Friday, February 12, 2016

German Volume Training & MetCon Workouts | Operation 健康アップ Weeks 25 - 28

This year I'm determined to get back to being in my top fitness form and signed up for Genesis Gym's unlimited package - meaning I basically can eat, sleep and gym there 6 days a week {since they are closed on Sundays} if I wanted.

But that's crazy talk. I only plan to work out 4-5 days a week (^‿^✿)

For mums, squeezing in workouts can feel near impossible. It takes a lot of time and juggling with other family and work commitments, but with the boy and Lil Pumpkin's support, we manage it somehow and I've been at it for the past 1 month already. I usually go when Lil Pumpkin is at class or the boy's clinic, but on Saturday mornings she comes with me and happily does her work / play/ snack at the gym's sitting area {safe & fully visible from the workout area }while I train.

Gym Workouts
I actually took 2 weeks off after Cycle 2 to rest and settle into our new routine with Lil Pumpkin in P1 and started training again on Tue 12 Jan 2016.

Before I started, I told Jen to help me plan a program for me to mainly increase my strength and build muscles, and hopefully go down to 16% body fat haha. He did so with a workout rotation program i.e. I'll start with Workout A, then Workout B for my next session, then finish with Workout C the session after that.. and the rotation sequence starts again. So I'll be training my entire body throughout the week and my workouts are not fixed for each day of the week I come in.

I guess that helps to keep things interesting too so that I won't keep doing the same exercises day in day out.

Workout A with the latest weights I lifted:
A. Incline Step Up, 3 sets, 15 reps/leg - 2kg
B1. Trap Bar Deadlift, 4 sets, 12 reps - 70kg
B2. Seated Unsupported Dumb-bell Shoulder Press {Neutral}, 4 reps, 12 reps - 11kg
B3. Trap Bar Deadlift, 4 sets, 12 reps - 70kg
B4. Lying Hamstring Curl {Toes Up, Toes Down}, 4 sets, 12 reps - 55kg
B5. Dumb-bell Reverse Lunges, 4 sets, 15 reps/leg - 8kg
C1. Oblique Twists, 3 sets, 60s - 10.5 + 8kg
C2. Dumb-bell Holds, 3 sets, 60s - 19kg  

When Jen brought me through the workout for the first time, he mentioned that I need to do more exercises to strengthen my knees so that I can load and do other kind of exercises. That's why I have the incline step-ups to work on my vastus medialis obliquus {VMO} as knee pain is thought to be primarily associated with specific quad muscle weakness or fatigue, especially in the VMO.

Weak and tight hamstrings can also cause knee pain so I've to work on them with the Trap Bar Deadlifts and Lying Hamstring Curl. 

For the first week back after a break, I'm usually weaker than usual and the first few sessions are longer than usual as the trainers take me through my new programs, help me find suitable weights to do and tweak the exercises if they affect my knees / back too much.

The first time I did Workout A my hands were dying. It had been a loooooong while since I did any barbell / lift work, and sorry to sound like a pampered princess, but my poor tender hands paid for it! I didn't have any calluses or tough skin on my hands to block the friction from the bar and it hurt like crazy. Didn't help even when I wear gloves.

No point complaining to the boy or my guy trainers either as they all said ugly hand calluses are inevitable when you do serious lifting.. Superman even added, "it doesn't matter, you're already married!!" Grrrr...

Workout B with the latest weights I lifted:
A1. Barbell Romanian Deadlifts, 10 sets, 10 reps - 47kg
A2. Seated Unsupported Dumb-bell Shoulder Press {Neutral}, 10 reps, 10 reps - 9.5kg
B. Hang on Bar, 4 sets, 60s - 1kg
C. Ascending - Descending Set: Burpees & Jack Knives, 1 to 10 to 1 sets

This workout is called German Volume Training as it originated in Germany in the mid-'70s and is used to gain lean body mass. The goal is to complete 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight for each exercise and according to Coach Jon, by set 6 or 7 you should be tired out and not able to complete all 10 reps. If you still can complete all 10 sets of 10 reps, that means the weight is too light.

My legs and arms are not proportionately strong so for the RDL, my arms tire out faster {even with wraps} than my legs even though my legs can still go for more. I can't load my legs enough for the RDL until my lats/ arms/ grips get stronger so Superman has been giving me exercises to train my grip & forearm strength as workout finishers. These extra grip & forearm finishers has helped me improve on my Trap Bar Deadlifts too.

Tall Guy taught me a trick for my Seated Unsupported Dumb-bell Shoulder Press which is to turn my knees out and think of pushing hard from the ground {without my butt getting of the seat}. It helps I think!

Workout C with the latest weights I lifted:
A. Lying Hamstring Curl {Split, Toes Up}, 3 sets, 20 reps - 12.5kg
B1. Prowler, 4 sets, 40m - 70kg
B2. Jumping Battling Ropes, 4 sets, 75s
B3. Kettlebell High Pull, 4 sets, 75s - 16kg
B4. Incline Ring Row, 4 sets, 75s
B5. Mountain Climbers on Sliders, 4 sets, 75s
C. Finishers

Out of all the workouts, I hate days with Workout C the most because it's Metabolic Conditioning {MetCon}. MetCons are fast paced, high intensity workouts completed in a short period of time that will challenge your cardiovascular capacity & put your metabolism into overdrive. Basically, it leaves me panting like a dog and sweating like a pig.

It is really challenging and during MetCons, you tend to question the meaning of life, your existence and why the heck do you choose to go through hell.

Deep down, I know the answer though - MetCons rapidly burn fat and if I want to go leaner, I've no choice but to just grit my teeth and get on with it.

When I first started on Workout C, I couldn't complete B2-B5 exercises continuously for 75s each. Especially the Jumping Battling Ropes. At the end of first 4 weeks, I'm glad to say that I really can feel that my stamina is better and I've improved to be able to do most of it for 75s straight. The Jumping Battling is still extremely trying for me but it's definitely much better than before.

Food Nutrition
Since the start of the year, I've kept with my resolution to meal-prep for the week ahead every Sunday. The boy is soooo impressed!

When I started, I took such a long time and felt that I was really inefficient with my time during the meal-prep. It took me 4.5hrs the first time!! The boy said it's because I'm making very elaborate food - the kind of food I'd cook for a one-off proper meal. Except now I'm making 4-5 portions of that.

He said to meal-prep I should cook super-simple but nutritious food. The important thing should be that I hit my macros, taste and look should be secondary. Ok that's easy for him since he can eat the same food day in day out mindlessly as long as its protein-packed, but I crave variety and can't stand bland food!

So now I'm trying to find the balance to cook faster and smarter for at least 2 different types of meals, with 4 portions each. That will give me 8 prepacked healthy meals to play around with during the week. I try to keep them kids-friendly too so that I can use them to save time & pre-pack a few for Lil Pumpkin's lunches too.

I try to keep them as nutritious as possible and estimate the calories / protein count for each meal portion with the help of hubby and MyFitnessPal app. These are some meals I've made so far:

I post them on my Facebook page & Instagram {#AiFoodPrep} weekly if you want to keep updated. 

Thoughts of the Weeks
Before this cycle I worked out 4 times a week on average, but 2 sessions were on my own at our club gym, 2 at Genesis Gym. Now, going to Genesis Gym 4-5 times a week took a bit of getting used to but surprisingly, I'm not tired from working out so hard more times each week.

Actually one of the benefits of getting enough exercise is supposed to be that it gives you more energy to get through your day. This has been the boy's lifestyle for so many years and when I was swimming competitively I used to train daily too, so it is not totally "undoable". We just have to time-manage it.

I am a bit disappointed that I've not lost much body fat the past month though to see enough definition in my arms or abs, despite my increased intense workouts, but I do think that my strength and endurance has improved and it is very gratifying to know that 4 weeks or even a week ago, I couldn't lift what I can lift now.

The boy reminded me that this is an ongoing process and a #transformationforlife so I must remember to not rush for my goals, but make sure I just keep going. Slow progress is better than no progress. And fat loss / muscle gain becomes more difficult as you get leaner / better trained. 

My food nutrition still needs a lot of work but at least I'm prepping some of my meals regularly. Sometimes I eat nutritious salads, other times I still like to dig into pratas and ice-cream. To me, that's balance and living. I don't believe in the elimination of certain "unhealthy" food as in reality and in the long run, it's not sustainable or feasible. Moderation yes, but not total elimination. As long as it fits your macros, a little indulgence shouldn't be that bad of a thing.. right?

The thing is I need to make sure that I really moderate and not give in too much to my sweet tooth and craving for "unhealthy" food!! (/ω\)

Anyway, when I get more efficient at meal-prepping healthier meals, I'll update again in another post.


Phoebe said...

Happy Lunar New Year Ai! Wow.. your training seems to get more and more intensive! Plus your healthy diet, am sure all of you look fitter and gorgeous!

mail4rosey said...

I could benefit from prepping my food too. I decide on dinner right before dinner usually, and that's def. not taking a lot of things into consideration that I could (like calories!).

An Apel a Day said...

It's so good that you can take Little Pumpkin with you. Here kids can go to the gym, but it's mostly young tiny kids that do. Mica thinks he's past that. When he's like that Isaak is like that to.

I love your meal line up!

May said...

You've come a long long way! Looking amazing! Again...something I cannot do. hahaha

Madeline Heng said...

Omg i cant even read to the second para and im overwhelmed hahaha. I'm eating more brown rice and have since lost 2kg! So happy about that! Lets jiayou together!

Theresa Mahoney said...

Maybe I'm crazy, but I love MetCon kind of workouts. Of course, I curse and want to kill the instructor during them, but I feel amazing afterwards.

Good that Lil Pumpkin is allowed at the gym. We have kids watch at ours, but it gets full quickly so sometimes the parents bring the kids into the gym. Totally not safe and I don't know why they haven't put a stop to it yet.

Jenn-mylilbookworm said...

Well done Ai! Looking good! Jia You!

Susan said...

Wow, you're doing 70kg of weights already! Sweat just reading it. I need to up my weights and learn how to do the deadlifts correctly. You're making great progress!

Pris said...

Hello Ai! You look fab! It's funny how I was just telling my husband about wanting to hit the gym soon and then I see this post. Motivational post for sure!

Michelle said...

I find meal planning really helps in making sure we are eating the right thing. Your bento boxes are so pretty! How do you have enough space to store them for the rest of the week?

Pooja Kawatra said...

You are doing a fantastic job dear and I keep looking at your photos whenever you update your fitness regime. You really need dedication to do it.

--andy-- said...

Kudos to you dedication!
To more milestones :)

cheers, Andy

Grace said...

You are on FIRE, girlfriend!! Love your dedication! 4 -5 days a week is awesome! Meal planning is so important, isn't it? I try to get it sorted out every Sunday. Sometimes I get there, sometimes…not so much! You're such an inspiration! x

Masshole Mommy said...

Look at you with the ropes. You make it look easy and I know for a fact they are NOT :)

Stacy said...

I support the part on having indulgences. :)

Your packed meals look good to me.

Danessa Foo said...

Such a blessing, to be able to workout with the girl in sight! Motivation factor +100 :)

Indah Nuria Savitri said...

you already look super fit Ai..always admire your determination :)