Coming back after time off to… HELL WEEK

2016-05-31 09.02.13
The view from my mat this morning

My job involves a very intense period of work over one particular month of the year (May). The whole year is geared towards that month and so it becomes all consuming. Long hours, lots of socialising, lots of mental and physical energy.

I’ve been doing Freeletics since December, and I always kind of knew that April/May would be really tricky. It’d be hard to find the energy to work out after a challenging day and when there was frequently alcohol involved at the end of it. So I took the decision to not beat myself up about that, and to give myself a break for a few weeks. Four to be precise. I did continue to practice my pull-ups during that period – finding a minute here and there to do them at the start or end of the day. So I guess in the strictest terms, I didn’t have a break. But I did take a break from Coach. Sorry Coach.

So when I returned to freeletics last week, I had one day of Week 14 still to complete. A load of burpees and 3x Metis (Standard). Suffice to say I didn’t beat my PB on any of these. I had noticeably put on weight (pretty much directly from beer and wine – I had a pretty good diet otherwise during my time away from Freeletics). I huffed and sweated my way through those exercises and gave myself a pat on the back for getting back on the horse. WELL DONE ME. And once I’d finished that final Week 14 day, I naively selected 3 days workout the following week, thinking ‘I’ll ease myself back it’. Ha. How wrong I was. I had forgotten that Week 15 is HELL WEEK.

However, once I’d finished staring open mouthed at what Coach had in store, I was kind of excited for the challenge. What better way to get back into working out after some time away than by the physical equivalent of flooding therapy. Here’s what Week 15 looks like:

Day 1: Kentauros, 2x Metis
Day 2: Hermes, 2x Morpheus
Day 3: Hades, Hermes
Day 4: Uranus, Hades
Day 5: 3x Metis, 25 Pullups, 25 Pullups, 25 Burpees, 25 Burpees
Day 6: 2x Krios, 100 Burpees, 100 Burpees
Day 7: 3x Krios, 100 Burpees, 50 Squats, 25 High Jumps, 25 High Jumps

OKAY then!

First things first, this is way more work-outs than I’ve ever done in my life, ever.

Secondly, all those pull-ups (there are pull-ups in the workouts too), are going to be hard. I can’t really done any pull-ups at all. So far, I can only do jumping pull-ups. So I’m not sure how that’s going to do.

But before we get into Hell Week (I’ve already done Day 1 and 2 at the time of writing), I want to talk about a few other things.

Alcohol

I’ve touched on this before, but I think that for me, and probably for many of you, alcohol is the most significant factor in weight loss/gain. When I look back at photos of myself during Dry January, I hadn’t really realised how much it had an effect on visible body fat around my belly. And now, after a couple of months of fairly regular beer drinking, I’ve definitely brought back the beer belly, which was the entire reason to star this whole thing in the first place.

I’ve noticed that Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) says that he only “gets boozy” twice a month, and when he does, he drinks gin and tonic. Far less fatty than beers. I’m kind of kicking myself that I drank so much over the last couple of months as I’d love to be entering Week 15 with a proper transformation photo. That will have to wait.

Protein Shakes

I’d sneered at these before. Especially after watching a BBC documentary about how protein shakes don’t really do much if you get enough protein in your food anyway. BUT, I’ve noticed that I haven’t really been getting the amount of protein I needed through my normal diet (I am for 45% carbs, 25% fat, 30% protein), so I took advantage of an offer on MyProtein.com and ordered a load of whey protein to start making shakes. They’re actually quite tasty and really sort you out after a hard work-out. I’ll let you know how I get on with them. (Oh, and this isn’t sponsored or anything).

So, anyway…

Here we are in HELL WEEK. Yesterday was a bank holiday. I was exhausted from a long weekend, but forced myself to do the two workouts in the evening, and was very glad I did afterwards.

Kentauros was as appalling as ever. I really fucking hate that workout. But I beat my PB by about 4 minutes. I was a dreadful sweaty mess at the end though. And then I did 2x Metis, which was FINE, but didn’t beat my PB because I’d already done about a million burpees and my poor body wouldn’t let me go any faster.

Then this morning I woke up early and took advantage of a bright, sunny day to go to my local basketball court. I always feel a little self-conscious working out outdoors, but it was early and there was no one around. I actually quite enjoyed it. Hermes is a dream. It’s probably one of my favourite workouts because you get those little rests. And then 2x Morpheus was harder than I thought it would be, but not too bad. I beat my PB on Hermes but not on Morpheus, a pattern I reckon will continue throughout the week.

Tonight I have a work do, but I’m not going to drink, and then I’m going to get up early again tomorrow to do Day 3.

I’m determined to do this properly (i.e. not have any gaps), but I think good sleep and the right food is crucial to me being able to do this. Keep it here, folks, and thanks for reading!

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Coming back after time off to… HELL WEEK

HELL WEEK #1

I was a bit worried about being able to complete Hell Week. Not only because the workout regime look HORRIFIC, but because I was travelling again and wasn’t sure where I’d be able to exercise. Turns out, apart from the first day, when I needed a pull-up bar, the whole weekend was sans-equipment, so I was able to do everything from the comfort of my hotel room. Only thing was that I didn’t have a mat, so came very close to carpet burn.

So here goes…

DAY 1: HADES and 2x PERSEPHONE

Hades was pretty tough. I hadn’t worked out for a few days, and the burpees nearly killed me. I did slightly duck out of the pull-ups as I didn’t have access to a bar, so I did pull-downs on the machine in the hotel gym. Still, was pretty tough. I also did the running on the spot rather than over a distance. But this workout still wiped me out and I had another one to do that day.

Although when I came to do Persephone towards the end of the day I was more than ready for more. Lunges are pretty straightforward, but then with more bloody burpees and straight leg levers (which are surprisingly difficult), this was pretty difficult. Also I had to do the whole thing twice.

My progress photo after this was very encouraging, albeit it was under generous hotel bathroom lighting. But I can definitely see my body changing now, and it feels great.

DAY 2: PROMETHEUS & HERMES

Really enjoyed Day 2. I was well up for it and smashed two PBs. Felt amazing afterwards.

DAY 3: THANATOS & 3xATHENA

Day 3 on the other hand was a bit of a killer. Got through it though if only to be able to say I’d completed a hell week, and to see what next week had in store. Also, did quite a good time on Thanatos and then realised I was basically doing squats rather than stand-ups as I hadn’t watched the video. So I’m going to remove the star from that one (I’ve got it again next week so will give it a proper go).

3xAthena – wow. That was hard. 225 of each exercise was a killer. Especially the burpees. I am finding myself getting quicker at everything though and that it’s easier to do each exercise properly.

And that was it. Not as taxing as I had feared. And the endorphin rush yesterday was huge.

Next week there’s a day where I’ve got to do 100 pull-ups. There’s no way on god’s earth I can do that.

Also, the warm-ups and stretching have changed to Warm Up Pro and Stretching Pro. Oooooh, exciting!

Oh, and finally, my diet has been shite this week. Not much alcohol (dry January has really had an affect on my overall drinking), but rubbish food as I’ve been away from home. Need to get back on that next week.

HELL WEEK #1

The Calm Before the Storm

Today was the final day of Week 6, which I’ve spread over two weeks. It was 2/3 Metis Strength followed by two 400m sprints and two 200m sprints. And do you know what, I quite enjoyed it.

Coach seems to have been giving me lots of leg workouts over the past couple of weeks. So actually, it was pleasing that I didn’t find the Burpee Squat Jumps, Froggers and High Jumps particularly taxing. I feel a lot stronger and seem to have more stamina.

And I enjoyed the runs too. I did them in the gym on the treadmill. I should have really gone outside as it was such a beautiful day, but I couldn’t think of the right space to do the sprints (everywhere is pretty hilly around Bristol and there isn’t a running track nearby).

When I started I kind of thought maybe this would be a fad, that I’d stop after a while, but I’ve found myself getting quite addicted. Of course, shelling out money for the coach means you’re kind of invested, but there’s something about seeing what Coach has in store each week that I look forward to finding out. I like it that it’s not all planned out at the beginning.

I stopped Dry January the day before yesterday. We had a three-hour board meeting at work and so I kind of needed a drink after that. I did feel really disappointed in myself afterwards though. I’ve really enjoyed not drinking, feeling more alert, getting more done, feeling more healthy. I don’t want to slip back into bad habits.

I’m off to Vancouver on Monday for a week with work. So as I sat on one of the mats at the gym stretching after today’s workout and completed the week on the app, I was THRILLED to see that next week is Hell Days. This is going to HURT:

Day 1


Hades
2x Persephone

Day 2

Prometheus
Hermes

Day 3

Thanatos
3x Athena

3xAthena looks horrible.

But the hotel I’m staying in has a gym, so I reckon I can really focus and do one workout in the morning and one in the evening. Ouchy.

 

The Calm Before the Storm

Beginning to notice a difference…

Week 6 has taken me two weeks. I think I was over-ambitious trying to fit in five workouts during a very busy period at work, and in the middle of winter when one has to muster superhuman strength just to get out of bed in the morning, let alone put a pair of trainers on.

Anyway, I’m nearly through it. Just 2/3 Metis and a load of sprinting to do and then I’m ready for week 7.

But before the ins and outs of week 6, here’s my Day 58 progress photo.

Day 58

I’m pretty pleased with this to be honest. I’ve lost some weight, I have more definition in my chest and abs and around my shoulders. Still a way to go, but this was a boost.

Week 6, Day 2 was Kentauros. It was tough, and I had to slightly modify it as I was in the gym and there were people using the area I usually work out in. So instead of Burpee Frogs, I did Burpee jumps. I quite enjoyed this workout. I was absolutely shattered afterwards, but it really got the blood pumping.

Day 3 was Hermes. Hermes is boring. But it gave me an opportunity to really work on my push-up technique. I just find it quite repetitive.

And then today was 3/4 Hermes Strength. Now, a while back I unlocked the OH Push-Up skill. I think I managed to do a couple, but with poor technique (by allowing my waist/legs to leave the floor after my chest). When I actually tried to do one properly, there was absolutely NO WAY I could do one. So I did normal push-ups and locked the skill afterwards. Might get to it later.

As a side note, there was a woman doing a workout in the gym today with just bodyweight and a step and she was so agile and flexible it was mesmerising to watch (and I’m a homosexual, so I wasn’t leaching!). It was inspiring to see someone do burpees and other freeletics stuff with such guile and ease while I sweated away in the corner.

I’m still doing Dry January. I think this has a lot to do with my disappearing belly to be honest. I’m also still watching the amount of carbs I’m eating and am eating lots of vegetables and protein.

Interestingly on BBC2’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor, they exposed the protein shake market as a bit of a scam. In a test with two group taking an exercise routine for 8 weeks, there was no discernible difference between the group who drank protein shakes to the group who didn’t. As long as you’re eating plenty of protein in your diet, there’s no need to supplement. Your body will just piss it out. There was a similar debunking of the antioxidant smoothie craze. Might as well drink orange juice apparently.

Beginning to notice a difference…

End of Week 5

  
Realised I haven’t updated this much for a while. Not that anyone has noticed. I’m basically just talking to myself.

However, just watched a YouTube video with Joe Wicks (aka The Body Coach) where he talked about tweeting and instagramming about three recipes/workouts a day when he had zero followers, so YOU NEVER KNOW, maybe I’ll become a social media sensation and get a four-book deal. Or, more likely, I’ll just keep chuntering away here on my own.

I think my problem is that I’ve never been known as a sporty person. The idea of me doing anything sporty, let alone blogging about it, will be quite strange to my friends. And some of them have signed up to Freeletics. None of them have actually done a workout yet though, which suggests they’re not likely to be looking at the app much…

I’m also finding it difficult to do work-outs outside/in public. I don’t work out in a group; there doesn’t seem to be one in Bristol, and at the moment, as I end up being a panty, sweaty mess about half way through a workout, I don’t really like doing it on the basketball court next to my house as it’s overlooked by houses. Maybe I need to get over it. I think I might have to next week.

Anyway… Where have I got to over the last 19 days?

Well, I dipped out of the coach momentarily to do a 1.5k run on the treadmill at the gym. Was pretty easy. Had been hoping to do my normal workout, but should have realised that going to the gym after work during the first week back after the Christmas holidays was a bad idea. I’ve never seen the place so packed. And my usual workout area (where they do the classes) was full of people lunging, led by a woman wearing a Beyonce mic and shouting.

Then I was back under Coach’s orders and did Ares. I did this in my flat, so I couldn’t do the 2x 40m runs. I substituted them for High Knees. I can also still only do jumping pull-ups. They’re just too difficult. As a side note, I’m noticing that coach is scheduling more leg work-outs than arms, so I’m not feeling like I’m gaining strength in my arms. Might have to supplement Coach’s workouts with extra pull-up training.

Next up was 2/5 Aphrodite. Was pretty hard. Burpees are horrible. Very hard. And that was only 2/5!

Then it was Venus Standard. Looking back at that work out, I’m pretty impressed that I managed 150 push-ups. Although I think some of them were knee press-ups… So no star for me that time.

The rest of last week was pretty fucking hard. Aphrodite (ouch), Prometheus (oof) and finally, today, Helios (jeez).

Now, what was strange was at the start of the week, I was down to Helios standard (675 points – looked horrific – total of 300 burpees). Then, after Aphrodite it changed to the Endurance version, which is slightly easier (400 points, burpees changed to sprawlers etc). I think this might have been because my coach feedback after Aphrodite was ‘EXHAUSTING’, but be interested to hear if anyone else has noticed Coach changing their schedule during the week (hellooooooo? Anyone out there?)

So even the Endurance version of Helios was absolutely knackering. Getting through 150 sprawlers was difficult enough, and then to have to do them again right at the end of the workout was pretty hard. The final sprawlers took ages. I could only really do 3 or 4 at a time before stopping. Anyway, I got through it and felt pretty goddamn good afterwards.

Next week looks even harder. Here it is:

Atlas (Standard)

Kentauros (Standard)

Hermes (Standard)

3/4 Hermes (Strength)

2/3 Metis (Strength)
400m Sprint
400m Sprint
200m Sprint
200m Sprint

As a final note, I’m a cynical Englishman who can’t really abide motivational quotes etc etc, but I did find next week’s message from Coach a boost, even though it is a bit of a cliche.

By now, you made it through your first five weeks of Freeletics. You constantly get fitter and your body is about to change visibly. You are not a beginner anymore. We will no longer beg you not to give up. You know that backing down is not an option. It’s up to you to change your mindset. From now on, it’s about bursting limits. Every single time. It’s about being hungry. And putting in the work. About leaving excuses behind and unleashing your potential.

Dare to step it up. Athletes in their first weeks look up to you. Make sure to be a good role model. Especially if you train in groups. Maintain good form, be motivating and help others to improve their performance.

And as a final, final note… A word about Dry January.

Haven’t had a drink since New Year’s Eve. Feel pretty bloody good for it, and am getting loads done. I’m sleeping better, feel less anxious, and my diet is much, much healthier. I’m not 17 days in and it’s getting easier every day not to drink. Gonna try and push through until the end of the month. And hoping that it’s having an effect on that little beer belly. I’m not noticing much difference at the moment, and my weight has dropped a little, but not a lot. So let’s see. But I’m certainly finding that Freeletics is unleashing a stubbornness and determination I kind of knew I had, but not to this degree. I really want to make this work, and I’m surprising myself with my ability to do so.

BRING ON WEEK SIX.

End of Week 5