8.  I’ve lifted that weight – a little heavier, too, but not for 8 reps.  This is my longest workout and I wasn’t able to finish it.  Just did chest and back.  Saved shoulders and arms for the next day.

Sunday: Legs hypertrophy lift with shoulders and arms.  Did the arm work I didn’t do on Saturday.  Added a few sets for shoulders, too.  I raised the hex bar deadlift up to 135 lbs.  I used blood flow restriction for that exercise and I think the weight was too heavy for the reps I was supposed to do – 15.  Did three sets of 8, 12, 8 reps, I think.  I didn’t feel the pump the way I’m supposed to.  Oh well.  I’m sure work was done.  For power squats, I kept the weight around 155 pounds and worked on form.  I tend to not go low enough.

It’s Sunday night and as I end of this week, I’m feeling strong, but a little pudgy.  I’m thrilled to be coming to the end of this anticipated “stress season”, and if I gained a little fat with muscle, I’ll take it.   I think I’m doing a good job hitting macros.  Carbs have been high because they go up with my daily burn.  I’m getting enough sleep and recovering well.   Considering the stress I’ve had, I expected to lose muscle and gain fat (cortisol), so it’s a big win to see strength gains.






Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Cortisol, Life, My Lifting Log, Teaching, Videos

Reality Check

Over the last few weeks, my ego has taken quite a few blows. Coach has been pushing me hard.

There have been two brutal leg workouts. The second was worst than the first. It started with flipping a 300 lb tire 24 times. That was amazing. I was in tears toward the end of it and wanted to quit.

Today was a back workout. I didn’t expect it to be too bad since my back workouts are solid. I was grateful that he wanted to do deadlifts. But it wasn’t fun. He didn’t like my form. So we had to work on my lift off from the floor. The weight was very light. My starting position was sitting on a low platform normally used for box squats. I couldn’t get the technique down at all. Over and over and over again. So frustrating. At one point I kicked the barbell off the platform.

There were 18 more sets of back work after that. Pushing me hard all the way through. When we were into the second hour, which is a lot longer than a normal session, but not unusual for how he works with me, I asked a question…

“Why are you working with me this long?” “Because you are worth it.” was his reply.

I have to unlearn and relearn so much stuff. So grateful Coach is willing to invest his time in me.

There aren’t many who have the drive and discipline to train like a bodybuilder. People make fun of us and make rude comments about how we look. This is harder to do than you can imagine. It’s a 24/7 activity. Everything about your day is planned to support this training. All meals and sleep time are training components. So when he said “because you’re worth it”, I felt validated. Even as I feel like I’m starting over. I will leave my ego in the locker and allow him to break me down and build me back up.




Filed under Back, Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, My Lifting Log


These pictures floating around on the Internet enrage me.

Why be catty?  Why be mean?  Why diss the athletes on the left to make a point? The images on the right are as likely to cause body image issues,unhealthy diets, and cardio abuse, as much as they may inspire good health.

This kind of “fitspo” crap also makes me nuts…

Here’s a quiz… if you are a legit lifter, you should be able to identify at least 3 things wrong with this picture.

Let it rip…



Filed under Opinions, Venting, Ranting

Workout Log for Mon Jan 12, 2012

Yesterday was the first day on this new program. Did I tell you about it? I don’t remember. (It’s finals week at school. Half my brain is at work, half at the gym – and I’m not sleeping well.  No reason.  Just a little deprvied so the brain is not working well.)

Monday: Back in morning and triceps, abs, calves in the afternoon

Today: HIIT cardio on step mill before work

Tomorrow: Chest in the am, biceps, abs, calves in the afternoon

Thursday: HIIT cardio in the morning

Friday: Shoulders in the morning, legs in the afternoon (might flip these – I like working legs when I don’t have to watch the clock, but my energy level will be low. Enthusiasm might propel me, though.)

I am coming off a rest week, so I felt strong on some of the early sets, but the reps counts were back up to 8-10, so the working sets didn’t approach my PRs. I also wanted to get 50 pull ups done. I did sets of 5 between sets. That probably kept the weights from getting really heavy, ya think? Added pullovers to the back workout. I really like them.

AM: Back

1/14/13 Barbell Row in Back
5:29:47 AM 45 x 10 5 pull-ups between all sets
5:32:40 AM 65 x 10
5:34:46 AM 85 x 10
5:38:26 AM 95 x 10
5:48:06 AM 105 x 8

1/14/13 Pullovers in Back
5:48:34 AM 15 x 15 DB on decline
5:52:22 AM 25 x 12
6:00:54 AM 30 x 10
6:00:56 AM 30 x 10
6:13:28 AM 30 x 8

1/14/13 Pullups – Assisted in Back – done between sets of rows and pullovers
6:13:53 AM 100 x 5
6:13:56 AM 100 x 5
6:13:58 AM 100 x 5
6:14:00 AM 100 x 5
6:14:03 AM 100 x 5
6:14:05 AM 100 x 5
6:14:07 AM 100 x 5
6:14:10 AM 100 x 5
6:14:16 AM 100 x 5
6:14:19 AM 100 x 5

1/14/13 Pulldowns in Back
6:15:05 AM 60 x 10 Palms facing handle. Pulled to back of head
6:16:13 AM 75 x 10
6:20:42 AM 90 x 10 Form not as good as I would like.
6:25:02 AM 75 x 10

PM: Triceps, Abs, Calves (I never record my abs and calves work.) When I do supersets and log the sets as I do them, they get spread out in this report. Sorry.

1/14/13 Skull Crushers in Triceps
4:11:55 PM 30 x 15
4:11:59 PM 40 x 10
4:14:53 PM 40 x 10
4:19:55 PM 50 x 10

1/14/13 Rope Pushdowns in Triceps
4:31:11 PM 50 x 10
4:31:13 PM 60 x 10

1/14/13 One Arm Tricep Pushdown in Triceps
4:31:34 PM 20 x 5
4:31:39 PM 20 x 5

1/14/13 Triceps Extensions in Triceps
4:31:54 PM 20 x 10

1/14/13 Rope Pushdowns in Triceps
4:34:57 PM 50 x 10

1/14/13 One Arm Tricep Pushdown in Triceps
4:35:07 PM 20 x 10

1/14/13 Triceps Extensions in Triceps
4:35:14 PM 20 x 10

1/14/13 Skull Crushers in Triceps
4:35:21 PM 50 x 10

1/14/13 Triceps Extensions in Triceps
4:35:52 PM 20 x 10




Filed under Arms, Back, My Lifting Log, Workouts

A Newb’s Reflection on “Peak Week”…

After training for 3 years, training HARD for 18 months, after dieting for 3 years, but dieting HARD for 6 months, after the carb deplete/water cut/carb reload, after sucking ice cubes for 48 hours, after drinking vinegar, sucking lemons (more last minute coach torture), depriving myself of my favorite foods for so long that they aren’t my favorite foods anymore…after being sprayed with what seemed like cold motor oil, THREE TIMES, in a little popup thing called a “TikiTent”, naked, with 7 other naked competitors in their own little tents (we couldn’t see each other)… fake eyelashes!!…after standing back stage with about 150 other people in our “underwear” for the good part of an entire day, running on stage for just a few minutes to be judged on the results of what I’ve done for the last three years right up to that moment…I’m reflecting.

What did I LEARN??  I’m not sure I can recall everything that happened that week, so I won’t try.  My brain was “fuzzy”.  Now that I’m feeling like “me” again, I can joke about my “near death experience” – Peak Week.

First, I need to send a big THANK YOU to Dietrich Dejean, my coach.  He was very patient.  The carb deplete started a week before the show.  Before that, my carb levels were pretty constant and higher than most of my teammates’ levels. (Our gym sent 20 people – we were a team.)  I became forgetful right away.  My ability to focus was gone by Monday.  Probably the last useful thought I had was to tape D’s instructions so I could play them back.  And that’s all I’ve got.  Everything became a blur.  And then I was on stage.

Stage was only for a few minutes, but it was SO MUCH FUN!  I’m surprised I enjoyed it so much because it’s WAY outside my comfort zone.  But it wasn’t when I was there.  Maybe it was the makeup and hair – I felt like I was wearing a costume.  Maybe it was because there were so many of us in our “underwear” that day.  It seemed…normal.  It seemed like it was exactly what I was supposed to do.  Does that make any sense at all??

Pure joy and I was surprised by it.

The week after the competition was also a big surprise.  I called it “post-show-road-kill”.  You know how you feel the day before you get that horrible head cold?  I felt like that everyday.  I didn’t expect that.  I didn’t know what to do.  So I did what I do when I feel a cold coming on – I eat.  I drink a lot of water.  I down Airborne and vitamin C.  And I did all that, but I also loaded back up on the supplements.  Bumped up the glutamine, BCAA, and vitamin D.  Started creatine again.  Kept my protein intake high.  Coach sent a text – “get back to the gym” he said.  So I did easy cardio.  Couldn’t lift.  Just felt weak.  But I could walk on a treadmill, so I did that.  Got the blood moving.

Exactly one week to the day after the show, I felt “normal” again, but weak.  Today is 2 weeks since the show and the weights are climbing.  I got to use my belt and straps for RDL’s.  I haven’t worn my belt in months.  Damn near teared up.

Too many people who lift weights think they have clue about training to be a competitor.  If I ever came across that way before, I’m truly sorry.  I didn’t know what I was talking about.  And I certainly had no clue about Peak Week.  If you’re a lifter, you might be a bodybuilder.  But a “competitive bodybuilder” is a different beast.  Competition prep is a right of passage.

Bodybuilding is a strict discipline that impacts all aspects of your life – how you spend your free time, what you eat, even how long you sleep.    EVERYTHING becomes a variable to be managed to create the living sculpture you see in your head.

Now that I’ve done my first show, I’ve completed the cycle.  I now feel comfortable saying that I’m a “bodybuilder”.   I feel like I belong to the tribe now.  I’ve done my “vision quest”.  I see the other competitors at the gym and they acknowledge me now.  We don’t talk.  We just nod and say “hi”, but there’s a recognition in the eyes that comes from sharing that horribly wonderful, torturous experience together.

Remember when I was a little freaked out about so many people from my gym doing the same show as me?  So wrong to feel that way.  It was a great first competition for this newb.



Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Life, Motivation