And the start of 2019 brings… HELL WEEK

After slacking off at the end of 2018, I was determined to get back into Freeletics again…

My hell week looked like this:

Hermes
2x Agon
Charon
Perseus
Ares
2x Morpheus
Hestia

I have to say, I quite enjoyed the fact that each day was just one relatively short workout and that I could get it done quickly. It was a stretch doing it every day with a combination of jet-lag, a lingering cold and two mild hangovers (oops), but I did each one in the morning and genuinely they all made me feel better. I even got a couple of PBs. It was also a week mercifully free of burpees (some sprawls in Hestia which were hard enough after four weeks away). I also got a swim in too.

So I feel back in the game again. I’ve had today and yesterday as rest days, but will be back on it tomorrow.

And so now I’m doing the 12-week challenge as part of the new Freeletics coach. I’m doing the Weights-Free Gain programme. I love how I have a focus. I don’t think I realised it, but the previous coach was a little aimless. I wasn’t really focussing on any milestones and hell week often came as a surprise. Now I know what I’m aiming for and can see what my progress is. I’m really going to try and follow it closely and not have breaks. It feels like exactly the right time of year to do this programme – by the time I finish it’ll be the end of April and we’ll be heading into warmer weather.

For those of you who read the last post about habit tracking and goals: I’ve now set my 2019 goals and have been using the ‘Done’ app since 1 January. It’s got a lovely interface – the colours on the progress bars genuinely make you want to complete your habit/task so you can tap that bar.

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And the start of 2019 brings… HELL WEEK

Keeping motivated in Autumn

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*Insert inspirational quote about roads and autumn here* Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

It’s been a while. I haven’t been slacking, I promise. Just busy.

Although I have taken a couple of weeks off my Coach programme to swim more regularly and to do the pull-up e-book that Freeletics published recently.

Now summer is over, it’s tempting to slack off training a bit though. You know, our bodies are covered up by more clothes, it’s colder, you want to eat more, it’s harder to train outside. But I’m trying to stay motivated and to remember that exercising helps my mental health during the winter.

I did do one of my Coach training sessions last week. This was:

10 Strict Pullups
10 Hanging Knee Raises
Interval: 3 rounds of 10 x squat jumps, 10x elevated split squats (both sides), 5x stands, 30secs rest
2/5 Achilles
50 High Knees (replaced a 100m sprint cos it was raining)

I quite enjoyed all of that. Varied. Seemed to work out most of my body. Was pleasantly exhausted at the end. Although the pullups and burpees in Achilles were punishing. I’m still not quite there with pullups, so did them as Assisted pullups.

Then I’ve been doing the programme of pullups that the Freeletics e-book suggests. It builds up intensity and frequency and there are lots of shoulder pullups and passive hangs, plus pullups. I can feel it getting easier and I’m on week 2. Week 3 next week, which I’m going to combine with my normal coach workouts and a swim at the weekend.

I’ve also been increasing the length of my swims by 50m each time. I’m now up to 46 lengths of a 25m pool. Considering when I started a few years ago 20 lengths was my absolute max, I’m pretty pleased with that. Have been trying to work on my technique too.

I’ve written about this before, but the weekly email from Freeletics today reminded me that my focus, determination and ability to work through something until it’s finished has massively improved since I started doing Freeletics. I really do believe that physical exercise has a big impact on your ability to concentrate. I find myself really pushing through difficult tasks at work, at home. I’m much more likely to just do something than to put it off. And I think the way that Freeletics is designed has helped me with that. The thought of not finishing a workout on the app and not being able to earn points or tick off the day means I always push through. Having a community of other people following me keeps me accountable somehow too.

I also use a habit-building app called Momentum where I can track my streaks with certain activities. That old Jerry Seinfeld thing about not breaking the chain inspires me to keep going and pull on that workout gear. I also track other stuff like eating well, reading, getting to bed on time, waking up early etc. Wanting to get a perfect streak compels me to train every week.

So people, what keeps you going? How do you motivate yourself?

Keeping motivated in Autumn

Lying to yourself doesn’t work…

My final two days of Hell Week are done. Thank god. These were:

Perseus

2x Poseidon

I quite liked Perseus. A nice mix of exercises: Strict Pullups, Mountain Climbers, Sphinx Push-ups and High Knees. It was over quite quickly – in my case 10mins – and even though it wasn’t too taxing I was still exhausted at the end.

And then today I did 2x Poseidon. Now, the last time I did this was two years ago. Apparently I did it in 12 minutes and I gave myself a star. There’s just simply no way I should have given myself a star. I couldn’t do the pullups. And I still can’t. I can do a few, but nowhere near the 100 that 2x Poseidon wants you to do. So I did assisted pullups today and didn’t give myself a star. I also added 8 minutes to my time.

It’s always tempting to give yourself a star, or skip a set, or lots of other little cheats. But it’s not really worth it, because it gives you a false sense of achievement, and when you do actually achieve it, it doesn’t feel so good.

Anyway, I got through the workout. Afterwards I had zero power in my arms.

And now I can have a break for a couple of days. I’ve asked coach for two workouts this week – he’s given me Upper Body Conditioning with a 100m sprint and 2x Agon.

Another Hell Week done. Onwards!

Lying to yourself doesn’t work…

Aphrodite (again)

Finally felt back on form today, so pushed myself to train, even after a really long day at work.

I’ve been stuck in the same coach week for three weeks, and the final day was the full Aphrodite (Standard). To be honest, I probably could have picked the week back up sooner, but I was finding the prospect of today’s training pretty daunting.

I last did Aphrodite (Standard) 8 months ago. All those Burpees, all those squats and sit ups. Ouch.

But actually once I got into it, I kind of found my groove. I think my arms are stronger than they used to be, so the Burpees are a bit easier. I was ahead on the PB by about 2 minutes half way through and managed to maintain that until the end.

And blimey, it felt good to get through it. The thing I like about that workout is the declines repetitions in each set. So the difficulty decreases and it feels more possible the further through the workout.

Anyway, week completed at last. Onto the next week, which looks a bit more manageable.

Aphrodite (again)

Ouch

Last week, my workout included the following:

6 Squats, 10 Lunges,

Interval: 3 rounds of – 10x Incline Rows, Side Plank Twist, Plank Switches

Poseidon

I did jumping pullups in Poseidon rather than actual pullups. Still not quite there.

And five days later, my arms still hurt. Specifically my biceps. Ouch.

I worked out again the next day, including 3/5 Aphrodite. Took me 27 minutes. Absolutely exhausting.

I’m hoping that the achey arms will subside. A lot of blogs and articles say you should just work through it. But if they’re still achey in another week, I might get it checked out.

On another note, I’ve noticed the workouts getting a bit longer/harder. I wonder if that’s Coach listening to my feedback on workouts and upping the ante. I must have been saying “I can do more”. I’m quite enjoying being pushed a bit harder.

Ouch

New Year Freeletics Goals, Yoga and an aborted attempt to do an HS Push-Up

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Blimey. Haven’t written this blog since November. Where does the time go?

Even though I usually train indoors rather than outdoors, I’ve been finding it really hard to find the motivation to get up and exercise. Something about the cold weather, the desire to hibernate. So I haven’t been training regularly. And then I was ill for a few days just before Christmas, and then there was Christmas. However hard I try, I’m just not one of those people posting pictures of their Christmas Day workouts on Instagram. I’m in soft clothes, drinking red wine and eating chocolate.

I did manage to not completely overdo it over Christmas though. My parents are getting old and their appetite is shrinking, so there just wasn’t the usual level of gluttony of years gone by. So as I enter January, I’m not feeling too unhealthy. Although I did rather overdo it on New Year’s Eve, so yesterday was a complete write-off.

Today’s Training

So this morning, my last day before I go back to work, I made myself get out of bed and train. As much because I find that working out helps curb that too-much-booze anxiety that often comes with a hangover.

Thankfully Coach wasn’t too hard on me for my first workout of 2018. It was:

20 Lunges
2 Split Lunges
Conditioning: Abs and Legs – 20 Squats, 20 Side Lunges, 10 Knee-wipes
1/4 Venus

There’s something hilarious about the algorithm – sorry, Coach – giving you 2 split lunges. It’s over in about 2 seconds. Surely there should be a way that Freeletics could put a lower limit on any one exercise.

Anyway, it felt good to get moving again and I was glad I dragged myself out of bed.

Trying to Unlock Advanced Skills

I also managed to squeeze in a workout on the day before New Year’s Eve – that in between bit between Christmas and New Year where no one really knows what to do with themselves.

After doing the workout – 6/10 Gaia and interval – I decided to try and unlock some of the advanced skills. It didn’t end well.

I did manage to do 5 OH Push-ups, and I’m going to start trying to do them alongside my Coach workouts, in the same way as I do assisted pull-ups. And then I tried to do a Pistol Squat, which was just impossible, and a HS Pushup, which was also laughably hard. I just couldn’t do it. And then when I came out of it, I didn’t let my legs fall as one would normally do when coming out of a handstand. Instead, I kind of slid down the wall, which kind of crunched up my head/neck. It was pretty painful. And a stupid way of trying to come out of the push-up. Felt like I could have done some serious damage if I’d carried on. Thankfully I figured out what I should have done and did that. Was in pain for about two days. Which was lovely. Suffice to say, I didn’t unlock those two. It did make me think that in those training videos, Freeletics should show how to get into and out of those more difficult skills. It would really help.

Yoga

As a result of the neck pain, I ended up doing a YouTube yoga workout to try and relieve it. And it kind of worked. I think I’m going to try and do more yoga in 2018 alongside Freeletics, to try and increase my flexibility and sort out some niggling muscle pain I get every now and then. This is the video I did, in case you want to do it to:

I might do his 30 Day Total Body Yoga Workout Challenge. Looks great and might get me into the habit of doing it regularly.

2018 Goals

So, what’s my plan for 2018? I’ve been doing Freeletics for over two years now. I certainly haven’t do the 15 week transformation that the YouTube videos show. I guess when I started I didn’t want a quick fix, I wanted a way to exercise regularly, and that’s what I use Freeletics for. But I would like to build my strength, particularly in my arms, and I’d like to lose a bit more belly fat – I suspect that will be more down to diet than to exercise, so I’m going to make a real effort to eat well and drink less (pretty standard New Year resolution stuff here). But I think I also want to increase my flexibility, and build consistency – fewer breaks, more regular workouts. I suspect that’s the key to really making progress.

And maybe by this time next year, I’ll be able to do a couple more of those advanced skills.

Happy New Year – let’s do this!

New Year Freeletics Goals, Yoga and an aborted attempt to do an HS Push-Up

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.

Why I’m ditching MyFitnessPal and other news…