Category Archives: Workouts

Fitness hacks: What if you are too busy to be fit?

Situation 

You’re busy. You have long hours at work or an unruly child or are an internet addiction. There never seems to be enough time. Not just for exercise but for anything. How do you stay fit? 

Guardian guide to running - GPS watches - video

Solution 

The long term solution is, of course, to smartly rearrange your day and make time for things that matter i.e. getting your priorities right. But what about the short term? 

Option 1 

Wear your shoes, carry a watch and get out of the house. Set a 20-30 minute timer. Start walking or running based on your capability. Every 2-4 minutes stop and do a few pushups or burpees. Yes, people will stare. At the 10-15 minute mark, turn around. Make it back on time. Don’t worry. The mess at home will wait for you.

Option 2 

Do 100 burpees. Pick a version of the burpee based on your capabilities – Beginner burpees or with pushups or with pushups and pullups. Do 100. It should take you anywhere from 6 to 20 minutes based on your fitness level and the kind of burpee you’ve chosen.

Option 3 

Set a 10 minute timer. Do as many burpees as possible. Push as hard as you can on that day. Some days you’ll get 50 and some days you’ll get 150. Doesn’t matter. Just work as hard and safely as you can for 10 straight minutes.

Option 4 

Set a 20 minute timer and do as many rounds as possible of  (7 squats, 5 pushups, 3 pullups) or (3 squats, 2 pushups and 1 pullup) if you can’t do too many pullups at once.

Option 5 

Find a building with 3 to 5 floors. Run from the ground level to the terrace as fast as safely possible. Walk back down slowly. Repeat for a total of 6 to 10 rounds.

Truth is, you don’t need a gym or 2 undisturbed hours everyday or the latest and greatest equipment to get fit. All you need is the will to be fit and you will find a way to get there and stay there!

When in doubt, keep it simple.

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3 Workouts, 4 Weeks, Guaranteed Results – Can you stay consistent?

Listen. This stuff works. I’ve tried it myself and have had clients try it too. If you can suck it up for the next 4 weeks and do these 3 workouts per week, you will find yourself in a much better fitness level than right now. Question is, can you stay consistent for these short 4 weeks?

If you said yes, read on ‘cos you’re about to surprise yourself with 4 weeks of effort. If you said no, don’t waste your time reading this. Please continue your eternal search for the magic pill.

– – – – – – – – – – x – – – – – – – – – –

You’re an intermediate if…

  • You can comfortably perform 25+ legit pushups and 10+ solid pullups/chinups.
  • You (at least) know what ‘linear progression’ means.
  • You are aware of proper technique in most lifts and are capable of learning new moves fairly quickly.
  • You have done one or more of my previous workouts.

You’re an enthusiastic beginner if…

  • You understand you are a beginner and are ready to put in the work required to move up the fitness ladder.
  • You have no ego and are open to modifying moves to suit your fitness level.
  • You are not an idiot and are open to learning technique and fixing your movement patterns before jumping up in weight.
  • You don’t hesitate to comment and ask for modifications and/or ways to work around your injuries, constraints etc.
You need…
  • A pair of dumbbells and a chinups bar/ledge/door
  • A 6ft x 3ft patch of ground
  • About 3 hours of time per week
  • A no-excuse no-BS mindset

Warm up

Do the following in as many sets as required. Take breaks as required. The point is to “warm-up”, so don’t over do it and get wasted.

Intermediates

  • 100 Jumping jacks
  • 40 Lunges (10/leg)
  • 40 Squats
  • 20 Broad jumps
  • 60 Arm circles (30/side)
  • 40 Pushups
  • 60 Hinges

Beginners

  • 60 Jumping jacks
  • 20 Lunges (10/leg)
  • 20 Squats
  • 10 Broad jumps
  • 60 Arm circles (30/side)
  • 40 Knee-pushups
  • 60 hinges

Workout 1

Intermediates

  • Weighted jump squats: 5 sets of 8-12 reps (Goal is to use a weight that allows you to clear the ground comfortably for the entire set. No ugly reps.)
  • Weighted pushups: 5 sets of 8-12 reps (Use a weight that allows you to push off the ground explosively for the entire set. No grinding out reps.)
  • Chinups: 5 sets of max reps (but not going to failure in any set.)

Beginners

  • Do only 3 sets per move.
  • Modify. Do bodyweight squat jumps, do pushups or knee pushups instead of weighted ones and do let-me ins instead of chiups.

Workout 2

Intermediates

75 Weighted burpees (Rest as required. Explode in each pushup and each jump. No blurpees. Only solid strong burpees.)

Beginners

  • Do 40-75 regular burpees based on your fitness level. If you can 10+ pushups, do 6-step-burpees, else stick to 4-step burpees.
  • Explode in each pushup and each junp. No blurpees. Only solid strong burpees.

Workout 3

Intermediates

  • One-arm clean and press: 15 sets of 2 reps per arm (Choose a dumbbell you can press only 5 times. Clean the dumbbell violently and press it twice. Drop, rest 30 sec and repeat on other arm.)
  • High knees in place or wall sprints: 4 sets of 15 sec max intensity sets. (Get crazy with it! Nough said.)

Beginners

  • Do the following instead of the clean & press – Choose a weight that you can press only 5 times. While maintaining a straight back, pick up the heavy dumbbell from the floor with both hands and bring it up to your chest. Press the weight twice overhead with both hands. Place the dumbbell back on the floor. Rest 30 seconds. Repeat this for a total of 15 times.

Notes

  • Do these 3 workouts consistently for 4 weeks. Do them on alternate days ensuring you have at least 1 off day between two workout days. So a mon-wed-fri or a tue-thur-sat type schedule works well.
  • Each week try to increase the weight you use by a reasonable about (~ 2kg) while still performing the move with good form.
  • Eat real food. If your goal is to gain some mass, eat 3 good meals a day with at least one meal being above appetite. If your goal is to lose fat, eat 2 good meals a day skipping breakfast or 3  small meals a day with all meals being slightly below appetite.
  • Bonus: Maintain a diet log and you’ll be surprised at how big an effect that has on your nutrition.

If you do these they way I have laid them out and eat real food, again, per the recommendations, you WILL see results. Period.

Peace out.

3-Week Bodyweight Badassery

If you think I’m just chilling eating my south Indian vegetarian diet downing 6+ country eggs and few liters of raw dairy everyday, you’re wrong! I’m also not complaining about the heat-humidity combo and impatiently waiting for Septemper 19th when I can make poor BootCamp members suffer! Oh! I’m also designing and destroying workouts and… loving every second of living the dream!

That said, I’m also going to give you what I promised – The equipment less training routine

My training in the next few months will be split into 3-6 week mesocycles in an effort to hit some body comp and performance goals. The first mesocycle is designed to be 3 weeks long. It will start tomorrow, the 8th of August, and end on the 29th of August which is just in time for my big (shirtless) day. I will outline my training in this post and will publish daily workouts on my Facebook page.

Workout Outline:

Everyday: Farmers walk, short run, mobility work

Monday: Upper body push and pull, core work

Tuesday: Lower body speed work (sprints), handstand pushups, sandbag work

Wednesday: Extended mobility, L-chinups, rotational stability work, agility training

Thursday: One arm push and pull, zero negative explosive push and pull, slow push and pull

Friday: One legged lower body strength work (pistols), weighted squat jumps, handstand pushups, 5-10 min conditioning workout

Saturday: Extended mobility, box jumps, single leg pull off the ground

Sunday: Sun salutations

If you aren’t a member of my Facebook page, join now and share your thoughts ‘cos there is just way too much you can learn from me and I can learn from you!

See ya there.

Peace.

Time Efficient Training – Reduce your 5k time by more than 20% in just 4 weeks

5k runs are pretty amazing really. They are long enough to test endurance and short enough to test speed. And for most people, 5k walk/runs are the gateway into fitness. While I never really started with a 5k, I started to grow more and more fond of them as I started working on speed. But I realized I had a tiny problem. If I had to train for a 5k run, I needed to put in some running time and that would, one, interfere with my regular workouts and, two, adversely affect my recovery from my usual workouts leaving me sore and unable to progress on strength and speed! This royally sucked ‘cos I basically ended up spinning my wheels.

Was this just a case of trying to do everything at once? Could one not train to grow stronger and run a faster 5k? Like I mentioned above, the 5k run is short enough to be a good test of anaerobic capacity and speed and hence, unlike distance running, should be trainable using methods than aren’t necessarily catabolic. So I decided to try out a few different training protocols and find one that worked best to help me achieve my goal of running a (much) faster 5k while not compromising lean mass or strength gains.

I tried a whole bunch of stuff like 400m repeats, mile sprints, hill sprints, train runs, cross trainers and more, but the one protocol that gave me the best results in the shortest time is the one I’m going to explain now. I’ve had my clients try this with great success and I’ve tried this twice myself with great results. The first time I tried it my 5k time dropped from 25:45 to 23:20 and the next time it dropped from 24:10 to 21:10.

The Plan:

  • If you already know your 5k time and pace, write them down. If you don’t know your 5k time and pace, run a best effort 5k and use those numbers below.
  • Now subtract 0.5 mph (0.8 kmph) off your 5k pace number. This will be X. Calculate 40% of your 5k time in minutes. This will be Y.
  • Day 1: Run for Y minutes at X pace.

If your 5k time is 40min, Y=16 min and X=4.2 mph (6.7 kmph).

If your 5k time is 30min, Y=12 min and X=5.75 mph (9.2 kmph).

If your 5k time is 20min, Y=8 min and X= 8.8 mph (14.2 kmph)

  • Day 2: Run for Y minutes at X + 0.15 mph (0.25 kmph)
  • Day 3: Run for Y minutes at X + 0.30 mph (0.50 kmph)
  • Day 4: Perform a full body (bodyweight/dumbbell/barbell/kettlebell) circuit that lasts for 75% of your initial 5k time. Intensity should be moderate (~ 70-80% MHR).
  • Day 5: Run for Y minutes at X + 0.45 mph (0.75 kmph)
  • Day 6: Run for Y minutes at X + 0.60 mph (1.00 kmph)
  • Day 7: Rest

Repeat this for 4 weeks. Test your 5k pace.

Q & A:

1. Do I need a treadmill for this? If yes, why?

Yes. Preferably. Because you can use the treadmill to progressively increase training speed by small yet accurate increments resulting in controllable and predictable endurance progression.

2. What do I do if I don’t have a treadmill?

Choose a route that is long enough.

  • On Day 1 run (not jog) for Y minutes at a comfortable pace. You should be working moderately hard. It shouldn’t be a relaxed job neither should it be a max intensity run. Mark the spot where you end the run after Y minutes.
  • On Day 2, run for the same Y minutes, but pace your run such that you finish slightly ahead of the spot you finished at on day 2. Use distance run as a tracker. This approach won’t be as well controlled as the treamill approach due to lack of quantifiable feedback, but will still help you get faster nevertheless.

3. What if I am unable to progress after, say, 2 weeks?

If you are unable to progress fast enough to run at the increasing speeds, drop the pace by 5% and continue. If you fuel your runs just right (i.e. neither eat too less becoming skinny and weak nor eat too much and gain fat), you will definitely progress.

4. Running 5 days a week? Isn’t this too much?

Its not. Though the frequency is high, the volume (run time) is super low.

5. How does this jive with the rest of my training?

You can continue with your usual workouts while doing this. Its up to you to figure out the best time to do these short runs (pre-workout or post, AM or PM etc.)

6. Will my regular training affect my progression on this?

It shouldn’t. But it depends on what you mean by ‘regular training’. If you mean running multiple miles for hours everyday, then yes it will affect your progression (and in turn kill your chances of becomes a faster runner). But if you are doing a good mix of resistance training, short high intensity work and low intensity cardio like walking or yoga, then you have nothing to worry about.

More questions? Hit me up in the comments section. No more questions? Well, watcha waitin for? Start training! Enjoyed the article? Please share the knowledge! Buttons below.

Peace!

Time Efficient Training – Dumbbell Badassery

While most fitness folks believe an individuals progression with respect to resistance used should go from bodyweight to medicine balls/resistance bands to dumbbells to barbells to other complicated equipment, I tend to consider dumbbells to as a perfect beginner level equipment. Let me make this clear. I am by no means hinting that dumbbells are only for beginners. I am stating the fact that dumbbells are a perfectly good resistance to use for everyone from beginner to advanced levels.

After all dumbbells have been around since the 17th century and old time strongmen (who were pretty freakin strong by the way) used them extensively.

My reasons for choosing dumbbells over bands and cables and the almighty shake weights are as follows.

  • Dumbbells offer the potential to move a load through the full range of motion (and hence, in certain cases, more effective than even barbell training).
  • A complete beginner, who might not be able to work effectively with his/her bodyweight, can benefit immensely by via progressive loading using dumbbell exercises since dumbbells typically range from 1 lbs to 150 lbs.
  • Dumbbells (like barbells) can be used for  legit strength training and for hardcore conditioning.
  • Program design using dumbbells can range from very simple (for beginners) to extremely complex (for advanced lifters).
  • Dumbbells lend themselves very well to jive with functional training aimed at rehabilitation, recovery,  joint stabilization, joint mobility etc.
  • Since dumbbells provide the option of asymmetric loading, they can be used very effectively utilized to strengthen the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (a.k.a ‘the core’).
  • Dumbbells are the perfect no-nonsense equipment for workouts that are super time efficient and extremely effective.

Just like how the existence of Mila Kunis is enough reason for for all mankind to smile, the widespread availability of such an effective training tool is reason reason for all of us to be fit! That said, here a few dumbbell complexes that are aimed at conditioning/fat loss and require just one dumbbell and 15 min of your (otherwise to-be-wasted-in-facebook) time.

Dumbbell Complex – Instructions:

  • All workouts require only one dumbbell.
  • Where the words ‘one arm dumbbell’ are used, you will grip the dumbbell with either the right or left hand and perform the entire sequence. This will be round 1. In round 2, you will use your other hand. Be sure to balance the sides out.
  • Where the term ‘single dumbbell’ is used, you will grip the dumbbell with both hands and perform the exercises in the sequence.
  • The dumbbell you choose should be one that you can lift 10-12 times in your weakest lift in that particular sequence. For eg. Say a sequence calls for 6 reps each of goblet squats, military press and dumbbell snatches. Chances are the military press is the weakest lift out of the three. So you will choose a dumbbell using which you can perform ~ 10 reps of one arm military press. Realize that based on your bodyweight and fitness level, the load you are working with can be anywhere from 1 lb to 70 lb. [At a bodyweight of ~ 145 lbs and intermediate/advance fitness level, I need no more than a 55 lb dumbbell to get my bottoms whipped!]
  • You will perform all repetitions of an exercise and immediately proceed to the next exercise in the sequence without rest and without letting go of the dumbbell. You will rest (for the prescribed amount of time) only after completing all reps of all exercises in the sequence. This is one round. Then you will repeat this for as many rounds as prescribed.
  • Watch the embedded video to get a clear understanding of how to perform these dumbbell complexes.

Example 1: Asymmetrically Loaded One Arm Dumbbell Complex

  • 6 x One arm dumbbell lunge [Note: 6 per leg]
  • 6 x One arm dumbbell hang clean
  • 6 x One arm dumbbell push presses
  • 6 x One arm dumbbell snatches
  • Rest 60-90 sec

Repeat for a total of 3 to 8 rounds based on current fitness level.

Example 2: Push, Pull & Carry – One Arm Dumbbell Complex

  • 8 x One arm dumbbell snatches – Right
  • 20 m x One arm loaded carry – Right
  • 8 x One arm dumbbell push press – Right
  • 8 x One arm dumbbell snatches – Left
  • 20 m x One arm loaded carry – Left
  • 8 x One arm dumbbell push press – Left
  • Rest 60-90 sec

Repeat for a total of 3 to 8 rounds based on current fitness level.

Example 3: Single Dumbbell Complex

  • 5 x Goblet squats
  • 5 x Single dumbbell push presses
  • 10 x Single dumbbell thrusters
  • 5 x Single dumbbell push presses
  • 5 x Goblet squats
  • Rest 60-90 sec

Repeat for a total of 3 to 8 rounds based on current fitness level.

Here is a video of myself doing one round of this single dumbbell complex. I am working with a light 30 lb dumbbell here because this was immediately after a taxing sprint/push/pull workout (My wobbly squats are proof that sprints kill!). But trust me – when I use 60 lb dumbbells, it makes me wish I wasn’t born! So, do yourself a favor and leave your ego at home before you head off to the gym to tackle this beast.

Note: What you see here is one round. Typically, at the completion of this, I rest 60-90 seconds and do another and continue this round till I reach ~ 7-8 rounds or till I collapse!

How to make this work for you

  • If you have never done anything like this before, start with a 5-10 lb dumbbell. See how you feel. Only the last 3-4 reps should feel hard in the first 2-3 rounds. Increase or decrease the load based on that. I’ll warn you now – if you choose a weight that makes you fight for the last few reps in the first round… you ain’t gonna make it through!
  • If you have some legit lifting experience, start off with a modest 25 lb dumbbell and go from there.
  • If you’re doing this as a conditioning workout, keep the load light enough to be able to reach 7-8 rounds and focus on speed of movement.
  • If you are doing this as a strength+conditioning workout, keep the load moderately heavy and focus on technique and exploding at each rep.
  • If you are incorporating this into your current lifting routine, start off with one session a week and slowly increase to two or three depending on how well you recover.
  • If you are planning on using complexes as your only lifting workouts, start with a load you can handle with only slight discomfort and slowly increase the load and/or number of rounds on a weekly basis i.e focus on progression. If you are currently completely unconditioned, start with one hard session/week and slowly increase the frequency maxing out at 3-4 hard sessions/week with enough rest between sessions.

In the coming weeks, I’ll write more about using dumbbells (and other equipment) as a tool for strength training and conditioning. Until then be good kids and share the knowledge!

Peace.

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