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

Freeletics and Christmas

My work-out in the park in Brazil seems like a very long time ago. Since then I’ve returned to the UK, fitted one more work out in before Christmas (more on that shortly) and had a little break for the festivities. Now it’s nearly New Year, and so I’m trying to get back into the swing of things before January so that 2016 doesn’t come as too much of a shock.

So Week 3 continued with Prometheus (Endurance). I only selected three workouts for Week 3 as I knew I’d be travelling and very busy until Christmas.

I did this workout at the gym. In the area they use for classes. I like it in there because I’m not visible to the rest of the gym, and people can’t see me flopping about and getting all red and sweaty.

As a side note, now I’ve signed up to Freeletics, it seems weird that people use machines rather than their own body to keep fit, but hey.

Prometheus was hard, but not crippling. I’d also had a fair bit to drink the night before.

And then it was Christmas. I decided not to work out back at my parents’ house. Mainly because they’d look at me like I was mad, but also because I needed a bit of a break from everything.

So yesterday once I was back in Bristol, I did my first workout in the park just up from my house. It’s kind of perfect for freeletics. Although at first I did feel a little self-conscious working out with the houses nearby looking over me. I quickly forgot about that once I was doing 2/3 Hades. Blimey, that was HARD. The sprawlers were really difficult. Didn’t help that I had only had a cup of tea before the workout, so by the end I could barely walk. Pretty much mainlined a bowl of porridge and a banana afterwards.

 

trees and sky
View from the mat
 
I think I’m going to find the pull-ups the most difficult. I can just about do one properly, but only just, so when I saw that Week 4, Day 1 was Poseidon, I could have cried. A total of 55 pull-ups. Ha! No chance.

I managed to do the push-ups correctly, although towards the end I reckon Coach would have had a word or two about my form, but there was no chance with the pull-ups. Did them as jumping pull-ups, and even that was hard.

Have a feeling that I’m not going to be able to lift anything up later.

Diet and weight

A quick word or two on this… I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to monitor what I’m eating. Here’s where I started:

11 st, 13 lbs (November 2015)

I had a Goal Weight of 10 st, 7 lbs (which I now think is far too low), and so MyFitnessPal was recommending I eat 2370 calories a day.

I regularly come in well below my goal, but I don’t seem to be losing weight. Now, there are probably two reasons for this:

  • Inaccurate recording of actual calories consumed
  • Weight gained through muscle growth

I suspect the first one is the most likely at the moment, as although I’ve certainly been gaining muscle and family have commented on my physique (they don’t see me very often), it’s not a vast change (yet!).

This morning I weighed in at 12 st, 1 lbs, so gaining weight! I don’t really mind this, but I do want to shift that beer belly.

So I’m going to do Dry January. I suspect that the belly is mainly from beer and wine, as my diet is pretty healthy. I partly want to do it because I’ve never given up drinking for a sustained period before, and also because work will be busy, so it will allow me to focus a bit on getting fit and getting loads done at work.

I also did a Big Shop yesterday – loads of fruit, veg, seeds and protein – and I’ve been planning my meals for the next week, which should help me save money and eat well.

Tomorrow’s workout is Hermes. I like the look of Hermes. Mainly because I want to get better at running…

Freeletics and Christmas

Week 2: Day 4

Had to really gear up for this one. I’d been working the day before in São Paulo and went out for a late meal (spaghetti bolognaise and a couple of glasses of red wine), so wasn’t feeling massively up for it when I woke up about 7.30am. And it’s Sunday.

But I headed down to the hotel’s weird empty gym, which mercifully has great air con (it’s 30° outside) and buckled down.

Today was 4/5 Prometheus, and while it was hard, it wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be.

The climbers I actually quite enjoy and can usually do them really quickly. 

The knee push-ups are quite easy too, especially after doing the normal ones.

The crunches were hard but not too hard.

It was actually the HH squats that hurt (after doing them last week, my muscles were still sore), and the jumping jacks gave me a bit of a headache, but perhaps that was the red wine).

I was dead pleased I completed it, and before breakfast. I think I need to watch the impulse to stop towards the end, out of laziness rather than exhaustion. It’s tempting to stop because, well, I’ve basically done it so what difference will ten more jumping jacks make?

So that’s week 2 finished.

I can already see a slight improvement in my abs and arms and chest. And my legs feel really strong. 

I definitely need to improve my diet. It seems that 70% of success on Freeletics is about nutrition, and at the moment I’m drinking too much alcohol. I’m noticing the desire to eat less shit food/sugar. But then again, I’m on holiday and it’s Christmas next week, so maybe I should cut myself some slack…

In January I’m going to start a clean diet, based on recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest. I’m not going to buy the nutrition guide because from what I’ve seen of it, the recipes are a bit depressing, and I really like cooking so I’m going to do my own low-carb, high-protein diet. And crucially, I’m going to do Dry January. But I’m not going to tell anyone, I’m just going to do it. Otherwise I’m bound to fail…

Next Week

I’m leaving São Paulo and heading to Rio tomorrow. Staying in an AirBnB, so no hotel gym. Not quite sure where I’m going to be able to workout, as Coach has scheduled both Ares and Hades which require 40m run space (or 2x 20m) and a pull-up bar. 

I’ve been told to be careful where I go in Rio, so need to ideally find a basketball court or similar near Santa Theresa, or a gym. 

OR… I postpone week three and do some of the other workouts that don’t need that equipment and which I can do in my room.

Guess I’ll see what happens when I get there…

Until then. Ciao!

Week 2: Day 4