Somehow I managed to miss blogging for the whole of May! To be fair it was a really stressful few weeks but fear not I didn’t skip the gym but in fact have been adventuring and training harder than ever!
My latest biggest achievement was a 14.46km run on the weekend. Even though I haven’t got any big runs imminently it was great to see how much my stamina has improved over the last few months. Anyway to bring this post into context I pulled my Achilles tendon in my left foot during run so can’t do much cardio for a couple of days. This and the fact I was feeling a bit lazy to go to down to the gym I decided I would do my own workout at home, specifically boxing a new activity I have recently discovered I really enjoy even though I’m not currently very good.
What you need:
Skipping rope (i used dressing gown robe)
5 min skipping (this really hurt my foot so I switched to less impacting exercises later on)
Routine (do the below three times, rest a couple of min between sets and keep drinking water):
Jab, cross, jab, bob and weave x10 on each side
10 x pressups
Double jab, cross, jab and cover (x2) x10 on each side
10 x pressups
Jab, cross, hook, bob and weave x10 on each side
20 x bicycle crunches
Jab, cross, upper and cover(x2) x10 on each side
20 x bicycle crunches
1 min high knee-ups, 1 min side jumps (use pillow and jump over from side to side), 1 min leg extension knee-ups
Google any moves you are not familiar with
Try each combination slowly to get used to it
If you are like me say each movement out loud to help remember sequence when doing it quickly
Today I learnt the importance of splitting up the body in each workout to focus on specific areas and let the rest of the body recover, for example:
Tricep and chest
Bicep and back
I had another free session tonight with a different trainer and this was my tough routine focused on building muscle:
0.5km (think it was 6.5mph and 1.5 incline)
Deep squats (sitting right down onto a few stacked mats):
15 hands behind head
15 wide, hands behind head
15 feet together, hands behind head
Leg push-ups (rest feet on elevated mat):
15 x both legs down
15 x right leg up
15 x left leg up
x 2 sets
Side Leg Circles (on hands and knees one leg out to the side as far as possible):
15 forward circles on each leg x 2 sets
15 backward circles on each leg x 2 sets
15 crouch jump x 3 sets
Push-ups (staying in push-up position the whole time):
x 10 – 10 second rest
x 9 – 9 second rest
x 8 – 8 second rest
x 7 – 7 second rest
x 6 – 6 second rest
x 5 – 5 second rest
x 4 – 4 second rest
x 3 – 3 second rest
x 2 – 2 second rest
Shoulder lifts (10kg barbell):
10 lifts x 3 sets
Biceps (10kg barbell):
10 x normal grip curls
10 x wide grip curls
10 x narrow grip curls
x 2 sets
bicep 21 – 7 x high curl, 7 x low curl, 7 x full curl
Shoulder raises (1kg dumbell):
10 wrist in arm raise
10 wrist out arm raise
10 side arm raise
x 2 sets
10 tricep pulls (both arms then single arms) x 3 sets
5 bicep curls x 3 sets
5 shoulder dips
10 normal knee-ups
10 knee-up and leg extend
10 high legs
30 seconds air cycle
Writing this up I am not actually sure how we fitted it all into one hour! Definitely going to be feeling it in my shoulders tomorrow. I have learnt that the shoulders and triceps are strong muscles but easily fatigued and get weak again easily so need to keep working at them. Think I have earned the right to a few jelly babies (the gelatin is high in protein and helps repair your body after a workout, ease stiff joints and build muscle).
Today’s cross-fit was extremely challenging not just because of the routine but because being me, I decided to take it on even though I wasn’t well in the morning. Saturday training is by far my favourite workout of the week so I just took a pain killer during breakfast and off I went.
The routine itself was quite simple:
Bear crawls (2 floor lengths)
Squats (15kg barbell)
However the twist was the number of each set we had to do with the sequence being 21,18,15,12,6,3.
First round – 21 of each
Second round – 18 of each
Third round – 15 of each
Fourth round – 12 of each
Fifth round – 9 of each
Sixth round – 6 of each
Seventh round – 3 of each
Mid way through the second round was when the nausea really kicked in. I was doing my third set of burpees when I really thought I was going to be sick. I was extremely frustrated with my body as I just wanted to carry on as normal. Having taken a couple of minutes to collect myself it suddenly seemed like everybody was way ahead of me and at this point it would have been easy for me to just give up. However I wanted to complete the whole routine, which was the whole purpose I had trekked out early on this Saturday morning and so I made the decision to push through it.
Finishing last was quite a weird feeling especially when I was there doing sets on my own, but to finish was the best feeling. Afterwards the PT sat me down and told me how impressed he was with my performance. He encouraged me by pointing out that even though I had been under the weather, I had not dropped my performance and had actually done the best out of everyone in the class. There had been moments when I had wondered why everyone was so ahead of me, yet it turned out this was because the others had been cheating and not doing their full sets. I was quite surprised as I still don’t understand why anyone would want to compromise achieving their fitness goals. It was a relief to know that I hadn’t been doing as badly as I thought.
I am quite hard on myself when I don’t do things as well as I want to, yet the most profound thing the PT said to me was how I have the same mentality as him when I train. Whatever happens I just stay focused and get it done. He told me some stories about when he was heavily cross-fit training and would actually be sick but then get back up and carry on. Thankfully I was not that sick today but I’m so happy I did carry on and was able to walk out of the gym feeling accomplished. I am looking forward to good health next Saturday so I can push even harder.
Pretty tired today just going to share a quick post on something I have discovered this week – for some reason when I am doing an intensive workout I often forget to breathe. I know it sounds crazy but I am so focused on getting to the end I forget I need oxygen to actually get through the exercise and to stay alive!
I had my free PT session with Danny on Tuesday night and pretty much the first thing he said to me, was how he had noticed I was not really breathing in the cross fit training session on the previous weekend. Various jokes aside, including strapping me to an oxygen tank and him just shouting breathe every minute, we worked on my breathing technique.
The first thing we practiced was just breathing deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth, sounds a bit silly but it really is so much more relaxing and fills your lungs more than just shallow mouth gasps, which I think I am guilty of doing sometimes.
In this session I was working on mostly arms so we started with bicep curl arm raises with dumb-bells. In this scenario I learnt it is most beneficial to breathe in through the nose whilst bringing arms up and then out whilst bringing arms back down. Not only does this help with getting a good strong lift it helps you to gain more control when bringing your arms down again.
Next we moved onto the chin and shoulder dip machine where I did two sets of 10 of each. In this scenario it was easiest to breathe in through nose whilst pulling up and then out whilst lowering myself down.
To end the session I did some cross-fit training which involved three sets of burpees (from lying down position), 20 fast squats and 30 star-jumps. At the end of this my heart was racing and I was obviously breathing hard, this was when I learnt the best breathing tip of all from Danny. If you put your hands on top of your head and breathe deeply in through your nose and out through mouth this helps you recover ever so quickly. It felt amazing, I now do this after all cardio exercises.
So breathing – such a simple concept but something I definitely need to work on. It has been amazing to see the difference some deep breathing has been making to my workouts even just over the past couple of days since like today where I did a cross-fit session followed by core class. I found I was consciously making an effort to breathe and as a result recovering a lot quicker so I could put more effort into the next exercise. Hopefully over time this will become more and more natural.
Decided to take on some Easter Monday baking yesterday but with a twist – trying to be as healthy as possible. I have been looking into this over the past few weeks as I get really fed-up with myself snacking on unhealthy things especially at work. I can’t help it I get stressed and that afternoon sugar craving creeps in. I’ve tried various things such as drinking green tea, downing a bottle of water, having a handful of nuts etc, but they just aren’t as satisfying as a bit of chocolate. So I found a few recipes online and decided to experiment with two bakes; black bean chocolate brownies followed by peanut butter protein cookies.
Black-bean Chocolate Brownies:
1 x can black beans
2 1/2 tbs flaxseed mixed with 6 tbs of water
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
splash of coconut milk (not canned)
2tbs melted cocanut oil
Walnuts to garnish
Melted dark chocolate to garnish (I didn’t I just sprinkled cinnamon on)
1/3 cup of any sweetener you wish (I didn’t do this I just added the coconut milk)
Thoughts: Nice brownie texture and strong cocoa flavour however bean taste is acquired and definitely a need for some form of sweetener. The walnut on top is a must.
Peanut-butter Protein Cookies:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup protein powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
splash of coconut milk
1/3 cup of any sweetener you wish (I didn’t do this I just added the coconut milk)
Thoughts:Good biscuit form and crunch from the peanut butter, however the protein powder makes the mixture quite dry and leaves a funny after taste. Didn’t massively miss sweetener in this recipe but would like to try a different wheat free flour such as almond instead of the protein powder if I make again.
Despite needing a few tweaks I did take samples of both bakes to work with me today, having the cookies as a mid morning snack and the brownie as a afternoon snack. Even though not as exciting as a bit of chocolate I did find both cured my stomach growls which I was happy about. Overall I’m not completely disappointed or satisfied and will continue my healthy baking experimenting next weekend. I think the biggest challenge I have is finding a suitable sweetener. Suggestions I have had so far are stevia, agave and coconut nectar. Definitely need to do some background reading before making any purchases. Any advice on this or yummy recipes I could try are welcome. Otherwise I’m off to the gym, have a good evening folks!
Just spent the past twenty minutes or so trying to perfect the one leg stand up. I say perfect what I really mean is trying to actually do one. For past few weeks I have been going to a core class where we always end with the stand up from lying down position without using hands. Having been a regular at this class the trainer noticed that this was no longer a challenge for me and while many are struggling with this exercise I get up no problem. Hence he has challenged me to an advanced version, the one leg stand up.
Watching him do it seemed pretty easy but I soon discovered it is not and my legs are not as strong as I thought. I sort of get half way to a crouch position and then can’t get up unless i put my hand or other foot lightly down. It is tempting to give up as this seems impossible to me at the moment, however as I overcame the press-up I feel determined to overcome this too.
So I have decided that instead of rolling around the floor helplessly trying to do it in one go I am going to build the strength up in my legs gradually. I have got a low table in my room so have started doing one leg stand ups from a sitting position a few times a day. When I feel confident with this I will use a lower box and then move onto the floor. I’m not sure how long it will take for me to crack this one but I am determined to do it!
Happy Easter! Hope you are all having a lovely day so far. Bit gloomy in London weather-wise but a great excuse to cuddle up in bed with fresh coffee and hot cross buns which is how I have been spending my afternoon. I am taking a well deserved rest day from the gym today and trying to reload my body with some carbs. Safe to say I am feeling the effects of yesterday’s workout, the sore points being my shoulders, back and bum. It is rather satisfying to know I have started to utilize and strengthen muscles which up until now have been mostly redundant but boy do I ache. However with every new exercise I have tried I have found that the first time really hurts but then my body adapts and exercises I once found greatly challenging become rather easy. It is encouraging to see how my body is getting stronger day by day.
Today I decided to forfeit my leisurely Saturday morning routine for a morning session at the gym. Little did I know just how challenging (yet rewarding) my workout was going to be. I rocked up to a cross-fit class led by my new friend Danny (generally think PTs are the nicest people!). Due to the Easter holidays there was only two of us (other girl much stronger than me!) which was actually good as we were able to get 1:1 coaching and work much harder than in a large group. The routine was as follows:
24 dead lifts
24 squat jumps
24 box jumps
24 squat jumps
24 clean lifts
x2 rounds of above with 15kg barbell
Two floor lengths bear crawls
30 single under skips
Never did I think i would be able to complete it all, as soon as I heard the routine I was thinking I should have stayed in bed! However even though I was slower than the other girl I did manage it all. At times the burn in my legs was so strong I thought I was not going to be able to finish but somehow the energy kept coming. Like the PT said it’s all about your mentality, just break it up into manageable chunks (e.g. 12 lifts, 20 second rest) and don’t rush to ensure quality over quantity.
I was talking to Danny after and explaining how I feel quite scrawny, but he said I’ve just completed a really hard cross-fit session and done it extremely well for my first ever cross-fit experience and that the majority of the guys who dominate the weight area can’t do what we just completed. So there you have it size doesn’t have to define your strength.
Having done so well in class I’ve been rewarded (more like challenged) with a free PT session on Monday. Hopefully my body will have recovered a bit by then!
Funny Workout Banter from Session:
You own the bar the bar does not own you!
You’re great can I please train you!
Stop grabbing your bum!
Bend – Kim Kardashian, Straighten up – Katie Price
D: What is a carbohydrate? A: Brainnn Powerrr
After workout I treated myself to a gingerbread latte from Costa (my fav!) and some jelly babies which was my workout recover tip of the day. The gelatin in them helps in a similar way that a protein shake does. I also bought some soya protein powder (as I am lactose intolerant) which is supposed to be vanilla but basically tastes like I’m drinking flour!
Food-wise I had quinoa, spinach and pork chops with wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinegar washed down with some green tea. Train mean, eat clean!
I’m currently in month 4 of the biggest challenge I’ve ever taken on, myself! I’ve never been a really “fat person” but I have never really taken exercise that seriously and pushed my body to its limits. Being quite short and slim I’ve always felt like a bit of a weakling, when I first started out I couldn’t do a push up and planking was the most uncomfortable thing ever! However 16 weeks later I can do a succession of push ups and even find some of the core classes I go to too easy!
Yesterday a new gymmer came up to me to say how great they thought I looked and to express how they are feeling a bit disheartened as not seeing results yet. I was chuffed not only because people are starting to notice my hard work, but because I was able to share with her my journey and how I was in her same shoes a few months before. The biggest thing I have learnt so far is that fitness is a work in progress and will not happen overnight. I was one of those fools who would go to the gym once a week and rush to mirror always disappointed when I saw no change. I’ve since learnt that not only is one casual session at gym not going to do anything fast but also even when I do workout hard I need to be patient. My dream is that once I have got myself sorted out I want to encourage/coach other girls and be there fit inspiration in the same way others have been to me.
Another important thing I have learnt is that lifestyle is so key in achieving the results you want. A good friend of mine drilled into me that fitness is achieved 80% diet and 20% exercise. I will be posting more on my diet over next few days.
To conclude this introductory post the biggest change I have found in myself over the past 4 months is I have gone from dreading the gym to practically living there and it being my favorite part of my day. I have no time was just an excuse before, all that needed adjusting was my routine. Last weekend I had my second body fat test where I learnt I had lost 3.1% and 1.2kg results I can be proud of on my fitness adventure!