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.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Grains in a fat-burning diet?

Craig Ballantyne weighs in:

Q: Craig - It seems that everywhere I turn I see yet another nutritionist suggesting that we all steer clear of, or severely reduce our intake of grains, whether in whole grain form or not. I think I also read that you had mentioned that your diet contains very little in the way of grains.
I guess I'm interested in knowing your thoughts on this subject, how much grain you do eat (probably oatmeal?), and what your primary sources of carbs are (my assumption would be vegetables, fruit and small amounts of dairy).

Answer from Craig:

I have found that reducing grains did two things for me.

1) Eliminated post-meal tireness/eliminated post-meal redued mental alertness (in layman's terms, I feel I don't have a lack of energy after eating)

2) Helped me drop another 1-2% body fat and be able to maintain it. Taking the abs to another level as you can see on Turbulence Training for Abs.

That said, could 1 & 2 be "all in my head"? Maybe. I don't think so, but maybe.
I still get lots of carbohydrates from:

a) Fruit - about 10 servings a day
b) Vegetables - lots of servings, but few calories
c) 2 cups chocolate milk after exercise - 50+grams of carbohydrates
d) Nuts - you get carbohydrates in nuts & i eat a lot of raw nuts
e) Kidney Beans or Amy's Organic Chili - I eat a can every other day
f) Reward meals (Last night was Canadian Thanksgiving - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, asparagus, and carrots)

As I've mentioned before, there are a lot of diets that work for weight loss. We all need to find one that suits our personality, environment, and genetic response to food.

I thought this was pretty interesting. Craig's diet sounds a lot like mine in some respects. I have a few servings of oatmeal a week, and every so often when I go out to eat I'll have some starch, usually rice because Paul and I both love Asian cuisines. But other than that I've pretty much cut grains out of my diet, and it's working well for me. I do eat way more fruit than is allowed on many fat-loss diets, and I also have nuts and some dairy. Beans, not so much because I don't especially care for them, but I keep meaning to revisit that because they're wonderful sources of fiber and protein as well as carbs, and I love minestrone soup which has beans in it, so I probably just need to find some good recipes.

Anyhoo, the part of Craig's answer that I liked best was where he says that there are lots of different approaches that work, and that each person needs to find the one that suits him or her best, taking into account personality, environment and genetic response to food.

My own personality and environment (by which I mean my family and sometimes my job) absolutely require me to have a Cosmo every so often. How about you?

More bodyweight exercise ideas

These exercises look great for developing muscular strength, endurance and flexibility as well as cardiovascular capacity.

There are also some fun, by which I mean fiendishly horrible, ideas for exercise sequencing. That Deck of Cards thing? Blech. How do people come up with this sh*t? Wish I had!

(I'm sort of thinking I might try it today, using kettlebell swings and kettlebell clean and press as my two exercises.)

Update: Tried it. Holy sweatfest! Mr. Taekwondo Dude claims the goal is to get through the deck in 12-15 minutes, but I don't think that's physiologically possible with the exercises I chose. The swings, maybe, but not the clean and press since onceI finished on one side I still had the other to do. Which, by the way, sucks, because it meant I had a total of 510 reps to power through instead of a measly 340. Anyhoo, I got through the deck in about 40 minutes, and I wasn't really taking breaks except to turn over cards, and, you know, curse myself for taking this on.

It was sort of weirdly fun, though, and I probably will do it again although since there are four suits in a deck I think I'll pick four exercises next time for a little more variety. Maybe two plyometric and two total-body core-focused moves, or something like that. Burpees (with the pushup), jump lunges, in and out power squats, and ... I dunno.

I think this could be a great format for a group ex class, don't you?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

FW4FL Workout Two: Revenge of the Nerd

Josh almost made me throw up, and this time it wasn't because of his sophomoric remarks re: "hot girls"!

I never did get around to doing anything resistance-training-ish yesterday although I did take a 90 minute ballet class in addition to teaching a pretty intense cycling class, so it wasn't exactly a rest day. So that meant Fighter Workout Two was on the agenda for today. The numbers beside each exercise are the number of reps I got each round

Band assisted pullups: 24, 19, 16
Burpees, 18, 19, 19
Pushups, 26, 24, 23
Burpees, 19, 20, 19
KB swings (8 kg bell): 30, 30, 30

I was able to keep moving for pretty much the entire minute each round, although obviously as my muscles fatigued my rep tempo slowed way down on the pullups especially. The 3 minute break didn't seem excessive for this workout because the rounds were so intense.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to do lunges followed by bear crawls followed by lunges followed by more bear crawls followed by more lunges.

How much assistance do pullup bands provide?

Marie asked this question below, and since it's a very good question I did some research. It turns out the answer's not a simple one, which sort of makes sense given the variable nature of rubber resistance/assistance.

Basically, the idea here is that the more stretched-out the band is, the more help you're getting. Say once the band is looped over your pullup bar it hangs 30 inches below the bar (as is the case with mine). That means once I hoist myself up to where I'm only 30" below the bar, I'm no longer getting help from the band. But that's okay, because once my muscles are in that almost-fully contracted position I no longer need the help.

Now, suppose I put a couple 25-lb dumbbells in the loop of the band, and one of them falls out and lands on my toe. That means I have to hop around and yell and curse while holding my injured foot. It also means I have to replace the dumbbell in the loop of the band so I can find out how much the band needs to be stretched out to give me 50 lbs of assistance. As it happens, the two weights together pull the band down another 30 inches or so, meaning that that when I'm 5 feet below the bar I'm getting about 50 lbs of assistance. Since that in fact is about my start position, at least when I do my assisted pullups with one knee in the band as opposed to two feet in the band, my work is done.

Here's a link to a thread on the Crossfit board that may explain it better than I did. (Note that they leave out the part about the dumbbell falling out of the band. That's because they're guys and afraid of looking stupid. But I'm pretty sure it happened to them, just as it did to me.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another FW4FL workout from Josh, plus a couple more takes on the "300" workout

(FW4FL= Fighter Workout For Fat Loss, in case it's not obvious)

The five movements are: pullups (assisted if necessary), burpees, pushups, burpees, and dumbbell swings. Again, you're supposed to do each for a minute, rest 3 minutes, then repeat for a total of three rounds. I may give this a shot later today before I teach my spin class, or I may not.

As I mentioned yesterday, I like it that these workouts are short and don't require a lot of equipment. Obviously that's great for home workouts, and even in the gym setting I can't always count on equipment being available when I need it, which is key when you're doing any kind of metabolic work.

Josh doesn't really explain how to make these workouts progressive. Maybe he doesn't think progressive overload is necessary to achieve hotness or perhaps he just doesn't know how to spell "progressive." But if you were so inclined, you could do something along the lines of:

Week One--3 rounds, rest 3 minutes between rounds
Week Two-3 rounds, rest 2 minutes between rounds
Week Three-4 rounds, rest 2 minutes between rounds
Week Four--4 rounds, rest 1 minute between rounds
Week Five-5 rounds, rest 1 minute between rounds.

Okay, I lied a little bit. Josh does mention harder and easier variations of many of the exercises, so you could always substitute a harder variation as your strength builds. Still, I think for fat loss it's more effective to add volume/density than to change your exercise selection too frequently.

Now, for Josh's version of the "300" workout, which he created for one of his "hot" clients:

25x Pull-ups @ 50lbs assistance
50x Deadlift @ 70lbs
50x Push-ups
50x Box Jump @ 12” box
50x Sit-ups
50x Dumbbell Clean and Press @ 20lbs (DB must touch floor between reps)
25x Pull-ups @ 50lbs assistance

She did it in 38 minutes. Very respectable, but I bet Wendy could do it in half that time.

And just for grins, here's Boyfriend Craig's Bodyweight "500" Workout, which looks truly appalling:

50 Prisoner Squats
50 Pushups
25 Jumps
25 Stability Ball Leg Curls
50 Stability Ball Jackknifes
50 Step-ups (25 reps per side)
25 Pull-ups (NO substitutions)
50 Forward Lunges (25 reps per side)
50 Close-grip Pushups
50 Inverted Rows
50 Squats
25 Chin-ups (NO substitutions)

I would like to give this a shot, but I already know that I don't have the strength in my pulling muscles to be able to do 25 unassisted pullups in less than, say, an hour. And that's on a strong day. So I'm afraid I will be making substitutions--nothing drastic, but until I get stronger I'll be doing band-assisted pullups and chins. Sorry, Craig!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, here's the original "300" workout:

Pullups - 25
Deadlifts with 135lbs - 50
Pushups - 50
24-inch Box jumps - 50
Floor wipers - 50
1-arm 36lbs Kettlebell Clean n Press - 50
Pullups - 25

I think the floor wipers are meant to be done with a barbell loaded at 135 lbs. Bear in mind that this workout was created as a fitness test for a male actor, the star of the film "300", who probably weighs more like 175-180. If you were to want to try this yourself. you'd want to adjust the poundages based on your own bodyweight to make it a fair test. I weigh about 115, and I'd probably use 80 lbs for the deadlifts, 20 lbs for the clean and press, and for the floor
wipers who the hell knows? I think they're sort of a stupid exercise. I have a client who used to do them with a bar loaded at 250 ... but then when I gave him some lousy little extended-leg reverse crunches he could barely manage 12 without dying! Floor wipers, apparently, don't do a thing to strengthen the transverse abdominis. So what's the point, really, other than to impress people with the fact that you can flail your legs from side to side while holding a massive barbell suspended over your chest?

I don't know. What do you all think?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So now that I've ragged on Josh a little ...

let me tell you about one of his workouts that I did today. It's one of six that he'll send you for free, just for letting him put you on his mailing list. I don't mind being on his mailing list. As I said below, I actually think he's on the right track when it comes to fat loss; I just wish he wouldn't assume we're all in it just to look hot to men.

The six workouts are from a "fighter" fat loss series he put together. You do 5 minute rounds, performing a different movement each minute. You rest 3 minutes between rounds, then repeat for a total of 3 rounds. The workout I did today consisted of dumbbell swings, bulgarian split squats, pushups, bulgarian split squats, and dumbbell swings. I did it exactly as prescribed by Josh, using a 15 lb dumbbell for the swings and no weight for the split squats. The rounds weren't a whole lot of fun while I was doing them, but the three minute recovery period for me seemed excessive, and I probably could've gone for a couple more rounds if I hadn't had to stop so I could teach my cycling class. But overall I liked the format and the more intermediate nature of the workout. This is something I definitely could see using with clients.

Also, a minute is hella long when you're doing pushups for the entire minute. I got 30 in round 1, 24 in round 2, and 30 again in round 3.

(Note: I'm not actually someone who says "hella." I just play that sort of person on the Internet.)

Josh Hillis: How Sexist Is Too Sexist?

I actually really like a lot of what Josh Hillis has to say about female fat loss and fitness on his website (, and while I don't have his e-book, Lose The Stubborn Seven, I'm guessing his program is pretty good. He's big on short intense workouts incorporating total body movements, kettlebell training, bodyweight stuff ... kinda like Alwyn and Craig and all my other pretend boyfriends.

But Josh will never be one of my pretend boyfriends, and here's why:

[W]hat is a good body fat percentage?

At 24-30% you are a pretty cute girl.

At 21-23% body fat or below, you are really, really hot. Whether you know it or not, guys are checking you out all of the time.

18-21% is rockstar lean.

I never take girls below 18%. Below 19% most girls don't have breasts, and they look like really fit boys. In fact, some of my female clients look better at 23% than they would at 18%. It's an individual thing to your body. But somewhere in the 18-23% range is where you are going to look really really hot.

So what happens when you get into that magical range of 18-23%? You're done. You are as hot as you ever need to be. Many clients have a really hard time accepting this. Which goes to show how bad the body dismorphia [sic] (distorted body image) is in our society. Or maybe it's just that most people can't ever deal with the fact that they are "good enough".

The truth is though, when you hit in that 18-23% range, you are a really really hot girl. You are done. Your next goal shouldn't be a body composition goal, it should be a fun goal. A fun goal like: Doing your first pullup, your first one legged squat, running your first marathon (or even better - running a really fast 5k time), climbing a mountian [sic], who knows, what ever [sic] is fun for you. Set a performance goal. And enjoy the fact that you are hot enough already.

The above is a direct quote from Josh's website.

Well, earth to Josh: you may not believe this, dude, but looking "hot" to men is not the ultimate goal of every female who walks into a gym.

Also, just FYI, trainer to trainer: it's not your place to tell a client what her goals should be. As long as what she wants is healthy, it's your job to help her achieve it even if it means her boobies get smaller and she becomes what you consider to be less physically appealing.

I mean, I appreciate the fact that you like a girl with some meat on her bones, and I actually agree with you that most men find the fitness-model bodytype to be physically impressive but not necessarily alluring. I also appreciate that you're encouraging women to aspire to a degree of leanness that is healthy and achievable for most.

But do you have to be such a complete sexist pig about it?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Four minute fat loss circuit part deux

The Day 2 circuit focuses on the pulling muscles--back, hams, glutes--and consists of the following four exercises:

deadlifts from the floor (Vince does these sumo-style with an ez bar, which I've never seen before. Interesting, and I may try it.)
alternate arm dumbbell bent-over rows (Vince demos both elbows-out and elbows-in, so pick your poison here)
box jumps
assisted pullups (Vince does these on a machine, but if you haven't got access to one you could use a band or your feet, or you could do negatives or body rows.)

Again, perform each exercise for a minute without resting between exercises. After completing the circuit rest 1-2 minutes, then repeat for a total of 4-5 circuits. Follow up with 20 minutes of high intensity cardio if desired.

Without having done the workout (yet) my thoughts are as follows: Why the box jumps again? Nothing wrong with them, but I don't care for doing the same exercise in two consecutive workouts. I think power step-ups would work better here. Alternatively, one could keep Day 2 as is, and substitute any number of jump squat variations for the Day 1 box jumps.

For cardio the plan is to do another Turbulence Training bodyweight circuit workout. This is the Crazy Eight"300" workout, so called because there are eight exercises and the total number of reps/seconds adds up to 300:

60 jumping jacks
16 spiderman pushups (8 per side)
40 walking lunges (20 per side)
24 spiderman climbs (12 per side)
wall squat hold 45 sec.
plank hold 60 sec.
5 burpees
50 high knees (25 per side)

Rest 1 minute, then repeat twice more.

I'll update later to let you know how it went.

The update: It was awful, as expected. I began with a bar loaded at 50 pounds for the deadlifts, but lowered my weight to 45 lbs for sets 2-4. For the bentover rows I began with 12 lbs and moved up to 15 for sets 2-4. The box jumps were what they were. Again, I did them onto a 10 inch box. If 12 inches had been an option I think that would've been better, but since I was working out at home I was limited to the equipment I had on hand, and my only options were 10 inches and 14 inches, which I think would've been too much for this particular routine. For the pullups, I managed to do band-assisted pullups for an entire minute the first round (I think I got 18), but had to go to leg-assisted about halfway through rounds 2-4. Whatever. If I were doing this in the gym I would probably just do body rows for a minute, because that's more in line with what I'm physically capable of. Another option would be to get a more heavy-duty band to assist with the pullups :)

The bodyweight cardio circuit wasn't so bad. Yes, I sweated bullets and my spiderman pushups weren't low enough to satisfy a purist, but I got through 3 rounds in slightly over 20 minutes and it was fine. No pullups were involved, so it was fine.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Four minute fat loss circuit

This four-exercise, minimal-equipment gem was put together by Vince Del Monte of could go on and on about grail quests and spiritual versus physical perfection and how the one seems to have replaced the other and so forth, but I'll spare you for now.)

The workout focuses on your body's push muscles (shoulders, chest and quads). There's a companion workout focusing on the pull muscles (lats, glutes and hamstrings) that I'll describe in another post.

And, FYI, the circuit only takes four minutes to complete, but you're meant to repeat it 4 or 5 times so it's really a 20-25 minute workout. If you add on some high intensity cardio as I recommend, it'll take your total workout time to 40-45 minutes. Still, that's not bad, especially since you can do the workout at home with a pretty minimal investment in equipment, which will save you the time you otherwise would've spent traveling to the gym.

So, here it is:

Alternate arm dumbbell chest press
Dumbbell squat
Box jump
Alternate arm dumbbell military press

Perform each exercise for 1 minute, using weights heavy enough to take you to fatigue by the end of the minute. Rest 1-2 min between circuits. Perform 4-5 circuits depending on your fitness level. Finish with 20 minutes of high intensity cardio if desired. If you don't have any cardio equipment at home and you're not a runner, I suggest performing the following bodyweight cardio circuit:

100 jumping jacks
50 prisoner squats
50 pushups
50 forward lunges (25 per side)
50 mountain climbers (25 per side)
50 squats
50 close grip pushups
100 jumping jacks

You can thank Craig Ballantyne of for that little 500-rep monstrosity. The idea is to get through the darned thing as fast as possible. Most women will need to break up the pushups, especially the close grip pushups at the end, into multiple sets, and that's fine.

Give it a shot, and let me know how you did.

Edited to add:

Yikes!!! This workout kicked my butt. My first time through the circuit I totally overestimated my endurance and leg power. I used 20 lbs for the chest press and barely made it through. 20 lbs for the dumbbell squat was doable, but jumps onto a 14 inch box were just not happening, and by the time I got out my 10 inch box it was already time to move on to the overhead press ... but my 10 lb dumbbells were nowhere to be found and I didn't think I could make it through an entire minute using 12 pounders, not without my form going all to heck. The lesson learned: have all the equipment you think you might possibly need right there where you can get at it quickly.

So, anyway, what I ended up doing was 4 circuits using 15 lbs for the dumbbell chest press and squat, a 10 inch box for the jumps, and 10 lbs for the military press. I rested a minute between circuits, and followed up with the bodyweight cardio circuit described above, which I managed to complete in 15 minutes although my close grip pushups were pretty ugly toward the end. After about 25 reps I had to go to my knees and even that didn't help much.

The Seven Percent Solution? What's that about?

And does it involve the use of cocaine?

Let's be honest here: I came up with the name Seven Percent Solution because I have a regrettable penchant for cutesy, precious names. That being said, it's not completely irrelevant because this blog is all about achieving maximum results in minimum time.

Assuming you spend 8 hours a day sleeping, you have 16 waking hours in which to accomplish everything else that needs doing, including exercise. Seven percent of that is 67 minutes, which is more than enough time to get in a great muscle-building, fat-burning workout!

The fact is, unless you're training for an endurance event such as a marathon or triathlon, you don't need long workouts. In fact, if your goal is to achieve a leaner body composition, marathon training sessions will actually work against you! Instead, what you need is short, intense workouts lasting no more than an hour. Quite simply, anything you can do for more than an hour isn't intense enough to give you the metabolic stimulus you need to lose fat!

Oh, and speaking of metabolic stimuli: no, the use of cocaine is not encouraged on this program. If you're into the white powders--glutamine, creatine and such--read Susan Kleiner's Power Eating to find out which ones have been proven safe and effective. All I ask is that if you decide to use creatine, make sure you're drinking lots of water for the sake of your poor kidneys.

So: that's the mission statement. Short, intense workouts that'll help you get great results without spending hours at the gym. It works for my clients. It works for me. It'll work for you too.