Category Archives: Workouts

Time Efficient Training – 15 min Bodyweight Training

If you consider the average person, he/she is more likely ‘to try to’ eat clean than to workout and, if workout is on the cards, he/she is definitely going to want to hop on a treadmill/elliptical or go for a run/bike ride than to actually perform a proper resistance training session. While there is nothing wrong with running, there are too many things right with resistance training to neglect it. If getting fit is your goal, resistance training is an absolute necessity (and we’ll discuss why in a different blog post).

When I asked a bunch of folks why they choose cardio on machines or running over resistance training, I got a number of answers… at least 50 different answers really. But when I looked into those answers in a little more detail, they all trickle down to the following….

  • Resistance training is time consuming.
  • I don’t know enough about resistance training to be able to design a workout. Its just easier to run.
  • I don’t know how to perform most of the exercises.
  • Home is where I can workout and that makes it impossible to do resistance training.
  • Driving to the gym and back takes too long and is more time that I can afford.
  • Gym memberships are expensive and so are buying equipment to be able to workout at home.

And among these answers lack of time, equipment unavailability and lack of program design knowledge seemed to be the most common! So, in this article, I’m going to give you some workouts that will work pretty much every part of your body, take less than 20 min, require little to no equipment and get you fit n fayne! Maybe you’ll consider resistance training then?

Beginner Bodyweight Training:

Workout 1:

– Choose a push-up variation that you can only do 20 of and a pull-up variation that you can only do 10 of.

  • Minute 1: 15 push-ups, 4 pull-ups
  • Minute 2: 12 push-ups, 6 pull-ups
  • Minute 3: 10 push-ups, 8 pull-ups
  • Minute 4: 12 push-ups, 6 pull-ups
  • Minute 5: 15 push-ups, 4 pull-ups

Repeat once more.

Total time ~ 10 min

Workout 2:

  • Max Height Jump Squats x 10
  • Jumping Lunges x 10/leg
  • Pike Presses x 10
  • Rest 30 sec

Repeat for a total of 4 rounds

Total time ~ 8 min

Workout 3:

  • Rest 30 sec.

Repeat for a total of 10 rounds.

Total time ~ 10 min.

Total weekly workout time ~ 30 min

Intermediate/Advanced Bodyweight Training:

Workout 1:

  • Weighted Pushups: 1 set of 8-10 reps
  • BW Chinups: 1 set of 70% Max reps
  • Pistol Squats: 1 set of 70% Max reps
  • Rest 1 min

Repeat for a total of 4 rounds.

Total time ~ 15 min

Workout 2:

  • All-out Sprint 20 sec
  • Plank for 40 sec

Repeat for a total of 8 rounds

Total time ~ 8 min

Workout 3:

  • Hindu Pushups: 1 set of max reps
  • Chinups: 1 set of max reps

Rest 2 min

  • Broad jump x 2
  • Squat jump x 4

Repeat for a total of 5 rounds.

Rest 2 min

  • Hindu Pushups: 1 set of max reps [Goal is to beat first set]
  • Chinups: 1 set of max reps [Goal is to beat first set]

Total time ~ 15 min

Total weekly workout time ~ 40 min

Don’t tell me you don’t have time for this! Do these three workouts every week for six weeks in addition to eating real food and I promise you that you will look, feel and function way better than you do right now! In the next post in this series, I’ll list out a few workouts that need nothing more than a single dumbbell. Trust me, it will be fun!

Peace.

(Re)Defining Fitness – The Case Against Machines

Note: Part 1 of the Redefining Fitness series which talks about The Basic Capabilities of the human body can be found here.

The other day I walk into one of the 24 hour Fitness gyms and on the front door I see a sticker that says “The Truth About Fitness”. I open the door and I see like 50 elliptical machines and treadmils and steppers and other such shiny fancy equipment that honestly serve no purpose (other than giving people the false feeling of having worked out of course!). Even worse, every single one of these machines is occupied and I couldn’t help but brand these folks as ‘human hamsters’ – standing on a machine, watching TV, mindlessly doing something that is perceived as healthy. Nonsense!

I walk further in and I see an army of resistance training equipment. I’m talking pec dec, machine bench press, tricep extension, bicep curl, ab workout machines etc etc… and this time not only were the machines occupied, but there was a line for almost every machine! Gotto get that pump on ya know!

I scoot away from this jungle and at the end, near the restroom, in a 5 sq ft area with no light, I find one squat rack… one lonely squat rack. And guess what… the whole area around it was empty. Empty like there was a lion inside it!

I don’t get it! The squat rack IS the gym and yet people want to use everything but that! What is this obsession with flashy new equipment? How does this make any sense? A flashy phone… sure! But super clean equipment to help you get down dirty and sweaty? Really? That’s like having escalators at the gym! Oh wait…

What is fitness?

Fitness is the capability to do certain feats which you are already programmed to be able to do. Lifting loads, sprinting, covering distance by foot, jumping and contolling bodyweight are some of the most critical aspects of fitness and anyone interested in ‘general fitness’ should focus on these and possibly nothing more. Let me break this down.

Lifting loads:

You have an object. It has a certain weight. You need to lift it for some purpose.

How do you train for this? You find a object and learn to lift it in a way that is safe and a technique that allows you to exert the most force against the force applied by the object (i.e. it’s weight). This object can be a dumbbell or a barbell or a damn rock for all I care… but it has to be a free weight. A weight that is free to move/fall in the 3 dimensional space. Why? Because you need to be able to control the weight before attempting to move it. You know, learn to walk before you run kinda thing.

Sprinting:

You have something coming after you and you need to move away from your current physical position as fast as possible.

How do you train for this? Stand. Run as fast as you can for a certain distance or time. How much simpler can this get?

Covering distance by foot:

You are in point A. You need to get to point B.

How do you train for this? Move! Move at a comfortable pace such that you don’t crumble mid way. Done. And for all you runners, here is an awesome article that teaches you how to run.

Jumping:

You’re walking. There is a 20″ hurdle on the way. You need to get past it. You can jump over it or you can place your arms on it and climb it like you just turned 98 yesterday.

How do you train for this? Well, you jump. It is a basic human movement and teaching someone to jump is like teaching someone to talk. Don’t think. Just jump. You will teach yourself to do it.

Controlling Bodyweight:

Your body has many degrees of movement and the capability to move (and move loads) in all three planes. Using it’s own resistance to build muscle, strength, speed and power is possibly the most efficient way to train if fitness is your goal.

How do you train for this? Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, dips, planks and handstands. You don’t need anything more than this.

But you’re advanced! Don’t you need isolation exercises?

Well firstly, can you do 75+ pushups, 25+ pullups and 10+ pistol squats/leg? If you said no, then you are not advanced.

Secondly, no one with ‘fitness’ as a goal needs isolation exercises. If bodybuilding is your goal, then knock yourself out with 200 sets of isolation exercises… oh and don’t forget the steroids! And please don’t bother to read this blog anymore. Thanks.

Thirdly, check out what the top fitness coaches have to say about exercises to get strong and fast and fit.

So what’s my point?

In all of these training methods, do you see a single mention of a treadmill or elliptical or stepper? No! Why? Because machines are dumb. Flashy expensive machines are dumber! No exaggeration here – Gyms that advertise they have brand new state-of-the-art cardio machines are bascially scamming you. Why? Well, if they tell you its better to train without machines, why would you come in to the gym?

In any point of your life, have you ever had to move a load which has a pre-set fixed movement plane? No! Sitting on a piece of equipment that helps you direct force in a fixed plane of motion WILL NOT get you fit. Such exercises will strengthen specific muscles, sure, but will end up creating imbalances!

You see, your body is meant to work in harmony. When you squat, for example, you flex and extend your hip joint, knee joint and your ankle joint. But if you replace the squat with a leg extension, you only flex and extend your knee joint. So while your quads get worked, the muscles in your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back musculature etc) and the muscle attached to your ankle (soleus, gastrocnemius, anterior tibialis etc.) will remain weak. You don’t want to be the guy with big thighs who hurt his lower back when lifting a suitcase! Same deal with the pec-dec. Strong pecs but weak shoulder muscles resulting in almost certain injury when loaded. You don’t want to be that guy with a big chest who hurt his shoulder when attempting to lift his son overhead!

Summary:

And now that you’ve read this, feel free to laugh your ass off everytime you read “We have brand new blah blah equipment made by blah blah” in a gym’s website!

Peace out!

What the hell is your training like Raj?

OK… by now I’m sure you all know what the hell I eat (and if you don’t, I suggest you join this group right now). Here is something to answer ‘what the hell does your training look like?’.

Warm-up set @ Gold’s Gym

Read my posts on how to look awesome naked (here and here) and you’ll notice that the exercises I recommend are very basic. I happen to be a huge fan of folks like Dan John, Jason Ferruggia and Chad Waterbury who are big proponents of the old school minimalistic training approach. In addition to keeping things sane and simple, I can guarantee you that this approach will make you stronger, faster, leaner and bigger!

So what the hell does my training look like?

Enough blah blah. Here is what I did at the gym today.

Warm-Up:

  • 500 m row (80% effort)
  • 20-30 push-ups
  • 10-15 pull-ups
  • 30-40 squats
  • 20-30 leg swings
  • 5-6 broad jumps
  • Mobility work

* Time: ~ 10 min

Workout:

  • Front Squats – 2-4 warm-up sets
  • Front Squat – 3 work sets (Reverse pyramid style)
  • Dumbbell Chest Press – 2-4 warm-up sets
  • Dumbbell Chest Press – 3 sets (Reverse pyramid style)
  • Weighted Inverted Rows – 3 sets (Pyramid style)
  • Core (Knees to elbows, plank etc.) – 3 sets
  • Bicep Curls – 1 set
  • Tricep Dip Pushdowns – 1 set

* Time: 35-40 min

Stretch:

  • Hams, glutes, quads, pecs, lats, lower back

* Time: 5-8 min

* Total workout time ~ 50 min

As you can see, 90% of my time and effort today went towards the big compound lifts (front squats, dumbbell presses and inverted rows). The core and arm workouts were fillers at best, giving me something to do while I’m resting my prime movers.

Effectiveness and efficiency being my main focus in each session, all my strength workouts are similar in design.

  • Walk out of the locker room and hit the rower at about 80% effort.
  • Head straight to the squat rack and set-up.
  • Full body warm-up and mobility.
  • Squat/Deadlift/Clean – Hardest set of the day.
  • Upper body pulls and pushes.
  • Finish up with core/arm/forearm training.

Why big compound lifts right at the start?

Why even do core and arm exercises?

  • Sensible volume of direct arm/core work performed as a part of a good training routine is beneficial in a multitude of ways.
  • Direct arm/core work performed after compound lifts does not hinder progress in any way.
  • In addition to getting strong, I tend to care about how I look.

So next time you go to the gym, remember to start at the squat rack and end at the dumbbell rack.

What about rest days?

I don’t have rest days per se. I strength train 2-4 days a week and like to stay active during the other days. Hence my rest is always ‘active rest’.

So on days that I don’t strength train, I walk a bunch (say 3-5 miles) and get some sun with the lady and the critter or do some sprints (10-20 sec all out efforts) or yoga or some skill training (headstands, handstands, mobility focus etc.).

Note: Though I don’t have any traditional rest days, I’m very particular about what activities I do on my non-training days and never do anything that may hinder  progress.

Well, that sums up my training. What does yours look like? Share it in the comments section so we can learn from each other.

Stay strong!

Sample Conditioning Workout (Video)

I recommend short duration high intensity workouts once or twice a week and recently Arvind also wrote an awesome post on HIIT which explains the pros and cons of such training. The problem seems to be that a lot of folks seem to not understand what high intensity means. In order to give you an idea of what high intensity is we shot a little video today. Below are the details.

Workout:

10 rounds for time (i.e. as fast as possible)

Here is the workout.

Note:

  • These sound like small numbers but when you add them up the workout contains 50 pushups, 50 jump squats and 30 pull-ups (130 reps) all in less than 4 mins. So beware.
  • This is a condensed form of my usual workout. Most of my high intensity workouts are ~ 10 mins. The idea was to keep the video under 5mins and hence the shorter workout.
  • Scale appropriately! If you cant do pushups do knee pushups etc.
  • If you can do this without issues, do my regular version which is 20-5 rounds or 10 pushups, 10 squat jumps, 6 pushups for 10 rounds.

Peace.

Warm Up (Video)

Warm-up is NOT…

  • Running aimlessly for 5-10 mins.
  • Just swinging your arms.
  • Kicking your legs either ways.

Warm up is…

Peace out.

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