On January 26, 2017, I took a selfie of myself in the gym mirror flexing my arm muscles. I looked at the picture and realized how much I had been neglecting my upper body. Don’t get me wrong, I had muscle definition but I didn’t really feel strong when I looked at that photo.
Here’s how it all started…with my hormones.
I had been in a kind of workout funk. As I was healing my hormones to reverse damage from birth control, I had to take it a bit easier with my training. During those months, doing a lot less would make me much more exhausted and fatigued. I didn’t have as much power as before and I wanted to respect my body during this recovery process. And now, after all that – let’s just say it showed.
I posted an entire recap of my journey right here on my blog. You can check out all the incredible health-protocol I implemented in order to be able to heal my hormones and cystic acne naturally. If you have any questions, never hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I ain’t sayin’ she’s a goal digger…”
So, I decided that I would set some goals for building arm muscles! I wanted to grow my biceps, triceps and shoulders a bit – and have some more definition in my back. Overall, I just wanted to look and feel stronger in my upper body. You guys know, I am a fein for leg day. If someone told me I could train my legs every single day – I would be a happy camper. I don’t HATE training upper body, but during those months when I had reduced energy – I would focus the energy I did have on training my booty 🙂 I am a woman – can you blame me?
The goals that work best for me are mid-length goals: around 6 weeks. I like 6-week goals because they give me enough time to make some mistakes and iron out any wrinkles that might come up – and they do! Usually the first week consists of a bit of tweaks here and there, so then I can really be sure that I am mastering the new habits in a way that works well for me – and actually taking the time to do that process.
Here’s what my 6-week goal plan of attack looked like:
1. I set my goal: “I want to gain mass in my arms and have more defined back muscles in 6 weeks.” I had taken a before picture on January 26, 2017 and I had decided that was my start date. In six weeks I wanted to take an after picture and have it look significantly “better” in my opinion. Because as long as I’M HAPPY with what I see and feel, right?…right!
2. I sought out inspiration: While there is a lot of bulls*t on Instagram, I have a lot of really amazing and motivating friends from back home in California that I follow. My friends Julie (health coach and fitness competitor) and Kristine (hair stylist and fitness competitor) always post really awesome training photos. I decided that they would be, as I call it, my #gunspiration. Not only do they have rockin’ bodies, but they are actually really great people INSIDE as well – the best part anyway.
3. I told people about it: I posted my before picture on Facebook and Instagram. I wanted to be open with everyone that I hang out with on social media that I wanted to try and accomplish something. Why? Because I know everyone would be super supportive and make sure that I do make it happen. Now, you don’t have to post your goal on social media as part of this step. You can always tell a friend, partner or family member about this instead. Tell people that you know will have your back – no matter what!
4. I made a plan: First of all, I just want to say that this is my plan. Everyone is at a different fitness level and I monitor my nutrition really carefully when I am training really hard at this caliber. Sometimes people send me messages on Instagram Stories asking, “Do you always work out?” LOL Because that’s usually when I have a few spare minutes to post things or talk as I am heading to work.
Right now I am in the process of training for my first Sprint Triathlon. Plus, you guys know I am obsessed with our bodyweight training app – Runtastic Results. I am continuing to use the app almost constantly because I love to check if I can make the workouts better, if the app is working perfectly for everyone and basically to have most of the content memorized so that people can ask me questions and I can give the best answer. I didn’t want to give up those things while I was building arm muscles. So I really thought about it and was able to fit 3 weight-lifting workouts in per week. This totalled approximately 60-90 minutes of training 6 days per week.
Remember, it’s a sprint triathlon so it’s not very long. Therefore, my cardio duration on any given workout hasn’t been longer than 45 minutes. It’s not like I am doing hours of cardio plus extra – that’s why it is going well for me.
5. I put all my workouts in my calendar as appointments: If you look in my calendar right now, all my workouts are always in there. For me it’s really important to have the time blocked out. A little bit of time for me (putting “gas in the tank”) makes me SO much better at everything that I do. I can’t imagine if I didn’t have my work out time to my self every week.
6. Bodyweight and HEAVY weights: A lot of women are afraid of “getting bulky and manly” when they lift weights. And I am sure there are women out there that think I have too much muscle – that’s fine. While bodyweight training exercises (push-up variations, up-downs, triceps dips, etc.) keep my arms strong and tone (and sexy) – I decided to do a mixture of both bodyweight & adding heavy lifting days in the mix as well. So, I separated my training days into total-body workouts with heavy upper body lifts.
Tuesday: back & legs
Thursday: shoulders & calves
Saturday: arms, butt, hamstrings & abs
I tried to focus on the upper half of the body first when I had the most energy after my warm up. This is something I suggest no matter what your goal is. A lot of people ask “cardio or weights first?” Well, it depends on what your goal is. When my goal is to gain muscle, lifting weights come first. If my goal was to boost endurance and to run further or longer, then the cardio comes first. BUT, if the longer duration cardio comes first – be sure to keep in mind that you should lift super heavy or perform many complicated lifts with caution, because you could get injured after your body is already fatigued from cardio.
Anyway, I kept all of my lifts really heavy and around 6-10 repetitions for 3 sets. I also mixed up the tempo to slower and faster on the eccentric (lengthening) and concentric (shortening) phase.
And yeah – that’s what worked for me! But see, you can’t just have a goal without a clear picture and plan of attack. I hope this gives you a bit more insight on how I set goals, what I am kind of thinking when it’s time to set goals and how it actually works out – emphasis on WORK (it’s not always easy!).
So, what’s next?
Well, I just stop training my arms…kidding! I want to continue to build a bit more in my arms so I tweaked my training plan and will continue another 6 weeks to see what other changes I can manage to accomplish. Plus I added a bit more plyometric exercises for my booty, too. I will give you updates as usual. <3
As always, so much love and strength to you guys! Let me know about your goals by sending me a tweet. I love connecting with you.