Interval Workout| Lizard Crawl + 500m Row

20 minute Workouts, Ido Portal, Workouts

Mixtaping different disciplines of fitness to create unique workouts is a hobby of mine lately.  

Yesterday, I found myself short on time.  I had roughly 20 minutes to make some workout magic happen.  Assessing the previous day’s workout, I decided on two modes of exercise:

  • The Lizard Crawl
  • Rowing

The goal:  total body training effect (in under 20 minutes)

Short burst workouts are a perfect solution to time-restricted days.  Days where I’m tight on time, but high on motivation.  “Short”… not be confused with “easy”.    

Generally, shortening a workout means the intensity gets cranked up to offset the decreased volume and duration.

Lizard Crawling is a locomotion pattern popularized by Ido Portal’s movement catalog.  

 

It involves crawling forward (or backward) in a low prone position, much lower than a traditional bear crawl.  The Lizard Crawl is a total-body exercise, well worth learning and working through the progressions.  

Most people will feel limited by their upper body strength when Lizard Crawling.  The strength needed in this particular range of motion may need some acclimation. 

That being said, there are plenty of Lizard Crawl variations to accommodate any skill level.

Here’s an example:


The Lizard Crawl, though graceful and rhythmic when performed by great movers, sucks the life out of you across even moderate distances.  It’s a very complex and demanding pattern.

Rowing, on the other hand, is, well, rowing.  

The rowing erg is beautiful in its simplicity,  yet brutal in its ability to break a person’s soul at higher intensities.  Though machine-based, rowing is one of those near total body activities that I cannot recommend enough. Rowing is primarily a posterior chain, upper body pull/lower body push action.

A quality rowing erg will cost you some cash, but across the long-term, it is well worth the investment.  

Turns out, the Lizard Crawl and rowing compliment each other perfectly.  

I’ve created workouts in the past using short distance Lizard Crawls and 250-meter row intervals, but never beyond that distance.  The 250-meter is a fantastic distance for an all out sprint.

Today I increased the challenge a bit, bumping the row up to 500-meters.

Here’s how the workout was structured…

Lizard Crawl for 20 yards

+

500 meter Row

  • Repeat for 6 rounds.  
  • Rest for 60-90 seconds in between each round.  

That’s it.  Two movements and roughly 18 minutes of time to work with.

Warm-up with something, anything.  A jump rope or some simple dynamic movements will work fine.  I do not advocate skipping warm-ups all of the time, this situation is unique, an outlier.

A cheetah doesn’t ask a Gazelle for a chance to warm-up before pursuing it for nearly a mile, it’s worth considering a human may not always have adequate time to warm-up.  

Many times, doing less things, but doing those things better makes for the best workouts.

Aesthetics and performance are built incrementally, piece by piece, workout by workout.   

Thoughts and Suggestions…

Find a pace on the rower a few levels below your personal best.  I aimed for a 1:35 min/sec pace for the 500-meter intervals, knowing that my best 500 meter was roughly 1:27 min/sec.

Why do this?  Because you will not be able to maintain a personal best pace for 500-meters across 6 rounds, with incomplete rest periods and lizard crawling before hopping on the rower.  Setting a challenging pace just below your best will get the training effect you’re after and allow room for progression in the future.

After standing up out of the rower, expect your heart rate to be sky-high.  60 seconds of rest will not feel long enough, and it shouldn’t.  It’s incomplete rest by design.  Use every second to collect yourself before the next round.  Walk around slowly, stay upright and slow your breathing.  

Keep in mind, a 500-meter row is not an easy distance to row on its own.  Adding pre-fatigue in the form of a Lizard Crawl will zap you.

When rest comes to an end, force yourself into the Lizard Crawl.  You’ll want to rest longer in later rounds but don’t.  Stay strict.  When rest is over, settle your breath and start crawling immediately.  

Anticipate the first few rounds of Lizard Crawling to feel great, followed by a steep drop off.  

If the full Lizard Crawl is too aggressive, scale it back.  Head over to my YouTube page and search “Lizard Crawl”.  You’ll find a bunch of different Lizard Crawl options I’ve played around with. 

Or, simply go with a crawling pattern in higher, more manageable body position, such as Beast (Animal Flow).  

If you found this post while surfing the inter-webs, thank you for stopping by.  

Do me a big favor and try this workout today, tomorrow or the next time you’re in a pinch for time.  

 

For more about Ido Portal and some his training methods, check out this post:

 

Cheers to you, 

Kyle 

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(Work)out| Lizard Crawl + Kettlebell Carries + Walking Lunges + Crab Walk

Motion, Workouts

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 5.57.50 AM.png

Lizard Crawl to Kettlebells

 

Fusing body weight locomotion movements with traditional strength and conditioning exercises can create a hybrid workout experience. can breathe new life into a stale training regimen.  

When training gets stale, mix it up to breathe new life into your regimen.  

Basic linear lifting can get extremely monotonous.  Instead of skipping the workout, toss in different exercises to give you new motivation.  

What exercises are you avoiding or leaving out of your program?  Everyone has some.  It is impossible to do it all, all of the time.  My YouTube channel has hundreds of exercise demos, only 4-10 exercises can make the cut for a workout on any given day.  That leaves hundreds more sitting on the sidelines.  

Many people forget about the value of carrying heavy objects.  Carry those objects in as many different positions as possible (overhead, at your side, chest height, bear hug, etc).  Do it all.  

Locomotion drills are also a relatively new platform for building fitness most people haven’t explored.   If you haven’t, you must.  

This training session includes both.  

Today’s workout includes the following exercises:

  • Lizard Crawling (“traveling forms” in Animal Flow)
  • Suitcase-style Kettlebell Carries 
  • Overhead Kettlebell Carries
  • Kettlebell Walking Lunges
  • Reverse Crab Walks (“traveling forms” in Animal Flow)

*** For all of the kettlebell exercises, feel free to use dumbbells instead.  Any object with a handle and some challenging weight will do.

What you’ll need:

  •  1 heavy kettlebell
  •  2 kettlebells of matching weight
  •  15 yards of walking space

The Structure of the Workout

  1.  Start by lizard crawling 15 yards the location of the kettlebells.
  2.  Clean the heavy kettlebell up to chest height and position overhead.  Walk down and back with the overhead carry.
  3.  Clean the same kettlebell overhead with the opposite arm.  Walk down and back with the overhead carry.
  4.  Suitcase carry the same heavy kettlebell down and back with both arms.
  5.  Pick up the matching kettlebells and lunge walk the same 15-yard distance, down and back.
  6. Reverse crab walk to the initial start position.
  7. Repeat the process, beginning with lizard crawling once again.

Workout Video Demo

Workout Notes

This workout can be executed for rounds or time, whichever you prefer.

If you were going to work this for rounds, I suggest starting with 3-4 rounds and crushing those rounds.  The idea is to work hard and work smart.  Working smart is awareness of fatigue and body position.  When your movement turns sloppy, you’re done.  

Of course, more rounds can be added if you can handle it.  

If you’re hammering this workout for 8-10 rounds, you need to increase the difficulty of all of the exercises.  Lizard crawl for 20-25 yards, increase the weight of all of the kettlebell carries and the walking lunges.  More is not always better.

If working for a target amount of time, I suggest capping this at 20 minutes.  The video demo above shows roughly 8 minutes worth of execution.  

Use the lizard crawl and overhead kettlebell carry as indicators of when you need intra-workout rest periods or when you need to pull the plug on the session altogether.  Don’t be afraid to rest.  There is zero shame in it.  Your body can only fight fatigue for so long before the movements get sloppy.  Take the rest, towel off, get back to work.  

The overhead carry is an amazing shoulder stability/vertical core exercise, but it is also an exercise that deserves respect.  DO NOT FORCE THE OVERHEAD CARRY FATIGUE IS EATING YOU UP AND TECHNIQUE IS DROWNING.  

This particular day, I worked this exact medley for 15 minutes, wiped down the sweat avalanche and transitioned into another medley of completely different exercises.  

Combining both medleys, I accumulated 30 minutes worth of continuous quality work.  

If you don’t have access to kettlebells, don’t worry about it.  Weight is weight.  Use dumbbells, a sandbag or any other tool that has a handle.  

 

Give this workout a shot and let me know how it went…

Kyle 

 

Pistol Squat Progressions For Beginners

Motion

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 6.14.58 AM

Pew, pew, pew… pistol squats.

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

Here are some key benefits of pistol squat training:

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

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

Symmetry

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

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

“Oh, I can do that now”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leverage Exercise Progression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Variation #1:  Suspension Trainer Assisted Pistol Squats

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

3-5 sets of 5-8 reps per leg

Variation #2:  Pinch Grip Assisted Pistol Squats

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

3-5 sets of 5-8 reps per leg

Variation #3: Dowel Assisted Pistol Squats

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

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

3 sets of 4-6 reps per leg

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

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

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

Next steps?  Get after it.  

Cheers, 

Kyle 

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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

Does Being Fit Make You Harder to Kill?

Quick Tips

 

At first I was going to say yes, without a doubt building fitness makes a person harder to kill.

I’m not sure about you, but personally every barbell squat, kettlebell swing, turkish get-up, 500m row and jump rope interval makes me that much harder to put 6 feet deep.

[Improving fitness cannot just be centered around improving exertion.  Exertion is just one piece of the puzzle, a fragment of a much larger picture.  We must consider the role of achieving better body position or movement pattern quality, tissue health and integrity, recovery and nutrition to be highly influential topics that enhance our ability to perform.]

It’s empowering to know that my stopping power increases with each and every repetition, distance covered and position held.

In fact, I was walking through the grocery store yesterday sizing up other customers wondering who might challenge me to a scrap.

As fate would have it, I navigated my way through the treacherous isles of the store without a single encounter,  purchasing my groceries unscathed.

Leaving the store, my thoughts quickly shifted to a classic movie scene from Indiana Jone’s.  Many of you will remember this particular clip quite well…

 

 

But if you do manage to trick me with ninja smoke and slip in a finishing move, please, do me the service of burying me ass up so you’ll have a place to park your bike.

Harder to kill?  Sweet slogan but hardly relevant for most of us. 🙂

Whatever gets you going though, right?

 

 

 

Kyle

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

Take a Big Juicy Bite of Humble Pie: Progressing Your Workouts

Quick Tips
credit: blisshabits.com

credit: blisshabits.com

Ah, the humble pie.

In life it can be hard to convince yourself to take a delicious bite of humble pie, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary, especially when we begin to dissect our daily workouts.

First off, if you’re finding a way to get to the gym, you’ve put yourself ahead of the curve.  They say much of sales is just showing up, and I firmly believe fitness is very similar.  Getting to the gym is half of the battle.  Once you’re there, small shifts to progress beyond your current training habits will work magic for your body.

For example, if you’ve been killing it on the leg press, pressing a half ton load for endless reps, it’s time to remove yourself from the leg press and enter the world of free weight squatting.  You don’t even need weight.  You could knock your ego back down to earth by mixing in some pistol squats.

A few sets of pistol squats and you’ll figure out what you’ve been missing.  Single leg strength is where it is at.

If you’ve been dominating bicep curls, walk over to the squat rack and load up a set of chin-ups.  Lower yourself slow and explode on the way up.  Vertical pulling strength is a fantastic benchmark for upper body strength.  It’s important to work on handling your own bodyweight (and beyond) during upper body pulling actions.

Too cool for school on the lat pulldown?  Mix in some strict pull-ups using the same tempo as the chin ups.  Pull ups are the king of upper body exercises.  If you find yourself knocking it out of the park with pull ups, I would bet you will find yourself becoming extremely strong.

Still doing cross-words during the treadmill jog?  Take the incline up to 6-8%, turn up the speed and run some 15-20sec sprints.  Aerobic work is great, but shuffling your conditioning to venture into the higher ranges of heart rate BPM has great carryover to leaning out and resistance to fatigue during sport.

Tired of being unsure about how hard you are working?  Buy a heart rate monitor and measure your effort.  There are plenty of brands, colors and features to choose from.  It’s really a solid investment and I highly encourage that everyone leverage a heart monitor to increase the effectiveness of their training habits.

Exercise progression fitness

Improving your workouts is a lot easier than you might think, but it requires turning away from the path of least resistance and toward the path of progression.

Trust me, I know it feels really good to be awesome at certain exercises while simultaneously avoiding the exercises that plague you, but re-adjusting your training plan to include some of the exercises listed above (among others) is a sure-fire way to see quick improvement.

It really doesn’t take much put yourself on the right track for certain progress.  But you have to put yourself on the right track.  You have to progress.  If you don’t progress in some way, you’ll stay the same.

If you desire the next level of results, it will take some effort and an inner strength to consistently (and intelligently) push yourself out of your current comfort zone.  If you remember from an old post the picture below is worth a thousand words.

credit: thinkingmomsrevolution

credit: thinkingmomsrevolution

Progress applies to all aspects of life.  If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always had.

Keep progressing and you’ll keep improving.  It’s a simple concept, but it isn’t always easy.

 

 

Cheers to progressing the workout in small increments!

KG

Progress your nutrition to see results, click the photo to find out how to make it happen.

Progress your nutrition to see results, click the photo to find out how to make it happen.

Chin Up + Kettlebell Swing + Squat + Jump Rope + Push Up… Workout

Quick Tips

I’ve never felt inclined to name any of my workouts.  Thus, I give you the:

Chin Up + Kettlebell Swing + 2KB Squat + Jump Rope + Push Up…

… workout.

There is another organization that names all of their workouts, which isn’t a bad thing,  I just don’t feel like labeling my workouts with someone else’s name.  I could name this one “Brutus” or “Cactus Jack”.  Maybe I should name my workouts after WWF wrestlers past and present.  That would be cool.  Everyone seems to know WWF wrestlers names whether they admit to watching it or not.

I could use a numbering system I suppose, like “Workout #1” or “Level 5”, but maybe I’ll just call it what it is.

I selected the movements listed above because they represent most of the major movement patterns, and also because these exercise could be easily executed with the workout equipment that I had available the other day.

What did I have available?

As I mentioned, I typically only incorporate big movement patterns into circuits.  To be honest, I don’t like wasting time with exercises that hardly stress the prime movers.  Bicep curls and such are desert.  If I have time after I have completed what I often refer to as the “main meal”, I will work in the accessory exercises for fun.

 

I value my time.  Time is a commodity in my life (as I am sure that it is in your’s) so I prefer to get in, get out and get back out to experience other aspects of life.  Sure, I write about working out, structuring workouts, movement and nutrition a great deal, but that doesn’t mean that I am working out 2 hours a day.  Efficiency is the name of the game.  How effective can I make my workouts without taking away from other areas of my life that I also value.

Occasionally I will add an exercise or two that is slightly out of the box, but these movements are usually treated as a filler exercise (active rest) between more demanding exercises, or reserved for before or after the main circuit of the workout.

While I will admit that doing this is my personal preference, I would suspect that most of you will find that your own workouts are immediately enhanced by working in the big movements instead of a series of fillers.  More muscles engaged equals a greater training effective at the end of the workout session.

If you do more work in a smaller time frame, now you’ve primed your body for fat loss + muscle gain.

This is a great scenario, one that we need to keep advocating instead of “weight loss”.  You can lose weight by dehydrating yourself down to a raison in a sauna.  That’s weight loss, right?

Swap the fat tissue for muscle tissue.

Chase muscle and while running away from fat.

So what are the big movements?  In this case, the big movements that I leveraged for a training effect were:

I’m continually amazed at how effective bodyweight strength movements are, especially when organized into a circuit.

I can get the training effect that I desire while minimizing risk of injury and awful soreness in the days that is so commonly associated with resistance based training.   Of course, if you have never performed a push up or a squat, you’re going to be sore in the coming days.  That’s something you can expect with a new training stimulus and re-discovered muscle contraction.

Loading up on bodyweight style training sessions.  This type of training sessions should be heavily considered by anyone that struggles with achy joints, etc.  Bodyweight resistance exercise provides a low load introduction to basic strength drills, easing your body back into the swing of things.

Plus, being able to control your body exhibiting stability, strength and power through a healthy range of motion will do wonders for your performance, whether that performance be for sport or raking the leaves out of your yard.

So what does last weekends workout look like?

The structure looked something like this:

Metabolic Resistance Training Circuit

I loaded up most of the movements and went for 4 rounds, which took slightly over 20 minutes.  20 minutes continues to be the sweet spot for workout duration.  Anything more than that and I lose output, anything less and it seems like it wasn’t enough… as if I left some fuel in the tank.

20 minutes also seems to allow for focus on proper exercise technique (and grooving) while the fatigue continues to snowball.  Technique is important, don’t forget that.

If you take another look at the exercise selection above, I’d like to share a couple of substitutions that you could make.  If you cannot perform a bodyweight chin up, wrap a resistance band around the chin up bar you’re using, and stretch it down around your knee or foot.  This will assist you on the way up and ease you down from the top.

You could swap out standing broad jumps or squat jumps for the kettlebell swings, although there really isn’t a movement to mimic a kettlebell swing.  If you have dumbbells you could use those in a pinch, but again, there is no tool that functions quite like a kettlebell.

If you don’t have a suspension trainer, just do regular old push ups.  If you want a less expensive option that does a decent job of mimicking the push up+knee tuck combination, use furniture sliders or socks on a hard surface.  Both work decently.  I would go the furniture slide route if I had to choose.

If you don’t have kettlebells, dumbbells or a barbell for squats, you can do bodyweight squats just as well.  If bodyweight squats are easy, mix in pistols alternating each leg.  If you squats are too easy and pistols are too hard, use squat jumps.

If you don’t have a jump rope or a bike, run in place.  High knee with simultaneously arm action.  If you’re lucky enough to have a place to run a short distance, figure out how far it takes to run half of a 20 second shuttle run (10 sec out, 10 sec back).

As you can see, there is a progression, regression and alternative to just about every single movement known to man.  Once you know what a level up and a level down from an exercise is, you’re in business. Now you can OWN your workouts.

Replenish and refuel your body with some rock solid recovery nutrition, and you’ve just done your body good.

 

 

Cheers to Chin Ups, Kettlebell Swings, Squats, Jumping Rope and Push Ups!

KG

PS:  Seriously check out the nutritional link that I posted above.  If you want to see dramatic change in your body and performance, nutrition is at the bottom rung of the pyramid.  

Perfecting the 20 Minute Workout: Kettlebell Complex and Stationary Bike Sprints for Aggressive Fat Loss

Quick Tips

After a short breather from the blog, I’m back!  Ha, it feels good to be pecking at the keyboard again.

Hockey season has officially arrived, and my evenings are now that much busier.

The reception to my continuous posting of sample workouts has been awesome.  The feedback from readers has been amazing, so thank you for that.  I appreciate the personal emails and words of encouragement!

If you haven’t already, check out my Pinterest page, where I have begun compiling my visual versions of each of the workouts. I make them with PowerPoint, which can be time consuming and lacks visual creativity, but it can be incredibly helpful to not only read what I am talking about, but SEE it also.  You’re bound to find something on the Pinterest page that fits  you situation.  Find it and scale it to your abilities and you’ll be just fine.

As of late, I have been interested in progressing my staple kettlebell complex.

It’s the same kettlebell complex that I used for 90 days (yes, 90 days) successfully.  Of course I tweaked a few variables along the way (rest periods, reps, sets, etc), but for the most part, the complex was fairly unaltered from it’s original form.  Click the link above to find out more about that little self-experiment.

Since progression is the king of building human performance and has a great byproduct that rides along with it called FAT LOSS, I decided that I would make some simple adjustments to my staple complex-style workout.

The original complex looked like this:

Original Kettlebell Complex

My goal was to keep the workout under 20 minutes while increasing the physical demands of the work being done in that time frame.  Anything beyond 20 minutes, and I have noticed a couple of things personally…

1)  I end up going through the motions to fill the work time.

or

2)  I have over-worked myself and have nothing left to give for the coming day’s workouts.

You’ll know when you’re suffering from #1.  You’ll hit 30 minutes of training time and you’ll feel like you need another 30 minutes of work just to get something out of the workout, or you’ll dog your rep cadence or technique just to fill time.  The work performed loses its quality and therefore loses its effectiveness.

Most of the time, the remedy to #1 is to shorten rest periods (or incorporating no rest periods) or progressing the exercises you’re using via weight.  Simply adding weight (in small and manageable doses) to incorporate some added stress to your training session will make a 30 minute training session seem unachievable.  But this is a good thing because keeping the work highly concentrated and strict to a 20-25 minute timeframe will pay off.

Higher quality work in shorter time.

#2 on the other hand, is a serious problem more so because it affects the future.  Since losing weight in the form of fat, replacing it with useful muscle and boosting performance is all about analyzing the past, digging in during the present while looking ahead to the future… draining your battery so much that you cannot manage a workout for 2-3 days can actually work against you.

Remember, any body endeavor that you embark on takes time.  Why?  Because it’s a process.  Once you come to grips with the fact that nothing is going to change overnight, or with just one workout, you can rest your mind and keep your training sustainable.

You’ve got to be able to train, rest/recover, train over and over again.

Nobody gets rich overnight, it takes time and diligence to build wealth.  The body follows similar rules.  The accumulating results of smaller focused training efforts will deliver.  Be patient and stay the course.  You’ll be fine.

The workout…

20 Minute Kettlebell Complex

Biking.  First and foremost, notice the addition of the Schwinn Airdyne sprint at the end of the round.  Maybe I should refer to it as an “effort” versus a “sprint”, since it’s a sub-maximal 1 minute ride.  I consider myself to be a conditioned individual, so my aim was keep my pace above 80rpm.  In the first few rounds, this was easy, but I knew it wouldn’t remain that way.  By the 4th and 5th round, it’s a bitch to maintain this pace.

I chose the stationary bike as the finisher at the end of each of the rounds for a reason.

Biking is a low impact activity and requires ZERO thought.  Just push the pedals at the pace that I’ve recommended and you’re golden.  The last thing anyone needs to be doing late in a circuit, complex or work-set (when you’re sucking wind) is skill work of any kind.  Injuries lurk in this realm.

Biking is the perfect blend of low impact, low skill, high metabolic demand.  Especially considering the total system weight of the complex up to that point.

Fatigue.  Secondly, I discovered that the ascending rest period tactic was perfect.  Right from my initial testing with this kind of rest period strategy, it was perfect.  Rarely does that happen when you draw up a workout.  Something usually misses or doesn’t flow once you’re in the belly of the beast, but having the rest periods increase in length as the rounds passed was right on the money.

Ascending Rest Periods

As the fatigue escalates, so does the amount of rest.  I found that the extra 5 seconds added to each round helped tremendously with my fatigue management during each round.

You’ll find that 75 seconds seems long in the beginning, yet by the 3rd and 4th round, 85 seconds and 90 seconds passes ridiculously fast.  During your rest period, focus energy on breathing.  Inhale aggressively through your nostrils, pushing the oxygen deep into the floor of your stomach, holding for a fraction of a second, then exhaling through your mouth.  Breathe deep into your belly, not your chest and neck.  

Nasal breathing for recovery is getting some headlines as of late, but this is an advanced tactic that takes courage (to be honest).  That’s not to say it cannot be practiced and successfully integrated into your training, just simply that’s its advanced and probably unnecessary for most people if you like to prioritize.

It sounds funny to say that breathing takes courage, but until you attempt to breathe with your mouth locked shut at 80-85% of your max heart rate, you may not understand.  It’s not a comforting sensation feeling like the air isn’t coming, which is similar to what a person experiences during an asthma attack.

Metabolic style training of any kind is designed to stress the muscles and cardiovascular system in a balanced fashion, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of exercise technique.  Just to be clear and piss pound that dead horse once more… poor exercise technique while under load is the world’s greatest recipe for INJURY during a workout.

The additional seconds of rest made a world of difference.

As I always recommend, scale the workout for yourself.  Start with longer rest in the earlier rounds, use less weight or bike for 30-45 seconds at a lower RPM instead of 1 min at >80 rpm.

Explore and tweak it as you go.  You can expect each “round + rest” to last 4+ minutes, with the later rounds lasting longer because of the increased rest.

You could say that I over-analyzed this workout, but my theory is that if you know what to expect during a tough training session, almost like you’ve been there before, you’ll be prepared to handle the stress.  A lot of people fear the unknown and higher ranges of physical work, so removing that fear may provide some encouragement to attack the workout with a newfound confidence.

Don’t be afraid to take breaks if you need them intra-round…

… and lastly…

… kick some ass.

Cheers to adjusting the simple variables to increase the impact of a workout!

KG

(PS:  Nutrition is the ultimate accelerator of fat loss and fuel to improve performance… read this article and check out Precision Nutrition’s awesome products)

Jumping Rope is Back! (Thanks Rogue SR-1 for restoring my faith)

Quick Tips

Keep Calm and Jump Rope

I took a break from jumping rope for about 2 months.

After destroying my 4th jump rope and nearly slicing my cat in half on the very next rotation of the broken rope, I decided that the durability of 90% of jump ropes on the market are piss-poor.

[On a side note, I recently came to learn the origins of “piss-poor”… kind of interesting actually]

I gave up on jumping rope for a while.

Replacing ropes was getting expensive and frustrating.

Considering that most jump ropes are nothing more than plastic handles with plastic rope or leather rope, spending $20 on a tool that has a lifespan of 2 months seems ridiculously.  At least it does to me.  I want my equipment to last.  I want to be able to abuse it (not recklessly) without holding my breath, waiting for it to break.  My first jump rope (from a reputable company) severed at the handle/rope junction and smashed the screen on my 47″ Vizio television.  No damage resulted, but it was extremely frustrating.

That’s why I love kettlebells.  They are indestructible and effective.  Pay once, use them forever.  That is a good investment if you ask me.

But, the benefits of jumping rope are tremendous and undeniable, and I could not push forward with my workouts without having the jump rope around.  It’s just too valuable of a tool to not leverage.  Both as a warm up tool, a circuit filler drill or a complete conditioning tactic in and of itself, jump ropes serve a number of purposes and truly work wonderfully.

So after searching the forums high and low, along with discussing jump rope products with colleagues, I made the decision to go with the Rogue SR-1 speed rope.  $20+shipping might seem like a lot, but honestly, it’s a steal if you’re actually going to use the rope.  If you aren’t going to use the fitness equipment you buy, everything is a rip off, right?  Use it and you can justify it.

Choose to eat out one less time per month and the rope becomes affordable! 🙂

Instead of pretending like I wrote an original gear spec on the SR-1 rope, let me share a snapshot taken directly from the Rogue website:

Rogue SR-1 Gear Specs

Rogue Jump Rope SR-1

Although the description touts the rope as the best for “solving your double-unders”, I should tell you that it’s not necessary to be able to execute double-unders in order to get a great workout with a jump rope.  I view at double-unders as the “hill sprinting” of the jump rope world.  Sprinting an incline will definitely create a large training effect (strip fat, building athletic-like conditioning, etc), but you can also arrive to your destination without sprinting that hill, or in this case, using double-unders.

Single revolution jumping can be tweaked to create a serious training effect also.

Are double-unders great?  Yes, absolutely they are, but you can use other variations of jumping rope to accomplish goals also, or at least until you are able to work into double-unders.  I’ve had my heart rate at the upper ranges using aggressive single revolution jump workouts.

I commonly use my jump rope for 5-10 minute of continuous jumping warm-ups or interval style work.  Set the clock in plain sight, adjust your Spotify playlist to something up tempo and go.

If you’re thinking of warming up using a jump rope, work in a bunch of variations of jumps (two foot square, single leg, running, side to side, forward and back, rotational, etc) within that time frame.  It will keep you engaged, work different body/foot positions and make the time move much faster.  The more monotonous you make jumping rope (or training in general), the more likely you won’t jump at all.

Keep it fresh.

For intervals, I would suggest starting by executing one style of jump, twirling the rope as fast as you can while maintaining solid body posture and rope technique.

Usually, the two-foot square stance jump is a great place to start.  As you become skilled at the basic two-foot square stance jump, progress to a stationary running action as you twirl.  Stay soft on your foot ground contacts and bring the knees up to a reasonable height (without hunching), which is probably a few inches below belt level.

30sec work: 30sec rest for 10 rounds (or slow jumping active recovery) is a great place to begin scaling to your conditioning level.  If you are crushing a 30/30 for 10 rounds no problem, add time to the work and decrease the rest or add additional rounds.  Play around with the logical progression that suits your situation.  I prefer to keep the 1 minute block for work:rest.  It’s much easier to calculate if you don’t have a dedicated interval timer like a Gymboss .

I’ve found that single foot jumping is very challenging, but I have to admit that I don’t like it for conditioning specific workouts.  Technique gets sloppy as the loading is overwhelming for your foot/ankle/leg to handle.  Think about it, it’s the entire weight of your body coming down on each impact, and the impact is completely vertical in direction.

Single leg plyometrics are considered advanced methods for training elite athletes, so imagine the effect they have on the average desk worker.  Before of the increases ground contact time with single leg jumping, the rope tempo also slows down.

I’ll work single leg jumps in often while jumping rope, I am just not sold for using single leg jumping exclusively for interval training.  It’s too much for a lot of people and it seems to work against the idea of interval training.

If I do work single leg hopping in for an interval session, it is usually a 3right + 3left alternating variation to avoid exhausting either side, keeping the tempo as high as possible.

But, as always, I recommend that you test it for yourself because your situation is unique to mine.

Peaking back at the construction of the SR-1 jump rope, notice the length of the handles, the ball bearings and the construction of the rope itself (cable coated in plastic).

Rogue Jump Rope quality and material

All of these features make this rope silky smooth when jumping, which in reality, is the key to great jump rope experience.  If you have to fight a jump rope that grinds on every revolution, you’re going to drive yourself nuts.  I’ve been there a bunch so I can attest to this situation.

Here is a more complete view of the rope:

Rogue Jump Rope

 

Lastly, you can adjust the SR-1.  Don’t buy a rope that you cannot adjust.  A jump rope needs to be fit to your height in order to work properly.  Most come in a 9ft length, and you can trim down from there.  Here is a video on how to adjust the rope from the Rogue guys:

If you’re a small space workout warrior (like I am), jumping rope is the perfect conditioning alternative to running and cycling during the Winter months.  Cycling is out of the question (unless you ride a $2500 fat bike) and running becomes a challenge here in Wisconsin from late November through March/April (or late May as we received 10inches of snow last year).  Yuck.

Jump rope suggestions for workouts

Yup, that should about do it if you want to jump rope inside.

Jumping rope on carpet is a nightmare, so I would avoid it from the beginning if I were you.  You’ll have a much better experience on hard floor with the rope skipping underneath your body without any interference.

Jumping rope is a an acquired taste.  I composed a post a while back that discussed what I personally believe are the pitfalls of jumping rope.  I would call these words of caution, not a protest against jumping rope.  Even though the jumps in between the rope rotations is basically a low intensity plyometric, it is still ballistic and requires high volumes in order to receive any kind of training effect.  These were just words of caution.

If you haven’t conditioned your legs, specifically your calves and ankles to jumping rope, start slow.  You’ll know instantly if you overdid it, as you won’t be able to touch your calves without wincing in the days that follow.

Know thyself you’ll be just fine.

If you’ve lost faith in the quality of jump ropes recently, re-read this post and restore that faith.

There are decent products out there, you just have to do some homework before you make the purchase.

 

Cheers to jumping rope!

 

KG