Before I’d even started Freeletics, I’d read about hell week. I’d assumed it was going to be, well, hell. But is it? It’s definitely hard. Seriously hard. Hard to the point where I questioned whether it would be acceptable for me to give up and try again. But the massive problem with that is that once you’ve given up one time, it becomes a thousand times easier to give up again. Your mind will tell you, “it’s okay, you worked hard, you can do this any time”. Without wanting to sound like some kind of ghastly life-affirming positive message generator, you have to work through that and beat it. Because you’ll feel lousy if you give up, but you’ll feel fucking great when you don’t. Anyway… Hell week.
I’m still not sure whether this was an actual hell ‘week’, in that I was only required to work out on three days. I’d kind of thought that hell week was going to be seven crazy days in a row, so who knows? All I can tell you is that if I’d had to do these hell days for seven consecutive days, I’d probably be dead by now. Or at least in quite a bad mood.
Hell days require you to perform three workouts on one day. They don’t have to be completed one immediately after the other, it’s up to you. You can do one in the morning, one in the middle of the day and one in the evening. Or all three. Whatever, it’s up to you. The only thing the Freeletics coach stipulates is that you have at least one rest day between each hell day. So, here’s how it looked for me.
Hell week day one: Helios, Ares & Burpee max
Hell week day two: Atlas, Hera, Squat max
Hell week day three: Atlas, Ares, Hades
Somehow when you look at it on the page or in the coach, it doesn’t seem so bad. Sure, you’re doing nine workouts in one week. But those rest days… I was already looking forward to them. Which turned out to be smart thinking on my part, for once.
Day one: Helios – 1:02:27 (PB, no star), Ares – 08:42 (PB, no star), Burpee max – 58 (PB, STAR!)
So, Helios. I hadn’t done it before, hadn’t even looked at what the workout comprised. I almost shit myself when I saw it for the first time. 100 burpees, 125 lunges, 150 climbers, 125 sit ups, 150 climbers, 125, lunges, 100 burpees. Er… Right. I decided, through necessity, to pace myself. I’m pretty comfortable with burpees now, to the point where I never really need more than a five second rest, regardless of the number of reps. But there is something HORRIBLE about starting off a hundred burpees, knowing you’ve got a hundred more to do and a whole load of other shit in between. Helios was the hardest workout I’d done, but… I did it. Slowly, but I did it. It’s a little bit like doing a long run when you’re not feeling great. You have to kind of relax into it, count the reps and let your mind wander a little. Ares is a pull up workout, so still no star. But I do quite enjoy it, it’s nice to push yourself knowing that it’s a fairly quick workout. I managed to PB, despite doing Helios earlier in the day. And so… Burpee max. I was determined to break my PB, but didn’t know if I’d be able to. I left it as late in the day as I could to give my body chance to recover, and beat my previous PB by five. Happy. After this first hell day, I met my family for a meal and tried very hard not to tell everyone I’d done 258 burpees, 250 lunges, 300 climbers…
Day two: Atlas – 30:08 (PB, no star), Hera – 20:14 (PB, STAR!), Squat max – 140 (PB, STAR!)
First up, Atlas. It was a pretty hot day, but with three workouts to do there didn’t seem much point in waiting for it to cool down. I actually quite enjoy the Atlas workout. 2km run, 50 deep squats, 50 burpees, 50 froggers, 50 leg levers and 100 jumps. But it’s really bloody frustrating because I can’t do froggers in the proper way. Try as I might, I simply cannot get my feet all the way up to my hands. Annoying, but there we are. Hera was one of the workouts I did during the free (pre-coach) stage, and I was glad to knock a couple of minutes off my time. And finally, squat max. Not too much to say about it really. I was aiming for 150 and was on course until about three minutes into the workout. Unsurprisingly I started to tail off after that, but still, relatively happy with it.
After day two, I had the bliss of two rest days, which was nice because day three was a bit of a bitch.
Day three: Atlas – 28:26 (PB, no star), Ares – 08:38 (PB, no star), Hades – 28:12
I was a minute and a half quicker on Atlas this time, but felt absolutely drained in the later stages of the workout. Didn’t have a lot left, so rested up for a couple of hours before taking on Ares again. Another PB, albeit only by four seconds! By this point, and apologies for a little bit of plain talk, but I was fucking knackered. I really had to grind out the Hades, and didn’t enjoy it much. At all. In fact it was bloody awful. But that was it.
Hell week, if indeed this was a proper, bona-fide hell week, was finished. Of course it was physically tough but it’s also quite challenging in terms of when to do your workouts. I’m fortunate in that I work from home as a freelance web designer, but I’ve got two children and can’t just absent myself from family life! So it can be a bit inconvenient at times. But still doable. I haven’t yet had to do a workout at some ridiculous time of the morning or very late at night, but I will if necessary.
Since I hit the halfway point of the 15 week coach during week seven, my next post is going to be about my overall thoughts so far, and specifically from the perspective of an almost 40-year-old duffer.
My song for hell week is Outkast – So Fresh, So Clean. It came on when I was about halfway through Helios and it did two things. Firstly, it calmed me down a bit and let me just enjoy the movement (as much as that’s possible). Secondly, it made me smile because I can’t think of a less appropriate way to describe myself when I’m doing Freeletics. Still, I guess ‘So Sweaty, So Dirty’ doesn’t have quite the same effect. See you soon.