Personal Training Session – The Annihilation

I’ve been slacking on the barbell front and decided it was time to call in the assistance of weightlifting task master. I found someone local who used the term “beasting” when I enquired about his methods and so I promptly but nervously signed up for a few sessions.

Saturday was day 1 and I can confirm he was not lying about his methods. We moved through standard moves such as deadlifts, chest presses and dumbbell rows. I had my first go at rubber band assisted pull ups and finished with medicine ball slam downs which are now my all time favourite move. Some where in the middle I managed to destroy myself. I think it must have been somewhere near the 60th pushup and the first dodgy kettlebell swing.

By the time I left I couldn’t put my coat on and I struggled to lower myself into the car.

I knew I was pretty wrecked afterwards but I’ve been quite impressed by how shattered my arms are. I have severe DOMS in my triceps, the like of which I’ve never experienced in my upper body. I can’t dress and I struggle to drink because I can’t take my hands to my face. Quite odd.

Drinking SealThe hand to mouth movement has been seriously hindered but it is not going to prove itself to be an effective weightloss strategy as I have mastered a modified action. I discovered yesterday, that if I take my drinks in very long glasses, I can polish off a couple of pints without any problem. I may look like a drinking seal with my two handed action but at least I won’t die of dehydration.

The last time I worked my upper body this hard was during a weekend wii fit bowling session with Rach.

I could barely carry the weight of my own arms, I would yell out in pain every time I sent the ball bouncing towards her TV screen and even managed to pull my left hamstring as I adopted the power crouch position.

I felt the need for a full body cast then and it wouldn’t go amiss now. In the meantime I will have to continue setting Lynn’s alarm 15 mins early so she can help me put my work shirt on.

Garden Squats of the Heavy Variety

I’ve been reviewing Gubernatrix’s video on How to Squat Heavy. It seems I’ve been doing it wrong all along.

I tend to split the action into two distinct parts. The first where I load up my shoulders and descend to my haunches.

Then I pause…….for quite a long time.

I use the pause to ponder my options. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Can I make it back up? What happens if I can’t?

Then the second part starts and I stand. So far successfully, but it’s only a matter of time.

Watching Sally’s video I see it is all one continuous motion and all completed (I think) on one breath. Breath in – down – up – breathe out.

I better get out there and try again.

A Deep Need for Heat

Deep Heat PatchDeep Heat sent me a selection of warming (and cooling) patches to trial and this weekend resulted in more than enough sore muscles to ease.

My motivation has a tendency to ebb more than it flows and so when I catch even the tiniest wave of sporting enthusiasm I’ve been doing my best to ride it. This weekend it meant cramming a weeks worth of exercise into 1 day.

Saturday started with BMF, so we were in the park by 9:30 shivering in a huddle as our Sergeant Major determined exactly how he was going to go about rubbing our faces in the mud. He opted for plank splits and monkey crawling up a sodden bank, interspersed with shuttle runs and partner shoving.

After a quick break for brunch I was off again for my final session of Olympic Weightlifting, wondering how the earlier military battering was going to interfere with my weighted squat performance.

I was noticeably wobbly from the start but after 90 mins of snatch and clean training I was ready to plonk myself on the floor and await a teleportation device. Unfortunately I still have a couple of 100k walks to train for so I had to forego any offers of space/time travel and actually walk home.

What a drag. Have I mentioned before that I find walking so incredibly tedious and mind numbingly dull? If it wasn’t for the invention of audiobooks I’d stand no chance. This week I’m listening to The Farm by Tom Rob Smith and it is sufficiently gripping to offer some pleasure with each passing mile.

Needless to say, when I woke up on Sunday there was no part of me that wouldn’t welcome the application of a Deep Heat patch. I’m hoping to keep a couple spare as light relief on the London2Brighton walk so wasn’t prepared to blow them all this weekend. I therefore wondered around for a couple of hours trying to decide which bit of me hurt the most.

I decided my deltoids were in greatest need and attempted to apply a medium patch. It didn’t want to curl very neatly around my shoulder so I whipped it off and slapped it on my ample quad. The off and on again application won’t have helped its adhesive powers but it seemed fairly secure despite a little peeling at the edges.

I then went about my day, hobbling and moaning every time I moved, making sure everyone was aware that I’d had a pretty tough weekend. Despite the melodrama I also managed a few hours on the allotment, performing light planting and sowing duties and the patch remained intact. In fact the patch stayed on for a good 10 hours, delivering a gentle warmth until I went out for a very unsuccessful jog/walk/crawl around the block. At the 2k mark I could feel the patch slipping as all the warm beads sunk downwards. At 2.5k the patch shot out from the bottom of my trousers and I had to retrieve it from the gutter.

I think thats a pretty successful test. The pack claims 8 hours of warmth and my patch remained in-situ for around 10 hours and was still giving off a faint afterglow even from the gutter. It was a bonus that I didn’t have to rip it and half a layer of epidermis from my thigh.

Product details:

Deep Heat Patch

Deep Heat Patch provides effective, warming relief from muscular aches and pains, joint stiffness and backaches for up to eight hours. Each patch contains iron and activated charcoal. When the pack is opened, the air activates a heat generating reaction that produces a warming effect when the patch is applied to the skin. This local, superficial heat improves the circulation to the muscles, so reducing pain and stiffness. Each Deep Heat Patch is active for up to eight hours after the pack is opened, providing long-lasting, deep-relieving warmth. With no smell and no associated grease, the self-adhesive patches are easy to apply and convenient for use during the day.

RRP for a single Deep Heat Heat Patch is £2.07; Boots.com
RRP for a pack of four patches is £6.25. Boots.com

Olympic Grade DOMs

I have a passable Snatch, a fairly confident Jerk but I am afraid my Clean is just an embarrassment.

Before my blog gets to sound too smutty I must tell you that I am in week 2 of a 4-week Olympic weightlifting course and the snatch, clean and jerk are of course, powerful weightlifting moves.

The finish point of the Snatch looks like this:

The Snatch

I think I look a lot like this, only my bar has next to no weights on it and my squat is decidedly more vertical. I’m only in week 2 though, I should be giving this chap a run for his money in April.

If he saw me after last weekends session I doubt he would be worried.

The sessions last for 1.5hours and involve alternating sets with a partner. Almost every Olympic weightlifting move incorporates a full squat so I estimate that I was doing deep, weighted, squats for at least 30 minutes last Saturday.

For someone who was scared to curtsy less than 3 months ago I think that is a huge progression.

My quads certainly thought it was a huge progression.

My thighs humoured me while I insisted on walking home – 12 miles across London, but for the next four days they laughed in my face.

I suffered with quad DOMs almost as severe as my first running attempts when I found myself a prisoner in my third floor flat. This time I could make it into work and up the stairs to my desk, but from then on in I was trapped, desk bound. My legs would not function for descents.

It wasn’t so bad, the desk binding DOMs coincided with a work week from hell, where I was tied to my computer for 14 hour days and my colleagues took enough pity on me to fetch my daily supplies of black coffee.

After day 4, when my legs started to consider bending again, I started practising the squat manoevre. I dragged out the kettlebell and commenced an urgent practice before the next Olympic session. This fantastic tutorial from Nerd Fitness tells you everything you need to know to perfect the squat.

As this week’s session started I was relieved to find I could squat down to my haunches again but I soon discovered a new flaw in my Olympic weightlifting armoury – elbows.

My elbows let me down for the Clean, which is an odd unbalanced move, requiring you to flick the bar up on to your collarbones, elbows up, before dropping into a front squat.

My elbows absolutely refuse to move up. My wrists double back on themselves but still my elbows won’t budge. This means when I attempt even the teeniest hint of squat, I pitch myself forwards and lose the move completely.

I now need to spend the rest of the week adding elbow stretches to my squat routine.

Battersea Power Station

The London2Brighton training still needs to be fitted into my weekend, so I’ve added a cross London commute into the mix. I trog across the classy suburbs of London: Maida Vale, Little Venice, Paddington, South Kensington, Chelsea, Battersea, Balham, peering into the gardens and front rooms of the well to-do.

Although I’m fascinated by the Lambourghini’s littering the streets in front of the Victoria and Albert, my favourite point of the walk is the river crossing.

Sunset

I get to choose between the two most impressive structures in the whole of London: the Battersea Power Station and Albert Bridge.

I couldn’t decide which was my favourite this weekend, so spent at least an hour circling between the two, enjoying the setting sun over Hammersmith and waiting for the majestic lights on Albert Bridge to impress the dusk.

Albert Bridge

Faff and Exercise

There was considerably more faff than exercise associated with today, the 9th day of Janathon.

There was another long and frustrating day at the accountancy desk split by a particularly frustrating lunch. I had failed to prepare a slow carb pack-up and therefore slowly descended to a near starvation, stressy state because I couldn’t find a low carb snack anywhere.

When I got home the internet welcomed me with broadband speeds below 1MB which took me back to the frustrating days of dial up. I dialled up Virgin to complain and spent the next hour chatting with a nice chap, checking ping speeds, adjusting channels and polishing off a bottle of wine.

When we finished I still had a shit broadband speed, but was £30 better off and felt the comforting complacency of Chardonnay.

Still no exercise though.

20140109-230157.jpgMy trusty spotter persuaded me to dabble with the weights routine and there followed a giggly and wobbly session with excess weights.

It is remarkable that I have yet to paralyse myself with an abrupt bar to neck, shoulder press manoeuvre, or worse yet, split the veneer on the Scandinavian sideboard that sits perilously close to the barbell action.

Another Janathon completed but it breached health and safety regulations and is not to be recommended.

Pyjama Weightlifting

Pyjama weightliftingAs there is a definite pyjama trend for this year’s Janathon, I thought I would complete today’s Starting Strength routine in my Winnie the Pooh PJs.

As I’ve mentioned before, lugging Olympic weights around in confined spaces is a little hazardous, neither aided nor abetted by the wearing of loose baggy evening wear.

In search of lost earringsI require concentrated input from my loyal spotter to prevent being sandwiched between the bar and the parquet flooring. Unfortunately today my loyal spotter was a bit distracted, having just absent-mindedly lobbed her earrings into the open fire. I had to yell repeatedly to catch her attention and will have rather overworked my pecs in an effort to protect my windpipe during the bench press routine.

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Day 3 of Janathon complete, looking forward to tomorrow where Lynn runs in her first parkrun event – it threatens to be a lovely soggy day.

12 Weeks to a Sleek Body with The Fat Burn Revolution

Fat Burn RevolutionI’ve known Julia Buckley for a few years now, through the running and blogging ether. Earlier this year I decided to join in the second phase of her Fat Burn Revolution pilot scheme.

The original pilot was designed to test a program that she was planning to bring to a wider audience through the publication of a fitness manual – The Fat Burn Revolution. By coming in at the second stage I was working with a tried and tested routine and by the looks of it, it’s the version that made it into the book.

The weight loss / fat loss market is huge and it’s hard to imagine a space for yet another book on the subject. When Julia’s book dropped through the letter box I have to admit to be a little underwhelmed. I was expecting another me-too book with pretty pictures and a smattering of familiar advice.

I have to say I was wrong. The book is very pretty, really well organised and whoever was in charge of the page layout deserves a thumbs up, but the book is so much more than I expected.

Inside the Fat Burn Revolution

There is real content here. Inspiring, sensible advice from someone who comes across as a truly honest and insightful guide, a guide who encourages you to seize control of your own life by offering you the tools and the permission to be steadfast with your goals.

The tools aren’t just limited to the exercises, you will also find advice for dealing with saboteurs, the way to decline offers that intefere with your goals and how to plan to succeed.

The type of advice that resonates with me:

Always remember that it is totally up to you what you eat. You are an adult and no one can make you eat or drink anything you don’t want to.

and when dealing with potential diet and exercise sabateurs:

don’t invite unhelpful comments from others by intimating that you’d rather be doing anything else……turn it down politely, but not apologetically

As I’ve said, I have known Julia in a distant capacity for some time and having had near daily contact with her for 3 months while doing the fat burn program I can confirm that Julia is genuinely supportive and truly wants you to achieve your health goals.

The exercises and routines are very well described in the book and have full colour photos to accompany the descriptions. Just as with the program I took part in, the Fat Burn Revolution is split into 3 phases which build in intensity (not necessarily duration). There is a combination of high intensity sessions, plyometric routines and weight lifting. The weightlifting section is a refreshing addition to a mainstream fitness program but for anyone who wants to shift lard and/or develop a strong, sleek and fit body it is the secret key.

The Fat Burn Revolution is an ideal program for both beginners and more seasoned sporty types. It will lead you away from a focus on sustained endurance activities to short, sharp bursts and progressive weigh training. The ideas are likely to be new to most people.

I came to the program from years of long distance running which had initially helped me to shift about 6 stone in the early years but had allowed me to stabilise somewhere close to 5 stone above my ideal weight. After 12 weeks on the Fat Burn Revolution I had shifted another stone, much of which was fat, and most importantly I had dramatically improved my appearance and my sense of well being. If you want to see the results of someone who has completed a number of back to back sessions of the Fat Burn program you should check out Becca’s blog at From Snickers to Marathon.

I’m very grateful to Julia and her program for introducing me to the tools that my body responds to. All my programs post The Fat Burn Revolution have included more HIT and strength sessions than endurance ones and this has helped me to maintain my losses and my fitness.

If you are about to embark on this program I strongly advise you take the measurements and most importantly the horrendous before photos, these can be so inspiring to compare with at the end of each phase. Check out Julia’s transformation pages for illustrations of how the pilot groups did.

Starting Strength with the Maximuscle Olympic Barbell Set

20131228-121903.jpgI’ve been lifting weights (periodically) since I took part in Julia Buckley’s fat loss program last summer. Since then I’ve dabbled in Olympic Weightlifting and started the rapid strength program called Starting Strength.

I’m not one to make do and mend if there is an opportunity to acquire a new gadget or item of fitness equipment, and strength training offers all sorts of purchasing opportunities.

After my olympic taster session I researched olympic barbells and shocked myself into inertia when I saw a price tag of £600+ for just the olympic bar. An olympic barbell is much bigger, longer and heavier than the standard bar. It stands up to a greater weight load and also spins freely so you don’t shear the skin off your hands as you thrust the weighted bar upwards. I wasn’t convinced that I needed one at that price though.

Last month I spotted the Maximuscle Olympic Barbell set at Argos, which offered the full kit at only £199. I seized the bargain and waited patiently for the delivery.

I knew the bar was going to be big and heavy but I was surprised by its weight when it arrived. I struggled to drag the bar through to the dining room and then couldn’t find a great place to stash it away without risk of causing a serious injury. You would ideally have a garage for working out with an olympic sized barbell, its too unwieldy for the dining room really.

When I completed my next Starting Strength routine (squats, bench press, deadlifts, shoulder press) I was pretty chuffed that I needed to add weights to the bar – for a while I thought I was going to need assistance just to lift the naked bar. That’s where the other advantage of olympic bars becomes apparent. Standard bars use a spinlock mechanism to hold the weights in place, which require a lot of spinning to switch weights around, in contrast the olympic bars use a simple spring lock which slides on and off with ease. Thats a huge benefit when you work with a routine that requires mixing up your weights.

The set is huge but it oozes quality and is a joy to use – I feel like a pro as I’m squatting under the thick bar. I didn’t feel quite so professional when I had to yell for Lynn to rescue me from an imminent crush injury while I was doing the bench press though. Weightligting with barbells is a little hazardous if you are going to push yourself to the limits, so you are well advised to secure the assistance of a friendly (and strong) spotter.

I’ve just noticed, while grabbing the link to the set, that Argos who have a large range of fitness equipment, just reduced the weights to £149 which is perfect timing for any fitness resolutions you may have planned.

Olympic Weightlifting for Beginners

I didn’t really have a clue what the Olympic part meant but I knew about weightlifting and thought a couple of hours instruction by a pro would be fun.

Sally, the instructor stood next to me to demonstrate the main move. She bobbed, leapt and thrusted her way through an extremely powerful move. She slammed her feet into the floor and ended in a deep squat with a barbell above her head.

The SnatchI’d never seen The Snatch before and thought perhaps it was time for me to sidle out backwards and pretend I’d never considered Olympic weightlifting. This did not look like a great sport for a dodgy back.

I didn’t escape. Instead I relaxed into a sequence of demonstrations that were designed to split the flow of The Snatch into manageable components.

Beginners Olympic WeightliftingI dithered a bit in parts. It required coordination and I am lacking in that department but when it came to put the move together it worked remarkably well. I have no idea what I looked like, but it felt like a reasonable approximation to the real move and I felt strong.

The course was just a taster session. 1.5 hours to teach us the fundamentals of the Snatch and the Clean. Now I’m hankering after more and am eagerly awaiting the release of more dates on the full course.

Sally set up Strength Ambassadors and runs two courses:

Olympic Weightlifting for Beginners
and
Ladies who Lift

Transformation – Phase 2

Squished by a Barbell

I’ve been in a six-week workout dither since I completed Julia Buckley’s 12 week Fat Burn Revolution program.

I had some good results on the program – take a look at the transformation photos on Julia’s site for evidence, but I’ll leave you to guess who’s who. By the end of the 3 month stint though, I was ready to take control and create my own routine.

Unfortunately the new routine has taken a little while to bed in.

I was convinced of the benefit of strength training and so the new program was going to involve lifting heavy weights as well as more running. As Lynn had bought me six sessions of British Military Fitness, it was also going to include a load of running around in the local park looking like a bullied fool.

I kicked right off with Starting Strength, a remarkably simple and progressive routine for rapidly increasing strength. It’s a barbell routine, mixing up deadlifts, chest press, shoulder press and squats. It’s easy enough to master and each session is relatively short as the exercises chosen work multiple muscle groups in one go. If you use the amazing JEFIT PRO App you can grab a pre-designed starting strength routine here.

Squished by a Barbell

The strength gains are quite rapid but that also became my downfall.

I started off in the garden squatting and bench pressing a fairly manageable dumbbell, by week 3 I had to call for assistance to be released from a bar that was now heavy enough to pin me to the grass. If I want to progress much further with this I’m either going to require a squat rack contraption in the garden or I’ll need to brave the testosterone area of the local gym.

Zombies, Run!The running element is going really well, I’m strengthening my feet with Cool Running slant board and I’ve re-kindled my love of the Zombies, Run! app. The Zombie chases work perfectly with my new focus on interval training and I’m enjoying the running buzz all over again.

So although there have been some positives over the last few weeks and I haven’t been entirely lethargic I can’t claim to have  been incredibly focussed either. This week I’m stepping it up again. I’ve had a six week dither and dabble but now its time to enter the next 3 month showdown. I’ve drawn up a mega program comprising a hybrid of the intense P90X and Body Beast programs from Beachbody, combined with 1-2 BMF sessions and 3 running sessions per week.

As if all that exercise were not enough, I’m restarting the highly effective Whole 30 paleo diet plan as well.

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Here is this evenings set up for Day 1 of P90X. It may look as if I’m about to hang myself but its just the required gear for the Chest and Back session which is a mix of assisted pull ups and an assortment of push up variations.

So far so good, it’s early days and way too soon to judge the P90X program but it looks like its going to be just my cup of tea – way less intense than the nutty Insanity program with the added advantage that its focussed on weight training.

I’ll post a few updates along the way of my modified Body Beast and P90X 90 day challenge but if you want more regular updates please consider joining the newly set up warriorwomenblog facebook page which is looking very lonely or join me on twitter @warriorwoman.