MetCon Workout Finisher| 50 Sandbag Burpees for Time

Sandbag Training

The sandbag is a no-frills piece of fitness equipment that I ignored for years, often choosing iron instead. 

I won’t say it was a lost out during that time, but I will say the functional training value of sandbags is enormous.  

Sandbag training makes sense.  Few objects of mass in the real world setting have a perfectly symmetric distribution of weight.  I’ve never bumped into a loaded barbell inside my garage that needed relocating.  I’m being a smartass right now and I see the value in barbell training, but the idea is to shed light on the value of non-iron based training.

For those who are seeking the functional training experience, the sandbag IS a premiere training tool because of it’s unique properties.  Even more so than suspension trainers and other popular “functional” exercise tools.  

Why?

No repetition of any sandbag exercise is exactly the same.  

It may feel similar, but because sandbags are constantly changing shape as the weight shifts while you move.  The shape change is two-fold:  the small sandbags inside the outer shell shift while the grain of sand inside of each small sandbag shifts.  

The change in shape creates an action-reaction scenario during work sets.  Your body must make on-the-go, reactive adjustments to the changes.  if you’re going to complete each rep aiming for best possible technique.  

With sandbag training, each rep leverages acceptable training technique and body position, not perfect training technique.  Again, because the weight moves as you do, stabilizing muscles are called upon during dynamic sandbag exercises.

I say “best possible technique” and not “perfect technique” because lifting odd-shaped objects in real world scenarios often does not allow for perfect repetitions.  

In the gym, a modern day controlled setting, we can train “perfect” exercise technique until the cows come home, but real world tasks may require a deviation from perfect.  

Sandbag training can prepare our bodies to handle subtle deviations in body position without going overboard, keeping each exercise safe yet challenging.

Acclimating the body to operate on the fringe of “safe” is worth exploring.  We don’t always move within the zones that keep us healthy and injury.  Sometimes, we have to operate on the fringe, knowingly or unknowingly.  

Regarding training safe training, here are a couple of simple questions:  

  •  What is “safe”?  
  •  Can training “safe” actually be unsafe?

Lots of handles, use none of them…

Most premiere sandbag manufacturers have stitched handles all over the outer shells, giving the user a variety of grip options.  However, a lot of real world objects don’t have nicely positioned handles, so what then?  

However, a lot of real world objects of mass don’t have nicely positioned handles, so what then?  

Pick up the bag without the handles.  You’ll be surprised how a 40-50lb sandbag can feel twice as heavy while picking it up from the dead floor position without using handles for assistance.  

Over the past several months, sandbag exercises continue to creep into my workouts, substituting where kettlebells and barbells used to dominate. Sandbag squats now live where kettlebell and barbell

Now, I use Underarm sandbag squats where I used to use barbell front squats.  

Sandbag cleans have also provided an incredible variation using 60-70% less weight previously used with barbell cleans.  Performing a clean with a HEAVY, AWKWARD, SHAPE-SHIFTING objects changes how you navigate such an exercise. 

A sandbag clean using a sandbag shell that’s 70-80% filled with sandbags is one of the most challenging externally loaded exercises I’ve performed.  

Various ballistic sandbag swing exercises have made their way into my workouts where kettlebell and barbell used to exist.  

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Some of these swing exercises work great and some feel completely unnatural and forced.  Keep some, ditch some I suppose.

But the point of this article is to touch on a memorable MetCon Workout Finisher I worked through recently, which I know will leave you all panting.

The beta test on this sandbag finisher turned out to be perfect.  Not too much work, not too little, just right.   

Here it is…

The 50 Rep Sandbag Burpee Challenge

The Challenge:  Complete 50 reps of sandbag burpees.

Time Limit:  5 minutes or less. 

Suggested Sandbag weight (sub-maximal)

  • Women: 30-40 lb sandbag
  • Men: 50-60 lb sandbag

Grip:  Neutral (hands facing in) or pronated (overhand position)

The Purpose: Perform as much work as possible in a given timeframe.  

 

Above is my improvised attempt at this 50 rep burpee challenge.  I lost track of reps somewhere around 25-30, so I added some extra to the backend to be sure I didn’t cheat the volume.  My finishing time was 4:55min/sec.  Not a muscle unused, lungs were feeling it.  

Changes levels with traditional bodyweight burpees can be extremely fatiguing.  If you’ve completed a long set of burpees or worked burpees for intervals, you know this.  

Adding a sandbag to clean and press increases the challenge exponentially.  As fatigue increases throughout this challenge, the stabilizing muscles begin to play a more important role.  

Brute Force Sandbags are my brand of choice.  For a workout like this, I suggest using the Athlete model.  This will keep the weight sub-maximal, which is important for high repetition work capacity workouts.  

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Functionally and durability were the determining factors for choosing Brute Force over other brands.  I wanted a sandbag with plenty of handle options, but I also wanted the bag to be bulletproof.  I am extremely hard on my fitness equipment, and I knew I’d be using these on a variety of soft and hard surfaces (concrete, gravel, wood floors, etc).  

To see the complete Brute Force sandbag offering, go here:  Brute Force Sandbags

Give this MetCon Workout Finisher a shot!

 

Cheers,

Kyle

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The Benefits of Jump Rope Training

cardio, Motion

Jump rope training is packed with benefits.  Jumping over that tiny little rope can improve muscle strength and skeletal integrity (through medium ground impact force).  

The calories burned while jumping rope are high compared to other activities and including jump rope training in a workout regimen is a great way to get a potent cardio training effect with the body in a standing position, versus seated cardio machines.  

Lastly, jump ropes are inexpensive, versatile and simple to integrate with other training methods to increase the challenge and scope of your workouts.

Several years ago I wrote an article called:  Jumping Rope:  The Undeniable Negatives.

The article came off a bit, safe and cautionary.  To be honest, I was a lot younger then and my writing style wasn’t as clear and to the point as it is now.  Regardless, I feel some of the points made in that article are valid.

Jumping rope can be tough on the muscles and joints early on.  I don’t recommend a sedentary individual reach for a jump rope to initiate their exercise regimen.  If your body hasn’t been exposed to impact in a while (maybe never), jumping rope will annihilate your lower extremity muscles in the days afterward.  

But cautionary tales won’t be part of this article, so let’s get into the good stuff… 

… the benefits of jump rope training.

Inexpensive

If you’re looking for an inexpensive piece of fitness equipment, jump ropes are the ticket.

The last jump rope I purchased set me back $7 on Amazon over 3 years ago.  

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 8.04.25 AM

Inflation.

The same rope is still kicking ass and serves as a valuable part of my pre-workout warm-ups, occasionally making appearances inside of metabolic conditioning workouts.  

36 months of use divided by $7 cost-to-own equals roughly $.19/month.  

Previous to my $7 jump rope, I purchased a $30+ jump rope from LifeLine Fitness which turned out to be a piece of shit for the cost.  

In the early 2000’s, LifeLine was considered to be the “functional fitness” company, so I was surprised at the quality and design of their jump ropes.  Durability was terrible and there was no way to adjust the length of the rope.  

So, when it was time to find another rope, I went with the thinnest cable based rope I could find and I have had no issues yet.  

Side-thought: One downside to jump ropes is they are a one-trick pony.  In other words, you can only really jump rope with a jump rope.  But hey, for $7-$15, who cares, it serves it’s purpose without breaking the bank.

Cost comparison to other popular forms of equipment-based cardio:

Jump Rope:  $7-$40

Concept2 Rower:  $950

Assault Airbike:  $799+

Versaclimber:  $2000+

Treadmill:  $900+

Jacobs Ladder:  $2500+

Non-Treadmill Running:  $50+ for shoes (dependent on weather)

* To be clear, I’m not advising you to stay away from any of these machines.  For machine-based cardio, each ranks high on the effectiveness list.  I personally own both a Concept2 rower and the Assault Airbike and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Environment/location/equipment friendly

I’m going to tackle this benefit in bullet point fashion.

  • Jump training doesn’t require a lot of room to train.
  • You can do it on the spot.
  • You can pack it up and travel with it, taking it anywhere.
  • You can train inside (not weather dependent)

If you’ve got a 6×6 space with a 7ft2inch high ceiling, you’re clear for jumping rope.  I know this because 70% of my workouts take place in my home basement, where space is limited but adequate for twirling a rope.  

Scalable for everyone

Any great piece of cardio training equipment is scalable to a wide range of skill and fitness levels.  Most are, but some are not.  

Beginners who are new to jump rope training can start with the basics:  two-foot jumps, alternating jumps etc.  


Turning up the intensity is simple:  turn the rope over faster.  

Don’t confuse “basics” with ineffective.  Exercises are best scaled to match fitness level, the challenge is therefore proportionate no matter how fit you are. 

Advanced jump rope training can include various single leg jumps, mixed medley jumping and double-unders (turning the rope under the feet twice per jump).  

High knees (running in place) while jumping rope is extremely taxing when performed for intervals of 30-60 seconds per work set.  A workout designed with 10-15 intervals will make you a believer in the cardio training effect of jumping rope.  

Just like a beginner, if an advanced trainee wants to increase the difficulty of their training sessions all you need to do is 

Duration of jumping rope can be adjusted for both beginners and advanced alike.  Adding a minute to a jump rope workout every week or two can have you jumping for 15-20 minutes in no time.  

However, once you hit 20 minutes of continuous jumping, I suggest adjusting the movement complexity of the jump or cranking up the tempo of the rope versus adding more time.  

Jump Rope Posture

As stated earlier, I love cardio equipment like rowers and airbikes, but these machines put people in a seated position to operate.

If sitting is the new smoking, and a lot of people are sitting too much throughout most days as it is, I don’t want you to come home and sit down to exercise.  This would be contributing to the epidemic.

Jumping rope puts a person in a standing position with shoulders pulled back and hips forward.  

It is difficult to jump rope with poor posture.  Doing so will likely limit the speed you’re able to turn the rope and also the jump technique.  Plus, it will be uncomfortable to hunch over and jump.  

Any physical activity getting a person uncoiled from the seated posture is a great option.  

Great for Pre-Workout Warm-Ups

After some basic stretching and mobility work, grab a jump rope and work through roughly 5-10 minutes of medium-intensity rhythmic jumping.  Work a medley of jumps:  two-foot jumps, high knees, single leg, back and forth, side to side and lower body boxer twists.  

I promise you will find little else as simple and effective to get your body and mind prepared for a workout.  

Again, getting the blood flowing pre-workout in a standing position is ideal.

Impressive calorie burn

Jumping rope can burn up to 700 calories per hour.

But here’s the deal, I don’t think anyone should be jumping rope for 60 minutes, it’s too much volume.  If you have the attention span and endurance to turn a rope for 60 unbroken minutes, you’re a badass.  

In terms of training volume and ground contacts, 60 minutes of jump rope training is sort of like running a marathon every week.  There are obvious dangers associated with both (overuse, overtraining, lack of variety, etc).

I don’t recommend choosing exercises based on calorie burn, it can develop favoritism toward certain activities while and excluding others.  Balance is the key.    

However, jump rope training does use up an impressive amount of energy which means a larger amount of calories being burned in the same amount of time when compared to other popular activities like running, cycling and swimming.  

Weight Loss/Fat Loss

Jumping rope consistently can help you look better naked.  See reasons above for why.

Jumping rope burns calories.  Increasing calories out compared to calories taken in is a scientifically backed strategy for both weight loss and fat loss.  Calories in versus calories out.  Of course, the quality of calories taken in will influence the rate of weight loss and fat burning a great deal also.

Combine a decent nutritional regimen with some quality jump rope training and you’ll see a major shift in body composition.  Intermittent Fasting is hot diet pattern right now.

Cardio Integration

This is the real reason why I love jumping rope.  Supplementing jump rope training in with rowing, biking, running and bodyweight metabolic conditioning workouts keeps workouts challenging and fresh.

Fact #1:  If you look forward to your workouts, you’ll keep training.  

Fact #2:  If you despise your workouts, you’ll fade to doing nothing quickly. 

Jumping rope after pre-fatiguing your body with other exercises provides a great challenge.  When muscles are tired, posture degrades, so turning the rope while huffing and puffing demands an increased level of focus.  

Here’s quick and dirty bodyweight and jump rope workout for you to try:

10 Squats

10 Push Ups 

1 Minute Jump Rope

10 Lunges

10 Body Rows or Pull Ups

1 Minute jump rope

8 Hollow Body Rocks

Complete 5 rounds as fast as possible.  Record your time and re-test in a month or so.

If you completed 5 rounds, the numbers break down like this:

  •  10 minutes of jumping rope
  •  50 squats
  •  50 push ups
  •  50 lunges (per leg)
  •  50 body rows/pull ups
  •  40 hollow body rocks

If you’re in the market for developing work capacity and burning fat in the process, simple and effective workouts like this are essential.  

Splitting up the jump rope into 1-minute bursts will make you feel like you’re hardly jumping.  But as the numbers show, you actually accumulated 10 minutes worth.  Not bad.   

Over the course of the next few months, you’ll see an increased number of full workouts posted to this blog, and my YouTube page.  If you’re interested in following along, I suggest you subscribe for updates.  

I’ll be keeping things fresh for a long, long time.  

If you got some value from this post, I’d like to expose you to several other popular posts my readers have enjoyed:

Now, stop reading and thinking, grab a rope and go crush a workout. 

 

Cheers to the benefits of jump rope training, 

Kyle 

Basics of Animal Flow| The A-B-C’s of Traveling Forms

Animal Flow, Motion

Very few fitness programs are comprised of such unique, intelligently designed and progressive exercises as Animal Flow. 

Created by Mike Fitch, Animal flow is a bodyweight ground-based movement training system that integrates several training methodologies into one unique workout experience.  

If you look closely, you’ll see traditional and hybrid elements of yoga, ground-based locomotion, and various gymnastics drills fused into one flexible training system.

Animal Flow is made up of various Transitions, Switches and Traveling Form exercises, which are modeled after animal-like movements.  

Of particular importance to me, is the fact that Animal Flow is scalable to any fitness level.  

If only the really fit people can benefit from a workout system, what is the point?  And vice versa.

Well designed, scalable training programs have limitless possibilities for progression.  This translates into months and likely years of physical improvement.  

Talking with my wife the other day, I mentioned that practicing movement keeps people younger for longer.   

You’ve probably seen some of the movements…

Most people will be able to identify many of the traveling forms included in Animal Flow workouts.  Of the three main traveling forms:  Ape, Beast and Crab, only Beast has been more commonly referred to as “bear” or “bear crawling” in other areas of fitness.  

Here’s a translation chart:

Animal Flow -> Other Fitness Names

Ape -> Gorilla

Beast -> Bear

Crab -> Crab  

The really stuffy fitness crowd may be using terms like supine or prone, but for simplicity and memory of the Animal Flow movement catalog, animal names are best for identifying the patterns.

Adding Traveling Forms to my workouts…

Over the last few months, I’ve increased my weekly frequency of crawling and traveling forms from 1-2 times per week (only in warm ups), to almost daily and for much longer durations.  

I’ve posted several videos on the Meauxtion YouTube page demonstrating 5+minutes of traveling forms/crawling.  5+ minutes seems like a long time to be fixed in a crawling position but when you’re focused on soft interactions with the floor and body position, the time passes quickly.  

If you increase the tempo of the traveling forms (and transitions/switches) to initiate a cardio training effect, then yes, time drags on as it often does with other forms of cardio.

But crawling is an exercise thriving off of soft and controlled interactions with the ground.  There is virtually no impact force while crawling.  

Increasing the time spent crawling using it’s variation is more endurance related.  The limiting factor for long duration crawling might be hand/wrist conditioning, upper extremity 

How I use traveling forms…

When I’m looking to challenge my core and upper extremities with some loading but still engage in movement, crawling serves a valuable purpose.  Particularly on days where I wake up and feel residual fatigue or muscle soreness from the previous day’s resistance training or metabolic conditioning workouts.  

All three of the featured Traveling Forms have a couple variations:

  •  Fast or slow tempo
  •  Forward, Reverse or Lateral

If your new to Animal Flow exercises, slow and controlled tempo is a logical place to start, as it will allow for motor pattern education.  With practice, it will not take long to establish control in these positions.  

From there, the movements can be adjusted to a faster cadence in order to challenge your cardio. 

A is for Ape

B is for Beast

C is for Crab

Another “Why?” behind including more Traveling Forms… 

Here’s another reason for including more Traveling Forms in my workouts:  I find it interesting and I look forward to it.

With regard to training, I am a chronic justifier.  Meaning, in the past, I rarely train for the fun of it.  Every exercise, set and rep scheme, weight, duration could be monitored and justified to have a specific purpose.  

Don’t get me wrong, I have always enjoyed the challenge of training, but I have never really stopped and thought, “Man, I am really having a great time right now”.  

Animal Flow Traveling Forms injected some fun into my training regimen.  

One of the secrets of maintaining a healthy relationship with your fitness is to partake in activities you look forward to.  The human mind is too weak to sustain a workout regimen you’re not looking forward to.  You’ll fizzle out on it in time.

Animal Flow and Ido Portal Method training re-ignited my interest in exploring my movement capacity.  I love a good physical challenge, and these bodyweight ground-based movement patterns provide it every single time.

Engaging in more locomotion-based exercises reminded me it’s possible to leave a workout exhausted but REFRESHED, not beaten into a pulp.  

Lizard crawling for 10-15 yards (Ido Portal Method) can leave your body feeling as if you’ve never worked out a day in your life.  This is largely because it’s new and you haven’t done it before, I get that.  But the challenge of such ground-based crawling, even shorter distances, can’t be denied.  

One big benefit to learning the basics of Animal Flow is it’s rooted in bodyweight based training.  

What does this mean?  It means…

… everywhere you go, no matter what the circumstances or limitations, if you’ve got a little time and space, you’ve got an Animal Flow workout in your back pocket.  

The anxiety relief in being able to workout wherever and whenever is HUGE.  It may be hard to understand until you’re in the situation.  

For more info, check out the Animal Flow website.

 

 

Cheers to the Basics of Animal Flow,

Kyle 

 

10 Best Exercises for Burning Stubborn Body Fat

fat loss

In the gym, accelerating the process of fat loss is simple.

But, like anything unfamiliar, how to go about achieving fat loss can be confusing from the outside looking in.  

What exercises should I choose?  How many sets/reps of each?  How much weight should I use?  How many days per week?  How long should the workout last?  

These are all great questions.  If you’re asking them, you’re on the right track.

In the gym, maximum metabolic disruption is the name of the game.  

In 30-45 minutes, you should be able to train nearly every muscle, priming it for fat loss and lean muscle layering.

Do more work in less time to create a global training effect.  

In some cases, you may do more work in the same amount of time, which is still a form of progress.

I tricked you, I’m sorry…

In a way, I tricked you into reading this article by including “best exercises” in the title.  

For that, I sincerely apologize.  But to be honest, saying one exercise is going to magically burn all the fat off your body is a complete lie.  

One exercise won’t do it.  

What we could say is some exercises are a much better choice for fat loss, and even going a bit further we could say the combination of several exercises in a workout session will give your body the best opportunity to eliminate unwanted fat.  

Generally speaking, multi-joint compound exercises get more muscles working together are better than isolated exercises which have only one joint moving and fewer muscles.  

Important thought:  The best fast loss exercises are also the best exercises for almost any fitness goal.  

Just as no single exercise is going to melt fat from your body, no single workout is going to burn all of the fat off your body.  

A series of smart workouts will accelerate the fat loss process.

It’s all about creating a training effect.

How can workouts help with fat loss?  

  • Burn calories at time of workout (thermic effect of exercise)
  • Increased calorie burn after workout (EPOC)
  • Build lean muscle (requires more calories to maintain itself)
  • Increase resting metabolic rate (60-80% of all calories are expended at rest)

How do we create a fat burning state in the gym?  

There are a few time-tested methods to jumpstart the fat burning process:

  •  Higher Intensity Interval Training (cardio conditioning)
  •  Multi-joint Resistance Training (muscle conditioning)
  •  Multi-Planar Ground-Based Movement (muscle and cardio)
  •  Be inefficient.
  •  The combination of all of the above.

High(er) Intensity Interval Training

“High” is going to vary from person to person.  What may be “high” for me might be too high for you, or vice versa.  Instead, I choose to refer to interval training as “high(er)”.  

For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to high intensity interval training as cardio dominant activities where you exert at intensities that causes your body to go into oxygen debt during the intense work sets.  

This type a training has a precise work:rest format that can be monitored by time or a heart rate monitor (beats per minute).   

Rowing, biking, running are amazing activities for interval training which have a higher emphasis on cardio conditioning.

Multi-Joint Resistance Training

Resistance training with BIG movements like squats, swings, pressing and pulling increases the thermic effect of activity (calories burned during exercise) and metabolic rate.  Resistance training also builds lean muscle which requires more energy to maintain and repair post-workout than fat tissue.  

Multi-Planar Ground-Based Movement

At risk of sound cliché, ground-based movement is the new kid on the block.  It’s a brilliant paradigm shift in how practice fitness, building movement capacity and improving strength and cardio.  

Ground-based movement is a very broad description for low position drills like crawling, rolling, bounding, hand balancing, yoga, etc.  Much of the modern ground-based movement training has been led by Ido Portal and Mike Fitch (creator of Animal Flow).

Inefficiency

The more inefficient you are at an exercise or series of exercises, the harder your body has to work to complete those exercises.  Muscles fatigue faster and more energy (calories) is expended doing the work.  

*** If you’re going to leverage inefficient exercise, make sure you have some kind of prior background experience with that exercise.  Don’t jump into a set of kettlebell swings midway through a workout if you’ve never swung a kettlebell.  This poses a high potential risk of injury.  Not worth it.  

Instead, re-visit exercises you haven’t included in your training sessions for a while.  You’ll still know how to execute exercise technique, but your body will have lost it’s efficiency.

Nutrition Scolding…

[No fat loss article would be complete without giving a head nod to importance of nutrition.  Creating a caloric deficit, eating mostly plants with adequate amounts of protein and hydration with low/zero calorie beverages (aka: water) is in fact the magic behind much of losing body fat.  

Keeping calorie expenditure higher than calorie intake, along with choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages that will sustain your activity level and nourish your body post-exercise is the path to fat loss.]

Progressive Overload and Baseline Fitness Testing…

Progressive Overload is a foundational principle to all movement training.  

To help decide the appropriate amount of progressive overload needed for each exercise (and shape the structure of your workouts) it is important to establish a baseline of your movement capacity.  

A baseline fitness test gives you information (however painful of a reality it might be) on where you are starting from, so a plan can be organized to make future progress.

A baseline fitness test can be very simple:  

  • How many strict bodyweight push-ups, squats, lunges, chin-ups/pull-ups can you do?  
  • How long can you hold a front plank, side plank, dead hang from a bar?
  • How many burpees can you do in 60 seconds?
  • How far can you bear crawl before stopping?

Once you’ve got a baseline, you can pinpoint not only the exercises, but sets and reps, time under tension, rounds, rest periods and duration.  

Here are my picks for 10 best fat loss exercises…

Burpees (total body)


The burpee might be the single most hated exercise on this list, which why it deserves first mention. Burpees are a total body movement that combines a hip-hinge, plank, push-up, squat, and jump, all in one shot.  

Burpees are a logical choice for this list because they are a bodyweight exercise, which means you can do them anywhere and anytime.  

Workout challenge:  How fast can you complete 100 burpees?

Animal Crawling (ground-based total body)

I’d bet a lot of fat loss articles don’t include crawling as a valid form of exercise to burn fat, but it is.

Basic crawling variations like the bear, ape and crab are examples of beginner locomotion drills that will challenge your core and upper body endurance like little else.

Ground-based bodyweight workout programs like Animal Flow are built animal-based exercises, designed to reconnect your body’s natural ability to navigate movement on the floor.  

Even if you’re tight on space, find a way to include crawling in your next workout.  Over time, you’ll notice crawling more consistently will do wonders for increasing shoulder health, upper extremity endurance and integrated core control.  

If you want to dive into the world of ground-based movement, check out Animal Flow.   

Workout challenge:  Bear crawling work capacity (4 rounds)

  • Round 1:  Strict bear crawl as far as possible (measure by distance or time)
  • Round 2:  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3/4 distance or time.
  • Round 3:  Rest 30 second and repeat for 3/4 distance or time
  • Round 4:  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3/4 distance or time.

Turkish Get-Ups (total body)

Turkish Get-Ups (TGU’s) is a layered approach to moving from lying flat on your back to 

Go from lying on your back to standing as efficiently as possible… with weight in your hand.  In slang terms, this what a turkish get-up accomplishes.  

Inside of a turkish get-up, you’ve got many exercises:  cross-body diagonal abdominal crunches, static overhead weighted holds, lunges, windmills, hip lifts.  

A turkish get up is a movement sequence with many layers, all of which can be practiced on their own to enhance your TGU proficiency.  

Workout Challenge:  Complete 10 minutes of Turkish Get-Ups (continuous)

Kettlebell Snatches (ballistic total body)


Kettlebell snatch workouts are legendary for boosting conditioning and burning fat.  The ballistic nature of the snatches coupled with the large amount of muscles used makes the training effect incredible.

Even 1-2 minutes of aggressive snatches will leave you gasping.  The design of the kettlebell and the exercise technique of the snatch allows for a natural flow from rep to rep.  

Personally, I’ve rarely seen my heart rate climb as high as it does when snatching a kettlebell.  

This means a large amount of work can be done in a short amount of time.  

Workout Challenge:  Secret Service Snatch Test (SSST) 

Thrusters (total body)

Squat and press, squat and press, squat and press.  

“Thrusters” are the combination of a squat and an overhead press.  Fusing squats and presses together creates a massive training stimulus.  Thrusters are pure work, which no real-time to rest between each repetition.  

Thrusters can be performed using a variety of training tools:  kettlebells, barbells, sandbags or dumbbells.  All provide a slightly different look at the same exercise.

Workout Challenge:  Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes, complete 10 thrusters.

Kettlebell Swings (ballistic lower body pull)


Kettlebells by design, are naturally a great tool to burn fat.  

Similar to kettlebell snatches, there is a tremendous amount of muscle tension throughout the entire arc range of motion in a kettlebell swing.  Speed of repetition and muscles engagement create a training effect unlike any other fitness tool.  When the hips get involved in an exercise, it usually means a global training effect.  

Workout Challenge:  Complete 15 sec swings, 15 sec rest for 24 rounds (12 minutes)

Sandbag Squats (lower body push)

The sandbag is one of the most underrated training tools out there.  Unlike a barbell which has rigid structure, sandbags are constantly shifting and changing shape.  This requires your body to make constant adjustments to these shifts and shape in real-time.  Whether you’ve got 100lbs in a sandbag or 100lbs on a barbell, weight is weight.  But, I guarantee you a 100lb sandbag is going to feel a lot heavier than a 100lb barbell.  

Mix up how you hold the sandbag when squatting.  Bear hug, front rack, underarm hook and shouldering will challenge your body in very different ways.  

Workout Challenge:  Descending Sandbag Squats

  • Set #1:  Complete as many reps of sandbag squats as possible without rest.  
  • Set #2:  Rest 45 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #1.
  • Set #3:  Rest 30 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #2.
  • Set #4: Rest 15 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #3.

Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups (upper body pull)


No fat loss article would be complete without mentioning vertical pulling exercises like chin-ups and pull-ups.  For many, these will be the most frustrating exercises on the list because they are frequently the weakest lifts on the list.

Exercise regression is the path to your first chin-up/pull-ups and exercise progression is the path to building on that achievement.  If you can’t yet execute a full range of motion chin-up/pull-ups, you’ve got a couple effective options:  decrease the weight being pulled or practice one phase of the exercise.  

Stretch band-assisted chin-ups/pull-ups will decrease the amount of weight you’re required to pull on each repetition, making the exercise more manageable.  Wrap the band around the bar overhead, then down around the shin of a flexed knee or way down around your foot.  

If don’t have a stretch band, you can still make gains by practicing one phase of the exercise, the eccentric or lowering phase.  Start at the top of the chin-up/pull-up and lower yourself to the bottom as slowly as possible.  Eccentrics are well-known for producing muscle soreness, you’ve been warned.  

Workout Challenge:  Perform a 1-Minute Chin-Up

Push-Up Variations (upper body push)

Push-ups are my choice for best upper body pushing exercise.  Pressing exercises can be split up into two categories:  vertical and horizontal.  Vertical pushing extends the arms overhead and horizontal pushing extends the arms out in front of the body.  

Push-ups can be done anywhere, anytime with no equipment.  The variations are seemingly limitless.  The basic traditional push-up is a fantastic choice for metabolic workouts, as it requires little thought and set-up, yet worthy training stimulus to the core and pushing muscles of the upper body. 

Workout Challenge:  Perform 15 push-ups every minute on the minute for 10 minutes (150 total reps)

Lunge Variations (lower body pull)


Lunges are lower body exercise to train primarily the hips, hamstrings and adductors.  

Lunging is unique because it has many variations.  You could lunge front to back, side to side, rotationally, explosively, moving across a distance, on an incline or decline, or stationary if space is limited.    

Adding external weight to a lunge will challenge the core and grip muscles.  External weight could be placed in several positions:  arms hanging at the sides, chest height in a racked position, arms extended overhead, resting on the shoulders or varied (one arm hanging down, the other supporting weight overhead)  

If you want to go hands-free and make lunging more natural, a weight vest is a great option.  

Being able to lunge successfully becomes more important as we age, to preserve and extend quality of life.  Most times we get up off the floor into a standing position, we are essentially performing a variation of a lunge.  

Splitting your stance (not to be mis-read as “splitting your pants”) reduces the width of your base of support which increases the instability.  L

Generally speaking, if you want to make a lower body exercise more challenging without adding weight, here is how you do it:

Option 1:  Narrow the distance of base of support (squats)

Option 2:  Stagger the base of support (lunge)

Option 3:  Stagger AND narrow the base of support (inline lunge)

Option 4:  Partial support (rear foot elevated split squats)

Option 5:  Unsupported Single leg base of support (single leg deadliest or pistol squat)

I know option 4 and 5 are not technically a lunges, but the point was to lay out a nice progression to follow.

Workout Challenge:  How far/long can you lunge walk with 15 lbs (females) or 30lb (males) in each hand?

High Plank Rows (upper body pull)

Rowing while supporting yourself in a high plank position is a humbling experience, particularly for your core muscles.  Dragon flags and toe-to-bar are hyped as being incredible core strength builders, but high plank rows may make you rethink core training altogether.  

Alternate each arm while rowing.  For added challenge, pause the motion when the hand reaches your side, lower slowly.  The body tension needed to perform this drill is incredible.  You’ve got to be rigid from head to heel, front side and back side.  

Workout Challenge:  Perform 20 repetitions of high plank rows on each arm.

Try the workout challenges!  

Most of the challenges require less than 15 minutes of your time, and will be a good eye opener to the possibilities.  The workout challenges can also serve as baseline numbers to assess progress down the road.

The training options are only limited by your creativity.  

Now you can mix and match these 10 exercise to create effective workouts.

How to create a fat loss workout?  

Choose one exercise from each of the following movement patterns:  

  1.  Upper body pull
  2.  Upper body push
  3.  Lower body pull 
  4.  Lower body push
  5.  Total Body or Core Exercise 

Hybrid movements like burpees or thrusters combine several movement patterns into one exercise, compounding the amount of work being performed.  Most people will find hybrid exercises like thrusters to exhaust the body much quicker than if you performed a set of squats and overhead presses on their own.

How many reps per exercise?

Play around with reps.  Vary them high, very them low.  Generally, anywhere from 8-15 reps will provide a good training effect.  

Personally, I prefer keeping the reps on the lower side so I can increase the amount of weight for each exercise.  I have found the training effect to be profound with lower reps and higher loads.

How many rounds?  

Rounds are the cycles through each exercise and reps per exercise.  

Generally speaking, a great workout at the right intensity should go anywhere from 4-8 rounds, rarely more.  

If you’re able to push passed 8 rounds with ease, it’s probably time to increase the weight used or the complexity of the movement.  

How much rest between rounds?

Again, this will vary depending on fitness level.  However, 30-75 seconds is a good target amount of rest between working sets.  As your body adapts to the stress, you’ll find it’s necessary to decrease the rest in order to keep progressing.  

In tough workouts it might not feel like it, but the human body is brilliantly designed to adapt to physical stresses.  

You train and break down, you recover, regenerate and grow.  

Here’s another idea for resting between each round, descending rest periods.  

For example:

Round 1:  Rest 25 seconds

Round 2:  Rest 35 seconds

Round 3:   Rest 45 seconds

Round 4:  Rest 55 seconds

Round 5:  Rest 65 seconds

Round 6:  Rest 75 seconds

Using this rest period structure, you’re challenging yourself harder on the front end of the workout since rest is far shorter but the work remains the same.  As you progress through the rounds, your rest periods lengthen to accommodate the accumulating fatigue.  

Start right now!

Don’t read this and forget about it.  Read it, write it down and do it today or tonight.  

You have everything you need to organize several of these exercises into a workout conducive for burning fat.

Don’t over think it.  Choose exercises for each of exercises, 1-5 above and you’ve just designed a workout to torch fat.

 

Cheers to your workout…

Kyle 

Intermittent Fasting

Motion

The purpose of this post is to expose my readers to Intermittent Fasting (IF), sharing it’s effectiveness for improving general health biomarkers along with IF’s effectiveness for burning fa you to start Most diets work very well, this is hard to argue.  It’s commonly a matter of how the diet fits with a person’s lifestyle, which can impact how well they are able to stay on track.  

Not every diet is for every person.  What works for you, might not be great for me, which might be so so for the next person.  We are all unique in what our body responds best to, and how well we are able to manage our approach to eating across the long-term.  

“Long-term” is the key part to remember.  Choose a diet, or in the case of intermittent fasting, a “pattern” of eating that is a long-term solution.  Sustainable to your wants and needs.    

I encourage you to shop around and collect enough information to help you make a decision on what’s best for you.  

This article hopes to shed some light on Intermittent Fasting, what I.F. is, the benefits and various approaches, etc.  

The big question…

Does intermittent fasting work?

Hell Yes.  Intermittent fasting works.

Intermittent Fasting works to the degree a person is able to execute the principles of this pattern of dieting.  

Some people may find intermittent fasting to be a godsend, effective and simple.  Others, conditioned to eating frequently, may find refraining from eating food for longer periods to be torturous.  

Take a break and test the waters…

Regardless of the category you may fall into, I recommend everyone purposely go without eating food for extended periods (16-24hrs) for one big reason…  

… to find out if you have the discipline to handle it.  We live in an age where food is literally everywhere.  We eat without purpose, even when we are not hungry we eat.   

Eating too much, just like taking a break from eating, is a habit.  And despite all of the data showing how long it takes to break an old habit or make a new one, habits require conditioning.  No different than physical conditioning.

So, the question is… Can you take a break from eating for a little while?  

Depending on the pattern of intermittent fasting chosen, a “little while” can mean 16 hours (8 sleeping hours, 8 hours awake).  16 hours without eating.  It might sound like a lot, but it’s not.  

Again, it’s all conditioning, shifting of habits.  

Rather than sulk about how hungry you feel during the fasting window, take advantage of not being tethered to finding your next meal.  You’re unchained, free to be productive and get things done!  Build up your career, start that business, connect with old friends, spend time with family, workout, get chores and errands done.  

When it comes time to eat, you’ll eat.  Plain and simple.  

Let’s hammer out the basics of intermittent fasting and see if the data satisfies your research side and structure fits your lifestyle… 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of diet where a person takes a scheduled break from eating food and opts to not eat food (fast).

Depending on which intermittent fasting method is chosen, the timeframe of eating/fasting pattern or “cycle” can be split into a day (24 hours) or an entire week.  

Brad Pilon, author of the “Eat Stop Eat” method of Intermittent Fasting says:  

“If you consider Intermittent Fasting to be the ability to practice patience when it comes to the act of eating –  a conscious polite restraint when it comes to food intake, then the philosophy is simply – we do not have to eat all the time, therefore we are free to choose when we eat.”

The focus with nutrition has long been how many calories and what kind of calories.  These things are still important, but now add in the influence of time.  

Time, changes the game.

Eat, then stop, then start eating again.  Time is proving to be an important variable to improve the triad of nutrition:  

  •  Aesthetics (fat loss, lean muscle, etc)
  •  Peformance
  •  General Health and Longevity

Here’s an intermittent fasting infographic provided from Dr. Mercola (Mercola Nutrition):

 Intermittent Fasting

How did I find Intermittent Fasting?

Several years ago, I stumbled onto intermittent fasting by accident.  I was researching another topic.  I was curious after reading Martin Berkan’s Lean Gains.  5-6 articles later, I was sucked in but still not a believer.

Martin’s fasting approach was a hybrid, like nothing I’d seen before.  His own physique speaks to the potency of intermittent fasting, especially when paired with resistance training.  And to be honest, I trusted the guy from the get-go because it was obviously he’s practicing what he preaches.  Very noble in this day in age.

Here are some broad takeaways from LeanGains:

  • In a 24-hour day:  8-hours of eating, 16-hour of no eating.
  • Physical exertion encouraged (mostly heavy multi-joint resistance training)
  • Supplementation was recommended to help break the fast (BCAA’s, etc)

As great as LeanGains information was, it lacked direction, was heavy with science and lacked “the plan” so to speak.  No offense to Martin, but his blog is essentially a collection of years of his own trial-and-error with intermittent fasting on himself, some of his clients and translations of research on the topic.  

LeanGains provides great info, just lacks a clean action plan.  

Investigating further, I read “Eat Stop Eat” by Brad Pilon.  Brad is a former big food industry researcher.  His background in the food industry was a little hard to believe, considering his book was advocating people to step away from food.  Ha. 

“Eat Stop Eat” turned out to be the book that made me cave.  

Why did I resist Intermittent Fasting for several months?

If you thought this was going to turn into the feel-good success story, nope.  I’m stubborn as hell when it comes to change, especially with things I feel like I’ve invested time into getting right.  My previous personal nutritional habits was one thing I felt I was doing right.  

You have to remember, for the previous 5-8 years, I had subscribed to the “eat 2-3 meals per day with snacks in between each meal”.  

“Keep the metabolism firing”.  Right?

I was hardcore into this approach, unwavering.  

Reflecting back, this pattern of eating had many flaws:  

  1. I needed a luggage bag for all of my on-the-go meals and snacks (inconvenient).
  2. Post-meal mental fogginess. 
  3. Overwhelming meal planning (eating six times per day requires a lot of planning).

I never minded bringing extra Tupperware containers work.  The problem was the AMOUNT of Tupperware, and the food inside of the Tupperware occasionally needed cold storage to avoid spoiling, which wasn’t always available.

Regarding mental fogginess.  I’d satisfy my hunger by eating followed by very predictable mental crash 15-20 minutes later.  The most frustrating thing was the crash.  I wanted… no, needed, clear mental performance.

Meal planning what you’re going to eat six times per day sucks.  I became very efficient at the planning, but it didn’t ever not suck while I was doing it… know what I mean?  I pushed through because I was committed to staying disciplined.  

On top of that was the macronutrient mathematics.  Subscribing to 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, I was constantly stressing about getting enough protein at each sitting.  

Regardless of approach, here are some frequently asked questions about Intermittent Fasting…

What food/drink is allowed during the fasting period?

Coffee, tea, water and other non-caloric beverages are generally approved to be consumed during the fasting period.  

In most cases, I think sticking to just coffee, tea and water is best.  

The minute a person sneaks a calorie in here and there, the floodgates can open.  Just avoid calories during the fast altogether, it will help you stay focused.  

How to make periods of fasting easier?

Discipline. 

Seriously.  Go deeper within yourself ask the simple question of, “How bad is it really?”  

Another helpful tip when trying something new is having some anticipation on what to expect.  If you’ve rarely fasted beyond hours spent sleeping, be prepared for hunger pains.   

Again, expect to be hungry.  

To sugar coat it less, Intermittent Fasting is a choice.  If you can’t handle what comes with it, move on to something else.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.

I can tell you this from experience:  If you can grind your way through the first 10-14 days of trying intermittent fasting, you’ll be just fine.   

For many people, coffee and water can help to supress appetite and keep hunger pains at bay.   

Look past the superficial hunger pains, don’t let them control your mind.  Instead, look forward to the increase in mental clarity many people find during periods of fasting.  I sure did.  

Since there are many different methods of intermittent fasting, consider less aggressive methods where the fast is not so long.  Work up to it.  

Nutrition can, and often does, drive a person insane.  Way more than exercise in my opinion.  

There are great winds of changes with regard to nutrition.  The research is pumped out at an extremely high frequency, the prescription about what is “best” is conflicting and confusing.  

Personally, I think the promotion of not eating (aka: fasting) has been slow to gain popularity because the food industry doesn’t want people to reduce eating.  A reduction in eating means a reduction in revenue, plain and simple. 

What business is ok taking a massive hit to their revenue?  None I’m aware of.

So recommending people to eat less is not something big food business wants on billboards, TV commercials or internet advertisements.  

Exercise, from my vantage point, is pretty clear cut.  Incorporate resistance training, cardio, stretching and mobility, rest when needed and aim to use daily workouts to make progress over the long-term.  

Want to get stronger?  Lift weights (mostly free weights or progressive body weight) and try to increase the amount of weight lifted over time. 

Want to improve cardio endurance?  Do cardio.  Include short burst high-intensity intervals (10sec-3min), mid-range intervals (5-15 minutes) and long slow aerobic cardio here and there.  

Ok, off the topic of exercise, back to intermittent fasting.

Airbike Workouts Part 1| Time, Distance, Recovery and Hybrid Variations

Airbike Workouts, Motion

The airbike is a near total-body, beast of a conditioning tool.

I’ve been an avid user and advocate of airbikes for over 10 years so for what’s it worth, I will speak on their effectiveness as a conditioning tool.

I love to hate on my Assault Bike, always have.

But don’t let the rumors about airbikes scare you off.  Any workout on an airbike can be scaled to suit your current fitness level or goals for the workout.  Not every training session needs to be “torturous” or end of days.  

My experience with airbikes…

During the first 8 years, I owned the only airbike on the market, a large fan Schwinn Airdyne.  It was a vintage model: gold metal frame, plenty loud and weighed as much as a refrigerator.  For $150 on Craigslist, I couldn’t pass it up.   

The problem with the Airdyne bike is they break down.  Mine blew apart on me, literally.  Others who have owned these older model Airdyne bikes have probably had similar experiences.  The Airdyne was a great piece of equipment but had poor durability when used consistently with higher intensity workouts.  

The damage proved too much to repair (finding replacement parts is a nightmare),  so I chose to invest in the next generation airbike, the LifeCore Assault Airbike.  

The main reason for the purchase was my belief in the versatility and overall training effect an airbike can inject into a workout program.  Plus, once I purchased my Concept2 rower, the mechanics of each offset each other quite well.  

For the past 2 years, 33% of my machine-based cardio workouts have been satisfied using the Assault bike (33% on the rower, 33% running).  

I purchased my Assault Bike from Amazon.com with Free Prime Shipping, trust in Amazon as an online retailer and a killer price of $799 (usually $999).  The same deal is still live on the site to this day.  

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Though I felt it was important to share how I came into ownership of my current Assault bike, it’s not the point of this article.  

Enough with the back story, let’s talk about how you can bring airbikes into your training sessions using several different methods… 

Hybrid Work-Capacity Training

As mentioned earlier, airbikes are more versatile than most people know.  Sure, they provide a tremendous training effect on their own, but the challenge gets cranked up a notch when positioned inside of a bigger workout. 

Here’s an example of a hybrid workout (airbike mixed with other exercises):

Complete 5 Rounds (as fast as possible)

20 Squats

10 Pull-Ups

20 Push-Ups

15 Lunges

15 Hollow Body Rocks

20 calorie Airbike

*** Caution:  Your soul (and your oxygen) will be consumed by round 3 and fully digested by round 4 or 5.  

Workouts like this a built on simplicity.  No fancy exercises needed .  The focus of this workout is to perform as much work in as little time as possible.  

A 20 calorie ride may take roughly 25-40 seconds depending on how hard you’re pushing.  Choosing calories as the target can provide increased motivation to pedal harder since the calories will accumulate quicker with higher output, or slower with lower output.

Adding an airbike sprint to the end of each round adds an injury-free exertional challenge. 

Expect major fatigue here.

Airbikes kick ass alone…

Let’s not forget how great of a training stimulus airbikes provide by themselves.  

I’m talking about doing nothing else along with it, just hopping on the bike and working hard for a set period of time, distance or calories.

The 5-Mile Ride for Time is an excellent choice.

Keeping a workout simple can mean keeping your objectives simple, and is often the best choice for the day.

Sore or lacking time?…

For the individual who finds themselves frequently pressed for time but wants to workout, airbikes can provide a potent workout solutions in less than 20 minutes, including a warm-up.

That’s hard to beat.

Here’s a classic distance based interval training workout…

.3 Mile Sprints 

  • Complete 6-12 rounds of a target distance of .3 mile
  • Each sprint is 100% effort for best time.
  • Work:Rest Ratios (Example: 1:3 = 30 second sprint, 90 second rest)
    • Beginner – 1:4 
    • Intermediate – 1:2 or 1:3
    • Advanced – 1:1 or 1:2

An distance-based workout like this will take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on how many rounds

If you’re capable of a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio without any significant drop-off in watt output in the later rounds, you’re an animal and probably need to increase the distance per work bout.  

Most people won’t touch a 1:1 work-to-rest scenario, and that’s perfectly ok. 

Progressive fitness is smart fitness, right?

An Ideal Recovery Solution…  

For the person who’s suffering from delayed onset muscle soreness or simply looking for a low-impact workout, a long and slow ride on the airbike can serve as a great total body recovery tool.  

To measure effort best, I suggest using a heart rate monitor with chest strap to track beats per minute.  Try to keep heart rate below a target beats per minutes, say 130-150bpm.  Typically I aim for 150bpm with my recovery rides. 

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you can keep your RPM’s below a certain pace, anywhere from 55-70 RPM.  This pace translates well with the 130-150bpm suggestion.    

Both beats per minute and RPM’s will depend on your current fitness level of course.  Some folks with ride at 60RPM and see a heart rate of 150bpm.  Others could ride at the same pace and see a heart rate of 130bpm or less.  

This is fitness, unique to each person.

Once you identify a manageable pace, aim to ride for an extended distance or time.  

Personally, I prefer riding a distance of 10-15 miles or 30-40 minutes for recovery.  Grab some water and a towel, set the bike up in front of the TV, put the headphones in and start riding.  

Post-recovery ride, you should feel good, not drained, just good.

 

During interval training, pay attention to recovery…

My goals during an interval training workout are not solely centered around my output.  

Ability to recover quickly, fully and repeatedly is an important adaptation of training.  

It’s worth measuring from workout to workout, month to month.  Recovery tells a story.  For some it can indicate over-training.  For others, it can indicate improvements in cardiovascular conditioning.  

Example:  If your output is 1000 watts during interval #1 but drops off to 800 watts during interval #2, this is an indication you were not recovered enough between work bouts to maintain initial intensity.  You could expect interval #3 to be even worse.  

This is an example of a mis-managed workout.  The workout looked great on paper but didn’t translate well when it came time for application.  

Interval training, much like resistance training, should be programmed progressively.  If you’re a beginner, you’ll need more rest between work bouts.  If you’re well conditioned, you may need to decrease your rest periods or increase the work interval while maintaining a steady watt output.  

One major benefit of interval training with an airbike is the ability to start and stop quickly.  When the interval begins, it’s easy to get the bike up to speed.  The interval ends and it’s easy to back off and recover in a comfortable position and pace.  

Part of the art of interval training is managing the work bouts and the rest periods according to your fitness level and goals for the workout.  

We want to develop our ability to exert at higher and higher intensities (adding duration) during the interval, yet we also want to train our body to recover faster between efforts.  

If you’re tanking from fatigue on the first couple of intervals, it’s defeating the purpose altogether.

Monitoring improvements in recovery time can provide valuable insight on the body’s adaptation to physical exertion.  

With discipline, consistency and appropriate progression in interval length and rest periods, your body will improve its ability to exert but also recover from that exertion.

*** Beginners will take longer to recover after performing work than a more conditioned individual.  

Connect your mind to your body for recovery…

One important, yet overlooked strategy to recovery is to become AWARE.

Get in touch with how your body is feeling during the workout.  Check your breath.  Are you breathing deep, with control and purpose?  

Or are you neck breathing in full panic mode?

Control your breathing, calm your thoughts, do your best to relax during the rest periods.  

Allowing your thoughts run wild is the wrong way to recover, but it’s what we often default to when physical stress becomes overwhelming.  Developing capacity to control your mental self-talk in times of physical stress is a character builder.  

The mental-self frequently acts as a governor to the physical-self.  In other words, your mental will give out before your physical will.  

Physical stress alters our state, perceptions and rational thinking.

Learning to anticipate, manage and expand our ability to handle physical stress is important.  

It’s worth asking the question:  “Is this really that bad?”

Time-based Interval Training

Time-based interval training is a classic strategy to training on any piece of cardio equipment.  Comparing effort with time is highly applicable to sport, and provides great benefits to general population looking for tough workouts.    

Here are several of my favorites, varying in length:

Short: 20 seconds work/ 40 seconds rest

  • 1:2 Work-to-Rest Ratio
  • 5 to 10 rounds
  • All out sprint for 20 sec work interval.

Don’t hold back on this sprint.  20 seconds is short enough to max out your watts.

Intermediate: 30 seconds work/60 seconds rest

  • 1:2 Work-to-Rest Ratio
  • 6-8 rounds.
  • All out sprint for the 30 sec work interval.

Long: 60 Second work/120 second rest

  • 1:2 Work-to-Rest Ratio
  • 5-8 Rounds
  • Find pace for the 60 seconds.

Any working interval extending beyond 30-40 seconds will have to be paced.  

Maximum effort cannot be sustained across the timeframe.  With newer generation airbikes, managing effort can be gauged several ways: watts and RPM’s.  Use both to monitor output during the work interval.  

It will take some painful trial and error (and honesty) to pinpoint the highest output you’re capable of sustaining across during of 60 seconds.  

Choose an output based on the last 10-15 seconds of the work interval when fatigue is highest, not the first 30 seconds of the work interval.  

It’s easy to come out of the gates hard during interval training, only to see output drop off drastically.

The goal of this workout is to sustain end range output across the entire 60 seconds.  It’s important to note that end rage output for 60 seconds will not be the same as it is for 20-30 seconds.  

Closing it out… 

If you’ve read other posts on Meauxtion, my promotion of airbike training might seem to conflict with the current “movement culture” approach.  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.

The cool part about fitness is there are MANY ways to “do” fitness, and I see value in participating in ALL of them.

Too much of any one “thing” can end up being a bad thing because you’re excluding other “things” that can provide value and balance.

Make sense?

Cardio machines such as airbikes, rowers, SkiErgs, and Versaclimbers serve a valuable purpose inside of a long-term term training regimen.  

Keep your mind open, train hard, and let me know how you did with these workouts.

 

Cheers,

Kyle

 

Pistol Squat Progressions For Beginners

Motion

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Pew, pew, pew… pistol squats.

There are few exercises that accomplish more for functional lower body performance than single leg squats, aka “pistol squats’.  They’ve been referred to as the “king of lower body strength training”, and I cannot disagree.  

Here are some key benefits of pistol squat training:

  • Improve single leg performance (strength, balance, stability, etc)
  • Challenge movement complexity beyond regular squats
  • Training body control and coordination
  • Low reps, high reward
  • Mind/body focus
  • Assessment for movement deficits (strength, balance, flexibility, etc)
  • Portable strength (you can do them anywhere)

I’ll expand on each of these benefits in a separate article.  For now, the takeaway is pistol squats are a potent lower body performance enhancer, connect the mind and body to a greater degree, progress body control and coordination, and you can practice them anywhere.  

Symmetry

Building symmetrical strength, balance, and coordination between the right and left sides of the body provides immediate and noticeable benefits to performance in daily life and sport.  Bilateral squats are not bad, but they can mask deficits and encourage compensations.  Your body is extremely good at finding a way to complete exercises by any means necessary, even if the movement is full of compensations. 

For a lot of people, one of the great payoffs in practicing physical fitness is that one moment when you realize a physical task was executed that wasn’t previously possible.  Surprisingly yourself physically is rewarding.

“Oh, I can do that now”.

Unknowingly, many daily tasks are performed on one leg.  Improving one’s ability to perform on one leg makes doing anything on two legs that much more efficient.

Personally, increasing my focus on improving pistol squat performance has saved my lower-back, and served as a door opener to more advanced movement flows.  

More so, single leg training brought to light my own right/left performance deficits.  I won’t say I became a better person once I cleaned up my asymmetries, but my performance saw improvement and nagging irritations went away.  

If you find yourself unable to mirror a range of motion, or lift a similar amount of weight on one side of the body but not the other, it’s worth investigating why these differences exist.  

It could be because of favoritism.  Right/left side favoritism is common.  I have it, you have it, we all have it. Repetitively completing tasks using the same arm or leg can slowly create imbalances, which may or may not manifest into acute or chronic issues down the road.

Examples:  Stepping up or down a ladder with the same leg, using the same arm for heavy lifting or carrying, slinging the work bag over the same shoulder, driving with the same hand on the steering wheel tilted to the same side.

I’m not saying audit your entire life and become a hypochondriac with these things, just be aware favoritism exists.

Though it is important to practice traditional bilateral squats (2-legs), single leg training, even if only using one’s body weight, addresses gaps left unfilled by regular squats.  

Balancing on one leg requires hip stabilizers to wake up and participate.  This is a positive for those who sit for long periods throughout the day. 

Leverage Exercise Progression

For a beginner, a full round of pistol squats may seem unachievable, and only for the “fit”.  This is bullshit.  

The “fit” didn’t enter this world sporting six-packs while ripping out pistol squats, just as the wealthy (typically) haven’t always been wealthy.  The simple truth is your body isn’t acclimated to the mechanics of the pistol squats yet.  Leveraging proper exercise progression and dedicated practice, a full pistol squat is a lot closer than you’d think.

If you’re unable to execute a pistol squat, the simple truth is that your body isn’t acclimated to do so.  It’s a sign you may be lacking strength, flexibility or coordination, all of which can be improved quickly through proper exercise progression and practice.

You’re a lot closer to doing pistol squats than you think.

With proper progression and some tenacity for achievement, the human body adapts to be strength and new patterns quickly.  

The power of progression is why I continue to demonstrate progression roadmaps leading to these “big bang for your buck” exercises.

All 3 of the following exercise progressions can be used regardless if you’ve been squatting with two-legs or using supported single leg squat variations.  Though these exercises are a nice stepping stone, they are not necessary if the exercise is regressed back far enough to be manageable.

Variation #1:  Suspension Trainer Assisted Pistol Squats

Use the suspension trainer to guide your body into and out of the squat.  Grip the handles with intent and use the arms to lessen the intensity as needed.  Slowly ask your legs to do more work as you gain strength.  

3-5 sets of 5-8 reps per leg

Variation #2:  Pinch Grip Assisted Pistol Squats

This pistol squat progression is demonstrated using a squat rack, but a door frame will work just as well.  Grip the rack or doorframe with your fingertips, lower into the squat and back up, assisting as needed.  Slowly soften the grip as you become more efficient.  Move to a 2 or 3 finger pinch grip to increase the challenge.  

3-5 sets of 5-8 reps per leg

Variation #3: Dowel Assisted Pistol Squats

The dowel acts as unstable assistance in this progression.  This unstable assistance provides an introduction to a training effect similar to an unassisted pistol squat.  Maintaining balance throughout the range of motion will have the hip, knee, and core stabilizers working overtime.  

Expect to feel soreness in the days from maintaining balance throughout the work set. 

3 sets of 4-6 reps per leg

All three of these exercises should be used as progressions to a fully unsupported single leg pistol squat.   Keep in mind that each exercise demonstrates a full range of motion.  

Select a progression according to your current fitness level.  Aim to graduate to the next most difficult progression as you gain strength and efficiency. 

If this article was helpful, leave me a comment, or check out others like it.

Next steps?  Get after it.  

Cheers, 

Kyle 

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Ido Portal Exercises for Beginners| Lizard Crawl Variations

Ido Portal

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The goal of this article is to present several of my homemade lizard crawl regressions to get a newbie acclimated.  Most of these drills were designed to help myself better understand the mechanics of the lizard crawl, and I’d like to share them with you…  

The Lizard Crawl exercise, from my point of view, is the king of the ground-based locomotion drills.  It’s a monster of an exercise, best broken down into digestible segments if you’re a beginner to such training.

Lizard crawling is jam-packed with physical benefits that spill over into all other areas of one’s physical practice.  The lizard crawl will test joint range of motion and stability, muscular endurance and strength, core strength/stability/endurance and motor control all in one shot.  

Another positive side effect of lizard crawling is conditioning.  It’s pure work when you’re inefficient and learning.  Expect to be winded with heart rate will be soaring after several yards.  

Although a successful lizard crawl is a total body effort, the upper body is tested to a great degree.  The lizard crawl elicits a similar training effect to more common crawling variations (bear, crab, etc) and progresses it a step further.  

Remaining in the low position for the duration of the crawl is what does most people in.  

A full blown lizard crawl is deceptively difficult.  Watching someone like Ido Portal lizard crawl (a world class movement practitioner), it’s easy to think, “Doesn’t look too bad, it’s just crawling, I could do that”.  And maybe you can.  If so, good on you.

But for most people, the mechanics are complex.  As mentioned earlier, joint position and range of motion, the timing of the hands and feet, core activation in difficult positions may completely foreign.  

Foreign = struggle bus.     

I do suggest you watch several of these videos and test abilities to give yourself a baseline for improvement.  

Even if you’re able to crawl several feet on both sides, the next challenge is to add some distance to the movement.  

Without further ado, here are few more lizard crawl variations to slip into your workouts demonstrated by yours truly…

Lizard Crawl Variation #1 – 2 Hands + 1 Foot

In this variation, we are going to keep two hands in contact with the floor while practicing hip range of motion and foot placement.  Softly move the knee up beyond waist height and place the ball of the foot on the floor.  Lower into the bottom of the push-up, chest hovering roughly 2 inches above the floor. Pause, looking forward, return to the start position.

Lizard Crawl Variation #2 – Soft Arm Reach

Introduction to reaching with the lead arm.  We will remain stationary for the time being.  Expect the complexity to ramped up significantly once movement is introduced.  This variation involves a soft slide of the lead arm, straight out and back in.  This also provides some sensation of what it will feel like supporting the body on one arm, another challenging aspect of the lizard crawl.  

Same exercise cues as the previous variation, lower step with the leg, plant with the ball of the foot, lower down with control, but now slide the hand out softly.  Breathe. 

Lizard Crawl Variation #3 – “Alligator” Arms and Legs

To give you a taste of some dynamic movement, here is the short-arm variation of the lizard crawl.  I refer to it as an “alligator” progression.  The idea is to reach with a limited range of motion, keeping the elbows flexed and close to the rib cage.  This elbow position is far more manageable versus reaching out into full extension.  

Also, notice the limited range of motion on the foot placement.  Plant with the ball of the foot, stabilize and find your bearings, breathe, now move the hands and support.  Slowly move forward, do not rush.  

This variation provides a humbling introductory training stimulus to the full lizard crawl.  Many will begin to understand the complexity the exercise while practicing this variation.  

The pathway to improvement is practice.  Don’t be discouraged by your initial attempts, because it may be a frustrating experience, even if you considered yourself to be well conditioned.  

It’s common to find joint mobility, stability, core strength and endurance to be lacking, all of which can be practiced using the three drills I’ve shared.  Each will lead you to the next and progress will be made.    

If you’d interested in learning more about the Ido Portal Method training philosophy, check out this popular article I wrote several years ago…

 

For now… let me know how you made out.

Cheers…

Kyle 

Landmine Training| A Simple Workout for Fat Loss

fat loss, Landmine Training

 

The landmine attachment is a hybrid workout tool and a great addition to any home gym set-up.

Landmine attachments are a part free weight/part fixed range of motion apparatus.  One end of the barbell slides inside of the landmine sleeve while the other end is controlled by the user.  The sleeved end of the barbell pivots about a range of motion as the user engages in pressing, pulling and grappling with the free end.

Here’s a video…

Similar to barbell training, the exercises can be progressed by adding weight plates or increasing the complexity of the exercise.  Training factors like reps, sets, time under tension may also be adjusted to suit the needs of the individual.

The user controls the free end of the barbell, which will travel through an arcing, fixed range of motion.  Commonly barbells are 7 feet in length, so the range of motion is wide.

For the beginner, no weight or a very limited amount of weight may be necessary to familiarize oneself with the functionality of the set-up.

The barbell/landmine integration adds another dimension of unique exercises to a person’s exercise selection.  Many of these exercises will surface in future articles, though a few will be discussed in this post. which will be discussed briefly with the elements of this workout, but in greater detail in future articles.

Nearly any traditional exercise can be performed using a landmine, the main difference becomes this “fixed range of motion” feature.  Having a fixed range of motion transforms many exercises into “angled exercises”, naturally.  

Using the landmine in combination short rest and a high amount of work can inject a much-needed freshness to fat loss workouts where creating EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) is the goal.  Maximum metabolic disruption.  

Obviously, nutrition is an important piece of any body transformation, but including challenging workouts will increase the speed at which fat is burned and lean muscle is earned.

This simple landmine complex workout is just one in an entire Rolodex of workout options.  I plan to share them all, so strap in.

The Workout…

 Perform each exercise in descending order for the reps listed… 

Split Stance Angled Press x 5 right/left

Reverse Lunge x5 right/left

Bent Over Row x6 right/left

Front Squat x6 

Landmine Grappler T

Single Leg Deadlift x6 right/left

This workout might be considered a complex, where all of the work is performed and rest is taken at the end of the last rep of single leg deadlifts.  

I recommend working through 3-6 total rounds of this landmine complex.  

Rest will vary based on a person’s current conditioning, but 45-90 seconds is generally appropriate for most people.  

I’ve had complexes where I rested for 45 seconds in between early rounds (1-3), and longer in between later rounds (4-6) based on my fatigue level.  Adjust the rest as needed.    

There is no right or wrong amount, the key is to push yourself without sacrificing exercise technique.

[Sidenote: If this type of training interests you, all landmine workout ideas are going to be continually posted on the M[EAUX}TION YouTube page and described in further detail later on the blog.]

Closing it out…

Using the landmine in combination less rest and a higher amount of work can inject a much-needed freshness to fat loss specific training where EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) is the goal.  EPOC, in my world, is simply creating a training effect specific to burning fat loss.  It can be achieved through many methods:  cardio, resistance training or a combination of both.

Short-term metabolic disruption.  Stressing the body to expand performance.

Doing more work in less time is one way to measure and describe work capacity. Work capacity-oriented workouts are a very potent method to assist in reducing body fat.  

Obviously, I cannot tell you it is the ONLY WAY (because this is not true), but there is no arguing the “lean out effect” from doing more physical work in less time.  The training effect is massive, and the benefits extend beyond the workout.

It’s common for people to lose fat despite any nutritional changes.

Lower-load resistance training coupled with interval-style bursts develops work-capacity beyond what traditional cardio can offer, while maintaining the potency of resistance-training.  The keyword in the bolded/underlined sentence is “lower”.  Sub-maximal weight is best for metabolic workouts.

For the record, I don’t feel metabolic workouts trump traditional cardio.  You’ll see this as the M(EAUX)TION content grows.  Both have their place in training as useful tools.

In the future, you’ll see more landmine workouts posted, except integrated with bodyweight exercises and other training tools to increase the flavor and shake things up a bit.  

Bodyweight exercise always pairs nicely, whether it’s traditional (push-ups, pull-ups, etc) or new-school ground-based movements like you’d find in Animal Flow.

 

For now, get going on this workout, let me know how you made out.

KG

Turkish Get-Ups: “Press at Every Step” Variation

Kettlebell Training

Turkish Get-Ups (TGU’s) are one of the great kettlebell exercises.   Nevermind kettlebell exercises, they are one of the great movement training drills we’ve got.

When I am asked, “What are the best exercises I should be doing?”

Turkish Get-Ups are always a part of my answer.

This is a heavy question to ask and even heavier to answer.  Responses will differ depending who you’re asking but generally speaking, there is too much movement value, low risk and high reward with Turkish Get-Ups to leave it out.

Few other exercises provide the total body training effect of Turkish Get-Ups.  

Like any exercise, TGU’s have an infinite amount of variations, add-ons, and programming option (sets, reps, time, weight, etc).  Practicing variations is a nice way to introduce a movement challenge and avoid the onset of boredom.

Make no mistake, keeping training fresh is important across the long-term.

One of those variations is the “press at every step”.

This TGU variation involves performing five presses in the following positions:

  1.  Lying position.
  2.  Elbow support.
  3.  Hand support.
  4.  Half-keeling.
  5.  Standing.

Press #1:  Lying Position

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This is the only true horizontal press of the five listed.  “Horizontal”, meaning you’re pressing from the back of the body to the front of the body (anterior to posterior then back to anterior again), similar to the mechanics of a traditional bench press.  Lower the weight down until the elbow makes light contact with the ground, pause, press back up.

Press #2: Elbow Support

FullSizeRenderPressing from the elbow support position will be a new experience for a lot of people.  Expect this to feel unnatural and use cautionary judgment with weight here.  The trajectory of the kettlebell is slightly different than any traditional pressing exercise. 

Press #3:  Hand Support

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This body position will likely be the most awkward press of them all.  Remain rigid from waist to shoulder.  Naturally, your body is going to want to crease or your ribs are going to flail.  Avoid letting either happen.  Stay rigid and press! 

Press #4:  Half-kneeling

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Training in the half-kneeling narrow stance position is a natural core blaster and can reveal side-to-side differences in symmetry.  You might be steady with the left knee up, but hardly maintain the position with the right knee up.

Turkish Get-Ups aside, half-kneeling pressing is a natural overhead pressing progression into the standing press.

Press #5:  Standing

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Finally, standing at last.  In the world of “functional training”, this is as functional as it gets.  Pressing objects overhead is a common task in life.  Unfortunately, most of the objects pressed overhead in life aren’t evenly weighted with nice handles.

Here is a video of a full “Press at Every Step” Turkish Get-Up…

 

Whether you’re craving a movement challenge or simply a new variation of a timeless exercise, give this one a shot.  Be prepared for sore shoulders and core in the days that follow.  Five presses inside of each TGU repetition accumulates a lot of work for the upper extremities.  

For more great kettlebell exercise variations, I recommend two resources.  The first is a landmark book from the modern day Godfather of kettlebell training, Pavel Psatsouline.  There isn’t a kettlebell professional who hasn’t read Pavel’s ongoing work with kettlebell training.  

The second resource is a full training system from Chris Lopez designed to improve body composition using kettlebells, more specifically fat loss.  Kettlebells are unique in their ability to burn fat when used systematically.  Chris has published a number of kettlebell training programs focused on how to  “lean out” using kettlebells for quite some time.   

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Most importantly, let me know how you made out with this TGU variation…

 

Cheers, 

Kyle