34*F in April makes me question what I used to call my favorite season of the year. ❄️ That said, I am ironically grateful for the past weeks’ bad weather because it forced me to stay inside, work, and finally finish(!) my thesis that was due last week April 5th.
With the exception of defense in May, thesis is now officially done and over with, and after a chilly start to the season, NJ weather is finally getting warmer; I feel as if I can shake a leg again, and I mean that (almost) literally.
Since the beginning of 2016, I’ve been pretty consistent with my high-intensity circuit-style workouts, but ever since thesis took over my life, I haven’t been doing much yoga or stretching or general flexibility training. 🙆
I know many people utilize yoga as a stress relief, but when I’m preoccupied or just very stressed out, I’d much rather hash out a high-intensity workout with many repetitions of strength and plyometric exercises while listening to crazy EDM music than do something relaxing like yoga.
This probably isn’t a “good” thing, and I should learn to do yoga when I am very stressed because it could be very helpful. Thing is, I have tried, and I just can’t bring myself to concentrate on relaxing when I’m super stressed. I’m an all-or-nothing sort of person. When I’m in an “extreme” sort of mind, I’ll do “extreme” high-intensity workouts, whereas when I’m relaxed, I’ll do relaxing workouts like yoga.
HIIT workouts are really my type of stress relief. So as annoying and stressful thesis life was, I think I actually I got fitter during (except for the last couple of crunch time days in which I pulled my first academic-related college all-nighter the night before my thesis was due!). Many exercises, particularly chin ups and pull ups, got a lot easier for me.
Speaking of which, these photos are from last April 2015, but I’m only really looking at them until now and realized that I actually do have a semi-defined upper back! 🌸 Total surprise because my back muscles is probably one of the weaker part of me.
I guess those push ups and pull ups are doing their thing. I work particularly on my pull muscles (which target your back) one-to-two times per week (workout link below) but also try to squeeze in a couple of chin ups almost everyday (even if it’s just one chin up).
I’ll post a few of my favorite upper back exercises below in this blog post, just in time for Spring to show off those wings. 😉
Also, you can find my typical back / pull muscle workout that I’ve been doing almost every Saturday for the last couple of years here. It’s a bit outdated but hopefully will still give you an idea of what exercises I do to tone my back (basically just rows and pull ups).
Aaaand… if y’all are interested, let me know, and I’ll update my new back workout in another blog post!
That said, this week, I’m trying to “shake a leg” back into yoga before spring ends because I want to be ultra flexible for the summer (main reason being I think hot weather and stretching goes together? haha). Hence, I am deliberately taking a break from HIIT strength workouts. Although yoga is not my go-to exercise when I am stressed out, I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE yoga as a leisure activity. Stretching while listening to deep house music = my cup of tea, and I haven’t been doing much of it as I’d want to. 🌸
It’s challenging to balance all the activities I love doing (yoga, working out, cardio) while being a student, but what can I do. (Almost done with student life in a couple months though woot!)
So I’m going to take this week off from high-rep high-intensity workouts and focus on just stretching it out. I wrote a blog post a few months back how I like taking a week-long break from strenuous exercise very few months or so. I explained why I think it helps with performance and keeps me motivated to continue this working out lifestyle. I actually don’t take “rest-days,” but more like a “rest week” every few months.
Also, I generally take this sort of break whenever my body “tells” me to (i.e. I just don’t feel like doing a hard workout and just want to listen to deep house and vibe out with yoga haha.)
I do think it’s important to mention that this “Take it Easy Week” (TIE week) isn’t about being inactive at all. I’m a huge advocate for an active lifestyle and encourage everyone to just move more in general. My TIE week is more like my body taking a vacation or a mini “yoga retreat,” except I’m not going a five-star resort on the beach or anywhere cool, and it’s a retreat just involving me, myself, and I lol.
Also, I still aim to get at least 10K steps a day by walking or ellipticalling or just by walking up and down campus for classes, but my main form of movement is yoga. Basically just trying to get my flexibility back. So when I say “rest week,” I really mean taking a rest from high-rep high-intensity workouts. I find that when I take a break from these sort of HIIT workouts, I come back to them with more motivation than ever! 💪
Anyways, some of my favorite upper back exercises. Great for Spring when it’s the time show off those wings! 😉
- Chin ups, pull ups (assisted and unassited)
- TRX rows
- Push ups, diamond push ups (narrow grip)
- Cable rows
- Rows + squat (will demonstrate in an upcoming blog post)
- Erging (great for upper back + cardio!)