Dumbbells in the gym

Split squats and other good things

Hi there! How are you? I meant to post last Sunday for the Weekly rundown link-up as usual, but the week had been quite meh, I was busy and I struggled to get a post together so in the end I decided to skip it. But I’m back.

Last week’s rundown, short and sweet

Last week I felt unwell on and off, likely effects of that old sinusitis that I had during the first days in Italy. But I went to the gym, did a good bike ride with Zwift on Tuesday, and did some nice walks, about 5k on Tuesday and 4,5k on Saturday. There were cows and at least some autumn colours (if you squint a little bit, lol!).

On the Sunday we went to Limerick to check out the new Decathlon shop. Some shopping was done – although perhaps I don’t need yet another 3/4 zip top? But, those prices! And honestly, in November in northern Europe you can NEVER get too many long sleeved tops with fleece lining! (And again, at those prices!)

This week’s rundown

This week has been good but busy. I’ve enjoyed lifting, walking, heel raises, DOMS, music and photography.

Yet another storm hit Ireland but for once, county Cork was spared. We “only” had yellow alert and I didn’t even notice since the storm started overnight and in the morning there was only some normal windy weather. But the storm had wreaked havoc in Galway and some other counties and some 80 000 households were without power.

Here’s a summary of my activity of the week:

Monday – gym + new heel raises
Tuesday – indoor cycling, 10 km + beach walk
Wednesday – gym
Thursday – walk, 5 km + cycling, 7 km
Friday – gym
Saturday – walk, 9,6 km (!!)
Sunday – misc

Monday – gym day

Today’s warmup was with lunges and bodyweight Bulgarian squats, before moving on to real Bulgarian squats, and more.

  • Bulgarian squats, barbell 25 kgs
  • Sumo squats, barbell 30 kgs
  • Chest press, 10 kg dumbbells
  • Overhead tricep extension, 4 kg dumbbells
  • Dumbbell pullovers, two dumbbells 9 kgs
  • Bicep curls, 5 kg dumbbells
  • Forward raise, 5 kg dumbbells
  • Lateral raise, 5 kg dumbbells

This was the first time I did Bulgarian split squats with some decent weight since March. I did them a while back with dumbbells but it’s so much more difficult with the bar! It didn’t go particularly well, but I didn’t expect that either and I need to keep trying and working on them. I got some light support behind my back from my trainer to help keep balance and I did three wobbly sets. Many times I feel I’m back to where I should be with balance after my injury but NOT when it comes to doing Bulgarian squats. I’ll continue doing balance and stability exercises at home (and I’ve decided Bulgarian squats is one of them) and I’ll get there eventually.

The chest press seemed heavier than usual, but I went straight from the chest presses into the first set of tricep extensions – and it worked ok so I must have been in decent form after all. Tricep extensions have been really hard for me in the past, perhaps because of my previous problem with left shoulder. Now they worked quite well. It’s been a long time since I did them, and even longer since I did ordinary bicep curls!

Tuesday – cycling & camera walk

I started using Zwift for indoor cycling again last week and liked it a lot better this time. My Zwift ride last week was a great guided interval workout that really made me push myself. This morning I tried something called “Hilly loop” that was supposed to be 9,6 km and it sounded like a good enough challenge. It had some really challenging hills for sure! But there’s something about Zwift I hadn’t understood – you get alternatives on which way to go and I thought you could choose whatever and still be within the route, but it turned out if you don’t pick the pre-chosen direction, you get out of the loop. I stopped at 10k and was happy with that.

Later in the morning, I went with my camera club friend to a nearby beach that is absolutely lovely. We were there in February and during my injury of course I couldn’t get there so I couldn’t wait to get back! I didn’t do much in terms of walking (1k maybe?) but had a good time with the camera.

Wednesday – gym day

Today I finally felt back to normal, with good energy and oomph in the gym, actually the best session I’ve done since before we went to Italy. I warmed up with squats and inchworms before moving on to these:

  • Split squats, barbell 25 kgs
  • Romanian deadlifts, barbell 30 kgs
  • Dumbbell row, 15 kgs
  • Barbell row, 25 kgs
  • Chest press, barbell 30 kgs
  • Inclined flyes, 9 kg dumbbells
  • Shoulder press, 6 kg dumbbells
  • Upright row, barbell 17,5 kgs

I had a bummer last week when I mostly failed doing lunges with the barbell. It was so hard to keep balance and I totally lost confidence. But my trainer is doing a great job working on getting me back to (at least) everything I was able to do before the injury, so today I got to do the same setup (barbell 25 kgs) again but with split squats instead. It’s so much easier to keep the balance with split squats, perhaps because you don’t need to switch leg all the time – or because I felt much more confident today? I actually haven’t a clue. I stumbled a little bit in the middle of the second set but generally did quite well.

I felt good with the RDLs, and had a blast with the rest of the program. I repped out at the end of the third set of chest presses, and was totally exhausted for the shoulder presses, but managed 5-7 reps in each set. For the upright row I felt good and could do full sets although the very last reps were quite hard. Like they should be!

Thursday – walking & more

I started Thursday morning with coffee and heel raises. After doing soleus heel raises for a long time, they’ve now become a lot less challenging, and even the single leg standard heel raises now feel quite easy. I’ll follow my physiotherapist’s advice and do them with dumbbells, but I’ve also decided to move on to single leg soleus heel raises and I’ve started them this week. I’m determined to make these feet strong!

It was also time for a walk, no matter the weather. I went towards what I call the cow road but turned back when it started raining too much. I finished with 5 km, so it wasn’t too bad. Although I can’t say it was a good morning for walking, I felt good moving my legs, and I really need to walk a lot more than I have in recent weeks.

Thursdays are meant to be cardio days, so I decided to try another loop on the indoor bike. I chose something on Zwift called “London loop” – a virtual ride through London just as it sounds like. I enjoyed it, but after several km riding uphill and the map showed several more km uphill, I was absolutely exhausted and decided 7 km was good enough for today. I haven’t really learned how to interpret the difficulty level of all those loops yet so will need to do some Zwift studies before my next ride.

Friday – gym day

Today I warmed up with bodyweight squats and then got a new warmup exercise, the Pallof press with a resistance band. It’s a core stabiliser exercise and can be used to get ready for heavier lifts like squats and deadlifts. I soon understood why I got to do this. Here’s the exercise list of the day:

  • Back squats, barbell 35 kgs
  • Deadlifts, barbell 30 kgs
  • Dumbbell pullover, 1 dumbbell 17,5 kgs
  • Good mornings, bar 17,5 kgs
  • Chest press, 10 kg dumbbells
  • Renegade row, 6 kg dumbbells
  • Shoulder shrugs, 8 kg dumbbells
  • Lateral raise, 5 kg dumbbells

So we’re moving on from 30 to 35 kgs for my squats! I remember lifting that… ages ago. I’m so grateful to be getting back to my strong self. The deadlifts were still 30 kg but sort of felt… easy? Well, easy enough to not struggle with them. The chest presses finally went better today than they have in a while and I didn’t get close to failure until in the last set, and I felt strong doing most exercises today. Listen carefully now – even the lateral raise went better than usual!! The exercise I struggled most with was the Renegade row. I managed two full sets and had to stop on maybe the 7th rep on the last set. But I love doing them.


Today it was definitely time for a proper walk, for two reasons. The obvious reason was, well that I need to walk more and get my distances back on track. But also, on Friday afternoon I received a new toy. 🙂

My standard zoom lens died some year ago, and I decided to enjoy life with only prime (fixed focal length) lenses because they are so much better than zooms (at least at the prices I’m ready to pay). After I started being out and about again after my injury I’ve been missing a longer lens, and started looking into options. Then on Thursday morning I ordered this Olympus 45 mm/f.1.8 from a local-ish shop. There’s a huge advantage of buying local – other than supporting a local business – and that is that delivery is fast. I received my new lens the day after.

Look at the wonderful size of that thing attached to the camera!! The big lens to the left was previously my only option for shooting beyond 25 mm (unless it was for macro). The new lens is about the size, and weight, of two tin jars of lip balm… what’s not to love!

Sadly Friday offered bucketfuls of rain all day so I had no opportunity to go out and play with it which meant the first real test shoot would happen during my Saturday walk.

After we came home from Italy I’ve walked mostly 4-5 km in one go, but since I want to get back to longer distances, I planned to walk maybe 6-7 km and then start building from that.

I went towards the next village, and planned to turn back before getting to the actual village. But with a new lens to play with? Despite the strong wind the weather was nice and I was getting close to the pier, so why not go all the way there?

I ended up walking 9,6 km! This is by far the longest walk I’ve done since before my injury. Can’t say the last few km were pleasant, but I was ok and my feet were mostly fatigued, especially the left (obviously). After resting a little bit at home I was fine.

It was a lovely walk and I regret nothing!


Sunday will be busy… I need to get some cleaning done, really need to do some proper music practice done, and my plan is to also do some core & balance exercises. And in the evening we’re going to a gig in a pub in town. With my new lens! It should be a good day.

26 responses to “Split squats and other good things”

  1. Wendy avatar

    I have never done Bulgarian split squats with a barbell–I always do them with dumbbells. As if it isn’t hard enough to balance! Nice work on the strength this week. You’re making great progress.

    As always, your photos are lovely! I always look forward to them. Enjoy your night at the pub!

    1. Susanne avatar

      They are very challenging, even with dumbbells, or without! Before my injury, after doing a lot of single leg stand balance exercises, I managed to do them with the bar, but now I’m back to square one. Lots more balance exercises are needed but I like the challenge. Thanks for your nice comment about my photos!

  2. Jessie avatar

    Wow, great week! Lots of impressive strength training!

    Your photos are absolutely incredible, thank you for sharing! Such a pretty country.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks, Jessie! This week certainly gave me feeling to be back on track.
      It’s so beautiful here, even at his time of the year.

  3. Chocolaterunsjudy avatar

    I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well (I’ve been dealing with off and on mehness too, hence lack of ST — or even just Pilates!).

    Your photos are stunning.

    You are really doing so well! I know it’s frustrating but one day you won’t even think about going longer again. Isn’t it weird how that happens?

    1. Susanne avatar

      Ah, the mehness. Hope you are feeling better too!
      I’m so happy to be where I am now. A month and a half ago i could barely walk, and I think I was still using resistance bands for everything legs in the gym. Amazing how much has happened during this time.

  4. Melissa avatar

    Wow, what an amazing week with your training. I don’t do traditional squats, but gave never heard of Bulgarian split squats. Lovely photos!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks, Melissa! Bulgarian split squats are single leg squats where you lean your other front ankle on a bench, chair, box or whatever, and then bend your active leg to 90 degrees angle, it works on glutes or quads depending on your hip angle, and requires some good balance. A great exercise for runners! I like them but they are very challenging (perhaps that’s why I like them!).

  5. Deborah Brooks avatar

    You are making great progress in the gym with your strength and balance. I do like split squats but have only done them with dumbbells. Thanks for sharing the photos always love to see them. Have a great week ahead!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thank you, Deborah! I’m so happy about this week! I felt strong and able again and it means so much to me. I know you understand! I wish you a good week too.

  6. Coco avatar

    Wow, I love your photos. They are stunning! So I am benefiting from your new toy as well!

    I find bodyweight spilt squats challenging. I can do them holding dumbbells but I know I would struggle holding a bar. It’s great to challenge your muscles and balance in that way to get stronger!

    1. Susanne avatar

      I’m glad you liked the products of my new toy!
      Yes, split squats are hard! And so are lunges. I’m doing quite well with bodyweight lunges but as soon as we add weight, I’m lost. There’s lots to work on there, but definitely a nice challenge.

  7. Darlene S Cardillo avatar

    I remember carrying around a big camera and lenses. Now it’s just my phone. But your pictures are awesome. I love the one with the horses

    Hope you are feeling better and get your walks done.

    I do not use free weights at all… sticking to machines for now.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I think you do a good job with your phone to document the places where you run, walk and hike, and I always enjoy seeing your photos.
      My first system camera was a Canon DSLR but I found that too big and bulky so I changed to a Panasonic mirrorless camera a few years later, and now I primarily use an Olympus camera, also mirrorless, a bit larger than the Panasonic but way smaller than a regular DSLR. My prime lenses are all small and light, and I can fit the camera with all my lenses in a small backpack.
      I like the creative options I have with a system camera and don’t enjoy taking photos with my phone, but use it sometimes if I don’t have the camera with me.
      I feel much better and have done some good walking over the weekend. Maybe even too much!

  8. Kimberly Hatting avatar

    My split squats are on the “weak” end of my skills, LOL. I think my balance, overall, is decent, but adding some weight & split-squatting (or lunging) leaves me humbled at times. Great work this week, Susanne!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Oh, the split squats. They’re so hard! But we just need to keep doing them because they are such good exercises! And for me they are a good challenge and something to work towards.

  9. Jenny avatar

    First of all, your photos are gorgeous!!!
    Now on to the good stuff. i’ve never done lunges, split squats or bulgarian split squats with a barbell but I want to try. I think it might be the type of thing I want to try in the privacy of my own home at first (if you know what I mean) but I have a lighter barbell here, so I could do that. I’m going to try it tomorrow and I’ll report back!
    For soleus heel raises… are you doing regular heel raises but with your knee bent? That’s what I’m guessing. I also want to try that. Lots of inspiration here!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Ah thanks Jenny!
      I definitely think you should try these with a barbell. They’re such good exercises but very challenging with the bar, and trying at home is a great idea. I have a barbell at home but the room is too small to fiddle around with a barbell in there so I’ll just work on my overall single leg balance instead. Yes, let me know how it goes!
      And yes, soleus heel raises are regular heel raises with bent knee. Try it, it’s a great exercise for runners! And if you don’t do single leg (regular) heel raises, I highly recommend it, it’s excellent to build foot strength.

  10. Marcia avatar

    Glad you’re feeling better! Your pics are stunning as always. Makes me long to return to Ireland. Nice work on the strength exercises.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thank you, Marcia! I’m happy to hear you’ve visited Ireland in the past. I hope you got to see some nice places here.

  11. jenn avatar

    That lens! And those fuzzy horses!

    I am in the market for a new DSLR, but I don’t know when it will come my way. We’ll see.

    You have the most stunning views. I don’t think you could keep me indoors if I lived where you do. I would always want to be out exploring.

    After a few years, I am squatting much better, but my lunges aren’t back. My toes are just too much of a risk factor as I can’t feel when I’m putting too much or wrong pressure on them. We will see if they ever come back.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I’m sorry to hear about your toes – I knew you had been in some kind of accident but not what exactly or how serious. This must make a lot of exercises hard for you, even planks and push-ups I guess? Although there at least you don’t add any more weight than your own body. But there’s so much more to do than lunges and I’m glad you’re back to squatting and other strength training!

      Enjoy your camera search! There’s so much to choose from these days.
      This area is truly fantastic… so much to see. I never go our for walks without the camera!

  12. Debbie avatar

    How exciting to get a new lens for your camera, and so much lighter! I’m hoping this means even more beautiful pictures coming our way! 🙂

    Bulgarian split squats are not for sissies!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, I suspect will be more photos coming! Perhaps even too many…. 😀

  13. Lisa @ TechChick Adventures avatar

    My son just bought a DSLR with a long lens. The boy likes to spend his money way more than I do! But at least he is buying quality items so I know he’s getting not throwing his money away.
    Isn’t it great to feel progression in your PT exercises! Mine are often so boring, but I do eventually advance and that’s exciting. Keep up that strength work!

    1. Susanne avatar

      That is good to hear about your son! I’m always happy to hear signs that photography is alive! What kind of photography is he into? If there was a good zoom lens for a nice price I’d be happy to own one… but the cheaper ones have poor reviews and the more expensive ones are too heavy and over-the-top in cost.
      I love how I’ve progressed with my PT… now my trainer suggested I use a step or step-up board to include the full range of motion of my ankle, so I tried that yesterday, felt good! So many heel raises, so little time!

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