An education in fitness for Guardian man

GUARDIAN sports editor Graham Smyth continues his health kick at Apple Fitness, with a varied fortnight of gruelling training.

Here’s his latest fitness blog, and you can follow his progress on Twitter at @grahamsmyth or @Applegymworksop

BEFORE I began this attempt to get fit and healthy, I had no idea what Turkish get-ups, woodchopper twists or skull crushes were.

And at times over the past few months I have wished I was still blissfully ignorant.

The personal trainers at Apple Fitness have an incredible ability to come up with new and exciting ways to make me tired and sore.

In the last fortnight I’ve gone through a mixed martial arts fitness session, some escalating density training, ‘fartlek’ training outdoors, interval training on a heart rate moniter and a couple of horrendous but effective circuits.

The aim has been to get me fitter, stronger and healthier, and also to keep me motivated.

The wide range of different sessions has kept my interest, I can train harder for longer and fit into tshirts that had become off limits due to an expanding waistline.

I almost wish I’d taken some before pictures, to contrast with after pictures – but I don’t want our letters page to be full of complaints about ruined lunches.

Another goal I had as I set off on an epic quest to lose flab and gain muscle, was to give readers an insight into the type of exercises that are designed to do just that.

So at the end of today’s blog I’ll list some of the things the boys and girls at Apple have had me doing.

I have to tip my hat to them, they’re very good at what they do.

With their help, I’ve discovered a liking for throwing weights around, and reaffirmed my belief that my body was not made for any kind of cardiovascular excercise. But I still have to do it.

The hardest session I’ve had to date was one I went through last week with Joe Smith, when I was tasked with 100 reps of several tough exercises, and felt the repercussions for days.

Technique is essential when lifting any sort of weight, and as I had to do such a high number of kettlebell swings, I should have concentrated on bending my knees and using my legs.

But as fatigue and pain kicked in, I relied too heavily on my back, simply levering the kettlebell up and down, and for the next two days the muscle soreness was horrendous.

Lesson learned, the next time I’m swinging a kettlebell above my head from between my legs I’ll be doing it properly.

Something that has helped to maintain motivation for me as the weeks have gone on, is the little indicators of progress.

Being able to plank for 70 seconds, rather than the 30 I managed the first time I did it.

Grinding out many, many more press ups than before.

Lifting heavier weight.

Rowing 500m in a personal best time.

The little boost you get, perhaps to the ego but definitely to the morale, is essential and proves that what I’m doing is worthwhile.

And the Olympics have certainly helped. Is there anything more inspiring than watching Team GB push their bodies to the limit for sporting glory?

After the victories our cyclists achieved in the velodrome I can’t wait for Friday’s spinning class.

Recent training sessions

EDT - three press ups then five squats, repeated continously for 15 minutes. Three Swiss ball crunches, three oblique weighted leans, repeated continuously for 15 minutes.

Super sets - Bicep curls and hammer curls (biceps), bench dips and skill crushes (triceps), military press and front raises (shoulders), lateral pulldown and bent over rows (back), bench press and dumbell flys (chest)

100s - 100x kettlebell swings, 100x star jumps, 100x shuttle runs, 100x resistance band punches, 100x medicine ball crunches, 100x dumbbell squats, 100x power bag lunges, skipping, 100x box jumps

Interval training - 20 minutes on the treadmill with two minute intervals of heartrate at 70% and heartrate above 80%. Three minutes on cross trainer with raised incline and resistance near maximum.

Mixed martial arts fitness – five minute rounds comprised of six exercises, 20-30 seconds per exercise, continuous. Eg: squat jumps, plank, woodchopper twists, press ups, floor cycle.