Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last workout of 2008

Resolution II:

I'm on to the intermediate level :)


KB clean and press ladder: 1, 2, 3, 4 x 12 kg
Pullups: 5
Deadlift: 5x115

That was round 1. Rounds 2-5 were just like that, except that I decreased the number of pullups and deadlifts by 1 each round, and added 5 lbs to my deadlift each round. If I'd gone a sixth round I would've been back to 5 pullups but still only one deadlift at 135 lbs, and I wasn't sure I could do the five pullups. Also, I think I want to give my body a little more time to get used to the higher volume on the clean & press ladders. My elbows are basically pretty healthy for an athlete in her mid forties, but at the same time I don't feel as though I can take them for granted, KWIM? I don't have tendinitis yet, but I can totally see the potential for getting it if I add weight and volume too quickly.

Since I had a little time left I tacked on another 12 days workout:

med ball carioca there, shuffle back (I reversed the order on these every other round in the interests of not being lopsided)
Add on: 2 med ball burpees
Add on: 3 med ball pushups (like diamond pushups but with hands on the ball)
Add on: 4 med ball jump squats
Add on: 5 med ball leg curls
Add on: 6 med ball plank rollouts
Add on: 7 med ball decline pushups
Add on: 8 med ball jump lunges (total, not per side--I was feeling lazy :))
Add on: 9 med ball prone tucks
Add on: 10 med ball swings
Add on: 11 (per side) spiderman climbs , hands on the med ball
Add on: 12 (per side) med ball twisty v-sit thingies ( I forget the proper name for these)

I used a 10 lb med ball, and it was a total sweatfest. I sort of made it up as I was going along, so if I had it to do over again I probably would change some things. Still, it was a nice little add on and kind of fun except when it wasn't.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Resolution I

This is the one with the clean and press and the swings. I made it to ten rounds last time I did the workout, so I was due to up my weights.

For the barbell press this time I went to 70 lbs (from 60) and for the swings I went to 30 (from 12 kg). I only had about 20 minutes between clients to work, but still managed to get in 6 rounds at those weights. I think I could've gotten a 7th and maybe an 8th if I'd had the full 30 minutes to work. But maybe not.

So, I cleaned and pressed 2100 lbs, and swung 54,000, for a total of 75,000 lbs moved in about 20 minutes. Not bad.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Noooo! Not another 12 days of fitness ladder!!

Yep. 'Fraid so.

Round 1: walking lunges there, bear crawls back (about 10 yards each way)
Round 2: see above, plus 2 pullups
Round 3: see above, plus 3 burpees
Round 4: see above, plus 4 plyo lunges each leg
Round 5: see above, plus 5 pike pushups
Round 6: see above, plus 6 skater hops
Round 7: see above, plus 7 mountain climbers each side
Round 8: see above, plus 8 spiderman pushups
Round 9: see above, plus 9 star jumps
Round 10: see above, plus 10 prone jacks
Round 11: see above, plus 11 bicycle crunches each side
Round 12: see above, plus 12 T pushups

They were all good pullups too. From a dead hang, chin up over the top of the bar, all that :)

Go, me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Resolution III

I've already posted what this workout consists of, so won't bore you with the details. I completed 10 rounds in under 30 minutes, so next time I do the workout I'll be moving up to the intermediate level. My weights won't change, but when I do the clean & press ladders I'll be doing 1, 2, 3, 4 instead of just 1, 2, 3.

My pullups were pretty strong today, for me, and I'm very happy about that. One of my fitness goals for 2009 is to be able to do a set of 10 perfect pullups. Today I did a total of 30.

Yesterday was meant to be a rest day but I was feeling a little guilty about having overeaten on Christmas so I did supersets of Turkish getups and swings. I started with 1 rep per side of the TGU, then went to 30 swings. Second set I did two getups per side and 30 swings. Third set I did three getups per side, then 30 swings. And then I started over again at 1. I kept my rest periods short--about 15 seconds or so--so I was done in under 20 minutes. It was actually a nice little workout.

On Christmas Day I did a fairly horrible medicine ball circuit using a 10 lb ball. Lots of woodchoppers, bizarre pushup and prone tuck variations with my feet on the ball, and even more bizarre mountain climber and plank variations with my hands or forearms on the ball.

I'm still feeling the lack of a panda to assist me in my workouts.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I have a pullup bar but no panda ...

so no assisted pullups for me today :(

Instead I did Resolution #3:

Round 1:
BB deads from floor: 5x135
BB clean & press: 5x65
DB farmer's walk: 30 yards approx., holding 35s
KB swings, mixed: 20x12 kg

The four rounds after that were the same as round 1, except I added 5 lbs to my deadlift and did 1 fewer rep. Reps and poundages on the other three exercises stayed the same. So, on my last set I was deadlifting 155. Barely got it off the ground; in fact, I missed my first attempt. I truly could not have gone heavier on the deadlifts and c&p, and it took me just about half an hour to get in my 5 rounds, so I was just where I need to be poundage-wise.

Also, if your kettlebells happen to be from PerformBetter, there's a nifty new product that's basically like a Platemate, only it screws into the bottom of the bell. It's 2 kg, which is brilliant for those of us who find it a bit of a struggle to increase our weights 4 kg at a time.

PerformBetter is a great source for exercise equipment. Not perfect, though.

No pandas :(

Assisted pullups, panda-style

If you've got a pullup bar and a panda, give it a shot!

Monday, December 22, 2008

3000 lbs

That's how much weight I cleaned and pressed today :)

10 sets of 5 reps, with a barbell loaded at 60 lbs.

Supersetted with 10 sets of 30 mixed KB swings with a 12 kg bell.

In slightly less than 30 minutes.

I am strong. I am invincible. I am fucking nuts.

This workout, btw, is Resolution #1. Next time I do it I need to up my weights since I got to 10 sets.

Yesterday's workout was a fun little thing involving a 10 lb medicine ball:

Superset: lateral lunge chop, 3x12 per side; one arm squat press, 3x8 per side

Superset: 1-leg pistol squats, 3x5 per side; elevated pushups, 3x12 per side

Superset: 1'leg hip extensions, 3x15 per side; McGill crunches, 3x10 per side

Tri-set: TRX rows, 3x15 (these were supposed to be body rows with feet on the ball, but those were so not happening); prone tucks, 3x12; rollout planks, 3x10

Burpees, 5x10. What made these special was, as I did the jump I tossed the medicine ball up, then caught it on the descent, dropping into a low squat. From there I set the ball down, did the squat thrust back, lowered my chest to the ball, then reversed the motion. There's something about catching the ball as you sink into the squat that I really like. Call me a disciple of Sacher-Masoch if you will. :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday workout

I've decided to make strength my focus for the next little bit. So, until I come up with a better idea, I plan to use the Art of Strength Resolution series (appropriate for the time of year, yes?) as the basis of my routine. Resolution includes 3 separate 30 minute workouts, and the idea is that as you progress you add volume/density up to a certain point, and then you increase your weights and start over again. Today I did Resolution #2:

round 1:
KB clean & press ladder, 1, 2, 3 per arm, using a 12 kg bell
5 pullups
5 deadlifts @ 115 lbs

round 2:
KB clean & press ladder, 1, 2, 3 per arm, using a 12 kg bell
4 pullups
4 deadlifts @ 120 lbs

round 3:
KB clean & press ladder, 1, 2, 3 per arm, using a 12 kg bell
3 pullups
3 deadlifts @ 125 lbs

round 4:
KB clean & press ladder, 1, 2, 3 per arm, using a 12 kg bell
2 pullups
2 deadlifts @ 130 lbs

round 5:
KB clean & press ladder, 1, 2, 3 per arm, using a 12 kg bell
1 pullup
1 deadlift @ 135 lbs

round 6:
KB clean & press ladder, 1, 2, 3 per arm, using a 12 kg bell
5 pullups (actually, 4 pullups and 1 negative--the flesh is weak!)
1 deadlift @ 135 lbs

round 7:
KB clean & press ladder, 1, 2, 3 per arm, using a 12 kg bell
4 pullups
2 deadlifts @ 135 lbs

round 8:
KB clean & press ladder, 1, 2, 3 per arm, using a 12 kg bell
3 pullups
1 deadlift @ 135 lbs

Next time I do the workout I'll go for a 9th round, and the time after that a 10th, so the only thing that'll really change will be my rest periods between sets since I'm only supposed to work for 30 minutes. Once I'm up to 10 rounds in 30 minutes I'll be considered "intermediate", at which point I'll add 4 reps per side per round to the clean & press and decrease my number of rounds to as few as 3. Once I can do 6 rounds in 30 minutes at the intermediate level I'll be ready to move on to the advanced level, which (you guessed it) means I will be adding 5 reps per side per round to the clean & press and working my way up to 5 rounds in 30 minutes.

I sort of have a feeling that because of the weights I chose and my general level of muscular endurance I'm going to be able to move through the levels pretty fast. That's okay; it just means I'll be starting over again at the "beginner" level with heavier weights that much sooner. I sort of deliberately decided to err on the side of caution because as I mentioned below, I haven't really been in heavy lifting mode for a while so I want to spend a little while getting my joints conditioned to handle heavy resistance.

Oh, I forgot to mention: I felt like getting in some intervals at the end of the workout so I grabbed my 12 kg bell and did 5 sets of 1 armed swings, 15 per arm, with 25-30 seconds rest between sets. So, about a 2:1 work/rest ratio.

What I'm tentatively planning is doing each of the Resolution workouts once per week on nonconsecutive days, with medicine ball or bodyweight circuits on my off days. I have a Turbulence Training medicine ball workout routine that looks great although I'll have to modify a couple of the exercises because I can't slam a medicine ball in my house and there's not really an appropriate space at the gym either.

In other news, I hit Sports Authority today to get some little fitness-related gifts for a few of my most dedicated long-time clients. I decided on pedometers since one of my mantras as a trainer is that fitness is a lifestyle, not just something you pursue at the gym a couple of times a week. When I tell people they need to be active every day, the first thing they usually say is, "Well, I can't get to the gym every day." As if activity were something that only happens at the gym! Unfortunately, I think that for quite a few of them that's the case ... but if they have pedometers so they can keep track of what they're doing outside the gym they may make more of a conscious effort to incorporate movement into their everyday lives. I'm hoping that'll be the case, anyway.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Heavy" deadlift workout

Okay, not so heavy really, but I haven't been in heavy lifting mode for a while so I thought it'd be best to ease into it. (Also, I'm a wuss. )

So, here's what it was:

Round 1:
Sumo deads ff: 5x125
BB clean and press ff: 5x55
Farmers walk: 30 yds holding 35's
KB swings: 20x12 kg.

I did four more rounds after that, each time adding 5 lbs to my deadlift and subtracting 1 rep, until by the final round I was down to 1 deadlift with the bar loaded at 145. All other exercises remained the same in terms of reps and poundage.

And that was that :)

Edited to add: okay, not quite. A client cancelled on me at the last minute (he's so getting charged for the session!), so I had an hour of dead time between appointments that I used to get in another mini-workout.

circuit 4x:

8 KB 1-arm rows per arm
15 pushups
10 KB snatches per arm
10 KB burpee deadlifts

I used a 30 lb kettlebell for the rows and burpee deadlifts, and an 8 kg bell for the snatches.

Oh, and later in the day I took a 90 minute ballet class. My shoulders and upper traps were a little achy from the snatches or maybe the c & p, so my port de bras sucked, which is probably why you never hear about ballerinas who're powerlifters.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So, I gave the EDT thing a shot ...

Ehhh ....

I think I like Alwyn's Metabolic (sorry, Wendy!) Density Training better. With EDT you're doing two exercises, alternating sets, for 15-20 minutes, taking as few breaks as possible, and with MDT a la Alwyn you're doing 3 exercises for 10 minutes, working continuously.

Anyway, I did a little of both today.

First up, double kettlebell clean & press supersetted with double kettlebell front squats. I used 20 lb bells and worked for 20 minutes, performing as many five-rep sets as possible. I think I got about 15 sets, or 75 reps of each exercise, in 20 minutes or maybe a little less. It was hard but also a little boring somehow, if that makes sense.

Then I did kettlebell renegade rows, followed by double kettlebell windmills, followed by double kettlebell swings, using 15 lb bells for all exercises. I did 5 reps per side of the renegade rows and windmills and 15 reps of the swings, and I completed 3 sets in 10 minutes. I had more fun with this drill, although fun is maybe not the right word.

Monday, December 15, 2008

101 Kettlebell Workouts

This little e-book is a very worthwhile 12 Days of Fitness freebie from David Whitley of It doesn't tell you how to execute the basic kettlebell drills so it's not appropriate for someone who's a complete kettlebell novice, but it's great if you know the exercises and just need some help putting them together in a routine that flows nicely. There are straight-set workouts, circuits, ladders, German volume training, escalating density training, kettlebell/bodyweight fusion routines, tabatas and other types of timed sets ... you name it.

On Saturday I did one of the routines, with some tweaks to bring it more into line with what I felt like doing on that day:

Circuit 3x:

Swings, 25x12kg
Burpee deadlifts, 10x12kg
Clean & press, 5 per armx12 kg

Straight sets:

TGU, 2x5 per side x8 kg
snatches, 5x10 per side x8 kg

Today I did one of the ladder workouts:

swings, 30 sec. rest 30 sec.
squats, 30 sec, swings 30 sec., rest 30 sec.
slingshot, 30 sec., squats, 30 sec, swings 30 sec., rest 30 sec.
clean & press, 30 sec. per side, slingshot, 30 sec., squats, 30 sec, swings 30 sec., rest 30 sec.
row, 30 sec. per side, clean & press, 30 sec. per side, slingshot, 30 sec., squats, 30 sec, swings 30 sec., rest 1 min

That's one round, and you're supposed to do 3-5 rounds. I only did 3, but I stuck with my 12 kg bell throughout so I don't feel I was wimping out particularly.

I'd like to try some of the EDT workouts next. Supposedly it's a good way to increase size and strength. The idea is, you pick two exercises for opposing muscle groups, and you perform alternating sets of 3-5 reps using a weight that would allow you to complete 10 reps with good form. You perform as many sets of each exercise as possible in a prescribed period of time, usually 15-20 minutes, and each time you do the workout you try to complete more reps than the time before.

Doesn't that sound awful???

Whitley has two upper/lower split EDT routines and one full-body routine. Not sure which I will try. Probably the full-body routine, except I might tweak it to make it more cardiovascular. As written the routine pairs double military presses with pullups and double front squats with swings (Workout A) and double floor presses with bent rows and swings with pistols (Workout B). I can see the merit of pairing exercises that work opposing muscle groups, but I think it might work even better to pair upper and lower body exercises. I'll try it both ways and report back.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

12 Days of Fitness, plus Wednesday workout

The 12 Days of Fitness, in case you're smart and aren't on as many e-fitness mailing lists as I am, is a promotion that I believe was originally the brainchild of one Dax Moy, a UK-based fitness person who's got a program called The Elimination Diet. (FWIW I have a freebie version of his e-book, and if you think you might have food sensitivities his program looks like it'd be a worthwhile thing to do. Basically you cleanse your diet of all the common allergens--wheat, dairy and so forth, then gradually start adding them back in. When problems develop in response to a particular food or type of food--bingo! you know you're sensitive to it. Certainly it's not a new concept but Dax Moy does a good job of explaining how to go about it, and even helps out with a meal plan in case you're at a loss for what to eat if you're not having your usual Kentucky-fried gluten soy bombs or whatever. Yes, Dax's name is a bit odd, but I think it must be because he's from the UK. I work with a Brit who's called Jed--only he spells it Ged. Don't ask.)

Anyhoo, to get back to the 12 Days of Fitness, it seems as though every online fitness guru you've ever heard of, and more than a few you haven't, is participating, You sign up, and every day for 12 days, starting today, you'll be sent links to various and sundry !free! tidbits of fitness information. Many of which actually seem to be pretty worthwhile IMO. To access some of the information you do indeed need to supply an e-mail address and get on some mailing lists, but as I've said before, I don't mind that so much. The only thing I will NOT do is provide credit card information ("Cancel after 7 days and keep your !free! bonuses!!"), and I've not been asked to do that, nor do I expect to be.

The best of today's freebies were from Workout Muse and Troy Anderson/Josh Henkin, who are Arizona-based kettlebell/fat loss gurus. The Workout Muse bonus I actually already had since I'm on their mailing list already, and it includes a nice little mp3 download that keeps track of time during timed sets, along with some suggestions for circuit workouts. I think I mentioned it a few weeks ago and gave it a thumbs-up. The Troy Anderson thing is a 30-page e-book with a 4 week abs program you're meant to do as an add-on to your regular workouts. There are 3 separate workouts, each to be done once a week and each consisting of a full body exercise plus a more abs-focused exercise. Workout 1 consists of kettlebell front squats and kettlebell chops, Workout 2 consists of kettlebell swings and max hold planks, and Workout 3, which I did today as a finisher to my Turbulence Training workout, consists of Turkish getups and sprints. I love this type of workout and consider it far more effective than doing a bazillion crunches or whatever.

There also was a kind of cute-looking "laptop bag workout" with suggestions for using your laptop bag as a resistance prop when on business trips. Laptop bag swings, anyone? I can't imagine it replacing a regular workout, but if you're stuck in a hotel room and desperate for endorphins, why not give it a shot?

So, anyway, that's the scoop on the 12 Days of Fitness. I'll update as we move through December and I get access to more of the freebies. And once I've separated the wheat from the chaff (with apologies to those of you who're gluten-phobic), I'll be sure to let you know what I think is worth checking out.

Now, for the workout:

Usual warmup circuit

superset: DB split squats, 1x6x30, 3x8x40; SB rollouts, 1x6, 3x10

superset: DB RDL, 3x8x40; DB push press, 3x6x25

tri-set: BB squat, 3x12x100; SB prone tucks, 3x15, side planks, 3x45 sec.

core/cardio: KB turkish getup ladders 2x, 1, 2, 3; 200 meter sprint 6x. The way this worked was, you do one turkish getup to each side, then sprint. Then you do 2 getups per side, then sprint. Then 3 per side, then sprint. And then you start again with 1 getup per side and work your way back up the ladder. It took me a couple times to figure that out; at first I thought I was meant to do two TGU 1, 2, 3 ladders each set, but then I realized that couldn't possibly be right because, well, that'd be 24 getups per set, and with six sets to do ... well, that'd be overkill, especially since this is one of those workouts where each week you're supposed to add sets and reps. So, anyway, I ended up doing some extra getups my first two sets. Might try it with a heavier kettlebell next time I do the workout (I was using 15 today). Or, I might stick with doing some extra reps, as I have a little trouble stabilizing my left shoulder properly if I go too heavy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I taught cycling as usual but it wasn't much of a workout for me because a lot of people in class were having trouble with their heart rate monitors, and when that happens I end up having to spend a lot of time off the bike coaching them through the workout.

Later I did the following, which is a version of an AOS workout that I tweaked for more of a cardio effect.

KB clean and press ladders, 1, 2, 3 each side @ 12 kg
DB squat thrust to pushup to renegade row to mountain climber, 5x15
KB overhead/sumo squat hybrid, 8 kg overhead, 12 kg between legs, 5 reps each side

I did 5 rounds in about 20 minutes. Not bad. The original version of this workout is more of a strength builder, and calls for 5 pullups, 1-arm rows or renegade rows as the second exercise and 5 deadlifts as the third exercise, and I'm supposed to go heavy enough on all exercises that should take me a half hour to complete 5 rounds. Not that that doesn't sound incredibly fun, but it just didn't feel appropriate for me today.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mistress Laura, um, does that high-density resistance training thing that elevates the heart rate and increases EPOC

(Yes, we need to find a new word for it.)

Warm-up circuit 2x:

10 squats
8 close grip pushups
12 SB leg curls
rest 30 sec.

Superset: DB high incline press, 1x6x25, 3x6x30, no rest; DB 1-arm row, 1x6x25, 3x6x37.5, 1 min rest
Superset: band assisted chins, 3x8, no rest; DB flat press, 3x8x35, 1 min rest
Superset, close grip pushups (form sucked on the last set so don't be impressed), 3x25, DB rear delt flyes, 2x10x12

Then for 20 minutes I did the following:

5 BB clean and press @ 50 lbs
20 swings, either 1-arm or hand to hand, @ 12 kg
5 box jumps at 18"

I think I got about 8 rounds. Since I was doing it as a finisher to another workout I didn't go for the full 30 minutes, but if I had I easily could've gotten 10 rounds, which means I need to increase my weights and the height of my step. Which means, unfortunately, that I can't do the workout at home because I don't have a kb heavier than 12 kg, and I don't have anything I can jump on that's higher than 18". Well, except for Paul, but that's quite different.

I haven't done BB clean and press for a while and I sort of enjoyed it. I think all the kettlebell training I've been doing lately has had a carryover effect.

With apologies to Wendy ...

Anthony DiLuglio gets metabolic:

If you can't bear to watch the clip, here's the gist of it: do rounds consisting of (1) five clean to press (from floor) using a log if you've got one handy (yeah, right), a barbell if you don't (2) 20 kettlebell swings, any type (3) five box jumps. Rest, then repeat. Start with 5 rounds, and work your way up to 10, decreasing your rest periods as you get stronger. Be sure to choose weights and a box height that challenges you, and--this is important--keep your weight selection constant as you increase your volume and decrease your rest. Otherwise the workout won't be truly progressive.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday workout

Warm-up circuit 2x:

10 squats
8 close grip pushups
12 SB leg curls

superset: db split squats, 1x8x25's, 3x8x35's; SB rollouts, 1x8; 3x10
superset: db RDL, 3x8x35's, db push press, 3x6x25's
triset: db squat, 3x12x35s, SB prone tucks, 3x15, side planks, 3x45 sec. each side

AOS Providence, 8 rounds only, substituting mixed KB swings tabata-style for rounds 3 and 6 (2 min. only) and finishing with a full 4 minutes of 1-arm tabata swings after round 8. Or something like that. Whatever I did, it ended up taking about half an hour :)

Dieter's edema?

If you're on the Turbulence Training e-mail list, you probably know about Brad Pilon and his Eat Stop Eat program. The idea is, you eat "normally" five days a week, and fast for two. I sort of hate the concept, but I'm sure it's effective at least to a point. I mean, if your weekly calorie intake is only 5/7 of what it was, you're sure to lose weight unless you also reduce your activity level, which to his credit Brad says you're absolutely not to do. His theory, which I actually think I basically agree with, is that as long as you stay active your metabolism won't slow down even if you skip eating for a day. Certainly that would explain why my metabolism hasn't come screeching to a halt even though I not infrequently have days like yesterday when for a variety of (mostly stupid) reasons my entire calorie intake from dawn to dusk consisted of a nonfat latte and a few almonds.

What I don't like about Eat Stop Eat is the tacit endorsement of a "normal" diet, because there's so much that's unhealthy about the way most people eat. If it was an eat-as-much-as-you-want-whenever-you-want diet that nevertheless emphasized healthy food choices, I actually think I could get behind it, because for some people--and to some extent I'm one of them-- being on a strict eating schedule and observing strict portion control is crazy-making.

As usual I'm getting off on a tangent. To get back to the "dieter's edema" thing, this is something that supposedly can happen as a result of too-strict dieting. As belly fat is lost, waterlike fluid allegedly rushes in to occupy the space created, resulting in abs that are "smooth" not "ripped." A reward meal will get rid of it, supposedly. And intermittent fasting will allow you to avoid it altogether. Supposedly.

Personally I'm skeptical. Very. I think we've all had the (discouraging) experience of starting diets, kicking our workouts into high gear, etc, and finding that in the short term we look no better. Worse, even, in some cases. I don't think it's dieter's edema that's at fault, though. Inflammation leading to water retention in the muscles, maybe. But the dieter's edema thing sounds like a made-up problem to me.

What do you all think?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

AOSX: The 1200 Workout

Art of Strength has a series of downloadable workouts, the AOX series. I was intrigued enough to purchase one of them, The 1200 Workout.

Not. Worth. The. Money. Even at the sale price of $29.95. For that kind of money I was expecting something I could actually work along to. But no. The video component ran slightly over 15 minutes, no longer, and consisted of Anthony demo-ing each exercise a couple of times, then telling us how many reps to do, then moving on to the next thing. I got very tired of having to stop my workout so I could put the video on pause while I completed my set. I appreciate that we were being tacitly encouraged to go at our own pace, but even so I would've preferred to miss a few reps instead of constantly having to pause the workout. Frankly once I'm completely at ease with all the exercises I won't be using the video at all, just the accompanying "workbook," which is merely a list of the exercises in each round along with the number of reps to be performed.

As for the content of the workout, it was fine. There was an interesting mix of kettlebell, dumbbell and bodyweight exercises, a few of which were new to me. Corkscrew pushups, for instance. You start out in pushup position, but with the feet a little closer to the hands than usual. You then bend at the knees and take the hips back toward the heels, as if you were coming back into extended child's pose, but with the knees still off the ground. Then you twist to one side and bring your body forward into chatturanga, untwisting as you go. Then you reverse the motion to the other side. That's one rep. If you really wanted to get creative you could keep coming forward until you were all the way up in upward facing dog before reversing the motion. Then it'd be kind of like a hybrid of a divebomber pushup and a corkscrew pushup. I don't know if I actually dislike any of my clients enough to make them attempt that, but it might be kind of fun :)

The one thing I didn't care for, content-wise, about the workout was the ungodly number of snatches. Each round ended with a set, and each round had you doing two more reps to each side than the previous round, so you started with 10 and ended with 20 per side (there were 6 rounds in total). That's a lot of snatches--180 total, unless my math is off. And that's assuming you only do each round once. That was what I opted to do. The advanced version calls for each round to be performed 3 times, and frankly that seems like overkill since even without taking any real rest between sets I needed a half an hour to get through each round once. I can't even see wanting to do the full intermediate version, which calls for each round to be performed twice.

I think since I prefer no repeat workouts anyway, what I may do is throw in a tabata every after every second round, using bodyweight exercises or kettlebell exercises such as clean and press that aren't included elsewhere in the workout. That'll give me about a 45 minute pretty intense--dare I say, metabolic?--workout.

In the greater scheme of things it probably doesn't matter much that the video isn't useful except for teaching exercises that may be new because I'm fine working out on my own and probably would opt to do that a good bit of the time anyway. I just think that for the price I should've gotten something I could work along to when that's what I want. Given what I suspect it cost AOS to put this downloadable workout together, I think it should've been priced a good $20 lower.

Rachel Cosgrove on the AOS Women's Page

I should've realized Rachel's gym was an AOS affiliate. Not that AOS Providence isn't a fantastic workout, but it's hardly the only good kettlebell workout available on DVD :)

But no matter. Rachel has a good article up on the AOS Women's Page re: metabolic resistance training for fat loss. According to Rachel it's even more beneficial than high intensity cardio intervals, which boost metabolism and burn calories but don't build muscle or increase strength. If your workout time is limited, Rachel recommends making metabolic resistance training workouts your main priority. Do up to 4 a week, and if you have time to do more, add in a cardio interval session or two. If you're really gung ho and want to do even more, you can throw in some steady state cardio, which will burn calories while you do it but won't build muscle or increase metabolism. But that should be your absolute last priority.

The foregoing assumes, of course, that your primary goal is fat loss. If you're looking for premium muscle gains or you've got an endurance event like a triathlon coming up, you'd want to train differently. But if what you really want is to see your six-pack abs, you should train as Rachel recommends.

(There's a nice picture of Rachel and her six-pack, showing that her program works. I think she's a great physical role model because she looks healthy-lean, not extreme. A body that's fitness-model lean isn't something a woman should try to maintain indefinitely if she cares about her health, but a body like Rachel's is a totally appropriate thing to strive for. Not to mention, if that's where you maintain, you'll already be 3/4 of the way there on those occasions when you DO want to have more of a fitness-model extreme look :))

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The peanut cancer link

Okay, turns out I've just been kidding myself by buying all-natural, organic peanut butter. Aflatoxin (major, major carcinogen) is in the stuff regardless, although it's most prevalent in peanut butter made from peanuts grown in more humid parts of the world. Valencia peanuts, which are grown in Arizona, have the least, so if you're going to have peanut butter that's the kind to get. But even so, it's better to consume it in limited quantities. Which apparently I am not capable of doing, so I really probably need to cut it out altogether.

Le sigh.

Oh well. The first few days will be the hardest. And, who knows, maybe I'll find myself feeling much better once I'm off the nut. In the meantime, though, it won't be pretty. Pretty soon I expect to be seeing pink spiders dancing the Cold Turkey Tango with Mr. Peanut.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I survived, and moo

I spend most of yesterday slumped in an easy chair with my laptops (the Dell and the Siamese) close at hand. I was multitasking: putting together a plan for my spin class plus workouts for my Tuesday and Wednesday clients, and watching bad movies on mini-mode. You know a movie is bad when not even Hugh Jackman can save it. I made it through almost an hour of "Van Helsing" before finally giving up and switching to "Sphinx." Gorgeous leading lady (Lesley-Anne Down), even more gorgeous leading man (Frank Langella, who was hotness itself back in the day and could actually act, not that the movie required him to do so), and fabulous cinematography of Egypt. Moose gave it two paws up, but thought there should have been more about Bastet in the film. She is quite right, of course. Never argue with a Siamese. It will get you nowhere.

Anyway, my day of sloth seems to have done me good, because I'm feelimg quite a bit better today. A couple Dayquil and a quick squirt of nasal spray and I was good to go. My morning clients didn't even notice I was under the weather, and when you consider that I'm someone who routinely gets asked if she has a cold even when she doesn't (thank you, rosacea), that's major. Also, my voice held out during cycling class--fortunately it was a smallish group and they were all people I know well, who are all at similar levels of fitness except for the pregnant lady, who knew how to modify, so I didn't have to give a lot of instruction on form or offer a lot of alternatives for different experience levels. That makes my job so much easier.

Also, we've started using heart rate monitors in class so I had an excuse to get off my bike and check in with people to see whether they were in the zone or not :)

The moo is in reference to my weight, which is a little higher than I would like it to be. I tend to eat more than I should when I have a cold and my throat is sore. I crave the comfort of something cold and creamy slipping down my inflamed gullet, and even if it's nonfat sugar free yogurt and frozen berries instead of ice cream, too much of it makes me fat.

Whatever. I'm hoping that one more good night's sleep will have me feeling almost back to normal by tomorrow.

Oh, and the more I think about it the more I'm wanting one of those re-loadable kettlebells. I might want the guy version, though, even though it's not pink. Unloaded it's only about 9 pounds, filled with sand it's about 20-25, and filled with shot it's heavier than I'll ever need ... but Paul might dig it. He was asking me this morning about kettlebells in a way that made me think he might enjoy adding them to his routine. He likes functional stuff and hates anything bodybuilderish, so kettlebell training would be a great fit for him. I've actually been telling him that for a while, but I think maybe he had to read a few articles about kettlebell training in Men's Health for it to sink in.

Anyway, I think I would have a blast taking my empty bell to the beach, filling it with sand and doing my workouts there. Clients would love it too.

The other good thing about the bigger bell is, when it's only partially full the center of gravity constantly shifts, making the exercise even more challenging.

Of course the bad thing about the bigger bell is, it's bigger. The larger size wouldn't be a problem for Paul, but with my tiny frame I don't think I could get a bell that was 8" in diameter into a good rack position.

Also, the bigger bell isn't pink.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday's half-assed workout

My cold's a little worse today :( I'm so dreading tomorrow--I hope there aren't a ton of people in my cycling class, because I don't think my voice will hold out if I have to shout to be heard in the back of the room.

I did a little upper body weights thing thinking it'd make me feel better, but evidently it didn't work. I still feel like a disgusting fat slug. Isn't that ridiculous? But there you have it, and I know you all know exactly what I mean. It has nothing to do with how my clothes fit or what the scale says, and everything to do with the fact that I think someone crept into my house in the dead of night and replaced my head with a water balloon.

Anyway. Here's what it was:

warm-up circuit 2x:

10 squats
8 close grip pushups
12 SB leg curls

Superset: DB incline press, 1x6x25, 3x6x30; 1-arm DB row, 1x6x25, 3x6x35
Superset: band assisted chins, 3x8; flat DB press, 3x8x30
Superset: close grip pushups, 1x25, 2x25 onto bench; DB rear delt flyes, 3x10x10

(This is a Turbulence Training workout, one of the ones included in the basic TT for Fat Loss manual. It's meant to be followed with intervals, 20 sec. RPE 9 -10 max effort, 40 sec. RPE 3 active recovery 8x, but that didn't seem appropriate for me today given how feeble I felt during the weights portion of the workout.)

Staci's Metabolic Workout

This is from the AOS website.

Tried to embed, but it didn't work :(

The routine is as follows:

30-60 sec. undulations (a towel makes a great substitute if you don't have ropes handy)
30-60 sec. KB swings (substitute a dumbbell if you don't have a kettlebell)
30-60 sec. dumbbell snatches (substitute a kettlebell if you'd rather)
30-60 sec. dumbbell clean and press (again I see no reason why you couldn't use a kettlebell)
30-60 sec. dumbbell rows
30-60 sec. hops (these look to me like plyo Siff squats--quite a balance challenge and probably killer on the calves, but if you've got knee issues I'd recommend doing regular jump squats instead)

Repeat 3-5x

(I totally want one of those pink adjustable-weight kettlebells! The price is a little ridiculous, but it's pink!!!! And it can weigh from 7 to 22 lbs depending on how much shot you put in it, so if you don't have space for a lot of kettlebells in different sizes it's kind of a practical thing to own. And, well, it's pink!!!!! And AOS is donating a share of the proceeds to breast cancer research. And did I mention that it's pink???)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Deb, I think I caught your cold!


I still managed a workout, but it wasn't the 12 Days of Fitness horror show I posted below. Not even close.

Bodyweight circuit 3x:

15 y squats
10 decline pushups
10 stepups each side
30 pushups
20 squats
15 spiderman climbs each side
10 forward lunges each side
10 close grip pushups
15 SB leg curls
10 TRX body rows

The good news is, most of my clients are away or busy with family so I haven't had to go work since last Wednesday, and won't have to go in at all tomorrow either. The bad news is, if I don't work I don't get paid. And the holidays are coming, and cat food is expensive.

Sing it, people: "On the first day of fitness my trainer gave to me ..."

a sprint and two pushups

On the second day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups

On the third day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

three power scisssors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups

On the fourth day of fitness my trainer gave to me ....

four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups

On the fifth day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

five bu-urpees, four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups

On the sixth day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

six sumo squats, five bu-urpees, four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups.

On the seventh day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

seven seal jacks, six sumo squats, five bu-urpees, four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups.

On the eighth day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

eight base rotations, seven seal jacks, six sumo squats, five bu-urpees, four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups.

On the ninth day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

nine dynamic pillars, eight base rotations, seven seal jacks, six sumo squats, five bu-urpees, four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups.

On the tenth day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

ten bicycles, nine dynamic pillars, eight base rotations, seven seal jacks, six sumo squats, five bu-urpees, four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups.

On the eleventh day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

eleven wideout squats, ten bicycles, nine dynamic pillars, eight base rotations, seven seal jacks, six sumo squats, five bu-urpees, four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups.

On the twelfth day of fitness my trainer gave to me ...

twelve skater hops, eleven wideout squats, ten bicycles, nine dynamic pillars, eight base rotations, seven seal jacks, six sumo squats, five bu-urpees, four prone jacks, three power scissors, two rocket jumps, a sprint and two pushups.

Ho ho ho!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Functional Cardio

I warmed up with the run/back run, shuffle/carioca, skipping/pogo jumping/inchworming combo Wendy posted a while ago, then did the following:

Combo #1

Sprint, 2 pushups/Sprint back, 2 pushups
Sprint, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps/Sprint back, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps
Sprint, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps, 10 bicycles each side/Sprint back, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jump, 10 bicycles each side
Sprint, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps, 10 bicycles each side, 5 lateral bounds each side/Sprint back, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps, 10 bicycles each side, 5 lateral bounds each side
Sprint, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps, 10 bicycles each side, 5 lateral bounds each side, 5 prone jacks/Sprint back, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps, 10 bicycles each side, 5 lateral bounds each side, 5 prone jacks
Sprint, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps, 10 bicycles each side, 5 lateral bounds each side, 5 prone jacks, 2 burpees/Sprint back, 2 pushups, 2 rocket jumps, 10 bicycles each side, 5 lateral bounds each side, 5 prone jacks, 2 burpees

rest 1 min and repeat

Combo #2- Hold a 5 lb plate (a medicine ball would've been better, but I didn't have one handy) while doing the following:

24 squats
12 each alternating side lunges
12 each split jumps
4 rocket jumps
12 jump squats

rest 1 minute then repeat

Combo 3
This is one repetition. Perform 5 reps without rest:

Pushup up set up
10 wideouts
20 mountain climbers
Pushup, lateral bear crawl, pushup
2 star jumps

Rest for one minute, then repeat

Combo #4:

10 prone hypers, 10 prone tucks
Sumo walk holding the plate (or med ball), 10 split jumps with plate, sumo walk back holding plate, 10 straddle jumps with plate
Shuffle, carioca, side run, 10 pushups, repeat 1X
10 bicycles (each side), 10 straight leg scissors on each side.

rest for one minute, then repeat

It was weirdly fun and far easier than the Wendy fitness chick workout. As I was doing the first combo I was thinking that with some tweaks I could turn it into an awesome "12 days of Christmas" workout for some of my favorite victims, I mean, clients.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday workout

I did AOS Providence, using my 12 kg kettlebell for as many drills as possible--which wasn't very many, so don't be impressed.

I think I've finally gotten the hang of the figure 8 to hold, but the flip & squat and slingshot still elude me. My flips always stop about halfway around so I end up catching the bell when the horns are facing downward. Whatever. I don't think my legs know the difference.

Giving Thanks For Clean Eating Magazine

The latest issue contains some awesome looking recipes, including one for quinoa with turkey, toasted pecans, dried cranberries and other yummy seasonal foods.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving workout

Bootcamp on the beach:

Jog 5 minutes on sand to warm up
Sprint 1 minute on sand
20 pushups
Sprint 1 minute on sand
side plank, 30 sec each side
Sprint 1 minute on sand
20 squats
Rest 1 minute
Walk 5 minutes on sand to cool down

It was a fun workout but I probably should've made it harder. For me, anyway, I should've made it harder or gone longer or something.

I also had to walk to the supermarket to pick up a couple of things I forgot, but that doesn't count as a workout.

Holiday fitness tip: be sure to incorporate cross-training. Don't just have pumpkin pie; have pecan as well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day Before Thanksgiving Workout

I took my usual Wednesday ballet class, and also did the the Pinnacle kettlebell DVD, 3 circuits, 10 sec. rest between rounds. I did the first circuit with my 12 kg bell, all but the final round with the windmills. I wasn't feeling very happy with my form on some of the exercises, though, so I stayed with the 8 kg bell my second two times through and did a few extra reps per round.

I also walked 5 city blocks carrying a 12 lb turkey, but I'm not sure that counts as a workout. Maybe if I'd been doing walking lunges with a twist ...

I haven't checked Youtube, but surely someone's filmed a "turkey workout" with a frozen Butterball standing in for a medicine ball.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mistress Laura Attempts The "300" Workout, Plus Goal Setting

Or a version of same. The original 300 workout is a bit--okay, more than a bit--beyond my capabilities at this point. So I lightened it up as follows:

25 band assisted pullups
50 barbell deadlifts at 75 lbs
50 pushups
50 14" box jumps
50 windshield wipers
50 1-arm dumbbell dead clean to press at 20 lbs
25 band assisted pullups

The idea is to complete all 300 reps as quickly as possible without sacrificing form. It took me about 24 minutes to get through it. Not bad.

I also taught cycling.

I really need to stretch out my hips, which are still hurting from Sunday. I think another thing that was working against me on race day was, I ran in my orthotics for the first time. Because these are meant to correct the way my feet absorb force, they'll eventually make me a stronger, faster, more painfree runner ... but I need to get used to them. There's a subtle change in muscle recruitment patterns that I noticed even during the race, and of course much more so afterward when the DOMS started to kick in.

Note that I say: I need to stretch my hips, not that I'm actually going to. I sorta suck.

Which brings me to goal setting. I think I want to change focus for a bit and work on improving my strength in certain areas. I was browsing around the Figure Athlete website, and I noticed Rachel Cosgrove had a deadlift program that looks intriguing. It's intermediate to advanced, meaning that if you can't deadlift your bodyweight for 3 sets of 5 you might get better results working a different set/rep range. But I can, although I haven't for a while.

I'll start after the 12th, unless I think of a better idea.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday workout

Didn't feel real motivated, but managed the following:

Kettlebell circuit:

one-arm swings, 10 per side
windmills, 5 per side
cleans, 10 per side
overhead press, 10 per side
hand to hand swings, 10 per side
one arm rows, 10 per side
Gasp, wheeze, repeat for a total of 3 circuits

I used my 12 kg bell for all exercises except the windmills. I don't know that I'll ever be able to stabilize my shoulder well enough to be able to use much more than 8 kg on that particular exercise. I suck.

After that I did some core work on my TRX trainer. Pikes, rollups, bicycles, pendulums, supine leg raises over, and a couple other things.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SF Run & Walk For The Hungry

Paul and I do this race every year. It's a fundraiser for the local food bank, and it's in Golden Gate Park. In previous years was held on Thanksgiving Day itself, but this year race day was moved to the weekend before. It's a 5k.

And that was plenty.

Ugh. I learned a lesson today: if you want to perform well in an endurance event, you must do a certain amount of endurance-oriented training. Not only that, but if the endurance event is a race on pavement, some of your training must include running on pavement. Otherwise your body won't be conditioned to handle the repetitive stress.

Fortunately the race was only 5k. If it had been longer I think I would've gotten in some real trouble. Of course if it had been longer I would've trained for it.

Anyway, I ran my first mile too fast, which makes sense because most of the time when I run I sprint on the treadmill. After that I was gassed and slowed way way down, then finally hit on a pace I could sustain for the duration. I finished the race in just over 30 minutes, which is longer than it has taken me in previous years. So, 10 minute miles on average.

Not that it matters, really. I mean, I wouldn't have raised any more money for the food bank if I'd been running 6 minute miles.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Bodyweight 500

One of the calluses on my left palm tore off yesterday, leaving a raw spot that made it too painful to grip a dumbbell or kettlebell. (Envy me my glamorous existence, people!) So, I opted for a bodyweight workout today. The pullups and chins were problematic because of the raw spot (and also because they're freakin' pullups and chins for Goddess's sake), but everything else was okay, even the inverted rows because I did those on the TRX, which has nice cushy padded handles to grip.

50 Prisoner Squats
50 Pushups
25 Jumps
25 Stability Ball Leg Curls
50 Stability Ball Jackknifes
50 Step-ups (25 reps per side)
25 Band-assisted pull-ups
50 Forward Lunges (25 reps per side)
50 Close-grip Pushups
50 Inverted Rows
50 Squats
25 Band-assisted chin-ups

I got through it in about 28 minutes, which isn't bad I guess. This is a CB workout, and he claims the first time he tried it it took him 27 minutes. Of course I'm sure his form was a lot better than mine on the close grip pushups, and he was also doing regular pullups and chins, not band-assisted. OTOH, he's under 35 and a guy, which tends to be somewhat of an advantage when it comes to upper body stuff so I'm not going to give myself too hard a time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm all about the kettlebells this week, it seems

Yesterday's workout was AOS Elevation II. I went through it 3 times, resting for 10 seconds between rounds. I used my 12 kg bell for most of the workout, but had to drop down to 8 kg for the TGU situps, chest presses to half-getups, and some (okay, most) of the snatches. The good news, though, is that I had no trouble using 12 kg for the clean and press. So, that's progress.

I also taught cycling, but I'm not sure that counts as a workout because I was off my bike half the time helping people with their heart rate monitors.

Oh, and I had 90 minutes of ballet/Nutcracker rehearsal.

I haven't been doing so well with the eating lately, and plan to do something about that. I'm not particularly looking to lose weight at the moment, but I've been feeling headachey and a bit nauseated for several days and I think it's because I've been eating too many of the wrong things and not enough of the right ones.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Pinnacle workout

Pinnacle is another AOS DVD offering featuring Anthony DiLuglio. Good stuff.

There are 6 rounds performed for reps not time, and you get to pick how many times you want to go through the rounds as well as how long you want to rest between rounds. I opted to rest 10 seconds between rounds for more of a cardiovascular effect, although on another day I might opt for 30 which would allow me to use a heavier kettlebell on most exercises.

Round 1 consisted of one-arm dead swings and one arm swings, 5 of each to each side

Round 2 consisted of dead cleans and long cycle cleans, 5 of each to each side

Round 3 consisted of dead clean and press and long cycle clean and press, 5 of each to each side

Round 4 consisted of high pulls, half snatches and snatches, 5 of each to each side

Round 5 consisted of dead cleans to squats, long cycle cleans to squats, 5 of each to each side, followed by 10 flip & squats (except I can't get the hang of the flip so I just did a release and catch as I dropped back into my squat)

Round 6 consisted of windmills, 5 to each side, figure 8 to hold alternating sides (except I subbed one-arm hand-to-hand swings because the figure 8 still eludes me), 10 total, and hand to hand sumo deadlifts, 10 total.

I've been feeling a bit under the weather lately--yesterday I was fighting off a migraine, and today I've had cramps that I think may be TOM-related but it's hard to be sure. So, anyway, I quit after three rounds. I think I was working out for a about half an hour total. It felt like enough, anyway.

I also took a 90 minute ballet class, but it mostly was rehearsal--just a quick barre to get us warmed up, then straight into Reed Flute (that's the bit from Act II that I think is the most recognizable part of the score to most people. I mean, if I hummed it you'd know it ... or if you didn't it would be my humming that'd be at fault.) Then we worked on the Act I party scene for a while. My Arabian pas de deux has been cut because my partner couldn't be bothered to show up at rehearsal, and we don't have time to rechoreograph it as a solo. Also, I think my instructor has trouble envisioning it as anything other than a pas because that's the way it was done at San Francisco Ballet where she trained. So, anyhoo, no Arabian :( Instead, I'm one of the dolls in the party scene. It's the same part I danced last year, and it's a real crowd pleaser and something I'm very comfortable with. It sort of makes sense to have me do it again, because as choreographed I'm the only person in the group who's physically capable of pulling off the jumps. There's this one bit where I go from a straddle jump (or as close to same as I can get) directly into an Italian changement (it's just a regular jump except that as I come up I pull my heels up toward my groin), and then I repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Then I go into an attitude turn/karate kick sequence, and thankfully that's just about it.

Anyway, I sort of had that dance in mind when I did the Wendy fitness girl workout last weekend, because I think the explosive movements will make my jumps even stronger. I need to keep working on hip flexibility and core strength as well. Oh, and my front assemblees suck, so I need to practice those.

The pas would have been a fun challenge but in a way I'm a little relieved because, well, I'm a little weirded out by the concept of any man who isn't (1) Paul, (2) a trained dancer, or (3)gay having that much physical contact with me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Workout update plus a !free! bonus from Workout Muse (nope, it's not steak knives)

Yesterday I attended a 2-hour TRX workshop for personal trainers. It wasn't a workout per se, but we did a lot of learn-by-doing so a fair amount of physical activity happened. It was an incredible Indian summer day in San Francisco, so we took the TRX units out to a park, hooked 'em up to a jungle gym, and did the workshop there. It was lots of fun although we got some very strange looks . I plan to practice with it intensively this week, then start using it with clients as soon as I feel I have a good understanding of how to make the exercises safe and effective for people at all different fitness levels. I think it's going to be a tremendous tool for helping a few of my clients transition from wall squats with a stability ball to free squats, and also for helping my more advanced people achieve greater range of motion on their one-leg squats.

So, anyway, today I did the 25 minute "Total Body Express" workout that came with my TRX unit, and then I followed up with a 20 minute kettlebell circuit workout. The circuit consisted of overhead squats, presses, 1-leg Romanian deadlifts, cleans, and swings, each exercise performed for 50 seconds, with a 10 second rest between exercises. So, four times through the circuit.

And that brings me to the !free! bonus from Workout Muse. It's called "The Holiday Survival Kit," and it consists of an mp3 track that'll cue you through the 50/10 intervals, and an e-book with suggestions for what exercises to do. The idea is to pick 5 exercises: a 2-leg exercise, a push, a 1-leg exercise, a pull, and a core move, do each for 50 seconds with a 10 second rest between exercises, repeated 4 times. The downloadable e-book has a bodyweight-only routine, a kettlebell routine, a couple of band routines, and a couple of dumbbell routines. I didn't care for the kettlebell routine in the e-book so I put together my own, but the basic template is just fine--I love me some peripheral heart activity training!--and I did adhere to that.

If you check out my linked blogs you should be able to get to the latest posting from Workout Muse that talks about the Holiday Survival Kit. I don't know that it's something I'd pay money for, unless of course it came with the world's smallest juicer and a spiral slicer for carving decorative vegetables, but it's a worthwhile freebie if you'd rather listen to an mp3 than watch the clock.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Cow In The House

Once upon a time there was a poor peasant couple who lived in a miserable one-room hovel with their six children, their children's children, their dog, their cat, their cockatoo and their in-laws. (Okay, the one room was pretty big, but still.) Their living conditions, as you can imagine, were squalid and disgusting in the extreme, and they quarreled constantly. They knew they had to do something to improve the situation, but they couldn't think what.

Finally in desperation they went to consult the village wise woman. "Oh, village wise woman," they asked, "our one-room hovel is crowded and disgusting, and we can't bear it any more. What should we do?"

The wise woman thought for a moment, then said, "My children, it's really very simple. You keep a cow, do you not?"

"Yes, of course," they replied, puzzled.

"And where do you keep it?"

"In the pasture, so it can eat grass and grow fat."

"Ah," said the wise woman. "You must bring the cow out of the pasture and take it into your house. Do not ask why. Simply do it, and come back to see me in a week."

The peasant family was understandably mystified, but did as the wise woman instructed. They brought the cow into the house, and soon things were worse than they had ever been. The cow was gentle and docile and not that big for a cow, but even so it took up a lot of space in the already overcrowded hovel. Worse, it was in the habit of pooping and peeing where it stood, which made the hovel even smellier and more disgusting than it already was. The piles of dung attracted flies, and the flies attracted spiders, and the cat chased the spiders at all hours of the day and night instead of catching mice as it was supposed to do, so that soon the house was overrun with mice, and the in-laws criticized, and basically there was nothing good about the situation at all.

After a week of this, the peasant family went back to the wise woman in despair. "Wise woman, wise woman, we followed your advice, but now things are worse than they have ever been. Our hovel is even more crowded than it was, and it reeks of cow dung and is filled with vermin. What are we to do?"

The wise woman thought for a moment, then said, "My children, it is really very simple. You must take the cow out of your house and put it back in the pasture."

Again, the peasant family followed the woman's instructions. Then, once the cow was out of the house, they set to work cleaning up the piles of dung it had left behind. Soon the house no longer reeked of cow excrement. It no longer attracted as many flies, so the spiders left too, and without the distraction of the spiders the cat got back to chasing mice, so that soon the house was as free of vermin as any medieval hovel could hope to be. Not only that, but without the cow taking up so much space there was a little more elbow room in the hovel, and the family began to get along much better. Even the in-laws were no longer quite as critical.

Within two weeks the peasant family had gone from being miserable to being quite content in their tiny hovel, and it was all thanks to the wise old woman and her advice to bring the cow into the house.

But what does the story of the cow in the house have to do with exercise? Simple.

Today I attempted the Wendy fitness girl workout. I wasn't sure what a few of the exercises in the final combo were so I did other things that seemed to fit in the context of the workout. (Are wideouts plyo pushups where you go from close grip to wide and back again? If so, good, because that's what I did. And, are groiners anything like spiderman pushups? If so, again good, because that's what I did.) And I did my planches with feet against the wall because I'm so far from having the necessary balance it isn't funny. And while I did get some air under me during the four point explosions, straddle holds and L-holds in combo #2, they sure weren't pretty.

Anyhoo, never again will I complain about P90x Plyo X, the Rachel Cosgrove Get Metabolic workout, or any other damn thing, because after today's horror show those workouts seem like something you'd do on a recovery day!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Recent workouts

Yesterday was a Turbulence Training bodyweight circuit with 1-leg squats, pullups, chinups, pike pushups, 1-leg hops, squat thrusts and other incredibly fun moves. I followed with 20 minutes of tabata intervals using bodyweight moves-lateral hops, skaters, base rotations and seal jacks--instead of a machine. I also took a 90 minute ballet class.

Today I did my own thing:

Superset 1: DB triple press (6 seated overhead, 6 incline, 6 flat) 3x20; 1-leg pistol squat using my suspension trainer to get full range of motion, 3x8 per leg

superset 2: DB rows, 3x8 per arm x35; KB squat, 3x10 per side x12 kg

superset 3: walking offset pushups 3x8 per arm; KB sumo deads, 3x20x12 kg

superset 4: KB release swings, 3x 20x 12 kg; burpees, 3x10

Countdown: jump lunges, 5 per leg, 4 per leg, 3 per leg, 2 per leg, 1 per leg, supersetted with inchworms, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, the whole thing performed twice through.

I took very short rests between supersets because I was short on time, and that definitely affected how heavy I was able to go. On a stronger day I could've used 25s on the triple press and 40s on the rows. I still felt I got in a good workout, though.

Also, as I was doing the walking pushups down the hall of my house, I discovered that one of my cats had spit up her breakfast on the oriental rug. It says something about my dedication to working out, or more likely about my housekeeping, that I completed my set before wiping up the cat mess. Interestingly, you can hardly see barely-digested little Friskies on an oriental rug unless your eyes are only a few inches away from same. So, if I'd picked a different exercise to do I probably never would've noticed the cat hurl, at least until I stepped in it.

I am nothing if not glamorous.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hating On The Elliptical

While I think Turbulence Training is one of the most effective, accessible programs around, I definitely don't agree with everything Craig Ballantyne has to say on the subject of fat loss.

In his latest blog posting, for instance, he rags on elliptical trainers as if they were the worst thing to hit the fitness world since the adductor machine. He objects to them for three reasons: (1) they tend to overstate the number of calories burned by users; (2) they're too easy; and (3) they're too easy. Okay, that's really only two reasons, but don't blame me, blame Craig, because it was he who said he had three reasons for not liking ellipticals.

Here's where else I think Craig's analysis is flawed:

(1) Sure, ellipticals may overstate the number of calories burned, but that doesn't make the elliptical bad in itself. It just means you need to ignore the calories-burned function, which you should be doing anyway because as we all know what really matters for fat loss is not how many calories you burn during the workout itself, but how many you burn around the clock.

Which brings me to the second problem with Craig's reasoning:

(2) He seems to think that the elliptical isn't challenging enough to create much of an afterburn effect. But as is true of any cardio machine, the elliptical can be as hard or as easy as you like. It all depends on how fast you go, how much resistance you add, how long your stride is, whether you incorporate arms, and so forth. While it's true that I can't push my heart rate quite as high during an interval training workout on the elliptical as I can running sprints on the treadmill, I can still get it high enough to count as HIIT. It's a nice option for days when my joints can't take the pounding of a high-impact workout.

It's perfectly true that there are a lot of misconceptions about the elliptical--that it tones your arms, that it tones your legs, that it tones your butt if you go backward on it, yadda yadda yadda. But that doesn't mean the elliptical itself is bad. It just means there's a lot of misinformation floating around. No sense in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. (For that matter, no sense in throwing out the bathwater if you can use it to water the plants or something, but that's another subject altogether. )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

AOS Providence, sort of

That was my workout for the day. I say "sort of" because I was too cheap to spring for the DVD so I got the mp3 version, which does a great job of cueing you through the exercises if you already know what they are and how to perform them, but is no help whatsoever if you don't. So, I had to improvise on a couple of the rounds.

The format of "Providence" is rather like that of Rachel Cosgrove's Get Metabolic workout, in that you work pretty intensely for 2 minutes, then take a 1 minute break. There are 14 rounds plus a 3 minute bonus round, so the entire workout is 45 minutes long.

Here's the exercise breakdown:

Round 1: 2-handed swing, one arm swing, hand-to-hand swing
Round 2: Cleans (5, 4, 3, 2, 1 per arm, repeated twice)
Round 3: Chest presses (5, 4, 3, 2, 1 per arm, repeated twice)
Round 4: Squats/sumo deadlifts--3o seconds 1 side, 30 sec. sumos, 30 sec other side, 30 sec. sumos
Round 5: One leg deadlift (5 per leg, lather rinse repeat until the 2 minutes is up)
Round 6: Windmills into an overhead squat, 1 minute per side
Round 7: clean and press (5, 4, 3, 2, 1 per arm, repeated twice)
Round 8: Flip and squat (I skipped the flip because it makes me nervous, and just squatted for the entire 2 minutes)
Round 9: Tactical lunges
Round 10: Triple crush (this is a curl to an overhead press to a 1-arm triceps overhead extension, and I had to modify because my triceps aren't strong enough to allow me to do very many reps with an 8 kg kettlebell)
Round 11: Sling shot into a figure 8 with a static hold (for some reason the figure 8 eludes me, so I simply repeated round 1)
Round 12: Seated press (5, 4, 3, 2, 1 per arm, repeated twice)
Round 13: One arm row (5, 4, 3, 2, 1 per arm, repeated twice)
Round 14: Pullovers, Russian twists, Sicilian crunch (I had no clue what a Sicilian crunch is, so I did heel touches instead. Turns out it's just your basic extended leg overhead crunch. I think people just come up with these names so they'll sound more badass. "Hey, I did Sicilian crunches with 24 kg today, so show me respect or I'll put a fish in your bulletproof vest. Now that's an offer you can't refuse.")

Bonus round: 3 minute snatch test--1 1/2 minutes per side

I liked it in spite of not knowing what the heck I'm doing on some of the exercises. I mean, I think I know enough that I'm not likely to hurt myself, and I also think that with practice my cleans will get, well, cleaner.

I also worked up enough of a sweat to realize that I absolutely cannot under any circumstances exert myself physically while wearing sunscreen that contains active ingredients other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, unless of course I want sore eyes and a bright red nose. Ugh.

The kettlebell drills were a nice change of pace after all the bodyweight stuff I've been doing. I like that too, but it's good to mix it up. In fact, I think I might tweak my workouts to make them more of a fusion of bodyweight and dumbbell/barbell/kettlebell exercises. That format works well at the gym because it doesn't tie up more than one piece of fixed equipment and/or set of dumbbells in any one superset, which is kind of an obnoxious thing to do in a gym as small as mine. I mean, there's this one guy who, every Friday for the last 2 years, has done the same alternating set of bench presses and barbell squats. A great pairing of exercises to be sure, but inconvenient as heck because there's only the one flat bench and squat rack, and he usually does 4-5 sets including his warmup, so it takes him a while to finish even when he keeps his rests short enough that working in isn't really feasible.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just Say NO To Cardio!

That's the title of Boyfriend Craig's new book. You probably already know that, if you're on his mailing list or the mailing lists of any of his multitudinous affiliates. You probably also already know pretty much what the book says: low intensity steady state cardio in the "fat burning zone" is a crock, high-intensity interval training and bodyweight circuits are the way to go if you want to lose body fat, yadda yadda yadda.

There will also be any number of plugs for Turbulence Training. ("Order now! and upgrade to a Platinum Membership for $197! This is a one-time-only offer that ends, well, never, actually, but for now let's say it ends November 30 at midnight PST. So don't delay--order NOW, and start losing belly fat TODAY!") Not that Craig's system isn't all that and a bag of oven-baked sweet potato chips and you could do a whole lot worse with your money, and you probably have, but even so the high pressure sales tactics get old fast.

Even so, I bought the book. Even if it's mostly one long advertising brochure I'm hoping it'll have some solid arguments I can use to persuade my cardio-queen clients that there's a more effective way to work out if their main goal is fat loss. Also, I wanted the set of steak knives and the world's smallest juicer. What I mean is, I wanted the Bodyweight Cardio 2.0 and Bodyweight Cardio 2008 programs, which Craig is throwing in (along with some other stuff) as a !FREE! bonus for the first 53,014,027 people to order.

I'll post more once I've had a chance to try out the new programs.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Would you fork out money for this?

I'm hoping I can persuade the powers that be at my gym to let me offer small-group express personal training. Participants would have the option of purchasing 3, 6, 9 or 12 half-hour sessions, and what they would get (along with the sessions of course) would be an individual assessment and a personalized program of corrective stretches and isolated strengthening exercises to address any muscle imbalances they might have. Clients would be responsible for doing these exercises on their own prior to the group sessions as part of their warm-up. The group sessions would consist of metabolic-density type total-body circuit training, and basically would follow a template format, meaning that I might have everyone in the group doing some type of squat, but the senior with the low back pain would get stability ball wall squats while the muscleman would get heavy dumbbell squats and the track and field diva would get jump squats. Everyone would do as many as he or she can in a minute, working at his or her own pace and taking mid-set breaks as needed, before moving on to the next exercise. And so on, until a half an hour has gone by.

I think this could be a tremendous moneymaker. Participants will be getting the support and camaraderie of a group ex class, but they'll also be getting programming that's customized to their individual needs and goals, which will make it more safer and more effective than traditional group ex (which is included in the price of membership at my gym ... and you pretty much get what you're paying for IMO :))

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today's workout

Same as Sunday:

The usual warmup, followed by

10 burpees
30 pushups
30 squats
15 mountain climbers per side
rest 30-60 sec.
100 jacks
15 alternating forward lunges per side
15 TRX inverted rows
20 close grip pushups
rest 30-60 seconds

Lather rinse repeat a total of 3 times through the circuit.

It occurs to me that I am freaking sick of pushups. I had the 1-arm nightmares yesterday, plus the 45 pike pushups and the 72 spiderman pushups. Today's workout had 150 pushups of one sort or another, while tomorrow's will include 80 decline pushups. And that's not taking into account the 20 pushups in the warm-up! I actually did 170 today and will do 100 tomorrow. On Friday, however, I will get off lightly with a mere 80 pushups.

I really shouldn't complain, as pushups don't bother my wrists unless they're the plyometric kind. It just seems like overkill, and I feel as though I'm sacrificing quality for quantity. Oh well. That's how you make bodyweight training progressive, I guess: you go from cranking out three sets of 30 varying-quality pushups to 3 sets of 30 really good full-range of motion ones.

Still, I might have a look at the original Turbulence Training bodyweight program, either the intermediate or the advanced version, just because knowing me I think I'll have trouble sticking with this one for four weeks. Or, I might mess with this one a little :)

Oh, and I had a 90 minute ballet class/rehearsal also. My hips felt good because of the yoga I've been doing. Hip flexibility is a huge thing for me because so many of my clients have low back pain that I attribute to stiff hips. Their hips don't move, so when they bend over it's not a hip-hinge movement but a bending forward at the waist, which puts their backs at great risk if they're bending forward to, say, pick up a laundry basket or bag of groceries. Sometimes I feel as though my mission in life is to teach people the right way to pick things up off the floor!

Advanced Yoga with Rodney Yee

This DVD is freaking awesome. The 50 minute total body routine features a bunch of advanced headstand variations and arm balances--flying turtle, anyone?--and some great hip openers that'll get most people sitting comfortably in lotus position in less time than you'd expect. There's also a 25 minute routine exclusively for the hips that I probably should be doing almost daily.

The way the poses are sequenced makes even the most advanced moves more doable than you'd think, although I'm still very far from being able to do most of them. The arm balances come easier than the headstands because I don't really like inversions. I had to take them out of my practice when my blood pressure spiked because of issues with the birth control I was using, and then again when my eye doctor told me he thought I might be developing glaucoma. My blood pressure is fine now, and my current eye doctor thinks my interocular pressure is okay also, but it's hard for me to think of headstands and handstands as being safe and effective moves for me.

Still, I'd like to become more proficient at them, and to that end I downloaded the York Handbalancing Course ( It's got some helpful progressions as well as analysis of exactly what's going on when you do a handbalance. It really is about finding your balance, not about brute strength, although strong wrists and forearms certainly are useful. In other words, most weightlifters have the physical strength to do a handbalance, but most of them can't because they don't have the necessary proprioception to be able to maintain their equilibrium when standing on their hands. My proprioception, however, is pretty good, so I think if I work at it consistently, preferably with a spotter in the vicinity, I should be able to defy gravity along with Rodney in the not too distant future.

So, anyhoo, Monday's workout was the two routines from the DVD, and Tuesday's workout was Turbulence Training Advanced Bodyweight Workout A (the one with the 1-arm pushups).

I also taught cycling. Since it was Election Day I inflicted the following "fair and balanced" playlist on my class:

Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
Don't Stop, Fleetwood Mac
There Goes My Hero, Foo Fighters
Soul Man, ??
Barracuda, Heart
Won't Get Fooled Again, The Who
Even Better Than The Real Thing, U2
I Predict A Riot, Kaiser Chiefs
Long Road To Ruin, Foo Fighters
It's The End Of The World, REM
Landslide, Dixie Chicks
Not Ready To Make Nice, Dixie Chicks

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekend workouts


warm-up circuit 2x:
10 pushups
10 squats
10 stickups
10 spiderman climbs
10 waiters bows
20 cross crawl

superset: chin-ups (these were supposed to be one-armed but that was so not happening), 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1; split squats, front foot elevated, 4x12 per leg (so sets 3, 5, and 7 were chins only)

superset: pushups, hands on SB, 3x20; 1 leg SB curls, 3x12 per leg

tri-set: TRX inverted rows , 3x10-12; jump squats, 3x6; cross-body mountain climbers, 3x10 per side

The TRX inverted rows were supposed to be regular inverted rows with feet on the ball, but since I don't have a squat rack I improvised. I tried doing the TRX rows with my feet on the ball but that was just a little too much instability, especially after the chins, which I suck at.


Same warmup as Saturday, followed by a fun (?) bodyweight cardio circuit:

10 burpees
30 pushups
30 squats
15 mountain climbers per side
rest 30-60 sec.
100 jacks
15 alternating forward lunges per side
15 TRX inverted rows
20 close grip pushups
rest 30-60 seconds

Lather rinse repeat a total of 3 times through the circuit.

I was not happy about the 30 pushups. I mean, I did them, but by the end they weren't pretty. The close-grip pushups sucked too, big time.

Later, yoga.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Interval cardio at home, no machines required.

Check out the latest Turbulence Training blog post if you're looking for ideas.

The basic protocol is, you pick a single total body exercise and go fast and furious for 30 seconds. Then you rest 30-60 seconds depending on your fitness level, and repeat for a total of 6 intervals. The recommended exercises are dumbbell or kettlebell swings, dumbbell squat to overhead press, and burpees (with or without the pushup).

Whatever you choose, be sure you're working at maximum effort--about a 9 on the perceived exertion scale, meaning you should feel extremely ready to stop after 30 seconds. If you feel like you could go longer, pick heavier weights or a harder exercise, or shorten up the rest period. Or, go longer :) Not every HIIT session has to involve maximal effort. In fact, not every HIIT session should involve maximal effort, IMHO. I personally think it's more effective to do true anaerobic interval training no more than twice a week; otherwise you put yourself at risk of overtraining. You can do HIIT more often than that, as long as you alternate maximum effort days with slightly less intense ones. And I do mean slightly. One to two minutes of 80-85 percent effort, followed by a recovery period of no more than a minute, would be my suggestion.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Morning quickie

(Get your minds out of the gutter, girlfriends, this is workout-related. )

I had a little less than half an hour, so I did a mishmosh of several different bodyweight circuit workouts. I started with the usual bodyweight circuit from the Turbulence Training Advanced Bodyweight Workout, then did a tabata thing from Workout Muse:

feet over the line hops--side to side
seal jacks
base rotations

20 seconds of each exercise, with 10 seconds rest between exercises, the whole thing performed twice through

After that it was:

plyo jacks, 60 seconds
20 pushups
rest 30-60 sec.
in and out jump squats 60 sec.
side planks, 30 sec. per side
rest 30-60 sec.
terminator climbers, 60 sec.
20 squats
rest 30-60 sec.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Then another tabata thing from Workout Muse:

feet over the line--front to back
split jacks
high knees
mountain climbers

Again, 20/10 intervals, twice through.

And that was it. If you're curious about the Workout Muse thing, I've got the blog linked, and the latest post has demos of the two workouts. The suggested protocol is to go through each one twice, for a total of 8 20/10 intervals, then rest for a minute, then repeat until 20 minutes are up. I think that would work nicely too depending on how well you tolerate doing the same thing over and over.

Speaking of quickie workouts, Workout Muse has a new product called exactly that: the Quickie workout. You pick a single total body exercise, then depending on the exercise you choose you perform either max reps or max rounds for time. If it's a single arm/leg exercise you do rounds, with each round being 10 reps per side. If it's a bilateral exercise you just do as many reps as you can in five minutes. After five minutes you can keep going until you've completed 10 minutes, or you can switch to a different exercise, or you can stop. Advanced exercisers are advised to pick 2-4 exercises and go for 20 minutes. I actually bought the product because I wanted access to their database of total body exercises, and I also kinda like having mp3s to count down the time for me so I don't have to wreck my alignment by looking at my watch or a clock. But I wouldn't call it a must-get by any means.

In other news, my hams and glutes were killing me in ballet class today, and I'm not sure why. I'm happy about it, though, because it was definitely the good kind of DOMS that means I really did something right yesterday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another feeble attempt at Advanced Bodyweight Training

This was not pretty.

I began with the same warmup circuit as on Monday. Then things got nasty.

Superset: 1 leg pistol squats, 2, 4, 6, 8, 4, 2; decline pushups 4x20 (no pushups in supersets 3 and 6, thank heaven for small mercies)

Superset: band assisted pullups, wide overhand grip, 3x15 (these were supposed to be 1 arm inverted rows, but I don't have the right setup at home for inverted rows. I tried 1 arm chins with my assist band, but those were so not happening); 1 leg RDL, 3x8

Superset: Bulgarian split squat, 3x8; SB crunches, 3x15

Superset: 1 leg SB curls, 3x8, plank, arms on SB, 3x 45 sec.

I also had 90 minutes of ballet this morning, and I will be teaching cycling tonight. It's the same class I taught yesterday, but maybe with the intensity dialed down a notch or two depending on who's in class. My Tuesday regulars are pretty hardcore, but Wednesdays are more of a mixed crowd. I've got a fun Halloween-themed playlist that my Tuesday class loved, and I'm hoping tonight's crowd is as receptive.

I didn't do anything yesterday other than teach spinning. Bad trainer--I should've done yoga. I've got a real incentive now to work on my flexibility because it looks like I will be doing Arabian in Nutcracker this year. Yippee!!! It's such gorgeous slinky, sultry music. I, unfortunately am neither slinky nor sultry but hopefully I'll be able to fake it adequately.

Monday, October 27, 2008

For reasons that presently escape me ...

I decided it would be a good idea to attempt the Turbulence Training Advanced Bodyweight workouts this week.

Warm-up circuit 2x:
10 pushups
10 y-squats
10 stickups
10 spiderman climbs
10 waiter's bows
20 cross-crawls

superset (reps are per side): 1-arm pushups, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1; 1 leg deadlifts, 4x8
superset: band-assisted pullups, wide overhand grip, 3x8; SB leg curls, 3x20
superset: band-assisted chins (were supposed to be underhand inverted rows, but I didn't have the right setup at home so I subbed the chin), 3x15; pike pushups, close grip, 3x15
superset: hanging leg raises (were supposed to be pikes, but that was so not happening), 3xAMRAP (10 or 12); spiderman pushups 3x12 per side (not pretty toward the end)

Later in the week I'm supposed to do 1 arm chins, same pyramid thing as with the 1 arm pushups in this workout. I'm not sure whether I'll just do 2-arm unassisted or attempt the 1-arm with my band. Neither option holds much appeal at the moment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mistress Laura Gets Metabolic

Today I decided to give the Rachel Cosgrove Get Metabolic workout a try. Didn't feel like working out for an hour, though, so I did a modified version. I performed only one set of each exercise, but cut my rest periods between supersets down to only 30 seconds so my ratio of work to recovery was 4:1, which seemed appropriate given the intensity level of the work periods and the fact that I was only planning to work for 20 minutes or so.

I think I want to add on a couple more circuits to create a 30 minute no-repeat workout. Doesn't that seem like a dreadful idea? I'll let you know what I come up with :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Today's Tabatastic Fun

Here's what it was: four tabata intervals, each consisting of two exercises:

Tabata One: band assisted pull-ups and jump lunges
Tabata Two: jump squats and running pushups
Tabata Three: kettlebell clean and press and plyo jacks
Tabata Four: kettlebell swing and prone cross toe touch

Then I finished with a five minute core drill: side planks with thread through (5), those prone plank thingies where you hike your hips then move down into the plank a la dolphin pose in yoga, no clue what they're called but you get the idea (5), side planks with thread through (5), continuously moving from side to prone to the other side, then back to prone and so forth.

In all honesty it was bad but not that bad, not in comparison to some of the other workouts I've posted lately.

New goal(s)

My dance group has a date to perform Nutcracker on December 12 at a seniors' holiday luncheon. Good times. We'll be doing the party scene again, plus as much of Act 2 as we can get together. Reed Flute and Russian for sure, because we pretty much have those choreographed, plus Sugarplum and maybe Arabian Coffee. Probably not Snow or Waltz of the Flowers, although we've started working on both, because the ensemble pieces take a lot longer to choreograph and learn.

I've recruited two of my coworkers, Annie and Felipe, to dance with us. Annie is still in her mid-20s and dances professionally on a part-time basis, and she'll be our Sugarplum Fairy. She's lovely and sweet as pie, and will be wonderful in the role. Bitch :) (I'm only kidding, of course. Yes, I would have loved to do the part, but she'll do a better job than I would have and the seniors will adore her.)

Felipe is in his late 20s and has never danced in his life, but he's male and plenty strong enough to lift Annie, which is really all that matters. He's done lots of yoga so he's got great balance and flexibility as well as tremendous core strength, and he likes plyometrics and working out with sandbags and such, which is actually wonderful training for a male dancer. If you're used to flinging around a 100-pound sandbag, it's no big deal to hoist a ballerina who weighs only a little more and is actually giving you some assistance. He can lift me to his shoulder quite easily, and while Annie is a couple inches taller and 10-15 lbs heavier than I am, that shouldn't make too much of a difference, especially since she and I are both on a mission now to lose as much weight as we can--in a sensible, healthful and non-ballet way, of course--between now and December.

It remains to be seen what role I'll end up dancing. Possibly Clara, if we can't find someone else to do it. If we can I'll do the dual role I did last year--party scene child/Arabian-princess doll. I definitely will be some sort of child in Act I because there have to be at least a few "kids" in the cast who are old enough to take direction and can keep things moving along in case the actual children forget what they're supposed to be doing. I would love to do an Act II variation as well--Arabian Coffee or Spanish Chocolate--but I doubt there will be time to get the choreography together although I'll see what I can come up with.

Hey, ya'll think we could get corporate sponsorship from Starbucks? I mean, think of all the opportunities for product placement in Act II!

Okay, I'm getting sidetracked. This is supposed to be a fitness blog, right? So, back to fitness. I am currently 112. That's not so much, but I'm only 5'3 1/2" and have smallish bones, so I could safely be a little less. I'm thinking 108, maybe. Maybe not.

I also need to work on my balance, flexibility and core strength.

So I'm thinking that for the next couple months my workout routine should emphasize bodyweight training, kettlebells, and yoga. I think this will be fun. Except for when I'm actually doing it, of course.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fun with pumpkins!

Have y'all seen any of the "pumpkin workout" videos on Youtube? Hilarious!

Here's my two-exercise version:

1. Deadlift lunge twists: Holding your pumpkin as you would a medicine ball, lunge front with your right leg. Twist to the right. Then without setting your right leg down, lunge back and twist to the left. Then bring the right leg in, still without setting it down, and perform a single leg deadlift. For extra credit, add a bent-over row to the deadlift.

2. Cross body mountain climbers: Start in a plank position with both hands on your pumpkin. Bring one knee in toward the opposite armpit, then return to your starting position. Repeat on the other side. For extra credit add a pushup when you're in plank position.

If you really want to get crazy, try this: with one hand on the pumpkin do a burpee, only instead of jumping straight up in the air at the end, do a lateral tuck jump over the pumpkin, then drop down and do a burpee on the other side, with your other hand on the pumpkin. That would be the double-diamond version; if the lateral tuck jumps aren't happening, any sort of lateral hop will suffice. Just be sure you don't land ON the pumpkin, or you could have a mess on your hands!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Today's workout fun

I decided to do a Turbulence Training circuit workout today:

Y squats, 12, 12
offset pushups, 6 per side, 6 per side
stick-ups 12, 12
mountain climbers 10 per side, 10 per side

DB push press, 3x6x20
DB deep stepups onto bench, 3x8 per leg x20
SB rollout, 3x15
DB reverse lunges, 3x8 per leg x20
Spiderman pushups, 10 per side, 10 per side, 9 per side
DB rows, 3x8x35
KB swings, 3x15x12 kg

later in the day I taught spinning, but I had mostly beginners in class so I dialed the intensity way down. It was activity but not a workout for me, really. It was for them, though :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Today's puke-tastic fun, plus a question

It was a cardio & core circuit:

Circuit 1:

jump lunges, 40, 30, 20
walking lunges, 40, 30, 20
hanging leg raises, 8, 8, 8
SB skiers, 12, 12, 12

Circuit 2:

Jump squats, 40, 30, 20
bodyweight squats, 40, 30, 20

SB rollouts, 10, 10, 10
SB cross-body mountain climbers, 16, 16, 16

Circuit 3:
plyo jacks, 40, 30, 20
regular jacks, 40, 30, 20

SB extended arm crunches, 15, 15, 15
planks, hands on SB, feet elevated, 30 sec. hold

It took about half an hour, maybe a little less. The jump lunges weren't quite as bad as I thought they'd be. The jump squats and plyo jacks were:)

Now, the question: what are your favorite exercises for building core strength? This isn't about cosmetic improvement or getting definition or whatever, because that's just a matter of peeling off the fat and I know how to do that: high intensity interval cardio plus a super clean diet that puts me in a calorie deficit. That's not to say I actually do it, not the diet part anyway, but for now that's neither here nor there. I'm strictly looking to improve my athletic performance, particularly my dancing, and my core is a weak link.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Deck of Cards drill du jour

Here's what it was:

hearts=band pullups (85 total)
diamonds=pushups (85 total)
spades=jump lunges (85 per leg total)
clubs=deep kb squats with my 12 kg bell (85 total)

The unpredictability of this routine is what makes it fun. Sometimes I catch a break, sometimes I don't. Last card in the deck today was the king of hearts, which shocked me because I was sure I'd already drawn all the face cards. Wishful thinking, plainly.

Rapid Fat Loss Cardio

This Workout Muse cardio program calls for 3 30-minute sessions per week ... not so bad, right? Heh.

Here's what you'll be doing for Weeks 1-4:

Workout A: 30 sec. RPE 8-9 (roughly 86-90% MHR), 90 sec. RPE 3-5 (roughly 65-75% MHR) 10x, plus a five minute warmup and cooldown

Workout B: 1 min RPE 8-9, 3 min. RPE 3-5 5x, plus a five minute warmup and cooldown

Alternate the two workouts so that week 1 you do Workout A twice, then start in with Workout B the following week, and so forth.

Weeks 5-8 ramp it up a bit by shortening the work to recovery ratio:

Workout A: 30 sec. RPE 8-9 (roughly 86-90% MHR), 60 sec. RPE 3-5 (roughly 65-75% MHR) 13x, plus a five minute warmup and cooldown

Workout B: 1 min RPE 8-9, 2 min. RPE 3-5 7x, plus a five minute warmup and cooldown

Okay, I lied. Workout A is only 29 and a half minutes, while Workout B is 31 minutes. Again, alternate the two ... and if you've got a thing about the number 13 it probably won't kill you to do a fourteenth round on your Workout A days.

Weeks 9-12 are where things start to get interesting. Now your work-recovery ratio is down to 1:1, meaning it's not long enough for true recovery, which toward the end of the workout may affect how hard you're able to work during the periods of high intensity. The good news is, you should see improvements over the course of the four weeks, assuming you allow yourself a minimum of 48 hours between sessions.

Workout A: 30 sec. RPE 8-9 (roughly 86-90% MHR), 30 sec. RPE 3-5 (roughly 65-75% MHR) 20x, plus a five minute warmup and cooldown

Workout B: 1 min RPE 8-9, 1 min. RPE 3-5 10x, plus a five minute warmup and cooldown

And now for the grand finale! During weeks 13-16 you'll be doing tabata intervals during Workout A and 8-second sprints during workout B. Here's the plan:

Workout A: 20 sec. RPE 8-9 (roughly 86-90% MHR), 10 sec. RPE 3-5 (roughly 65-75% MHR) 8x, followed by 1 minute active recovery at RPE 3-5. Repeat 4x for a total of 20 minutes, plus a five minute warmup and cooldown for a total of 30 minutes.

Workout B: 8 sec. RPE 8-9, 12 sec. RPE 3-5 12x, followed by 1 minute active recovery at RPE 3-5. Repeat 5x for a total of 20 minutes, plus a five minute warmup and cooldown for a total of 30 minutes.

Doesn't that sound like fun?

Yeah, right.

If you don't want to be a slave to the clock, Workout Muse has some mp3 tracks you can download that'll tell you when to start and stop. iTunes sells one that's formatted like Phase 4 Workout A, and Workout Muse will send you a freebie that's formatted like Phase 1 Workout A. They're useful but not critical, especially if you're not new to this kind of training, and from the little I've seen I think they're overpriced for what you get.

As for what activities you should be doing, pretty much anything goes as long as you're working at the appropriate intensity levels. If you're not a runner and don't have access to cardio equipment you could do something like plyo jacks or air jacks for your intensity bursts, followed by regular jacks or low jacks for your recovery. That would be one round. Round two could be something like burpees/mountain climbers, round three could be power step-ups/tall box climbs ... and so forth. Just be sure to include a lot of variety; otherwise you could run into problems with repetitive stress, not to mention boredom.