Last year, when my trainer told me about a new training program, but also told me right away that I had to take a week of vacation for it, I thought he was nuts. He said: “Listen, it is five consecutive days with two sessions each and in between sessions, I need you to go home, to eat enough and to sleep enough.” I was like: Why would I do this? He went on how Monday, Wednesday, Friday would be leg days and Tuesday, Thursday would be chest days, with the first and second sessions targeting different work capacities. At the end of his elaborations about the repeatedly documented success of the program from Wolfgang Unsöld, a German personal trainer, author and founder of the YPSI in Stuttgart, I had changed my mind. “Okay. I’ll check with my work. First week of January?”
It turned out to be the second week of January. The sessions themselves were intense but also the fact that preparing for and around them filled up the day completely. After the first day, a familiar routine had settled in, along a with the feeling of focus, simplicity, and joy that I knew very much from playing a world championship in hockey: Life is very peaceful when all you need to do is sleep, eat, train and repeat. While it is very tiring, exhausting and hard in one way, it is simple, relaxing and calming in another.
Monday night, on my way to the underground, I walked by my favorite cafe and thought: Friday, after the last workout, I’ll go and reward myself with cake. Till then, my goal was to eat as clean as I could. I put a lot of effort into cooking: Eating only real and unprocessed food, a lot of meat and fish, tons of vegetables, lots of protein and healthy carbs at night. No added sugar, no pasta, no cheese, no bread, no sausages.
My body was surprisingly clear and precise on how it wanted to be fed. Starting from day two, it required a lot more carbs and, generally, just A LOT OF FOOD. During the whole week, eating got me only to the state of just not hungry anymore. I never felt full. Mostly, I was slightly to seriously hungry. It was difficult to trust your body to give it that much food. I was scared of gaining unnecessary weight, but needless to say, I didn’t. Towards the end, my body started cravings. Like craving for… mustard. Or vinegar. Or tuna. Or eggs. (Or bacon. Oh. Bacon.)
Over the week, we squatted a lot. Back Squats. Quad Squats. Klokov Squats. Front Squats. In three days, a total of 185 squats. Adding up with leg curls and back extensions, it is a huge work load being put on the body. Also mentally, following the training plan with all it’s numbers like “7 sets of 2-4 repetitions each, 4410 tempo, 180s rest, 30% spread” is draining. Theoretically, the procedure is simple: You squat. You hit the timer. You reload the barbell. You write down your numbers. You wait till time is up and squat again. Practically, you really need to focus to get it right. The work load stressed me. It also made me struggle to sleep as my brain was constantly running numbers over and over again and I knew how early my next alarm would go off.
By Thursday afternoon, I was spent. Almost failing to take the right route back to the underground, I was walking around like a zombie. Not only my arms, my shoulders, my wrists, even my jaws were sore and hurting. When the exercises themselves weren’t hard enough, you could be sure having to do them with Fat Gripz was. It was the first time, I asked myself when this week was going to end. I got home at 5pm and did my usual routine: I walked into the apartment and turned on the rice cooker. I emptied my bag. I repacked my bag for tomorrow. I emptied my protein shaker and refilled it for tomorrow. I emptied the dishwasher and prepared dinner. I ate. I refilled the dishwasher and set everything up to cook coffee for tomorrow. By 7pm, I was done and went out like a light.
When my alarm set off at 3:15 am the next day, I felt rested, with a smile back on my face. And I have to say, making a bullet proof coffee as first thing in the morning makes up for whatever time your alarm goes off. Brew a good black filter coffee, add a table spoon of butter, a table spoon of MTC oil as well as a spoon of vanilla protein powder, blend it for few seconds, and here you go. It is sooo delicious (despite sounding really disgusting, yes, I know).
You would think that due to the high work load and little recovery, the numbers you squat or bench press will go down towards the end of the week. They don’t. Already Wednesday, I did a new 3RM, 2RM and 1RM during a back squat set (which was not designed to test the 1RM obviously.) On Friday, I did a new 2RM on front squats.
After two full days of recovery, we did the most joyful and satisfying testing session ever: My front squat 1RM went from 40 (going into the week) to 48.5 kg, my back squat from 50 to 55kg. My number of unbroken chin ups went from 2 to 3 and my weighted chin up from 2.5kg to 5kg. Also my bench press increased from 40 to 42.5kg. Within a single week, my lean body mass went up by 2kg and my body fat percentage went down by 1.3 percentage points. Within a week!
Looking back, I think this week is a really nice example for the life mantra of turning “Have To”s into “Get To”s –an effective strategy towards happiness&gratitude:
- I had to take vacation for this? No, I got to take vacation for an amazing experience.
- I had to train twice a day? No, I got to train twice a day.
- I had to get up crazy early as an alarm at 7 am meant sleeping in? No, I got to get up early to do what I love.
- I had to chop unbelievable amounts of vegetables and do dishes constantly? I got to eat clean and I got to cook everything myself.
- I had to endure pain, exhaustion and fatigue? I got the chance to grow a lot , to become stronger and to learn a lot.
Walking to the underground Friday night for the last time, I did not want that piece of cake any more. My body was excited about salad with tuna. Next time, I’ll do this program, the only thing I would change is investing more time beforehand into proper meal prepping. I would precook bowls of potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice and roasted vegetables to have them ready to go. I would also slice up more veggies and fruits and freeze them along with having a bigger variety of fish available.
Finally, a huge Thank You goes to my trainer for getting me into this, for buying me a kilogram of most delicious steaks beforehand and for doing the entire week together.
Trainer: Benedikt Ruhdorfer
Gym: Colloseum Body Care
Program: Strength & Mass Holiday Week
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