The year is in full swing and my training routine is in place and running like clockwork. Each days activitires planned…until the gym I attend decides to put its members into groups and force upon us some challenges!
The Evolution of Fitness gym owner Jase Robinson, ex forces and pioneer of callisthenics as a sport (street workout) in the U.K. obviously thought things were going too smoothly and decided to shake us up a bit. With gauntlet down we awaited our orders; any body weight exercise turned into a movement exercise. Nice. With stand and handstand push-ups already done by my team (walking to the side after each Rep) I opted for squats. Take the squat add a jump in a direction, all directions. Squat, jump right, squat jump back etc…
Easy right. I mean I loved taking the norm and putting a spin on it but not exactly challenging…I think Jase must’ve read my mind. 24hrs later Jase gave us another challenge to complete by the end of the week: 100 Muscle-Ups! Ok, I can do muscle ups and I’ve got till Sunday to complete but I don’t recall doing more than 20 muscle ups in a single session so this truly is a challenge.
The plan was to break it into 2 or 3 sets over 2 or 3 days. I started the first set with some single and double reps to warm up then decided to break it down to 5 reps a set. I had aimed for 30 to 50 reps max but as I got going and started to analyse my form the reps just started to fall away. About 35 in and my excitement for completing the challenge was building, 51 reps and my mind felt elated. I’m only half way but the feeling of having less to do than I’ve done got me buzzed. I had planned to stop at 50, now at 51 I couldn’t help but keep going. Fatigue started to hit me quite a bit at 77 reps as I started to fail regularly but buzzing that I was a few reps away from the home straight. 9 reps left and form was going, single and double reps were all I could do but that final rep, the 100th muscle up I found myself fist pumping the air with a the rocky theme tune playing as background music in my head.
I completed a challenge I honestly thought I might not be able to, and I did it in a way I thought wasn’t possible. It made me realise that I may not be aware of what I’m capable of…maybe I’m not the only one. It took one person to challenge and encourage me and even though we didn’t complete the challenge together as a group we all did it and found the group mentality, the feeling of comradely and not being alone in what was a mountain to climb was a huge help.
What I say to all that’s listening; challenge each other and do it together. What I say to Jase at Evolution of Fitness; bring on the next challenge!
To celebrate we did five muscle-ups together in a group…
Well, it’s June 8th so 1 week to go until the end of my Gauntlet Pull Up challenge. I set a 6 week timescale as I considered this short enough to be challenging yet long enough to make the required progress. However, I think I may have underestimated the challenge…
I have encountered a couple of setbacks. Firstly the pull up bar I ordered was unsuitable so I have been limited to simulating the pull up using my TRX cables. Not great but I don’t think this has hindered me too much. The only limitation it has is that I’m not able to perform the exact form of the pull up with my entire bodyweight. I figured though that it’s muscular endurance that I’m seeking rather than strength with this challenge as I’m already capable of lifting my bodyweight as demonstrated when setting my baseline for the challenge.
The major difficulty I found was fitting in the training without effecting my triathlon and martial arts training. As those were my priority and I viewed the challenge as secondary, if I was in a situation whereby I had to choose between my triathlon swimming training or my pull up training (pull up training would adversely effect my swim performance) I chose the swimming. This is what I must change if I’m going to succeed at this or future challenges. I mentioned in my initial post on this challenge the importance of accepting challenges that align with current objectives and beliefs. I initially believed that this challenge would help my swimming and martial arts with the increased muscular endurance it would bring. I should have stuck to my original belief rather than worried it would have detrimental effects in terms of fatigue. Either that or given myself a longer period to achieve the challenge so I could have fitted training in to my current regime more easily without the worry of fatigue.
There’s a lesson to be learned in everything I guess!
Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel to view video diary progress of this challenge.
So the Gauntlet has been thrown down from a fellow TrueSapien. My challenge is to complete 20 consecutive pull ups. Considering I have only ever really been able to max out at 10-12 per set at this exercise means that it is a considerable challenge, effectively doubling my current capability, one that will require pushing myself in order to achieve. This is an excellent challenge for me as functional bodyweight exercises and calisthenics align to my main interests of martial arts and triathlon.
As with most exercise or fitness related challenges the first step is to set the baseline and see how many I can currently achieve. This is effectively a specific fitness test which can then be repeated to determine improvement and ultimately success.
Next stage is to set a timescale that’s both realistic but not too lengthy. I decided on 6 weeks, commencing on May 4th which gives me a deadline of June 15th.
Next is to determine the best way to increase my muscular endurance to achieve the required reps. As pull ups are an exercise I can currently do its not necessary to progress to that exercise from easier variations such as assisted pull ups or suspended pull ups. If I were unable to complete pull ups then there is a wealth of information out there on progression exercises.
My plan of attack will be to repeat my max number of reps every day. By Max I mean stopping short (1 rep) of failure as this may take too long to recover from than the 24 hrs. I will perform 3 sets of my max with a 2 min rest period between sets.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress, I’m planning weekly updates!
I’ve always believed that spur of the moment lifestyle decisions are often the ones that are most reliable, in tune with our inner self and less likely influenced by someone else’s agenda or that of the masses (the sheep factor). So when, three weeks before Christmas, I decided to eliminate meat intake from my diet and become vegetarian, I wasn’t at all daunted by the annual turkey and pigs in blankets festive binge period looming large on the horizon.
Why the change?
I didn’t go into it feeling like I was going to be denying myself anything. I had recently watched a short video on global livestock farming practices which had set my mind to work. I won’t divulge any information from it as I don’t believe I am in a position to preach on the subject (I’ve spent over 40 years eating meat compared to 4 weeks not!) but it brought the subject from the area of my mind filed ‘taken for granted’ into an area more open for debate.
So how has it gone?
Someone asked me yesterday this very question and on reflection I have to say I have only missed eating meat on one occasion. Yes you’ve guessed it, Christmas dinner.
This fact alone suggests that it has been quite plain sailing. I do the majority of my own and my families cooking and have found it relatively straightforward to replace my meat with fish or extra vegetables rather than going down the route of meat substitutes like Quorn. I’m still cooking meat for my family.
How do I feel?
I was warned that I could feel weak or lethargic adopting a vegetarian diet. Far from it. I have stepped my sport training up over the period (swimming, cycling and running) and if anything have found myself more energised than ever. I also feel less bloated after meals.
There is a wealth of information now available to those looking at alternative diets, for the health benefits or ethical beliefs, whether that includes meat or not. It’s not necessary to go down the full Vegetarian or Vegan route either, as I still eat fish and eggs my diet is currently that termed Pescatarian.
This change to my diet has certainly pushed me to broaden my intake of a wider variety of fruit, vegetables, pulses and nuts which can only be a good thing even if I decide to start eating meat again (although I have no intention of this at this point in time!)
My advice is to try alternative nutrition programmes and see if they work for you. Listen to your body and your gut instinct, the only way you’ll know is by trying.