Boot camp strike 2

Jesus Christ, I just got back from the start of week 6 (!!!) of boot camp and I think I’m about to die. Because I exercise as much as I do, boot camp has only been ‘just another workout’ of the week sort of. I’ve of course pushed myself and done what I’ve been told, but there has always been energy left, whereas those who might only be doing boot camp 2-3 times a week as their workout has been all out of energy, knowing that they didn’t have another session to complete in the afternoon. Today, on the other hand… If I was told we had to do one more round of burpees, squats and push-ups, I would’ve collapsed. I am no runner, and I technically don’t function without music, but because we’ve changed from running on solid ground to grass, I’ve started just going for it. Not to mention the fact that my friend Mari is so bloody fast when she runs, making me angry I can never keep up with her. Getting up at 5 in the morning kills me every time and I look just about this excited on my way there

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When I finish, however, life is normally extremely good

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I’ve never been a girl with much muscle on the upper body (my legs are a different story), but ever since I started boot camp, both my core and my upper body strength has significantly improved. When doing push-ups before, I used to struggle with pain in my shoulders and could in general not go as low as I was supposed to. Guys tend to know how to tense their chest muscles and push off with them, whereas girls overuse their arms most of the time, but now that my core strength is improved and I’ve started thinking about how to properly do a push-up, I’m not struggling (as much). Not to mention the fact that I finally have a visible muscle if I flex. It’s tiny, but anything is better than nothing!

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My days here in Melbourne generally flick between studying PT-material (I forgot how incredibly shit I am with complicated science related things, might be freaking out), living in the gym or going to the beach (whenever Melbourne is not bipolar in its weather, I wore wool yesterday…), and the other week I managed to lock myself out of the house. No phone, no food (!!!), no shoes, no top and see-through hotpants. 5 hours and a decent sunburn later…

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I’ve also spent a day trying to convince myself I enjoy public speaking (it is literally one of my biggest fears),

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and I’m now qualified to save your life, should you manage to stop breathing or cut your finger off in the blender (but please don’t). Even made a friend doing this first aid stuff, he decided to start talking to me based on the fact that he noticed all the weird fruit and vegetables I was snacking on when I got bored.

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Having such an interesting life like mine, often requires quick solutions in terms of lunch/dinner, and sometimes the simple stuff is great, let me just say I’ve had a few days looking like this

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I always bring tupperware-boxes packed with food of some kind no matter where I go. Tomorrow I know I’ll be going to the beach, so when cooking today I’ll make sure I cook more than what I’ll eat and simply bring the leftovers and some fruit in a few containers. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to resort to eating crap because you think planning is difficult. Failing to plan = planning to fail, is what I always tell myself.

Wow, this turned out to be a big-time selfie post. Oh well, I am a big-time selfie girl, so I’m not even ashamed. Spend the upcoming week working hard and eating right, your bodies will thank you!

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What is VO2 max, and why should you care?

Vo2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during intense/maximal exercise, and is considered the best indicator of measuring cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. Technically, the more oxygen you can produce during a workout, the more energy (ATP) can be produced. ATP fuels your muscles during exercise, and the muscle cells need oxygen during aerobic exercise to produce ATP.

Oxygen consumption will rise in a linear relationship to exercise intensity, until it reaches a plateau – where exercise intensity can continue to rise, but the Vo2 will stop rising, and that is where we measure the Vo2 max. Now, this of course, requires a proper fitness test with the appropriate amount of equipment, but the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has made it possible to estimate your Vo2 max here. Mine turned out to be 53 (which is good, comparing that to Lance Armstrong at his peak though; 85!) and my estimated fitness age is below 20.

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Vo2 max has a small genetic component, but can for sure be altered by exercise. Increasing your workout in both volume and intensity will help increasing the Vo2 max, in other words; training at an intensity increasing your heart rate with 65-85% of its maximum, for at least 3-5 times a week.

Exercising in this zone will not only improve and strengthen your cardiovascular system, and improve the transportation of oxygen to, and carbon dioxide from, your muscles, it may also help you burn fat. Yes, you can of course go running for hours and stay at the same heart rate, I do however prefer cardio brutal and quick. The most acknowledged way and effective approach to increasing the Vo2 max (and burning fat), is by doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

Matt Fitzgerald has 3 suggested interval routines that you can follow to effectively increase your Vo2 max.

Step 1: 30/30 and 60/60 Intervals

Start with 30/30 intervals. After warming up with at least 10 minutes of easy jogging, run 30 seconds hard, at the fastest pace you could hold for about six minutes in a race. Then slow to an easy jog for 30 seconds. Continue alternating fast and slow 30-second segments until you have completed at least 12 and as many as 20 of each.

Increase the number of 30/30 intervals you complete each time you do this workout, and then switch to 60/60 intervals. Start with at least six of these and build up to as many as 10.

Step 2: Hill Intervals (we do these in bootcamp, it is a killer)

Shorter hill intervals of 20 to 90 seconds are great for developing power, strength and speed. Slightly longer intervals of two to three minutes are great for VO2max development. To do a hill intervals workout, warm up with at least 10 minutes of easy jogging. Then run hard uphill for two to three minutes (choose your duration before you start), jog back down to your starting point and repeat.

If your fitness level is modest, start with a set of 4 x 2:00 or 3 x 3:00. Very fit runners can do as much as 10 x 2:00 or 7 x 3:00. Pace yourself so that you neither slow down through the workout due to early fatigue nor finish the workout feeling you could do more.

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Step 3: Lactate Intervals

Lactate intervals are the toughest kind of VO2max training. Build up a fairly high level of fitness with 30/30, 60/60 and hill intervals before you move on to lactate intervals.

It is best to do this type of workout on the track. Warm up with at least 10 minutes of easy jogging and then run hard for 800 (two laps on a full-size running track) to 1200 meters (three laps on a full-size running track) around the track. Now reduce your pace to an easy jog for 400 meters.

Run shorter intervals (800m) in your first lactate intervals workout of a given training cycle and then move upward. Do a total of about 5000m of fast running in these workouts (6-7 x 800m, 5 x 1000m, 4 x 1200m). Again, try to run the fastest pace that you can sustain through the last interval without slowing down.

Intervals are hell, breathing heavily and feeling as if you’re about to have a heart attack is hell, but for every interval session you try, I promise you’ll feel a little bit better (only a little bit), and if you leave the running forever kind of workout at the side for a while, and go back to it after you’ve been running intervals for a while, I can guarantee that you feel run your normal distance way faster and way better.

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Even the best fall down sometimes

Saturday was measurements-day. And it went a little bit in the wrong direction. Every time my measurements have been due, I’ve been told that things might not have changed much because I was bound to hit a plateau eventually. But I kept losing weight and I kept dropping body fat, to everyone’s surprise.  Until yesterday, my first encounter with a rise in both weight and a rise in body fat. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I got angry.

Combine a rough week with something you didn’t expect, and you’ll find Marita crying in the gym office. The one place in this world that I consider to be my place, the one place where I turn my brain off and fully focus on what I enjoy doing. But not this time, tears. Everywhere.

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Luckily, I have the best support system in the world. When was the last time you took a week off working out? Nathan asked me. I tried suggesting when I went to Noosa, but no, I worked out everyday there too. So I couldn’t remember. December 2012 would probably be the last time I had a rest-week. You even came in a did vigorous exercise when you were injured. Yeah I know, and he’s right. Of course he’s right.

So he took his time, made diagrams, explained how the body of an athlete works, how you need rest to be able to fully benefit from what you do the rest of the year, how constantly pushing limits and ignoring aches will lead to the body breaking down instead of re-building itself. And you know what the most annoying thing is? I know all this. I’m, in fact, fully aware of it.

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Here I am, telling you guys not to obsess over your weight, but what do I do? Start crying because I’ve gained 2 kg. It’s ridiculous. He had to remind me that I’m a lot stronger now than what I was 6 weeks ago, I’m pushing 80kg with my own ass, I do pull-ups with help from a person rather than on a machine, I can finally do bloody pushups on my toes. I get out of bed and go to bootcamp before the sun is even up. 2kg of fat isn’t helping me do that. My muscles are. My diet is almost impeccable, I love working out, I’m healthy. I shouldn’t be crying in the place I love the most. But I was.

After a bit of arguing, I realized I couldn’t do much but listen. I got sent home, leg-day got cancelled and for the next couple of weeks I’m only allowed to do bootcamp. And maybe yoga. No body balance, no weights, no intervals, no afternoon-cardio. I get to walk, not for the sake of the exercise, but because I enjoy walking. And the same goes for other activities, go ice-skating, you like that, he said.

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I spent Saturday being upset, trying to find a way to fool the system. Surely I was just having a bad day and could do gym again soon. But when PT-Daniel called and said they were only trying to help me, I realized there was no point doing anything but listen and comply to what they ordered me to do. All I want is a healthy body and mind.

Only a couple of days ago both housemate Line and my friend Ina told me to be careful, make sure I didn’t hit a wall or become dangerously addicted. I ensured them that that wouldn’t happen. But it did. I think sometimes we just need somebody with authority to tell us to slow down. I don’t want exercise and nutrition to be an obsessive thing, it’s not supposed to be something that controls me. It’s supposed to be my break from reality.

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I’m still trying to figure out what I’m gonna spend all this time doing now that I’m banned from the gym, but I guess the fact that I’ll be studying to become a personal trainer this summer will keep my brain occupied a bit. I’ve put my heart rate monitor away, my ShapeUp app is closed. Let’s just learn to listen to our bodies, shall we?