2012-06-25

A Killer Workout

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty lethargic. As you may have gleaned from my previous post, I had stayed up later than normal watching Coldplay live in concert. By the time the afternoon had rolled around, I didn't feel like doing much of anything, much less pulling on workout clothes and getting in a good, hard bout of exercise.

So I had to think of something to keep myself engaged. I needed to conjure up a workout that would be worth my while, and yet that wouldn't be so difficult that I would give up half-way through it. I thought long and hard about the various possibilities. Did I want to swim, for a change? What if I did a Hyperfitness workout? What if I did one of those loopy workouts my wife is always telling me about?

Finally I came up with something that seemed to offer me everything I needed. It's a workout that combines the best elements of my Matrix workout with a new dose of variation that seemed to offer me good recovery time and a nice enough change of pace to keep me going from start to finish. This is what I decided on:

First Set:
  • 40 push-ups
  • 50 push-throughs
  • 40 wide-arm push-ups
  • 50 combined leg raises/hip raises
  • 90 seconds rest
Second Set:
  • 40 tricep push-ups
  • 50 combined single leg raises/hip raises
  • 20 one-arm push-ups
  • 50 trunk-twist crunches
  • 90 seconds rest
Third Set:
  • 30 front rows with a heavy resistance band
  • 30 squat-jumps
  • 30 front rows
  • 30 jumping lunges
  • 90 seconds rest
Fourth Set:
  • 30 front rows
  • 30 jumping lunges
  • 30 front rows
  • 30 standard burpees
Description
Let me begin by highlighting a few of the exercises with which some of you may be less-familiar. I am not an encyclopedia of the absolute real, standard, universally known name for each and every exercise. As a result, I've tried to give the exercises descriptive names that seem meaningful. I may have gotten some of the names wrong. I'll explain some of the funny ones.
 
Combined Leg Raise/Hip Raise
Lie on your back with your legs straight and your hands under your hips. Keeping your knees straight, raise your legs until they are at a 90-degree angle to the rest of your body. (That's the leg raise.) Then, using your abdominal muscles gently lift your hips off the ground (that's the hip raise), then set them back down. Finish by lowering your legs about two inches off the ground. That's one repetition - do 50 of those.

Combined Single Leg Raise/Hip Raise
Same as the above, except lower only one leg each time you begin another leg raise. Alternate which leg you lower/raise for each repetition.
Trunk-Twist Crunches
Begin in crunch position with your feet off the ground and your legs bent at 90-degree angles. As you crunch upward, attempt to touch your right knee with your right elbow; as you do this, bend your torso so that your oblique muscles flex. Return to starting position. Repeat on left side.
Discussion
This ended up being an extremely difficult workout for me. Interestingly enough, however, it did not feel difficult at the time.  Fundamentally, it is a workout highly similar to what I've been doing for the past two weeks. There are, however, a few important differences.

The most obvious difference is the fact that, rather than doing four sets of four exercises with 60 seconds rest between them, I am doing two sets of four exercises with a single 90-second rest placed halfway in-between, followed by two more sets of four different exercises with another 90-second rest at midpoint.

Varying the interval/rest periodicity in your workout is a great way to inject variety into a routine that has become stale. For some reason, it also seems to make the workout go by more quickly.

The second big difference is the fact that I incorporated more variation in my push-up exercises. Rather than doing one or two push-up exercises, I changed things up for each set. The first set was the same old vanilla push-up we're all familiar with. The other three sets consisted of the most typical push-up variants we see: wide-arms, tricep (triangle), and one-arm push-ups. This injected some good enough variety that I could look forward to each type of push-up, but wasn't so back-breaking (as a clapping push-up would have been).

Finally, doing that much plyometrics with that little rest between each set offered a good challenge, but my cardiovascular health being what it is, I didn't feel that 30 of any one exercise would do me in. It seemed to work. My heartrate increased dramatically, but I never felt like I couldn't finish. I knew I could finish.
 
Notwithstanding all of that, by the time I was finished, I was totally drained. I had worked out harder than I have in at least two weeks, and perhaps much longer than that. I was starving, thirsty, and I even had to go to bed a little early to get enough rest. It was great!

Conclusion
If you work out consistently for a long period of time, you're bound to experience low motivation days. Adding some variety to your workout is a great way to overcome this feeling. By shaking up your scheduled workout's periodicity, you can breath new life into an old routine. You can also use your strengths to their disadvantage by coming up with exercises that you feel good about; then, by taking a left-turn, you can push your body harder than you guessed you might.

I'll likely be doing this routine a couple more times this week, interspersed among some modest running mileage. Give it a try, and let me know how you like it!