When I train people, I only have an hour. I like to make that hour as efficient as possible. I also like to make the workouts challenging as possible within the realms of my clients capabilities. Over the years I’ve been introduced or come up with my own ways to make a workout not only time consuming and challenging, but also engaging as well. What do I mean by engaging? If you’re a little more experienced in fitness, you’re drawn to the workout in the sense that you’re pushing yourself to achieve a certain time or quantity of reps throughout the workout.
Typically I’ll do these types of workouts if I’m looking to increase strength as well as raise the heart rate and work capacity. I won’t do this if I’m working solely on max strength. As you’ll see in these different types training, you’re going to be working and it’s going to be very taxing on the body. You’re not going to go for a max lift when your body is under duress.
BUT, if you’re looking to challenge yourself, here are some ways you can go about it. Here we go!
1. Combining Ascending And Descending Rep Sets
You’ll be doing one exercise with a rep count of 1,2,3,4…10 and another movement 10,9,8,7…1. There are a few different ways you could do this.
A. Opposing Muscle Groups — If you really want to work upper body or lower body to fatigue, this could be fun. Try doing 1–10 push ups and 10–1 pull ups. So you’ll do 1 push up, and 10 pull ups, then 2 push ups with 9 pull ups, etc. All the way up to your last set at 10 push ups and 1 pull up.
Or try doing squats and kettle bell swings. Whoa! These both will get nasty quick. Here’s one below we did on a beach in Nicaragua with scissor jumps and burpees. We did 10–8–6–4–2 on scissor jumps and 2–4–6–8–10 on burpees. It’s amazing how difficult the burpees got as our legs got fatigued from the scissor jumps.
B. Different energy systems — Try doing a strength move with a cardio based movement. Do 20–2 Calories on a Ski Erg with 1–10 Pull Ups. So that would be 20 calories Ski Erg with 1 pull up. Then 18 calories on Ski with 2 pull ups. Good Luck!!
With any of these you’re going to really see how the different movements or types of movements affect each other and how working the different energy systems will affect you as well. Get creative! You can think of different areas you want to work and make up a workout around it to push yourself. Also, you should be challenging yourself with these in the sense that you want to be getting it done in the least amount of time and heaviest weight as possible.
2. Alternating Unilateral Movements
What you’re doing here is working one side of your body individually, and at the same time. What? You’re training both of your arms and/or legs at the same time, but you’re elongating the work by having one arm or leg doing more work than the other, then switching. What we’re trying to increase here is Time Under Tension (TUT), it is often talked about as a great way of building strength and mass. It’s exactly what it says, the amount of time you’re muscles are under tension during an exercise or movement. Alternating unilateral movements is a GREAT way to increase TUT for your GAINZ!
There are many ways you can go about this….
A. Alternating lunges– Holding weight or not, do 10 reverse lunges on one leg, then 10 lunges on the opposite leg. If you’re up to it, do 8,6,4,2. So while you’re holding weight, you’ve done 10 on each leg, keep going with the 8 down to 2. All in, this little workout may take up to 2 minutes if you use a difficult weight.
B. Alternating Unilateral Lat Pulls — On this one you could either hold the cables up or if you want to make it more difficult, bring the cables to your shoulders and one arm will work while the other hand continues to hold the weight down. Again, if you want to make it very difficult, do 10, 8,6,4,2 on each arm. You can see below, my client holds the cables down by his shoulders.
C. Alternating Shoulder Press — Either seated or standing, you keep the weight at your shoulders and do presses. If you really want to make it fun, hold the dumbells up and do shoulder presses with one arm as the other arm is extended.
3. Interval Weight Training
This was introduced by the Russians as a great way to increase strength and cardiovascular ability. It’s been made popular by a few others like Dan John and Pat O’Shea. Done correctly, this can be horrible, or as I say before a tough workout, “this is gonna suck.”
The proper way to do a IWT is one full body strength movement followed by 1–4 minutes of an intense cardio movement. I typically stick with 1 and 2 minute intervals. So you would do 8–12 reps of a front squat, power clean, or something similar followed immediately by a 2 minute row, ski, or bike. You will rest for 2 minutes and then you will repeat. 3 times.
Here are some things that you have to be certain of: One, you have to be going 80% + on the cardio. Two, you have to, or TRY to, keep the same output for each of the three cardio components. Meaning, if you’re doing a 2 minute row, the standard is 600 meters at Gym Jones (where I learned this madness), which is very hard to do. Your goal is to hit above or around 600 meters for all three intervals. You do not want to hit 600 your first round, then 550 meters, then 520 meters. One thing is assured by the third round you’ll be wishing for longer rest.
That’s just a few ways I have up my sleeve to get the most out of my people to help them learn how strong and capable they truly are. If you have any questions on how these work or you want some ideas, just hit me up! I have plenty and after you do a few, you’ll be coming up with your own.