Monday, February 1, 2010

The Turbulence Training Transformation Workout: Initial Impressions

So far I've done all three workouts, or at least a half-caf version thereof. Craig Ballantyne actually recommends omitting the final set of each exercise during the first week of a new program to give your body time to adjust, and while I've never felt the need to do so in the past I think it's good advice and something I will probably incorporate from now on.

I should note that my warm-ups are not quite what Craig recommends. Since I've been having a lot of problems lately with my hips I generally begin every exercise session with foam rolling, paying particular attention to the right piriformis. I have an interesting collection of trouble spots, most of which I believe were proximately caused (now there's a phrase I haven't used in about 5 years!) by a bad break to my right ankle when I was 15. The bone itself healed better than anyone expected but the connective tissue damage did not. This is actually pretty typical: break a bone and you'll grow new bone and end up with something that literally is as good as new, but tear a muscle and you'll get scar tissue that is neither as strong nor as extensible. Damage to a ligament or tendon is even more problematic because there isn't as much blood supply to these areas so they're even less likely to heal well. Appropriate physical therapy can do a lot to preserve muscle and joint function, but no one thought to recommend that for me when I was 15. It actually wasn't until I started trying to dance again almost 30 years later that I began to recover a healthy range of motion in my injured ankle, and by then I'd had time to develop all sorts of other issues. Very few of these are apparent during bilateral movements--which is why I tend to gravitate toward unilateral training as much as possible. Feeble as it makes me feel, it's better for me.

(Okay, I admit it: sometimes I throw in some barbell exercises with heavy weight so I can impress myself and hopefully other people as well. I 'm petty that way.)

And someday I will learn to write a blog post that sticks to the point. Which in this case is that my warm-ups tend to be about activating my specific weak areas and inhibiting my overactive ones (as well as increasing core body temperature, elevating heart rate, increasing blood flow to the muscles, getting the synovial fluid flowing, etc.) Craig's warm-ups are good, but they tend to be a little heavy on the scapular activation (stick-ups, Y's & T's, prisoner anything) and a little light on the gluteal activation to meet my particular needs at this time.

Now, on to the actual workouts:

Workout A kicks off with a superset of barbell squats and 1-arm overhead presses, palms in. Here again I modified, replacing the barbell squats with dumbbell Bulgarian split squats. Partly this is because I was working out at home and don't have a squat rack, and partly it's because I think Bulgarian split squats are a better exercise for me right now. I did do all three sets of 8 reps but used relatively light weights for both exercises--20 lbs, I think.

The next part of Workout A is a tri-set consisting of reverse lunges with what Craig calls a half-rep. I've also seen this called a "stutter rep" or a "low end," but whatever you call it, it's painful. It starts like a regular reverse lunge, except that when you come up from the bottom of the lunge you only come halfway up. Then you sink down again before returning to your start position, and that's all one rep. I did 10 on each leg, using 20 lb dumbbells again.

The second exercise of the tri-set is a stability ball plank hold, and the final exercise is cross-body mountain climbers. Thankfully you're only meant to perform the tri-set twice, which I did.

Not so with the 4 exercise giant set that follows. Once was enough for this baby, at least on a deload week. The giant set kicks off with dumbbell romanian deads, segues into cross-body chops with a medicine ball, then finishes with stability ball jackknives--25 of them!--and side planks for maximum time.

But wait! there's more! The workout concludes with 4 sets of 8 double burpees, with 45 seconds rest between sets. In case you're dying to try this yourself, a double burpee is like a regular burpee only with two pushups and two jumps, and it's every bit as horrible as it sounds if not more so.

More on Workouts 2 and 3 later, when I have a bit more time to post.