Monday, March 2, 2015

Guest Post: I Open My Own Jars

Today I have a very special guest post by my training partner, Ana. Most of our time spent together consists of finding new and creative ways to annoy each other, but on occasion, one of us has nice things to say about the other -- like this. Take it away, Ana!

I Open My Own Jars

By Ana Ebrahimi

If you follow Travis on Facebook, you’ve likely seen me on his page. I’m that girl often referred to as his workout partner in the multitude of videos and articles written by and about our dear Fitness Pollenator. I may have even taken one or two photos for him along the way (one or two per day, that is).

Just little old me watching Travis get famous…

Since the summer of 2014, Travis has been writing amazing workout programs for us. The programs usually consist of four days a week of lifting for four weeks (which is about as long as Travis can handle before wanting to try the next big thing).

At first, we started with just a meat and potatoes style program, a la Mark Rippetoe. We’ve since gone through it all, from a CrossFit-type model, to using concurrent periodization. And if you’re wondering what’s hot right now, just look up Max Shank’s “Ultimate Athleticism” work, which we just wrapped up a variation of last month.

So while Travis has been making up the workouts, I’ve just been enjoying the free advice! Hey, as a former competitive gymnast, I’m no stranger to doing whatever my coach says. Well, over the last year and a half, I’ve done just that, and I’ve made HUGE gains along the way. Some highlights were a 135-pound 1RM bench press, winning a school-wide bodyweight pull-up contest, and most recently doing bodyweight dips!

Over the last few months, though, the engineer in me has begun to question our workouts. I wanted to know why I shouldn’t pair deadlifts and pull-ups, or why my front squat technique was better than my back squat. Like any athlete, I wanted to know how best to move my body to optimize my performance.

I began studying the works of great coaches like Jen Sinkler, Neghar Fonooni, Bret Contreras, Dean Somerset, and Mike Boyle. I started reading Baechle and Earle’s Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. I even modified some of my own workouts! In an effort to break the stereotype of women passing those tight lid jars to a man, I even came up with the mantra “I Open My Own Jars.” As a result of this process, I’ve felt more in control of my time at the gym.

My girl Rosie!

Now, I’m finally ready for my own original workouts, "chalk-full" of all my favorite things (with a little help from my workout partner, of course). As shown below, each day focuses on two of the four major lifts (Day 1/3: Squats and Push, Day 2/4: Deadlift and Pull). Each major movement is paired with a minor (or accessory) movement (e.g. a pushing movement with a hamstring accessory exercise, deadlift with a push accessory exercise). For the last three exercises (C), I chose an arm, core, and leg exercise every day that I enjoyed. 

My favorite part about writing my own workouts? 
They’re personalized to me.

A good rule of thumb is generally to start your workouts with the most taxing lifts, such as Olympic lifts, and to place them earlier in the week when you’re most fresh. For my purposes, however, Day 4 works best for me for snatches. I've learned that as long as you know the rules, you’re allowed to break them.

Exercise should be enjoyable, whatever it is. With consistent weight training, I now walk taller, I feel more confident, and I consistently surprise myself with what my body is capable of. If you’re new to weight training, there are amazing resources out there to help you get started, including a post by Travis specifically for the ladies.

Thank you for reading, and thanks, Travis, for being the bumble bee leading me down the yellow and black road to Gainzville, USA. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love your feedback below!

Now go open your own jars!

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