Monday, February 27, 2012

Exercise Wrap-Up

This Saturday, I finished the Insanity Workout. Today, I took the final fit test. The fit test is taken every couple of weeks during the Insanity program and helps you track your progress. You do eight exercises for a minute each and count the number of reps you're able to complete. I improved on each one!

Move                                Day 1                                Today
Switch Kicks                    114                                     130
Power Jacks                     60                                       63
Power Knees                    91                                       98
Power Jumps                    32                                       55
Globe Jumps                     11                                       13
Suicide Jumps                   16                                       20
Push-up Jacks                  15                                       20
Low Plank Oblique           50                                       60

I am especially pleased with the progress I made on the cardio moves. Power jumps for example are extremely challenging. (They are like wide knee tuck jumps for those who know what I mean.) I am very happy how the program led me to improve my cardio so much. I definitely notice a difference when I am doing other exercises, such as the elliptical at the gym -- non-Insanity workouts seem so much easier now to me.

I improved my upper body strength as well. I actually found this the hardest part of the workout. I had to modify some of the push-ups during the program and do them on my knees, so I think I had less growth here. I know that my upper body is weaker than my lower, so I am glad I got to work it more here. I only wish I had made more progress.

After finishing the last fit test, I decided to take out the fit test of Asylum. While I won't be starting the new program for another week, I wanted to do the fit test to get an idea of the differences between Insanity and Asylum.

It was clear right away how Asylum will be different. The Insanity program is focused on doing max interval training -- you do as many of a move as you can in a short amount of time. Most of the moves are basic, so that you can do them fast without a problem. The instructor, Shaun T, emphasized form, but it's not that hard to maintain this form. With Asylum, this is a much bigger focus on agility and precision of movement. This was almost the focus over speed. For me doing the fit test the first time, I focused almost entirely on doing the moves correctly. These moves are more complex than in Insanity, and I wanted to make sure I was getting them down correctly. The moves were based around using the agility ladder.

If you did not perform the movement correctly without moving the ladder, your rep didn't count, hence my personal focus on the precision of my movements over the number for this first fit test. I kind of wish that I had watched the DVD once through before taking the test to get an idea of the movements, as I wasted time in the fit test just trying to figure stuff out. As a result some of my numbers were a bit lower than they could have been. I did do well with some of the vertical jumping, a move that relied on some of the plyo power I have been able to develop during the Insanity workout.

I will begin the Asylum workout starting, most likely, next Monday, and will begin to report out how things go. I am excited to see how this is a different style workout than Insanity and which areas of my fitness I am able to improve.

Seth is also working on his fitness and has downloaded a Couch to 5K app for his iPhone. I am excited for him to work on that while I am doing Asylum over the next month. When I am finished with Asylum, I am planning to do some running; perhaps even training for something like a 10K. I'd love to be able to run with him!

Seth and I visited my family in Connecticut this Saturday. While there, we went outlet shopping at Clinton Crossing. At the Nike outlet there, I got a pair of Nike Free Running shoes.

They have Nike+ built in to track my runs. Seth had the transmitter, which he's letting me borrow. I set up a Nike+ account. Now when I go running, I'll be able to track my runs on my iPhone and upload them to Nike's site to track my progress. I can't wait to get started once the weather gets warmer, say in mid-April!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Busy Times

It's been a busy week and the busy schedule is certain to be maintained for at least this next week. That being said, I have been making time for my exercise. I have now completed three quarters of the Insanity workout and only have two weeks left. I definitely think that my cardio and upper body strength are improving. The exercises, while still difficult, are getting more manageable. Finishing this workout program will definitely be a nice accomplishment.

I am starting to think of my post-Insanity and Insanity: The Asylum, to be done next, workout challenges. Because it will be mid- April around the time I finish with Asylum, I am thinking my next challenge might be running based, as the nicer weather would allow for outdoor running. I'll have to see what  feel like in a couple month's time.

Seth's good friend, Patrick, came to visit this weekend. During his visit, he did a super awesome thing and purchased the two new Star Trek Deck Building card games. The first is The Next Generation Edition. The second is The Next Generation -- Next Phase Edition. You can play both games either on their own or in combination. Both have three different play modes: exploration, cooperative versus the Borg, or player versus player (which is Kingon Civil War for the first edition and the Romulan Unification for the Next Phase Edition). 

Some research that Patrick did online indicated that the Next Phase Edition was a bit of a better balanced game. We decided to play!

Seth and I both really like cooperative games. (For example, like Star Trek Expeditions.) We decided to play cooperative the three of us against the Borg. To be honest, for the first game, this probably a bad idea. For the other modes of the game (exploration and player versus player) we would have at least been playing against each other, all equally bad first time players. Playing again the game (i.e. The Borg), was playing against a set system that was fairly good. Needless to say, we were assimilated in short order.

That being said, I could see how the strategy of the game would work once we were more experienced players who knew more about the rules and how to play. The goal of the game really seems to be to use the system to build an excellent deck. Doing that seems to almost certainly guarantee success. This, at least, is my thinking after only playing once. It was a lot of fun -- I'd love to play again. Hopefully, Patrick brings the game when he comes to visit next.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Updates on Disparate Topics

Two exciting things have happened this week: 1. I started the first week of the second month of the Insanity workout. 2. I finished Maddy's blanket and began the one for my soon-to-be new nephew.

The Insanity workout, month two, begins with three new workouts that will serve as the main workouts for the month. In contrast with the month one workouts which were about 40 minutes each, these are all an hour. I began on Monday with the first of the new workouts, Max Interval Circuits. Like with the Plyometric Cardio Circuits workout from month one, this workout features three minutes of intense exercise followed by a thirty second rest. You do each circuit three times and there are three sets of each different circuit (for a total of nine). This is in addition to the warm up, which is harder than month one and introduces some of the main exercises from previous DVDs as warm up exercises.

I actually felt quite good about my performance with the Max Interval Circuits workout. While it was harder than the month one Plyometric Cardio Circuits, I felt I was doing quite well. I was empowered! That is until I awakened on Tuesday with every muscles in my legs hurting.

I pressed on and did the Max Interval Plyo workout on Tuesday. This really worked my upper-body and was significantly harder than the month one workout Cardio Power and Resistance. There was lots of high impact work done on the floor. That's right -- you can jump around and still be supporting your upper body. There was also a lot of resistance work using the weight of your body. I learned about new moves, such as side push ups, which basically turned out to be the hardest things ever. I "dug deep" and gave it my best and pulled through. Now my upper body hurt enough to match the lower body.

Today, I got to see the last of the new workouts (excluding the new "recovery day" workout, which I'll see tomorrow), Max Cardio Conditioning. This workout is an endurance workout similar to Pure Cardio in month one. In Pure Cardio, you do intense cardio/plyo work without stopping for a little over 15 minutes basically all at the same intensity -- for me this was the easiest workout from month one because it involved less resistance training. In Max Cardio Conditioning, you do around 30 minutes of non-stop endurance training cardio. Unlike month one, there are brief bits where you do easier exercises so that you aren't completely pounding yourself for thirty minutes. It's do-able but hard. For me the parts that were more just cardio based went well. There are more resistance moves than in the analogous month one workout which is where I was really challenged. Again, I pulled through. Now I am sore everywhere! Thank goodness tomorrow is a recovery day.

I am interested to see my results as things progress. I definitely think I toned my upper body a bit in the first month of Insanity. I can definitely do more push-ups than before. I feel like my glutes are more toned as well.  I don't think I have really lost weight or inches on the waist. That being said, before this workout I was rather fit to begin with and the first month, while challenging was probably not as difficult for me as some others. Since month two is such a challenge, I think that if I do see results, it will be in the next three weeks or so. I will report out!

After finishing Insanity, I plan to take a break for a week or two. Then I will tackle the Insanity: The Asylum workout. After that, I might take a rest and just go back to doing normal exercise at work during my lunch hour for a while.

In other non-exercise news, I finished Maddy's blanket! I can't wait to give it to her.

I also started work on the new baby blanket in a lovely ice blue to match the nursery. 

I absolutely adore the pattern -- it's so lovely!

It's coming along quite quickly for a blanket knit on US 9 needles. I am very excited. and enjoying it greatly. After this, I think I will be moving on to a project with some exciting cabling.