Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Lets get physical!!!

Hello again 

A week in to my new life style and I must say I’m feeling great! I’ve followed Paleo in the past and I enjoy training so it comes as no surprises to me that I would. My official weigh in day is this Thursday (22 Mar 12), and I will provide a full run down with how I’ve coped and adapted. I must admit that I have had a cheeky jump on the scales and I’m pretty happy with what I saw. SPOILER alert – I’ve lost weight and body fat!!!

Today’s post is about the training I will be doing and specifically what my weekly exercise routine is, essentially my training diary looks like this:

Bodyweight Training
Sprint sessions
Bodyweight Training
Jog (55-77% MHR)
Bodyweight Training
Jog (55-75% MHR)

I’ve borrowed heavily from Mark Sissons ‘Primal Blueprint – Fitness (PBP)’ eBook. Available for free by signing up to his free newsletter (www.marksdailyapple.com). Again I can’t stress enough how worthwhile it is to sign up to his newsletters from a paleo point of view. Also check out his books, in particular the Primal Blueprint: (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0982207786).

Bodyweight Exercises aka Lifting Heavy Things!
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are dedicated to bodyweight exercises, which focus more on functional fitness rather than isolation of specific muscles. I love the idea of this as its cheap and I can do it anywhere, literally my gym is myself, a pull up bar and my iPhone (I’ll get on to this later). The PBF has five essential movements within the ‘Lift Heavy Things’ (LHT) routine, which is what I used in my initial test to gauge where I was in terms of fitness. These are push ups, shoulder press, plank, body weight squats and plank. I have seen a newer copy of the PBF, which for some reason omits the shoulder press, as does Marks YouTube page. I’m not sure why this, maybe it’s a more advanced technique? What I have done is taken the four exercises that remain and adapted them to my goals and to my personal preference to working out.

At the end of last year I wasn’t able to do a single proper form push up (pathetic right?). I was determined that I was going to right this wrong and went on Amazon and typed ‘Push up’, 3 to 5 working days later a copy of Steve Speirs 7 weeks to 100 push ups (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1569757070) arrived. I wasn’t expecting much, until I read it and tried it. Okay, so its been longer than 7 weeks and I can’t quite do 100 in one go (remember my test – 17!) but hey, at least I can do some. Essentially how the programme works is that you do a test of your maximum reps for push ups, if you can’t do any, like me there is a progression – ‘hello girly knee push ups’. From this max rep, a plan is devised that gets you doing 5 sets of lower reps with a pause in between each set, three times a week. As you progress the pauses become shorter and the reps become higher until, week 7 = 100 push ups in one go. I started doing knee push ups, worked my way through to 100 and now I can do proper form push ups. I’m now working through it again but with proper form push ups. Not too shabby!

While I was searching for push up apps on the apple app store I came across fitness 4-in-1, which uses the same principals as Speirs but applies it also to body weight squats, pull ups and sit ups as well as push ups. Aiming for 100 push ups, 200 situps, 20 pull ups and 200 squats. As I’ve had some success with this approach that’s what my Monday, Wednesday and Friday body weight exercises involve; push ups, body weight squats, pull ups and crunches.

Note: As per my initial test I can’t currently do any pull ups so I am doing two foot assisted pull ups as per PBF progression and aim to progress through one foot assisted, reverse pull up/ chin up until I can do a proper form pull up. Also I’ve read negative things about full sit ups and as a relative beginner I don’t want to damage myself so I’m doing crunches instead.

Sprint sessions & Jogs: Keep on running…
Mark Sisson puts across a very strong and compelling argument against ‘chronic cardio’ in his book i.e. the torturous cardio that lasts an hour or so with heart rates greater reaching 80% or more of your maximum. It makes a lot of sense and I wont rehash his explanation here (maybe another post). So what’s the alternative I hear? Move frequently at a slow pace, say 55-75% of your max heart rate, which is the backbone of the PBF.

There is many ways to work out you max heart rate (MHR) from wearing a heart rate monitor and sprinting at maximum effort to using one of the many different MHR equations (http://www.brianmac.co.uk/maxhr.htm). I’ve went for the easy calculation of, 220 - age, for me at 29 this comes out at 191, my 55-75% range is therefore 105-143. I’ve tested this using the sprint method and lo and behold my MHR was really 191 bpm – sweet.

Depending on fitness there is a huge range of activities you could do to reach this heart rate sweet spot, such as swimming, hiking, walking, clycling or what I’ve gone forslow jogging. I’ve done a few sessions like this and believe me this is slooooow, even for me. My usual running pace for training is 10:00 to 10:30/ mi, however using heart rate as a guide my pace decreases to 13:30-14:00/ mi. This has been very humbling and I dare say as my fitness increases so will my pace. PBF states the goal for moving slowly is between 3 and 5 hours per week, so I’ve plumbed for 3 hours split between Thursdays and Sundays, where I do about 7 miles each day. I’m not too concerned with mileage, but as I get fitter I will shift emphasis to mileage.

This all sounds too slow, well how about a bit of sprinting. All out effort over short periods of time has been shown to positivly impact fat loss as well as increasing speed, muscle mass, cardiovascular strength and aerobic capacity and you know what else? Its damn fun going hell for leather, which is what I’m doing on Tuesdays. My approach to this is by using the Tabata protocol, which is a warm up followed by 8 rounds of 20 seconds max effort sprints followed by 10 seconds of rest and a cool down. Having completed one session of this I can honestly say this is punishing! My first attempt saw me doing just 2 sprints before adopting a jog – again this will improve!

Rest – Looking forward to the weekend?
Saturdays are for rest, but rest for me is what ever I enjoy doing. Maybe I’ll have an impromptu game of football, a hike or maybe there is a race planned. If I don’t want to do anything I wont, but if I do, heck why not? Also my LHT routine calls for a test every two weeks to determine the next phase of the plan, I will plan this on a Saturday.

So, that’s how I’m working out. I must update on my diet soon, but this will have to be after my weigh in on Thursday. Until then – stay frosty!


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