Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (mostly) on Sundays. Enjoy!
My Lockdown Fitness Regime
There’s no getting around the fact that we’re largely stuck inside and for what might be a reasonable while just yet. While I’m not putting pressure on myself to write the next great novel or an album that will move the hearts of millions, I’m not giving into Netflix, sweatpants and mordant lethargy just yet. One of the things I find that is keeping me sane is routine and so I decided to increase the routine components of my day to give me a pattern and a discipline to follow. As far as cardio fitness goes I can’t do a lot more than I am now and so I come back to my old nemesis, bodyweight based exercise.
I was quite shocked in January when the NHS ran a campaign to see how healthy your lifestyle is and it turned out there was a lot I could improve. I always have done a reasonable amount of cardio and I thought this was fine but it transpires you need to do strength based stuff as well, worse luck.
Even before the whole Corona thing really kicked off I had started doing some burpees. The reason for this is twofold, first, they work the shoulders pretty well and so would help in the coming surf season, second, I am supposed to be doing a Spartan trifecta this year and you get a burpee penalty for failing obstacles, so I figured I better get good at them.
So when the lockdown came I built on that. Here’s what I am doing, when I’m doing it and why.
Out for my usual run, it’s a smidge over 2 miles, so it’s no marathon but it gets my heart up and working well. I like it because I can drink a gallon of coffee (and I do) and still feel a bit grotty, but if I run I feel nice and clear headed. There is a special sense of victory when I get out after a tough night or minimal sleep. Forget times, it’s about getting out and doing it even when you’re feeling low. I am blessed to have a lovely forest 3 minutes away but even still I get out early to avoid meeting people.
When I get back I do 20 burpees. As I want mainly upper body and core strength I work in a press up. The exercise is to squat down on your haunches. jump the legs back into a press up position, do a press up and then bounce into a star jump. Then I have a coffee or 10. Top tip here is to take your socks off in case you end up spawled on the floor in a mess.
At bath time I do a little bit more strength work. I read a book, ages ago called Convict Conditioning and in terms of bodyweight based exercise in minimal space I don’t think it can be beat. The key exercises it stresses are squats, leg raises, pull ups and press ups. I need to do some work before I can put pull ups back in but chin ups are ok. So right now I am doing 3 sets of 5 chin ups. As it gets easier I’ll add a chin up into each set. When I am doing sets of 10 chin ups I’ll add a set of pull ups in. I’m using a pull up bar I got years back and not telling Laura that it’s damaging the door frame. Directly after that I do some squats. I hate squats, they don’t make me run faster, my legs don’t feel any stronger and they don’t hurt any less than when I started. The only logic I have here is something this unpleasant must be great for me. 20 squats while I clean my teeth because I’ve nothing better to do.
I take a little break before I head into the last stretch at work so ramp up the adrenalin levels. I do this with a few more burpees (20) and it works. What does not work is forgetting to take my socks off and hitting my face on the floor or forgetting to put them back on and realising my feet are two cold 30 mins ito a 90 minute video call.
At bedtime I do some more squats, 20 in fact. It is a pointless exercise, but as I do it while cleaning my teeth I cannot really justify having something more important to do.
So there you go, my lockdown fitness routine. I do feel in better shape that I have been for a while and I do feel like a bit of exercise every now and again perks up my flagging attention. I think I’ll probably keep this up once we’re allowed out again.
What I do recommend and really enjoy is the Raw Fit weekly Zoom based HIIT class I have been doing. I know it is a tough time out there for personal trainers but it’s great to be able to train with all my friends from Hastings who I would normally only see at obstacle course races. HIIT is especially fun as a session on Sunday can keep me in pain and walking like John Wayne until at least Wednesday.