A quick post today as I haven’t posted for a while. Last week I didn’t train at all. No real excuses – I had the time, I just didn’t prioritise it. And I didn’t swim either.
So today I cleaned the flat, went and bought lots of fruit and veg, did all my washing and planned when I’d train and when I’d swim this week and I’m going to try and stick to it. So here I am trying to be accountable by posting it here.
Interesting email today from Freeletics too. They’re about to launch a completely rebuilt app based around five key values. Look forward to seeing how it works.
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
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?
Interval: 3 rounds of – 10x Incline Rows, Side Plank Twist, Plank Switches
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.
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?
Pull-ups are really hard
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.
Exercising outside is by far the best way to do Freeletics
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.
You won’t see a big transformation if you don’t make a radical shift with your nutrition
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.
I find it really hard to get up first thing in the morning to exercise
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.
Don’t sit down on the sofa!
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.
You won’t stick with it if you don’t buy the coach
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!).
Form trumps speed
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.
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?
The community works
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.