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.
I had to do the old trick of changing into my workout gear as soon as I got home from work before I accidentally sat on the sofa. The temperature has dropped and it’s dark early. Hard to muster the motivation.
I swapped my days around because my biceps are hurting a little from doing correct-form jumping pull-ups. I was scheduled to do Artemis, but it has 50 pull-ups and I really don’t want to do some serious damage, so I decided to do Day 2 – Hermes.
Aaaaah, Hermes. How lovely it is to see it as the only thing you have to do for the day. It takes me about 12 minutes, and 8 of those are resting! The rest is pushups and sprints. It gets the heart pumping and you don’t have to think too much.
10 pushups; 30 sec rest; 2x20m run; 10 pushups; 30 sec rest, 2×20 run; 60 second rest. Repeat four times.
I worked out in my local park. First time I’ve worked out there after dark – it’s pretty much pitch black – but I quite like that, as you can just crack on without worrying about people watching.
And finally, my foam roller arrived. Already feeling the benefit of it – it’s been great using it while watching TV.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…