Upper Body Update (or not)


I did not “moo” at the cows, Dan. But I did say hi, so I think I am covered.

My left wrist firmly believes that breaking my fall on Sunday was a heroic enough effort to exclude it from normal pushup duties. So while my wrist is resting on its laurels, I see lots of planking and single leg squats in my future.

I discovered today while doing squats that my right leg is noticeably stronger and steadier than my left leg. I wonder if I should try to balance my legs out by working my left leg more.

The hybrid has returned to its rightful owner, so it is back to my bike and clipless pedals. The lady told me that I could keep using her bike until I got a new bike but I don’t think it is such a great idea to switch between using flat and clipless pedals at this stage in the game. I feel like my brain will get confused.

For the next few weeks I am going to focus on climbing hills as fast and hard as I can to prepare my legs for the bigger gears that I will be using when I get my new bike. I was able to climb a few decent hills this morning and I have a nice one planned for tomorrow. Good times!

Upper Body Update (week 19)

For the past six weeks, I have building up the number of pushups I do each week somewhat aggressively. This week I did 140 pushups on 5 different days. The thing is it takes me about 25 minutes from start to finish to fit in all 140. I do a set and then take a two minute break before jumping in again.

What I plan on doing for at least the next few weeks is continue to do 140 pushups a day but work on consolidating them. Bigger sets. Less time between sets.

That’s the plan.


Upper Body Update (week 18)

I still couldn’t get to 40 pushups again today. Maybe I miscounted before!

I can’t be too disappointed though. Muscles are popping out all over my arms and it is the weirdest experience ever to look at your own arms and not recognize them. Yesterday I grabbed a potato at work and noticed a bump near my wrist. Is it a growth? A swelling? Nope, just a muscle.

I just assumed if I worked on my upper body, my biceps would get bigger but oddly that one of the only places that I don’t see a difference. All the change is in my hands and lower arms and triceps. Now, I should clarify that while I can see a huge difference in the contours of my arms, I doubt the change is visible to anyone else. I could care less, it is just fun to look at my arms and realize that, yup, I am getting stronger. It is for real.

Note: I won’t be including the planking chart anymore because planking has evolved into simply being two fifty second holds to give me a “rest” before going into the last set of pushups in my routine.


Upper Body Update (week 17)

I couldn’t quite make it all the way to forty this week. On pushup #38 I collapsed. Faceplant.

But thankfully I do have an excuse prepared. I wasn’t able to fit in my pushups on Sunday (the snooze button may have played a factor in my demise) so I did them yesterday, skipping my typical rest day. So this morning I was still a bit sore from Monday’s workout. See, a perfectly good excuse. Unfortunately, while excuses may help my pride a bit they do not help my muscles. Therefore, I resolve that the coming week will be a “no excuses or snooze buttons allowed” week.

Gary from PedalWORKS is inspiring me to add some single leg squats to my routine, but I am still working on getting the form right, which means I need to eliminate wobbling.

Another inspiring thing for me this week was reading about Darian Sperry. She is 5’1″, 20 years old and soooo insanely strong. If this gif doesn’t encourage me to keep working on building my strength, I don’t know what will.Darian Sperry 180 lb (81.65 kg) snatch - Imgur 20150331025057 2015033102522220150331024934

Upper Body Update (week 16)

It’s been four months since the beginning of my relationship with the living room floor. Sixteen weeks in and our relationship is stronger then ever. We spend a little more time in each others company every week.

Don’t tell the living room floor, but I am also developing odd feelings for the mirror in the bathroom. I keep staring at it and wondering how a routine so simple could give me such massive muscles. (Note: my muscles aren’t massive in any way, shape or form. But compared to what they used to be they seem massive to me.)

So there you have it, pushups are important but relationships are what really matter.


Upper Body Update (week 15)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! There is no need to pinch me since I am already wearing green and (bonus point) eating a green pepper. My mom’s side of the family are all of Irish descent, my Grandma met my Grandfather (he is now deceased) on St. Patrick’s Day and they were engaged on St. Patrick’s Day, so today is a big deal in my family.

I am currently up at my parent’s house where my mom and I are making a huge boiled dinner with Irish soda bread and grasshopper pie for dessert. We all love this meal and look forward to it every year. To me the best part of a boiled dinner is the cabbage. After the corned beef has simmered for hours, we chop up cabbage and cook it in the goodness of the beefy, broth-y, salty and fatty liquid that the corned beef left behind. So good. I could eat a whole head of cabbage that way. Okay, I am not ashamed to admit it, I have eaten a whole head of cabbage that way. Possibly over the course of a single day.

First thing my little bro said to me when I got here: “Bri, how much protein does corned beef have?”

Not the traditional St. Patrick’s Day greeting but I guess it works. My dad says he is on a protein kick so finding out that 4oz of corned beef has 15 grams of protein made my brother quite happy!


Upper Body Update (week 14)

I was quite the tomboy growing up, constantly trying to keep up with my older brother. I was proud of being the girl who wasn’t afraid of creepy crawlies, the dirt or the cold. I would work alongside my brothers: lifting heavy logs, boxes and furniture. I was known as the tough, strong girl.

But then I reached that awkward preteen phase and I began to question whether I was strong or just plain fat. I started to distance myself from my “strong persona”. It was pretty easy to do: I simply stopped acting like a tomboy and stopped helping out whenever there was heavy lifting to do be done. I didn’t want to be known as strong anymore because I was afraid that was somehow linked to my weight in people’s minds.

I became weaker, less confident and more overweight.

Fast-forward to now. I am starting to realize that working on my upper body strength is about more than just getting stronger. In a way, by building my muscles,  I am rebuilding my identity. I want to be strong again. 201503100203262015031002082720150310024905

Upper Body Update (week 13)

My muscles felt mildly achy most of the week (maybe my immune system is fighting something, I don’t know) so while I did maintain, I didn’t break any new ground.

I have been thinking about the relationship between my physical strength and mental strength. In the beginning, four pushups were the max of my muscles’ ability, there was no going beyond that, I would simply collapse. Mentally it was not a challenge though, I was able to make myself go to the point of exhaustion every time.

Today I did a set of thirty pushups and it was almost the opposite. When I had completed thirty pushups, enough to maintain last week’s numbers, my brain stopped me, “Alright, you did what you needed to do, you weren’t feeling 100% this week anyway, just be happy that you reached thirty.” So I let my knees hit the floor and that set was over.

But the funny thing I had not done my best, speaking from a physical standpoint. My muscles were capable of more. I could have pushed on. I hadn’t reached my collapsing point. I have realized that the number of pushups I accomplished the week before is a double-edged sword.

On one hand it is good because it challenges me to maintain or go slightly above the previous week’s number.

But on the other hand? It gives my brain a stopping point that my muscles may be able to go beyond.

So my goal for this week is to ignore the numbers and just go all out.


Upper Body Update (week 12)

I can’t believe it has been three months since I started trying to strengthen my upper body. It has been so simple, just a few minutes of intense effort every day and the results have been worth it. I can do thirty pushups in a row! It is awesome knowing that I am in the best shape I have ever been in my life and I am only getting stronger.


Upper Body Update (week 11)

I didn’t feel like pushing myself this week, so I just maintained last week’s numbers. Last Tuesday I had to dig deep to get up to 23 pushups in a row and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to duplicate that today, but I was able to reach 23 and even add 4 to that number. It is awesome to feel myself growing stronger week by week.