Functional workout: “Still Alive”


Today I wanted to see where I was and whether I’ve still got the strength to go back to using weights in workouts to get more out of the time spent.

So in honour of the song by Pearl Jam, “Alive”, I decided to call this functional workout “Still alive”.

So, splits were:
5 min warmup row

4 sets of following exercises:
10 x kettlebell squat to shoulder press
10 x kettlebell bent over row
10 x kettlebell deadlift to lateral raise (so bells endup just below chin)
10 x kettlebell pushup (pushups using big ass kettlebell, aiming for chest to dip below handles)
2 min rest between reps

Aim was to do weights light enough to complete the 4 sets, which worked.
Completed this in 26 mins (33 min total – 5 min row – 2 mins warmup / finding bells, setting up space); with 395 Kcal (which wasn’t enough). The last pushups rep took at least 4 mins as well (last few were agony), so when stronger there, should complete the workout quicker.

My aim is to burn 500Kcal in each workout session, so decided to do a short cardio on top of this to push out the burn, so did:
20 x lateral box jumps (1 step)
20 x lateral box jumps (2 steps)
10 x kettlebell swings
10 x lateral box jumps (2 steps)
10 x kettlebell swings
20 x lateral box jumps (2 steps)
Lateral jumps were jumps side to side over Reebok step thingy, then HR back to 130.
Last 10 of last 20 jumps was hardest.

According to my HRM:
Ended with 506 Kcal, with total time of 41min, including the row.
32m in the zone (between 120 odd, and 157 odd).
Avg HR of 131.
Max HR of 161.

Notes to self:
Last pushup set was hardest of them all. Ended up doing alternating pushups on the step moving left to right to see how far I could go. In general, it worked – I was totally pooped by the time I got into the shower, and when shaving getting my arms up was sore.

To get this to 800 Kcal, will add a good HIIT run on top. But we’re not there yet ;-)

Functional bodyweight workout: “Falling over”


Did a functional bodyweight this afternoon, and fell over on the last pushups set.
So in honor of that I’m naming this one “Falling over”.
Aim was to get in a workout in under 35 mins, and do 400 to 500 Kcal.

5 min row for warmup.

Squat to shoulder raise, using kettlebells for resistance in the raise x 10
Pushups x 10
Alternating jack-knifes (I don’t know what else to call them – doing lunges one leg to the other at speed) x 20
Pushups on blow up wobble board x 10
2 mins rest between sets.

Took about 24 mins, then moved onto:
4 mins of box jumps, with 1 min on, 30 secs off, which gives you about 3 reps.

After that, I was falling over.
I did 2 sets today, which is crap. Should be getting back to 3 in a few weeks, and 4 in 6 or so.

HR didn’t go above 156 though, and dod 400Kcal, which is below what was aiming for, but OK for today.
Weak areas were chest and triceps, hence the falling over.

Functional bodyweight workout: “Back in the saddle”


In the spirit of Gym Jones, I’m going to start giving my workouts names, and posting them here both for myself and for others ;-)

Today was functional bodyweight followed by medium low impact cardio, aiming to be done in around 30 mins:
5 min bike ride to the gym
3 min row (need more work here)

Functional bodyweight exercises:
10 x pushups
10 x lunges each leg, with hanging kettlebell
10 x reverse pushups (on those straps)
10 x squats with same kettlebells
10 x box jumps (not sure of height today, but aiming for 24″)
2 min rest

At x 2 sets of the above.
Was about 16 mins.

20 mins of Ski machine doing HIIT speeds to HR 160.

Persistence. Decision. Direction. Design. Patience. Results. Fitness. Salvation. Future.


Today was another eureka moment for me.

I was in the gym, and to check I pulled myself up on the pullup bars. I did 3 pullups. I could also hang from the bars for 30 seconds without a problem. After my bodyweight workout I did an interval cardio run and it felt great. Better than I have in a long time. During the run I was thinking “What the crap is going on, this is great!?” and “What’s different? What have I changed to get here?”.

So I reflected on the last few years and this is what I came up with:

Firstly, I’ve got a long, long, long high road still to travel. This post is not about chest beating. This is about small inches that create momentum, which result ultimately in self knowledge and self reliance.

Ten years ago I played hockey 6 days a week, and ran a winder (1km on a hockey field) in 3 mins and 5 seconds. I wasn’t an elite full time athlete then, but I was close enough to compete with the best in my age group and province (who were also among the best in the country). In my mind I’m still 22…

Seven years ago I weighed in at 125kg (275.6 lbs or 19.7 stone), had a left ankle that was swollen and full of scar tissue, a left side weak from a broken collarbone, was drinking 2 or 3 cokes and eating 2 or 3 chocolate bars a day, I couldn’t touch my toes standing up, couldn’t run without getting shin splints, couldn’t do pullups or pushups, and sure as hell felt crap (and probably looked it too – when I look at old photos I wince, but that’s life). I look at that as my brute strength phase.

From three to four years ago I was working 18 hour days, 7 days a week, non-stop. Fitness and health wasn’t a priority. I can remember coming home one Friday night and tucking into a full tin of Pringles chips, a full huge Morrisons £3.99 chicken and bacon pizza, a half litre of diet coke, and two Magnum ice creams, while watching either Akira or one of the Ghost in the Shell movies. Then going on valiantly to do another few hours of work afterwards. Most of my friends had taken me off their social lists and being alone on weekends felt normal. That was also a brute strength phase.

Two years, and up to a year and a half ago, I had shoulders that wouldn’t let me lift my laptop bag more than waist height or open a kitchen cupboard (left shoulder, then right shoulder – both from falling while snowboarding and not being strong enough to carry the fall). I was probably about 110 / 112kg then. My overwhelming sense was that this wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life. There had to be another way. So I saw a physio for my shoulders, and started in earnest. I look at that as my decision phase.

A year ago I was doing curls, bench presses, shoulder raises and getting better at running. Shinsplints were still common when I pushed it, and I had dropped to about 108, getting to 106 when doing a lot of cardio. But something was missing and it didn’t make sense for all the effort I was putting in. Still, persistence carried through, and I started educating myself. It became obvious pretty quickly that despite my biological background, human physiology from 10 years ago wasn’t going to give me the answers – so I became a sponge. I look at that as my search for knowledge phase.

Today I tipped the scales at 101kg (that’s 222.2 lbs or 15.9 stone), but more importantly for me I was able to do 3 pullups in a row. I thought “I am getting stronger, I can lift my own weight!“. I haven’t been able to do that since my early twenties. But that in itself isn’t what this is all about – my eureka moment was that persistence and patience, through gradual design and conscious direction, has created results that have made me realise that I was my own worst enemy all along. So this evening I celebrate, but tomorrow I go back to work – I still have a long way to go. I look at this as my being smart sponge phase.

If you’re reading this, whatever you’re doing that you’re passionate about, or that you’re doing to change your life, don’t give up, don’t stop, don’t listen to anyone else – you won’t regret what you’ll learn or gain in the process.

Training using your heart rate as a guide


Last year my brother bought me a Polar heart rate monitor for my birthday, and it’s the one thing that changed the way I trained and which had a positive effect on my training.

I started off using the manual that came with it, but that was kinda technical and didn’t really tell me what I needed to do, but was enough to piece together info to get started.

In short, I was always overtraining (symptom of thinking I’m still 21 and my brain wanting to do more than my body realistically can) so I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So I cut back, went slower, ran according to my heart rate guides, and things got better.

Shoot forward to this year, and one day recently Stephen hands me this printout of how to train using your heart rate as a guide. Turns out his brother Matthew wrote it up based on years of his own experience, reading magazines dedicated to fitness, and I’m pretty sure learning from others.

So this is not my work or writing, but Matthew has said I can put it up here for others to benefit from too ;-) (Maybe he should start a fitness blog?) Anyways, if you’re interested in using a heart rate monitor, or want to know how to train using your heart rate, then in my humble estimation this is the easiest to read and understand guide I’ve read…

_ Heart Rate Monitoring and training guide, By Matthew Blake

Thanks to Matthew ;-)