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 

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

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

 

 

The Swinging Plank

Quick Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Bodyweight control…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A fusion of exercises…

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

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

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

 

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Chaturanga

 

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

Now, what you came here for…

How to do The Swinging Plank

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

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

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

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

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

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Start position of a bear crawl.

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

Technique tips continued…

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

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

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

 

Swing Plank exercise progression…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fix mobility restrictions…

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

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

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

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

Six Degree Flow
Progressive Yoga
Primal Stress

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

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

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

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

In short, anywhere you want.

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

But the reality is that the options are limitless.

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

A sample sequence:

8-10 minutes continuous of:

1a) Bodyweight Lunge x 6 right/left

2a) TacFit Swing Plank x6 right/left

3a) Bodyweight Chin-Up x6

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

Random Discussion…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Cheers,

Kyle

 

Metabolic Conditioning: The Bear Barbell Complex Workout

20 minute Workouts, Quick Tips

“The Bear” Barbell Complex is as close to flowing barbell training with a barbell that you’ll ever get, or at least I have ever gotten.

I’ll assume that “The Bear” is referred to as “The Bear” because of how difficult the workout is.

This complex workout leverages barbells.  Barbells are mostly thought to develop pure strength and power.

The barbell was manufactured to work well for moving heavy weight.  Moving heavy weight creates the ideal training stimulus for building strength.  If a person moves the barbell fast enough across a set distance (Point A to Point B), the barbell becomes a tool that enhances an individuals power.  Think cleans, snatches, jerks, etc.

  • Slower moving + heavy weight = Strength Development
  • Fast moving + medium/heavy weight = Force Production = Power Development

Although barbell training might not be an appetizing fitness solution for a lot of people, taking some time to learn and practice the basics of barbell training can pay a person back ten-fold over time.

My guess is a lot of people avoid barbell training because of the intimidation and unfamiliarity factor, or for some, the uncomfortable sensation of iron grinding against the skin.  Barbell work will develop tough hands over time.

The callouses I cannot help you with… but if you want to know more about barbell training, buy Starting Strength by Mark Rippletoe.  Read a few pages, practice, read a few more pages and practice some more.  There is a wealth of knowledge in Starting Strength that can help you establish the emotional confidence and the technique to play around with the barbell a bit more.

It’s important not to be afraid or intimidated by the barbell.  When people think of barbell training they usually picture a 300lb tank-of-a-man squatting 500lbs, yelling like a maniac during every rep while his friends stand around yelling like maniacs during every rep.

You’re partially right if this is your initial mental picture.  But barbells, and how we use them to develop physical qualities has evolved a lot over the years.

Like any other fitness tool, barbells can be leveraged for other purposes also.

In particular, I enjoy using the barbell during work capacity directed training sessions (aka: metabolic conditioning) or at the end of a workout for a short burst finisher.  Think high reps with lower loads, or a highly concentrated amount of work done in a short time frame, or unique mixture of both.

When I re-stumbled onto the The Bear Barbell Complex a few weeks ago, I reintroduced myself to a style of barbell training that I used to use quite a bit, especially when available workout time was limited.

“What is The Bear Complex?, you ask.

Come a bit closer and let’s take a look…

Barrier to Entry

Tools: Barbell and plates (bumper or standard metal work fine), clock timer such as the GymBoss.
Skill:  Working knowledge of the barbell based exercises listed below.

The Exercises

#1: Power Clean

#2: Front Squat

#3:  Push Press

#4: Back Squat

#5:  Behind-the-neck Push Press

Workout Structure

–  Each movement is performed for 1 repetition before immediately moving into the next exercise.

–  1 Cycle =  1 repetition from #1-#5 in alternating/descending order.  After exercise #5’s rep, return back to exercise #1.

–  1 Round = 7 Cycles

–  Perform 5 Rounds

–  Rest 90 seconds after finishing each round.

–  Barbell weight is dependent on:

  • Weakest lift (the weakest lift determines the appropriate load, which should be sub-maximal)
  • Exercise technique and know-how.
  • Reaction to fatigue (which correlates closely with the deterioration of exercise technique)
  • Advanced Women – 95lbs
  • Advanced Men – 135lbs

The Extended Break-Down…

There are 35 reps of every movement being performed throughout all 5 rounds.  Just 35 reps.  If you consider the volume of a more traditional work-rest training session, where a squat is performed for 8 reps x 3-4sets, the volume is not much higher.

The weight used is also much lighter than a more traditional work-rest set and should be determined by your weakest lift in the complex.  For a lot of people that is going to be the push press, possibly the power clean (grip). I’m asking you to perform 5 reps for each round.  The barbell load should be a sub-maximal, which means that you should be able to push press that barbell for 8-10 reps comfortably.

My suggestions on weight for men and women are not the law.  Adjust the weight to what is appropriate for your current fitness level and know-how.

Every exercise is performed for a single rep before moving into the next exercise.  From rep to rep, you’re alternating between different movement pattern throughout each cycle.  It’s important to understand this aspect of The Bear Complex, because it’s one of it’s features that makes it so physically taxing.

Elevation Change

The barbell begins on the floor and travels to chest height after the clean and during the front squat.  After the front squat the barbell moves overhead after the push press.  The barbell then transitions from the front of the body to the back of the body on the descent down from the push press.

At this point, the barbell rests on the shoulders while you perform a back squat.  At the top of the back squat, the barbell is forcefully pressed overhead once more, and caught back into the front rack position at chest height.  The barbell is guided back to waist height and eventually back down to the floor to prepare for the next cycle, starting with a power clean.

The training stimulus elicited by moving the barbell up and down, front to back, movement to movement creates a large metabolic training effect.

Performing single rep of a movement pattern, followed by single rep of a completely different movement pattern, while bundling a bunch of different movement patterns together in a row (creating a “cycle”) is extremely fatiguing.  It’s provides a unique training stimulus for the body to cope with and also laser-like focus for the mind to keep up with since every rep involves a different movement pattern.

‘Single-rep-alternating-movement-pattern-workouts’ have proven to be an effective variation of traditional complex training, where exercises are performed for multiple repetitions before moving on to the next movement pattern.

If you’re accustomed to sectioning off your complexes, doing 6 reps of one exercise here and 6 reps of another there before moving on, alternating movement patterns with every rep will be a shock to your system.

It’s reiterating once again that alternating the movement pattern on every rep requires great skill.  The barbell is constantly changes levels, stopping and starting in different positions.  The transitions can be brutal.  There’s a high level of focus needed here.

The Fatigue is Coming…

During The Bear Complex, the first few reps/cycles usually don’t feel too rough, but the wave of fatigue that bites you in the ass somewhere around cycle 5, 6 or 7 can be overwhelming.  Possibly so much so that executing all 7 cycles for any 1 round is just plain unreasonable if you’re new it.  Don’t be afraid to remove your hands from the barbell to take a break and to gather yourself.

Loaded conditioning is a fantastic method to burn fat and develop high level work capacity which has great transfer into sport and becoming more resilient toward real life labor, but fatigue can break down your exercise technique.  Don’t be a hero here, be smart.  If 5 rounds is too much, do 4 rounds.  Be reasonable.

Movement technique first and foremost, forever and always.

Pay Attention to your grip integrity

Alternating movement patterns and transitioning the bar to different resting positions can fry your grip.  Consider that the bar is moving from the floor, to chest to over head, to shoulders, back to overhead and finally back down to the floor position.  That’s a lot of bar movement.  Don’t be afraid to walk away from the barbell if your grip starts to slip.  A quality grip is needed for the cleans.  Attempting to pull a barbell with a poor grip can be dangerous, and the fatigue that’s been created with slow your reaction/recovery time.  Again, rest for a few seconds, gather yourself, then complete the work with a solid grip.

If you’re a tenacious sweater like I am, also be aware of any sweat rolling down your forearm and into the hand/barbell interface.  Don’t push through this situation either.  Dry all surfaces with a towel and continue on.  Maybe consider using a no mess chalk solution such as HumanX Chalk Balls to help maintain grip.  Chalking your hands has come a long way.
.

This workout is advanced 

Complex training in general is an advanced form of training.

Any exercise scheduled in a complex must be an exercise that you have a familiarity with BEFORE you enter the workout.  You must have experience and proficiency in executing each of the included exercises on an individual level before you attempt a workout like The Bear Complex.  If you don’t know how to perform any one of the exercises, The Bear Complex is not the place to learn.

Explore…

If you’re looking to add in some variety to your training, give The Bear Complex a legitimate shot.  Be honest with your rest periods, your exercise technique and the structure of the reps, cycles, rounds.  Also be honest with weight that you choose to use.  There’s no shame in lessening the load if you need to.

Cheers to The Bear…

Kyle

(Video Coming Soon)

Precision Nutrition: Results Based Eating for Body Transformation

Food/Eating

Precision Nutrition

The best nutritional strategies are the strategies that you’re more apt to stick to.

The more I read about nutrition, the more I am reminded that the best tactics to leverage are also the most simple.

We overcomplicate a lot of things in life, and nutrition frequently is made much more difficult than it actually is.  In times like that, I outsource to professionals and programs that carry a knowledge that is beyond my own.  I have no problem humbly sending people to someone who specializes.  It’s the right thing to do.

Precision Nutrition is my go to resource.  I trust them whole heartedly right now, and will for years to come.  I first started leveraging Dr. Berardi’s nutritional advice years ago when I was first learning about nutrition for myself. I really started to realize how influential nutrition is to boosting sport performance, and later on, improving body composition.

I started reading free articles from Dr. Berardi on the popular website T-Nation, which is a niche site primarily targeted at males who desire higher level training and nutritional advice.  Dr. Berardi used to contribute guest articles to gain exposure to his cause when he was an up and comer.

“But Kyle, it’s the internet, nothing is true on the internet!”, you say.

Despite the negative outlook toward health advice on the internet, there is actually a lot of useful information that a person can leverage if you know where to look and who you can trust.  The key is that you have to spend some time deciding on who you can trust!  Or, you can take advantage of other people like myself that have a great working knowledge of where you should be looking for solid information.

Sometimes you have to sift and sift until you find the gold, but it’s out there.

My experience with learning how to eat…

Prior to making any changes to my diet, I thought that my eating was pretty decent really.  But looking back, I was a fool.  My activity level was so high that I could get away making poor nutritional choices.  I was burning through so many calories throughout the day that it almost didn’t matter what I was putting into my mouth.

A lot of people have a similar situation to this.  They burn so many calories from activity that they don’t even know that making a few subtle (yet impactful) changes to their diet would send their body aesthetics to a whole other level.  

Anyways, I began to dabble with some of Dr. Berardi’s suggestions.

Here are four different observations/ideas that I came away with…

1) Nutritional adjustments are easier said than done in the beginning.

There are thousands of nutritional articles that are published on the internet every single day.  Most of them preach the same general ideas: eat more protein, consume less sugar and refined carbohydrates.  I think it is safe to say that just about everyone agrees that this advice is legit.  It’s bland and boring advice, but still, it’s great advice.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates aren’t tolerated by the body very well, especially if you’re inactive or currently carrying a higher percentage of bodyfat.

I used to eat bread with nearly every meal as most people do.  The first step forward for me was cutting my bread consumption in half.  Instead of eating two pieces of bread with a sandwich, I would only eat one.  Again, this was difficult adjustment at first because my entire life I had been eating sandwiches with bread on top and bottom, as most people often do.

Cutting my bread consumption in half was challenging, but I knew that it had to be done in order to make improvements to body composition.  It was a simple change, but it wasn’t easy.  Old habits can be tough to break.  But, over time, new habits were formed.

Eating my meals with a lean protein source on top of only 1 piece of bread started to feel natural in short time with some consistency.

I noticed significant decrease in body-fat by doing this.

2)  Vegetable intake was increased.

When people think carbohydrates, they often think about foods like bread, pasta and rice.  At least those are the foods that usually come to mind.  Interestingly, there is a significant amount of carbohydates that are in vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus and other leafy greens that provide valuable fuel for performance and energy throughout the day.

This change I found to be easy.  Initially, I began preparing my veggies by boiling them.  Later, I read an article that shared that the nutrient retention of veggies was greatly increased by steaming vegetables versus boiling.  So, I began steaming my veggies for all meals.  I cooked the vegetables on a meal by meal basis, eventually figuring out that steaming veggies in bulk was a far more convenient tactic (along with being time effective).

Filling up on veggies during meals is one of the oldest tricks in the book.  If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out.  It works.  Veggies are low calorie foods that pack a huge nutrient punch.  It’s one of the most powerful nutritional shifts that a person can make in their quest for body transformation.

My decreased bread intake was now joined by an increase in vegetables.  Again, I noticed a change in body composition and an increased energy to direct toward my workouts.

Note:  There is also a certain mental satisfaction in eating more vegetables throughout the day.  Quite honestly, I began to build a healthier mindset just from increasing my veggie intake.  You’ll know what I am talking about when you make the leap.

3)  Nutrient timing

Nutrient timing completely changed my outlook on eating, and how to approach it throughout the day. The concept that there are specific times when foods are better tolerated by the body was mind blowing. Remember, I was learning about nutrition from ground zero. If you already know about nutrient timing, congrats, because you in the top 15% of people in the world who are leveraging this concept. 

I made valuable trade-outs in the foods I was eating for breakfast and in the timeframes before, during and after my workout sessions.

Again, I saw a drastic improvement in body composition and performance.

From a performance standpoint, the most notable improvement was my ability to recover quickly in between workouts.  It became apparent to me after adopting the new nutritional strategies that Dr. Berardi outlined, that I had not been recovering fully between workouts.  I was essentially entering the next workout incompletely recovered, which can be an overlooked hold up when aiming to lose fat and build muscle.

Again, had I not made the changes, I never would have known anything different.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Make sense?

I was now using food properly.  It was fueling my physical activity appropriately while keeping me lean in the process.

4)  It’s way more effective to follow a nutritional system.

In as few words as possible, a system gives you focused direction.

It takes you from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.  No heartache, no anxiety, no wasted efforts.

I know I pump up the Precision Nutrition System a lot, but it really is a world class program.  They teach you how to eat, when to eat, what to eat, why you’re eating it, how to advance and progress your eating to achieve even higher levels of health, performance and leanness.

It was one of the first nutritional programs that I came across that made logical sense in their approach.

We stress the importance of progressing in all other areas of our lives, so why not approach nutrition with a progression?  It’s soooooooooo difficult to go from poor eating habits to perfect eating habits overnight.  It’s too much for a lot of people to handle in the beginning.  Saying goodbye to old habits can be extremely draining.

I often talk about the importance of following a fitness regimen that is results effective, yet sustainable for the long-term.  To do this, you have to manage your stress levels, scale your workouts to your current physical abilities and assess constantly.  It’s in ongoing process that you want to adhere to for life.

Nutrition requires a very similar format.  You need to be willing to put an ounce of energy into learning a few tips and tricks.  Once you apply the basics, things begin to snowball and you gain momentum.  Old habits disappear and new habits form.  Your body changes in the process and eventually you’re equipped with knowledge that will serve you well for the remainder of your life.

If you can dial in your eating habits for the long-term, again, you’re now in the top 15% of healthy people in the world, without even breaking a sweat during a workout.  Sound personal eating habits are vital.

Of course, this is summarized and simplified guidance, but it’s pretty close to what happens when you transition into being a fit eater.

If you’ve got anxiety with nutrition, let these guys and gals help you out.  They are incredible resources…

Hopefully some of my personal testimonials that I touched on will help you bring your own eating into some kind of perspective.

*** If this post sounds like a sales pitch, I can assure you, it is.  Yes that’s right, it is absolutely a sales pitch.  People like to talk about products and programs that they love.  Word of mouth marketing is one of the most powerful forms of advertising on the planet.  It just so happens that PN is something that I completely believe in, so why the heck not talk about it?

 

 

 

Cheers to your nutritional success!

KG

Saturday always provides adequate time to explore different combinations of work capacity style circuits.

I like to take the governor off and push myself on Saturday mornings.

This past Saturday didn’t disappoint.

The goal was to accumulate 25-30 minutes of a work:rest style circuit.  I didn’t feel like being monotonous with the exercise selection so included 10 different exercises, stringing them together strategically so that I could give an honest effort to each exercise without sacrificing anything (mostly due to fatigue) to the next exercise in the circuit.

It really worked out well and challenged a number of movement patterns.

The equipment that I used:  24kg kettlebells x2, jump rope, Jungle Gym Suspension Trainer

Here is how the workout was structured…

—> 20 seconds of work: 20 seconds of rest of the following:

24kg kettlebell snatch right hand

rest

24kg kettlebell snatch left hand

rest

Bodyweight Chin Up

rest

Double 24kg kettlebell squat-to-press (aka: Thrusters)

rest

Mountain Climbers

rest

Kettlebell Figure-8 (advanced and technical, but great drill)

rest

Bodyweight Push Ups

rest

Double 24kg Lunge (alternating sides)

rest

Hand-to-Hand 24kg Swings (alternating every rep)

rest

Burpees (jump and push up)

rest

Jump Rope (combination of two foot bounce and running)

—-> Repeat 4 complete cycles of the above…

The best part about this workout is that you don’t have to worry about keeping track of reps.  When I am doing work capacity style training, counting reps can be a major pain.  It’s really the last thing I want to be doing while I am huffing and puffing.  Instead, the work starts on the buzzer and ends on the buzzer.  It’s really convenient.

Know thyself… If you’re a beginner, this workout might not be scaled to suit you.  If you’ve been working out for a while, this might work great for you.  If you’re a tough guy or gal, bump up the weight for kettlebell exercises, add a weight vest to chin ups and push ups, use a weighted jump rope, etc.  I can provide exercise progressions to bury anyone if that is what you are seeking, hopefully that isn’t the case though.  Smart training reigns supreme.

You might see a lot of volume in a workout like this, and you’re absolutely right, so nice observation.  However, I preach workouts that can be managed.  I managed this one nicely.  Notice how explosive work is ordered first in the workout.  That is on purpose.  People tend to get hurt when they attempt to move weight quickly under fatigue and will poor form.  I am not foolish enough to place a highly technical lift at a place in the workout when I am most fatigued.

Also notice that all of the exercises are non-competing, and ordered in such a way to respect that.  In fact, look at the kettlebell figure-8 + bodyweight push ups + double 24kg lunge… sequence.  Very different muscles are being taxed there.  Figure-8’s are combination of squats with rotational power where the kettlebell moves from a high front to low back to side and finally diagonally across body to high position (hybrid movement).  Push ups are an upper body push dominant exercise, and lunges are mainly a lower body hip dominant exercise.  This allows for an increase in heart rate and work, without gassing out the body for the next exercise.  You tax one movement pattern, than move on to the next.

Different movement patterns, different muscles, quality technique, short rest, big training effect.

Now I don’t own a calorimeter or a metabolic analyzer, but I would guess that the calorie burn from a workout like this was quite high.  Maybe 650-800kcals total, and that doesn’t include the residual calories that are burned post-workout.  Shortened rest periods combined with resistance based lifts that leverage a sub-maximal muscle contraction are notorious for creating an after-burn effect, it’s been studied quite extensively in the last few years as the concept of fat loss slowly gains momentum versus weight loss.

Metabolism can stay elevated for several days leveraging workouts like this.

If you leverage some quality eating habits during that period of elevated metabolism, you’ll burn some fat no doubt.  Rinse and repeat the process and you’re going to end up burning a bunch of fat.

I should also note that I designed this workout knowing that the coming days were going to be either complete rest (no workouts) or at the very most, a short yoga/static stretch session.  It’s important to rest, recover and let your body heal in between workouts.  Your body can only handle so much stress before adverse events begin to occur.  You really don’t want to play chicken with overtraining or chronic fatigue in general.  The point of recovering in between workouts is to give your body the best possible chance to leverage the work done in the previous workout, while allowing enough time to enter the next training session and make gains.

I think that a lot of people could lose greater amounts of body-fat (faster) while boosting performance if they decreased the amount of cumulative stress from workouts.  You want your body to recover in full.  Always entering a workout in a state of recovery is bad for business.  If you haven’t acquired a full taste for physical activity, this is good news for you, as each dedicated workout can be used to accelerate

Instead, choose fewer weekly workouts that create a larger (but quality) training effect.  Make them count.

Focus on accelerating other areas of life while you recover in between sessions.  Focus on establishing quality eating habits.  Re-think your water intake.  Read more books on success and self-growth.  Calm the mind with yoga, foam rolling and a long static stretch session.  Get more sleep.

Learning how to workout is great, and building fitness is empowering.  But keep your training efforts sustainable.  Win the war, not just the battle.

Give this workout (or a variation of it) a go.

Cheers to kettlebell and bodyweight workouts!

KG

30 Minute Workouts, Bodyweight Workouts, Kettlebell Training, Quick Tips

The Howard Stern Diet

Quick Tips

Howard Stern Radio Logo

I am always on the lookout for inspiration and real world insight.

I feel that there’s something to be learned, large or small, from every experience in life. Whether that experience is auditory, visual or hands-on, we can extract something of value and apply it to our live’s somehow.

Most of my car drives these days are either filled with an audiobook of some kind (mobile university) or Howard 100 on SiriusXM radio. It’s really one or the other since I have become so picky with music these days.

Lately, the Jetta’s speakers have mostly projecting Howard Stern. Sorry, I can’t help it if you don’t like Stern, but his show is ridiculously entertaining, and most times is incredibly informative when he gives unfiltered and uncensored interviews to world-famous people. For the last 4 years, I have renewed my Sirius subscription without hesitation because I am addicted to Howard Stern’s two channels: Howard 100 and Howard 101.

He’s a master of his industry, and the simple fact that I didn’t think twice about handing over my credit card number to renew my year’s subscription teaches me the how much providing value matters. If his show didn’t make my time in the car more tolerable, I would have cancelled Sirius without batting an eyelash. I could easily roll that money into more books for my Kindle or a nice monthly meal with my fiancé.

But, as Howard has talked about on the radio, he works relentlessly (to this day) to create the best possible radio content for his listeners. If he felt he wasn’t giving his fan what they deserved (or in this case what they have paid hard earned money to hear), he would hang it up and retire. I admire that.

Pure value.

Howard Stern’s radio value definitely takes a different shape than the value that I will be working to create in 2014 on this blog and through ebooks, etc, but nonetheless it’s still value.

On to health…

Although Howard is by no means the “master of the universe”, he has spent a great deal of devoted time working on improving his current version of himself. In other words, he is always looking to grow as a person, whether that growth comes emotionally, physically or spiritually. He talks at great length about his time spent with his psychiatrist, where he (for years) has tried to gain a better understanding about what makes him tick.

I also admire this, but not just from a famous radio host, from anyone that works to bring themselves closer to their ideal self.

His vast success on the radio is a testament to his work ethic and commitment to be the best at his craft. While Howard is obviously the talent, he has also had the wherewithal to surround himself with others who have great talent, possibly more than him in certain areas. The results of collaboration toward a common goal can move mountains. I could provide many examples of this from history and present day, but that is outside the scope of this article.

Let’s try this again, on to health… 🙂

The other day I turned on the radio to catch him tearing into one of his staffers, Benji. Benji is one of the writer’s for the Stern show (and a good one at that) who is famous for his clever public pranks and funny radio bits. Benji is an absolute character.

Benji has recently been trying to fast (not eat food) in order to drop weight and regain control of his health. As is common with a lot of people, Benji lost focus with healthy habits. He had gained an unnecessary large amount of weight and now wants it gone ASAP.

Howard’s conversation with Benji evolved into a real lashing (as it normally does with a lot of his staffers who refuse to listen to his advice).

In the end, Howard’s health advice was simple…

1) He advised Benji to simply watch what Howard eats on a daily basis, and follow his lead.

2) He advised Benji to take it slow versus going extreme from the start.

3) He advocated that Benji turn his efforts toward tactics that he actually enjoys.

Now let’s briefly touch on why I valued Howard’s health advice to Benji…

#1. Role models are everything in life. There is an extremely high likelihood that someone, somewhere, has already done what you are attempting to do. They have already 100 people down the line from the person that invented that wheel. In some rare instances, this isn’t true at all, but in general, it is. When talking about health and how to approach getting healthy, honestly, get with someone that is already on the healthy path. Do what they do. Rub shoulders with them in the gym and eat as many meals with them as you can. Learn from what they do, study their journey. Health is unique is that it’s pretty black and white. You are either mindful of what you eat and how much you move, or you aren’t… and it shows no both ways.

#2. If you have the mental capacity to handle ramping up the health intensity from the get go, go for it. Most people don’t. We THINK we do, but we really don’t. It’s mentally draining to get healthy. It’s stressful breaking habits and the anxiety of not eating the foods that you used to eat or laying around the house watching tv like you used to, is enough to make a person develop a twitch. SLOW DOWN. Health is a process. It takes time and it takes TLC (tender love and care). There are no overnight successes and instant gratification is often times your worst enemy. Most of all, avoid taking the short sighted approach to body transformation. 30 day goals are great, but if you can’t make it stick for life, what is the point. Use the 30 day therapy at the stepping stone, but when that 30 days is up, you need to transition into the next sustainable plan. SLOW DOWN, DO IT RIGHT.

#3. Enjoyment in the process is something that has become a larger focus in the health advice that I distribute. If you don’t enjoy the nutritional strategies and workout vehicle that you’re using to regain health, you risk burnout. It was hard for me to be honest with myself when I started this blog. Not everyone will enjoy the tactics that I write about. Some people will try one of my workouts and realize that it’s not for them. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work, it just means that it was not to their liking. I don’t care if you leverage Zumba, Insanity, Tae-Bo or Prancercise… make sure that you identify health strategies that you thoroughly enjoy and you’ll be fit for life. Exploring your options is important, I understand this. I’m not turned on by every high level fat loss article that I read… Some just don’t fit my personality or my lifestyle. Use what is useful, discard the rest.

So what is “King of All Media”, Howard Stern’s Diet?

Well, he only gave examples of meals that he eats and it went something like this:

Breakfast- Egg Whites, half piece of toast and fruit.
Lunch- Salmon with 1/4 baked potato and veggies.
Mid-afternoon snack- Apple
Dinner- Eat out or at home (protein with veggies/fruit)

He keeps it simple. I can appreciate that. Humans are capable of keeping themselves healthy, and to be cliche, it is a choice.

But once you make that choice and stick to it, it’s all downhill from there.

If you’re interested in learning how to leverage the food you eat to burn fat and build muscle, check out Precision Nutrition!

The program is designed to be gender specific… so…

—> Free 5-Day Fat Loss Course for Women.

—> Free 5-Day Fat Loss Course for Men.

It’s an empowering feeling knowing that the food you eat (and the timing of that consumption) is giving you a metabolic advantage, no matter what your age or body type. Howard turned 60 years old this year and he often comments that his body has never looked or felt better since he started focusing on leveraging the kind of nutritional strategies that are being shared in the Precision Nutrition System.

It’s truly amazing how far a small amount of knowledge and know-how can take a person, and once you have that knowledge and know-how, you are equipped with those tools for life.

If your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions involved weight loss, fat loss, muscle gain or anything else related to body transformation, I will remind you that we are already half way through January. The clock is ticking, so stop wasting time. A year from now you’ll never remember (and certainly won’t regret) making such valuable investment in yourself!

 

 

Cheers to the Howard Stern Diet and your ongoing success!

KG

You Watch! Crawling Is Going to Be All the Rage in Fitness

Quick Tips

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You wait, just wait, crawling is going to be all of the rage in the fitness industry. It’s going to spread through the websites, blogs and then infect it’s way into print media like Men’s and Women’s Health, etc.

It’s coming, and there is probably little that anyone can do to stop it.

Why? Because it is NEW, and as consumers, we love ideas that are NEW. We are fascinated and engulfed by new ideas, trends and material goods. The editors of big magazines know this quite well. They know that we get weak in the knees for what is perceived as the latest and greatest.

But, does crawling actually hold up? Or is it just another “new” trend that will temporarily satisfy the thirst of the average fitness enthusiast.

My personal opinion…

… crawling is going to hold up for the long-term.

Why? Well, because crawling is a ground based, deconstructed and completely stripped down activity that is fundamental to a young human being’s (infant’s) progression to more advanced activities like walking and running.

As infants, we literally had to crawl before we could walk. We had to learn how to walk before we could run, etc.

Tim Anderson has recently coined a term that he calls “reset”. I love the term, because by calling for a “reset” he is asking for humans to re-establish lost function by going back to our roots, ground based movement. Crawling, rolling and planking are all forms of ground based movement. Tim is asking for us to leverage our body’s natural interaction with gravity and the ground surface.

Ironically, shortly before finding out about Tim and his efforts to endorse low load ground based movement done properly, I got on the same kick.

I started to notice how physically challenging it was to perform what are normally fast paced exercises, slow. Slowing it down and moving through a full range of motion was- and still is- extremely difficult, and it seemed to be very effective at highlighting weak points throughout range of motion of any given exercise. Identifying these weak points gave me some valuable insight about what I was missing in my training by blasting through all of my exercises and workouts.

The world is stuck in an “extreme”, “high tempo”, “explosive power” and “fast paced” vortex of fitness right now. Except for “extreme”, I believe in the three other phrases. They have a valuable place in a workout and a program, at the right place and the right time. Everything has some value it seems, it just a matter of how it (and when) it is applied. If you apply the world’s greatest exercise to a person that isn’t ready for it, you’re putting them at risk. If they are ready for it, you’ll take there performance to the moon.

We trick ourselves into thinking that we are moving properly when we rush through exercises. Even if the exercise is being executed technically sound at a fast pace, that DOES NOT mean that you are going to be able to execute it in a technically sound manner at a slower, more controlled tempo.

Watch a pro football player work through a session of yoga, many of them cannot hold positions longer than a split second. They are all fast twitch with very little stability and grace. Gray Cook proved it when he made a bunch of NFL guys perform a 50lb/50yard slow and controlled overhead carry. Most of the players involved failed to complete the challenge, yet can overhead press 1-1.5x their bodyweight without batting an eyelash.

The mountain climber was the lightbulb moment for me. I’ve done my fair share of mountain climbers. I greatly value the mountain climber in my work capacity training sessions, using it primarily as a “filler exercise” to actively recover in between two more demanding movements. Before, I had hardly paid attention to anything but how fast I could whiz through 30-50 reps of mountain climbers, driving my knees to my elbows without breaking at the lower back junction in the process.

One day, I slowed it all down. I attempted to “pull” my knees through to my elbows as opposed to violently driving them forward.

You know what I found? I was ridiculous weak once I flexed my hips beyond the prone/horizontal 90 degree mark in the range of motion. I was weak, and I could pinpoint the exact point in the movement where I was weak. The only way that I could complete the movement in full was to compensate, and I wasn’t about to stroke my ego by cheating the movement.

After my run in with mountain climbers, I really started to gain interest in dabbling with other low load movements that are primarily ground based. These movements were typically isolated to a lateral, supine or prone position. Sometimes the movements were transitional/segmented, moving from a supine to prone to lateral all in one shot. This, to me, is the progress of things. You start working isolated movements, gaining control of these movements in an isolated fashion and then you slowly begin to integrate the patterns to work more complex movements.

More complex movements require a greater recruitment of muscles, dynamic stability and mobility and thought. Integrated movement takes integrated thought, which is a rarely spoken of benefit of complex movement training. We exercise our mind as much as we are exercising our bodies.

So, the movements slowly evolve from isolated to complex, all the while we must learn to turn our muscles on and off gracefully as we maneuver our bodies through space.

Gymnasts have mastered this type of movement expression, and I am growing to value practicing it more and more every single day. Movement is second nature for a gymnast. They have established high level movement through consistent repetition.

Drills like crawling, dynamic planking, slow frog hops and turkish get ups make me feel more like a human capable of executing 3-dimensional movement and less like a robot lifting weights to no end. I enjoy knowing that my traditional weight lifting is translating to something more valuable than six-packs and bulging biceps. Both of which mean absolutely nothing in the real world. Well, I guess you’ll look cool in those Summer time still shots, but it doesn’t mean you can move.

All of that weight lifting should translate into something greater than, well, lifting more weight.

Translating isolated resistance training into improving your ability to move with grace, strength and unwavering stability is a noble endeavor. It can be hard to stay on this path, especially when our society provides so much temptation to build the perfect body, or what we perceived as the perfect body.

This is obviously my personal opinion, don’t let it stop you from leaning out.

Crawling is a reset movement activity. The first time I really started to employ crawling patterns into my own training and encourage others to do the same, it was about 4 years ago. We used to have our group athlete training sessions crab walk and high crawl as a fun warm up. I saw it as a time to get the core, shoulders, and hips firing all at once. The crab walk would be performed with forward motion until I said “stop! hold!”, at which point the athletes would drive their hips to the ceiling, effectively creating a “human table-top”. Creating a level table top required that the athlete actively contract their glute muscles while actively stretching their pecs and anterior shoulder. There is some core activation hidden in their also, as the torso muscles work to protect the spine.

Quite honestly, I think that the crab-walk+tabletop combination is one of the best warm up drills out there. Crab walking, to me, is a supine variation of a prone crawl. Infants move around frequently on their butts. They push with their arms while pulling with their heels, supporting the weight of their body with both upper and lower as they “scoot” across the floor surface. There is value in training this movement pattern in adults who have lost the ability to do so.

Sometimes we have to take a developmental step backwards to regain control and start to take steps forward in present day.

We’ve discussed- almost at nauseating length- that sitting causes a lot of metabolic and structural issues with humans. The longer and more frequently we sit, the more our body seems to take on the shape of the sitting position, even in the standing position. We start to hunch our shoulders, our hips remain tilted forward and our lower back gets creased like a bi-folded letter home to Mom.

Once in this position, we attempt to walk, run and do other physically demanding activities while being confined to these un-ideal postures.

Is it more complicated than this? Of course it is, but what most people really need to know is that sitting is slowing breaking our bodies down to nothing, sometimes beyond the point of any ability to repair. One day you might even find that surgery is the final intervention to fix years of poor alignment and compensation.

Attempting to express athletic-like qualities such as strength, explosive power through forced ranges of motion with poor posture many times requires compensatory movement be present as a temporary solution to completing such activities. If you remember, compensatory movement compounded with high reps and high load can rip a person to shreds over the long term.

It been said that workout injuries are just “unfortunate”, when in reality, they were staring us in the face from the beginning, looming in the darkness waiting to be identified. Obviously, those who feel the pain of that disc exploding in their back will one day wish they would have taken the time to identify movement flaws. But the damage is done.

The next time you engage in a warm up prior to a workout, try prone crawling for 1 minute straight with ideal crawling posture. Shake it out for 30 seconds and then complete that 3-5 more times. It might scare you how challenging crawling really is. The stress placed on the upper body is tremendous, especially if it is a new stimulus. It’s easy to fatigue quickly from the waist on up while crawling, in my experience.

Not to be gross, but if you’re someone who gets off on working the core muscles to exhaustion and that “deep burn”, crawling is definitely for you. Keep your back flat and your belt line zipped up and tight, and you’re going to feel every synchronized step of the hand and foot ripple right through your torso.

In fact, I would recommend trading that marathon abdominal training session for about 10 minutes of dedicated crawling. If you’re rolling your eyes, stop. Try it and report back to me. Let me know what you think.

I recently watched a video where Tim Anderson crawls an entire mile without breaks, in a low crawl position. That’s incredible, as you’ll soon find out when you give it a shot. If you make it to the end of his video, he remarks that his ipod shut off right from the start but he was too mentally focused to quit and reset it. Nothing like crawling for nearly an hour straight listening to yourself wheezing from fatigue.

My cues for ideal crawling posture are simple:

– Keep back parallel to the ceiling, stomach parallel to the floor.
– Keep eyes looking down or roughly 12 inches forward toward direction being travelled.
– Keep spine in a neutral, braced position, pulling your stomach out of anterior tilt.
– Simulate a full glass of water on your back as you crawl, preventing any spillage.
– Make each hand and foot contact as quiet, soft and graceful as possible.
– Have fun and work at it.

Start crawling. Use it as a tool not an entire workout.

Leverage it’s ability to be a safe alternative to core training, and a important developmental step to restoring your body’s desire to move without compensation and pain.

Start slow, build from there, and remember that it is process.

Cheers to crawling around like an infant!

KG