Today I just want to share a “fun” (well I think it’s fun, but I realize I’m not exactly normal) circuit involving all isometric holds.
Unfortunately, I tweaked my back recently using a leaf blower of all things (isn’t it funny/annoying how it also seems to be stupid, random stuff that sets backs off?) so I’ve been laying off the heavy lower body work. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of Bulgarian split squat iso holds as a way to continue to work my legs without pissing off my lower back.
Anywho, I digress. The circuit.
Start with a 30 second L-sit chin-up hold, then do a 45 second Bulgarian split squat iso hold on each leg, then finish up with a 60 second feet-elevated pushup iso hold, all with no rest in between other than what it takes to transition between positions.
This might sound easy while you’re sitting at your computer reading it, but trust me, it’s brutal. It’ll have you panting and sweating, and it’ll test both your body and your mind.
See, told you it was fun.
You can obviously tweak the times of the holds according to your current capabilities or where you do it in the workout. If you do it first, you’ll be able to do longer holds, whereas it’ll be harder if you do it at the end of the workout. Generally though, the chin-up hold will be the hardest, then the Bulgarian split squat hold, then the pushup.
If the L-sit chin-ups are too much, do a regular chinup hold or an inverted row hold.
If the Bulgarian split squat holds are too much, do regular split squats with both feet on the floor.
If feet-elevated pushups are too much, do regular pushup holds.
No matter how you slice it, it’ll be a good challenge and work your whole body.
Give it a try and let me know what you think, and if you like, please share it with your friends. And please don’t cuss me out too much while you’re doing it.
And remember, for more of these shorter type of workouts/challenges, remember to check out Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster program which she released yesterday. I’ve had a few people write to me already who have bought the program, and the feedback so far has been awesome. Check it out HERE while it’s on a huge sale.
I mentioned last week in a blog post that my friend Jen Sinkler is releasing a really cool product called Lift Weights Faster.
Well, she released it today, so it’s now available for purchase.
I’ve looked over the entire product and even contributed a few workouts, and I really, really like it. As the name suggests, the product is a database of cardio-type fat-loss workouts, only rather than do traditional gerbil cardio, you’re using weights…faster.
For people like me that abhor regular cardio, this is a very cool idea and makes the thought of going to the gym a lot more fun.
Jen has compiled a database of well over 100 different workouts. She created a bunch of them on her own and then also asked a lot of different coaches to share their own workouts (like I mentioned, I actually contributed two workouts myself). This gives the product a cool flavor because you have information coming from a wide variety of coaching backgrounds, meaning there’s literally something (or many things, really) for everyone. It’s also equally valuable for guys and gals, as well as trainers and fitness enthusiasts alike. I look forward to trying some of the workouts myself and with my clients.
What’s more, what I actually like most about what Jen did is that she shows how to modify the workouts to your current level and goals. A lot of circuit-style programs try to give one workout for everyone, and as a trainer, that gets me annoyed because I think it’s neither optimal nor safe. Jen does a great job of providing workouts for all levels and shows you how to adjust everything to fit where you’re currently at. Big kudos to her for that.
So if you’re the type that likes a good challenge or is short on time and can’t do marathon workouts, this is a great, safe option for you. You could use these workouts to form a good program if that’s how you enjoy training and see great results, or you could do what I like to do, which is use these type of workouts to augment my heavier weight training workouts. All depends on your goals and how you prefer to train.
In any case, rather than read me ramble and rehash the whole program, I suggest you go to Jen’s product page where she describes the program much better than I could. I’m selective in what I promote, but I definitely recommend you check it out. It’s on sale this week for the launch, so get it while the gettin’s good. There’s some cool perks/bonuses that come with it, too.
You can read more about HERE.
Today I want to share a simple full body workout that I really like that works well when you’re short on time and/or equipment. I certainly didn’t invent this workout by any means, but it’s something I’ve used quite a bit with myself and my clients and something that can be easily adapted for different levels, circumstances, and goals.
It’s three exercises: chin-ups, skater squats, and pushups—preferably done in that order.
Like I said; it’s very simple, but effective nonetheless.
These three exercises give a quick full-body workout when you’re short on time, and they don’t require much equipment at all beyond a chin-up bar and small dumbbells to hold in your hands for the skater squats, though even those aren’t necessary if you don’t have dumbbells available.
I actually started this using workout for one of my athletes a little more than a year ago for when he was on the road and didn’t have access to a well-equipped gym.
The workout consisted of the following: 10 chin-ups, 10 skater squats per leg, and 20 pushups, all done in succession for a total of 50 reps. He was doing 3-5 rounds (depending on time), resting about two minutes between rounds.
It worked well and didn’t much time at all. I now give this to a couple of my athletes when they ask me for a quick in-season workout too.
I’ve also been using it as part of fun workout challenge that I use as a finisher after you’ve completed your heavier lifting where you go through the whole thing twice in continuous fashion for a total of 100 reps.
The goal is to complete the whole challenge unbroken without having to stop to rest during any of the sets and without taking excessive breaks between exercises.
If you use good form and do the exercises with a full range of motion, doing the challenge unbroken takes anywhere between 4-5ish minutes, depending on how slowly you do the reps and how quickly you transition between exercises.
I’m not a fan of trying to beat your time once you can complete the challenge unbroken because that usually just means you’re using sloppier form and rushing the reps. I tend to perform my reps a little more slowly than some so my best time is about four and a half minutes, but I had a client the other day finish in four minutes flat using what I’d consider good form. He was flying though, so if you’re finishing much faster than that, I’d question how good your technique is.
Once you can complete the challenge unbroken, add a weight vest or try doing harder variations of the exercises (i.e. paused reps), or both.
Here’s a video of me completing the challenge with a 30 pound weight vest for the first time.
I’ll tell you what, that might not seem like much weight but I found that using the vest makes it A LOT harder.
Another nice thing about thing about this workout is how easily it can be regressed to fit different levels.
First off, there’s nothing magical about doing 10 chin-ups, 10 skater squats, and 20 push-ups, so if any of those numbers are too high at first, adjust accordingly and lower them to something more manageable.
If you can’t do chin-ups, do inverted rows instead, or if you’re in a hotel gym with just a few machines, you could even substitute lat pulldowns instead, picking a weight that you can do for about 15 reps.
Even if you don’t want to do the challenge, these exercises still make for a great workout on their own when you’re short on time or on the road.
This definitely isn’t anything new or revolutionary, but I know that a lot of people are looking for a good quick travel workout, and I also know that people like a good challenge sometimes, so for those of you that fit either of those bills, here you go. Enjoy!
As an aside, if you like these kind of fast-paced, quick workouts, my friend Jen Sinkler is releasing a cool product next week called, fittingly, Lift Weights Faster. As a lead-up to the product launch, she also released a free video yesterday called 9 Ways to Make Common Exercises More Fun. If you’d like to watch that free video, you can do so HERE.
I had a new article published on T-Nation this morning called Unconventional Trap Bar Exercises.
Bet you can’t guess what it’s about? If you guessed unconventional trap bar exercises…you’d be correct.
I think/hope you’ll like it. You can read it here: http://www.t-nation.com/training/unconventional-trap-bar-exercises
Back in the summer I shared an awesome workout challenge consisting of chin-ups and pushups that I aptly called the “Chin-up/Pushup Countdown Challenge.”
It’s pretty simple but damn hard, and I’ve received a ton of great feedback in the past six months from people who’ve tried it really liked it. You can read that here: http://www.benbruno.com/2013/08/fun-workout-challenge/
I must say that I personally love a good challenge and love ditching the script every once in a while and just seeing what the hell I’m made of.
Thing is, a lot of workout challenges are dangerous and involve exercises with a high risk factor.
If you want to test yourself, do it with safer, self-limiting exercises where you the risk of injury is far less.
With that in mind, I want to share another countdown challenge. But whereas the chin-up/pushup challenge is an upper body challenge, this one is total body challenge consisting of front squats and feet elevated pushups.
Here’s how it goes:
10 Front Squats
20 Feet Elevated Pushups
8 Front Squats
16 Feet Elevated Pushups
6 Front Squats
12 Feet Elevated Pushups
4 Front Squats
8 Feet Elevated Pushups
2 Front Squats
4 Feet Elevated Pushups
In total, it comes out to 30 front squats and 60 feet-elevated pushups.
The goal is to complete the challenge unbroken, moving from one set to the next without excessive rest. You don’t have to spaz out like you’re a Nascar pit crew member, but just go back and forth at a steady clip.
I like to use a box on the front squats, but these aren’t traditional box squats where you’re sitting way back and rocking onto the box. The box is just there to serve as a depth gauge for the squats since there’s a tendency to start cutting them high anytime you’re tired or pushing yourself, and it also serves as a way to elevate your feet for the pushups.
That being said, you certainly don’t need to use a box if you don’t like it, and if feet elevated pushups are too tough, regular pushups are fine too.
For the pushups, I actually put a plate on the floor to serve as a depth gauge (lightly tap your forehead on the plate). That’s not necessary either, but I find it helpful because it’s easy to start doing half reps when you’re tired and/or rushing.
Speaking of rushing… I’m actually not a big fan of doing challenges against the clock because I think it’s easy to start using crappy/dangerous form. As such, I don’t like the idea of continually trying to beat your time on this challenge.
If you do it unbroken moving swiftly from one set to the next, the goal should be to finish in the whole thing in under five minutes. Once you can do that, add weight to the front squats. Start with a very light weight and build up over time. The first set or two may feel a little easy, but once you really start huffing and puffing and get deeper into the challenge, the weight gets heavy in a hurry. Make your goal to be able to complete the challenge with your bodyweight on the bar.
You can do this either as a standalone workout when you’re crunched for time, or as a finisher after you’ve done your heavy lifting.
I personally like working up and doing some heavy front squats and some chin-ups and then dropping the weight down on the squats and crushing a set of this challenge. It might all take 20-30 minutes tops, but it makes for a heck of a brutal workout.
I’ll tell you this; it feels A LOT longer than five minutes while you’re going through it.
It’s also easy to scale it. If 20 pushups are too much, start with 16 pushups, or 12, or wherever you’re at. Just do twice as many pushups as squats in each round for a total of five rounds. Furthermore, if front squats are too challenging, do goblet squats instead.
It’s a great little challenge that I think you’ll really “like.” And by like, I mean you’ll probably be cussing me out while you do it, but once you catch your breath and get your bearings, you’ll be glad you did it.
Here’s a video of me going through it. If you’re the type that enjoys watching others suffer, you’ll really enjoy this
Good luck, and let me know how it goes. Please share with your buddies too.
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