In the last part of 2018 I started adding a 400 rep body weight exercise circuit to my Friday routine, I would do it every other week. The circuit consists of pull ups, push ups, hanging knee raises, and dips. I do a total of 100 of each, most of which is done with micro sets of five in rapid succession. When I first started the routine my goal was just to survive, it had me gulping for air. As the fatigue that was part of my life for over a year started to fade I felt better and stronger. I decided to start timing how long it took me to complete the 400 reps.
During my first timed session it took me somewhere around 42 minutes which was pretty dreadful in retrospect. I was taking too long of breaks in between sets. Two weeks later I got the time down to 36 minutes, a HUGE improvement of over 15%. After another two weeks I dropped the time another large chunk, down to 33 minutes. Today, I surprised myself again, completing the last rep exactly at the 30 minute mark, an almost 30% improvement from where I started.
This sort of training where your personal trainer is nothing but a stopwatch is extremely effective. You instinctively try to beat whatever time you posted before which is a great motivator. When I was hardcore into calisthenics many of my workouts were time based which is likely why that time period was the most fit of my life. As I press on the gains will naturally be smaller but if I manage to complete the work in even just one tick less than the last time, it’s a win.
As I was grinding through today’s workout for some reason my mind was drifting back in time. I thought about the moment that really motivated me to get serious about fitness, I remember it well. I’m not sure if I ever told this story on the blog but if I did it was only once and it was a long time ago.
I was in my early 20’s and dating my first wife. We went down to the Jersey shore for vacation and while I was there I walked into one of those shops on the boardwalk where they take a picture of you and overlay it onto a magazine cover. I was wearing a bathing suit at the time so the decision was made I would do a one arm bicep pose, shirtless for the fake cover of Men’s Health or something like that. When I was handed the finished product I was jolted. I looked like a skinny fat blob with not a single line of definition and distinct love handles. I probably weighed somewhere close to 210 pounds at the time.
My first wife’s family loved to feed me and I loved to eat what they fed me. Unfortunately most of it was unhealthy food and at that age I gave next to no thought about how it affected me. It was at that moment I started eating consciously, exercising more regularly, and opening my eyes to just what a blob I had become. It’s weird how that dumb picture flipped my switch but in retrospect I am certainly thankful it did.