HFM vegan body-building diary: week 1
Body building challenge

HFM’s Andy Greening gives us the lowdown on his first week of the Pulsin vegan body transformation. Is it going to break him? You be the judge. 

Before getting started, I managed to have a catch up with Rich Allsop, my trainer regarding my previous experience within the gym. I mentioned I’ve pretty much done most fitness things but as mentioned in my previous post, my loose relationship with the gym means my form will be off, and the amount of weight I was lifting is will have decreased.

The plan is to see Rich 3 times a week and each day will have its own routine which I will I repeat throughout the program, with plans to tweak and change it up along the way.

Body Composition

So, to truly learn how the next 8 weeks works out, we did a full body composition analysis on Biospace. This essentially measures everything from weight, body fat, water, and muscle mass.

The results? To summarise:

Height – 178cm

Weight – 89.6kg

Muscle Mass – 33.2kg

Body Fat Mass – 30.4kg

So what does this mean? My BMI comes in at 28.3 which means I am overweight, but as Rich mentioned at the time, BMI isn’t always correct as technically a body builder’s BMI would be overweight due to the muscle mass. However, I am overweight as my measured body fat mass is over the average for someone my height at 30.4kg.

Monday: Leg day

  • Cross trainer: 5-minute warm up
  • Squats:

o   2 sets of 10 reps with just bar (20kg)

o   2 sets of 10 reps with additional 10kg (30kg)

  • Kettlebell: Kettlebell swing 3 sets

o   10 reps

o   10 reps

o   15 reps

  • Supersets: 3 sets (no rest between pairs)

o   10 kettle bell swing

o   End of the room and back – walking lunges with 8kg dumbbell in each hand

  • ViPR: Transverse lunge with extension (8kg)

o   10 reps stepping left

o   10 reps stepping right

  • Rope Pull – 3 sets of 20 seconds

Before even starting the session, I’m dreading that I won’t be able to get to Wednesday. Not because I won’t want to, but I know every time I go back to the gym after a break, I’m usually out of action for a few days afterwards. As you can see from the routine, there was plenty there to break a sweat but being my first (of many sessions) I wasn’t going to let it break me before I even got to the end of the first week.

Kettlebells are the one thing I have a little more experience with as I have one at home which I use alongside YouTube workout videos. I’ve also had a few various personal trainers and classes, and the one thing which I approach with caution after pulling a muscle under my shoulder blade is doing a clean press correctly. After Rich corrected my technique for my kettlebell swing, it was not only easier but felt a lot safer.

The ViPR was totally new territory for me. For those who don’t know what a ViPER is, it’s essentially a heavy piece of rubber shaped like a log shaped barbell. I’ve never done a transverse lunge with extension either; this was engaging everything from my legs all the way up to my core. My arms were holding the ViPR away from my body like I’m pointing a sword just below eye level.

Tuesday: Swimming

Considering Monday was my first time in weeks I’ve engaged my muscles in weeks, I was apprehensive what I was going to be feeling. It turned out that I was fine. As I now have a full membership to the YMCA Club, I thought I’d make the most of it and use their swimming pool in the evening. Also, a chance to gentle engage other muscles in my body ready for Wednesday.

Turned out 15 minutes in the pool and I was done. I didn’t want to overdo it as Wednesday’s workout was only hours away after all.

Wednesday: Chest

  • Cross trainer: 5-minute warm up
  • Bench Press:

o   2 sets of 10 reps with just bar (20kg)

o   2 sets of 10 reps with additional 10kg (30kg)

  • Lat Pulldown – Supersets 3 pairs (no rest between pairs) 25kg:

o   10 rep wide overhanded grip

o   10 reps narrow underhanded grip

  • Skipping

First week in still and now starting to slowly engage various muscle groups. Even though I’m not a stranger to bench pressing, it’s be so long it was like starting all over again. Even the couple sets with just the bar was having noticeable effect. The swim from the night before was idea because it managed to stretch my muscles out from the night before, avoiding less damage to myself.

Doing Supersets on the Lat Pulldown seems like a great way to utilise not only back muscles but also other muscle groups that support them.

The hardest part of the day was in fact the skipping, mainly because I can’t skip. However, with a few pointers from Rich, such as keeping my arms still and keeping the rotations from my wrist, almost like waving a magic wand. I admittedly noticed I wasn’t tripping over the rope after 2 rotations. This is definitely something I’ll be working on moving forward.

Thursday: Swimming

Considering I’ve shocked my body into 3 consecutive days of exercise, I was fine. Again, much like Tuesday, I didn’t want to write off rest of the week but I did want to make sure I use it as a chance to stretch out the muscles and work a bit cardio into the session. 15 minutes in the pool and my job was done.

Friday: HIIT

  • Treadmill: 5-minute warm up
  • Jumping Squats:

o   3 sets of 10 jumps

  • ViPR Overhead Press:

o   2 sets of 10 reps

  • Mountain climbers:

o   20 steps

  • Supersets (no rest in between sets):

o   10 reps jumping squats

o   10 reps ViPR overhead press

o   20 mountain climber reps

  • Rope Pull machine (20 second rest):

o   3 sets of 20 seconds of rope pull

  • Rowing machine intervals (30 second rest):

o   3 sets of 30 second intense rowing

As is any HIIT this was the hardest day. Luckily, I still have reasonable stamina left in me from my running training earlier in the year, but it didn’t take long to run that empty.  It took me a while to master the jumping squats and make them effortless with a soft landing.

For more of Andy’s vegan body transformation, see Andy’s vegan nutrition strategy.

For vegan nutrition foods and supplements, visit Pulsin. 

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