April 3 – Shoulders/Upper Back and Abs

I split my workout routine to cover my upper back/shoulder blade area and some abdominal/core work.

Group 1 – Repeat 3 times
Seated Row: 45 lbs for 12 reps – note: be sure to start the movement with your shoulder blades. You want a strong contraction as you near the end of the pull. Try to avoid leaning forward or back, keeping a straight back (but with a neutral curve in the lower back), with no rocking motion.
Face Pulls: 30 lbs for 12-15 reps – note: like above, you want the contraction in the shoulder blade area while making sure the arms and elbows don’t drop down.
Bicep Curls (bar): 20 lbs for 12 reps – note: remember you want a straight back (abs contracted), shoulders down, wrists straight, elbows in and not swinging with the motion.
Bent Row: 20 lbs for 15 reps on each side – note: keep the abs contracted to keep the back neutral and keep the focus on contracting the shoulder blade.
Reverse Flies: 8 lbs for 15 reps – note: the more forward you bend at the hips, the harder the movement becomes. The contraction, as you probably guess, should be focussed mainly in the shoulder blades.

Group 2 – Repeat 3 times
Heel Touch: 20 reps on each side – note: try to raise your chest high enough so your shoulder blades are off the ground. If you have neck/throat/chest discomfort doing this, you can rest the head back down on the ground.
Ab Wheel: 20 reps – note: I LOVE this exercise. It’s brutal on an arm day, though, so if you’re doing heavy arms, it may be best to postpone it. Remember to keep the abs contracted both while rolling out and rolling back in, to avoid your back dipping on the way out. Focus on using the abs as your sole or main source of rolling back in. Gradually, work on rolling a little further each time, keeping the hips low. I like to picture it as a plank position as my full extension goal.
Medicine Ball Twists: 16 lbs for 20 reps on each side – note: it can be hard to keep yourself supported, with abs contracted, and continue breathing but try to push throug it. You want to be getting a full turn in the upper body, shoulders should be square to the walls on either side of you, and you want to bring the ball (or your hands if you’re doing it without weights/medicine ball) all the way to the ground, which if you’re fully turned, should be next to but slightly behind your hip.

March 29 – Back

I did an upper body workout targetting mostly the back and biceps.

Group 1 – Repeat 4 times
Lat Pull Up (counter-weight machine): 50 lbs at 8-10 reps – note: the machine subtracts the weight from your body weight, so the lower you go, the more weight you’re using. In my case this was 80 pounds (130-50 = 80).
Dips (counter-weight machine): 50 lbs at 15 reps
Medicine Ball Slams: 30 reps – note: start with a weight that you feel comfortable lifting over your head and make sure to continuously maintain ab contraction throughout the movement. I recommend folding a foam mat over to slam the ball into (much less noisy than the example video and can add a bit of a challenge in getting it to bounce back). This is great if you have frustration to work out!

Group 2 – Repeat 3 times
Bar Pull Up (palms up): 10-12 reps – note: be sure to contract and lift using your shoulders first, opening up the chest and keeping the belly down (no lifting with the stomach!). If you’re having difficulties, bring your feet a little closer to the bar.
Bicep Curl: 12.5 lbs at 10 reps – note: these use full to the side extension but don’t: swing your elbows back for momentum, raise/shrug your shoulders, or lean back as you lift them up. Try to keep the abs contracted and draw your movement from there.
Kettlebell One Arm Alternating Swing: 3kg at 30 reps – note: the goal is to keep your abs contracted, as well as pushing up through the heel while keeping your chest up (not parallel to the floor). Don’t swing the kettlebell much higher than shoulder height, but maintain control and bring it at least to your shoulders with arms straight.