Tag Archives: conditioning

Strength, fat loss, endurance and mobility in 15 minutes

Can you get strong, lose fat, gain endurance and improve your mobility in under 15min? Abso-fuckin-lutely! But stop being greedy and stupid ‘cos these 15 minutes are not a walk in the park or on the treadmill. These 15 minutes will be the most grueling 15 minutes of your day and will require you to stay motivated, focused and push (almost) till you drop. In short, this isn’t for the slackers. This is for fighters!

If you’re ready to work, let’s get this show on the road.

Why will this work?

Let make make this clear. This is not a scam. This is not the ‘Look and feel awesome in just 3 minutes a day’ bullshit. This is not ‘Why choose hard when easy works’ nonsense. This is legit. This involves progression. This involves hard work. And this works only if, brace yourself, you actually do it!

– In order to get strong you need to strength train. I’ve spoken about this in detail multiple times earlier, but I’ll summarize again. Getting strong(er) is achieved only by linear progression i.e. starting off with a load you are comfortable with and very gradually increasing that load in as small increments as possible. So irrespective of what the exercise or workout is, be sure to start off light ‘cos if you stick to the progression for even a couple of months, you will find yourself working with much more weight than when you started. Starting off too heavy will only result in ugly reps and plateaus too soon into the game.

– To lose fat, it isn’t enough that you momentarily burn some calories. To lose fat effectively and consistently, you need to rev up your basal metabolic rate. Traditional cardio doesn’t quite help with this (wrt efficiency and sustainability) and short duration high intensity conditioning work is the best way to achieve this. Read more about this here.

– To gain endurance you need to challenge your anaerobic (and aerobic) threshold and this is best done by improving work capacity which directly relates to improving endurance. In other words, by increasing the amount of work you can do in a given period of time, you increase your endurance, power generation capability, coordination, fatigue threshold etc. In some other words, endurance also known as sufferance is your ability to fight through stress (exercise) over a given period of time and the more sufferance you are capable of, the fitter you can be.

– And finally, to improve your mobility, you need to consistently move through the full range of motion during every rep of every set of every workout.

So can all this be done in a 15 minute workout? Definitely. But only if all aspects of strength, conditioning and mobility are taken into account when designing the workout.

Here is one way to do it.

Raj’s full body strength & conditioning sequence

Perform a standard 5 minute warm-up with squats, lunges, pushups, leg swings, arm circles etc. and then do as many rounds as possible of the following in 10 minutes ensuring each move is done flawlessly and each rep is solid and strong. No ugly reps. No grinding out reps.

  • Clean two kettlebells.
  • Do a thruster.
  • Drop weights down and bear walk for 5-10 meters (preferably to a pullup bar).
  • While still on all fours, do a pushup.
  • Jump to a squat position.
  • Do a jump squat and (if you are at a pullup bar) grab the bar and do a chest-to-bar pullup.
  • Bear walk back to the kettlebells.

Here is the video.

Note:

  • Each round took me about 30 seconds but as I got tired it took me much longer and I ended up with about 15 rounds in 10 minutes.
  • I used 20kg KBs but feel free to use lighter/heavier ones based on your capability.
  • Cleans, thrusters, squats and pullups are all awesome multi-joint compound moves that demand plenty of muscle usage thereby making the sequence extremely energy hungry.
  • Technique is paramount irrespective of what the exercise is. So dedicate some time to learn technique if you aren’t familiar with these exercise.
  • I’ll post more workouts which have a similar output i.e. strength and conditioning in under 15-20 min in the future. Be sure to mix and match.
  • We workout at Bamboola Play School after coaching The Quad’s BootCamp. This was filmed at the end of my workout today and had to be done ASAP before the kids start pouring in. So pardon the lack of solidity at the start.

But I can’t do this because…

When you can come up with excuses to not walk on a daily basis, I’m sure you can come up with a bunch of excuses to not do this. So here are some modifications –

  • If you don’t have kettlebells, use dumbbells or barbells. If you don’t have kettlebells or dumbbells or barbells, use sandbags. If you don’t have kettlebells or dumbbells or sandbags or barbells, use a backpack/school bag. The point is to lift a weight from the floor to your chest and then squat thrust is overhead. No equipment isn’t an excuse.
  • If you don’t have a place to do pullups or can’t do pullups, well, don’t do them. Finish with a max height squat jump.
  • If you don’t have enough space to do bear walks, do 20 mountain climbers instead.
  • If you’re not ready to suffer through it, then get back to your treadmill and stay weak.

Peace out.

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.

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.

Conditioning Workouts – 1

It’s been a while since I posted workouts so here are some bad-ass conditioning workouts. If you think you are “fit” – do these, try to beat the target times and post your times.

Note: If you don’t know some of these moves or how to do them, a simple google search will tell you what they are and how exactly to do it.

Workout 1:

For time…

  • Run 800 meters
  • 50 One Arm Dumbbell Snatches @ 30% BW
  • 50 Pushups
  • Run 800 meters

Target Time – 13 mins

Workout 2:

For 2 mins do the following at medium intensity… (take it easy during these two minutes)

  • 5 squats, 5 pushups, 5 situps

Immediately after 2 mins for 1 min do maximum repetitions of…

  • Burpees

Rest 1min. Note done number of burpees done.
Repeat for a total of 5 rounds

Target – 75 Burpees total

Workout 3:

  • Max Pushups in 2 mins. Target – 75
  • Rest 2 mins.
  • Max Situps in 2 mins. Target – 75
  • Rest 2 mins.
  • Run 1 mile for time. Target – 7 minutes

Workout 4:

Max rounds in 20 mins…

  • 1 Pull-up
  • 2 Push-ups
  • 3 Squats

Target – 80 rounds

Note: Workout from Mark Sisson’s WOW. I did it a couple of weeks back and got 86 rounds. Loved it.

Workout 5:

For time…

  • 50 dumbbell swings @ 30% BW
  • 40 box jumps or jump squats
  • 30 pushups
  • 20 frog jumps
  • 10 pullups or burpees

Target time – 12 mins

I’ll try and post more of these every now and then.

Enjoy.

Treadmill Tricks

If any of the following describes your case then this blog post should be immensely helpful to you.

1. You like running and you want to do more of it to get better at it… or…

2. You spent a good chunk of money buying a treadmill (for whatever reason) and now within 2 weeks you’re bored running on it aimlessly… or…

3. You want to work on your endurance (running especially) but can’t do any speed runs on the road because where you live cars and pedestrians don’t coexist.

Treadmill Workout 1:

5 mins Warm-up @ usual running pace (6-7mph for me)

3 rounds…

20 sec @ high intensity (11-12mph for example)

20 sec @ rest (stand on railing with treadmill running)

4 rounds…

20 sec @ higher intensity (11-12mph @ 3-4% incline for example)

10 sec @ rest (stand on railing with treadmill running)

6 rounds…

15 sec @ high intensity (11-12mph @ 5-6% incline for example)

5 sec @ rest (stand on railing with treadmill running)

5 mins Cool down @ slow running pace (5-6mph for example)

Total workout time – 16 mins

Treadmill Workout 2:

5 mins Warm-up @ usual running pace (6-7mph for example)

10 Rounds…

10 Pushups

60 sec run @ high intensity (8-9mph for example)

5 mins Cool down @ slow running pace (5-6mph for example)

Total workout time ~ 25mins

Treadmill Workout 3:

10 mins Run @ usual pace (6 mph for example)

8 mins Run @ usual pace + 10% usual pace (6 mph for example)

6 mins Run @ usual pace + 20% usual pace (6.6 mph for example)

4 mins Run @ usual pace + 30% usual pace (7.2 mph for example)

2 mins Run @ usual pace + 40% usual pace (7.8 mph for example)

1 min Run @ usual pace + 50% usual pace (8.4 mph for example)

5 mins Cool down @ slow running pace (5-6 mph for example)

Total workout time ~ 35mins

Treadmill Workout 4:

Run 2 miles as fast as possible. But… at the end of every 4th minute get off the treadmill and do 25 push-ups.

For example: If you run your 2 miles in 21 minutes you would have done push-ups at the 4 min mark, 8 min mark, 12 min mark, the 16 min mark and the 20 min mark. So the faster you run the lesser push-ups… the slower you run the more push-ups.

Treadmill Workout 5:

5 mins Warm-up @ usual running pace.

Turn off the treadmill. Hold on to the front rail and push your feet hard against the conveyor belt to move it. Do this for 30 sec.

Rest 30 sec.

Repeat for a total of 15 rounds.

5 mins Cool down @ slow running pace.

* This move will recruit muscles from your posterior chain (glutes & hams) in addition to your calves and quads. Since this move recruits more muscles the energy expenditure is much more than running and so the 30 sec push (assuming intensity is high) should beat the piss outa you.\

And if you’re looking for some more action…

Peace.

PS: Please exercise caution when stepping on the treadmill when it is on. You’d think this is obvious but you have no idea what people are capable of!

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