Friday, December 18, 2009

More Warped Workouts

Yesterday I did 3 sets of 8 reps of the following:

superset: 1-leg squats & pullups

superset: incline db press x30s & db bulgarian ss x20's

superset: 1-leg RDL x 12 kg kettlebell; plank with arms on SB and feet elevated, 45 sec.

metabolic thingy 6x: mini circuit (2 tuck jumps, 2 star jumps, 2 rocket jumps) repeated for 30 sec./shuttle jog for 90 seconds.

Today I did intervals followed by a bodyweight circuit:

3x: power step-ups in all three planes of motion for 60 sec.; shuttle jog/lateral shuffle/carioca for 120 sec. (9 min. total)

4x: 1 min. y-squats; 1 min alt-leg step-ups; 1 min. inchworms; 1 min. alt leg. crossover lunges; 1 min. mountain climbers (20 min. total)

I want to incorporate more SAQ and plyometric training in my workouts, and it seems to me that the Warp Speed Fat Loss template can easily be tweaked to accommodate that.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Warped Monday Workout

Superset: BB deadlift, 2x12x115; DB flat bench press, 2x12x40's

Superset: DB 1-arm row, 2x12x35; DB step-up knee up, 2x12x15's

Superset: BB overhead squat, 2x12x40; DB side plank rear delt raise, 2x12x5

Metabolic thingy 3x: KB 1-arm swings, 2 min (30 sec. R/L 2x)/alternating front lunges, 2 min.

I probably should have gone heavier on everything but the DB presses and the 1-arm swings. I was working out at the gym so had to make do with the horrible, horrible 30 lb Power Systems kettlebells that some idiot in management decided to buy in order to save a little money. I know I've said it a million times but I'll say it again: don't cheap out when it comes to kettlebells! Don't spend more than you must, but be sure you're getting something that you can grip properly, that moves nicely around your hand on cleans and snatches, and is as close to spherical as possible.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Warped Fat Loss Cardio: Bodyweight Intervals

3x: 1 minute of in-and-out jump squats, 2 minutes of alternating cross-under lunges (9 minutes total)

4x: 1 minute prisoner squats, 1 minute sun salutations, 1 minute elbow to instep lunges, 1 minute sun salutations, 1 minute jog in place (20 minutes total)

Kind of fun, and no equipment required!

Speedy Fat Loss For The Warped

Having spent a fair bit of yesterday ruminating on Warp Speed Fat Loss, I naturally had to try my hand at writing a version of the program for my own use. It looks something like this:

Days 1, 3, and 5: Alternate Resistance Workouts A & B. On Day 1 perform 4-6 sets of 4-6 reps. On Day 2 perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps. On Day 3 perform 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps.

After completing Resistance Workout A perform 30 seconds of very high intensity plyometric or ballistic kettlebell work, followed by 90 seconds of low intensity "bodyweight cardio" for your active recovery. Perform 6 total rounds.

After completing Resistance Workout B, perform 120 seconds of moderately high intensity plyometric or ballistic kettlebell work, followed by 120 seconds of low intensity "bodyweight cardio" for your active recovery. Perform 3 total rounds.

Days 2, 4, and 6: After your warm-up, perform 60 seconds of high intensity cardio (kettlebell and/or plyometric drills may be substituted) followed by 120 seconds of active recovery (again, bodyweight exercises may be substituted). Perform 3 rounds in Week 1, 4 rounds in Week 2, and so forth. After you complete the designated number of intervals perform 20-30 minutes of steady-state cardio maintaining your heart rate in the 65-75% range (RPE 3-5).

For Resistance Workout A, here's what I came up with:

superset: 1-leg squats/pull-ups
superset: incline dumbbell press/Bulgarian split squats
superset: 1-leg RDL/plank, arms on SB and feet elevated

For Resistance Workout B:

superset: barbell deadlift/barbell bench press
superset: 1-arm dumbbell row/step-up
superset: overhead squat/side plank rear delt raise

If non-linear periodization annoys you there are plenty of other ways you could structure the resistance training. You could do escalating density, or you could simply opt to do all your resistance training in the 3-4 set/ 8-10 rep range, with the idea being to use the same weights but add a little volume each week.

There's also no reason why you'd have to use the same exercises as me. Just be sure you include a push, a pull, a squat(hip flexion), a deadlift (hip extension), a lunge (locomotion), and a rotation/anti-rotation movement in each workout.

For the metabolic/energy systems training what you do really doesn't matter as long as it's at the appropriate intensity level. A 30 second work period calls for a very high level of intensity, while a 120-second work period calls for something a little mellower but still very challenging. Your active recovery again depends on your fitness level, with the idea being to keep moving but recover sufficiently that you're ready for the next work set. If your work sets involve a lot of explosive muscle contraction (think tuck jumps!) dynamic flexibility drills are an especially good choice for your active recovery.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Warp Speed Fat Loss

I need a(nother) fat loss program like I need a(nother) hole in my head. First of all, fat loss isn't a personal priority at the moment. I'm not exactly sure what my body fat percentage is at the moment, but I do know that it's well within the healthy range for a woman my age, and since I'm not looking to do a photo shoot or physique competition any time soon I really don't feel the need to be leaner than I already am.

Second, I already have access to any number of excellent fat loss programs. I've Burned The Fat, Fed The Muscle, I've Turbulence Trained, I've felt the Afterburn, and I've had the life sucked out of me by the Cabo Vampire Workout. They all work, which is probably why I don't feel desperate to lose fat right now.

So, anyway when the new Warp Speed Fat Loss program was released earlier this month I didn't feel as though it was a purchase I could justify making. Still, I was curious about it, as I am about any new Alwyn Cosgrove program.

But is Warp Speed Fat Loss really new? Obviously I can't tell you since I haven't purchased the program. But the general idea seems to be as follows: Resistance training 3x per week, followed by metabolic circuits. Metabolic Circuit A consists of 30 seconds of very high intensity effort followed by 90 seconds of active recovery, repeated 6x. Metabolic Circuit B consists of 120 seconds of high intensity effort followed by 120 seconds of active recovery, repeated 3x. On the days you don't do resistance training you perform interval cardio, alternating 60 seconds of high-intensity effort with 120 seconds of active recovery, repeated 3-6x depending on what week of the program you're in. Then, once you've done your intervals you finish with 20 minutes or so of low-intensity steady state cardio to burn off all the free fatty acids you released into your bloodstream during the HIIT. The low-intensity steady state cardio isn't something I've seen in a Cosgrove program before now, but it's something Christian Thibodaux has been recommending for a while now although he generally tacks it onto weight training sessions, which also release triglycerides into the bloodstream.

I have no clue what the resistance training looks like, but since Alwyn Cosgrove is involved I'm guessing there's a total-body Workout A and a total-body Workout B, both involving supersets and/or giant sets. Since it's only a 4 week program I am guessing the exercise selection stays pretty constant but I would imagine there's some variation in volume and rest periods from week to week. If anyone out there has actually sprung for the program feel free to let me know whether I've guessed right or not!

I imagine the nutritional guidelines involve mini-meals, a fairly aggressive calorie deficit, and minimal starch intake, with most calories coming from lean protein and veggies. Not quite a strict cutting diet but close. Again, this is a 4 week program, not something you're meant to follow for months at a time. When it's only for 4 weeks you can be pretty aggressive without sending your body into starvation mode.

Anyway, that's the Warp Speed Fat Loss program I would write, if I were to write such a thing. Not so new, but it works. In all honesty if it were too new I wouldn't trust it. The fact is, most of us don't need "new" fat loss strategies, what we need is motivation to stick to the ones that have been around forever, that people have been successfully using for decades.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Not Endurance-Oriented :), Plus A Public Service Announcement

After the spin-a-thon on Sunday the last thing I felt like doing yesterday was any kind of drawn-out workout. So I did a little tabata-ish thing incorporating some TRX exercises:

TRX 1-leg squats, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, switching legs each round 8x

rest 1 min

TRX rows and pushups, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, switching exercises each round 8x

rest 1 min

TRX balance lunges, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, switching legs each round 8x

rest 1 min

Upper body russian twists and cobras, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, switching exercises each round

Today I did one of Dave Whitley's 101 Kettlebell Workouts. It was a 3-exercise mini-circuit:

pistol squats, 1 R/L
clean & press, 5 R/L
25 swings

1 min rest

Lather rinse repeat 5x.

In the interests of full disclosure, pistols are very much a work in progress for me. The learning progression I am using is the one where you do the pistol over a bench or step, gradually lowering the height of same as your strength increases. Right now I'm using a 10 inch step. I can actually just about do a full pistol on the right leg, but the left leg has a little catching up to do. No big surprise there. I'm much weaker, wobblier, and more loose-jointed on the left side than on the right. which is a big reason why I love and adore unilateral training. If all I ever used was machines or even barbells, I'd just be letting a bad situation get worse. Sure, I'd be able to use lots of weight and impress myself, but in the long run it wouldn't be good for me.

(Note: I plan to be cremated not buried, but if I were going to be buried the words, " but in the long run it wouldn't be good for me" would probably be what I would want on my tombstone.)

Now I have to shower off and go get my mammogram. My doctor is still recommending these annually for her patients who're over 40, and, well, that would be me in spades. Thankfully I don't need regular colonoscopies yet, but soon I will, and when that day comes you can bet I will be getting them.

The sad truth is, a healthy lifestyle is no guarantee of longevity. If you have breast or colon cancer in your family you can certainly minimize your chances of getting either disease by exercising, not smoking, avoiding excessive saturated fat in your diet, and so forth, but you can't eliminate your risk altogether. I know the subject of routine diagnostic testing is a bit controversial these days, so my best advice is to read up on the risks and benefits and make an informed decision whether or not annual screening is right for you, keeping in mind genetic as well as lifestyle factors. And if testing is what makes sense for you, get it done :)

Endurance training, with and without kettlebells

Usually I like my workouts quick. For those of you who've been following this blog for a while, you know that my basic workout philosophy is that unless you're training for an endurance event such as a marathon, it's unnecessary and even counter-productive to spend more than seven percent of your waking hours working out. For basic fitness and fat loss, 30-60 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week, combined with good nutrition, will give most people excellent results.

But, hey, every now and then it's not the worst thing in the world to mix things up a little with some endurance training, especially if you participate in sports or activities such as hiking or mountain biking that require sustained effort. If the weather permits, of course, you can simply do your sport, gradually increasing the length and/or intensity of your sessions until you're where you want to be. But if that's not possible there are alternatives, and this weekend I explored two of them.

The first involved kettlebells, and consisted of a 1-arm swing/breathing ladder, following a protocol of 2 swings to 1 breath. So my first set consisted of 1 swing per arm, followed by a single breath. Then I did 2 swings per arm followed by 2 breaths, and so on. The idea here is to draw the workout out for as long as possible by controlling your breathing. Deep breaths and deeper exhalations are key. I laddered up to 21 swings per arm, followed by 21 breaths, and then worked my way back down the ladder, without ever feeling smoked. Really, it was about as relaxing and zen-like as a kettlebell training session can ever be.

The second involved a spinning bike. Normally I would not spend 3 hours on a spinning bike, and I certainly wouldn't recommend that anyone else do so. But it was a fundraiser for the YMCA where I do much of my training, so I sucked it up and cycled for 3 hours, pacing myself and again using breath control to keep myself from ever getting smoked. Honestly, the biggest challenges for me were (1) insufficient padding in my bike shorts; and (2) the music choices of my fellow instructors, which ranged from "And So This Is Christmas" to "Cum On Feel The Noize."

If you want to use cardio machines for your endurance training I recommend cross training on a few different machines, varying your intensity and maybe throwing in some timed sets of bodyweight exercises as well, but never going all out the way you would during HIIT training. Remember: your goal is sustained effort, not maximal effort. Here's an example of something I might do:

5 minutes on the treadmill
20 bodyweight squats
5 minutes on the treadmill
20 pushups
5 minutes on the treadmill
20 lunges
5 minutes on the treadmill
20 mountain climbers

Repeat 2 more times, substituting the ARC trainer and the stationary bike for the treadmill.

Of course it's not necessary to break it up like this, but I find that when I do I am less likely to want to stick a fork in my eye 20 minutes in.

Have I mentioned that machine cardio is not my thing?

Monday, December 7, 2009

As requested ...

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Day In The Life

Here's what my Saturday workout looked like:

-30 min. pointe practice, mostly focusing on my solo in Waltz of the Flowers. We have a performance on Friday and a couple of dancers down with the swine flu, so we've had to rechoreograph a bit but I think we'll be okay. It's an easy audience :)

-kettlebell practice, focusing on strength. It's been my perception that my pressing strength has improved--I can do get-ups with the 16 kg for 2-3 reps before having to switch sides, which is something I certainly couldn't have done a couple of months ago. So, I decided to put it to the test with an ETK style clean & press/pullup workout. I did three three-rung ladders, two of which went okay. On the third ladder I ran into problems on rung 3, so finished out with loaded cleans and then did singles for a few reps. Still, I think this represents a modest improvement.

I also attempted some snatches with the 16 kg. They went well on the right side, not so well on the left. I don't think it's anything that proper hand care won't fix, but we'll see. The good news is that I had no difficulty performing 5 snatches on the right side. In fact, on my fourth (or was it my fifth?) set I performed 8 just to test myself.

It wasn't until the end of the workout, when I set the 16 kg kettlebell down next to my pointe shoes, that the incongruity of the whole thing struck me.