Dumbbells in the gym

From spring to winter, and feeling strong

Happy Sunday, folks! I hope you had a good week. Mine has been great, filled with kick-ass sessions in the gym, good walks… and kittens.

Jenny at Runners fly mentioned kittens recently. I know the perfect fix if you want one but can’t have one. Create a new Instagram account and do nothing for a while. My new account has a very relaxed feed – since the algorithms don’t know my habits yet, it’s filled with videos of kittens. To begin with I also got Harry Potter, but that has disappeared and it’s just kittens. Such a wonderful laid-back feed. I might have assisted by following some accounts! 😀

I’m back to the Weekly rundown link-up to talk about the week of fitness activities. Celebrating a milestone birthday was fantastic but I’m glad to be back in routine!

The week offered some wonderful, mild temperatures and a lot of spring vibes, but then it turned into winter temperatures again and threats about snow. I know I shouldn’t complain, living in Ireland where daffodils and more are in bloom. But cold weather really drains my energy, and it’s hard to keep the mood up. I did my best to keep my body moving and muscles challenged, and it became a very good and active week.

Here’s a summary of the week, starting on Sunday this time:

Sunday – Walking, 6,94 km
Monday – Gym and walk, 2,8 km
Tuesday – Walking, 6,88 km + some cycling
Wednesday – Gym
Thursday – Short walk + cycling
Friday – Gym
Saturday – Walking, 5,91 km

Sunday – Light strength workouts at home


The weather was surprisingly good after a very wet and foggy Saturday, so I finally got my husband to join me for a walk down to Simon’s cove. We had about 15 degrees! My husband went in only a t-shirt and I had a tank top with a thin performance jacket and windbreaker.

Of course I stayed a while on the beach to take some photos!

We took a back road home to include some more hills – in total a good walk of about 7 km.


This was such a fabulous week in the gym. No new PBs or other exciting things happened but I felt good and strong, got some new exercises, had great chats and inspiration, and improved with the Bulgarian squat. What’s not to like?

Monday got me some good standard moves as well as a new variation.

Jävlaranamma blog

I still haven’t managed three full sets of 32,5 kg bench presses. Today I felt great and was confident that this was the day – I did two full sets but on the third, I only made it to about 7 reps. Bummer!

The standing dumbbell row was a new exercise to me. It took me a while to get the position although it’s nothing stranger than what I do for a barbell row, really. But dumbbells add some extra challenge, to stay steady and work both sides equally.

I’m making some progress with the barbell shoulder press. I think? Today I managed 10-7-6 and was very happy to get to 10 reps. This is a hard exercise and I get exhausted quite fast.

I squeezed in a short walk in town the morning too, with those spring vibes.


The Monday gym session worked quite hard on my upper back, triceps and legs! I was sore all over the place and decided to go for a walk instead of going on the bike. The weather was fantastic with 12 degrees (53 F), a lovely haze and birds singing. I planned to walk 4k but changed my mind and did the 7k “cow loop” – the weather was too nice to not walk a bit further.

When I came home, I was tempted to do a simple bike ride, so I gave it a try, a 7,5 km flat route on Zwift. But my legs were NOT happy. I did 4 slow km and then gave up.


This felt like a massive session especially for the back. Some new exercises, and some success with old ones!

Jävlaranamma blog

The lunges today were mostly a success although I stumbled a bit during the second set.

With the RDLs I’m still quite careful with that heavier weight, and my trainer encouraged me to try to go deeper. I’m not quite there in my head (my core can certainly do it) yet. But the biggest problem with these are my lower arm muscles and the skin of my hands after 8-9 reps! I need to work up some calluses.

Today there were two new exercises – a supine pull-up to begin with, with the bar places on the lower part of the squat rack (where there are some safety thingys that prevent the bar from sliding off). I’ve done something like this at home and it’s quite tough! I needed to take some breathers here and there but generally it went ok.

The other new exercise was the cross-bench pullovers, when you lie across the bench (think hip thrust position but with hips and core in alignment) and do straight arm pullovers. I used one dumbbell of 12,5 kgs. I certainly was happy to have previously worked up some core strength for this one. Thanks to everyone who has recommended deadbugs!


So, the weather decided to go back to winter. Pfff. In the morning we had 3 degrees. But since I have the ambition to walk every day but I almost never get out walking on Wednesdays, I can’t have poor excuses on a Thursday. At lunchtime we were up to about 5-6 degrees (41 F), so I decided to give the outdoors a try. I did a mega short walk but least I got to move my legs.

The bike ride was a lot more enjoyable! I tried the flat-ish route I had attempted on the Tuesday, and finished it this time, 8,2 km. I’ve somehow lost the oomph on the bike and want to get it back! Before Christmas I was doing really well with the cycling so I hope I can work it back up to that level.


Still 3 degrees in the morning, and rain. I decided that today was no day for the outdoors. But at least I went to the gym.

I really enjoyed this session. I felt in good form, we had some really inspiring chats going on, and I managed to push myself quite hard.

Jävlaranamma blog

The Bulgarian squats, people! Today was the first time I switched to my left leg and didn’t feel unstable. That’s some great success for me!! For the last set I struggled a bit more but once the right foot was in place on the bench, I felt good enough, and with some extra focus I could finish all reps.

For the 6 kg lateral raises, a lot of Jävlaranamma is still involved. They are so hard! But I was quite happy with them today and even happier with how much I managed to push myself. After these I barely had any energy left for the front raises but kept going. My shoulders were absolutely fried when I left the gym!


Today we were back to somewhat not-so-wintry temperatures. We had 5 degrees when I got up, but it quickly improved to 8C and with a nice sunshine it was a lovely day. I decided to go back to the nearest beach (not Simon’s) and back. That’s always a nice walk with some good uphills on the way back.


My better half was away to do a 10 mile race. I had planned to go with him and enjoy walking around in town, but the weather had gone from bad to worse. This was a good opportunity to do some simple at-home strength workouts in peace and quiet. I enjoyed push-ups, deadbugs with dumbbells, crab walks with resistance band, high step-ups and some twisty bicep curls.

I feel like this post almost is a bit cringy, over-positive, but I really felt great this week! And after last year’s misery, I’m not ashamed, I’m enjoying every moment of success, normality and feeling strong.

How are you? What was your best moment of the week? How’s the weather where you are?

Thanks Kim and Deborah for hosting the Weekly rundown link-up!

22 responses to “From spring to winter, and feeling strong”

  1. Deborah Brooks avatar

    Your beach photos are so pretty! I would do my walks there too. I love RDL’s sounds like you are making lots of progress in the gym. Our weather has been bouncing all around as well. Looks like things are going to start blooming here soon as well. Have a great week!

    1. Susanne avatar

      I love these beaches! There’s so much to explore there, but more than anything it’s so soothing to watch the waves. I can take hundreds of photos of only waves!
      I love RDLs too! They put your core strength to the test for sure.

  2. Wendy avatar

    Not cringy at all! I’ve been having some good weeks over here too and it’s really nice to focus on the positive for a change! Seeing signs of spring so early really helps put me in a good mood. We have been cycling between winter and spring and this week looks like it might get a little turbulent. Stay tuned.

    Dumbbell work is always harder than barbell, I think because with dumbbells your arms have to work equally! My left side is so much weaker than my right–something I’ve been working to correct for a while.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Isn’t it wonderful to focus on the positive!! I couldn’t agree more about dumbbells vs barbells. I’ve always thought my left side is weaker (the leg definitely is, even before the injury), but with dumbbell rows I’ve always struggled more with the right side, so I don’t know anymore!

  3. Debbie avatar

    If you’ve had a good week, flaunt it, especially when Bulgarian split squats are getting easier! I bet you were using a Smith machine (squat race with bar safety thingies). And good for you, those supine pull-ups are not easy.

    My IG feed has lots of kitten and puppy accounts, too! 🙂

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, I’m celebrating! 😀 We actually don’t have a Smith machine in the gym, it’s a super tiny gym for one-to-one sessions (or very small groups) and they only have a squat rack, dumbbells, bands, a pull-up/dip stand (and I think cable on the other side), wooden boxes and a rower. The squat rack has some kind of bottom part that is sort of H shaped where you can put the bar for certain exercises such as this pull-up.

  4. Jenny avatar

    Your photos are so, so beautiful. I love them all, but especially the beach ones.
    Every time I read your posts I’m encouraged to work harder at the gym- I think I’m too easy on myself. Although right now of course I’m kind of where you were last year- can’t do anything weight-bearing on my left foot (ARRRRG!) Anyway… I’m glad you’re in a good place. You work hard and you deserve to feel good about it!
    Ha- I think my sister mostly uses her instagram account for kitten viewing : )

    1. Susanne avatar

      Aw, thanks Jenny, I love the beach photos too, especially those of waves. And a big yes to feeling good about the achievements in the gym!
      If I went to a regular gym I’d probably go too easy on myself too. I’m thinking that the last 2-3 reps should be challenging, otherwise it’s too light. Working with a trainer really helps, there’s both a spotter and someone to see when it’s too easy! (plus all other benefits, obviously)
      I really feel for you about the foot. But from your first picture to the last, the improvement was amazing – and being able to use the leg press was a very good sign. You’ll be back on track soon! But of course I know how frustrating it is.

  5. Kimberly Hatting avatar

    This is such good news, Susanne!! Nothing wrong basking in all your gym successes 🙂 Reinforcing what’s going well is sure to keep the momentum going!

    1. Susanne avatar

      That is very true, Kim! I read recently that people who are positive and focus on the good things and moving forward are more likely to succeed. Whether or not that is true (because life isn’t that simple), it was inspiring!

  6. Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au avatar

    You look great – fit and strong and healthy. After all the issues with your foot last year, and with the weather being a bit awful right now, you’ve done well to keep up a steady routine – good on you for your positivity and you can brag to your heart’s content – you’ve earned it! 🙂

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks for the encouragement, Leanne! Yes, I do deserve some success and good times now after the events of last year! I hope you’re doing well yourself with your daily walking.

  7. Lindsay avatar

    Your photos are so lovely! What a week of doing the work – which means even more when the weather is up and down, right? We had a cold, dreary week last week but this week looks sunnier and in the 50s, so I am perking right up! I’ve been thinking about how better to track my strength workouts so I can “see” progress; I’m always so impressed by how organized your workouts are and how you know what you’ve done.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I really wish I would have documented my training from the start. But of course, I wasn’t as dedicated then, I started training to help a sore shoulder and to have some form of regular exercise, it was only later I became really passionate about it. But it would have been fun to see how much I’ve progressed in weights, other than knowing I started from scratch.

      My trainer prepares my programs and I never know beforehand what I’m going to do (although I can guess some exercises). During endurance phases it’s always full body with usually 2 leg exercises, 2-3 back/chest and 2 for shoulders. In the beginning I had to work hard to keep in my head what I had done! Now it’s become routine to remember them, including weights. I use my Garmin to track the session and then I can add exercises, number of reps and weight in the app. I’ve looked for other apps (because the Garmin app has some bugs with this) but haven’t really found any that are good enough, the least bad one, other than Garmin, is called FitHero.
      But the best way is to list everything here on the blog because it’s more easily searchable when I want to go back and see what I did a specific month or so. Sometimes I’ve felt it’s just too much to put everything here but then people have said they’re inspired by reading what I do! So that’s all win-win.

      Now before moving my blog I removed old posts about running and from last summer during my injury. That was probably stupid. But I felt it was too depressing to have it all there!

  8. Darlene S Cardillo avatar

    Your beach photos are so nice!!

    I can’t wait to see any sign of spring here… it will be awhile.

    We are still cold with an occasional fake warmup.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Same here… perhaps a bit warmer than where you are. But it’s annoying getting to enjoy some days of spring and then back to winter again. It makes me cranky and uninspired.

  9. Jenn avatar

    Positive is never cringey, especially when you are coming back from something significant and working hard! I love to hear all the optimism! It’s so important!

    Great work! I struggle with lunges and one legged squats – I’m working on them, but they end up really hurting or causing more stability issues, so I tend to swap them out for something else. I keep trying, though.

    Love seeing all those flowers and signs of spring. It’s so nice.

    1. Susanne avatar

      That’s so true, Jenn! I think I’m too Swedish and think I have to excuse myself for being happy over my own achievements!
      But you said the keywords there… “especially when you’re coming back from something significant”. I also love to hear about other people’s optimism and coming back from injury! I found your old posts about your own injury recently (from your Instagram link page). How awful and scary! I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Lunges are very challenging and in a way I think they’re more difficult than the Bulgarians, particularly if you’ve had a foot injury. I’ve mastered them with bodyweight only but still struggle with added weights.

  10. Coco avatar

    Hey, when you are feeling great, there’s no reason to suppress that joy!

    It is rewarding and motivating to see progress at the gym. To baby my hamstring I’ve been focusing on upper body strength and at the point where I need to level up my weights. I did lat pull downs the other day — they are tough when you focus on good form!

    Love seeing your photos.

    How was the 10 mile race for the Mr? That’s my favorite distance.

    1. Susanne avatar

      That’s fabulous that you’ve become stronger with your upper body! I haven’t done lat pulldowns for years – I remember they were quite tricky and I never knew if I did it correctly. Now i do dumbbell rows, barbell rows etc instead.
      The Mr was very happy with the race! The weather was awful and they had to run through some flooded areas, plus he’s had some issues with a knee and something with a foot but he did a PR and felt great!

  11. Anne avatar

    You know, Susanne, when things are GOOD, you are supposed to share them, too. We will all celebrate with you, because we know you’ve been through the valleys, too. I think that’s what makes us appreciate the good – so no, this isn’t cringy, it’s wonderful to read. You’re getting stronger, for sure. And you’re sharing more photos, which I am ALWAYS here for. Be “cringy” all you want – the world needs more positive energy, particularly these days. <3

    You look amazing, and strong, and your face in the bike pic is epic. 😉

    1. Susanne avatar

      That is a very good point! And you are wrong that the world needs more positive energy (which is one of my reasons for writing this blog, even).
      Photos…. I’m in some real deep crisis with it. I have absolutely zero inspiration to take photos at the moment. When I took those above there was hope for spring but then it’s just gone back to cold weather and I don’t know when it’s going to end and I have no interest in going out with the camera… it’s very sad and I miss it. But certainly we should get warmer weather at some point.

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