Did you think my 20,000-steps-a-day challenge was hard? Think again, because my inner guinea pig lit a fire inside of me and posed yet another challenge: exercise for a pretty darn extreme amount of time every single day, ALL high intensity workouts, and no days off until the week is over. OH FREAKING SNAP.
Fun fact: I actually exercised this much on the regular every single day when I first started my blog, but my workouts weren’t as high intensity–they mainly integrated more cardio such as Spinning, jogging, and calisthenics. For around four years or so in my high school, I took around four to five rest days a year. Most of these rest days were active rest days with lots of walking or Pilates. Looking back, I realized how excessively hardcore I exercised.
As my main source for workouts, I used various videos from FitnessBlender’s collection of workout demonstrations that include all kinds of types of exercises that cater towards different training styles, time durations, difficulty levels, and calories burned (though I don’t look at this number because it is far too challenging for me to determine a completely accurate amount of calories burned). Doing so truly aided the convenience of following a straightforward, concrete, and efficient routine in every video that I could follow easily and know how many rounds I needed to complete each video prior to my workouts.
Unfortunately, I did not screenshot any evidence of my completed workouts on my timer except for the last few days. All I have for proof are gym selfies post-sweaty-session. What is provided is each date in chronological order, a description of my workout, how I felt, and any other extra consequences from my exercise routine. I really hope they suffice because I aim to be as informative yet straight-forward as possible!
*Note that I did also exercise on Sunday right before this Monday. May or may not bias the results, but it’s critical to note.
- Today was a beautiful day where I woke up, walked to the gym, conquered, walked back, and enjoyed the rest of the holiday. I was totally ready to start the week off right with a HIIT workout. For food, I pretty much ate the exact same meals, quality and quantity-wise, but additionally, I did drink some CBD-infused kombucha, a couple of dates from the grocery store sample box, and a dark chocolate apricot habanero truffle from Mama Ganache. In regards to the rest of the day, it wasn’t too dreadful, but I recall my legs were absolutely dead-beat after my workout. It was marvelously rewarding, both physically and mentally. My workouts were exciting again and I love a good challenge.
- 16 minutes of jump rope (half before the video, half after the video)
- 80-minute FitnessBlender workout I found on YouTube (it’s a serious killer, but I LOVE it!)
- Wow, I did not realize how atrocious my fly-aways look in this photo! Who am I, trying to grow some bangs? Aside from that tangent, I felt amazing about myself otherwise and decided to wear my Anti Dairy Social Club tee to work my abs and legs with the usual jump rope warm-up and mixture of HIIT, plyometrics, cardio, and strength training mainly focused on my legs. Because I felt superb, I basically held nothing back, and OY VEY, I definitely endured the physical consequences afterwards. However, there was nothing new that I did not know how to react towards. For the first time in a very long while, I did not attend Krav Maga. My fatigue after my workout was far too overbearing and would have hindered the quality and enjoyment of taking the class. I definitely needed the early rest and relished in my sleep as much as I could.
- 16 minutes of jump rope (half before the workout, half after the HIIT and cardio portions)
- 48 minutes of this 14-15-minute FitnessBlender workout, 3 rounds completedThis took 48 minutes instead of 42-45 because sometimes the Wi-Fi would glitch on my phone and I’d end up continuing to workout even if the video was paused, plus sometimes I just needed an extra minute to take a break in a plank position or jog in place, not going to lie
- 30 minutes: strength training
- Similarly to Tuesday, I thought that challenging myself would be optimal for this week. Boy, was I wrong on so many levels. There was this HIIT workout that I hoped I could complete four times (what in the actual hell, Cassie?). However, I reached the brink of death by the time the second replay was over and knew I had to just cut it short and replace it with more weight training.
- 15 minutes of jump rope (half before the workout, half after the HIIT workout)
- 63 minutes of this 22 minute-FitnessBlender workout, 2 1/2 times completed
- 20 minutes: strength training
- Positive news? I did not have to workout right away because of my 7:40 A.M. class. Bad news? I still had to workout. It actually took me a long walk back to my apartment to lighten my backpack and then arrive to the gym to prime myself for extra time and motivation. Somewhat okay news? I had a class at 2 P.M. and I arrived to the gym at 11:30 A.M., so I could save weight lifting for the end of my class! Honestly, I could (and ideally would) still have persisted if I had the time, but the quality of my strength training would not have been optimized without proper breaks in between, because setting up your space in a gym and retrieving equipment can take quite some time! My workout went quite well because my routine included toe touch crunches and reverse lunges, which served as my easy active rests in between the dreaded burpees and after the whole shabang of challenging movements. I ended up completely skipping my Krav Maga workshop because again, I was far too exhausted to attend the class. Seriously, I knew I would have passed out by the end of the warm-up. Instead, I took a nice walk outside to town to enjoy a vegan chocolate donut, some oatmeal cookie dairy free Halo Top, and–you would never have guessed–a snowy moment in Central California!
- 60 minutes of this 24-minute FitnessBlender workout, 2 1/2 times completed
- 12 minutes of jump rope (half before the hour portion, half after the hour portion)
- 30 minutes: strength training
- Vegan chocolate donut, dairy free oatmeal cookie Halo Top, and a snowy day!
- Thank goodness it’s Friday, right?! It’s essentially my pre-game for the weekend! Onto my workout. I felt like a brutal kicker, so I scoured through FitnessBlender’s website and decided on another 1000 calorie workout. WHY. WHY WHY WHY. HOLY OW. As if my legs weren’t completely numb from the workout before, but low and behold, I did push myself with this one because I am a trooper who hates quitting. Worst of all, this workout was lower body focused, which is what my body wanted the last to do with. Friday was also the day of my friend’s birthday and I ended up walking around in the expo center of the beer festival–yes, you read that correctly, I went to a beer festival with all my friends, drank only high alcoholic kombucha, and I still probably acted like I got drunk because I was so happy. I would say I became the most tired around the evening…so tired and hungry from a beer festival that I ended up eating “hangover” food like vegetable noodles and dairy free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Let’s just say I made the STUPID STUPID decision to eat and drink late because I felt like crap once I went to sleep.
- 12 minutes of jump rope (half before the video, half after the video)
- 87 minute FitnessBlender workout, includes HIIT, weight training, and ab workout with a warm-up and cool-down
- Saturday was proven to be an extremely eventful, stressful, and crazy my-head-is-going-to-explode day. The Central Coast VegFest took place in the morning, so I ended up completing my HIIT portion of my workout, which took a whopping 66 minutes, in the comfort of my own bedroom. After showering and getting dressed (even bringing a skirt as a change of clothes), I completed the remainder of the workout in the gym, which included jump roping and weight training. By the end of even just the first round of the HIIT workout, I was absolutely wiped out. It took me an extra two minutes of full recuperation to progress into the next rounds, which were not any easier. The best part about the HIIT workout was completing all rounds, done and over with. It was refreshing to take a long walk to the gym before I finished the ab portion, jump rope, and strength-training part of the workout. Let’s just say I celebrated with a lot of food and water from the Central Coast VegFest! Unfortunately, I fell asleep feeling so incredibly sick–a hot face, a rapid heartbeat, and dreadful anxiety all over. I don’t know if my immune system suddenly gave out from being overworked constantly, but I did not want to over-think the issue because I knew my condition would worsen with panicking.
- 66 minutes of this vigorous FitnessBlender workout (lots of tuck jumps, mountain climbers, squats, jumping lunges, all the ugly moves)
- 12 minutes of abs
- 45 seconds of each, 15 seconds of rest:
- Plank with knee tucks
- Side oblique toe touch (left)
- Side oblique toe touch (right)
- Leg raises
- Toe touch crunch
- Shoulder tap plank
- TRX crunches
- TRX individual knee tucks
- V sit-up
- Bicycle crunches
- 45 seconds of each, 15 seconds of rest:
- 10 minutes of jump rope
- 20 minutes of strength-training FitnessBlender workout
- You did not want to see me roll out of bed and crawl from my apartment to the gym to exercise, but once I got there, I became so invigorated to workout because, well, it was my last one before the challenge was over and I could take my routine a lot more slowly…FINALLY! But anyhow, I figured I might as well attempt to end with a bang, thus I was thrilled to find this HIIT cardio and abs workout that was both intense but toning-focused. I ended up breaking a massive sweat after three rounds of this workout paired with jump roping and an upper body routine. Having said that, my sickness only improved marginally post-workout and I still needed to bundle up, drink lots of hot tea, and take everything else in an extremely mellow manner, not stressing myself out with work too much in the process.
- 16 minutes of jump roping (7 minutes before the first round of the lower body and abs workout, 7 minutes after the first round, and two minutes after the second round and before the upper body routine)
- 2 rounds of this 30-minute FitnessBlender workout (HIIT cardo and abs)
- 10 minutes of weight training
- Less incentive to make excuses. Going to the gym is already very well a habit of mine, but it was even stronger when I made a challenge out of working out. Challenges always incentivize me to exercise utmost discipline–when there is a will, there is no way I will allow the challenge to go incomplete. There was no more excuse to laze around. I made each fitness session work well into my busy schedule and mentally powered myself to accomplish my goals, which was so empowering.
- Experiencing endorphins for more time. Elle Woods once said: “exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy.” Nothing speaks more truth than this! For the most part, I loved my workouts the most during and after them because those times had the highest rate of endorphin delivery, which brought a lot of joy and achievement to my mood.
- Catharsis. Tailing on the endorphins, there is a massive sense of release of underlying stress and energies that were more draining and deprecating to myself than beneficial. Exercising has always served as my stress reliever, my therapy, and my coping mechanism. I found myself feeling less mentally and emotionally unstable with exercising more often since I physically released so much negative energy I held inside, subconsciously at least.
- More time to listen to music and podcasts. Lately, I have been adoring passing time to listen to music and podcasts to elevate the mood or gain value from a different subject, such as health, productivity, wellness, psychology, and lifestyle. They also made the workout go by quickly and served to distract myself from the agony of performing burpees and tuck jumps. Winning!
- Mental and physical accomplishment. Face it–you never truly regret any workout you complete, even if it’s unexpected and a small degree of pain (not the one worth a hospital trip) is exerted. The sweat, the elevated heart rate, and just seeing the timer showcase a completed workout never feels more splendid!
- Eating more food…and physically getting away with it. Because you know you’d enjoy this perk.
- Exhaustion. Every second of the day. Holy moly, if I was functioning at 20% on the 20,000 steps challenge, I was basically wiped out from this one. The bed became my favorite part of my whole apartment. Sitting became an in-class excitement, which is never the case for me. I would feel so tired that I couldn’t even bring myself to walk to the kitchen to fill up my water bottle. The workouts that I compiled were meant to burn 700-1000 calories in a session, which, let’s be totally real, I would have no idea if I even managed to pull those numbers off because my body was so fatigued that it gradually burned less. The more I exercised, the less I wanted to move in other aspects of my day.
- Sore muscles. While it’s normal to encounter sore muscles one or two days after a workout–maybe even skipping a day of soreness due to delayed muscle soreness onset–my muscle soreness lasted for almost the whole entire week. This also overlapped with my exhaustion since I never wanted to move even for the most minor actions.
- Joint pain. Mainly in my ankles, I definitely felt a constant aching when I’d walk, jump, run in place, or practice any explosive movement with my legs. Squats, lunges, and mountain climbers were perfect. Jump squats, jumping jacks, burpees, jumping lunges, and jump roping? KILL ME.
- Difficulty with time management. With already enduring a busy weekend, implementing more time to workout made nothing easier. Obviously, I sucked it up and made it work. There were times where I had to split my workouts in half and visit the gym twice. This isn’t an entirely horrible consequence, but I personally prefer finishing my workouts in one go.
- More laundry. Because you know, clothes get sweaty and you can’t re-wear disgustingly wet and smelly clothing. It’s super inconvenient to constantly look for more fitness attire to wear before running out.
- A weakened immune system. Yes, right after I completed this challenge, I got sick. Horrifically sick. The worst I ever experienced in years and years, and I despised this consequence the most. It was challenging to breathe because my sinuses were clogged, my throat was sore, my head experienced pain, and my heart rate reached 100 BPM (as told by a doctor that consulted me at our university’s health center) due to fending off the condition. I felt so insecure about a cut on my upper lip that I got from being dehydrated and sick that I wore a face mask for five days after the challenge. It was extremely embarrassing and I felt so ugly.
- I lost weight (in the beginning). Well, for many people beginning to workout, weight loss is a major upside. Since I’m currently not looking to bulk or cut, I felt somewhat indifferent to this consequence. Still, as addressed before, it’s nice to be able to enjoy several treats and not experience major water retention, because it genuinely doesn’t feel great.
- Sugary cravings. Nothing critically new, but when you’re constantly depleting your muscles from glycogen, then your carbohydrate storage is generally low. I found myself consistently looking around both in my apartment and off-campus in downtown SLO and in grocery stores for sweet samples. You have no idea how much food I consumed–vegan ice cream, cake, cookies, chocolate, and so much more.
- This actually is very detrimental if you’re trying to lose weight, because you can easily eat back all and more than the calories you burned in a workout.
- My mood did not change. I wasn’t a crankier, more grumpy person, but I also didn’t act like an angel after my workouts. Sometimes people have happier energies when they workout and other people are just massive Grinches. Personally, I base my mood off of other aspects of my life that aren’t related to exercise, but the endorphins do bring a sense of joy briefly while the exhaustion dampers my mood in the short-term.
Would I recommend doing this challenge? Truth of a matter is, I personally would not. You can definitely try training +90 minutes a day, but simply do not follow my exact footsteps in training HIIT and high intensity every day because it’s very taxing on your joints, muscles, and physiological systems. Ideally, you should take at least one rest day off, but you can easily make it active by incorporating yoga, a walk, or a slow bike ride into your day. Additionally, ensure that you’re training different parts of your body every single workout at different intensity levels if you do decide to train on the daily. There’s no reason to truly listen to your body, embrace the recovery period, and then kill it when the time feels perfect.