Five Parks Yoga: Power Vinyasa Flow

Yoga

Recently, I composed a post on the Meauxtion Facebook page centered around the topic of online video streaming and yoga.

To keep it short, I think they are match made in heaven.

Yoga is naturally a slow paced movement therapy, which makes it ideal for following along using a video stream.

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve identified several YouTube yoga channels that are really quite good, perfect for the home setting.

If you’ve got a yoga mat, a towel and some water nearby, you’re golden.

Here is a great Power Vinyasa Flow yoga class courtesy of Five Parks Yoga, enjoy:

 

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Here is the workout…

 

Cheers,

Kyle

Carpet Slide Push-Ups (with reach)

How-To, Motion

A pair of carpet slides is an essential tool for every home gym.

Carpet slides add a new training dimension to a boat load of exercises. Slides can be used with exercises like reverse lunges, lateral lunges, crawling drills, hamstring curls, core work, and in this particular case, push-ups.

Probably best of all, they’re incredibly economical at $2-$7 for a pack of 3-4 sliders.  How?  The carpet slides marketed for fitness purposes are dangerously close in design and functionality to the furniture sliders available at your local home improvement store.

In the past, carpet slides have received the most attention when incorporated with lower body training.  Think hamstring curls and reverse lunges.

But carpet slides are extremely useful for upper body training also.  Using slides to introduce new variations of push-ups can be refreshing, and brutally challenging.

Carpet slide push-up variations are amazingly challenging.  Not everyone is ready for the coveted single arm push-up, and for those of you that are, maybe you’re looking for a new variation.  Something you can integrate into a work capacity circuit or load up with a weight vest and grind it out.

This is it.

Progression-wise, the carpet slide push-up w/ reach exists somewhere between a traditional two-arm push-up and full-blown single arm push-ups.

Some (not all) of the load is from the moving hand does take on some loading during the exercise, although this can be limited by the exercisee.

Exercise Technique…

 

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  •  Begin in the top position of a push-up, hands centered on top of the sliders.
  •  Slowly lower yourself to the floor, hugging sliding the non-working arm out in front of your body.
  •  Keep the elbow of the working arm pulled into side body
  •  Pause briefly at the bottom, working elbow at 90 degrees.
  •  Press up and repeat on the other side, alternate for scheduled reps.

Workout Integration…

  •  Rep range:  6-12 reps per side with bodyweight, beyond than add more weight.
  •  Load:  Bodyweight until 12 reps are achieved, then add weight.
  •  Sets:  This depends on goals, 3-5 sets is plenty.
  •  Tempo:  Slow it down on the descent to the bottom, 3-5 seconds on the way down.
  •  Technique break down = rest

Where does this exercise belong?

The strategy of building fitness progressively from the ground up is awesome.  Your current fitness level and past training experience will determine how and where you place this exercise into a workout.

For some, this will be a strength training drill, you’ll need adequate rest after the set.  3 simple sets of 6-8 reps will leave you drained.  That is fine.  Beat on it for a few weeks, aim for improvement.  Expect to be sore through the chest and tender around the obliques in the coming days.

For others, the carpet slide push-up will provide a delightfully saucy challenge in a short burst metabolic training session.  I’ve worked it into a long circuit or kept it simple as part of a 3-exercise burner.

Here’s an example of where this exercise could live within a total body workout:

Alternating Split Squat Jumps x 8 each side

***Carpet Slide Push-Up (with forward reach) x 8 each side***

Airsquats x20 or Goblet Squats x8 (load up here)

Suspension Trainer Inverted Row x10 or 1-Arm Bent Rows x 8 each side

Own the exercise from top to bottom to top…

I have to admit I’ve seen several YouTube videos of carpet slide push-ups.  85-90% of the people in the videos are dropping into the bottom of the push-up too quickly.  More like falling into it.

Address the concept of OWNING the eccentric descent in this exercise.  Pause at the bottom, stay tighter than a pair of skinny jeans, contract and push up and out of it.

Again, slooooooowwww down, spend more time under tension and focus on remaining as rigid as possible.

At most, the descent into the bottom of the push-up should take 1-2 seconds, with NO bounce out of the bottom.  Pause at the bottom, hang out there.  Press out.  Strict.

Core training?  This is core training…

Without sounding like a physique zealot, because I’m not, this exercise provides an unbelievable stimulus to the core.  All without any bells and whistles, just basic rigid body position, technique, and gravity.

You won’t be able to execute as full extension carpet slide push-up without activating the torso aggressively.  It’s self-limiting.

To help make my point on how much core is involved with an exercise like this, drop down into a push-up position, raise one arm forward in full extension, while the other supports the body.

Stay in this position for time.  Just remain in that position without changing posture.

Too easy?  Inch the feet closer to together, narrow the base of support.  Any exercise can be made harder.

The challenge to the core during the carpet slide push-up with reach will be intense, felt from the hip flexors, through the torso, up to the collar-bone.

There will be a tremendous anti-rotation stimulus while supporting the body with one arm. Think about it for a second… the other half of the body wants to sag toward the floor (damn you gravity). Even with the sliding arm providing some assistance, your core will be lit up.

Maintaining a rigid body from head-to-heel is a must. Stay straight. Creating rigidity will require adequate tension through the mid-section.

Progression: Make it harder…

To increase the challenge, gradually lighten the hand contact of the sliding arm, which will lessen the amount of assistance from the sliding arm while increasing the load of the working arm.  Removing assistance from the sliding arm also drastically increases the amount anti-rotation stress as the exercise inches closer to a true single arm push-up.

Increasing the difficulty can be accomplished several ways, but the most honest approach would be to lessen the contact to just the fingertips.  Start with all five fingertips, progress to three fingers, two-fingers (thumb and pointer)… etc.

Before you know it, you’ll need a weight vest, at which point you’ll begin from the bottom rung of the progression once again, with palm firmly on the carpet slide.

Regression:  Make it easier…

To decrease the challenge, wrap a band around your torso and anchor the band to a point directly overhead.  The band will assist you during the hardest point of the exercise when you’ll need help the most.  For most, the hardest point will be the bottom of the push-up.

No carpet?  

Carpet slides work on hard surfaces also.  I’ve used them on hardwood and cement floors with great success.  Of course, this will limit the lifespan of the carpet slides, so if you’re going this route, purchase cheap slides at your local home improvement store.  A pack of carpet slides at Menard’s near me costs $2.99.  Cheap.

A suspension training set to the lowest possible height (without making contact with the floor) will also work.

The other option tools like the Ab DollyHAVYK Sliders, or a more budget friendly option like Core Coasters.  All have wheels which make them ideal tools for hard surfaces.  These options cost significantly more than the carpet slides, but you’ll find a plethora of uses for each, making them a worthy investment.

Early in the article, I suggestioned using furniture slides as a viable alternative to carpet slides designed for fitness.  There is a slight difference in my experience, being that fitness specific carpet slides typically have a much better integrity.  The manufacturers know that these are going to be used frequently, the design is more durable.

Here are some fitness carpet slides on Amazon.

No equipment at all?

Worst case scenario, I’ve done these push-ups without any tools period.  Doing so requires minimal weight on the sliding hand, but it works just the same.

User beware, going this route is intense.  There’s going to be way more friction on the floor  without a slide.  This is ok, just be aware that it might be too aggressive.

The end…

That’s all folks.  I’ve written too much already, way too much.

Give this baby a try.  Mix it in wherever you see fit.  Ask questions as you have them.

 

 

Kyle

 

 

 

Workout Finisher: Kettlebell Swings + Ascending Burpees

10 minute Workouts

Today’s workout finisher is retro-style, but remains one of the most difficult finishers I’ve ever come across.  If I recall correctly, this finisher could be one of the first end-of-the-workout challenges I ever attempted, back when the only equipment I owned was a couple of kettlebells.

It’s a potent mixture of two exercises:  kettlebell swings and burpees.  

Burpees have been making headlines frequently over the last 5 years or so, and for good reason.  A well executed set of burpees can pure magic for conditioning, fat loss or entrance to heaven.

Here are the details of the workout finisher:

Equipment needed: kettlebell (sub-max weight that can be swung for 15+ reps)
Time required: 8 minutes or less
Exercises: 2 (kettlebell swings, burpees)
Rest: None (continuous work until finished, rest as needed to maintain technique)
Total Rounds/Reps: 10 rounds/ 100 kettlebell swings, 55 burpees

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*** Note:  The workout is finish after round 10, which will have you doing 10 kettlebell swings and 10 burpees.  The above snapshot misleads a bit, only showing 5 rounds and burpees up to 5 repetitions.  The end point is 10 rounds.

For kettlebell weight, choose something you can swing for 15 reps with ease.  For males, 24 kg (53lb) will feel light in the beginning and torturous toward the end.  For females, 16kg (35lbs) may feel the same.

Feel free to keep a lighter kettlebell nearby if you need to decrease weight.  There is no shame in dropping down in weight if you need to.

This workout finisher will leave you gasping, and also degrade your kettlebell swing technique faster than hell.  When swinging a kettlebell while under high fatigue, you must proceed with caution.  It is your duty to monitor your technique during this challenge.

To train smart, rest when you feel fatigue start to overpower technique.  Just like any other exercise, it’s possible to predict when the next swing is going to be below average.  You can sense the slop coming from rep to rep.  The reaction time is decreased, but you can feel it.

Below average technique with kettlebell swings can wreck your body.

I’m an advocate for pushing the limits against fatigue, with boundaries.  Fatigue is a well-known exercise technique killer.  A body exerting in sub-par positions can result in injury.

Personally, I advocate shutting down the work-set until energy is restored.  Some people will not agree.

My guide is a simple question:  Is resting 30 seconds worth saving yourself from exercise related back or shoulder surgery?

For me, it is.  For you, it may not be.  Know thyself.

Cautions given, get after this workout finisher and let me know how you did.

 

KG

 

 

Workout Finisher: 250-meter Row + Burpee + Overhead Slams

10 minute Workouts, Workout Finisher

I whipped up this potent workout finisher to end my training session on a high note yesterday, and it turned out to be fantastic.  Workout finishers provide a fresh take on traditional cardio training without the nauseating time commitment (aerobic) and a nudge to burn body fat.

Prior to the workout finisher, I had spent roughly 30 minutes time pounding away on some controlled strength training:  single-leg deadlifts, unsupported pistol squats, kettlebell over-head presses and weighted inverted rows.

Leading up to the workout finisher, it was these 4 simple strength exercises to address everything:  upper body push, lower body hinge/pull, upper body pull, lower body push.

Since tweaking my back, I’ve made a dedicated (and difficult) effort to address core control and rebuild my hips, which is why I’ve been hammering away on slow, controlled strength training.

Admittedly, it is difficult to ween off of the metabolic style training sessions and into strict reps coupled with even more strict rest periods.  It’s probably how a NASCAR driver feels driving 30mph around town in a Prius after hardcore racing at the Daytona 500.

To be honest, I had no intention to include anything more than my strength training.  My last set of pistol squats found me wanting a challenge, so why the hell not?

Here are the details of this workout finisher…

  • Equipment needed: slam ballrowing machine
  • Time required:  10 minutes or less
  • Exercises:  2 (“burpee + over head slams” are counted as one exercise)
  • Rest:  None (continuous work until finished, rest as needed for technique)
  • Total Rounds:  4 

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What?! That’s it?!

Yes, keep it simple here.  Cycle back and forth between the 250-meter row and burpee+over head slams for a total of 4 rounds.  Do not stop until you’re finished.

Each burpee will be completed as a 3/4 burpee, with no push-up at the bottom.  Adding the push-up would disrupt the flow because the slam ball would be positioned too far in front of the feet.

Instead, you’ll lower your hands to the floor, kick the feet back into the top of the push-up position, then quickly snap the legs back underneath to the bent knee athletic position (similar to the start position of a deadlift).  From this position you’ll lift the slam ball from  the floor to a fully extended overhead position and slam.

Again picking the slam ball off of the floor, do so with the same technique that you’d use to deadlift or clean a barbell.  Keep the slam ball close to your body on the way up.

In all, you’ll be rowing 1000 meters and completing 40 burpees and 40 slams.

Unplanned efforts have their place.  Not everything in a workout, or in life, needs to be by the planned and by the book.  Breaking free, going for it when your body has the energy to do so is liberating.

Planned for 8 reps but able to get 10 reps?  Go for it.  Cardio not originally part of the day’s workout?  Go for it.  Not scheduled to workout today but feeling awesome?  Go for it.

Know thyself.

 

Give this workout finisher try, let me know what you think…

 

Kyle

 

 

Air Bike Workouts: The 5-Mile Ride for Time

Airbike Workouts

The 5-mile ride for time…

… aka:  “The 5-mil’er”…

… is a middle distance cardio masterpiece.

Because it’s an air bike workout, it’s also low-impact yet high fatigue.

The 5-mile ride for time is ideal for the individual who’s looking for a time efficient, simple yet difficult cardio challenge.  The average time to finish this workout will be anywhere from 11-15 minutes.

5-Mile How-to…

The instructions for the 5-mile ride are simple:  ride 5 miles as quickly as possible.

No, I am not being a smart ass.

Hop on the bike and cover 5-miles as fast as you can.  Record your time so you can monitor progress and identify the time to beat for the next ride.  If you can self-motivate, tracking your numbers will give you massive fuel for future attempts.

I’ve seen plenty of recorded times using the large fan Schwinn Airdyne, but much less using the Assault Bike or the Xebex Airbike, both of which are vastly superior to the older model Airdynes.

Over the years, I’ve been unable to find a log of best 5-mile air bike times on the internet.  I’ve seen private gyms and colleges post times, but not the general public.

It’s a little surprising considering how valuable this workout is for measuring aerobic capacity in athletes and average folks alike.

Now, I was able to locate several of 5 -mile air bike rides on YouTube, but to be honest, watching someone ride a bike for 12 minutes is boring.  I just want to know the times and have visual verification of the computer monitor upon completion (for proof).

Strategies to win the 5-Mile Ride…

Briefly, your best 5-mile time will probably be proportionate to the following:

  •  Increase in fitness levels (strength, power, endurance, etc)
  •  Willingness to be uncomfortable for an extended period of time (guts).
  •  Strategizing pace for 80-85% of the ride, sprinting the remaining distance.

Unlike a lot of popular air bike workouts, the 5-mile ride requires a bit of strategy.

Don’t sprint too early.  If you come out of the gates too hard, you’ll hit the wall and have nothing left to give as you near the end.  I’ve done this plenty of times.  The mental chatter gets louder and louder if you push too hard, so much so that it often convinces you to back off so much that it affects your finishing time drastically.

Don’t save it all for the end.  If you save most of your effort for the end, you’re likely lose valuable seconds in the beginning and middle, which you might not be able to make up at the end.

Pace yourself with RPM’s and heart rate.  When I’ve tested myself on the 5-mil’er, I monitor my heart rate (beats per minute) and RPM’s closely to gauge my effort.  I try to limit any tunnel vision on mileage and time in the beginning, because the mileage never moves fast enough and the time drags on.

Mentally, obsessing where you’re at distance-wise can be awfully defeating, so I avoid checking it until the middle to back-end of the workout.  The beginning and middle of the ride is a time for pacing and breathing.

When the monitor reaches the 3.5 mile mark, it’s go time.  All out until the end.

It hasn’t always been this way.  I used to kick it into gear around the 4.3-4.5 mile mark.  The point at which you drop the hammer and go for it

Use your arms.  The legs have a far greater capacity to do work, but the arms can take on some of the workload.  The dual action arms are attached to the bike for reason, use them to your advantage.  Push and pull, push and pull.

Lift your legs.  Resting your legs on the pedals creates more resistance for the working leg. Actively pull your knee up to help the pedals turnover.

Sidenote:  I recommend maintaining upright posture, chest facing forward, butt slid back on the seat.  Take in as much oxygen as possible while riding.  Hunching over restricts breathing and doesn’t do anything for anyone.  Your body will try to convince you slump (taking the path of least resistance) as you get tired, but fight it, stay upright.

What’s a good time?…

A good time for a 5-mile ride is right around 12 minutes, maybe +/- 30 seconds.

Finishing in 11 minutes or less can be done, but you’re going to be giving it hard to achieve that.

In my last attempt, I finished at 11:26 min/sec.

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Shaving a few seconds off of your best time is a lot harder than it may seem.

Air bikes are magic…

I have friends that rip on my love affair with the air bike, but it really is one of the best pieces of cardio building fitness equipment out there.

The proof is in the pudding with air bikes.  The harder you exert, the harder it gets.  It’s awful at higher intensities.  Air bikes have no learning curve, no impact and an extremely high training effect, making it ideal for fat loss,

Riding 5-miles for time is short enough to keep you interested, but long enough to initiate the “I want to quit this right now” thought pattern.

Goofy as it may seem, building an unshakeable attitude toward pushing through physical stress will spill over into all areas of your life.

Not giving up is an attitude, and it’s free.

Next steps… I need your help…

Here’s my request…

If you decide to test yourself with the 5-mil’er, come back and record your time on Meauxtion.com, either in the comments section or on the Meauxtion Facebook Page, Meauxtionfit on Instagram, whatever.

*** If you choose to submit your time, please take a snap shot of the computer monitor immediately after finishing.  We need proof.  No cheaters allowed.

The original mission of writing this post was (and still is) to establish an online logbook of best times for the 5-mile ride using the Lifecore Assault Bike, Schwinn Airdyne or Xebex Airbike.

I have not been able to locate a list of best times, similar to what Concept 2 does with popular Skierg and Rowing Erg distances.

Note:  If you’re riding the 5-mile using the Schwinn Airdyne, please make sure it is the large fan version, not the small fan. Large fan bikes provide more air resistance.  One more consideration for Schwinn Airdyne users… it’s been reviewed by many that the newer generation bikes (Assault Airbike, Xebex Airbike) have an increased level of resistance.

I cannot yet quantify how much harder the Assault bike is over the Airdyne, but I’ve read some people speculate there is up to 40% more resistance with the Assault and Xebex bikes.  I previously owned a large fan Schwinn Airdyne before transitioning to the Lifecore Assault Airbike, and I can say that the Assault bike is a much more challenging bike to ride.

Just something to think about.

Assuming this article can draw enough visitors who are willing to share times, we can start to compile the data and create percentiles, competition, baselines, etc.

Just in case you’re wondering, there is no bad time for the 5-mile, so please take a chance, get vulnerable, submit your time!

If you’ve got the courage to get on and give it your best, that is absolutely what matters most. I salute that effort.

 

Cheers to the 5-mile ride for time,

 

Kyle

 

Black Friday 2016 Fitness Deals: Rogue, Amazon, Get RXd and DragonDoor

Motion

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are ideal time to take advantage of steam discounts on fitness equipment.

Dumbbells, barbells, air bikes, rowers, medicine balls, kettlebells, and on and on…

… are all discounted heavily during the days leading up to Black Friday, all of the way through Cyber Monday.

Most of these items are on temporary sales AND given either free shipping or huge discounts on shipping costs.

Remember, fitness equipment (bikes, rowers, weight, etc) is rarely light or easy to pack and ship.  A lot of shipping companies calibrate shipping fees based on weight, so… if a company is offering $5 flat shipping (as RogueFitness is right now), you better jump on it right now.

It’s common to pay $100 for a kettlebell, and also $100 of shipping on that same kettlebell.  That is money that you need not spend, especially with the deals that are going on this time of year.

Here are several companies that are offering incredible deals on right now, or through Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

 

Rogue Fitness

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In a few short years, Rogue Fitness has gone from niche CrossFit equipment supplier, to a premiere fitness equipment company.  The intelligence in design, quality and the speed of innovation make Rogue Fitness a great option for gym equipment and accessories.

Although they are updating their website constantly with new deals, right now the most notable is the 5 items for $5 shipping.  So, you’ll get a deal on the item you purchase, plus only pay $5 for shipping on all 5 items.

Steal.

Head over to RogueFitness.com for the deals.

Amazon

No Black Friday post would be complete without including mega online retailer, Amazon.  While the deals on fitness products can be a littler harder to spot because of the massive catalog of products that Amazon sells, they are there if you look around.

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Keep a close watch on Amazon this holiday shopping season.

Right now, the Lifecore Air Assault Bike is discounted to $799 + Prime Shipping.  This bike is normally $999 on every website, and rarely is shipping included.  Not to mention 2-day free shipping through Amazon Prime.

I noticed several other discounts on weight vests, jump ropes and slam medicine balls also.

 

Get RXd

Get RXd has two incredible products, the Xebex Airbike and Xebex Rower.  If you’ve been looking for alternatives to the LifeCore Assault Bike or the Concept 2 Rower, these are definitely it, without compromise.

Here’s a snapshot of the Get RXd homepage:

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Both Xebex products, the Air Bike and the Rower, are currently on sale for $599 (40% off).  This is a steal.  If you have the funds, I would suggest pulling the trigger.

Also included in the above snapshot is Get RXd version of the “home gym package”.  Having outfitted a home gym piece by piece over the years, I can tell you that it can be a slow, sometimes frustrating process.

If you’re starting from ground zero, go for the package and get most everything you need in one transaction.

 

DragonDoor

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DragonDoor is a niche functional training company, originally making a name for itself with some of the best kettlebells on the market, kettlebell and bodyweight training guides, along with other unique training equipment.

Over the years, they have built a comprehensive offering of bodyweight and kettlebell programs in collaboration with some of the top fitness experts around the world.

A truly reputable company with some quality products.

Stock up!

This is one of only a couple of times a year that you are going to see massive discounts on fitness equipment and other active gear.  For the reasons listed above, I highly recommend stocking up on anything you’ve been looking at but haven’t purchased.  I sure will be!

Leave comments below on items you scored great deals on!

 

 

Kyle

 

 

 

 

Bodyweight Training Programs

Motion

Intelligently designed bodyweight strength and conditioning programs can turn a beginner into an absolute machine with little to no previous workout experience.  The same programs can humble the elite who have a perception that bodyweight exercise has relevance to their situation.

I’ll come clean.  It wasn’t that long ago that I believed bodyweight exercise could have zero impact to my own training.  I’ve been designing my workouts for the last 10+ years or so, and I was completely wrong.  It’s easy to evolve to have tunnel vision with fitness.  You get used to doing things a certain way, and you discard anything that doesn’t parallel “that way”.

It’s why I support all forms of fitness and do my best to avoid being a zealot.

Bodyweight training, similar to more traditional externally loaded resistance training (barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc) is all about leveraging the principles of progression.

If you stay disciplined to practicing the progressions, you’ll make incredible gains in a short amount of time.

From my experience, the most profound improvements can be made by adjusting any one (or several at once) of the following training variables:

  • Time under tension
  • Movement complexity
  • Stable transition to unstable (example: using 1 arm or 1 leg instead of 2 arms or 2 legs)
  • Increase reps, sets, rounds
  • Decrease rest periods
  • Single plane exercises into multi-plane exercises
  • Rotation

Coaches who are designing the best programs know that leveraging continuous exercise progression is the key to getting client’s the results they want.

I say again:  smart progression and the willingness to continue to go outside of your comfort zone is what gets results.

While I feel that my own program design is solid, I do borrow ideas from programs and other coaches.  Borrow and tweak, but always give credit where credit it due.  That’s my philosophy.

So here we go.  Below are some timeless programs, and also some of the hottest bodyweight-only training programs on the market today.

The best part?  Once you have the program you’re good to go… no equipment necessary.

The Naked Warrior (Pavel Psatsouline/DragonDoor paperback)

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The Naked Warrior was my first exposure to next level bodyweight strength training.  It changed the way I viewed strength forever.  After adding a healthy dose of pistols, dive-bombers and 1-arm push-up progressions to my training regimen, I had never been stronger.

Pavel Psatsouline is the godfather of modern-day kettlebell training, but he is also an accomplished military and sport performance instructor.  He can be credited for making advanced bodyweight training mainstream and also for sparking the kettlebell revolution in the Western Hemisphere.

 

TacFit Commando (Scott Sonnon/RMAX)

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The design of my personal bodyweight workouts involve a ton of exercise variations cherry-picked from Scott Sonnon’s TacFit Commando training system.

TacFit acknowledges the need for improving ROTATIONAL performance and addresses it with a lot of really unique drills.  Rotation is rarely addressed by the fitness industry and often under-developed in a lot of people.  Building rotational power and the ability to resist rotational forces is important for athletic endeavors and the demands of everyday life.

Improving rotational power can be a game-changer for weekend warriors, particularly those who enjoy playing golf, tennis, hockey or softball.

TacFit training systems are a melting pot of many training methods, which Scott collected and organized into a comprehensive program.

The attention to detail extends beyond smart exercise progression and into tactics for recovering from exertion and joint mobility, which again, is rarely discussed in most training programs.  Doing the work at a high level is one thing, but more important is the ability to recover as quickly as possible from work bout to work bout.

TacFit addresses these lesser known concepts brilliantly.

Scott Sonnon is an accomplished martial arts athlete turned military and sports performance coach.  He specializes in training the tactical sector (firefighters, law enforcement, military special forces, etc).

 

C-Mass (Paul Wade/DragonDoor e-book)

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C-Mass is a bodyweight program for those who are interested in building a physique using nothing but the weight of their body.  The exercise progressions in C-Mass are not for the faint of heart, but anyone who’s pursued building muscle aggressively knows that uncommon result require uncommon efforts.

I highly recommend this book for those interested in taking their training to the next level, all without touching a weight.

 

Pushing the Limits! (Al Kavadlo/DragonDoor e-book)

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Just like Pavel Psatsouline is the godfather of kettelbells, Al Kavadlo can be pegged as the modern-day guru of bodyweight training.

Where Paul Wade’s C-Mass may be more appropriate for the advanced trainee, “Pushing the Limits” is packed full of exercise progressions to serve anyone.  Personally, I’ve beat on Al’s 1-arm push up progressions to improve my pressing strength (and as a byproduct my core stability) well beyond what I thought was possible.

Whether you’re looking for clever bodyweight exercises to add to your current iron regimen or a guide to move you passed road that “The Naked Warrior” paved, this book is for you.

 

Street Workout (Al Kavadlo and Danny Kavadlo/DragonDoor e-book)

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“Street Workout is an incredibly comprehensive collection of calisthenics concepts, exercises and programs.”

I’d consider this an equally comprehensive resource as TacFit, with unique bodyweight variations, tips and pearls for building to the next level.

Al and Danny are world-class calisthenic coaches that share a ton of tips and techniques in this book. You’ll be busy for some time with this one.

No matter…

…what methods you’re currently leveraging for workouts, it is important to know that you always have options.

Bodyweight strength and conditioning is a tool in your training tool bag.  Use it when needed, inject some difficult bodyweight exercises into your workouts, use them as a baseline for improvement.

Where can you progress?  What should you regress and tweak to make the next jump?

Establishing an awareness of training options will keep your workouts fresh while avoiding that common cluelessness that many people have when the training space isn’t big enough, time is limited or equipment isn’t what they are accustomed to.

Bodyweight training is adaptive training, but it is also human performance enhancement training in its rawest form.

Bodyweight training strategies are an ace up your sleeve, always.  Play it whenever you need to, and be confident that the workout is going to be HIGHLY EFFECTIVE.

 

Kyle

 

Ass Kicking 250-Meter Rowing Workouts

Motion
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Photo Credit:  Amazon.com

The rowing machine (aka: rowing ergometer or “erg”) is a tortuous piece of cardio equipment, and the 250-meter interval is a perfect distance for high intensity interval training.

The rowing ergometer elicits almost zero impact to the joints. Personally, I feel that more people need time away from the joint impact.  Every single time I row during a workout, I am reminded of how demanding an exercise it really is.  I’ve never climbed off of the rower feeling like I dominated it, it gets me every single time.

Rowing is dangerously close to being a total body mode of exercise, making it a near perfect piece of equipment for stripping fat and improving cardio performance.  More muscles doing a large amount of work in less time, means good things for reducing body-fat.

Despite best efforts, a large majority of the world still obsesses over chest building upper body pressing exercises.  Rowing places a heavy emphasis on upper body horizontal pulling (think elbows pulling backward along the rib cage), making it a small, yet viable solution to offset all of that pressing.

Anyways, enough with the chit-chat.

Here are three short-burst interval workouts you should dive into ASAP, all incorporating a rowing distance of 250-meters:

Row Workout #1: 250-meter interval

250-meter repeats 

*Repeat for 8-12 rounds, rest for 1:1 (work to rest) or a flat 60 seconds before starting the next interval.

Using the 1:1 work to rest ratio, a 45 second work bout will buy you 45 seconds of rest.  1:1 work to rest ratios can often be too aggressive in the later rounds.

This workout is brilliant when used as a cardio finisher after a resistance training session.  I suggest integrating rowing workouts on days where deadlifts, kettlebell swings or any other low back stress has been avoided.  Rowing does stress the lower back (nothing extreme but it is involved) and taking small precautions against unnecessary strains is smart.

My opinion of course.

A 10 round workout will take roughly 15 minutes, more than enough time to get a great cardio training effect.

Workout #2:  Bodyweight Exercise + 250-meter Row 

15 Push Ups

15 Bodyweight Squats or 6 R/L Alternating Assisted Pistol Squats

250-meter row

* Repeat for 8-10 rounds, rest 60 seconds (advanced) or 75 seconds 

Pairing a short, intense row with bodyweight exercise makes for an incredibly dynamic workout.  Remember, more muscles stimulated and more work being done equates to a higher training effect.

Performing push-ups and bodyweight squats will pre-fatigue your body for the row.

Depending on fitness level, you can tweak the reps for the push-ups and the squats.

Decrease the reps if need be, because the goal is to make it through all 8 rounds.

If you need more, progress the push-ups to weighted push-ups or modified single arm.  Switch bodyweight squats in favor of weighted squats, assisted single leg or free-standing pistol squats.

Let exercise technique guide your exercise selection, and if it’s manageable, its green light all the way.

*Limit or eliminate any upper body pulling exercises (horizontal in particular), as the rower will fill in the pulling gaps, and tread lightly with hip/low-back stress inducing exercises like deadlifts or kettlebell swings.  As I mentioned earlier, rowing stresses the lower back plenty.

Workout #3:  250-meters + diminishing rest periods

Interval #1:  Row 250-meters, rest 60 seconds

Interval #2:  Row 250-meters, rest 55 seconds

Interval #3:  Row 250-meters, rest 50 seconds

Interval #4:  Row 250-meters, rest 45 seconds

Interval #5:  Row 250-meters, rest 40 seconds

* Repeat workout for 2 full rounds (10 total intervals)

Why 250-meters?

Isn’t it too short?  No, absolutely not.  Done one time, yes, it’s way too short.  But spread across 8+ rounds, the training effect is perfect.

Plain and simple, the 250-meter distance gives a person the chance to row all out. Posture and technique can remain top focus during shorter distances, which means that power output per stroke and stroke rate can be maximized. Repeated effort interval training works extremely well when rowing distances shorter than 500-meters.

There is no need to pace a 250.  It should be a full sprint.

Pretty generalized here, but a quick 250-meter time will take most people 40-50 seconds (a 500-meter time cut in half).  Some may scoff that 250-meters is too short, but in my personal opinion, 45-50 seconds of high intensity effort is more than sufficient.

50 seconds is a long time to be exerting at a high level, using any mode of exercise (biking, rowing, sprinting, etc).

Also, not every workout needs to be the one to end them all.  Fitness is stuck in this weird mentality vortex where every trainer and organization thinks they need to create a more extreme workout than the last one or the next guy.  It’s just not necessary.  Be intelligent about your workout practice.

Workouts can be hard and smart at the same time.

I am happy to encourage people to bust out of their intensity comfort zones, but do it while thinking it through with common sense.  Make consistent, measurable progress the number one goal, however you achieve that.

Smart interval training workouts can and should make you tired, eventually.  But a smart interval workout should not beat you to a pulp after the first few rounds, leaving you too tired to give any effort in the later rounds.  Accumulating some volume still matters during an interval training session.

Interval training repeated effort training.  It’s a highly structured, controlled cardio tactic that elite athletes have been using for decades.  What’s great for the rest of us, is that interval training is also best practice for burning fat.  Pretty cool.

The key for managing your 250-meter intervals is respecting the number of rounds you’re going to work through during the workout.  During the work bouts, give it all you have, get out of your comfort zone and do the work.  Be aggressive.  During the rest periods, practice mindful rest.  You’re eyeballs might want to jump out of their sockets, lungs on fire, but calm your mind, slow your breath and get your heart rate to follow suit.

Effective interval training teaches a person how to handle the rest periods as much as how to tolerate the stress of the work bouts.

Ideally, power output and pace will not experience a drastic dip during a well-structured interval training workout.  Especially if the distance being rowed is 250-meters, which allows a person to maintain a high power output and stroke rate.

Sure, row time may slow down slightly as the workout progresses, but that is a predictable response to fatigue, which should improve as you stay consistent with your training sessions.  Fatigue is a performance killer for beginners and elite alike.

Across the upcoming weeks and months, keep a close eye on your rowing times and how fast you’re recovering in between bouts.

Here are some benefits of interval training pulled straight from the Concept2 website:

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Photo/Information Credit:  Concept2.com

No discussion about longer rowing distances?  That’s for another post.

I’ve got nothing against rowing the classic distances: 500 meters, 1,000 meters or 2,000.  Those are time-honored, challenging distances that serve as valuable benchmarks for measuring improvement in performance.  But man, one of the worst experiences in my life was the 2,000 meter test.  Yuck.

 Give these workouts a try…

…don’t over think it.  The point of rowing shorter distances is to give an increased effort during the work bouts, recover hard, rinse and repeat.

If you don’t yet own a rower or you’re on the fence about it, I cannot recommend them enough.  Rowing is a world-class workout, no matter the distance or time.

I know it’s a big-ticket purchase for a lot of people, I get it.  My wife wasn’t exactly thrilled when my rower was delivered to the doorstep.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can now purchase the world’s greatest rower (I’m dead serious), the Concept2 Model D with PM5 (performance monitor 5) for $945 and free 2-day shipping.  Incredible.

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I’m not suggesting that you should base all buying decisions on Amazon’s customer reviews, but 1,025 consecutive 5-star reviews is mind-blowing for a product of any kind.

A quality rower is a great investment, I wouldn’t recommend any rowing machine outside of Concept2 except for Xebex Heavy Duty Rower.

If you’ve got any questions about the Concept2 Model D w/ PM5, message me privately and I can give you my experience as a rowing machine owner.

The Swinging Plank

Quick Tips

The Swinging Plank is a brilliant hybrid exercise designed by Scott Sonnon, founder of TacFit training systems. The movement will put your upper body strength, endurance and multi-planar core strength and stability to the test.

If you’re looking for a non-traditional movement challenge, this is it!  hat will burn out your core and arms, the swinging plank will deliver, even at low rep ranges.

The swinging plank is a tough motion that pays high dividends in a short amount of time.

For the last several months, I have beating on this exercise (and it’s variations) hard.  Even today, I’m still impressed by how much energy it takes to complete mild rep schemes.

Technical bodyweight movements like this will get you functionally strong in a hurry without much bulk, which is great for someone who want’s to function the way they look.

Bodyweight control…

Those of you who’ve been loyal to traditional forms of resistance training will find ground-based bodyweight exercise to be an incredible supplement workouts.

The swinging plank embodies current fitness trends: the shift away from structured exercise and into exploring integrated movement training.

And its not that traditional exercise is bad, it’s not, it has its place and will always have it’s place.  The idea is that at some point, the body and mind crave freedom of movement, beyond what adding more weight, reps, sets can offer us.

Patterns like high and low crawling, narrow surface balancing and hanging exist.

Ground-based exercises that require full bodyweight support (hands and feet in contact on the ground) are fantastic for building functional strength, or in some cases where injury is present, a gentle re-introduction to loading.

By movement design, the swinging plank elicits a minimal amount of stress to the lower body, making it ideal for non-competing circuits or training days where the lower body needs a break from exertion.

However, execution of the exercise will require adequate mobility in the hips, knees and ankles, so if you’re extremely restricted, free up those joints first.  One look at this drill and you can see that lower body joint mobility is a pre-requisite for proper technique.

A fusion of exercises…

Elements of yoga and familiar bodyweight exercise fuse to create the swinging plank.

The static plank, chaturanga, push-up, dive-bomber and crawling all merge to form the swinging plank exercise.

At the midway point of the drill, you’ll find yourself in chaturanga (Four-Limb Staff Pose), one of yoga’s asanas (“postures”).  In chaturanga, the body is gracefully lowered toward to the floor, stopping where the elbows reach 90 degrees and tucked into the ribs, core fully activated.

 

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Chaturanga

 

Pressing back and out of chaturanga feels a lot like a push-up or a dive-bomber.  Dive-bombers are a real shoulder burner when performed strict.  Because the movement is backward and not straight up, it’s hard to relate the stress as being identical to a push-up.

Now, what you came here for…

How to do The Swinging Plank

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1. Start with weight on the balls of your feet (knees and hips flexed into a squat position) hands extended out in front of the shoulders with palms placed firmly on the ground, eyes gazing between the hands or slightly in front of the hands.

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2.  In a front to back motion, lunge your body forward out in between the hands, keeping the elbows against the rib cage, body rigid and low to the ground.

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3.  Rotate the chest and torso over the hands and onto to the opposite side, pressing with the arms and pulling slightly with the legs back into the starting position (#1), now facing the other side.

In full frame, here is TacFit Commando creator Scott Sonnon demonstrating the swing plank…

The starting position of the swing plank looks a lot the start position of a bear crawl, except in the swing plank, the shoulders are situated just behind the hands verses over the top of the hands.

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Start position of a bear crawl.

I’ve found that using this prone table top position (picture above) is a great way to get hand/foot spacing correct.

Technique tips continued…

Technique-wise, it’s important to force the hips into full extension.  Create a straight line from heels to the crown of the head.

Core should stay “soft” yet active to control body position.  Avoid over-tensioning or you’ll be too stiff to flow through the movement.

*** To avoid hand slippage, place the hands on a surface that gives you a good grip. On the way out and back in, you’re not going to be over the top of your hands like you would be during a push-up. Rubber gym matting, grass, a quality yoga mat with some stickiness or a a grittier surface like concrete all work well.

 

Swing Plank exercise progression…

If you’re quite not ready for the swing plank or maybe you’re looking for a soft progression to get there, here are some drills to work through (in order from top to bottom):

  • 1. Static Prone Plank (Hold for 40 seconds or longer)
  • 2. Static Lateral Plank (Hold for 30 seconds or longer each side)
  • 3. Rotational Dynamic Plank Variations (see here)
  • 4. Bodyweight Push-Ups (15-20 reps)
  • 5.  Dive-Bombers (eccentric and concentric phases, 8-10 reps)
  • 6.  Piston Planks
  • 7.  Swinging Planks!

Look, not everyone is going to need all of these exercises.  You might be ready for the swing plank right now.  If that’s the case, great!  But if you’re not, work through 1-7 exercises until your body is acclimated enough.

There’s no need to rush into a sloppy movement patterns for the sake of rushing into sloppy movement patterns. Aim to do it right, or quite honestly, don’t do it at all.

Long-term, dialing in proper technique and learning movement is best practice.

If you’re wobbly in the swinging plank because it’s new, that’s one thing. If you’re wobbly in the swinging plank because you skipped the basics and went straight to the sexy stuff,  that’s another.

You’ll get a phenomenal training effect by hammering away at each of the exercise progressions above will provide a tremendous physical challenge despite. Building the foundation crucial.

 

Fix mobility restrictions…

If you’re lower body lacks ideal joint mobility, address these limitations first.  Fixing mobility restrictions is essential to maintaining joint health, injury prevention, and getting the most out of your workouts.

During the swing plank, your hip, knee and ankle joints should move freely without restriction, aches or pains. The starting position of the swing plank places the ankle, knee and hip joints into a very demanding range of motion.

If you find yourself locked up and struggling to get into position without rounding the lower back, I recommend addressing mobility restrictions first.

Scott Sonnon’s training system is all-encompassing, and extend beyond tactical conditioning.  His mobility and yoga programs are world-class, here are three I recommend…

Six Degree Flow
Progressive Yoga
Primal Stress

Progressive Yoga proved to be a game changer for me, as calming the body, turning the focus inward is extremely rewarding.

A huge mistake people make with exertion intense exercise is failing to remove yourself from it.

Opting for too much “pedal to the metal” high tempo training will rip your body apart in time, you’ve got to slow it down, relax and restore.

Where does the swinging plank fit into a workout/program?

In short, anywhere you want.

Personally, I prefer swinging planks mixed into work capacity focused training sessions, leveraged as a transition exercise.

But the reality is that the options are limitless.

Because of the minimal lower body stress, the swinging plank is a perfect transition exercise between upper (vertical pressing, push-ups, dive-bombers) and lower body exercises (lunges, squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings).

A sample sequence:

8-10 minutes continuous of:

1a) Bodyweight Lunge x 6 right/left

2a) TacFit Swing Plank x6 right/left

3a) Bodyweight Chin-Up x6

Using a non-competing exercise format provides an opportunity to focus on movement technique. Accumulating fatigue degrades exercise technique quickly, but the active rest from choosing a non-competing exercise order will aid in maintaining technique.

Random Discussion…

Deconstruct and go slow. I suggest you break the swing plank down into segments in order to appreciate the movement.  Practice the swing plank in slow motion for fewer reps. Do it right. Pause when you reach extension (chaturanga-like posture). Connect your mind to each muscle and transition.

Be critical of your hand, foot, torso and head position. Pay attention to your breathing throughout the range of motion. Are you breathing or are you holding your breath? Make sure that your tongue stays relaxed and you’re breathing.

Stay low! You should have a little dirt on your t-shirt when you’re done. Not mopping the floor, but rather the staying low increases the challenge.

Maintaining a rigid posture while turning over from side to side will blow up your mid-section. The rotational core stability challenge is potent as you flow through each rep.

When performed for as a part of a circuit or for higher reps, the swinging plank elicits a potent cardio training effect, making it a great exercise for metabolic workouts.

Hybrid bodyweight training is highly effective and yet so often overlooked. It’s easy to become infatuated with numbers on the bar, fancy equipment and racing the clock.

Having full control over your body in many different positions is the ultimate safeguard against injury and gateway to performance.

Most who consider themselves strong lifters will be humbled by the challenge and the effectiveness of properly executed bodyweight training. Moving into (and out of) body positions that reveal weaknesses in stability and strength can deliver incredible conditioning and improve other lifts.

If you’re interested finding out about more unique bodyweight workouts that incorporate movements like the swinging plank, check out TacFit Commando.

 

 

Cheers,

Kyle

 

Ido Portal Training Book (alternatives)

Ido Portal

Look, I know there are a lot of people out there that want Ido to publish a book, manual, or even compile notes from one of his MovementX seminars.  I’ve been checking the Ido Portal website for over 2 years waiting for the “store” link to produce some content.  I am a fan of his work, I’ll admit it.  A book, poster, manual… something… anything Ido.

We will buy.

But, the reality is that there hasn’t been any buyable content generated from Ido Portal, and quite honestly, I am not sure that there ever will be since Ido is an ever evolving teacher.

Putting words on a page that will stay there forever doesn’t seem like his style.

So, instead of combing through Ido’s old blog in desperate search of a place to start (which I have done out of curiosity), it is important to explore other resources that are well known for being superior in their respective niche’s.

Here are a few to get you started…

Gymnastics/Ground Based Movement

There aren’t many training tactics that will get you more functionally strong than gymnastics-based drills, particularly ring-based gymnastics work.  If you enjoy a systematic approach to training, and want to establish bodyweight self-dominance, these resources is must have for your library.

Barbell Training (all by Mark Rippletoe)

All of the books listed above were written by Mark Rippletoe, a few of the early editions even date back to 2005, 2007 and 2009 which in the fitness realm might seem ancient.  However, don’t be fooled by the bland cover art and no nonsense titles because I will tell you without hesitation that all of these books hold up to this day.

Barbell training is barbell training, not much as changed, and Rippletoe has been doing it long enough to give a world-class perspective on technique and progressions.

Whether you’re a beginner in search of a logical starting point or an expert lifter with years of training under your belt, it never hurts to go back to the basics.  Don’t confuse “basic” training with “ineffective” training.

Strength is one of the foundational pillars for physical development and always will be.  Ido talks often about the importance of building strength to support more technical forms of movement.  It’s essential.  You’ll find many references to Ido training heavy deadlifts and back squats.

Remember, single arm chin-ups and handstands are impressive feats of strength and athleticism, but they are also upper body exclusive feats.

Deadlifts and squats are important elements to a great training program.

Kettlebell Training

Pavel Psatsouline deserves credit for igniting interest in kettlebells in the Western hemisphere.  And while kettlebells have put a bad taste in some people’s mouths in recent years (anything that becomes too mainstream gets negative press), it is important to understand that kettlebells remain a brutally effective training tool.

Any fitness tool or tactic that catches fire in the mainstream is going to inevitably breed some really bad products and programs.

Pavel continues to publish fantastic content to this day, under the StrongFirst brand.

Sport Performance

Mark Verstegen and Mike Boyle are juggernauts in the sports performance arena.  Core Performance and Functional Training for Sports are two of the first performance enhancement books I ever read.  Both books completely shifted what I thought I knew about my time in the weight room.  My only regret is that I found them when I was finished with my collegiate athletic career.

Anything written by Verstegen or Boyle is going to be quality, they are both highly recognized and respected brands within the performance enhancement community.

Eric Cressey is the new-school of sports performance.  His brick and mortar training centers, Cressey Performance, and consistently packed with professional athletes from all sports.  He is a highly sought after strength and conditioning coach, fantastic book here.

Body Care/Maintenance

Becoming a Supple Leopard is a practical guide to fixing yourself.  Sounds funny to say, but that is exactly what Kelly is going to help you do.  Not every piece of advice in Becoming a Supple Leopard is going to apply to your situation, but you’ll find a goldmine of tips and pearls throughout the pages.

The Roll Model is a guide to self-massage, re-establishing mobility, tension relief and eliminating unwanted aches and pains.  Jill teamed up with Kelly Starrett for this book.  If you constantly feel like you need a massage, it’s time to learn how to treat yourself, at home, whenever you want.  Your bank account will thank you.

Gray Cook is a legend in the movement world.  Gray was one of the first to apply a scoring system to movement quality and use that scoring system to quantify an action plan for body imbalances/weak spots.  This book was published in 2003, but if you’ve never used any of Gray’s drills, particularly the “chop” and “lift” drill progressions, you’re in a for a treat.

Establishing symmetry in the body is a noble pursuit that will keep you healthy and performing at a high level for a long time.

 

There you have it, alternatives to keep you busy until Ido decides to publish his training philosophies.  But don’t hold your breath on an Ido Portal book anytime soon…

 

 

Kyle