Among other things, I set up Train for Pole as a place to record my own training and maintain accountability to my goals. As a part of this, I will be posting monthly check-ins. These will include the goals that I am currently working towards, both pole and non-pole related, and what my training currently looks like.
I spent the better part of the first half of 2018 both focussing on improving my pole skills before I went to Croatia Pole Camp and recovering from and rehabbing a shoulder injury. After a solid 6 months of dedicated focus on pole skills, while treating my shoulder with great care and fragility, I started October with a strong desire to mix things up.
When it comes to pole dancing, the move that I’m currently aiming to achieve is a Handspring. I refuse to train my handspring in twisted grip, because I already have an injured shoulder. I’m not prepared to take more time out to nurse injuries. This means training in either true grip or cup grip, both of which require significant strength. I’m a little burned out from what feels like butting my head against a brick wall with this move, so I’m taking a break, hitting pause. In the meantime, I’m focussing on building my all-over strength (see my off-pole goals), and cutting myself some pole-tricks slack.
After my Croatia Pole Camp experience, most notably with Josh Taylor, I’m also feeling the urge to brush-up my floorwork and basework flow. Moving forward I’d like to dedicate a little more energy to that. I’m switching up my pole training routine to focus less on tricks and more on flow in the coming few weeks.
My husband is travelling a lot at the moment, making it more difficult for me to train in the evenings. Unfortunately my pole studio is only open in the evening and on weekends. Once his schedule settles down, I am planning to change from one in-studio class per week to two classes per week. This should allow me to simultaneously work on tricks and flow.
Off-pole Strength Goals
Off the pole and in the gym, I’ve been focussing on my strength. I’ve been experimenting with more of a powerlifting style program. While previously, I have focussed on neuromuscular specificity and trying to strengthen my muscles through a pole-specific range of motion, I’m currently just focussing on building my all-round strength through the fundamental moves. If you’re unfamiliar, they are squats, deadlifts and bench-press, with overhead press and pull-ups as supplemental movements. My line of thinking is that if I am able to make significant improvements to my all-round strength, this should translate to my being stronger in power moves on the pole.
My current 1RM for each of these fundamental moves is:
Bench Press: 43kg.
Overhead Press: 38kg.
Pull-ups: Bodyweight -15kg (Banded).
I’ve used these figures to calculate appropriate weights to lift in a beginners powerlifting program. I’m only a week into that training. It’s quite different from my previous resistance training program, where I used an upper/lower split (training upper body twice per week and lower body twice per week). This program sees me lifting only three times per week, but doing full body training every time. I’m also not lifting to failure at all in this program, which is unusual and feels a little counter-intuitive.
I’m really excited to see how my strength progresses using this new training protocol. It’s difficult to set fixed goals when I don’t know how I will respond to this style of training. I would, however, like to achieve a 120kg 1RM for deadlifts and 1 unassisted pull-up before the end of the year.
Off-pole Skill Goals
I started 2018 with the goal of walking on my hands by the end of the year.
That’s not going to happen.
What I think I CAN do before the end of the year is achieve a solid, stable freestanding handstand from off a wall. I’m not too far off it at the moment. I can reliably hold an unsupported handstand for 5-6 seconds. I feel like I have the hands, arms, shoulders and head positioning sorted and strong. I’m getting the hang of truly engaging through my core and making balance compensations on the fly, and my stability improves every day.
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I try and practice my handstands daily, just for a few minutes. I average 5 attempts per day, and I’m seeing steady improvement.
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It’s been a while, so here’s a current physique update (in my most flattering gym gear ?) After last week at pole camp, I was feeling kind of down on myself, because I’m significantly older and somewhat fatter than a lot of the girls who attended. But after this morning at the gym, I’m feeling good in my own skin again. My fitness is not a competition against anyone but myself, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. My bodyfat levels are significantly below 30%, I’m in a healthy weight range, and I have above average muscle mass. Health and fitness is not a static thing, and I think I will forever be looking to lift heavier weights, bend my body further and do cooler things. I still feel like I have a ways to go before my body reflects the extent of my training, but every time I check in I’m seeing progress, and I am incredibly happy with that. Wearing my @creaturesofxix #foxbox leggings and @lornajaneactive tank.
I try not to focus too much on the aesthetic effects of my training. I don’t find my physical appearance to be a compelling reason to train. That doesn’t mean that I dislike looking athletic – there’s something to be said for having a body that reflects the training that you do.
I use a boditrax machine to track my body composition. They’re not incredibly accurate, but I use them as a benchmarking tool to monitor my progress.
Physical changes in 2018:
- I have lost 9kg of body fat.
- I have lost 900g of muscle (!)
- I’ve reduced my body fat percentage from 35.5% to 27.9%.
The fact that I have lost muscle mass shouldn’t come as a surprise, but to be honest, I was a little surprised. I have gained strength over this period of time, which goes to show that muscle size and muscle strength are not directly related.
It’s very normal when “on a cut” or attempting to lose body fat, that you also lose some muscle tissue. Typically, lean body tissue makes up 20-40% of total weight lost. I should really be happy that only 10% of the weight that I have lost has come from muscle (but I’m still pissed off that I lost muscle). I credit this to a few things.
Ways I succeeded in cutting:
- I have been diligent in regular resistance training, primarily training to failure in the 8-12 reps zone.
- My protein intake was good, and I planned most of my meals with a “protein first” mentality.
- I have been loosely following the LeanGains Protocol, designed to allow muscle growth without increasing body fat.
Where I could have done better in cutting:
- When I was counting calories, I consciously allowed myself to eat at a reasonably large deficit. Some days I would have a deficit of 600-1000 calories.
- Once I stopped counting calories, I found myself occasionally skipping meals because I just wasn’t hungry.
My dilemma is this: I do NOT want to lose muscle mass. I do NOT want to lose strength. My body fat levels are still higher than optimal, and my athletic performance would be enhanced by a lower body fat percentage – ideally between 18-22%. I also have an event coming up in mid-February 2019, and I would like to look as jacked as possible by then.
Ultimately, it makes the most sense to continue to “cut” at a slow and steady pace. I need to use all the tools in my arsenal to retain as much muscle mass as possible while cutting. Once I get down to around 22%, I can re-evaluate, and look to do a slow and steady bulk.
My goal is to lose another 4.9% body fat while retaining as much muscle as possible. It’s a pain in the ass, but the most sensible thing is for me to monitor my calories and macros again. The last few weeks I’ve been eating intuitively and really enjoying it, but intuitive eating doesn’t offer the sort of precision that close monitoring can give.
I’ll be keeping my deficit very modest, at around 10% of my TDEE. This will pair with my adapted version of LeanGains, with the occasional longer eating window to accommodate breakfast cravings.
Current training schedule:
- Monday: Strength lifting day (AM), Exotic Pole (PM)
- Tuesday: Pilates
- Wednesday: Power lifting Day
- Thursday: Pole Tricks
- Friday: General training as practice client for Megan (the friend I am doing my personal training course with, and my pole BFF) followed by HIIT.
- Saturday: Hypertrophy lifting day
- Sunday: Rest Day
That about sums up my training plans and goals for the month ahead. I look forward to checking in again in November with an update on my progress, and a review of my training and nutrition.
Are we working on any common goals? What are you currently training for or working towards? Let me know in the comments, it’s nice to have accountability buddies!