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Caroline's Log

Hello everyone, I was hoping that you guys might be able to offer me a little advice as these days I seem to be continuously confused about my training !

I was hoping that if I ran by you what I have been up to and what I am hoping to achieve, you guys might be able to tell me if im heading in the right kind of direction !!

Ok well Ive been lifting for a couple of months now, not a great deal but im still kind of getting used to the idea. And, I have even managed to work out what my goals are, which has been so hard as I think probably like most people I want it all ! So, my main priority is to get leaner, in a smaller way, i.e. no increase in size, decrease my body fat percent, and hopefully from that get more definition inside my current size if that makes sense, and also hopefully get a bit stronger, but this is not my main priority, hopefully this will just happen a little a long the way.

So mostly, I do a full body work out trying to do as many compound type exercises in there as possible, twice a week (so everything gets it twice). Some times I split my work out over 2 days if im short on time, but mostly I try to do it all in one day. I normally do 2 sets of everything, 15 reps, except when i do squats I normally do 3 sets for some reason. I seem to be the only person in my gym doing squats, DLs etc etc, whats with all these guys just doing bench press and concentration curls, hmm! Anyway, so for squats im doing 30kg, bent over rows 20kg, I seem to hover around 20 or 30 kg for most things, all at 2 sets of 15.

Ive then been trying to fit in a spinning class in the week, and also I do kickboxing on a Thursday night, so I usually train M,T wed rest or just more light cardio, T, F on. Sat & Sun rest.

Ive also got the eating down, so I think, not too concerned about this, eating 6 x a day good sources of protein, fruit n veg, almonds etc, limiting carbs from dinner on. I also have a glutamine drink after I lift, and a protein shake in the afternoon after I lift too, I do all my work outs about 11am. I also take a multi vit and an l-carnitine supplement (excuse spelling).

So basically what my question is at the moment is, can I decrease size (more definition, more toned etc) by training weights? Should I be doing less reps, or carry on doing high reps? Should I be trying to increase my weights that im lifting? I guess I could loose fat by doing cardio, but cardio sucks and weights are so much more fun. I also like to try to push myself with weights so normally by the last rep of each set it is pretty hard.

Im a classic pear shape and my bottom half is two dress sizes bigger than my top half, I would ideally like to decrease the size of my legs and bum more than my top, but I know that this kind of thing in reality never really happens it just comes off all ova. Anyway, sorry if this is a bit waffley, hope it all makes sense. Any tips, pointers, advice would be really really greatfully received. Thanks so much. Also here are some pics of me just cos everyone likes a pic and u can get an idea of my body shape ! Im the one in the dark sunnies! Thanks !!

second pic didnt post for some reason !

Can you post your training in a bit more detail? What exercises do you do? If you don’t mind, just post a typical exercise/set/rep log from each different gym day. It will help me get a better idea of what you actually do.

Hi there

Thanks for your reply, well, I�??ve decided to make myself a bit of a log to keep me focused. Ok so here is what I did today:

Warm up 5 mins on cross trainer
Assisted Chin Ups 2 x 15 at 130 llbs (a little easy could do more) (I think I weigh about 150 so this isn�??t a lot of weight im pulling here really!)
Triceps pull down 2 x 15 of 10kg (hard at end)
Squat 3 x 15 of 32kg (didn�??t struggle at end could do a little more)
DB Chest Press with shoulders on swiss ball 2x15 of 9kg in each hand (hard at end)
DB Shoulder Press sitting on swiss ball 1 x 15 of 5kg in each hand, and 1 x 15 of 4kg in each hand (5 kg a too hard!)
Low seated cable pull row 2 x 15 of 22kg (ok)
Bicep curl from low cable 2 x 15 of 10kg (ok) (two hands holding the bar)
Split squat or lunges 2 x 15 on each leg of 30 kg (hard but just bearable)
Chest fly 2 x 15 of 6kg (a little hard)

And various abs chucked in randomly in between sets. Also I kind of mix up my sets so in the break from chin ups im doing tricep pull downs, stuff like that, a bit random, but not sure if this makes any difference.

Tomorrow I�??m planning to do spin class, and this week im going to try to do weights again weds, and again on Friday if I don�??t get hurt at kickboxing Thursday night that is!

For the stuff that is ok/easier I�??m thinking of dropping my reps to maybe 12 to see if I can go up a little weight!!

Initially I think you aren’t doing enough of the right kind of work. 2 sets of 15 reps is both not enough work and too much. You need to do more sets to tax your muscles more. You also need to do less reps to initiate muscle building. When you lift in a high rep range like 15 you are basically building endurance, teaching your muscles to become more and more efficient (use less calories) at the same exercise. You don’t want this to happen.

You want to progressively challenge your muscles so that they respond by growing. I would suggest that you try 3 sets of 8, 5 sets of 5, or 4 sets of 6. Make sure that the last rep of each set is difficult to complete. You still want perfect form, you just want to know that if you did one more rep, it would be too hard. Make sense?

Where did you come up with your exercise selection? Are these the lifts that someone showed you or are you working off some sort of program?

Assisted Chin Ups:
Works biceps and back. 130 is way too much assistance. In my opinion, if you are using only 20lbs less than your weight, you shouldn’t be doing this exercise. However, my suspicion is that you are using so much weight so that you can get all 15 reps. Stop wasting your time. Try for only 3 reps and see how little assistance you need then. The goal here is to build strength so that you can do them unassisted. Once you can get even one chin without assistance, you’ve made great progress. :slight_smile:

Triceps pull down:
Works triceps (duh).

Quads, hammies, glutes. How low do you squat? At or below parallel will give you the best results. Again, lower your reps so that you can handle more weight. You don’t want to be exhausted by the last rep. You want to feel solid and strong.

DB Chest Press with shoulders on swiss ball:
Works triceps and pectorals. Stop doing this on the ball. Trainers teach you this because they like to pretend it works your “core.” Bull. In reality it makes you more injury prone and makes it more difficult to use more weight. Do these on a flat bench instead.

DB Shoulder Press sitting on swiss ball:
Works shoulders and triceps. Again, the goal of a shoulder press isn’t to work your abs. Do this on an adjustable bench that gives you back support, not on a ball.

Low seated cable pull row:
Works back and biceps. This can be a real strength move if you lower your reps. You’ll be shocked how strong you are and how shapely and firm your back will get!

Bicep curl from low cable:
Works biceps. I don’t like this. People tend to have poor form and use their bodies too much to muscle up the weight. It’s supposed to be an isolation lift.

Split squat or lunges:
Works quads, hammies, glutes. I like these because they make you work both legs equally hard. You can’t have one stronger one compensating for the other.

Chest fly:
Works pectorals.

So here are the muscles you are training:
Biceps - 3 different ways
Triceps - 3 different ways
Quads - 2 ways
Hammies - 2 ways
Glutes - 2 ways
Back - 2 ways
Pecs - 2 ways

When you are hitting so many muscle groups so many different ways you tend to not put enough effort into any of them. Can you split things up into more than two days of weight training a week? A bodypart or upper/lower split will give you better results than this total body approach.

How 'bout:

bench press/bent over row

oh shoulder press/lat pulldown

lunges/leg extension/leg curls
small muscles(bicep/tri supersets

Or something like that!

Here is a good workout plan!

Hi thanks that is all really really helpful !

Well how I came up with it was basically I knew I should be doing squats and lunges, and had heard the phrase compound exercises and also that I should incorporate free weights rather than the machines, and then I just bought an anatomy book showing exercises and muscles used, and picked out 2 or so exercises for each area, and then thought that if I wanted to do more a kind of conditioning workout that I should do high reps, so I went for 15 and tried to do as much as I can for the 15. Ofcourse the first 5 are really easy, next 5 ok, and the last few im normally pretty tired!

All the while I keep getting really confused, because I know I want to take on muscle to stoke my metabolism, but im still finding it really hard to get over the fact that as a woman I wont bulk up too much by lifting short sets and heavy. All the while im liking the tiny bit more definition in my shoulders and arms and the nice line down my back, but seriously feel so worried about getting any bigger that was why I have been sticking to 15 reps!

So after reading some more articles on here and reading your kind responses, my next weights work out will be on Wednesday, and im going to give 3x8s a go, going to reduce the reps gradually and ofcourse at 3x8 I should be able to lift some more. Defo agree about the chin ups, will aim for 3 as un-assisted as possible and try to get this down.

Im now slightly unsure how to split things, I could definately get in 3 days of weights, maybe four, maybe I can leave out arms and shoulders or just hit these once a week as they will get worked when im doing other stuff?

So on Wednesday I guess im going to go for some legs and back (really want to try those chin ups), and Friday, chest and arms?!

Im still going to do spinning tomorrow but thats only 30 mins of cardio and although its hard im reasonably cardio fit so think this is ok and I should still be ok recovery wise to lift again on Weds. Likewise with kickboxing on Thursday night.

Thanks for the tips about the ball, thats all the trainers in the gym seem to go on about is all this core stuff, but I would assume if you are doing heavy squats and the like then your core will strengthen from that as the weight is being held all down your whole body right?

Also, I agree with you about the bicep curl from low cable, one of those things that I have known but didnt really admit it if you know what I mean, I will change it!

And for the squats, I normally put a bench behind me and squat down to touch it so its just about parallel, I think I am going to try to go just below parallel as this seems like a good idea.

Ok so I guess I’ll just post up what I get up to on Wednesday, a bit of trial and error and a big steep learning curve for me, there is so much to read and lots of conflicting stuff even on here (I have been reading stuff on lactate-inducing lifting), well I guess its not necessarily conflicting but when you are not entirely sure of your goal then thats when it becomes difficult! I would happily go for more strength if I am not going to look like a hulk, but thought that conditioning was the way to go.

Thanks again, hope all makes sense as I do have a tendancy to ramble on!

Hey I’m really glad to hear that you are reading and thinking. There does seem to be a lot of conflicting advice but like you said, it all depends on what your goal is. Certain things will work better for different goals.

You won’t get big, trust me. I’ve been trying to get big for years lifting heavy weights and it hasn’t happened yet. :slight_smile: You have to put some serious effort into training and eating to put on that much muscle.

Honestly, the more you train and the better shape you get in, the smaller you will be. You’ll have lower bodyfat and more definition. Your body will appear more symmetrical and your lower body will lean out. Of course this won’t happen overnight, but it really can happen. Lifting weights simply won’t turn you into the incredible hulk unless you train and eat like a fiend. Promise. :slight_smile:

Ok thought I would post a pic for kind of progress tracking, would like to get a lot more definition along the bottom of my arms, top of the arms, ok well I guess everywhere !! Any thoughts appreciated !!

I did spin today it was cool not too hard but still a good 40 mins of sweating. Also I’ve recruited a trainer from the gym to spot me tomorrow morning when I try to lift as heavy as possible. Still going to do legs and back, so squats and lunges I guess, maybe some stiff legged dead lifts but I struggle with my grip on these, chin ups - 3 as un-assisted as possible, some rows not sure which yet, pull downs maybe. Im going to ask the trainer tomorrow because im a little confused as to how many exercises I should do for each area i.e how many I should do for my back, and how many I should do for my legs. I think im going to try 4x6s, will get him to write it all down for me as I do it so I can post up what I get up to at some point tomorrow.

Thanks all !!

Well, today was my first attempt at doing lower reps, more sets and heavier weights. I was very impressed with how tired I got! I enlisted the help of my PT guy as I was a little nervous about lifting heavier and not exactly sure how heavy to go. So after my 8 min cross trainer warm up he weighed me (70kg) and then I did:

5x5 at 55kg

My PT set me off with 2 min breaks between each set, but I get a little impatient so I ended up taking mostly 90 seconds for each rest period, and did a set of 15 or 20 abs moves in each rest as well. I wasn�??t very happy with my form as when I had the weight on my back I couldn�??t seem to go down the last inch or so more that I wanted to get parallel. I�??m not sure if this was a mental block, as I could easily get parallel with no weight on my back. I did feel a bit like my quads were going to give way for that last inch. I think next time I do squats I will start at a lower weight and work upwards to see if I can get over this problem ! However, although this weight felt heavy, I think I could have lifted more, once I get that last inch!! He said a good first aiming point would be to be able to squat my body weight, so a goal not too far away which sounds good to me!

Dead Lift
5x5 at 40kg

These were ok, they made me very tired ! By the end of the last two sets my grip started to go a little, but was ok to finish. Also, want to practice my form more as need to get my bum down a bit more.

I wanted to also work my back in this session, but that was when I didn�??t realise how tired I would be and also with the longer rests we ran out of time. So I did:

DB Bicep Curls �?? 6kg in each hand
Tricep pull down �?? 10kg

Alternate sets 3x10

The bicep curls were a little hard, the pull downs were ok but not terrible. I now have to fit in Back and Chest at some point this week, hopefully Friday, I would like to do these both in one day although its probably not really a good idea!

Oh also today my body fat was 34.4, im not sure if im going to measure this every day, maybe once a week, but just thought I would get it down today.

Nice! That’s a really solid effort for your first go with heavier weights. I think the squat issue is a mental block, like you are afraid you won’t get up again if you go too low. Starting with lower weight and working up slowly will help with that. I’ve got the same issue. :slight_smile:

This is a pretty basic program that a lot of women have used to get started training: http://www.T-Nation.com/readArticle.do?id=508031

Also, check out anything written by Dr. Berardi for nutrition advice: http://www.T-Nation.com/ALSAuthor.do?p=John%20Berardi&pageNo=1 If you scroll a couple pages back to his older articles you will find some very basic ideas that will make a big difference in your habits.

Hey thanks for the feedback !! Thanks also for the link, I think I might give that a go in the future! For the next five/six weeks (will be bikini wearing on 10 May!) im going to do a 3 day split with heavy sets at 5x5 and then one day on the weekend probably go for 2x15s lower weight and total body, a kind of rep day I guess. Just because this is what I think I can fit in nicely without too much stress and will still allow me to do other things that I like such as kickboxing, sleeping etc ha! And also I really want to hit each muscle group twice in 1 week. So im going to see how I get on with this approach for now, I think !

Well I know this might sound kind of strange for someone who is new to heavier lifting, but Im quite happy with my eating and nutrition at the moment. Ive put a list of whats on the menu today, and I know I could make it a little cleaner but its all kind of life balance and to be honest I would prefer to concentrate on my training right now than trying to cut bits and bobs from my diet and I really enjoy what Im eating at the moment, it makes me happy to eat! I have been thinking about adding a BCAA supplement and was wondering if anyone had any experience with these? Thanks!

7.00am 1 weetabix with some semi skimmed milk and tspn rasins
8.00am HIIT (running 30 mins, yuk!)
9.00am protein shake in the changing room (hmm) made with 1 scp Dymatize Elite Whey (think its about 23 g protein in it), I make it with 1 tspn organic crap free peanut butter, a handful of frozen berries, milk to make 500ml to fill a small flask, lush! (just realised Dymatize has BCAAs in it, not sure how much, something else to investigate!)
10.00am still hungry, need more carbs! - high bran wholemeal seed (food doctor) bagel (9.2g protein in 1 bagel!), with 1 tspn peanut butter and ½ tspn diabetic jam (I know this has crap in it but its nice!)
13.00 sweet potato with tin tuna 1 tablespoon very low fat mayo, 1 tablespoon Heinz ketchup (salt, sugar, I know ; -)
14:00 2 plumbs
15.30 150g low fat un-sweetened natural bio yoghurt with 2 handfulls frozen berrys
16:30 apple and 8 almonds
18:30 250g lean steak mince made into a kind of bolognaise sauce with tin chopped tomatoes, herbs etc, maybe corguetts & onions chucked in too, no crap. Oooh topped with 30g half fat cheddar cheese as well, hmmm.
20:00 Kickboxing for 1 hour
21:30 Im sure I will be hungry again no doubt, I�??ll probably eat a yoghurt and some almonds again ! Also will take a multi vit and l-carnitine.
23.00 sleep !

Oh and ofcourse lots of water and green tea, cant get enough of the stuff even tho I thought it tasted of fish water at first !

I only eat carbs that are low GI, as in wholemeal and rarely eat them past lunch time, so just fruit & veg in the eves carb wise and those found in the odd yoghurt I may have.

Today is not really my normal diet as I don�??t usually do cardio twice in one day. Although I eat the same kind of things, I guess it would usually be one meal or so less, maybe :-).

I normally do weights about 11am and then straight after have 5g glutamine and then 30 mins later my shake as above. Will post up tomorrows diet to see how it looks ! Any comments would be most welcome, thanks heaps!!

More food !! So after yesterday, I felt like I ate a bit too much, I feel bloated today!! So I have decided to hone down a little on my eating and just really try to pay a little more attention! So here is the menu for today:

07.45 2xWeetabix, tbspn rasisns, skim milk
10.30 apple 8x almonds
12.30 High bran seeded bagel and 3 eggs, tbspn v.low fat mayo
15.00 Banana, skim milk regular latte, 3 plumbs
16.45 Glutamine Drink
17.00 Train Chest n 30 mins HIIT
18.30 Shake as yesterday (worked out each serving contains 5g of BCAA)
19.45 250g lean mince with veggies (corguette & onion, tin tomato), 20g half fat cheddar
21.00 Low fat bio yoghurt and 2 handfuls frozen berries

Its really helpful to lay it all out like this, by looking at the days food Im thinking 2 things. Firstly, I should really be eating some more protein, especially in my first meal, Im now considering having an extra shake, put it in at 07.45, skip the weetabix, chuck some oats in the shake as well, maybe that could be good and also filling, hmm! Secondly, my carbs should be up around when im training. I should have thought about that before and at least swapped my dinner and lunch. The time I I train is usually around 11am so carbs for breakfast I guess is ok, but today its later. Anyhow, its all a learning curve!. Oh also, slightly concerned about carbs found in yoghurt and berries eaten so late, I am going to try to think of another snack to have instead, any ideas welcome !!

Im not sure what weights im going to be able to do on my chest later, I want to go for 5x5 of bench but at what weight Im not sure (I might just work them up start at 20kg or so and see how I get on), another chest exercise, not sure what yet, and also 3x10 press-ups (will do these first I think!). Im going to look at some other peoples logs to get some ideas for the extra chest exercise, maybe I will do some flys. Then after that I have to jog for 30 mins, my trainer entered me into this marathon challenge at the gym and I have to run 26.2 miles over the next month but split into 10 sessions, which is not too bad, but not so good for someone like me who doesn�??t do running, just a bit annoying having to try to fit it in!

Will post again tonight after training.

Ive only seen a couple days of your food log here on this thread, however on the day that you trained late in the day you would of only consumed roughly 50 grams of protein prior to your work out at 1700hrs.

Then beyond that the intake is still minimal.

You do sound as though you are looking in the right direction regarding nutrition. Adding in more of the good fats will also help wonders. Those such as olive oil and fish oil caps. A tablespoon of milled flax in a shake a couple times a day will also help a ton.

After an hour of kickboxing I think i would collapse if I only ate a small yougourt and some almonds.

Hey thanks for reviewing my food log, yes defo going to up the protein dramatically! Also agree about flaxseed and fish oil, I need to go shopping big time !

Friday 4th April

Well I ended up training at 11.30 in the end, which made a bit more sense with what I had planned to eat that day.

Here is what I did:

1x5 bar (10kg)
3x5 20kg
2x5 22.5 (this was hard, especially the last rep my form really started to go)

DB Flys
5x5 14kg total

1x10 full
1x3 full
1x7 girly

Assisted Chins
2x2 45kg of assistance �?? how rubbish !! So I chinned like 25kg, a long way to go!

Saturday 5th April �?? trained at about 10.30

I went to a new gym today, I hate going to new places as you can never find what you need the first time around.

One arm DB rows
2x5 15kg
3x5 20kg

Stiff armed lat pull downs
There were no numbers on this machine, I have no idea what I was pulling, maybe 20kg? Rubbish!

Lat Pull downs
3x5 �?? again no numbers

Stiff legged DL
3x8 30kg

Forgot to do shoulders, grr!!

Back was really sore all day sat & Sunday, and my hammies are still aching from the DL.

Have also really been thinking about my diet as I feel like im getting a bit fed up with looking soft. Need to drastically increase my protein intake as im still not getting enough. I think im going to aim for 3 shakes a day now, still getting my head round all of this tho! Also need some gloves pronto, my poor hands !!

Its squat day today, woo hooo !!

Monday 7th Workout

7 mins cardio elliptical/strider machine


1x5 bar (10kg)
1x5 30
1x5 40
3x5 45

This was less than I did last week, however, I really wanted to work my weights up and concentrate on my form as I was having trouble getting down low when I was pushing 55 last week. Also, my hammies were still really sore from Saturday�??s work out and I felt very tired today post weekend. I am happy with what I lifted, but I think I am going to try to stay a little lighter on these and concentrate on going really low for a while, I do feel like my legs have not got as much power on the low portion of the squat.


2x5 30
3x5 40

Not bad, again, tired today, poor excuse!

Tri pull downs 2x12 @ 12.5
A bit hard, better than last week so I am pleased with that
DB Bicep Curls 2x12 @ 12 combined
Same as last week, felt a bit easier tho so that�??s good, will make a note to go up in weight next time.

Your workouts are looking good. I like you analyze your training as you post. I find that really helps me decide how to change things for the next time around.

I agree about the protein; try to have a serving of it with every meal and you’ll be getting enough in no time.

I try to limit my carbs to first thing in the morning and right after training. I like them in the AM because it gets me going and I know my body is best able to deal with them without storing them as fat. All other times I make myself have to earn the carbs by training hard before I get to eat them. It’s helped me stay lean in the past.

Yesterday’s Workout (tues)

35 min HIIT
DB Chest
1x10 @ 18
1x10 @ 20
1x10 @ 18

DB Fly
3x10 @ 10

DB Shoulder Press
3x10 @ 10

Press-ups 2x10