AS I reach the halfway stage of January’s Muscle Camp, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected at FF Fitness but already I’m reaping the benefits of the high intensity workouts and specially assigned diet plan.
With the first week of Muscle Camp in the bank, I made the mistake of trying to mentally prepare myself for the exercises in store during our tri-weekly classes - but I quickly realised I’m in unpredictable terrain.
Variation in exercises and repetitions is one of the best things about the camp and it was one of the reasons I left my old, stale, all-too familiar gym routine behind me when I signed up for the first camp of the year.
MONDAY 6 a.m: As I psyched myself up for our opening session of the week last Monday morning, expecting a focus on back and chest muscles much like the one we were put through on the first week, we were dauntingly faced with another brutal leg session to ‘switch things up’. Not what the doctor ordered at 6 a.m. on a Baltic winter morning!
So we began with a circuit of leg exercises, ranging from deadlifts, hack squat, calf raises and leg extensions and curls starting with 50 reps on each station.
With the weight gradually increasing, the reps decreased to 30 but, after the second circuit, the strain was already beginning to takes its toll. Two more sets on each exercise followed before ending the circuits with another 50 reps on each station. And to finish off, we dug deep for two sets on the dreaded ‘Prowler’.
While I can’t see a huge difference in my body shape just yet, I’ve definitely cut weight and I’m beginning to lose some of the excess fat around my stomach which helps with the motivation.Simon Collins
They say never to skip leg day but I’m yet to be convinced as my hamstrings felt on the verge of popping and my calves were on fire. Having said that, it was, in fact, a thoroughly enjoyable session and I hobbled out of the gym satisfied with a solid workout.
After week one of the camp came to an end last Friday, the weekend brought with it much temptation but, thankfully, I managed to stick to the plan. And, when Monday arrived, the diet began to come as second nature with preparation of my meals the night before proving vital.
While I can’t see a huge difference in my body shape just yet, I’ve definitely cut weight and I’m beginning to lose some of the excess fat around my stomach which helps with the motivation.
The ridiculously early morning starts are also becoming a lot more tolerable and I’ve surprised myself how I can get straight into the swing of the training sessions at the 6 a.m. shotgun start.
My diet has become a little more strict this week with breakfast the most difficult meal of the day for me. But my next four meals, which include turkey, chicken, cod and steak etc. are easier on the palette and I’m grateful for the addition of some sweet potatoes.
I can already feel the benefits of the ‘clean’ diet and feel less bloated and definitely have a lot more energy and feel stronger which, obviously, helps during the training sessions.
While the ultimate goal of the camp for me was to lose excess weight while increasing muscle mass, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was shedding that unwanted fat. However, FF Fitness owner and personal trainer Seamus Fox assured me I’m on track for my four week target at the midpoint. And my decision to add in a tough personal training session with Vincent Sweeney at Pure Gym on a Friday will also help me achieve my goals.
WEDNESDAY 6 a.m - The intensity of the training sessions has certainly been cranked up a level or two with the exercises constantly changing to keep the recruits on their toes.
Waking up on Wednesday morning and having to scrape the ice off my windscreen before making my way to FF Fitness made me question my sanity once again. But the hardest part is always making it through the gym door. Once there, there’s no turning back and I’m now in danger of actually enjoying myself during the workouts.
After the curve ball thrown at us on Monday, we finally got to focus on our chest and back muscles with a tempo controlled session on negative reps to create prolonged tension on the muscles fibres.
Again we make our way around the circuit, taking in partial deadlifts, bench press, incline bench press, seated row and dumbbell and Cable flyes etc., starting with 30 reps before decreasing to 20 and then 10. We slowed it right down with the final set, with three seconds on the negative phase to create more tension and shock the muscles. As I progress in the camp, I’m starting to really enjoy the sessions and I’m seeing positive changes in my strength.
I certainly have a lot of work left to do in regards to making improvements to my physique so there is no way I’m willing to let my hard work in the gym go to waste by taking my eye off the ball when it comes to my diet. And I’m looking forward to my final two weeks to test myself to the full and see how much I can change my body shape for the better.