Dumbbells in the gym

When joy comes in lateral raises

Hi there! How are you? Are you ready for Christmas? I’ve felt quite stressed this week and SO not ready for Christmas, knowing that next week is absolutely packed with activities and I hadn’t even started prepping the house yet. But as I’m writing this and finishing this post, I’m quite on track with the Christmas decor and more and it will certainly be a nice and relaxing time.

This week I decided to take it easy between my gym sessions. My father-in-law did tempt me to do the Sunday cycling on Zwift again, but I was clever and declined. I really needed a somewhat unplanned day.

So my fitness activities this week was mostly the gym – but with some new exercises and other good things. Let’s dig into it.


  • Sumo squats, barbell 30 kg
  • RDL, barbell 30 kg
  • Inclined flyes, 9 kg dumbbells
  • Pullovers, 9 kg dumbbells
  • Chestpress, 10 kg dumbbells
  • Swimmers
  • Shoulder shrugs, 10 kg dumbbells
  • Cuban press, 4 kg dumbbells

I kind of dreaded this gym session because my glutes were really sore after the weekend cycling, and I knew it had been a while since I did any of the glute-focused leg exercises. And there they were… the beloved sumo squats! Followed by RDLs that get your entire backside to work. It felt good though.

It was a good session overall with good standard exercises followed by some good shoulder work – my left shoulder has had some issues lately, probably because I’ve been glued to the computer and when I get too focused I tend to tense up too much… or something. Lifting weights always helps when I have things like that, particularly the Cuban press which I actually do at home without weights if I have sore shoulders.

In the evening, my glutes were absolutely on fire! I followed my husband’s suggestion and did some foam rolling – or rather foam-ish rolling, with a lacrosse ball against the wall.


Glutes not happy. Need I say more? 😀

I did heel raises and then went for a walk. I chose to walk the “cow road”, but without the long uphill at the beginning. I still ended up walking 5,8 km.


Another good gym session that offered some nice challenges – and a nice surprise. Here’s my exercise list.

  • Squats with added heel raises, barbell 25 kgs
  • Deadlifts with hex bar, 33 kgs
  • Flyes, 9 kg dumbbells
  • Renegade row, 6 kg dumbbells
  • Good morning, barbell 20 kgs
  • Dumbbell row, 15 kgs
  • Upright row, barbell 17,5 kgs
  • Lateral raise, 6 kg dumbbells

These squats with heel raises are not the typical squats with elevated heels, instead they were normal back squats but in the standing up phase I did a heel raise. A good exercise to work on both strength and balance in one. Then I went on to my old friend the hex bar. It’s good to be back to slightly heavier on these deadlifts.

The Renegade row is getting better and better. I managed two sets of 12 but on the third set I was so exhausted I had to give up on rep 9. Mostly to catch my breath rather than lack of strength. This exercise is a nice challenge that combines cardio and strength training – at least for me! My cardio fitness is probably not great.

Last but definitely not least – who joins in to celebrate increasing weight on the lateral raise?!! This is truly one of my most frustrating exercises and I’ve struggled so much with them and I felt I’d never be able to move beyond 5 kgs. Today he gave me the 6 kg dumbbells and I wasn’t sure if he was confusing exercises! But it was in the plan and, believe it or not, I managed to do three full sets of 12. Not great high lifts at the end and I could barely do the last two reps, but dug up all the oomph I had to do them. That was another goal crushed!

I’m exploring things on my Garmin and have joined a few challenges, with walking and strength. The strength challenge was easy to finish since I train three times a week and it only requires you to register 4 hours of strength training.

I still have a long way to go (literally!) with the walking challenges… but I’ll get there.


I walked this road again.

Down to the beach, and this time it was low tide! What’s not to love?! I absolutely adored these shells and rock formations.

The walk in total was 6,8 km, but some of it was lulling around on the beach with the camera.


This was another good heavy session. Can’t say I was in top form but was quite happy with most exercises.

  • Lunges, barbell 25 kgs
  • Deadlifts, barbell 30 kgs
  • Chest press, barbell 30 kgs
  • Flyes with feet on bench, 8 kg dumbbells
  • Barbell row, 25 kgs
  • RDLs with dumbbells, 12,5 kgs
  • Forward raise, 5 kg dumbbells
  • Shoulder press, 6 kg dumbbells

Lunges are lunges. They will improve over time, haha! The deadlifts felt quite hard today for some reason, but I enjoyed them and did 12-12-12. The chest press then felt surprisingly easy… the first few at least. When I first lifted the bar I was wondering if he lowered the weight! But at the end of the set it got heavier, and on the third set I got to failure on the 9th rep.

The dumbbell RDLs were surprisingly hard! With the bar, I do 30 kg RDLs, and this was in total 25 kgs. Still I could barely finish the first set! Something about it made it so hard to my wrists and lower arm muscles. But I found a better flow for the second set and finished all three sets.

I was quite exhausted after these but managed the forward raise. For the shoulder press, my muscles didn’t want to work anymore. I managed about 7 reps in all three sets. But I felt I had worked my muscles hard and that’s the main thing.


For once a total rest day! Or, almost. I didn’t ride the bike or even go for a walk but I cleaned the house and did some Christmas decorating. The music session in the pub in the evening was great as usual. That’s it!


Fitness-wise, today I only did my high step-ups, single leg stands, deadbugs, and a standard plank.

And otherwise?
I’m Swedish, and Christmas calls for pepparkakor. These are like gingerbread men but thinner and spicier. I found a gluten-free gingerbread man at a market in Skibbereen once and was highly disappointed. That’s when I stopped calling the Swedish type biscuits gingerbread.

You folks have your race day and for me, this Sunday was BAKING DAY! I usually do this on the first Sunday of Advent, but then I was still feeling exhausted (from what I don’t know but I’ve been better lately). I thought I’d get by with mince pies only, but when Christmas got closer, I felt I wanted pepparkakor.

I use teff flour, white rice flour and potato starch for this dough, and xanthan gum as a gluten substitute.

I had a small bag of some light muscovado sugar that I used instead of normal white sugar, and OMG! I’ll never use anything else for these biscuits again! Muscovado gives a more toffee-y flavour and it mixed VERY well with the Christmas spices.

With many gluten free recipes the dough is very difficult to roll thin enough but this one is perfect as long as you mix in enough flour (I used buckwheat) on baking day.

The coming week will be busy and I really needed this weekend to recharge! It should be a good week though. Gym sessions as usual, Christmas dinner with musicians from the Tuesday music session, Christmas dinner with the camera club, playing music for elderly in a care home, hyping over whether my husband’s Christmas gift will arrive before Christmas (estimated delivery is Friday the 22nd and it’s UPS so anything can happen)… and so on…

I hope you are well and had a good week. Thanks to Kim and Deborah for hosting the Weekly rundown link-up!

18 responses to “When joy comes in lateral raises”

  1. Deborah Brooks avatar

    lateral raises are always much more challenging that I expect them to be! I use my lighter weights on those for sure. Wonder if they ever get easier!? Happy baking this weekend and have a great week

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, I expect to stay on 6 kgs for a year now on the lateral raises… lol. It sure is a challenging exercise. But I enjoy it… to push myself as much as possible. It’s good for the soul!

  2. Wendy avatar

    Yay for success with the heavier lateral raises! Upper body work is the hardest to make gains with–and when you do they are so small, lol. You had a great week of strength and sore glutes are a win in my book!

    Love the guitar cookies–I think I’ve had those Swedish ginger cookies before!

    1. Susanne avatar

      I totally agree about the upper body work, although I’ve had some good success with chest presses this year. I was so proud when I passed the 30 kg mark with the barbell chest press. But with shoulders it’s another story!

  3. Jenn avatar

    Beautiful cookies! I am baking today, but we don’t have to do gluten free. I also didn’t have the patience to do rolled cut out cookies.

    Nice week of fitness for you. I have to make some adjustment this upcoming week, but I’ll get after it.

    1. Susanne avatar

      That’s a true blessing not having to make them gluten free! Gluten free baking can be quite complicated and expensive but i’m happy that there is the option. I played with the thought of just making a ginger sponge cake kind of thing instead of rolled out cookies, but decided to follow the tradition.
      Hope you get a good week’s fitness plan together!

  4. Melissa avatar

    I’m always so impressed with your lifting – great job this week by sorry about the sore gluten. Enjoy mthe baked goods!! I love baking days!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Aw, thanks Melissa! I was very happy with this week in the gym. The ginger cookies are lovely! Too lovely, haha

  5. Chocolaterunsjudy avatar

    It’s really hard to go heavy on lateral raises so well done! The cow road looks really lovely (although muddy, too).

    Good luck this week! We’re Jewish (and we don’t celebrate Christmas, but the last couple of weeks have been busy for us, too.

    I used to be a mad baker and start baking cookies to bring into work for Christmas in August — but that was many decades ago. I don’t have the time ( and don’t need all those cookies). Truly I don’t even miss it. Maybe my husband does . . . good luck with your husband’s present getting there on time!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks Judy! That part of the cow road is actually one of the cleaner parts of it!
      That sounds impressive about how much you used to bake. I used to bake a lot but now there’s so much else I want to do with my time and I eat much less bread, and more or less stopped eating sweets (except for Christmas) so there’s mostly no point with baking. I might try some new toast bread eventually.

  6. Debbie avatar

    What a great week of lifting and walking you had! It’s tough fitting it all in this time of year, but you seem to be managing! I’ve yet to do any baking…

    1. Susanne avatar

      It sure was a good week! I only wish I could have done some walking over the weekend but I needed to just chill a little too! Enjoy your baking (I hope?)!

  7. Kimberly Hatting avatar

    What a fabulous week, Susanne!! Great gains with the strength work, and those guitar cookies are so cute 😉

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks Kim, it was a great week! Those small guitar cookies are so hard to make, but I think I managed better this year than I usually do.

  8. Jenny avatar

    Sounds like you had a great week! It’s always nice to see progress, right? I’m always so focused on lower body, my upper body work is more like an afterthought. I know I should put more effort into it.
    Those cookies sound amazing. I’ve used teff flour before and it’s very good. I used to make either teff pancakes or waffles (it was a while ago.) And I like the guitar shapes! I’ll bet they’re delicious.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, every bit of progress is good! I can imagine it’s easy getting too focused on the lower body when you’re a runner. I hope you find ways to incorporate more upper body work – I find it very rewarding especially if you’re small like me, gains with the upper body is such an achievement. But of course it depends on our goals – one important goal for me is to build muscle, and not only for function but for looks too.
      Teff is a lovely flour! I use it in my waffles too.

  9. Darlene S Cardillo avatar

    Just love your photos.

    Congrats on a great week of workouts.

    And that baking!!

    When I was teaching and my kids were younger, I used to bake around the holidays… A LOT andmake truffles, etc.

    No more.

    I miss it but now I’d have to it eat all myself.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks, Darlene! I’m glad to be doing some proper photography again.
      My mother used to bake like you when I was small. TONS of different cookies. And toffee too.

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