When it comes to your body, function over fashion is what I preach. Keeping your goals focused on movement or performance will outlast vanity in the long run. Eventually, vanity eludes us all. Yes, yes, yes, we’re all beautiful on the inside… bzzz.
That said, most of us in the fitness business started for reasons of vanity. It stands to reason that most people reading this will have some vanity tucked away, even if they don’t admit it. It’s okay. You’re okay. We’re all okay.
In fact, we’re so okay, we’re going to talk about working out to burn some massive guilt calories. This combination is for advanced gym rats only. It has been known to make even the bold nauseated. Consider yourself warned.
Here is the basic structure of intervals:
- Five Minutes of Cardio
- Five Minutes of Resistance
- Repeat steps 1&2, three more times (for a total of four sets).
- Try not to get sick.
You can pick any cardio you prefer, but please, if you’re going to ride the bicycle no sitting. You may sit on the rower, but sitting on the bike is a stroll through the park. Better you do something standing, even power walking. It’s only five minutes at a time.
Set your target heart rate as directed by your physician. As I am not a doctor, and I don’t know your heart, I cannot give you a specific recommendation.
BUT…I am a huge fan of two general rules for cardio intensity.
The Talk Test: In the talk test, you could answer a question requiring a short answer if I asked you, but you would prefer not to. If you can easily talk, then you are not working hard enough. If you can’t get out a single work, then you are working too hard.
The Perceived Exertion Scale: On a one to ten, if ten were the way you would run being chased by a lunatic with a weapon, and one being the way you feel when you get out of bed, you should be at a seven or eight at the most. If you are not accustomed to cardio, start at a six. If you are well conditioned, an eight will be really pushing it.
Stick to dumbbells, bodyweight or equipment for which you have easy access. You don’t want to slow down trying to work in with another gym rat or loading plates onto a bar.
Your weight selections should be the heaviest weight you can move 20 times for any exercise. If you do find you can’t use the equipment you want, pick something else, even if it’s for one set. Don’t stop.
Keep moving, no matter what, even if it’s walking because you feel like you’re going to pass out. Don’t. Stop. Moving.
For this example, you will be working every muscle in your body. At this intensity, you could do this workout every day, but it will get pretty boring. Try to do something else every other day, like yoga, pilates or mobilization work.
Here are the four resistance exercises. Don’t try to mash up 1&3… it’s too many moves and gets confusing.
- Burpee Push Press
- Walking Lunges
- Plank Row
- Standing Calf Raises
Burpee Push Press
This is your basic burpee with a press at the top.
Select a light weight for you. It won’t take much.
Start in a hip-width foot position. Lower yourself like a normal squat. If you need some pointers, read the first half of this blog.
Plan to drop those dumbbells close to each other, between your feet or slightly in front, but not outside your feet. This guy’s technique is fine, but I prefer to keep the dumbbells tight in right-side-up V, then plant my feet outside the dumbbells. That makes it easier to keep your back flat. You’ll see his stays round.
Thrust your feet behind you, taking care to keep those glutes tight all the way back. You will know if your glutes aren’t firing properly when you lower back starts to fatigue. Shame on you. Love your back.
Once you hit that perfect plank. lower into a push-up. You can ditch the push up as your chest fatigues later in the rep count, but keep going on the rest of the exercise. Elbows close to your side on that press and no chicken head. Lower your chest, not your forehead.
After you push back up, snap your legs back to the squat. Push your knees out to the sides to flatten your lower back, then stand up.
Curl and press those dumbbells, then lower them to your sides. One rep down; nineteen to go. This one will eat up a lot of your time.
The second half of this blog walks you through a good walking lunge technique.
In general, keep your stride at a comfortable length. You don’t need to cross the Serengeti with each stride.
You also don’t have to keep your upper body vertical, but you should keep your chest out even if you lean a little.
Your bellybutton should be drawn inwards, shortening the distance between it and your spine. Do yourself one better, imagine pulling your bellybutton to your anus and visa-versa. Your spine and abdominal wall will thank you.
Try to stride through that lunge, not stopping in the middle to think about your life. We’re trying to engage the glutes and hamstrings with this move.
Ten strides down, then ten back if you run out of room, or five down and back twice.
This will take about 30 seconds of your time as long as you don’t have to cross the gym to find space.
Despite the popularity of the plank, there is one mechanical correction you want to apply. From now on do your planks with your elbows straight.
You will never find yourself in a position in the real world where you are pushing something with your elbows. Don’t do it in the gym either.
Your hands will be around the dumbbell handles. The dumbbells should be parallel or in a V-pattern, like the burpee. This will allow you to create tension all the way to you shoulder.
Without moving the dumbbells, apply pressure rotating your left hand counterclockwise, then your right one clockwise. They shouldn’t actually turn.
Keeping that tension, lift one dumbbell off the ground by driving the corresponding elbow straight up, then lower it. If the dumbbell hits your side, you’ve come high enough.
You should not be engaging your triceps to row the weight. The are not triceps extensions.
Complete ten rows per side. You should move pretty quickly through this exercise.
Standing Calf Raises
These are simple. After the first three, you will need something easy to collect yourself before you hit five more minutes of cardio.
Stand in a neutral position, like your squat. It’s best if you can put the ball of your foot and toes on something slightly raised from your heel.
As you raise up and down, you will try to kiss your heel on the ground at the bottom, taking care not to rest on that heel.
Support yourself by holding onto something, but don’t be a dummy. Weight stacks have moving parts on the other side, like weights and stuff. Do this only if your goal is to lose fingers.
If you are really good, you can do these free standing. This is hard.
To free stand your calf raise, you can counterbalance like ballerinas do, but definitely, tighten your glutes about 70%.
Between sets, try not to drink too much water or you will be waterlogged by the fourth set.
Finish as strong as you started.
The last five minutes of cardio will seem like your chest is on fire. The last set of resistance exercises will seem like the end of the world.
You’re not going to regret pushing hard through the end, but you can’t go back and try harder. Do it right the first time.
Like this format? Change out the resistance exercises to keep it fresh. Do this three times a week to have your best shot to the beach body you secretly desire. There’s enough time to do some serious damage before peak summertime.