The Pull-Up: Mastered. Kind of.

Finally, a breakthrough.

After a few weeks using a resistance band to do assisted pull-ups as part of my Coach weeks, but also as extra practice, I surprised myself yesterday.

Coach gave me 4 strict pull-ups as part of my conditioning workout. I rolled my eyes and thought ‘yeah, right’. Usually I’d not even attempt to do the pull-up properly. But yesterday, for some reason, I went to the bar without the band.

And I could do it! I did three pull-ups with correct form! Arms extended, feet off floor and then chin over bar. Couldn’t do the forth properly, but fuck it, I’d actually done three properly!

So how did that happen?

I’ve been doing Freeletics for nearly two years. Far longer than the 15 week transformation videos posted on YouTube. If you read back in this blog, you’ll see that I’m far from the disciplined trainer. I might be fairly good at training regularly, but I’m slack on diet and I drink alcohol.

And I’ve always struggled with the pull-up. I was a skinny kid. I didn’t have the muscles in my arm to pull up my bodyweight. So for nearly two years I did jumping pull-ups. And then when I was staying at a hotel, I used a resistance band for the first time. And suddenly being able to do a proper pull-up felt a lot closer. And so I bought one from the Freeletics Store and have been using it nearly every day since.

I think the good thing about using a band rather than the jumping pull-up, is that the band actually makes you use the muscles needed in the pull-up, whereas the jumping one doesn’t really. I’m no expert here, though, so please do correct me if this isn’t true.

Either way, by doing the assisted pull-up regularly I must have been training my arms in the right way. The challenge now is to build up beyond three (!). My plan is to keep doing assisted pull-ups until I can do more than ten without a break.

I had to do a further 30 assisted pull-ups as part of the day’s training, and they also felt easier, although I can’t do 10 back-to-back yet.

Today, I also did 28 lengths at the pool. Every time I go I’m adding two lengths. The window to swim on a Sunday is only 45 minutes after classes and before the pool closes, so there’s no hanging around. When I first started going I could only manage 20, and I had to take breaks every few lengths. Now I can do 28 without a break, with time to spare. I’m aiming to get to 40.

So all in all, I’m feeling good. And all this after a week off last week. I was tired, work was busy and I kind of got off on the wrong foot on Sunday. So I didn’t train at all last week. Managed a swim on Sunday and that was it. I was waking up late, not eating much fruit and veg, not drinking enough water.

But this weekend I’ve had lots of sleep, got all the food in for the week and cleaned my flat, so I’m ready for the week ahead.

japheth-mast-329255
Um, this is not me. Photo by @japhethmast on Unsplash.com
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The Pull-Up: Mastered. Kind of.

A bad week

I had such good intentions. But this week didn’t go so well. This is mainly due to having a friend/colleague visit from another country. I’ve been on tour-guide duty, making sure she met the right people, saw the sites and ate at the right places.

It started well. I did a good swim on Sunday and I did fit in a Freeletics workout on Wednesday morning. But the rest of the week has been pretty lazy. And I’ve been eating out and drinking alcohol.

I’m trying to save money at the moment, so both of those things aren’t supposed to be on the agenda.

But I guess I’m going to cut myself some slack. It was important to be there for my guest. And I’ve had a really nice week.

Today is Friday, and I’m working from home. I’m going to get a good few hours work under my belt and then do a workout later on. And I have to get up super early on Saturday to go to London for work so it’s no drinking and an early night tonight. Lots of water.

You can always reset and start again. And next week is all fresh and new.

A bad week

Quick Sunday update

A quick swim today. Usually try and do 20 lengths on a Sunday – there’s a 45-minute lane-swimming window at my local pool. Did 22 today – and didn’t really stop for a break throughout. Felt good. I’ve noticed that my legs are looking and feeling a lot stronger from doing Freeletics. More definition, bigger muscles in my thighs and calves.

I’ve noticed that my belly has come back a bit, which isn’t great. The result of over-indulgence at Christmas, drinking and not looking after my diet. Challenge over the next few weeks is to make sure I’m eating well – lots of fruit and veg.

Also, I’m booking a holiday soon – something to work towards…

Tomorrow is 2xMetis, which I’ve never done before. Let’s see how that goes.

How was your weekend training?

Quick Sunday update

Sunday Swimming

Image from unsplash.com (Artem Verbo)

Had a big night out last night with some friends. Cutting back on drinking is often hard on the weekends when you want to socialise, and when the social norm is to get absolutely shitfaced.

But what’s been really helping me cut back isn’t so much the obvious health benefits, but the thought of having a nice Sunday with a clear head.

So last night I had friends over to my place for pizza and pre-drinks, and then we headed out. I had a few glasses of white wine at home but then once we were out I just stopped drinking. It helped that the club was the packed and only seemed to serve Red Stripe in cans and tiny G&Ts in flimsy plastic cups.

I hung out for a bit and watched some of the live performances that were on, chatted to some friends and then headed home about 2am. By that time the effects of the wine were wearing off, and I slept soundly for a full eight hours. Bliss.

And then today has been about good food, relaxing, doing washing and my weekly swim. 


I’ve blogged about this before, but I find swimming a real head clearer, and it uses my body in a very different way to Freeletics. I’m not a very strong swimmer so a quick 20 lengths is about all I do, and then I go to my new favourite coffee shop and watch the world go by. So much better than lying on the sofa nursing a hangover and eating junk food.

Check out these articles:

Being teetotal is intoxicating
8 reasons you should be in the pool

Also, I’ve recently discovered The Greatist, which has really good articles on health, fitness and nutrition.

Sunday Swimming

The times when you almost give up one minute after you started

After my productive Sunday morning, I then went for a swim and did 20 lengths. I’m not that strong a swimmer (medium lane for me all the way), so doing five lengths without stopping was an achievement! 

So then yesterday it was back to work and I was tired. But I still made myself do a Freeletics work out while the curry was as simmering on the hob last night.

It was 3x Metis. I’ve done it before in 23 minutes. Yesterday I was pushing 26. For some reason it was really hard work. I almost gave up after the first set. I gave up trying to beat my PB very early on and concentrated on good form.

I have noticed that the desire to work out is becoming habit. I find myself trying to figure out how to fit it into my day. I’m much less likely to put it off. In particular at the moment I have in my mind that working hard through the autumn/winter will pay off in the summer.

Also – protein porridge. New favourite thing.

The times when you almost give up one minute after you started

Neck pain

Boo. No Freeletics for me for the last week. And after all that chat about getting back into the groove.

I’ve pulled a muscle(s) in my shoulder/neck, which has made turning to look behind me pretty difficult. Went to the osteopath yesterday and she did some good work on it, but it’s still hurting, so I haven’t been able to work out at all.

I am going swimming today though as that will help, and the Osteopath recommended yoga too.

Hopefully back on it in a couple of days.

Neck pain

Kronos: OUCH

15684e3b79b2e21a16997f3b62d9578eI did my first Kronos almost a week ago and I still hurt. Jeez, that work-out is surely one of the toughest of the lot.

There’s something about having to do the full number of each exercise in one go rather than it being split into reps. It really pushes you.

Here’s the breakdown of what Kronos puts you through:

100 Pushups
200 Situps
300 Squats
200 Straight Leg Lever
100 Pullups

I completed it in 01:03:48. The sense of achievement when I finished was amazing.

The thing is, it’s not too unpleasant (there are no burpees for a start!) and once you get into the swing of each exercise it’s not too bad. I found the sit-ups the easiest, followed by Pushups, Squats, Straight Leg Lever and then the pull-ups the hardest.

I didn’t do the pull-ups with correct form. I still can’t (although the daily jumping pull-ups are making them feel a little more possible at some point in the future).

What’s great about Kronos is that it works out your arms, chest, legs and abs all at the same time. And damn, I could feel it for the next couple of days. Walking down stairs after 300 squats was pretty painful.

And then yesterday, after a few days off and a swim on Saturday (which was really tough as my legs and arms were so tired!) I did the horror that is 3x Metis (Strength). Ugh. Was hard and I was a bit hungover and tired, so didn’t come close to beating my PB.

About half way through, when I knew I wasn’t going to beat my PB, I almost gave up, but there’s something that switches in my brain when I’m over 50% done – it suddenly seems so much more manageable, and I think about how I’d feel if I stopped, so I manage to power through.

All of this, combined with a load of cycling around town meant that I slept very well last night!

Meanwhile, friends I haven’t seen for a while are regularly commenting on the change in my physique. And I’m feeling stronger than I ever have.

GO FREELETICS.

 

Kronos: OUCH