Return Of The Max

Apart from working towards 20 pull-ups, I have not really been exercising in an organised manner. So on Thursday this week, I again started on Week 1 Day 1 of Max Capacity Training, using the app. You can read my review of the app here.

The first workout has common exercises: squats, pushups, lunges and plank. The 16-minute workout  was tough! By the time I was done, I was sweating! I had expected that, though and I was glad to finally be following a systematic plan.

I hope I pursue it to the end this time. I expect to get stronger and to lose some fat in the process.

Pushup
https://pixabay.com/en/users/Hans-2/

If you are not following any workout plan, I suggest you get one. You can try Max Capacity Training, or the 7-Minute app that I reviewed here, or any other plan that is challenging and gradually increases what it demands from you.

Keep working out!

Pull-Up Rest Between Sets

Yesterday, I continued my pull-up workout. I decided to go to Week 13 of the Recon Ron Pull-up program, which specifies sets of 14, 10, 8, 8 and 8 pull-ups.

I managed to do the first 14 successfully, without getting off the bar. I was pleased with that, since at my last attempt, I had managed 13. So this was progress.

My timer was set to about 2 and a half minutes of rest. The next set did not go too well. I did 6 pull-ups, then 1, then 2, then 1 more, to make up the required 10.

I paused the timer at some point and went to do other things, which meant that I rested longer than the set two and a half minutes.

When I came back, I was able to do the required 8 pull-ups straight, plus an extra 2. My grip had one hand facing me and another facing away.

In the next set, I did the required 8, then added two more to match the previous set, since my grip was now the reverse of the previous set.

In the final set, I did 8 pull-ups.

These events made me interested in how much rest I should have between sets and I did a little research on the Internet. You can read the articles in the links below, but in summary and generally speaking (and in the context of pull-ups), I found that for strength, you need longer rest ( 3 to 5 minutes) between sets and for muscle growth, you need shorter rest (1 to 3 minutes).

I then adjusted my timer’s rest periods for the pull-ups workout to 3 minutes.

Keep working out!

http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/trainer-qa-how-much-should-i-rest-between-sets

How Long To Rest Between Sets & Exercises – Workout Rest Times

Renewed Goal of Twenty Pullups

I have decided to again go after my goal of 20 pullups. I intend to achieve this goal by the end of December 2015. I think the reason I did not succeed the last time was simply that I did not have sufficient motivation. This time, I have two things motivating me:

One is the realisation that time is passing by and I should not keep on putting off my goals, or else I will one day realise that the window of opportunity has closed or narrowed considerably. (This realisation seems to dawn on many people when they turn 40, like I did in 2014).

The second thing motivating me is that I’d like to blog more on pullups and I think actually getting to do 20 pullups myself will give credibility to what I say.

 

So I have been doing pullups, following my favourite program, the Recon Ron Pullup Program. Counting backwards from the last week of December 2015, I saw that I would need to start at Week 7 of the program, so I did. That was the week of 21st September.

Today, I was able to do the sets for week 7 as specified (10, 8, 6, 6,6). I’m supposed to be on Week 9, but I was still quite pleased.

 

The 7-Minute Workout (App) Review

I came across the free 7-Minute Workout app and installed it in my phone. I also installed the Max Capacity Training app (which I reviewed here. I had it on my previous phone but not my current one). I had heard of the seven-minute workout before, so I was familiar with the concept. The idea is basically that you perform various exercises for 30 seconds each, with about 10 seconds rest between exercises. Ideally, the exercises should be performed as intensely as possible.

Note: There are a number of different 7-Minute Workout apps on Google Play. This review is about the one by Abishkking.

The Exercises
The app has two workouts: A ‘Classic’ workout and and Abs workout.
The classic one is usable immediately while the Abs one is locked by default. You can unlock the Abs workout by doing the Classic workout for five days in a row, or by paying $1.99.

I have only done the Classic workout, so I will only talk about that one.

The Classic workout has 12 exercises:
Jumping Jacks
Wall sit
Pushup
Abdominal crunch
Step-up onto chair
Squat
Triceps dips on chair
Plank
High knees/running
Lunge
Pushup and rotation
Side plank
(The app says 13 exercises, but the last two are the same exercise, just for different sides of the body. Interestingly, the app does not make the same distinction for the lunges or the step-ups).

There are brief illustrated instructions on how to perform each exercise and links to videos (or video categories) showing the exercises.

Screenshot_2015-09-11-13-05-41

You can change the duration of each exercise period, rest times, countdown time and also how many times you want to repeat the circuit.

The Workout
The day after I installed it, the app told me that it was time to work out. I hesitated, since I had planned to start the Max Capacity Training, which I had done part of before. Then I decided to try something new and do the 7-minute one. After all, it’s only 7 minutes.

When you start the workout, the app tells you by voice and also shows you on the screen what exercise to do. An on-screen timer times each exercise. The voice also tells you when you are halfway done with each exercise and counts down when the time for each exercise is ending.

7 minute workout

7 minute workout

I have done the workouts three different days now and they were pretty intense. I did only one circuit each time and it was fairly challenging. I was breathing hard when I was done, but I was not sweating a lot. I generally felt it was good and repeating the circuits would have been tough.

The Good Things

  • The exercises in total generally provide a full body workout
    The workout can be done anywhere. You only need a wall and a chair or equivalents
  • The workout lasts only a short time.
  • An in-built calendar shows you which days you worked out, so you can tell if you have been slacking off.
  • The app is free, though supported by ads. You can remove the ads by paying.
7 minute workout calendar

7 minute workout calendar

The Things That Could Be Better

  • The only major category of exercise missing is pull exercises, perhaps because this would require a place to hang from or something to pull, while the app aims to provide a workout that can be done anywhere.
  • I would perhaps change the order of exercises a bit, so that you alternate between upper and lower body exercises and not tire out some muscles too much. For example, the step-ups and the squats both exercise your thigh muscles, and the pushup with rotation and side plank are also alike.
  • Another thing that would be good to have is the ability to record scores for each exercise, so that you can track your progress.
  • It seems you do the same exercises every day, meaning you might get bored.
  • There is no scheduled rest day, which is needed for rest and recovery. However, there is a calendar that shows you which days you worked out, so you can schedule your own rest day.
  • If you choose to remove ads, then you will be required to pay for one year’s removal of ads. In other words, this is a subscription service that you pay for per year. The amount is not high (HK$ 15.46 which is about US$ 1.99 per year) but I found that approach a bit unusual.

Final Verdict
The 7-Minute Workout app is a bit limited if you want a greater variety of exercises or if you want to track progress within the app or if you want to customise your workouts. However, this app will help you exercise. If you are stuck somewhere and want to exercise, or if you have no workout plan at the moment, you can get a quick full-body workout using this app. The 7-Minute Workout app is good for that purpose. In my view, get the app.

It Works! How My Wife Lost 22 Pounds

Hello dear reader!

I hope you are keeping healthy. It has been a while since I posted, but here we are, and I have a fat loss lesson that I have learned.

In December 2014, my wife slipped and fell and broke two ankle bones. She underwent surgery and started using crutches to move about. At that time, we were living in an apartment on second floor (what Americans call third floor). There was no elevator or ramp, so the only way up or down was using the stairs.

This meant that every day, as she went to work, my wife had to use the crutches to get out of the house, move down the corridor, down the stairs, to the car, and after I drove her to the office, up one flight of stairs to her office. In the evening, it was the reverse.

English: Short flight of stairs in the fire ex...

English: Short flight of stairs in the fire exit stairwell. Huntsville, AL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using crutches means supporting your weight on your arms as you swing your good leg forward, then supporting yourself on the good leg as you move the crutches forward. On stairs, she would hold the railing and lean on it as she lifted her body up one stair (or down).

This went on for weeks, and it was tough! For the first time, after more than four years of marriage, I saw my wife actually sweating due to physical exertion. I’m not sure I had ever seen her sweating at all.

Consistency

The distance to be covered was fixed – our house remained at a fixed location, as did her office. She could not say “Today I will not go all the way to the house. Let me sleep in the car.”
The frequency of activity was fixed – she had to do this every day when going to work and coming back, and on weekends if we went anywhere. She could not quite fail to go to work.
The weight to be carried was fixed – her own bodyweight.

How To Lose Weight

The result: she lost weight! She lost 22 pounds (10kg). Twice as much as she had lost through rope-skipping. There were no fancy exercises, no switching up the routine after a while (though she started panting less and stopped sweating). No alternating of exercises to target different muscle groups. She just did what she had to to get to work and to get home.

The lesson of the story: If you want to lose weight, one simple way is to pick a challenging exercise and do it consistently. No excuses to get yourself off, no lightening of the load, no reduction of distance. Just stick with it. Change will come.

Recon Ron Pullup Program

You may know from my previous articles (like this one) that I like the Recon Ron Pullup program, mainly for two reasons:

1) It is simple to follow – you just read and do.

2) It is realistic in that the first set in a workout has the most pullups and the number decreases as you do the subsequent sets.

The program can be found here as a web page. I recreated it here for those who may want it in a vertical format (with the weeks coming one below the other, rather than across). There is also a copy similar to the original one here.

I also extended the program by a few weeks.

For the sake of clarity, here are the links again. (Links will open in new window).

Vertical (Portrait) version of Recon Ron Pullup Program.
Horizontal (Landscape) version of Recon Ron Pullup Program.

Enjoy!

Goal: Do Twenty PullUps In A Row

The Goal
I will be turning 40 on September 11th 2014. That is 77 days, or 11 weeks, from today (26th June 2014). On that day, I want to do twenty pullups in a row. That is my goal.

The most I have done in one set is 19 pull-ups. That was in 2012, I think. I have since not done pull-ups consistently until I reached 20 pull-ups, though more recently – in April 2014 – I did 16 pull-ups (video below). So I have a goal and I have a time-frame.

The Plan
I use the Recon-Ron pull-up program. On the program, 20 pull-ups in the first set appears on Week 21. Counting backwards 11 weeks, I should start on Week 10 today.

Week 10 says 12, 9, 7, 7, 7. I should be able to pull that off.

Let’s see how it goes.

Keep working out!

Recon Ron and Max Capacity Progress Updates

Yesterday I continued with the Recon Ron pull-up program. I had reached Week 20, then I slackened and started consistently following the program again around two weeks ago. I started again at Week 11. Last week I skipped week 12 and went to Week 13, and that is going ok.

After the pull-ups, I had dinner, rested a while, then officially began Week 3 of the Max Capacity Training Program that I talked about in this post. I say ‘officially’ because last week I had an unofficial test run.

Week 3 follows the ‘Time Attack’ protocol, where you are supposed to do a specific number of repetitions of each exercise in as short a time as possible. The number of repetitions to be done is calculated from your scores in earlier workouts. It is entirely up to you in what sequence or in how many sets you will meet the target.

I was required to do

  • 129 squats
  • 108 push-ups
  • 108 Lunges
  • 210 seconds plank bridge

I was aiming to complete each exercise in 4 sets, and I mostly did. I finished the workout in a little under 22 minutes.

Keep exercising!

Max Capacity Training – Review

Max Capacity Training is a workout programme that offers intense bodyweight training over a 12-week period. You are required to work out three times a week for 12 weeks. Each workout session lasts 16 minutes, excluding warmup and cooldown. I came across the Android app of the plan and later the web site that also has the plan available for free.

There are a variety of things that I find very good about the program:

Full Body
The exercises in the training plan will work out your entire body. They cover the main exercise groups: squatting exercises, pushing exercises, lunge variations and plank variations. The only missing group is pulling exercises.

Bodyweight
The fact that the workouts all consist of bodyweight exercises means that you do not need to have any special equipment to follow the plan.

Intensity
One of the things that stands out for this program is the intensity. There are only short rest periods between exercises, thus ensuring that the workout session is kept intense throughout, unless you decide to slack off.

Variety
Max Capacity Training has a wide variety of exercises, so that you will not feel that you are overdoing any one particular exercise.
Also, the workout intervals are different, such that when you complete a workout, for the rest of the plan, you will not do the exercises in it again it in the same way again.

Consistency
One of the best things about the program is that while having a variety of exercises and interval timings, the program follows a consistent pattern:

  • 16 minutes per workout,
  • four exercises per workout,
  • consistent protocols – One week will follow the 50-10 Protocol, the next week will follow the Tabata Protocol and the week after that will be the Time Attack
  • Each workout will usually have a squat variation, a pushup variation, a lunge exercise and a plank exercise

Clarity
The program contains clear instructions on how to perform each exercise, complete with illustrations. There are also instructions on how to score your performance. These scores are used in subsequent workouts, but can also be used to evaluate your performance against that of others who share theirs on the Web.

Free
The plan is available for free at http://www.maxcapacitytraining.com and as a free app. However, there is also a book available for purchase at Amazon.

Shortcoming(s)
There are only two things where the plan could be improved. First is that perhaps because of its entirely bodyweight approach, there is no pull exercise in the plan.
The only other thing that may perhaps be seen as a drawback for some is that the workouts are quite intense, and may not be suitabe for someone who is not relatively fit. However, even if you are a beginner, you can still follow the plan and perform the exercises at your pace.

I highly recommend the plan for anyone who is looking for a serious fitness workout that can be done at home, and for free.