I’ve decided to take week-long challenges and blog about them to overcome procrastination and keep track of my progress (if there are any). I don’t know how else I can make myself accountable for neglecting things that I should be doing but this. You see, when I put myself on a dare, I’m more likely to complete it because my pride is on the line. Thus, I am starting this with the 7-day Weight Training Challenge. I will follow a 30-minute workout video each day from seven different fitness YouTubers. I will talk about how difficult or easy the workouts are, how did I fare, and some information about the featured workout instructors for your reference. By the end of this challenge, I will show you the stats, such as the total calories burned and average heart rate from doing these exercises, as well as the hours of sleep I had and the calories I consumed per day as these have a bearing to my stamina.
Disclaimer: The author has taken this challenge for the reasons mentioned above. She is neither a fitness trainer nor a nutritionist and is therefore not encouraging anyone to follow the same challenge without an expert’s advice. She has taken this challenge at her own discretion, and according to her body’s capability and/or limitations.
Equipment and body stats
The heaviest weight I could set in my dumbbells is 15 kg. As with tracking my stats, I’ll be using the following mobile apps:
- myfitnesspal – for tracking food calories count
- Apple Fitness – for tracking active kilocalories, average heart rate
- SleepWatch – for tracking sleeping hours
My Day 0 body measurements are as follows:
- Weight: 47.7 kg (105 lbs)
- Body measurements: Chest – 32 | Waist – 27.3 | Hips 34.8
I am very bloated with some nasty back fat and some cellulite on my legs. I never thought I would ever get cellulite but I think getting old plays a part. I am not even 50kg yet I know and feel that my body is not in the best condition.
Day 1 – Dec 8 (Tue)
It’s a Tuesday, I should have done this on a Monday but it doesn’t really matter, the important thing is, I started. I followed the 30 Minute Full Body HIIT Bootcamp Workout of my favorite Fitness YouTuber, Sydney Cummings. She is a NASM certified personal trainer and fitness, nutrition specialist. Her YT channel, which she launched in 2016 has over 798k subscribers. Each month she introduces a 30-day program and every single day she posts a workout video. I honestly don’t know how she does it, I mean even if she pre-records them then rests for a day or two, it would mean that on the days that she is filming, she was doing one or two workout routines. I’m telling you, the girl is a beast. Not only is she strong, but she also looks the part. Her body is lean and sculpted, the kind that you only get from years of consistent training.
Given how intense, exhausting, and long (sometimes they go for an hour) her workouts are, I could never follow her program faithfully. However, she is my favorite because of her personality, and how she designs the workouts; they were always challenging but easy to follow.
Now getting on to the routine, it is part lifting, part cardio with a 2-minute warm-up. There’s one lifting exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 15, one cardio exercise also for 30 secs, then repeat the entire set for three rounds.
Generally, my body felt okay that I was able to follow Sydney’s instructions without using her easy modifications. However, I didn’t feel that strong that the heaviest weight I was able to lift on each side is only 10 kg. I was also aware of how heavy I was breathing especially with the cardio parts but I had enough stamina to push through it all. Day 1 is good.
Day 2 – Dec 9 (Wed)
I couldn’t sleep early and I had to get up early as well because of a 6:30 am meeting at work, hence I only had 3 hours of sleep. But I slept another 3 hours in the afternoon so I had enough energy to do the workout today.
This time, I did the Squats and Deadlifts Workout – At Home Lower Body Workout by Fitness Blender. It is one of the few fitness YouTube channels that I started following years ago and it is owned by a couple, Kelli and Daniel. The channel has been up since 2010 and to date, it has 6.49 million subscribers. Unlike Sydney, the coupe doesn’t post that often; maybe one or two videos per month, and there was also a time when it took them a while to update. But since they’ve been at this space the longest, their content is pretty solid, with over 600 free full-length workout videos to choose from.
So here’s the workout structure: 6 groups of exercises, 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest in an ABAB format. Warm-up and cardio were not included in this routine, only lifting and a lot of squatting. The most prominent move is the deadlifts, there is always a variation of it on each set. I made an effort to use 10kg per arm for some of the squats. I noticed that my knees weren’t caving in or shaking compared to yesterday when I was doing the squats. I did sweat a lot but overall, I find Sydney’s routine more exhausting as it involved cardio.
Day 3 – Dec 10 (Thu)
It’s the first time I’ve done a workout by Joanna Soh so I don’t know much about her. Based on her About page, she is a certified personal trainer (ACE) and a Nutrition Coach and Women’s Fitness Specialist (NASM). Her YT channel started in 2012 and she has 2.25 million subscribers.
On the third day of this challenge, I followed her workout video titled, Build Your ABS (30-Min Total Body Strength Training. I was invited to a neighbor’s birthday celebration in the afternoon but before I indulged myself with the delicious (high-calorie) food, I worked my arse on the mat first.
Her routine is core-focused and she only recommended to use lightweight dumbbells. There’s a short warm-up at the beginning of the workout as well as a cool down at the end. There are seven exercises and three rounds. Although it’s supposed to be a 30-min workout, the actual time to complete it is only 27 minutes. I used the remaining 3 minutes to do some stretching as I could now feel some tightness in my hamstrings. I reckon it has more to do with the fact that I’d been doing this for three straight days. It’s the reason I only committed to doing a 30-minute exercise each day so I wouldn’t overwork my body.
Day 4 – Dec 11 (Fri)
The fourth-day workout video is courtesy of another fitness couple, Coach Kozak and Claudia of HASfit. They were early in the game, joining YouTube in 2007 with over 1.57 million subscribers as of this writing. Just like the Fitness Blender couple, this channel is not very active. As I write this, the last video that they posted was 11 months ago.
I discovered this channel a few years ago when I was still renting an apartment in Makati. I followed their 30-day muscle building program and though it didn’t result in my dream abs, I noticed that I’d grown physically stronger. Their workout programs are one of the most intense that I’ve tried that 30 minutes feels like an hour.
And because the routines are hard, you are sure to burn down more calories. On this day, I did their 30 Min Home Leg Workout with Dumbbells video and torched 155 kcal, the most calories that I burned since I started this challenge. Because my legs are still hurting, I couldn’t squat lower and I couldn’t lift heavier weights. I wondered whether I should take a rest the next day just to allow my body to recover.
Day 5 – Dec 12 (Sat)
I thought that perhaps I should take a rest today, but changed my mind. In the afternoon, like a ritual, I lay my mat on the floor, changed into my workout attire, and played the 30 min upper body workout – Intense Strength Workout At Home of Penny Barnshaw – Garage Fitness Girl. I did one of Penny’s workout videos before and I remember liking it because she didn’t talk the entire time, it’s just her exercising, the timer beeping on the screen, with some upbeat music in the background. Out of all the YouTubers that I mentioned in this post, Penny is the newest player having started her channel just last year, 2019. Despite being new, she already has 65.2K subscribers.
There are 3 exercises per set that had to be repeated three times with 10-second rest in between. In actuality, the entire workout lasts for 37 minutes.
Today is when I lifted the heaviest weight, 15kg, to do one of the moves. Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of squatting so I was able to rest my legs a little bit. The past few days have been particularly trying for my lower body so it’s a good call to focus on upper-body moves this time.
Day 6 – Dec 13 (Sun)
By now, I’m not really sure where I summon the strength to keep going without taking a rest day. While I do ache in some places (this time my arms and the sides of my chest), I managed to complete the 30 Min Full Body Dumbbell Workout at Home of Caroline Girvan. I just discovered Caroline so I can’t speak much of her style and general content. She is a certified personal trainer and her YouTube, which she launched in 2015 has over 428K subscribers.
Just like Penny, she doesn’t verbalize instructions (no voiceover as well) during the workout. On some occasions though, I saw her mouthing instructions to her viewers like when we needed to switch sides for the lunges.
For some reason, I find this workout easier than the rest. I think it may have something to do with the 30-sec rest in between exercises, a bit longer than the 10 or 20 seconds breaks of other fitness trainers.
Day 7 – Dec 14 (Mon)
I can’t believe I managed to do this challenge for seven consecutive days. For the final day I chose a low-impact workout given the fact that I didn’t allow my body a chance to recover.
The workout today is courtesy of Anna, another certified personal trainer who coaches Crossfit classes. She joined the vast number of fitness YouTubers in 2017 through her channel, growingannanas, which today has over 144K subscribers. I used her video, 30 Min Leg Workout with weights, dumbbells to wrap up this challenge.
This workout targets the glutes and quads so there was a lot of squatting involved. It’s a no-repeat routine but there are exercises that were the same only in different variations, e.g., narrow stance squat, air squat, sumo squat. There’s a 6-minute warm-up but no cool-down session. She recommended doing slow and controlled movements to really activate the muscles in the target areas.
Thoughts and observations
As mentioned, I recorded my day-to-day stats as shown in the table below. I burned the most calorie on Day 4 with the workout video from HASfit. Sydney’s routine from Day 1 was a close second.
I stepped on the scale again and saw that from 47.7 kg, my weight went down to 47 kg. My body measurements are the same save for my waistline, which from 27.3 inches is now down to 26.5. Small difference but I’ll take it.
Before I took this challenge, I had been a notorious afternoon sleeper. I normally go to sleep between 12 midnight to 2 am, and because my work starts at 7 am, I couldn’t complete the required 8 hours unless it’s the weekend. So what happens is, I get an afternoon slump that I would go to bed as soon as my work is done, doze off for four hours, then wake up at night to exercise. Working out late plus the afternoon siesta equals bad sleep quality. Thus, it was always very challenging for me to sleep at the appropriate time.
But on the week of this challenge, instead of sleeping, I would go to the mat and workout between 3 to 6 pm. The afternoon slump is gone, it’s crazy. Unfortunately, except for Days 4 and 9, there was no change in my average sleeping hours. Despite this, I always had enough energy to complete the workout.
My calorie target is 1,619 per day based on the goal that I set on myfitnesspal. I made a conscious effort not to eat more than my daily calorie goal because I want to be able to see results after this challenge. We all know that working out is not enough, a healthy body is also made in the kitchen.
I didn’t have a special diet in the sense that I ate carbs and meat and at times. But I limited my sugar intake because while my taste buds like sucrose, my belly doesn’t. I know I may have been eating well below my calorie goal but let me assure you that I don’t starve myself. Also, if my no-defined-abs midsection is any indication, it seems like I’m all good.
More than the slight weight loss, what I’m really happy about is that I was able to complete this challenge (tbh, my pride has a lot to do with it). It’s good to be reminded that I can do anything I set my mind to.