The countdown to Christmas is on. This usually means that our social calendars are getting crammed up very quickly, and between stuffing our faces with Lebkuchen and choosing our outfit for the next party, many of us find it very tricky not to fall off the healthy living wagon. An abundant supply of family visits, Black Friday shopping frenzy and work do’s often mean that hitting the gym or the trails outdoors may drop down to the bottom of your priority list. Not to mention that with the weather turning grotty and cold, getting out of the house sometimes becomes a lengthy negotiation with yourself, which usually ends with the sofa, a mug of hot chocolate and your favourite woolly socks winning the argument.
I have been training hard throughout the year, and the last thing I want to do is use the festive season to lose sight of my fitness goals completely. Therefore I have narrowed down my options to two things:-
a) I can hide in a cave and hibernate through the winter;
b) I can use the season for my advantage to give my fitness a fresh boost and enjoy the festive treats without guilt!
I personally do not like dark and wet places that much, which rules out the cave option… I have found a way to harness the holiday season to smash my fitness goals and fat-proof my physique. It’s called metabolic conditioning (or ‘metcon’ for short).
What is the ‘metcon’ method? Metcon is the latest hot trend in the fitness industry right now, and with good reason, I might add. Metcon is a method of training that involves performing a series of exercises done at a high intensity. These exercises are designed to help you burn the maximum amount of calories not only during, but also after your workout (this is called the ‘afterburn effect’). These exercises typically involve ones that challenge your whole body, engaging multiple muscles at the same time – compound moves such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, pressing and pulling movements are staple exercises in any effective metcon workout. The key thing is that you perform a set amount of sets/reps and have very short recovery periods in-between the sets. When you are working your butt off doing metcon, it will kick your body’s fat burning capacity into high gear, and will no doubt improve your overall fitness. In my opinion, there is no better form of workout to torch fat, while simultaneously maintaining lean muscle development!
Over the past couple of weeks, a military inspired bootcamp workout has been keeping me on my toes. Xtreme Bootcamps, known to run Europe’s toughest fitness workouts, are launching their first home workout DVD on Monday, 28th November. I was lucky enough to get hold of a copy before the official launch, and put myself to the test!
I will be honest – this is probably the most intense home workout I have ever done. Imagine marrying Shaun T’s Insanity with British Military Fitness, and multiply it several times. You get the idea. James Evans who is the founder of Xtreme Bootcamps instructs the video himself and pushes you beyond your physical and mental limits, true Royal Marines-style. This 60 minute DVD workout includes all the staple metcon moves and elements – it is going to be hard, it is going to get very sweaty, there may be some tears, and perhaps a few ‘oh, my God’s’, too. I think I counted about 3 minutes total rest time during the workout which was the water break between the warmup, main sessions and cool down. Suck it up, buttercup.
However, if you persevere with the workout, at least a couple of times a week, you will almost certainly notice some positive changes in your body composition and there will be some happy ‘Oh my God’s’, too. This was definitely the case with me. During the 4 weeks I was surviving trialling the DVD workout, I continued with my high protein/low carb/moderate fat diet and only kept doing some of my normal classes in the gym, using free weighted equipment. *Breaking news alert * I gave up running completely during this period, as I felt it would be too much, and after developing some issues with my knee in October, I also felt that my body was asking for more variety. Giving up running (albeit temporarily) was a huge thing for me as it has been my main sport over the past couple of years, and I was anxious that retiring my running shoes would certainly mean compromising on a lean physique. To my greatest surprise, following this military inspired metcon workout, attending a few classes in the gym, and eating sensibly, the exact opposite happened. I have to point out that since my early twenties, I have always been very fit, and relatively lean, but I now get the ‘WOW’ effect when I look at myself in the mirror.
This experiment has definitely proven to me that high intensity workouts are far more superior for fat loss and body compositional changes than steady state cardio, such as running. Don’t get me wrong, I am not planning on giving up running any time soon (In fact, I can’t wait to get back into it), but these have been a very revelational few weeks for me, and I have learnt so much.
What can you expect from the Xtreme Bootcamps workout? You can do this workout any time and anywhere – no equipment is needed, just bring yourself and a good amount of determination! What I especially liked about it is the no-fuss choreography which allows you to focus on giving maximum effort, rather than cracking your brain to figure out the moves; and the simple instruction, prompting you to check your form. I suggest that you wear cushioned trainers for the workout as most of the moves are quite high impact, and don’t forget to have a towel and a bottle of water at hand. You will need it!
The workout starts with a warmup, a couple of dynamic stretches and a tabata-style pulse raiser which mirrors some of the exercises in the main session. When I did the DVD the first time, just the 10 minute warmup felt like a mini-workout in itself! There are two 15 minute main sessions, one is a lower body circuit, the other one focuses on upper body and core. Each segment comprises of 20 sec effort and 10 sec recovery jogs between exercises. Expect plenty of burn doing dynamic burpees, squat- and lunge jumps, classic pushups, and lots of thigh slapping star jumps and high knee drills. Some of my favourite exercises also feature, such as devilish dive-bombers, spiderman pushups (eek!), and the ever so painful plank hovers! (Just think about those killer arms you will show off in your Christmas party dress just as you are about to burst into tears.) No rest for the wicked! Mercifully, there is a water break before James subjects you to the final hurdle before the cool down stretches, a 15 minute ‘finisher’ which brings back the hardest exercises in explosive combos. As the name says on the tin, if nothing else, this will definitely max you out. Phew!
I would have loved to see some more lower impact variations for some of the exercises, bearing in mind those people who have poor knees but still want to get their heart rates up to a good level. Perhaps in the next home workout video we will see one of the participants doing only low impact variations. Apart from this, I genuinely loved this badass workout in a masochistic way, and recommend it as a great stocking filler if you are serious about wanting to torch some fat, carve out a lean physique or prepare for your next sporting challenge.
Grab your copy here at a special Black Friday price, for only £7, it’s a steal!
If you have missed the Black Friday sale, I am running a give-away with Xtreme Bootcamps over the next week. To enter for a chance to win a FREE workout DVD, all you need to do is share this blog post on your Facebook and/or Twitter timeline, tagging at least 3 of your friends. Please also follow my blog and Xtreme Bootcamps on at least one social media site:-
Winners will be announced on 1st December! Good luck 🙂