Tag Archives: endurance

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.

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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!

Running – The Reality

Note: This post is dedicated to my bud KK – a great entrepreneur, a role model for thousands of students in India, a social worker and an awesome dude in general – who is insane about running but, for whatever reason, never ever listens to me when I talk about training smart! In the interest of keeping my ass from getting ripped, I’ll not go into his history of running injuries!

Let me start off by saying running is awesome! And I’ll be honest with you – I love running! It is one of the most natural human movements, needs literally no equipment/gear, can be done anytime, can be done anywhere and lends itself to progressive improvement! Whats not to love?

Granted I haven’t run much lately but that’s only because it does line up with my goals. But if you’ve read my story, you know I used run a lot – a lot more than is required for my own good! I called it the best activity ever. I encouraged people to run more and invited people on runs and caught up with friends while running and ran many many races. If I have to explain how I feel about running in one word it would be “Home”! Every time I run I felt at home! So familiar, so comfortable, so liberating and always so very my own!

But since my running days, as I have reduced my mileage, I have increased my knowledge about health and fitness and I’ll share that with you today.

The Good

A simple Google search of  ‘Benefits of Running’ will take you to websites that say running does everything from building muscles to preventing cancer to increasing sex drive to slowing down the aging process! While such claims exist from pretty much any physical activity from yoga to olympic lifting, we’ll just stick to the legit potential benefits of running as an exercise.

  • Weight loss
  • Cardiovascular benefits
  • Improved lower body strength
  • Improved fitness

The Bad

Another simple Google search of ‘Drawbacks of Running’, will take you to websites that call running the Satan! In this case too, we’ll stick to the legit potential drawbacks of running for the regular running/fitness enthusiast.

  • Chronic joint pain due to overuse/abuse
  • Muscle wastage
  • Enlargement of the heart resulting in arrhythmia (potentially causing heart attacks)
  • Over-hydration resulting in hyponatremia (potentially resulting in death)
  • Fat storage due to increased cortisol release
  • Increased oxidative stress and systemic inflammation
  • Weakness

Hmmm! Like every other thing in the nutrition and fitness field, this one too has completely opposing views and evidence supporting each view. How can something that makes you fit make you weak? And how can something that builds strength result in muscle wastage? And, for the love of God, how can something that has cardiovascular benefits potentially cause heart attacks? Read on.

The Reality

As weird as it seems, both the benefits and the drawbacks are real! How? It all comes down to three things…

  1. Frequency, volume and intensity of training
  2. Running Technique
  3. Nutrition and hydration

Naturally, if all three are spot on, you will reap most of the benefits of running and almost none of the drawbacks. As you screw up each one of these, you will be gifting yourself to more and more of the drawbacks and hence, none of the benefits. Like everything else, running is an awesome activity… but ONLY when done right and when done in the right amounts! And, again like everything else, running is poison when overdone and/or done wrong! Let me give you 2 examples.

  • You all know how much I love deadlifts and how much I tout its awesomeness. But what happens if I deadlift 7 days a week, twice a day for 100 reps each session at close to max intensity using bad technique? Well, I get messed up and end up with a broken spine is what happens! In other words, I can hurt myself, acutely and chronically, so bad that I might never ever be train again in my life.
  • Everyone knows spinach is awesome and that it has more nutrients than almost any other food item! But what happens if I eat 10 lb of spinach everyday? Two words – Kidney stones!

Similarly, running is an amazing activity with multiple benefits. But what happens if you run multiple times a week for distances longer than you can handle using bad running form at heart rates that are higher than recommended? Well, chronic joint pain, muscle wastage, heart enlargement, fat storage, oxidative stress and weakness! You see what I mean?

Clearly, while the benefits are all super legit, the drawbacks of running are due to a severe case of too-much-of-a-good-thing! So then, running is no different from any other exercise right? Overdoing anything will make it harmful right? So why not warn folks about the perils of eating too  much spinach or about the dark possibilities of  too many deadlift reps? Why the hatred and warning towards running alone?

Because very rarely does one seems to overdo the deadlift or eat spinach by the kilogram, but too many folks seem to over do the running too often! Why? Because… running is one of the most natural human movements, needs literally no equipment/gear, can be done anytime, can be done anywhere and lends itself to progressive improvement! Its kind of sad but, the reasons that make running awesome are the same reasons that make it conducive to overtraining!

So whats the deal then? Can running be a part of a good workout program? What id your recommendation?

The Verdict

Like my answers to all other questions, the answer to this question also changes drastically based on goals and current physical condition!

If you have no goals but run because you enjoy running

  • use your common sense and train for your goal (which is recreation). modify your mileage such that you don’t have any nagging joint/ligament/tendon/muscle pains. This might be 5 miles/week for some and 45 miles/week for others. Find what works for you. Your goal is to be able to enjoy running for a long time to come. So be smart about it and run enough to make yourself better and don’t run so much that you end up in pain all day everyday!
  • invest time in mobility work – I know its boring, but you’ve got to do it!
  • on at least one day during the week, do something that is not endurance – this could be resistance training or yoga or HIT or walking.
  • on at least two days during the week, rest plenty and stretch.
  • eat real food.

If your goal is general health (or longevity)…

  • run moderate distances at a low heart rate (65-70% Max Heart Rate) once a week.
  • run short distances (40-200 m) at a high heart rate (90-95% Max Heart Rate) once a week.
  • do resistance training 1-2 times a week.
  • do yoga once a week
  • eat real food per appetite/hunger

If your goal is fat loss (or to get ripped/shredded or get toned or to have abs)…

If your goal is strength gain (or muscle gain or to get big or to get strong)…

  • drop the distance running
  • lift heavy weights
  • walk for 30-45 min on rest days
  • eat a tonne of real food

If your goal is competitive running

And lastly, if your definition of a workout is running on the treadmill (or “doing” the elliptical/stepper/stationary bike) for 40+ minutes everyday…

  • get off the damn machine
  • meet/make some friends, go outside, run and have some fun. Or, in simpler words, get a life!

There you have it – an honest and legit review on running. Though I work with endurance athletes, this is my first post on running and if there is enough interest I’ll be happy to write more about how to train for your first marathon or how to train to beat your previous best or how to recover from running related injuries or how to fuel yourself right and hence improve performance. Let me know in the comments section.

And considering there are more runners than any other athletes today, I’m sure all of you know folks who are into running. Please share this with them. I’m definitely like to hear their take on this.

Peace out.

Get out

I’d like to kick start this blog with one of my favorite topics… Getting Out of One’s Comfort Zone. The hardest part of any training is the mental game. By mental game I mean the stuff that goes on inside your head when you put your body through stress i.e training. It’s happened to every one of us. When you do a 10k run or a 400m sprint or when you’re lifting heavy sh*t or when you’re holding a hard yoga pose there is a point when your brain goes ‘Why are you doing this to yourself… just chill out!‘. If this has never happened to you… then you just haven’t trained hard enough.

Ever wondered why your brain asks you to quit more often when you’re doing something that you suck at? Well… that’s because people tend to like doing what they’re good at and hate doing what they suck at! But unfortunately that one thing that you avoid doing because you hate it… that’s what is keeping you from reaching your goals.

I, personally, would try anything at least once! I used to run… and nothing but run. From there I moved on to bodybuilding style workouts… and then on to incorporating yoga… and then added compound movements… and then moved on to power lifting style workouts… and then to adding some short high-intensity metabolic conditioning workouts in place of long ass cardio. What has this made me? A mess? Hells no! Today I’m still crazy about running… but I’m also addicted to lifting some heavy junk… I understand how yoga makes me a better athlete… I sprint faster… jump higher and most importantly, I’m injured much less. Overall I am ‘fitter’ than I was a few months back. Being better than yesterday in some form or function should be your greatest goal.

You might be an endurance athlete. Spend Invest time working on strength and high intensity metabolic activities…. I guarantee you better times.
You might be a bodybuilder. Spend Invest time working on yoga and interval training…. I guarantee you lesser injuries and better body composition.
You might be crazy about yoga. Spend Invest time working on strength training…. I guarantee you easier & longer isometric holds.

You think you’re fit because you recently ran a marathon. But wait… there’s more to fitness… there’s ALWAYS more to fitness. There are things you can do that will make you a better runner. ‘Like what’ you ask. ‘Like yoga’ I say… ‘like calisthenics‘ I say… ‘like squats’ I say. There are at least 10 more in the ‘I say’ list. ‘But why should I do all these’ you ask. ‘Because they are so damn good for you’ I say.

Don't be this guy...!

One thing I hear from a lot of my clients:
‘I don’t want to focus on strength training because that will affect my endurance.’ (or vice versa)
Sure it will… that’s temporary though! Look at the big picture. Getting stronger will only help you with your goals and working on your endurance will only help you sustain energy production longer. Strive to be a runner who at the finish line can carry his girlfriend/wife overhead! The women folk can have the same goal… in which case you might have to consider calling yourself a lesbian couple.

Fitness is not specialization. True fitness is a chain… wherein each link is your ability to perform certain feats. And of course… you are only as strong as your weakest link. If you can squat 600lbs but can’t run a mile… you’re of no good to anyone. Similarly if you can run 50miles but cant lift a 100lbs box off the ground… you’re of not much use either.

Do yourself a favor and do the following.

Step 1: Look into your training and find out what you suck at.
Step 2: Step up and do it.
Step 3: Do it more… and then some more.
Step 4: Watch yourself grow.

Working on your weaknesses is THE most important aspect of any training and the shortest way to success. An athlete does what he is good at. A good athlete knows what he is bad at. A great athlete does repeatedly what he is bad at… gets better at it… finds another weakness and so on and so forth.

Check this out. In my book this guy is the God of transformations…!

2002: Anorexic kid weighing 120 lbs (Click here to read about anorexia)
2007: World record holding competitive eater weighing 230 lbs

Click here to read his story

I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be Lance Armstrong or Ronnie Coleman or Furious Pete or Jack Lalanne… but I live, breathe & train to be better tomorrow than I am today. If you train for the same reason… then there is no excuse! Find your weaknesses & make them your strengths.

Ok… I’m off to go work on my flexibility now.
Peace out!

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