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

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

Freeletics: 1 / Me: 0

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Nope. Can’t do that. Noooo way. [Photo: Emilien Etienne Photography on Flick]
Last week was the first time that Freeletics beat me. I’ve done 9 weeks without giving up once. Which I think is a huge achievement. But last week, Freeletics won.

Last week I have 3/5 Nemesis (Strength), 50 Burpees, 50 Burpees, 50 Pull-ups, 50 Pull-ups in one day. Now that’s hard. I made it through Nemesis. But my form was very poor. I’m just not flexible enough to do Jackknives with perfect form. It feels like I could get there, but at the moment, I’d hate anyone else to see me doing them as it doesn’t look very dignified. Froggers I’m down with.

And then the Burpees were fine, even though I was cursing Coach by the end of the second set of 50.

But Pull-ups. PULL-UPS. I just can’t do them. No way. I can do some jumping pull-ups, but I can’t do 100. And by about half way through the second set I wasn’t really doing them at all. I was just kind of limply hurling myself at the bar. So I stopped. I didn’t feel particularly cross with myself. I would have done if I’d given up during a workout because I was tired, but this was just because I physically couldn’t complete the set. Still. Frustrating.

I’m going to keep trying, but I have really slim fore-arms (always have), and I just don’t have the strength. Anyway. I can but try.

The first workout of Week 9 was Dione. It was hard, but I really enjoyed it. There’s something about the variety of the exercises that makes it fun, even though it’s pretty intense.

And then I had 2x Morpheus, which was a walk in the park, quite frankly.

Some recent observations/notes:

  • Beating other people’s PBs is a great motivator. I always try and beat someone else towards the bottom of the leaderboard if I can.
  • I prefer the non-pro warm-ups
  • I’m noticing that I can do WAY MORE push-ups than I used to be able to. It’s almost easy
  • I’ve been given Kentauros (Strength) (EEK) and the same 100 Pull-ups and 100 Burpees tomorrow. Last time I gave feedback to Coach I said the Pull-ups were Maximum, so I’m surprised I’ve been given them again. Maybe it’s to try and get me to crack it
  • I still have a slight belly. I’m pretty sure this is because my diet isn’t perfect and that I’m still drinking beer every now and then. I’m going to try and be better at nutrition this week.

I’ll report back on those pull-ups tomorrow…

 

 

 

Freeletics: 1 / Me: 0

Week 1: Day 3 – a slightly awkward gym induction

Got up bright and early this morning for an induction at a new gym (PureGym) at 8am.

Chap at the gym didn’t realise he has an induction with me and it was only cos I recognised him from the website that I spotted him and said hello.

Also, I didn’t have a padlock, so couldn’t get changed. We needed up doing this kind of half-hearted canter round the equipment. He couldn’t be bothered, I was wearing work clothes. It took about ten minutes.

I felt weird about it too, because the primary reason I joined is so that I can do Freeletics stuff indoors during the winter when I can’t be outside (and so that those windows don’t rattle and the landlord get cross etc). So partly I was looking at all these bits of equipment and thinking ‘I’m probably not going to be using any of these’. Especially the weights, which I hands-down will never touch. 

So it was weird. I left and went to the hotel gym I use through MoveGB (where I don’t need a padlock) and there I did a bit of running on a treadmill and the second of this week’s Freeletics, which was the same as yesterday’s, in other words, a piece of piss.

I wonder what next week will hold. I have three days to wait to find out.

Week 1: Day 3 – a slightly awkward gym induction

Week 1: Day 2

Well, either something hasn’t calibrated right or I’m fitter than I thought I was. After yesterday’s burpees, today I did 1/5 Morpheus, which was:

Week 1: Day 2

1/5 Morpheus: 5 push-ups, 10 lunges and 20 jumping jacks

I slightly ballsed up the timing because I didn’t realise you had to mark each exercise, so it looks like the lunges and jumping jacks took about 4 seconds. :/

Anyway, it was suspiciously easy. It’s the same again tomorrow. And then that’s week one done. I’m imagining it gets harder from here on in.

Oh, and I tried to get a friend to join with me but she said it sounded “horrible” and that burpees were “shit”. So that went well…

Yoga mat arriving tomorrow hopefully…

Week 1: Day 2