If I’m not mistaken, I never shared how our final sessions with our trainer went. I believe the last time I offered an update was in May. So we have some ground to cover.

Our final three or four sessions were focused on strength and then power. The strength weeks were pretty straight forward: heavy weights for low reps, generally 4-5 sets of only five reps. I have to admit the testosterone kicked in during these weeks as I started throwing some heavy weights around (or more correctly struggling to gently move them from a resting position) and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Until the next morning when all the stiffness set in. There were some especially brutal dead-lifts that nearly wrecked both my back and S.’s.

The power week was a mess. S. wasn’t able to make our session, so I was on my own. I had no idea what a power workout was going in. Turns out it’s a lot of jumping and leaping and squatting and whatnot. Then you throw medicine balls around for awhile. It nearly made me puke. We began with several series of jumps: first jumping onto progressively higher benches; then doing a lunge, jumping into the air, and landing in a lunge position with the opposite leg forward; squat-thrusts that ended with a vertical jump; and finally what I’ll call jump rope jumping in which you take a small hop, jump as high as you can while bringing your knees to your chest, and repeating. By the time we got to the first set of that final exercise, I was already sweating like crazy, struggling to catch my breath, and seeing spots. After that set my legs were like rubber and I started looking for a trashcan. I avoided purging, but did have to walk out the lactic acid on the treadmill. I chose to skip repeating any of those workouts the rest of that week.

So we wrapped up our work with the trainer the week before we went to Mexico. After a week or so off, I’ve started the workouts from the beginning, adding weight or more difficult apparatuses as needed. It’s pretty amazing to be doing squats on a Bosu with relative ease now compared to back in February when I could barely stay upright on one. I don’t think I’ve made dramatic, visible changes to my body, but I am definitely in better shape than I was when we started. Of course, I feel like I’m back to a fairly base level of fitness now and what I do from here on out will be the real benefit. I knew I was out of shape but it’s humbling to see how all the work I’ve done over six months just got me back to a point where I think I should have been to begin with.

I think I’ve said this in each of my summaries, but I really enjoyed our trainer’s approach. Regardless of phase or what kinds of workout tools we were using, we stuck to these basics: two lower body exercises, a chest exercise, a back exercise, a shoulder exercise, then a series of total body exercises and ending with ab work and yoga for stretching. We never did biceps curls or triceps extensions or any other exercises that focused on a single, secondary muscle group. At first I was a little confused by this, but as my fitness improved I could feel the total body portion of our workouts hitting all those groups in ways that were a lot more interesting than standing around and curling dumbbells.

By far my favorite total body exercise is what our trainer called grannies: you hold a medicine ball in front of you with your arms extended, squat down letting the weight drop between your legs, then explode up lifting the weight up over your head. He recommended thinking of trying to throw the weight as high, straight above your head as you could. Without actually throwing it, of course. When we started these in week three, they just about knocked me out. Not unlike the power workout, I would be sweating, struggling to breath, and trying not to pass out when we got to set three. By May, though, when I had firmed up my core strength and my knees weren’t creaking quite as much, I started to really dig them. I was still gassed at the end of set three, but now it was like how I feel after a good, hard run. We did a few variations on these, sometimes going from left foot to right shoulder and vice versa for example. If you want to do a basic exercise that hits everything, I highly recommend these.

So yeah, I’m in better shape than I was back in February. There’s still room for improvement. I didn’t do a lot of cardio work in conjunction with our weight work, so my goal for this second time through is to run at least a couple times a week. I do notice strength that I didn’t used to have, especially in my core muscle groups, and some of the little aches and pains I used to have in my knees and back are not nearly as noticeable as they used to be. I think that’s a sign that this routine was a success.