A month ago I wrote about my change in fitness routine from an expensive Gym membership to a free and more free-form based program (you can read that post here).
I thought I would get you up to date with how that is all going so far.
So my current routine has 4 components:
- Running (jogging).
- High-intensity interval training (or HIIT)
I generally run (and when I say run, I mean joggle at variable speeds) around the streets near my house or around the local lake. Once a week I run a track around a nearby mountain ( and by mountain I mean big hill).
Im really happy with the way this is going. I used to run a lot when I was younger and have now re-discovered the sheer joy of jogging along a nature trail or track at dusk.
Compared to my first encounters where I quickly realised I had been neglecting my aerobic fitness, I can slowly feel my endurance and ‘running legs’ improving. I am doing about 3-5 kilometres per session, which is not much in the running world. But it is a base on which to build.
And importantly, I am enjoying it.
Twice a week I do HIIT. This is the quickest and least fun of all my exercise routines. It is REALLY hard work and as its name suggests…highly intense.
High-intensity interval training is currently very popular as a method to maximise VO2 max (maximal aerobic capacity – an accurate measure of fitness and aerobic endurance) with quite a few studies now supporting its effectiveness.
There are many different flavours of HIIT, all of them requiring repeating cycles of short bursts of very high intensity activity followed by a rest period.
The system I use is called the Tabata Regimen. It uses 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest which repeats for 8 cycles.
I then rest 2 minutes before repeating the process with a different exercise. In total I do 3 different exercise types in each session. Sounds easy.
That’s a total of 14 lung screaming, vomit inducing minutes and you are done.
Currently I do not use any equipment for this, so each excessive set consists of things like burpees, star jumps, sprints etc. Here are some videos of the sort of stuff I am talking about.
To help with this I use an app called Seconds Interval Timer on my iPhone. It has a nice big display and can be set up so my entire routine is marked out with a voice prompt at each change point.
We are just transitioning out of winter here at the moment and so I have pulled my bike out of hibernation, lubed up the chain and started riding places. Simple as that.
My goal with cycling is not to become a lycra wearing, leg shaving road racer, but simply to use my bike much more frequently as a mode of transport and enjoyment.
As I get older I can feel myself getting all stiff and corrugated. In particular I notice the tightness and lack of suppleness in my hamstrings and my lower & upper back.
So. I have been doing 30 min yoga every 3rd day or so. As the point here is to develop a free, and easily accessible anywhere fitness program I have not joined any classes. I admit this is not ideal as Yoga really requires attention to detail in form and technique. I imagine the hands on feedback you get in class from an instructor is super important.
Instead (after doing some research online to find a quality app) I use an app called Down Dog which has both free and pro (subscription) options. For me the free version offers plenty of content. I really like the encouraging voice of the teacher, and there is a decent accompanying music soundtrack that changes even when you to the same routine over.
So I roll out my yoga mat, place my iPad on the floor in front of me and follow along (as Juno does his best to distract me by jumping all over me and humping my downward dog).
So far, so good.
So that is it for my new fitness program.
I would say that I am probably spending more time overall engaged in fitness activities than I did when using my gym membership.
I can definitely say that I am enjoying it more and I feel far more energised and mentally switched on than I did before.
You might notice that there is not a lot of resistance training involved here and that it is aerobic-centric. I will be looking at ways to incorporate more resistance training in the near future (probably using one of the free outside fitness stations that are popping up all over the place).
I will write an update in another month of how things are progressing.
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