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I promised Beth of Too Fond on Twitter that I would write today about all the ways I modify 30 Day Shred to suit my 50 year old body. I wrote about my cautious and gradual history with strength training earlier this month: Readers’ Workouts — November 13.

I feel like I should start this off with a disclaimer. I’m a librarian. Not a trainer, physical therapist, or doctor. Don’t sue me. I think we all have to figure out how to work with our own bodies, but we help each other by sharing. I worked through lots of videos, read lots of books, and listened to what has worked and hasn’t for other athletes. I borrowed what worked for me and ignored what didn’t.

First off, I don’t jump. Jillian Michaels says this at the beginning of Level 1 of 30 Day Shred:

Those of you at home who are looking for the modified version of a jumping jack, look elsewhere… I’ve got 400 pound people that can do jumping jacks. So can you.

30 Day Shred by Jillian MichaelsI talk back to Jillian (it’s pretty safe since she can’t hear me), telling her that I’ll do jumping jacks when I get an all-expense paid vacation to the Biggest Loser Ranch and a chance to win big money. Since I lost my weight, that’s not going to happen. I figure my arthritic knees have only a limited number of jumps left in them and I’m saving every last one for jumping off the back of the pick-up truck while doing yard work.

Jillian’s right, however, that the common modified jumping jack isn’t going to get my cardio going near enough for this workout, so I substitute dance moves for the jumping jack and other jumping movements in the 30 Day Shred workout.

Another advantage of dance moves is that they flow smoothly from one to another. Jillian is constantly saying “No resting” during this workout but, compared to a dance DVD, she stops all the time. It drives me nuts. So I keep things going by moving from one dance step to another.

Another issue for knees for many people is going to be all the squats and lunges in the 30 Day Shred. I really pay attention to keeping my knee angle at 90 degrees — the knee is over the heel not jutting forward over the toe.

The best advice I ever got for squats was from a physical therapist and should please all you bookish types: put a book under your toes to make sure that your weight is back in the heels. I don’t actually do that — just visualizing it is enough for me.

photo of Slim in 6 videosLunges took longer for me to work out. I learned to do them last winter while working with the Slim in 6 video series. It turned out that doing lunges while holding on to the back of a chair was vital for me. I didn’t feel like I was losing my balance, but apparently I was wrenching my knee trying to keep my balance. I also started off doing lunges much slower than the people on the video. I did them as three separate moves — out, down, back. Otherwise, I’d find myself jutting my knee too far forward. It took several weeks before I could do them without the chair and as fast as the trainer.

Strong Knees by Chantal DonnellyThe last item about knees is the quad stretch that Jillian does at the end of the cool-down. I learned from the Strong Knees DVD that I get a much better stretch without risking my knee when I do the quad stretch while lying on the floor on my side. Also, I emphasize moving my hips forward more than pulling my foot into my body.

I slightly modified the hip, knee, and neck circles that show up in the warm-ups of 30 Day Shred. For my joints, circles need to be done in both directions because they feel different. If you start circling while she’s still talking, you can do five slow circles one way and then five slow circles the other while the performers are doing their eight or so in one direction.

Beth was having troubles with her neck while doing 30 Day Shred. I haven’t had too much trouble in that area but I did have to make a small change to the hip lifts in Level 1. Jillian says to put your hands on the ground by your hips. I put my hands behind my head. Otherwise, I try to “borrow” the movement from my upper body and it hurts my neck and shoulder area, aggravating an old high school volleyball injury.

Has anyone else had neck problems with 30 Day Shred? What advice do you have for Beth?

How was your exercise last week? For the USians among you, did Thanksgiving throw you off track? What’s up for the coming week? Share on your blog and link your post below. Or tell your story in the comments. Be sure to visit the other participants for support and encouragement.

The Efficient Body DiaryEdited to add: Linking this up to Empowered Healthy tips link-up at Efficient Body Diary.



Readers’ Workouts — November 27 — 20 Comments

  1. Joy, Wow! This is great. For one thing, I love Jillian Michaels and her dvds but I hurt my knee and had to set them, and a lot of other things, aside until I healed. I also am 50 and have a balance disorder so I am the Queen of Accommodation, as I put it. My goal right now is to reintroduce them into my routine in January. In the meantime, I’m using this book to develop some stronger support for my body. I’ll be blogging about it probably on Saturdays or Sundays. I wish I could help Beth out because I also have to be careful of my neck. But “neck problems” is a bit vague. What does that mean? Does it hurt when she is trying to do some of the exercises? If so, which ones? Is it that her neck is feeling fatigued? Because the problem is too vague, I honestly can’t begin to make a suggestion as there are many things one can do but throwing a laundry list of solutions at an unspecified problem can be more confusing than helpful and could even do more harm than good.

    • Body by You sounds like a terrific book. I just requested it from my library.

      I hope you’ll link up your exercise posts with Readers’ Workouts!

  2. I have the opposite problem with squats. I’m constantly hearing trainers yell, “Get lower!” One thing my trainers have us do for squats if your hips are tight and you can’t get good depth is to raise your heels on a book or a weight plate. You get better range of motion without risking falling forward.

  3. Joy, thanks so much for this! So, so helpful. I think I lot of my issues with 30-Day Shred could be resolved by slowing down and paying more attention to my body positioning while doing the movements, even if it means I’m not keeping up with her all the time. And I agree about the jumping jacks–it does not feel good on the knees. I’m going to try your suggestion and do dance moves instead with any of the “jarring” exercises.

    • Finding a different workout than Shred is also an excellent modification! It’s kind of like books — there are so many workouts available, there is no reason to stick with one that isn’t working for you.

  4. Joy, you got me giggling this morning over jumping jacks and knees, so thanks. For the last two months I’ve been power walking 3 x’s a week in a hilly, wooded park that has falls, streams, squirrels and a mythical river otter. And did I mention the two sets of 25+ steps I huff up? Takes about 40 minutes and yes, while I love the benefit, I do it for all the people I’ve known who couldn’t do it anymore. Use it or lose it!

    • Use it or lose it is a huge motivator for me, too.

      That sounds like a lovely walk! I hope you get to see the river otter one day.

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  6. I still need to swing my Kettlebells about, they’re languishing by the door at the moment. Maybe I need to get myself a proper workout DVD for them, might be more motivational until I chuck the Kettlebell at the TV!

    And you’re right – exercise has to suit the individual – it depends on what we want, our goals and our personal abilities and limits.

  7. I still need to do my workout post. Ah! I agree with everything you said. I get frustrated that there is down-time between her starting the new exercise. I usually just keep doing reps of whatever I was doing previously to keep up my activity.

    I love your advice on the lunges. The squats and static lunges are okay for me, but the ones stepping forward and sideways always seem hard on my knees. I too have to step forward then drop. I can’t do it as a fluid movement or my knee gets out of whack.

    I have noticed my neck getting sore on level two. I really had to focus on not using my neck muscles to wrench myself up during the more difficult ab moves that involve more of a sit-up than a crunch. Thanks for sharing your modifications.

  8. Hello Joy and other fearless Exercisers,

    SO awesome to hear a bunch of you doing the Shred workouts together. Virtually, anyway! As for the complaints about neck pain after the workouts.. it sounds like muscle aches, probably from using your neck muscles during the ab portions of the workout. This is very common for people who haven’t been doing ab workouts in a while. What happens is that when your abs start to get fatigued, your neck muscles kick in to help lift you up in the ab workout instead of the ab muscles! As your abs get stronger, you’ll rely less on your neck. In the meantime, don’t worry that your neck will get big muscles–that won’t happen! Keep your fingertips on your head during the ab workout just gently supporting your head above/behind your ears. Don’t lace your fingers behind your head or use your hands to pull up your head.

    I did pretty well last week and clocked 388 minutes of workouts. That averages to just under an hour every day, but really my time spent working out varies from a 30 min run to a 2.5 hour bike ride. Yes! In the cold. I am a warrior. LOL!

  9. Hey Joy,

    I’ll check that workout out.

    About squats, the best way I found to teach them was to have someone stand facing a wall, palms facing flat in front. As you squat, you keep you hands on the wall and just let them drag down. You have to sit back. There is no other way. The wall is in the way. It’s very effective.

    Sounds like you are having fun!

  10. I agree with you about those jumping jacks. While I don’t mind doing jumping jacks, I’ve very very careful about doing squats and lunges. I would rather have a less rigorous workout than not be able to work out for weeks because of an injury. I haven’t tried the 30 day shred but I’ve heard about it. I might give it a try one day soon.

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