4 weeks in. 8 weeks to go. Today I’m sharing my thoughts so far on the Women’s Health Transform App with Alice Liveing.
If you wanna know more about the structure of the training app/programme, I got the chance to interview Alice recently on the podcast so give that episode a listen.
Before we look ahead to the next 8 weeks, let’s take a look at the past 4 weeks and how I’ve felt about Phase 1. I’m gonna summarise each point to make things easier for you to reference!
I’ve really felt the difference in my workout and how well my body moves
I really enjoyed the split of upper body, lower body and full body. It was completely different for me and so great to switch it up. I already feel stronger, I’m upping my weights almost every week, and I finish every workout feeling fatigued but not burnt out.
Phase 2 (and 3, I think) are 4 sessions, divided equally between upper and lower body ‘push’ and ‘pull’ muscles.
I’ve found I can get through most of the workouts in around 45-50 minutes, including a comprehensive warm up and quick cool down stretch at the end. I imagine the next phase will be hitting the hour mark with the conditioning finisher added on (more on that in a second).
The main workout structure goes roughly like this:
Dynamic warm up/foam rolling
Activation set with resistance bands
2 big compound exercises
A few supersets with more accessory work, including abs on some days
(Not included in the plan) but I always take 5 minutes to stretch at the end!
What drew me to the programme was the mobility work. I love Alice’s mobility videos on Instagram, so I was really looking forward to a structured way to do it weekly. I love that the pre-workout is a dynamic warm up and foam rolling. I’ve really felt the difference in my workout and how well my body moves, having opened up my hips, back, etc. beforehand.
Doing 5 sets of 5 squats will have you checking your laziness at the door
Activation is a game changer. I think part of upping my weights has come down to proper form, proper rest periods and activating the muscles beforehand so they’re worked even more. It took me a while to find the right resistance bands, but I use the heaviest one of these (black) for my lower body activation, and the lightest one of these (red) for my upper body activation.
The rest periods have been a real eye opener. Alice recommends 60-90 seconds rest between most sets. Having been addicted to HIIT in the past, it was so foreign to me to catch my breath for a good minute between lifts. But let me tell you, if you’ve picked the right weight you need it!
Doing 5 sets of 5 squats will have you checking your laziness at the door and loading that bar up with weight. Seeing as every workout begins with 2 big lifts, I’ve been shocked at how much I can lift/squat/row/push for 5 reps - there’s something psychological about a smaller rep range and a longer rest period that really pushes you to get as much weight up as you can.
Of course, the rest contributes to good form, which in turn means you’re getting stronger and stronger. Trust me, time your rest for the recommended amount and you’ll notice the benefit. A good playlist or podcast helps keep you entertained, or have a wander round the gym and go fill your water bottle.
The 15 minute conditioning session was a fun add-on that I did some weeks and not others. I like how the programme is structured in your weights sessions, but gives the flexibility of active rest days should you want them - yoga, long walks, something gentle that you fancy doing.
In Phase 2, the cardio is an optional 10 minute ‘finisher’ at the end of each workout.
Not gonna lie, the word finisher terrifies me. Some days I finish the leg workout and feel like I can barely walk upstairs to get my bag. An extra 10 minutes of kettlebell swings, box jumps and god knows what else is gonna be tough. But that’s the idea!
So I hope that’s cleared up some stuff for you if you were wondering what the app and training programme was like.
To summarise, here’s my advice and takeaways from my first 4 weeks…
♡ It’s no joke, be prepared to work your butt off.
♡ It’s really fun, rewarding and you’ll see a lot of strength and performance gains.
♡ Don’t skip the mobility and activation, it truly helps you have a better workout.
♡ Ease yourself in to the first few weeks. I usually train fasted but find sometimes I’ve needed a banana pre-workout or to go later in the day after a meal, because the intensity is that bit higher than my standard gym session.
♡ Likewise with the cardio - if you’re too sore in the first few weeks, go for a walk or do some yoga instead. Try and spread the workouts throughout the week as they recommend, that helps with recovery too.
♡ To get the most out of the workouts, you need to be eating, sleeping and resting sufficiently. It’s so important. If you’re running on a few hours sleep each night or crash dieting and cutting calories, you’re gonna really struggle. Self-care needs to be a priority - work hard, recover even harder! I’ve gone from doing random workouts 5-6 days a week, to being in the gym just 3 times a week. The work I do in those 3 sessions is more than enough to have me taking it easy and re-fuelling my bod for the rest of the week. Quality over quantity!