I got back from AGDQ late Sunday. It was nice going from Toronto, which had been sporting daily highs below 0ºF, to a place that wasn't a frozen wasteland for a week. Then I got back and discovered my apartment was only slightly higher than 60ºF, because the rads were full of air instead of water. So I had to stay up until the wee hours until my place warmed up.
Now I have my rads off and the windows open, because the heat has continued running at full power even though it's only slightly below freezing outside, so my place has gotten up to 80ºF. There will come a day when my apartment's heat finds a happy medium, but it is not this day.
Two weeks ago I posted this journal about accountability and daily scheduling, wherein I linked a spreadsheet I'm using to make sure I stick to a daily routine. When I posted that journal, I thought that I wasn't going to be making it to AGDQ, and that sticking to the routine would be an easy thing to follow through on. The next day, my plans for AGDQ came together, and I found myself with a public commitment to a daily schedule, despite being essentially on vacation. That made things interesting.
I was sharing a room with an online friend for the week. Breakfast was included in our deal each morning, and the hotel we were at (which was not the main event hotel, but an overflow hotel, meaning travel between them was something we had to figure out) had a gym. I managed to keep up a habit of writing for about an hour either before or after breakfast each day, and I made a point of at least doing an ab workout in the corner of our room every night. I made it to the gym twice as well, though I'd wanted to go three times. As for work, there is now a large block on my spreadsheet that just says AGDQ covering those five days. The timing for starting the spreadsheet was unfortunate, but when something is important to you, you follow through on it no matter what may get in the way.
As I continue along on my journey of better habits, some things are clarifying for me. The morning is, I think, the correct time for me to be writing. However, it is occasionally interrupted by urgent client work. Nonetheless, I have accomplished more writing in the last two weeks than I had in the two months prior. Forcing myself to write every morning means that rather than simply thinking of a story and planning to get to it later, I'm actually making progress on writing them. It's not always easy, but it is important to me, and I'm very happy to finally be treating it as such.
My initial plans to stretch with every ab workout are not going to continue. My ab workouts take about 5-7 minutes, and my stretching routine takes about 15. I've decided that stability is more important than flexibility right now, so I'm still doing my full stretching on workout days, but not on ab days.
As for my ab workouts, they're basically non-stop work. I usually begin with hollow body holds, then hand over knee crunches, and then I have a variety of exercises I choose from based on what's sore. Leg scissors are a favourite, and I usually end with either planks or stomach vacuums. I also make sure to do an exercise that targets my obliques every day, since they'd gotten weak after a year of disuse. They're getting better now. I'm also hitting my serratus anterior whenever I remember to, since they're part of the core too.
I think it's important to realize that there's more than just planks, crunches, and situps when it comes to training your abs. I have an ab wheel that I'll start utilizing again next month, and there are dozens of other exercises to do as well, some of which are done standing up. If you want a sampling of some of the creative ab exercises out there, just watch this video (embedded below). My ab workout today was 25lb side bends, walking cross-overs, going into arm extension from the pushup position (serratus exercise), and 25lb lower back extensions - not a crunch in sight.
Also, Monday is leg day. Monday is always leg day. Don't skip leg day. I was smart enough to drop my caloric intake when I went on the bench over a year ago, so that I wouldn't become fat. In that time, I dropped down to 160lbs, and I still look lean. However, I lost a lot of muscle mass in my quads. My calfs are still large, because they're calfs, and my hamstrings are still okay, because they've been getting work from my lower back extensions and rear delt exercises, but my quads are pitifully small now. So, until they're not any more, Monday is leg day. Every week.
I hope to be back in the gym around the middle of next month. My QL is feeling good, my obliques and lower back are getting stronger, and I have a solid stretch in my arsenal that's helping to speed along the final stages of recovery. When I get back to the gym I'll maintain the same methodology I'm using now, but I'll have a much broader range of exercises available to me. I learn from my mistakes, and I'm definitely learning from this one.
Have you been keeping up with any changes you made in your routine lately? What positive effects have they led to?