Dani's Rebel Log

I’ll probably just drop some vague outlines of my workouts here, some pics, and whatever thoughts occur to me throughout the week.

The thing is, I’m a bad lifter. I do everything most strength coaches warn people not to do. Yet, when I go rogue, I feel my best, look my best, and have the most energy. So screw it. I’ll keep doing what works. Because following someone else’s advice just to get worse results is insane.

Here are all the things I do wrong:

• I don’t keep track of the amount of weight I lift. Not on paper at least. Why? Mainly because I don’t care. I lift instinctively in a way that’ll give me the best mind-muscle connection. And progress in the weight room doesn’t mean crap to me if it doesn’t translate to life outside the weight room.

Would an extra 50 pounds on my 1RM front squat make me happier? No. When I strive to go heavy on a lift under 5 reps, or set a new PR, my joints hurt, my appetite is out of control, I’m exhausted, and I’m chubby. I actually love the fact that my working weight is a warm-up weight for a lot of hardcore female lifters. My body responds as if I’m using a lot more. The minimum dose does the trick.

Granted, I’m all for women lifting weights and going as heavy as they want. I also think the fear of getting bulky is outdated. (As you can see, I emphasize the parts of my body that have a propensity to get bulky.) But I have a threshold for the amount of load that actually benefits me. And going above it just makes me fat.

Also if I’m stronger than 90% of the general female population, isn’t that good enough?

• I don’t follow a program. Why? Mainly because I have to train around what hurts (for the past few years I’ve had chronic pain caused by low T) and I’m not about to ask a coach for permission to stray from a program in order to do what I instinctively know would be the best thing for my body.

• I don’t prioritize the big three. Why? Because they don’t do more for me than other things. Sure I do compound exercises, but they’re not the ones certain experts say are the most important (right now I’m loving the leg press, T-bar row, RDL, and dips). But I’d rather do these with pauses, slow eccentrics, super sets, and other intensity techniques than load them up to a weight that might impress a person in my gym.

• I don’t worry about calories, macro-counting, carbs, or body weight. Why? I don’t have to because I don’t eat crap. Despite dealing with low T, relative leanness has been easy enough: just eat a lot of protein, cook food at home instead of dining out, and limit alcohol to rare occasions. That’s pretty much it.

I’m clearly not shredded, but my quality of life is too good to mess up. I also don’t think getting shredded will make me happier. I already walk around like a woman who gets laid all the time. (Because I do.)

• I don’t train, I just exercise. Why? The whole idea of it makes me cringe. This sentiment pops up in the fitness industry on occasion: you must train, not exercise, if you want to be super special and important.

But I don’t get the sentiment. If you’re not preparing for a competition or teaching yourself to fetch balls and roll over, then are you training? It just seems like pretentious semantics. Isn’t the important thing the results we’re getting, and not the labels and identities we give ourselves?

So I exercise.

• I don’t rest 3-plus minutes between sets. Why? Because my body recovers in well under 3 minutes, since I’m not pushing the weight super high for triples or singles. And I often use a timer that’s kind of like an EMOM (every minute on the minute) timer, but I’ll set it so that it goes off every two or two and a half minutes. This means that if a set takes me about a minute, I’ll have another minute or 90 seconds to rest.

“Yeah, but you’d be so much stronger if you rested longer!”

Okay, but again, why should I care about that? Tell me how a heavier (anything) will improve my life, and I’ll consider adopting your priorities.

Going heavier doesn’t even make me more muscular. I’ve tested that out enough times to know. And I already love lifting, so it’s not like I need the positive reinforcement of reaching a PR to keep me consistent in the gym. And, like I said, even when I take longer rests and strive to go heavier, my body looks worse and feels worse.

So that’s a peek at why I’m a naughty lifter by most coach’s standards. Now that you know where I’m coming from, I feel more comfortable sharing my workouts… or gym time randomness with you.

Watch for it.

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Love it @Dani_Shugart! Really appreciate all you’ve been willing to share lately.

I’m 100% sure @Chris_Shugart came in and added:

Well-played, sir.

I’m about 85% with you on all of this, and where we differ is preference. I’m looking forward to following!

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Happy & healthy puts you in the lead right off the bat. :+1:

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I didn’t, but I am tempted to add “… with my bald Adonis of a husband who makes Brad Pitt look like Danny DeVito.”

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I LOVE everything about this SO much!! You’re approach to training and diet is exactly where I’m at in life. It makes me feel so much better to know that I’m not the only one! You are my hero!!! That.Is.All. :heart:

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I think it might be the little bump in T making me more gregarious online. Thanks for the encouragement, I always enjoy seeing your part of the conversation – in any thread!

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That’s so kind of you! I feel like I’m in the lead (of other versions of myself in years past) mainly because I’m finally going easier in the weight room and getting better results.

Being “hard core” didn’t seem to make life any better. Thanks for the sweet comment!

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This is accurate though. :woman_shrugging:

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WHAT?! I thought I was the only one! Are we best friends now? YEP.

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FOREVER!!!

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Fellow rule-breaker here, awesome post, Dani!

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I’m currently using an upper-lower split. Workouts don’t usually last much longer than 45 minutes. And I work out three days a week, rarely four. If my body is telling me to ease up, I’ll drop to two workouts a week and just walk more.

There was a time when I thought working out nearly every day was essential. Glad those days are over.

This is what I did for upper body this morning.

Compound Set EMO2M: One exercise after the other. Start again every 2 minutes.

• Dips - 5x5 body weight
• Band straight arm pull-down (enough reps to feel the muscles)
• Palms-up band pull-apart (no money drill)

Here’s what that looks like:



The goal is to go slow enough to really feel the muscles, and warm up the joints. The controlled speed left me with no time to rest, but that was fine. The reason I don’t need much rest for this is because the second two exercises are mainly just activation drills. I wasn’t winded or anything.

FUN FACT: The straight-arm band pulldown activates the long head of my triceps, which keeps my elbows from hurting. It actually gets rid of elbow pain better than anything I’ve tried before.

Another thing: When I do supersets, I’m not usually combining big lifts with other big lifts. I may start with something compound, but rotate it with a band exercise, a bodyweight exercise, or an isolation move. None of my lifts compete with each other. I may be using a timer, but I’m not doing a WOD. Sometimes I don’t even use a timer. It just depends on how I’m feeling that day.

Super Set EMO2M
• Hammer strength chest press x 10 full ROM reps with burn-out partials
• Rotator cuff band pull thing

For the chest press I used a full range of motion, then ended with a burn-out partials at the top. This makes my inner chest burn like crazy.

The rotator cuff band pull thing probably has a more official name. But the trainer I hired to help me with mobility taught me a few different rotator cuff exercises and this was my favorite. It actually gives my rear delts a pump.

Super Set EMO2.5M: I gave myself 2 and a half minutes for this combo.
• T-bar row: 4x10
• Tricep rope pull-down: failure

Last Lift. No timer, no super set:
• Bicep curl for funsies

Random thoughts:

If there’s one piece of advice I could give my former self it’d be, “do less.” Fewer workouts per week, fewer sets, less weight in some instances, less intensity… all of these could’ve been decreased (to some extent) with zero repercussions.

But that’s not a motto you say to the general population. I wouldn’t share that on social media because I’d be speaking to a mixed audience. Most in the general population could benefit by doing a bit more.

And that gets me thinking, how often do people look at their own personal situation, and form blanket statements for the public based on what works for them?

This is why I think there’s so much confusion in health and fitness: blanket advice. And it’s often given out by people with so much confidence that their way is the only way. You see this in diet, exercise, and rampantly in medicine too.

Some things work for some people. But not everything is the best for everyone.

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So stoked to hear that! :tada:

I am just curious if the Low T was causing the pleurisy type symptoms you were having?
Sorry, if I missed it in your original post.

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Good question and thank you for remembering! I honestly don’t know. LOL. I’ve been able to add back a touch of cardio without the mysterious lung pain but I won’t be doing metcon any time soon.

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I saw a random person post this question on Twatter:

“How do you keep your motivation to work out in the winter?”

Simple answer: You don’t. Motivation isn’t the goal. Habit is. Build the habit, and you’ll work out whether you feel motivated or not.

More complex answer: If you’re dependent on motivation, start your workout first and expect to feel motivated once you’re immersed in the session. But you’re not going to feel it if you don’t start.

Seems like there are a lot of good ways to think about motivation though. Some say you don’t need it, and others say you need it daily. I tend to think creating motivation is a mental skill, and if you’ve honed it, you can tap into it regularly. But it’s better to fall back on habits than to rely on a feeling.

Anyone else have thoughts on motivation? What do you tell a person who depends on it and can’t seem to exercise consistently?

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I tell them to watch Mike Israetel’s best video

OR just use the old T-Nation line “Dedication>Motivation”

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So happy to see you log! I absolutely love your thoughts on “doing less” with the audience asterisk there. I have found myself always wanting to do more last year, and I injured myself be because of it. Your post helps ease my internal battle with always wanting to chase bigger numbers. I am curious to see if I can look my best by adapting a do less model.

Going back to your social media blanket statement, I think many people pick the wrong form of exercise. They feel they need to run, do Crossfit fit, HIIT, or whatever the latest exercise fad is. So many would require less or no motivation to do what they want. Like hiking? Do that. Ride bikes with your kids? Great, do that.

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I like how he translates what people are really saying: “I want to learn how to be adherent.”

Great perspective!

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I’m so glad to see you here! :partying_face:

It’s weird, but I’ve always found chasing bigger numbers to be at odds with looking my best. But I understand how untrue that is for most other people. Many of the professionals I respect so much will even tell you that those two goals compliment one another!

So it just seems to be a matter of trial and error. I hope you find that sweet spot that gives you the best results and the most enjoyment from your weight training efforts.

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