High Intensity Interval Training Workouts

My friend Rusty Moore has just put up a post on his website Fitness Black Book that outlines and incredible workout without lifting weights.
The blog post points out that those of us who are more fit will get greater benefits from brief intense workouts.

Fit people produce much more glycerol after a workout than someone who is not in as good of shape. Glycerol levels are an indicator of fat breakdown. Fit people burn much more fat after a brief workout than people who are not as fit (even when doing an identical workout).

His article goes into great detail of why this is and what the research shows. Plus, he ends his article with an excellent workout routine that you can work into your personal exercise without weights program.

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How To Do A Squat Without Weights

How To Squat Without WeightsThere are only a few exercises that can add strength and mass to your legs and hip muscles quickly. One of them is the squat. While it seems simple to do, if done incorrectly, over time it can lead to knee problems and potential back injuries. To perfect your form, I recommend doing them without weights.

One of the best ways to learn how to do a squat without weights is to actually practice sitting on a low stool or seat. When you are sitting on the seat/stool, your thighs should be near parallel with the floor. This will allow you to get low enough in the squat and not any lower. Once your thighs pass the parallel point and your knees bend greater than 100-110 degrees, it may be tough for you raise your body without exerting a lot of energy and possibly losing the correct form.

Now, once you have a stool this size, you’re ready to go. In order to learn how to do a squat without weights correctly, I recommend practicing sitting on the low stool relatively slowly as if to sit on an egg without breaking it. When you’re sitting down, you should lightly touch the seat surface with your butt and then reverse the process and come back to standing as slow as you went to sitting. Carry on for 10 or so reps.

By doing your squats this way, you will build the habit of correct form. Once you have the correct form, if you want to add weights onto it you can do so without sacrificing the good form.

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Mountain Climber Exercise

Mountain Climber Exercise

A good whole body workout that incorporates strengthening as well as cardio is “The Mountain Climber Exercise”. This particular movement is done from the “push up” position where you alternate bringing one knee forward toward the same side elbow and then back to the original push up position.

You can start this exercise out slowly and then increase the rhythm and tempo as you become a little more comfortable with it. Either way, whether you do it slow or fast, you’ll feel it in your abs and in your arms and shoulders.

Because you are stabilizing your body weight through your shoulders for the entire time, if you have shoulder problems, this might not be for you. And, even if you don’t have shoulder problems, you may just want to start off with sets of 10 reps each and maybe go for 5 sets. Done like this for a week or two will get you ready to speed it up and/or add other exercises to your routine.


The Mountain Climber Exercise is a great way to workout without weights.

Mountain Climber Exercise Videos

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Wrist Strengthening Exercises – Pronation/Supination

Ouch!
At one time or another you may have heard someone ask about wrist strengthening exercises. Typically they say something like “I can’t workout that hard because I have weak wrists”, or, “My wrists are weak because every time I put pressure on my wrists, they hurt”.  And, so, they are looking for some way to “strengthen” their wrists.

I wrote a previous post on wrist exercises and described a little in general about the wrist anatomy (how it’s put together). For review, the wrist is made up of 8 bones that are attached to each other by ligaments and not muscles. These bones then attach to the hand and also the forearm by ligaments to give the wrist stability. Unless these ligaments are stretched or torn, the wrist itself is probably as “strong” as it can be.

A lot of times people mistake having pain in the wrists while working out as having weak wrists. In many cases (if not the majority) this isn’t the issue at all. Many times, this pain is caused by lifting too heavy on tight or weak forearm muscles. Translation: The forearms need to catch up with the rest of your upper body.

So, What Can I Do To Strengthen My Wrists?

In the previous post I emphasized stretching the muscles and tissues that cross the wrist joint into the hand. In this post I will suggest a couple of exercises that should be included in any “wrist strengthening” program. But, you should keep in mind, while they may be “lifting” exercises, their main purpose is to stretch the forearms and wrists.

wrist-strength

Most of the muscles that cross this joint start either on the outside, or inside of the elbow joint. Others that have an impact on the wrist attach at the forearm. The majority of all of these go into the hand.

For a graphic illustration of this, que up “Terminator 2″ and watch the scene where Arnold peels back the skin on his left forearm revealing  his endoskeleton. If you remember him flexing his mechanical fingers, then, you have an idea of what these muscles do. (I wanted to embed the scene but youtube disabled the code).

There are basically 6 motions that take place at the wrist and move the wrist in different planes. Flexion and Extension. Ulnar and Radial Deviation. And Supination and Pronation. Working the forearm muscles in any of these motions will help strengthen the wrists and give you more control and less wrist and hand pain during your workouts.

We’ll take a look at the last two. The movements call for isolation of the elbow joint. So, supination and pronation is done with the elbow flexed at 90 degrees resting on your knee or a stable surface. The exercise can be done with something as simple as a length of pipe, a hammer, golf club, even a walking stick, etc.

When done properly, the movement mimicks “windshield wipers” on a automobile. The rate is steady and you want to maximize the total available range of motion on either end.

CAUTION!!

At the end ranges you will have significantly less strength than you do in the mid ranges. You have to keep this in mind because you could seriously strain these muscles if you lift too heavily. And, if you do that, your subsequent workouts will be limited to your lower body and abs for a long time. Don’t take a chance.

Wrist Strengthening – Supination

Supination has its origin from the Latin “sup-i-na-re” which means “to lay on the back”.  To supinate your hand or wrist means to turn it on it’s back. Or, palm up toward the sky. While this may sound a little “egg headish”, it’s really a motion that you do throughout the day. For instance, turning the key to your car’s ignition, or, turning a door knob.

A good exercise to target the supinating muscles is shown in the picture to yourwrist-strengthening-supination right. While it shows the hand in the “palm down” position, the resistance is coming from the muscles that flip the hand over on it’s back. This can be done with any type of object where the resistance is on the “thumb side” of the hand. Start out with 1-2 lbs. and no more than 3-4 lbs. at the most is really necessary with this exercise.

Wrist Strengthening – Pronation

Pronation is the Latin brother of the above, coming from “pro-na-re” which means “to bend forwarwrist-strengthening-pronationd”. Turning your palm down will be pronation. You can figure out how you do this one throughout the day.

In this photo, we see another workout without a traditional weight. Its possible to do these two movements with just about anything you can get a grip on as you can see.

While the picture shows the palm up in the supinated position, the stress and resistance is one the pronating muscles which will concentrically pull the wrench back over into the pronated position. Or, conversely, eccentrically allow greater supination thereby stretching the pronator muscles.

Since these are more for stretching than for strengthening doing 5-10 slow reps is all you need in one session. And you probably don’t need more than 2 sessions per week.

Doing them for a warm up or cool down is probably going to be specific to the individual. I don’t think that there is one “right way”. Pay attention to how they affect your workout and plan accordingly. Over working these small muscles will lead to a tendinitis which may be a bear to treat so all the over achievers need to approach them with caution.

Working in this way will add another dimension to your wrist strengthening routine and help keep your forearms and wrists conditioned for days when you are lifting heavier.

Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Photo At Top

Creative Commons License photo credit: Andrew Mason

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The Bodyweight Exercise Revolution pt.1

Saboten-Con Friday Portraits

I am directing this post to all the readers and visitors who haven’t grabbed their free copy of the Body-weight Exercise Fundementals workout program. I wanted to tell you a little more about the book and something about my own personal experience while doing the workout itself.

This exercise program is surprisingly different than what I was anticipating. While it’s a simple program, it’s fairly comprehensive at the same time. In fact, the workout program that I’ll send you is a detailed systematic workout without weights. And one of the best things about it is that each session can be done in under 20 minutes each.

Since it’s a bodyweight workout, there is no emphasis on “lifting a certain amount”. The main focus is on natural body motions which the authors and coaches have dubbed “the 6 degrees of motion”. And to be honest, they make a pretty good case as to why this is more important than just being able to lift heavy weights. But, I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own.

Like I said above, the program itself is pretty simple. What makes it challenging is that the week after week progression increases the level of movement sophistication. What initially started as a simple push up has become the incredibly challenging “quad squat”. To add to your fitness pleasure, the routine is based on interval training causing you to move smoothly from one movement to the next in 30 seconds or so, until the required sets are complete.

The authors encourage you to count reps, however, I have found this to be something that is more appropriate for advanced practitioners to be pre-occupied with. I find myself struggling with “trying to get my body to do the movement right” rather than counting how many I’ve done (or not done as the case usually is).

But this is the point behind being able to perform body weight exercises proficiently. It seems that this approach to fitness and strength training is about the development of functional strength. Integrated strength. The ability and awarness to control your body when demands are placed on it that require strength and (dare I say it?), graceful.

While the BER is meant to be a stand alone fitness program, it’s not at all exclusive. In fact, if you are a bodybuilder, or triathlete you will find suggestions as to how you can fit it into your primary fitness program without much difficulty. The focus is on natural movement patterns and how to increase your strength through those patterns.

If you haven’t gotten your copy, I’ll send you one via email, just tell me which address to mail it to.  Please feel free to leave your comments below. I love to hear what readers think.

Creative Commons License photo credit: kevindooley

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