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

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    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

8 Tips for How to Work Out While You Travel

Brooklyn Bridge

I have to travel a lot with my job, and sometimes that it’s difficult to make time for exercise when you’re in an unfamiliar environment. This post focuses on Freeletics, because that’s my work-out of choice, but these tips can apply to pretty much any kind of exercise. I’ve also linked to some other articles I read while writing this post.

  1. Don’t worry about not having the right kit with you

    The beauty of Freeletics, or any HIIT, is that you can pretty much do it anywhere. All you need is a bit of space in your hotel room or AirBnb. So if you don’t have room in your luggage for a yoga mat, fear not – a carpeted hotel room will do the trick (although beware of carpet-burn!)

    Of course, if you’re staying in a hotel, there might be a gym. I tend to try and get in there as early as possible while everyone else is still asleep – that way it’s quiet and you can concentrate.

    My only challenge is that it’s difficult to do pull-ups when travelling. Freeletics have a portable ‘No Excuses’ pull-up bar that you could take with you and fix on the bathroom door.

  2. Block out time in your schedule

    Much like working out when you’re at home, I find it’s important to block out time in your schedule for Freeletics. I tend to work out either very early (before breakfast) or whenever I might have gaps in my schedule later in the day. When you’re out of a normal daily routine, I accept that I’ll probably be working out at a different time each day, but as long as I work out when is best before I do anything else that day, then I can relax knowing I’ve got it covered.

  3. Use 2×2

    If you’re in an unusual place and can’t run or exercise outside, remember that you can always switch your Freeletics Bodyweight app to 2×2 and do all your exercises in your hotel room. Or you can always just re-order your workout days and do the workouts that don’t involve distance.

  4. Research local freeletics groups

    Sometimes when I’m travelling I research local Freeletics groups to see where they workout or if they have any meet-ups planned. Facebook is a good place to start with this. I joined the Freeletics Vancouver group on a recent trip. Working out with other people is always a good motivator, and it can be a great way to meet locals when away from home. The Freeletics website has a list of groups around the world.

  5. Eat well while travelling

    It’s so tempting to rely on easy, quick foods that might feel familiar when you’re in a new place. I’m a sucker for pizza when I’m travelling. But you can eat healthy too. Start the day with fresh fruit and eggs at the hotel buffet and then opt for fresh meat, fish and salads and you can’t go wrong. It’s still possible to eat well, but also don’t beat yourself up if you have a lapse – especially if you’re on holiday! Here’s a handy post with some tips and tricks on how to eat well while travelling.

  6. Make sure you get plenty of sleep

    If you’re travelling long distances, jet-lag can really take its toll. I find that I am much less likely to work out if I’m tired, so I try and make sure I get more than enough sleep. But if the jet-lag does kick in, exercise if often a good way of beating it.

  7. Hire a bike, rather jumping in taxis

    Cycling is a great, cheap way to experience a new city, and keeps you fit too. Try hiring a bike rather than jumping in taxis. I did this in Copenhagen and it was brilliant. Although I wouldn’t want to try it in cities that weren’t so cycle-friendly!

  8. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t fit it in

    If you’re away from home for work, sometimes your schedule is so packed that there simply isn’t time. Don’t beat yourself up. Even a few push-ups or burpees in the morning makes a difference (try this five-minute hotel room workout). Sometimes I use being away to try and beat PBs on all those quick exercises like 25 push-ups etc. And if you can’t do a full work-out, just cut yourself some slack and start again next week.

Freeletics also have a blog about exercising while travelling, and you should also check out the Freeletics sub-Reddit

Right, off to do 2xMetis in my hotel room 🙂

8 Tips for How to Work Out While You Travel

Freeletics Bodyweight: Starting Over

I’ve now had about a month off for various reasons. I pulled a muscle in my shoulder which still isn’t quite healed, and I’ve been really busy at work. But still, #noexcuses, right?

So as we’re now at the beginning of September, I’ve got that ‘back-to-school’ feeling, so I’ve decided to do something of a reboot.

I’m going to re-do the fitness test today and start afresh. I feel out of practice, and the Coach week I’m in feels like it might not be the best place to re-start.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Also planning on starting yoga this week too. Need to do more stretching.

Freeletics Bodyweight: Starting Over

Back on the burpees

I’ve been trying to get up earlier recently as I know that I feel much better when I work out in the morning. I think I’m also much more likely not to give it a miss if I get it out of the way.

But I didn’t get home from being away this weekend until nearly 1am last night, so I wasn’t expecting to work out this morning. I woke up about 8am this morning and after tea and planning the day ahead I decided to just bite the bloody bullet.

I’ve got a couple of full work-outs to complete in my current Freeletics week plan (that’s been running for about three weeks…), but I didn’t have much time before work, so I did one of the sets of burpees Coach has scheduled this week. 50. Suffice to say I was much slower than my PB (4:51). I took me over six minutes to finish. And I was pretty sweaty.

So there’s work to be done – need to get back on form.

In other news, I’m consistently completing 10 jumping pull-ups in 0:15. So I think it’s time to move onto actual pull-ups and see how we get on there. I feel stronger and like I can almost do them without the jumping. I’ll keep you posted.

Back on the burpees

Getting back into the swing of things

Something weird happened to me when I finished Week 15 of Freeletics. I’d got through that initial programme and had noticed a fair bit of difference in my body shape, and so for some reason the discipline and routine slipped. 

I’d set my workouts to 3 or 4 a week, but take two weeks to complete each week. I was back drinking too much and not exercising. Even though I still do jumping pull-ups every day to try and build my strength.

I’ve been pleased with the results of Freeletics. I’ve felt more confident; I’ve been comfortable being topless and wearing vests when I’ve been out and about at festivals or in the park. And so I need to keep going to get even better results.

So – I’m writing this very brief post on a train late on Sunday night, in the hope that this will spur me on to get back into the swing tomorrow. 

I’ve also been a bit lax on the old blog posts, so I’m going to try and post more regularly too.

Here’s to the future. #noexcuses.

Getting back into the swing of things

Coming back after time off to… HELL WEEK

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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!

Coming back after time off to… HELL WEEK

Strength in Numbers?

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Image: Freeletics

Today was my first workout in almost a week, after being away on holiday. And man, was that tough.

It was Kentauros (Standard). And I couldn’t get anywhere outside today so I did the 2×2 version. 2x 20m Lunge walks replaced by 40 Lunges; 2 x 20m Burpee Frog replaced with Burpees. Despite wanting to give up half way through, and sweating an AWFUL lot, I made it.

I also tried to take it slowly – seeing as I’d never done it before, it might make it easier to beat my PB next time – and to make sure that I did good form. I still find burpees really hard, but my form is getting much better and the movement much more fluid. I’m also finding I can do them more quickly. Kentauros makes you do 240 of the bloody things. I was cursing the app before I was even half way through.

I tend to check how quickly other people have done the workout before I start, and then decide what time I’m aiming for (usually I try to just not come bottom!). So if you’re on Freeletics, but haven’t followed many people, I’d recommend having a look at the Freeletics Reddit and following a few people who have posted on there. In particular, look for posts where people are searching for people to follow.

It really helps me to see other people’s struggles and successes and it’s always a boost when you get a #clapclap, even if it’s from someone you’ve never met. I’ve yet to workout in a group. I tend to get into a zone when I’m working out and can’t really see how I’d do it with others. Do people do the same workouts? Or do you just crack on with your own coach workout but with others doing the same nearby? Either way, I wouldn’t mind if the guys in the picture above came along and worked cheered me on..

Anyway, today I wanted to do Kentauros in under an hour, or more specifically under 58 minutes, which was the bottom score on the people I follow.. And I did. 53 minutes. BOOM.

I drank quite a lot on holiday. Not good for the belly. I’ve now adjusted MyFitnessPal’s Carbs/Protein/Fat percentage goals to 45/30/25% respectively. Seems like this is the thing to watch, rather than overall calories.

 

Seems that Freeletics are launching a new Freeletics Gym app this week. Have to say I find this a bit confusing. Isn’t the whole thing about freedom from having to have a gym membership/weights/machines etc. Hence the name?

Personally I like the way that Freeletics is helping me gain a body shape that is in proportion – in a way that I find people who use gyms don’t have (either arms that are too big, or chest, or legs. In fact, hardly ever legs – people tend to hate leg day, don’t they).

 

Strength in Numbers?