Why I’m ditching MyFitnessPal and other news…

I haven’t written for a while, so here’s a big old update.

New Coach review update

I wrote about the new coach a while back (here, here and here) when it first came out. I was into it. I found the workouts shorter and more intense and felt like they were working my muscle groups harder.

Since then I’ve read people on Reddit saying that the new coach isn’t anywhere near as difficult or challenging, and that they’re frequently ending work-outs not as exhausted or drenched in sweat as before.

Now I’m no fitness expert, but here’s my take on this. What I love is that you’re made to focus on technique first – although I’m not sure what the point of doing 1 pike is, as I was asked to do the other week – and then you do conditioning, and then one or part of the existing Freeletics Gods work-outs. I find the workouts more varied, and I am increasingly as exhausted and satisfied after each session as before. This might be that I’m being really careful with my feedback to Coach, and therefore my work-outs are being tweaked accordingly.

It seems like Freeletics have realised that just working people until they drop doesn’t necessarily get the best long-term results; that exhaustion doesn’t always mean a work-out has been effective. They’re helping us get better at technique.

I also find that the benefit of not being made to do full Freeletics Gods work-outs means I’m not as daunted (or bored) by my coach weeks.

Warm-ups and cool-downs

I also really love the new warm-ups and cool-downs. My biggest complaint about the app as it was was that it was really difficult to time your stretching at the end, but now it times each stretch, and I feel like the stretches are working my whole body.

#CoachChallenge update

I’m into week 4 of #CoachChallenge and I have to say the promise of money off Freeletics stuff is really keeping me going. I managed to keep to my schedule despite being away from home twice in environments where drinking and staying up late is part of the work. On my first trip there was also a gym in the apartment block which had a great pull-up bar and assistance bands, which were brilliant. Going to buy one.

Diet update

I’ve stopped using MyFitnessPal. I’ve been using it for ages and it was beginning irritate me. Also, it wasn’t particularly helping me lose weight or eat better, it was just telling me every day that even though I regularly came in under my calorie goal, my macros were always off (too many carbs and too much fat and not enough protein).

So instead I’m just being really mindful of what I’m eating and actually I think it’s making me eat better. For some reason, not counting everything means I try harder to eat well. I also think it’s helping me make better permanent changes to the way I eat.

I also think MyFitnessPal was damaging my relationship to what I eat. I love food. I love cooking. I don’t want to become a clean eating freak or one of those gym bunnies that only eat grilled chicken and protein shakes. I want to eat a balanced, healthy diet that makes me feel good, that is fresh and not processed and that tastes really good. I don’t want to reduce what I eat to numbers and pie charts. It’s not good for the soul.

Over the past couple of years I’ve read enough about food to know what’s good for you, what to eat in moderation and what to avoid. So I’m ditching the app and just trying to eat well. And it feels great.

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Why I’m ditching MyFitnessPal and other news…

And suddenly that milestone is right in front of you…

 

peter-hershey-282615Oh blimey, how has it been over a month since I posted. Sheesh.

So. What’s been happening? Well, last time I posted I was in the middle of a great week. I ran twice, swam every day and did my first Freeletics Gym session. More on that shortly. Since then, I’ve been a bit slack. I slipped out of the routine. And even worse, I could feel the belly that I’ve been working so hard to get rid of coming back again. I needed to take action.

Added to this, I realised that my mental milestone/goal is right in front of me. It’s my birthday this week, and it’s also Pride. On the same day. It wasn’t an official goal or anything, but I was kind of working towards being in peak shape for this day. And I’m not quite where I want to be. Maybe I was about a month ago when I was away. But since then, things have slipped.

Last week started off badly. I was at a wine tasting on Monday evening (no excuse, I know, I could have exercised in the morning). And on Tuesday we had some big work news first thing, and then I got drunk in the evening as a result of said work news. I’d almost written another week off, but on Wednesday I got back on track. I worked out every day for the rest of the week.

So, yeah. That Freeletics Gym session. I was in a hotel gym alone. I thought, why the hell not? So I did the first workout that Coach has set for me. It was: Upper Body I and Upper Body II.

10 Bench Press and 10 Bent Rows and then 10 Push Press and 10 Upright Rows. 3 sets of each. I had a max weight of 20kg, but to be honest I got quite confused about how to work out the weight. Don’t ask me why. I found it quite easy. It was pretty basic. I did enjoy the stretches at the end though.

BUT, I’m not about to join a gym again. I can’t stand working out around people, especially not in the weights area. It’s too posey. So I’m not likely to do any more Freeletics Gym workouts soon. I get enough exercise through bodyweight and running.

I won’t go through last week’s exercises in detail. That would be boring, but I am finding the new Coach great. I enjoy the shorter workouts and I feel easily as tired and satisfied as I did when they were longer.

Also I notice that they’ve introduced a whole bunch of new exercises. Which is great. Because sometimes it gets a little boring doing the same thing over and over again.

Yesterday I did my second Freeletics Running session. It was Maat. 200m then 30 seconds for 10 reps. I ran around the park near my boyfriend’s house. And made the mistake of running up a very steep hill halfway through the session. Nearly vomitted when I got to the top and it kind of knackered me out for the rest of the run. But I enjoyed it. 2k in 10 minutes. I can get on board with that.

I’m trying to up my frequency of working out again, so for a bit I’m going to try 5 Freeletics and 1 running per week. Could do a Bodyweight and a run on the same day to get 2 rest days, or could just have one rest day.

I’m also trying to get back on track with the nutrition. Cutting out beer pretty much completely and trying to reduce my reliance on carbs. Yeah yeah, I can hear you saying, you’ve said all this before. But if I write it down it gives me extra motivation.

It’s Sunday night right now. We’re going out for drinks on Friday night and Saturday is Pride. So I need to get all my exercise and good eating in before then. I’ve ordered a new vest to wear on Saturday, so it’s a bit of added motivation to work hard this week.

Have a great week. And sorry I’ve been a bit quiet. Would love to hear from you guys how your Freeletics journey is going. Tell me what you find challenging or difficult or share any tips you have in the comments below.

Have a great week!

And suddenly that milestone is right in front of you…

Strength vs Cardio

I’ve always been a skinny guy. I have a fast metabolism, and have always been fairly active. I cycle to work and always have lots of energy.
When I started Freeletics, it was because I was developing a beer belly. My waist hasn’t increased, but my belly has!

I also didn’t have much muscle definition, especially on my arms and chest. Over a year of Freeletics I’ve also learned that I didn’t have much definition on my legs either.

So for ages I’ve been selecting Strength Coach, in order to build muscle. But recently I switched to Strength & Cardio so that I could shift a bit more of that belly fat, and to mix things up a bit. And I’m quite enjoying it. I’m also going to start doing Freeletics Running this week (hopefully!), as I find running really hard and can’t really do any distance.

So I’ll keep you posted on that. 

What Coach do you use, and why?

Strength vs Cardio

Freeletics Bodyweight 4.0 Review #2

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I’ve now done two more days of the new Coach. And I have to say I’m really enjoying it. The workouts are shorter and more intense, and I’m finding that they’re really working my muscles a lot harder (I’m have more of that satisfying soreness – is it satisfying?).

Yesterday I did:

10 Jumps
Poseidon

The jumps, pan, no problem. I did Poseidon in 04:09, but no star because I still can’t do perfect form pullups.

And then today, the final day of my three-day Coach week, was

Conditioning
Interval: Core, Upper Body.
3 rounds of:
Commando Pullups Left x10
Side Plank Twists Left x15
Side Plank Twists Right x15
Commando Pullups Right x10
Plank Switches x10

Taking each in turn:

Commando Pullups
I found these relatively straightforward although I’m not doing them correct form. I could just about do 3 the other day and it was the same this time. Then I started having to give myself a little jump start.

Side Plank Twists
I liked these. I could feel that they will be good for core strength, but they were also nice stretches. They got more testing later on in the workout.

Plank Switches
I also enjoyed these. They were fairly tough later on, but they were a nice change from pushups.

I’m really liking how the workouts are quite quick, but work your muscle groups really hard. I am finding it much easier to do before work. And not racing against the clock means that I’m much more likely to concentrate on whether I’m doing things right, rather than trying to beat a PB.

I’ve set the next Coach week to 2 workouts which I’ll do later this week, as I’ve now done four days in a row (including two swimming sessions and an hour’s bike ride).

While I’m here, a quick update on nutrition…

I’ve been making some really conscious changes to my diet. These include:

  • Cutting out bread as much as possible
  • Low carb lunches (usually a chicken salad or similar)
  • Porridge or overnight protein oats for breakfast
  • As much fruit and veg as possible, certainly more than five pieces a day
  • Shit-loads of water
  • Cutting down on beer and wine in favour of spirits, and cutting down my drinking alcohol at all to one or two nights a week.
  • Higher protein content in most meals (last night’s steak was delicious!)
Freeletics Bodyweight 4.0 Review #2

Freeletics Bodyweight Coach 4.0: Week 1 review

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Today was – finally – my first day of the new Coach.

Here’s what was in store:

10 Pushups

Strength, Interval: Upper Body: 
4 Rounds of:
Commando Pullups Left x3
Commando Pullups Right x3
Straight Bar Dips x8
Clapping Pushups x8
Strict Pullups x4
Rest 60

It feels like this first week is about Coach figuring out what I can and can’t do. Almost like redoing the fitness test again.

But the first thing I notice is that whereas before, all you needed to do Freeletics Bodyweight was a pull-up bar, now it’s a bit more complicated. I don’t have an adjustable bar at home. I have a fixed pull-up bar. So Straight Bar Dips are impossible. I really want to carry on doing Freeletics at home, rather than at a gym or elsewhere, so I might have to invest in one of their portable bars. This is a bit annoying as they’re not cheap. But hey. Today I improvised by doing the Straight Bar Dips on a work surface – far from perfect form though.

So, taking each exercise one-by-one:

Push-ups

10 push-ups are no problem. Did them in 00:14, correct form. I was reminded, after not having done Freeletics for a week or so, how easy I now find push-ups. I have a much stronger upper body and find doing 10 no problem at all. Now onto the interval training.

Commando Pull-ups Left / Right

These were easier than I thought they would be, at least in the first couple of rounds. I was surprised by my strength. They got much harder in the latter half of the workout though and by the end I wasn’t really doing them correct form.

Straight Bar Dips

So yeah, I was doing these on a table basically. I started doing them between two chairs, but the chairs really hurt my hands, and actually once I used the table, I could do much better form. These were quite hard. Although I kind of think I might be able to get good at them relatively quickly.

Clapping Pushups

Ha. So I could just about do these on the first round, but the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds I couldn’t really do them, so just ended up doing normal pushups. Blimey these are hard!

Strict Pullups

Those of you who have read this blog before will know my struggle with the pull-up. But I have to say that not doing them against the clock and concentrating on form not speed meant that I pretty much did them perfectly on the first round. The later rounds were more tricky and I had to give myself a bit of a jump-start, but I felt like I was making progress.

Overall, I was easily as knackered and sweaty as I usually am at the end of a Freeletics workout. I’ve read elsewhere, mainly on Reddit, that some people find the new coach too easy, but I certainly found it as challenging, if not more so, than the old coach. It was hard to get my head out of wanting to do everything really quickly, as speed has been such a part of the mentality of Freeletics for so long, but once I got my head around concentrating on technique, I found it really enjoyable, and quite difficult.

Next up this week, I have:

Day 2
10 Jumps
Poseidon

Day 3
Conditioning: Interval: Core, Upper Body

Freeletics Bodyweight Coach 4.0: Week 1 review

Hell Week conundrum

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There I was, Monday morning, feelings smug that I’d got out of bed and done 2x Metis (strength), which incidentally, is pretty tough on the old thighs (and the downstairs neighbours – all those jumps).

I completed the ‘week’ that I’ve been doing for about the last three weeks (sorry Coach), and was looking forward to what was in store, when blam, HELL WEEK. Jeez.

So this is tricky. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling with motivation these last few weeks. And last time I did Hell Week, it was after a similar period of inaction (maybe Coach knows). I found it really gave me the boost I needed to get back into regular training.

But here’s the thing, this time, the timing isn’t great. I have a major deadline this week at work, and next week I’m away for the whole week in another country, so not even sure where/when I’ll be able to train.

So, do I just crack on with Hell Week on my usual schedule and take a few days out if needs be, with the knowledge that it will take longer than seven days, or do I postpone until I return from being away?

If I postpone, I’ll have to select my own workouts in the meantime. And I’m not sure I’ll get the most out of training. It might not do my motivation any good. I’ll feel like I’ve got some time off. If I just get on with it, I might feel frustrated that it’s not ‘pure’ Hell Week.

Here’s what Coach has in store:

Day 1: Uranos, Krios
Day 2: Venus, 200 burpees
Day 3: Hermes, 2x Morpheus
Day 4: Kronos, 2x Krios
Day 5: Venus, Artemis
Day 6: Kentauros (Strength), 200 burpees
Day 7: 2x Ares, 100 pullups

Ugh. The first three days aren’t too bad (apart from all those burpees). It gets tough mid-week, and I don’t know if I’ll have running space and pull-up bar when I’m away.

Hmmm… I’m of a mind to just get on with it and adapt as needs be. What do you think?

Hell Week conundrum

10 Things I’ve Learned From a Year of Freeletics

It’s almost exactly a year to the day since I joined Freeletics. You can read my first post here.

I’m currently on Week 24, so give or take I’ve taken about twice the time I should have done to get this far. I stopped for a month, and some weeks I just can’t fit in the workouts (or can’t be bothered!).

But this week, something switched. I’ve hit PBs on every single workout so far. Today I had three sets of 50 burpees and I found them pretty straightforward – did them almost continuously without stopping and beat my PB on each set. And then I did 2x Morpheus, which was fun. Yes, FUN.

I’m noticing I’m much more flexible, have more energy, my body shape is changing significantly (particularly noticeable on my thighs, shoulders, biceps and chest), and I find myself looking forward to workouts. And as I get quicker and my form gets cleaner, I find that I want to work outside more. Freeletics clears my head.

At the beginning of this journey, I read the evangelical blogs and transformation videos with a degree of scepticism. I doubted that working out could feel so good. But now I get it. I totally get it.

So what have I learnt this year?

  1. Pull-ups are really hard

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    If you haven’t worked out regularly before doing Freeletics, and you’re slim, you’ll probably find doing correct-form pull-ups really hard. Impossible even. I’ve been trying all year and still can only do Jumping Pull-ups. But I’m doing at least 10 every day and recently I’ve noticed that I’m almost doing proper pull-ups now. Keep at it. As for the other skills you need to unlock on the Bodyweight app, sheesh. I’m nowhere near those yet.

  2. Burpees are hard, but effective and are over quite quickly

    kentauros
    I found burpees really hard and very exhausting at the beginning
    , but I think they’re by far the most effective exercise, as they target lots of muscles at once. It’s really satisfying when you get faster, and they never last that long.

  3. Exercising outside is by far the best way to do Freeletics

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    It took me a while to pluck up the courage to work out in my local park despite it being less than a minute from my front door. I was worried about people giving me funny looks, or that my sweaty, red face would scare children. I was also anxious that people who also used the park to work out would be critical of my form (which was also a reason why it took me a while to work out at the gym). But actually, no one gives a shit. I certainly don’t look at other people when they’re working out. And the fresh air makes you feel really good. Can’t recommend it enough. Here are 7 tips from Freeletics about training outdoors in winter.

  4. You won’t see a big transformation if you don’t make a radical shift with your nutrition

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    I started Freeletics because I noticed I was getting a slight beer belly. And while it has certainly reduced it, I haven’t seen the huge transformation that the YouTube videos promise. And that’s because I really enjoy red wine and beer. My diet has changed. I eat more protein, less carbs, more vegetables. I drink less, I’ve cut out sugar in coffee and I eat almost zero junk food. But I haven’t radically shifted my diet. I haven’t bought the nutrition coach. I still drink alcohol. But I’m okay with that. I’m fitter, more healthy and my body has changed.  

  5. I find it really hard to get up first thing in the morning to exercise

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    I’ve tried everything: setting a timer on the TV to come on, going to bed earlier and so on, but I still find it really hard to get out of bed and exercise before work. But when I do, blimey it feels good. You feel like you’re ahead of everyone in the day, it gives you energy, a sense of achievement and forces you to have a good post-workout breakfast. Basically it sets you up for the day. But for some reason all of that still doesn’t make me jump out of bed.

  6. Don’t sit down on the sofa!

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    And if you didn’t work out before work, then avoid sitting down on the sofa when you get home at all costs. I make myself strip out of my work clothes and change into my workout gear straight away otherwise it’s so much harder to get going.

  7. You won’t stick with it if you don’t buy the coach

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    I tried doing Freeletics without Coach and I think unless you have superhuman discipline and motivation, it’s really hard to stick at it unless you stump up. Coach pushes you to do harder work-outs, it makes sure you work out your entire body, and it you get the satisfaction of ticking off days and weeks as you go (and no, I don’t get paid by Freeletics to say this!).

  8. Form trumps speed

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    The app foregrounds beating your PB with each work-out, but often taking your time and making sure that all your exercises are correct form is far more important. I seem to get better results doing that and in the long run it helps you get quicker too. 

  9. Stretching works

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    And finally, stretching works. It might be boring, but it really works. And it makes you feel much more flexible and strong. And reduces muscle pain when you push yourself. Why would you not?

  10. The community works

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    I don’t feel like I’ve properly tapped into the Freeletics community yet. I followed some people by reading the sub-Reddit, and by looking at other people’s followers. Hardly any of my Facebook friends are on Freeletics and those that are are all at Level 1. And there isn’t a Freeletics group in Bristol, so I don’t have a crew of people who I train with (although I am considering starting one). But when people who follow me give me a #clapclap or comment on and like this blog, it’s a real boost. Thanks guys!

 

 

 

10 Things I’ve Learned From a Year of Freeletics