, I then set out to improve myself. Now that I've decided on my goals (and suffered/learned from some mistakes) I present to you my current cardio/weight loss/bodyweight plan, and hope for any advice/additional tips/corrections, and pose some questions that would be nice to have answers to.
About two weeks ago, I posed a question on how to increase my stamina and improve my cardiovascular system
. I received some really awesome answers, which helped me a lot. (Thanks guys!)
From there I went on to formulate a personal cardio/weight loss/bodyweight training plan, in order to meet the following goals:
1. Lose weight, all the way down to 65kg (roughly 143 pounds).
(I am now 85kg, roughly 187 pounds.) I'll be honest here: vanity does play a role in this weight loss goal, but the weight loss is also necessary because I'd like to compete in Kyokushin karate competitions; if I stay at my current weight, I'll be fighting super heavyweights who are often 6' foot and above guys, and though I'm not scared of the fights, I don't want to get into unnecessary injuries because of their immense length and reach over me as a 5'7 guy. At least if I get down to 65kg, then more often than not I'll be fighting people around my height.)
2. Improve my cardio fitness
, to the extent that I can run continuously for 30 minutes at a good consistent running pace without my feet locking up due to lactate buildup, and without getting too tired to fight properly.
3. To gain strength
, only by bodyweight exercises, and without lifting or gym equipments.
My cardio/weight loss/bodyweight training plan basically revolves around these iTunes apps I downloaded, whose set programs I've religiously followed in the past 2+ weeks (and will continue to follow until they end):
1. Couch to 5K
, now in Week 2, Day 3.
2. 100 Pushups
, now in Week 2, Day 2.
3. 200 Situps
, now in Week 2, Day 2.
4. 200 Squats
, now (and probably for a couple of months more, for reasons explained below) in Week 1, Day 2.
5. Nike+ GPS
6. Tabata Timer
7. Heart Rate Monitor
(In addition, I registered with DailyBurn, and started noting down my calorie intake and exercises in a somewhat detailed fashion. Been maintaining at least a 500 calorie deficit per day, and I try to overstate my calorie intake where possible at that so hopefully I'm burning off more calories with exercise than is actually recorded there.)
Here are some things that I like about the above apps:
1. I don't have to think about what to do. The apps, like 100 Pushups/200 Situps/Couch to 5K set me a program based on my current abilities, and tell me to do it, and I do it
. No excuses. In the absence of an instructor, the apps replace his role to let me know what I should do and when, which is exactly what I needed. (E.g. Even if I'm tired from running, if the Couch to 5K voice says "Run", then I'll force myself to do it until I hear the bell that signals 'stop'; I try not to cheat myself.)
2. There's hard data on what and how much I'm doing. I absolutely love
this. With Nike+ GPS, for instance, I get to see my speed, pace, calories burned, mileage, etc and even after 6-7 runs I can start comparing graphs and figures, and I can see some interesting improvements already. Great stuff.
Now, the bad parts:
1. 100 Squats. Before I started running with Couch to 5K, I did 100 Squats. I went to my limits to get my current squat level (about 90+ squats over 5 reps), as the program suggested, and lo and behold, I couldn't walk properly for 4-5 days thereafter
. I should have expected that, of course, but I learned two things from this: 1) Squatting can be a real damper to my Couch to 5K goals (but since these were just muscle, not joint injuries, I ran through the pain even though it hurt; and I was careful with my footing and made sure not to strike with the heels), and 2) Never ever
do crazy reps for squats again, at least until you've trained for it.
2. Couch to 5K feels like murder sometimes, and I don't know why my legs haven't yet improved. (Surprisingly, I'm breathing better now that I'm in the second week and don't get wheezed out so quickly, but my legs still get tired from the lactate buildup pretty quickly; i.e. by the 3rd to 4th 90 second running interval, I have to force myself to carry my foot and put another step forward. Also, my pace gets really messy.)
So, in summary, these are the entirety of exercises that I've been doing and rotating throughout the past two weeks:
3. Skip rope.
4. Pullups. (Well, I'm trying to do this, but it's hard to find any bars around here; there's a big bar near my balcony, but it's way too squarish and large and kind of hard to grip, so I wonder if there are any alternatives to pullups that still exercise the same kind of muscles as it does.)
(I also got myself a copy of Convict Conditioning, and though I think it's awesome, I'm still confused about which programs to start with.)
So, my questions:
1. Are the above bodyweight exercises alone enough to lose weight?
I fear that adding more exercises would confuse me. (In addition, I have no money to join a gym, and do not wish to join one if possible.)
2. Are the above bodyweight exercises enough to gain strength?
The guy from Convict Conditioning makes a lot of cool claims, and though I fully trust him I wonder what the fellows here have to say of it.
3. What sort of intensity should I keep up with?
For example, in running up and down the stairs, at what speed should I be doing that, and what heartbeat rate should I be always aiming for? (Also, if I stay in the "aerobic"/"anaerobic" zone, does that mean I won't be burning fat compared to staying always in the fat loss zone? What advantages are there of staying in the anaerobic my-hearts-beating-so-fast zone, compared to the aerobic/fat loss zone, both in the short term and long term?)
4. How much skipping should I do per day?
Twice or so? How long per session? Would skipping help me lose weight? (I note also that when I skipped with Tabata, I could barely breath at the end of it, and my body was sweating so hard that I continued sweating even after a bath.) Also, the balls of my foot and calves somewhat hurt after the skipping, though I suspect it's only because I'm not used to it -- but is there anyway to prevent this? How do I properly land with a skip? The YouTube videos teach how to skip and skipping moves, but I haven't found any which goes into the mechanics of properly hitting down your foot when skipping.
5. How do stairs measure on the cardio/strength workout scale?
Does it train your thighs or some other muscles? What benefits are there to it, and how long should I do it ideally per day?
6. I have, interestingly, thunder thighs
, but I've noticed that packed underneath all that fat are some very, very solid muscles. I understand that there's no such thing as spot reduction, but if I use my legs a lot more (running/skipping/stairs) would it be possible for the fat there to be removed and/or 'overtaken' by the muscle growth in the area?
7. Should I reserve my squat programmes only to begin once I've completed Couch to 5K? Or should I do the squat stuff now?
Or is there an alternative to doing squats now? The problem is that since I can't walk properly after intense squats, this completely counters my Couch to 5K plans. I've been told that squats are one of the ultimate bodyweight exercises, so it's disappointing that I have to wait until after Couch to 5K, unless there's some squatting exercise out there that doesn't paralyze you so much to prevent you from running.
I have some other questions, but I can't recall them right now, but I'll try to post them later if I remember. Thanks for reading!
(Note: If possible, I'd like to focus only on bodyweight exercises; I've been doing my reading and I understand that bodyweight exercises are more natural as they exercise compound muscles, thence giving more functional applicability in real life. (Note: I'm not insulting lifters, it's just that this is what I understand, which may or may not be wrong.) I aim for real strength, and I do not mind if my muscles don't bulge or seem that large so long as there's some real strength inside.)