Now that it’s February, I’ve decided to step up a notch with my training routine.
When the festive season ended, I dedicated January to settle back into my healthy eating habits. I didn’t want to focus on training at the same time because I tend to over-eat when I train hard. For me, it was more important to first get my diet back in order, before I start training. Having done that, I’m now ready for the next step – my fitness routine for 2018.
My old time readers probably remember my training obsessions from back in the days. Exercise became a regular thing in my life sometime in 2013 when I decided to do a lifestyle change. Since then I’ve tried different forms of training methods, some of them that I would like to share with you today. I want to tell you what worked for me, and what didn’t, perhaps some of you share a similar experience?
Gym has been an on and off relationship for me for ages. I keep telling myself “No come on it’s not that bad” and then I get there and ask myself “What am I doing here? This sucks so much!” Today I’ve understood that gym and traditional form of fitness is just not my thing. I need something else to keep my drive going.
But it has not always been like this. There was a phase when I took a timeout from everything and isolated myself when gym became the only happening thing in my life. I got really dedicated to training because I had nothing else to do, so I went 5 days a week for 4 months. I did a challenge with myself to see if I could be disciplined enough to get results with my training. Every weekday, I was outside my gym waiting for them to open the doors at 6:30 am sharp.
My routine was always the same; I began with 20-30 min running on an empty stomach, followed by 30 minutes of various exercises (functional training). Afterwards, I would have breakfast.
Because nothing was going on in my life, I was not drinking alcohol or socializing; I lost 10 kg.
4 months, 10 kg slim down when you’re not overweight is quite good! It was one of my more significant achievements because I did it all by myself with strict discipline.
Lesson I learned: How willpower actually works and the formula for success. But I had a little help from my isolation. Having no or minimal distractions certainly helps when you need to focus on a goal and succeed with it.
I was training with a personal trainer during 6 months a few years back. I did 3 days/week with him and 2 days/week alone. To be honest, for me this was a complete waste of money. Maybe my PT wasn’t good, but I felt the training wasn’t very efficient. I got no results.
The only benefit I felt with having a PT was that I actually got myself to the gym, it’s easier to train when you have an appointment and are accountable to someone.
Lesson learned: Training with a PT does work if you find someone good who doesn’t waste too much time of your sessions with useless chit chat. I also understood that the majority of personal trainers you find at the local gym etc., might not be dedicated enough to help you reach your goals or have enough experience/expertise.
HIIT Training (Barry’s Bootcamp)
After my failed attempts with personal training, I got introduced to Barry’s Bootcamp and got astonished by how efficient and intense this form of training was (in comparison to my lousy PT sessions). Barry’s Bootcamp is a group training based on HIIT exercises, where you do half the time weight training and other half running.
This intense work out method made my endorphin release grow into an addiction. As a result, I was training 5-6 days a week, and sometimes I was even doing two classes in a day!
In the beginning, I lost a bit of weight and toned up nicely. But as time went by I started to put on weight and grow bigger, and I couldn’t understand why. I was also getting injured and became a regular at my Physio and my acupuncturist. Cutting down on this intense training was never on my mind because I couldn’t see myself going back to a life without the daily endorphins kick.
After a while, I understood that whatever I was doing, I was doing it wrong. I was injuring myself and aging my joints. I was putting my body under too much stress, It never got enough time to recover, resulting in lower performance and hitting a plateau in training. When I got this AHA-moment, I realized it was not sustainable for me to train like this, so I cut down.
Lesson I learned: If you’re prone to overeat (like I am), doing intense cardio is a terrible idea for weight loss. You constantly become hungry, and you end up eating more than you should, even if it’s “healthy and approved” foods that you think are “fine,” it’s still accumulated calories that may prevent you from weight loss.
The second but so important rule is to give your body enough time for recovery. It’s not a myth, but you will reap fewer results if you overtrain. I got to experience this in many different ways, like injury, low performance, hitting plateau, etc.
The first few times when I did pilates reformer I thought “Oh my god how boring,” but that was because I didn’t go to the right studio. I gave pilates another chance after trying different studios, and there was one in London that I felt was really good. I started going there and discovered that there were many muscles in my body that I’ve probably never managed to train in my entire life, but Pilates was able to reach them.
Everything about Pilates felt so much more efficient than for example regular weight training. When I correctly learned the movements, I was giving my body a hell of a work out as pilates is extremely tough if you do it right. It may take a little bit of time to get into it, but after a few weeks, you start seeing a difference in your performance and your body.
Pilates is still in my heart and will continue to be so as I respect this form of training a lot. The risk of injury is low, and if you have a good trainer, you can really use it to shape your body. Consistency is what you need.
Lesson I learned: Low intensity doesn’t mean it’s not an efficient form of training. If you want to lose weight, it’s not so much how much calories you manage to burn in your work out, but more how much calories you consume in a day/burn off. To get results, the focus should be on a diet only, where exercising plays a role of a “sculptor” of your body.
Pilates is a fantastic sculptor and doesn’t mess with your hunger feelings the same way high-intensity training does.
My training plan for 2018:
Cardio is no longer on my plate, and I’ve said goodbye to running once and for all. My calves grew really big from all the miles on the treadmill, and my knees have been taking the biggest hit.
As I believe in low-intensity cardio, I will move my body with daily power-walks and continue with Pilates. I will also do at home functional training, as my goal is to improve my glutes as it’s the weakest muscle group on my body.
With regards to frequency, I think 4-5 times a week is an optimal number. I will do 2-3 times pilates and the rest my at home training.
That was a little bit about my training, now I’m curious to find out how you train? What works for you and how does your training routine look like?