About a month ago I went to a conference in Philadelphia, and since then I’ll confess I’ve not done any Insanity workouts and have been pretty lax with my exercise all round.
But this must end. I finally got my Insanity t-shirt a couple of weeks back, so I’m determined to get back into exercising – it’s nearly 12 months since I began this journey (well, since I began it properly!). So what’s next?
I’ve spoken in the past about Pilates and I’ve got to say, I love it. I started doing it for my back on the recommendation of my physiotherapist, but it has several other major benefits. It’s massively toned my abs, improved my back pain, improved my posture, enhanced my flexibility… and I can’t really put this any other way but it makes me feel more powerful, stronger, more physically able.
But Pilates isn’t everything. This month’s UK edition of Men’s Health features a great section on body weight exercises, many of which target things which I’ve been traditionally weak at or which I didn’t see huge gains from with Insanity (notably my arms, and the concept of a “V-Shape” torso). So I’m going to take these workouts and mix them with Pilates and see how I go with this. I’m aiming for at least 4 days a week, possibly more. Pilates will feature throughout, but I’ll alternate the rest.
The Men’s Health workouts are fiercely difficult. Do a Google search for “tuck planche press up” and you’ll see what I mean. I can’t do many of these exercises yet. But I will.
Have I fallen off the wagon, or am I cleverly working a new system? Probably somewhere between the two. It’s clear to say that I’m not following the Insanity 60 day regime. Instead, I’m trying to hit at least 3 workouts per week - typically one each of Pure Cardio, Cardio Power and Resistance and Plyometric Cardio Circuit. However, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes I’m only managing one a week. However, I worked out on Friday and today, so I’m currently in the clear workout-wise.
Stats-wise, I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. I currently weigh 67.5kg (148lbs for you Americans; 10 stone 9 for Brits) and have a body fat percentage of 11.3%. In my head, I thought this was actually a high fat percentage but having read up on the matter it seems that it’s actually pretty darn good. It seems that male models get lower percentages (~8%) but they’re difficult to sustain, and much below that results in lots of veins showing through - not a good look. So whilst originally I’d hoped to reduce my body fat percentage I think I’m OK with this number now.
I also now have some measurable improvements in stats: my chest is about 3cm bigger than when I began this journey, my thigh circumference has increased by 5cm. There are other measurements which have increased, but frankly I’m so crap at measuring them that the error bars are probably bigger than Shaun T’s pecs.
But the basic message is this - working out and trying to eat sensibly have improved my body shape and statistics. Not exactly rocket science, but I can actually be proud when I look in a mirror. All the more reason to keep it up!
My swapping of days and throwing in an odd extra rest day have completely thrown my track of where I am in this programme. But at the very least, I did Pure Cardio today. Nothing special. Move along.
Afterwards, I decided to take my measurements, and this has shown that I’m definitely back on track towards a decent body. Since starting this latest burst of Insanity:
Not a shabby performance, and it puts me pretty much back where I was when I finished my last full round of Insanity in summer 2012. But my biggest (and yet still quite tiny) achievement is that my biceps are now the largest they have EVER been. They’re at 28cm, which still puts them in pre-pubescent school girl territory but given that my twiglet arms were originally 26cm at the biceps, this feels like a massive accomplishment!
I’ve been naughty and taken 2 extra rest days this week, but this was because of a horrible work schedule.
Thursday was “day 9” Plyometric Cardio Circuit and today was “day 10” but instead of Cardio Recovery I did Cardio Power and Resistance because I thought I should push myself after such a lax week.
I’m really liking Power ad Resistance more this time round. I can really feel the moves working on my chest and arms in a way which I haven’t before. My arms are pretty puny, but after my first round of Insanity I had felt most of the impact on my legs. It seems that now my legs and cardio are improved, I’m able to last long enough to see some results elsewhere.
Persistence pays off!
A chance to catch up… I’m still at the Insanity, albeit with some minor tweaks
Day 5 was Cardio Recovery which I’m not hugely keen on but it makes a nice contrast to other days.
Day 6 I took my recovery day early because of other commitments. But then I was cheeky and took another rest day. I finally did Cardio Power And Resistance to make day 7. Today’s Day 8 and I did my Pure Cardio as planned.
One of the toughest parts of Insanity is fitting it into your routine. I’m taking a slightly more relaxed approach this time and it seems to be helping me to stick to it.
For motivation I’m focussing on a couple of things - a forthcoming conference in Philadelphia where I want to be able to confidently use the pool in the hotel without worrying about my body image is helping a lot.
Oh hi Pure Cardio, nice to see you again.
Or, strangely, not. Pure Cardio was my favourite Insanity workout for a long time but for some reason I didn’t enjoy it as much today. It’s like I’ve flipped - I’m now looking forward to Cardio Power and Resistance which I used to hate.
Pure Cardio is always tough. One of the guys in the video, Mario, takes several fairly lengthy breaks during it. He’s clearly in good shape and has a much better body than I do. However, I can now make it through this workout without such long breaks. And that feels ridiculously good.
I began this round of Insanity on Sunday with a blast of Cardio Plyo, but then I took Monday off - this was a planned thing, an after work event and I knew in advance I wouldn’t have time to do the day’s routine and was OK with that. But I knew that it meant I really, really couldn’t miss the following day.
The next days was Cardio Power and Resistance. Traditionally this was my least favourite workout of Month 1 - all those jumps and squats are really tough on the legs, and as I’ve complained many times before that’s the part of my body where I’ve felt Insanity the most. For some reason though, it didn’t seem as bad this time - maybe I’ve just built it up so much in my head, the reality was better than my fears. Hell, I even managed the power jumps and globe jumps.
Today was Cardio Recovery. I’m not a huge fan of this one either, but my sore shoulders from all those V-push ups yesterday aren’t complaining about it.
After illness broke off my previous Insanity run, it’s been hard to get motivated to start again. Yet again I’d been trying to fool myself into thinking that I would get fit with Pilates and push ups. There’s no denying that they’re good for you, but without a programme I just don’t stick to it.
So today was Cardio Plyometric Circuit. Day 1. Again. It was a struggle to make myself do it, but weirdly when I started I found myself pushing harder than I have done in quite a while. By the end of the routine my legs and arms were trembling - Shaun T would have been proud.
Question is, will I keep it up?
It’s taken me a long time to get back to exercise because after my illness I really badly pulled a muscle in my side - push ups are pretty much completely out; I used to be able to do 100 - 200, now I can only manage 10 or 20 before my side gives out.
So today I decided to give Pure Cardio a go - from memory, it didn’t have as many push ups in it and the non-repeating nature of the moves made me think that I’d get away with it: if a move hurt, I could just move on to the next one.
I did about 25 minutes of the workout and then gave up… not because I couldn’t go on, but because a) there were more push ups than I remembered and b) my boyfriend came home and I don’t like working out with an audience.