Tag Archives: hiit

Fitness Journey – Day 58 Progress

28 Feb

Well it’s been a very eventful month in terms of my health and well-being. I have achieved several of my goals and this has left me feeling extremely pleased with myself. So first, the data, then I’ll tick off all of my achievements for the month.

So which goals have I reached?

  • I have permanently reduced my resting heart rate to my first target of 58 beats per minute. This is a huge thing for me, because the lower my heart rate at rest, the less oxygen my body needs and therefore the longer I can potentially stay underwater on a single air tank when I go diving.
  • My waist to hip ratio has passed my first two targets of 0.92 and 0.89. This is a really good indicator that I have lowered my overall risk of cardiac and coronary diseases to a bare minimum. My next target of 0.85 will virtually eliminate any risk (statistically speaking) of a heart attack or stroke as I head into my 50’s and 60’s.
  • I am now permanently off my anti-anxiety medication!!
  • I now no longer crave sweets/desserts, soft drinks, or any foods containing either dairy or grains.
  • I am now exercising to a regular training schedule… mostly

What else have I achieved?

  • In the two months since I started to take measurements, I have reduced my body fat from 28.2% to 19.72%, which is only 1.72% away from my first goal.
  • I am stronger over all
    • lifting greater weight, having tripled my dumbbell weights, doubled my bench press weights, and moved on to my thickest resistance bands in order to get an effective workout.
    • I am now only 2 push-ups from my target of 30 in the 60-second test.
    • I have increased my plank time from 1 minute to 2 minutes and 41 seconds, which is only 19 seconds short of my first 3 minute target.
    • I started measuring a Wall Sit Test, which has increased by 30 seconds to 3 minutes 8 seconds in only 2 weeks.
    • I can push myself in my workouts to perform with greater effort and for a longer period of time, and I no longer give up on my exercise when it gets tough, pushing myself until I am forced due to failure of my muscles to respond.

Where do I need to improve?

  • I am still not strict enough with myself to ensure I spend enough time stretching after my workouts. This is particularly noticeable this month as I have some lower back pain and a tilt in my pelvis due to tightness in the hip flexors on my right hand side. While I am being more careful to do a dynamic warm up and dynamic stretching before workouts, the recovery exercise will ensure I recover much more quickly and with less risk of injury at my next session.
  • My nutrition is so much improved, and yet I have eaten much less fruit this month, and I have not been eating from a wide enough selection of vegetables. I’ve been considering the option of taking a multivitamin, but I’d prefer to avoid needing to do so if I can help it, so I will need to ensure I am eating a wider variety of vegetables with every meal, rather than simply having a single vegetable or two of the same types with most of my meals. Perhaps this means I should plan ahead a little better when I go shopping for the weekly groceries.
  • My workouts have increased well in intensity, but I feel I have been letting myself down a little in terms of duration. While I can see on paper and feel within myself that I am stronger and fitter, I feel as though I should be able to do more, and should be able to increase my HIIT workouts to be greater than only 4-6 minutes. I guess I’m not convinced that I will increase my stamina if I don’t start to incorporate some endurance work as well. While I have made a start more recently by doubling some of my HIIT workouts, I feel as though this is really only a beginning. My warm-up and cool-down can take up almost 25 minutes of my workout time if I wish to ensure I do things “properly”, so I will need to look more carefully at how I stage and plan the workouts themselves. This is an area where I am starting to believe that the CrossFit methodology seems to be a good fit for me, and is something I feel I need to examine more closely.
  • I still can’t complete a pull-up. What I’d like to do is to be able to complete enough of them to use them as part of a serious workout, so I think some targeted training my need to be done in order to do this. This means buying or building a pull-up station for outside the house where I will have the height to do the exercise properly.
  • I need to set a more appropriate training schedule that is both challenging, and yet allows for sufficient recovery and development over time. Clearly my efforts to date have been less than perfect and need to be improved in order to be more effective.
  • A resting heart rate of 56
  • 18% body fat by 31 March 2013
  • 16% body fat by 30 April 2013
  • 0.85 Hip to Waist ratio
  • 0.45 Waist to Height ratio
  • Perform 3 complete pull-ups in a row
  • 30 push-ups in under a minute by 14 March 2013
  • 40 push-ups in under a minute by 31 March 2013
  • 4 minute wall sit by 31 March 2013
  • 3 minute plank by 14 March 2013
  • 4 minute plank by 31 March 2013
  • 7/0 Beep Test on 02 March 2013
  • 7/5 Beep Test by 31 March 2013
  • 8/0 Beep Test by 30 April 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 25 minutes by 31 March 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 22 minutes by 31 May 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 18 minutes by 31 July 2013
  • Dive continuously for 2 hours at 10 meters on a 14 litre tank of air.
  • Reduce Triglyceride count to < 1.5 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Reduce LDL cholesterol count to < 2.5 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Increase HDL cholesterol count to > 1.0 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Commence Personal Training Course on 4 March 2013
  • Complete Personal Training Qualifications by 01 September 2013
  • Design an effective, flexible and randomised training program for minimal equipment to be implemented by 01 April 2013

You may have noticed that some of these goals don’t have dates. This is because I don’t know yet how to achieve those goals in a predictable way, either due to a lack of knowledge, or a lack of understanding relating to specific training. When I have learned more, I’ll be able to set some realistic yet challenging dates for these goals to target. For all of the rest, the dates are my expectations based on everything that I have learned about myself over the past 2 months.

Final Thoughts

I feel as if I’ve had a couple of big wins this month. I’ve managed to mostly take my training in hand, and I am doing all of this by myself and without the help of a trainer or a specific support group. The biggest win for me is that I am no longer medicated to manage anxiety. Diet and exercise have really helped here, and by learning to focus myself mentally to achieve my goals or to do some of the harder workouts, I have been learning to focus myself better mentally for the challenges that I face in the rest of my life. I have learned to embrace my failures and to take valuable lessons away from them, and I have learned that I am capable of anything that I put my mind to, provided I want it enough and my reasons for wanting it are strong enough to be self-motivating. I have seen an experiment in dietary improvement become a life changing lifestyle choice that has become habitual rather than forcing a diet on myself.

I’ve seen myself slowly reach a weight-loss plateau, yet the fat-loss has been consistently linear and I have seen a reciprocal muscle gain which explains the slower weight loss. This is a very good thing, and shows me a real measurable result that is in keeping with the other wins I have had in areas such as increased strength, balance, and endurance. I am as strong, perhaps stronger than I can remember myself ever being, and fitter than I have been in more than 20 years.

Nothing worth having is ever easy. The work has been hard and I’ve certainly had a few hiccups along the way, yet every failure fills me with a desire to do better, and every little win motivates me to reach higher. My self belief is stronger than it has ever been, and I find myself more focussed on what I will do rather than what I might do, because I know that I am capable of far more than I have been able to achieve to date. 2013 is off to a hell of a start for me, and I’m looking forward to every addition challenge that the rest of the year throws my way.

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Working out with my youngest son

23 Feb

I’m really happy to have my kids with me this weekend, and I used the opportunity this morning to get my youngest boy involved in an intense workout. I’ll admit that as a father I can be a little tough on my kids, particularly when I want them to try their hardest to do something well and I catch them screwing around instead of just getting the job done, so today’s workout was a bit of a mixed bag of emotions. I was annoyed with my boy for not focussing hard enough at one stage, and then I was really proud of him for buckling down and getting the job done.

I took my son through an 11 minute HIIT workout, and by the end of it we were both sweaty, exhausted, and had a sense of achievement. For me, the achievement was in getting my son involved and trying his hardest to work his body, and for my son he felt a sense of achievement that not only had he conquered a workout that was quite demanding for him physically, he had also managed to impress me by putting in a really solid effort and having a really great workout.

I made sure to do my workout with Elliot, and to show him that the workout was not only the same for me, but that it would also be challenging for me. Naturally I ensured that I worked at my maximum intensity, and that the resistance movements were weighted so that they would challenge both of us at a level appropriate for our relative levels of fitness. We used resistance bands for two of the movements, and relied on bodyweight for the other six, repeating the following sets twice using a 25 second work and 15 second rest sequence:

  • Lat Pulldown (Resistance Bands)
  • Walking Lunge
  • Left Side Plank + Oblique Twist
  • Right Side Plank + Oblique Twist
  • Push-up with alternating Oblique Crunch
  • Squat
  • Burpee
  • Chest Press (Resistance Bands)

This is one of the things that I really like about High Intensity Training. The most basic movements can contribute to a very challenging workout when they are performed with both perfect form and with maximum speed and effort. This means that almost any workout can be reasonably scaled to suit different fitness levels, ages, and with a little creativity can suit any level of physical ability. So not only can I get my son involved in the same workouts as me at his own maximum intensity, I can also expect to be able to do these same workouts – albeit with minor modifications perhaps – when I am in my 60’s… 70’s… hopefully also into my 80’s if I play my cards right and continue to maintain a healthier lifestyle. 🙂

Today’s Workout

17 Feb

So this is how I chose to “punish” my body for today:

Tabata sequence:

  1. Flutter Kick
  2. Bicycle Crunch
  3. Plank Crawl
  4. Burpee
  5. Right Side Plank with Oblique Twist
  6. Left Side Plank with Oblique Twist
  7. Mountain Climber
  8. Press-up with Oblique Crunch

At your highest intensity, The bicycle, burpee and mountain climber will get you all nice and sweaty, while all of the other stuff will help to really shred your core. By the time you get to the last exercise in the sequence, you should be practically wasted and struggling to do what amounts to a 3-point press-up with an added kick to your obliques. If you’re a real glutton for punishment, try doing this twice at maximum intensity!

Weights/Resistance:

  1. Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press (8kg, 6kg, 4kg)
  2. Walking Lunge with Dumbbells (8kg, 6kg, 4kg)
    • I lunge down the corridor a few times, so it ends up being between 10 & 20 meters rather than to failure so that my knees don’t give out.
  3. “Plate” Raise with alternating twist (8kg, 6kg, 4kg)
    • I don’t have plates at the weights I want, so I raise a dumbbell instead.
  4. Kneeling Dumbbell Row (8kg, 6kg, 4kg)
  5. Lat Pull-down (Heavy Resistance Band)
    •  I treat the resistance band as if I am pulling on a cable with weight attached, so it’s done to failure also, and I can always double the band over or increase it’s stretch to add “weight” as needed.

With the exception of the lunges, I lift weights to failure in 3 sets, and I don’t bother counting the reps.

One of these days I’m going to need to remember to ask my wife to help me take some photos so I can show you what all of these exercises look like!

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