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 

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

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-10-35-21-am

*** 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 

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-7-05-25-am

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

 

 

Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie and Adding Burpees to My Kettlebell Complex Workout Kicked Ass

Quick Tips

Image

Burpees and I have a love/hate relationship, and I’m sure that most of you probably have similar feelings.  

On one hand, full burpees are as close as it gets to being a complete bodyweight exercise.

Burpees are ridiculously effective for elevating heart rate and recruiting a large amount of muscles.  Large muscular recruitment is a beautiful thing.  Burpees require little to no space, zero equipment and you can perform them anywhere.  Indoors or outdoors it does not matter.  Burpee workouts are a perfect alternative to traditional running or biking.

On the other hand- the hand that despises every aspect of the burpee- burpees are the red headed step child of my workouts.  When I see them on the docket for the day, I cringe.  I cringe because they test me every single time.  I cannot think of a single workout where burpees felt easy.  If there was a workout where burpees were enjoyable like a walk on a white sand beach on a hot Summer day, that would be a major red flag that I didn’t design my workout properly, or I was leaving something in the tank (aka:  Half-assing it).  Burpees are the vegetables of the workout world.  They require very little thought and are quite monotonous when performed for high reps.

But, when weighing the likes and dislikes toward burpees, I know full well that slipping burpees into a workout can crank up the overall impact of the workout.  The training effect if you will.  In other words, I’ve never felt worse (physically or mentally) after performing burpees at the end of a circuit or as a workout by themselves.  

Burpees deliver every single time.  

ImageShakira’s hips don’t lie and neither does my heart rate monitor.

So while I started thinking about different sub-maximal activities that I could integrate into my complex workouts- to keep my heart rate elevated in between rounds- burpees were one of the first exercises that came to mind.  It seemed like slipping them in between rounds could deliver what I was looking for.  Preferably, the filler exercise needed to be ground based and something that kept me in a vertical standing position.

So, here is what the workout evolved into:

Image

Again, the goal here was to add another 5 minutes of elevated heart rate and exertion to my training session.  I know from extensive experience that the kettlebell complex displayed in the snapshot typically takes 12-15 minutes to complete in full, so my goal was to extend the workout to 20 minutes or longer.  The addition of the burpees between complex rounds successfully did just that.

Overall, I enjoyed the addition.  I’ve added timed jump rope intervals to my complexes before, and they worked quite well.  But since I can’t seem to find a jump rope that can live longer than 2-3 months before breaking, I was forced to use burpees.  The key to adding filler exercises to tough workouts is to choose exercises that require low technical know-how.  When you’re sucking wind, trying to gather yourself before the next bout of exertion, this is not the time to be messing around with movements that have high technical difficulty.  

In fact I will just come out and say it… it’s stupid.  The risk doesn’t even come close to matching the reward.  Avoid it and you’ll put yourself in a better position to avoid injury while reaping all of the good that can come from a workout like this.

Closing thoughts…

The majority of my workouts are by design.  I rarely walk into a workout without knowing what’s about to happen, which is why I think I have adhered to this physical lifestyle for so long, and why I will remain committed to moving aggressively and intelligently for years to come.  It’s habit now, fully engrained into my life.

Each workout (or entire program) follows a general training template that I’ve got embedded in my mind.  Early in my strength and conditioning education, I consumed book after book and realized that everyone was using the same general approach to designing effective workouts and long-term programs, so I began adapting and experimenting with slight variations to these time tested principles.  

My personal preference is a system wide, total body approach to exercising, so I know that I like to see all of the major movement patterns represented in each training session (ex: squat, pressing, pulling, hip hinge, etc).  Body part splits are not for me.  I get bored.  Working a squat pattern four different ways on the same day is un-interesting to me.  But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great option for your fitness endeavors.

I also have a crystal clear distinction between what I classify as a purpose driven workout, and what I classify as a recreational activity.  Playing ice hockey on Wednesday nights is recreational.  Kettlebell complexes are a workout.  My approach doesn’t downplay the positives of recreational activities (because they do matter overall), but I feel that there is a major difference between “the workout” and pick up basketball.  

At the end of the day, movement in any shape or form adds up, and there is no denying this.  Any way that you can engage in it, it’s a bonus.  We can debate the details all day long, but the bottom line is make an effort to sit less and move more.  That’s a recipe worth following.

Here is a great video that diagrams how dramatic even the smallest shift in movement can have on health.  

 

 

Cheers to adding burpees to the workout…

 

KG 

The 5 minute Kettlebell Swing + Burpee Challenge

Quick Tips

I love metabolic challenges, especially ones that incorporate kettlebells and burpees.

If you didn’t get a chance to check out the burpee challenge from a few days ago, I suggest that you do.  It’s a tough workout that will definitely get your heart rate up.

—>  Metabolic Challenges/Finishers Over Boring Cardio

I favor metabolic challenge workouts, sometimes referred to as “finishers”, because they test your mind and body in a controlled setting.  The movements and reps/sets (aka: volume) should always be structured to YOUR own physical abilities, not someone else’s.  Nothing during a metabolic workout should be forced.

It is crucial that a high tempo work capacity style training session have progressions and regressions.  One size does not fit all.  The workout should be scaled to fit each of us on an individual level.  This will decrease the likelihood of injury while promoting physical transformation and improvements in performance.

Once you have proven that you can move efficiently without pain and have acquired adequate strength, stability and mobility to execute basic exercise like squats, push-ups, chin-ups, lunges and planks, it may be time to consider mixing in some metabolic work.

Remember this picture from a recent post?…

Strength Cardio Movements

I use “cardio-strength” and “metabolic” interchangeably…

At the very least, you can mix in some short burst finishers toward the end of your strength training session.  Adding finishers to the end of a workout will shift the way that you think about conditioning.  I know that it did for me.  It was a game changer.

There is nothing wrong with traditional activities like bike and hill sprinting, but to be honest, I find it painfully boring.  I know for a fact that I do not sit alone with these feelings.  Boring cardiovascular training can actually do more harm than good.  If you dread boring cardio to the point that you choose not to workout at all, that’s bad.  It shouldn’t have to be this way.

Boring Cardio Hamster Wheel

Do you ever feel like this while working out?

You don’t have to be a fanatic about your training habits, but long-term adherence to a life full of movement requires that at the very least you find some amount of enjoyment from your workouts.

The main point is that you have great alternatives to the long, slow, boring treadmill trot.  Finishers will keep your training fresh and challenging.  The return on investing in finishers is large.

I will always encourage beginners, novice and even advanced trainees to continue to make conscious efforts to improve strength and power.  This will never change.  So much good comes from building basic strength.

In a normal training session, after working through a complete warm up, strength and power work should be next on the day’s agenda.  Most workouts will require anywhere from 15-20 minutes to work through 2-3 tri-sets of strength/power enhancing movements.

—>  Kettlebells and burpees collide

Lifeline Kettlebells

Lifeline Kettlebells…

I am a huge kettlebell fan.

Kettlebells changed my perception of working out.  Kettlebells brought  the importance of strong, stable, free-flowing movement back into the fitness equation.  You have to be 3-dimensionally strong to lift, swing and carry a kettlebell.  My gym sessions transformed from a of time devoted to the typical big lifts- squats, pressing and pulling- to ground based movement sessions that built strength and stability using in greater ranges of motion.

I now have a level of stability, mobility, and functional strength that I didn’t know was possible for me to have.  Kettlebells aren’t a miracle, but the shift that they caused in my views on what an effective workout could be certainly make them one of the most influential pieces of training equipment I have ever used.

Kettlebell training is represents true movement.

The Turkish Get Up

Segue…

Next, the reason that we’re gathered here in the first place.

—>  The kettlebell swing + burpee metabolic challenge

I cannot remember where I first saw a version of this challenge posted, so please forgive me.

Credit belongs to someone out there, so take it if you’re deserving of it.

I’ve adapted it to fit my needs over the years, as I do with most everything related to training.

 

Tools needed:  To complete this challenge, you’ll need a kettlebell that you can swing for about 15-18 reps continuously for multiple sets.  I use a 24kg or a 28kg kettlebell for a finisher like the one described below.  Have some kind of timing device on hand.  I always go with my trusty GymBoss.

You’ll also need an open space of about 8ft x 8ft.  This should work just fine.  You can get by with less- and I have- but the more the merrier.  The ceiling of the space you are training in should be high enough to avoid hitting the top of your head when jumping.  If you’ve got clearance, you’re in business.

Here is how the challenge is formatted…

kettlebell + burpee workout

Make sense?

Take note of how each round accumulates burpee reps while the kettlebell swings remain the same.  It’s a very simple format to remember.  Two exercise finishers work great because they take very little thought.

The weight of kettlebell used will vary from person to person, but in general I would go with the following:

Females:  12-16kg

Males:  24-28kg

Of course there are going to be those of you who can use heavier kettlebells than what I suggested, but these are common weights for each gender.

The ultimate goal is to finish in 5 minutes.

I won’t p that I “think” a beginner, novice or advanced trainee should be able to finish a challenge like this in.  That’s not the point.  The goal is to finish in 5 minutes, end of story.  Anything longer than that indicates that you have a goal to work toward.  Sound good?

Stop Sign Warning

—->  Mandatory warnings to this workout

If you have never swung a kettlebell before or you aren’t proficient in swinging kettlebells for higher volumes or while under fatigue, this is not the time to test yourself.  Work up then work in.

Lastly, technique breakdown automatically initiates rest until technique can be maintained.  Fatigue kills exercise technique.  Leave your ego at the door when you train, it will save your body from injury.

Work smart and hard, not smart and reckless.

Give it a shot, have some fun and post how you finish up…

Cheers to the conditioning without boredom!

KG

How Fast Can You Complete the 100 Burpee Challenge?

Quick Tips

ImageThe Burpee.

I’ve been obsessed with work capacity style workouts for quite sometime now, and I have a love/hate relationship with burpees.  Burpees have been a main ingredient in many of these workouts, and for damn good reason.

Burpees are one of the greatest work total body conditioning exercises known to man.  

Transitioning from a standing position down into a pushup then immediately back into a full squat jump is fatiguing as all heck.  Incredibly fatiguing.

If someone gave me the choice between burpees, kettlebell swings, Schwinn Airdyne sprints or hill sprints as a work capacity conditioning session, I am going to choose all three of the latter before I choose burpees.  Sorry burpees.  Sometimes the best exercises are the ones that we dread the most.  This is one of those cases for me and many others out there.  

However, since this is a love/hate relationship, I have to admit that the burpee can drastically improve a person’s cardiovascular conditioning while accelerating body composition changes.  

In other words, if you keep working at burpees and get really good at them, you’re going to put yourself into a state of great physical shape and see some serious changes in the mirror.

I wouldn’t never build an entire program around burpees alone- or any exercise- but I would build an entire workout or a solid “finisher” around the burpees.  “Finishers” are sequences of exercises grouped together at the end of a workout to elicit a large metabolic training effect.  They are designed to test your mind and your body, and well, finish you.

If you enjoy leaving the gym feeling highly fatigued- and lets face it most of us do- the 100 burpee for time finisher is a fantastic challenge.  

Here is how it works:

—> The Rules for the 100 Burpee AFAP (as fast as possible) <—

  • Full burpees only (push up and squat jump included).
  • Take breaks as needed but remember you’re racing the clock.
  • Stop if you experience nausea or dizziness.

That’s it.  Set the clock and get to work.  

Now, I know that not everyone is at a fitness level to perform burpees for the full 100 reps.  You may not be able to finish 20 reps.  If this is the case, adjust the challenge to fit you.

Here are some general guidelines for different fitness levels:

 Image

If you’ve never performed a single rep of burpees, you’re a beginner in my book.  Sorry, but you are.  You might be physically fit but you’ve never experienced a single burpee.  Nothing wrong with that.  Never a better time to start implementing the burpee.

What I really like about this challenge is that it requires zero equipment, can be performed anywhere and can serve as a conditioning test that you can continue to re-test to see improvements in fitness.  It’s no different than testing how fast you can run 2-miles.  

One of the keys to work capacity style workouts and finishers is to avoid letting your mind cash checks that your body can’t cash.  

The best work capacity workouts keep the trainee in complete control of their body and the weight being used.  Of course, it’s every person’s responsibility to pull the plug at his or her own discretion.  You’ve got a brain, don’t be afraid to use it, even if it means swallowing your pride and falling short of your goals for the training session.  

If reps get sloppy, stop the set and regroup.  Grab a drink, take a breather, gather yourself.  If you still cannot finish the set after a break in the action, stop.  Done.  Finished.  

Image

Don’t be afraid to pull the plug.

Grinding out one more rep with horrific form isn’t worth the torn rotator cuff, slipped disc in the lower back or tweaked ankle.  There’s no glory in it.  None.

I’d like to think that much of what I advocate on this blog is high tempo, yet safe.  There will be no circus tricks done for high reps just to burn you out and get you fatigued.  Safety is a real concern here.  

Push it hard and to the limit, but in a safe manner.  If you keep that balance, you’ll be able to sustain a life full of physical activity, not just a few years of glory until ligaments and tendons start giving out.  

Building your fitness and preserve your body.  It’s a balance.

Give this challenge a real shot, either as workout in and of itself or as a finisher after a strength training session.  

Submit your time in the comments section!

 

Cheers to 100 beautiful burpees in a row…

 

KG