This January, the entire month of Spartan WODs was designed as a 31-day workout plan to leave you feeling ripped, ready, and confident to conquer any Spartan Sprint race in 2014. Today, we run outside as we revisit this staple Spartan WOD.  Share this WOD if you plan on completing it today or within the month.

If you want to find the entire months WOD schedule, check out the program and sign up here: http://bit.ly/SpartanBootCamp

Sign up for your Spartan Race today: http://bitly.com/SpartanRACE

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This January, the entire month of Spartan WODs have been designed as a 31-day workout plan to leave you feeling ripped, ready, and confident to conquer any Spartan Sprint race in 2014. Today, we run.  Share this WOD if you plan on completing it today or within the month.

If you want to find the entire months WOD schedule, check out the program and sign up here: http://bit.ly/SpartanBootCamp

Sign up for your Spartan Race today: http://bitly.com/SpartanRACE

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This January, the entire month of Spartan WODs have been designed as a 31-day workout plan to leave you feeling ripped, ready, and confident to conquer any Spartan Sprint race in 2014. Today, we run.  Share this WOD if you plan on completing it today or within the month.

If you want to find the entire months WOD schedule, check out the program and sign up here: http://bit.ly/SpartanBootCamp

Sign up for your Spartan Race today: http://bitly.com/SpartanRACE

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Variations on the Long Run

by Jason Jaksetic

Once a week I plan on performing a long run.  Doing this for awhile now, I’ve come to refer to this weekly activity as the long run.

The long run, once completed, become’s my long run for the week.

What is a/the/my long run?  The long run is the run workout I do once a week that focuses on building my aerobic capacities through prolonged exposure to aerobic conditioning.  Depending on where I am in my fitness, and in my racing season, this could be anything from a 45 minute road run to a 5-hour trail adventure.

The term “long” is in reference to the duration of the workout relative to my other runs of the week, whether measured in distance or time.  For example, if running 25 miles in a week, through workouts of 5, 5, and 15 miles in length, the 15 mile run would be ‘the long run’. If I were running 57 miles in a week, and breaking it down into 5 workouts of 5, 10, 10, 12, and 20 miles, the 20 mile run would be ‘the long run’.

Running long is the theme.  Here are some variations to keep your training fresh from week to week so that you don’t burn out or dread this looming day on your calendar.  Besides, your body will benefit from the different ways you can push your aerobic and anaerobic systems with a long run.

Variations with Time and Space

Think distance, forget about time:  This is a great long run for when you have a particular run course you want to enjoy.  Leave the watch behind.  You will be finished when the miles are run.  There is no rush.  And there’s no reason to slow down either.  Just enjoy the run each step of the way.

Think time, forget about distance:  When traveling this is my ‘go to’ for the long run.  If I am in a new area and know I have the next 90 minutes free, I’ll pick an interesting looking direction and run for 45 minutes, before turning around and running back the way I came.  The goal is to maximize each minute.

Forget about time and distance.  Too often we are slaves to both our watches and our regular routes.  Keep it simple:   Start running.  Run.  Stop running.  Resume normally scheduled life.

 

Variations with Tempo

Start Stong:  After a solid warm up, throw down your first 3-5 miles at race pace.  Then pull in the reigns and ease up into a conversation pace for the rest of your run.

Finish Strong:  After warming up, ease into the first 3 quarters of your run at conversation pace.  Stay loose.  Then, with 3-4 miles to go, drop the hammer.  Negative splits.

Track Intervals at end.  Doing this ensures you will be above a great deal of the competition.  Try and find a long run route that wraps up at a running track.  Running fast on tired legs is different than running fast on fresh legs.  Get some practice running fast at the end of your run by doing some ½ to 1-mile repeats to wrap up your run.  Recover 1–2 minutes between each interval by keeping it to a light jog or even walk.

 

Variations with Strength Building

Carry a sandbag:  Great for building stabilizers.

Wear a weight vest:  Be sure to be gentle on your joints.

Do 10 burpees every mile:  Simulate the race day experience of mixing up lots of strength building burpees into your running.

 

Regardless, of how you want to approach a long run, be flexible and keep an open mind.  Your long run might be determined by how much time you can free up that day.  That’s cool.  Make every second out there count!

 

For more details on training for long distance, check out this blog by Dr. Jeff Godin, of Spartan Coaches.

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by Carrie Adams

We’re back with another installment of some of our biggest stories of 2012!  Not surprisingly, many of our top 10 blog posts dealt with, what else, training and nutrition!  Spartans commit to a healthy way of living and it was clear that our community was paying attention and getting it done.

Some of our biggest blog posts of the year were centered around how to get fit and how to eat right.  In addition to providing resources on our blog, at Spartan HQ, we are trying to make it even easier to get these tips delivered to you, so if you want our daily WOD delivered directly to your inbox for FREE, click HERE.

Here are our three biggest training posts of 2012!

Breaking down the Warm-Up: As our own Spartan Coach manager Jeff Godin, Ph.D. CSCS always says, “Always start your workout with a warm-up.” Although flexibility and unrestricted movement may be important for long term injury prevention, static stretching and flexibility exercises are not an important part of a warm-up. Stretching moves a joint through its full range of motion, however it does this passively and does very little to increase the temperature of muscle. The warm-up should be active and move the joints through their full range of motion. The warm-up progresses from low intensity towards high intensity. For some, the warm-up may actually have them gassed by the end. The benefits of a warm-up include; increased tissue temperature, tissue compliance, energy metabolism, movement efficiency and reduced tissue stiffness. The warm-up can also be used to reinforce fundamental movement mechanics related to speed and agility. The warm-up should emphasize proper foot placement to promote acceleration and prevent deceleration.  Read the rest of the post by clicking HERE.

Spartan Ab 300:  In this post, Dr. Jeff gives a great ab workout for the ages!  300 reps never felt so good!  Click HERE for the full workout and breakdown.

Buck Furpee Day:  The burpee is quintessentially Spartan in that there is nothing wasted in the activity.   It carries with it efficiency,  and, therefore, concentrated effectiveness.  When you train, focus on training – don’t over-complicate things.  When in doubt, do burpees.  How did Buck Furpee Day go down?  Click HERE and find out.

Spartan Race Nutrition:

It should come as no surprise that training, while a critical piece of the Spartan equation, it isn’t everything.  You need the right fuel to get that Spartan body and keep moving!   Whether your goals are to lose weight, get lean, or perform better, nutrition has to be a part of your plan.  And if you’re not sure where to start and you want some help from the Spartan team, we have good news!  Just like our daily WOD’s we offer FREE daily Food tips and recipes as well.  Simply click HERE to get signed up for yours!

Eat to Live: Spartan Performance Nutrition: Not sure what to eat the night before a race?  This popular blog post solves that problem with ease!  Our own Spartan Champion and Chick Rose-Marie Jarry provides her favorite recipe for a pre-race trio.

Click HERE for the full recipe.

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Pacing the Long Run

by Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, creator of www.spartancoaches.com

For many people the thought of the long run seems daunting.  I am not sure why, it is one of my favorite workouts.  The pace is pretty relaxed, conversational, and I usually get to look around and enjoy the scenery instead of focusing on effort. Most people actually run their long runs to fast. To achieve the maximal benefits, the pace should be slow, a lot slower than most would think.

I have discussed the lactate threshold before. The lactate threshold is a measure of exercise intensity. The long run should be conducted at a pace where there is no lactate accumulation, the muscles are 100% relying on aerobic metabolism, and utilizing fat as the primary source of fuel.  It is ideal to have your lactate threshold measured and utilized to calculate training intensities.  However, this may not be feasible or practical for everyone. The next best method is to run based off of your target heart rate.

The first step is to estimate or actually measure your maximal heart rate. To estimate your maximal heart rate use the formula 220 – age. Maximal heart rate declines, on average, about one beat per year. Unfortunately this formula can be off by as much as 12 bpm for some individuals. For example my predicted maximum is 175 bpm, but when I am in the middle of some serious hill training it gets as high as 190 bpm.  Therefor my actual is closer to 190 than it is 175. To actually measure your maximal heart rate, try a graded exercise test. This can be done on a treadmill or on a large hill. You will need a heart rate monitor.  If you are on treadmill, warm-up for 10 minutes then increase your running speed up to a comfortably hard pace (not quite out of breath, could carry on a conversation but would rather not). Increase the grade on the treadmill every 3 minutes until you cannot continue. Outside on a hill, run up the hill at a moderate pace, then repeat the hill at a slightly faster pace. Continue until you can’t run the hill any faster. In both cases, note the highest heart rate achieved during the test.  NOTE: Before engaging in maximal exercise it is always best to check with your physician first to make sure that it is safe for you .

Now that you have either your estimated maximal heart rate or measured  maximal heart rate you will calculate your target heart rate for your long runs. Long runs should be run at an intensity that corresponds to about 65-70% of your maximal heart rate.  For me, that corresponds to a long run training heart rate of 123-133 bpm.

Don’t be fooled by the intensity of the workout, it is about putting in the miles and getting in time on your feet. You have other workouts during the week that will include work at higher intensities.  Enjoy the long run for what it is:  a long distance, moderate effort.

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Spartan WOD for Tuesday, 12.12.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

By James Villepigue, CSCS

This WOD goes out to all the Spartans out there that for whatever reason, find themselves forced to train in the gym.

Additionally, for those who are a member at a gym that doesn’t have an indoor or outdoor track. I understand what it means to depend on the treadmill for cardio. This WOD is about turning a typical treadmill and a set of dumbbells into a metabolic extravaganza. Here is what one circuit looks like:

1)  Interval Dumbbell Farmer Walks: 2 Cycles

2)  Dumbbell Burpees x 12

(1 Minute Rest)

3)  Sprint Intervals: 2 Cycles

4)Dumbbell Clean & Presses x12

(1 Minute Rest)

5)  Single Arm Farmer Walk Intervals: 2 Cycles 1Per Arm

6)  Alternating Dumbbell Lunges x 20

(1 Minute Rest)

This is going to be fast paced, and will only require enough room around the treadmill to be able to get down into the burpees and lunges. The intervals will go quickly, and so will the sets of exercises, but physiologically you’ll be asking a truck load from your body and central nervous system.

There will some other time for chit chat, but not when you tackle this. The rest periods will seem to fly by. Control your breathing, pace yourself, and treat this WOD like it’s the last one you’ll do as final prep for a hardcore race.

We’ll be challenging your muscular endurance, cardiovascular stamina, mental strength, and fitness level big time. Shoot for three sets as is, without adding any extra rest. It may take a little time to get used to the controls on your treadmill, but once you’ve got it down the transitions between types of intervals should only take seconds to get going.

Grab your dumbbells and get ready…

Interval Dumbbell Farmer Walks: 2 Cycles

What you need to do is set the downtime interval to 1 minute, and the uptime interval to 3 minutes. Both together are considered one cycle for this exercise, so four minutes total per cycle.

The pace for both should be about 3.0-3.3. Then set the uptime elevation to a pretty high level. Go as high as you’re comfortable, but take this as an opportunity to prep for steep hills.

Grab your dumbbells, and these should be a moderate weight for both men and women, or between 25-40lbs. Hop on, start it up, and get ready for the hill. Once it hits, dig deep, revel in the strain in your shoulders and forearms, and resist the urge to lurch forward. Stand up tall, control your breathing, and focus. Stand up straight and go with it.

 

Dumbbell Burpees x 12 :

As soon as you’ve completed the third minute of uptime and it drops back down, stop the tread mill and get ready to do some dumbbell assisted burpees.

 

These are great full-body exercises that keep your heart rate up, muscles pumping, and endorphins flowing. When you drop down, try to make it more of a deadlift pose into the plank than a bending over.

 

While on the ground, as usual, feel free to add pushups, rows, or whatever you like to increase the difficulty. Also, when you come up from them, keep the deadlift posture in mind to get the hamstrings into the muscular chorus.

 

Sprint Intervals: 2 Cycles

For these intervals you’re going to be forced to draw on reserves. Adapt and overcome! Again, set the down time to 1 minute, and the sprints to 3 minutes.

Now, I don’t want you to be that person who everyone can hear almost breaking the treadmill around the entire gym. Set it at a bit more than a moderate pace that 9 out of ten people would call a full on run.

You can add elevation if you like, but I wouldn’t recommend anything more than slight. The importance is to sustain two bursts of energy that push you beyond your energy threshold.

 

Dumbbell Clean & Presses x12:

These are going to be rough. Suck it up, and do them with good form, you’re almost half way done!

Bring them from hanging in front of your knees, slightly in front of the hips, up to your shoulders as you squat down keeping your back straight, and then thrust up to the sky! Like the man in the picture, add that little extra push by going up onto to the tips of your toes without losing balance.

 

Single Arm Farmer Walk Intervals: 2 Cycles 1Per Arm

What makes these a challenge is walking with weight on only one side of the body, while going up and down in the intervals. It’s something that poses different physiological force manipulation obstacles that we don’t normally face.

Keep the same settings as the first set of farmer’s walks, but slow things down a bit. It’s too easy to strain something if you’re in too big of a hurry. You’re going to do two cycles, so switch the weight accordingly so that both sides of your brain and body have to grapple with it.

Alternating Dumbbell Lunges x 20: Once you’re done with those, I want you to do 20 lunges and try to mix up the plane of motion between frontal, lateral, and transverse.

Additionally, stick with only one dumbbell instead of picking up the other.

The lunges will be a bit more challenging with weight on one side of the body. Switch the weight back and forth, and pose as much of a challenge to your internal balance and stabilization mechanisms as possible. Feel free to do presses as you go into the lunges as well for increased demand.

Keep Going!

James Villepigue CSCS

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Spartan WOD for Monday Dec 3rd, 2012

This week’s WOD is an outdoor interval training and bodyweight powerhouse. We’re going to incorporate a pyramid structure of full-body workouts in sets of two. Here is what the basic breakdown looks like. The numbers, for example 40/40, means forty seconds of both exercises in the set, and then you move onto the next one. They scale down as you go, but it works out to a really effective workout.

Here we go…

1st Interval Cycle: 40/40

Jog to Sprint

Plank to Sits

Crawling to Lunges

Flutter to Scissor Kicks

14 Alternating 1-leg Burpees

 

2nd Interval Cycle 30/30

Jog to Sprint

Plank to Sits

Crawling to Lunges

Flutters to Scissor Kicks

13 Alternating 1-leg Burpees

 

3rd Interval Cycle 20/20

Jog to Sprint

Plank to Sits

Crawling to Lunges

Flutters to Scissor Kicks

12 Alternating 1-leg Burpees

 

4th Interval Cycle 10/10

Jog to Sprint

Plank to Sits

Crawling to Lunges

Flutters to Scissor Kicks

10 Alternating 1-leg Burpees

 

Ideally you should complete all four cycles of interval training without any specific rest periods. As long as you keep moving, it’s fine, but shoot for as little down time as you can manage.

If you’ve done things correctly, by the time you reach the last cycle, you’ll be struggling to make it through even ten second intervals.

1) Jog to Sprints: We’re starting with jogging, and this should serve as your warm up. There is no need to stretch or do anything beforehand, aside from some basic hopping, or slow pace knee-high jogging in place.

At the forty second mark you should take off like a cheetah that’s been juiced with 100 CCs of pure adrenaline. Make sure to prepare your mind and body before it happens though, as this will give your neuromuscular system the preparatory messages. Forty seconds may not sound like a whole lot, but for most people it should be nearly impossible to go at 100% the entire time.

Keep it as hardcore as you can, concentrate on your breathing, and do everything you can to still the hectic convulsions of your mind. The body thinks you’re either running after prey, or you’ve in danger of being something’s dinner.

2) Planks to Sits: You’re going to start in regular plank position. As long as you keep your butt down, I don’t care what you do while you’re suspended against gravity. You could shift to your obliques, shift around on your toes, whatever. Just make sure you are clenching your core and your glutes, and giving it everything you got.

After you’ve reached the interval time, hop up, and get down in a free-form wall sit position and stay there. There will be no placing of the hands on the knees, because the point is to sustain as much tension as possible.

For the most muscular benefit during the longer intervals, it’s wise to gracefully move from one angle to another. Make this an active isometric contraction.

3) Crawling to Lunges: I would like you to get creative with the direction of not only your crawls, but your lunging as well. Don’t get stuck in forward momentum because life, like obstacle course engineers, loves to throw curve balls. What I would rather you concentrate on are angles.

Basically you need to stay in a crawling position and keep moving until time is up. Then, get up and go straight into continuous lunges in both lateral and reverse angles. Don’t be in such a hurry during any of this that you sacrifice form and risk injuring something.

4) Flutter to Scissor Kicks: Get down on your butt, put your hands wherever is most comfortable, and start with some full-body flexing flutter kicks. These should be fast but controlled; extremely tacking on the mid-section.

The scissor kicks should also be at a decent clip. Switch the top and bottom feet every repetition, and have a nice wide gate. To make them more challenging, slightly lift the upper body a few inches off the ground and use it as leverage. This balancing act compounds the pressure on the core.

5) 1-Leg Burpees: These are pretty self-explanatory. It’s a pretty simple adjustment that very few people take advantage of. On the course, you’re body is moving and adapting organically.

Try to simulate this in as many exercises as possible. All too often it only takes a slight change to incorporate more internal balance and stabilization mechanisms.

Make sure that you’re alternating which leg you go down on, and again, once you get down there, you can do anything you want, but try to get in a few fast paced ones as well. It will provide a challenge to your body that it is most likely far from accustomed to.

Keep Going!

James Villepigue CSCS

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Spartan WOD for Wednesday 11.28.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

~By James Villepique CSCS & Hobie Call

For this week’s WOD, it’s time to really turn it up a notch, and push the body through any mental comfort zones. To win and to overcome, one must be able to demonstrate they’re more than they seem to be, while seeming to be more than they really are.

The workout below is about two things; challenging the central nervous system with complex movements, and weight distributions it isn’t used to. We’re going to be pushing maximum oxygen uptake and cardiovascular endurance. Obstacle Course cravers are about progressive fitness, and this set of exercises delivers just that. Intense variation isn’t only about going from one traditional exercise to the next, it’s also about compounding exercises to incorporate the use of the entire musculature at once.

You’ll be performing a vast array of exercises, but they can be broken down into four. There’s nothing wrong with mixing four traditional exercises together and molding one that’s unique and extra challenging. When off the course and training, we get to make the rules, and define our grit.

Ideally, for a hardcore session, 5 circuit sets should be done with the exercises back-to -back and minimal rest. For those that love structure, a breakdown on a good use of rest is supplied at the end of the workout. Each set should be at least 12 reps of continuous motion. Rest in between exercises rather than between reps.

I could list the muscles this workout puts under strength building strain, or I could just sum it up in three words: all of them.

Let’s Get Into This…

Before tackling this circuit, make sure you have a bench press and some room close by with dumbbells ready so there are no interruptions. On average three to five revolutions should take no more than forty minutes, but internally strive for the best time possible. This workout is an obstacle course for the body itself.

Here’s Your Movements List…

1-  Front Barbell Squats-First things first; form. Make sure that the weight is directed straight down the kinetic chain into the heels.

Leaning forward, even slightly, with a weighted barbell in front of the body is disastrous for the lower back. The weight should be moderate; for men 95-115lbs and women 30-60lbs. It’s wise to use Olympic size barbells, typically found on the bench press. Additionally, doing them while standing over the bench itself isn’t a bad idea. This way you can go down to a sitting position, and then stand back up. It reduces risk and typically allows for more reps, but don’t lock the knees. Make sure to keep the back straight and head up, and let the barbell rest comfortably on the shoulders across the neck line.

While most people think this is primarily a leg workout, it’s not. Actually, because the weight is where it is, the core is heavily engaged to steady the body in space, especially when coming back up. Remember to breathe with each rep and keep your eyes pointed straight ahead.

2-  One-Legged Dumbbell Step-up – These weights should be moderate, because after you’ve stepped onto the elevated surface, you’re going to perform a hammer bicep curl and shoulder press.

To drastically increase the difficulty, and force the central nervous system to become truly occupied, do them with only one weight at a time. Furthermore, make sure that the leg you choose to step up with is the opposite one from the arm holding the dumbbell. This way, it causes the internal balance and stabilization mechanisms to join the party, especially while the curl and press motions are occurring.

Sometimes during training, people forget that there are far more muscles in the body than the major muscle groups, and the ones that can be seen. An exercise like this instigates neural signals to muscles of all sizes throughout the body, from the joint capsules and tendons, to ligaments and supportive muscles.

3-  Dumbbell Burpees w/ Lunge – Directly after the step-ups, you’re going to keep the tension on the legs and abdomen going. The more of the overall exercise that can be fit into one continuous and fluid movement, the better the results will be. This means good form and determined motions are a must.

If the weights are on the lighter side, then you can add some pushups, and dumbbell back rows to the burpees. Afterwards, before going into the lunges, they could also be used for any number of upper body exercises like curls or presses as well.

Additionally, to make the alternating lunges more difficult, only bring one dumbbell up from the burpee. Doing lunges with weight on only one side of the body is going to increase the metabolic demand. Our thinking muscle is arguably the most important tool at our disposal on the obstacle course; train it.

With this exercise heavy weight can be safely used. You’ll have to cut out some of the extra exercises though. However, with the heavier weights a half-squat can be executed when coming up from the burpee, and it makes the lunges far more intense on the glutes. Remember, form is always, and in all ways, more important and beneficial than weight alone.  

4-  Barbell Bicep Curl to Squat – This exercise is a combination of barbell bicep curls and front squats. Try as hard as possible to make it one fluid movement as well, from the moment the bicep curl begins to the moment you come back up from the squat. In a way, when done correctly, it feels like a type of inverted snatch.

Beware of swaying. Use the lower back as little as possible during the curl. Rather than simply going along with gravity, do everything on purpose. Imagine how effective it would be if you could do it in slow motion. For most people one rep of this compound exercise takes about 2-4 seconds. What if you could stretch it to 10-15 without ceasing movement? This cannot be stressed enough: heaving weight pales in comparison to the deliberate manipulation of stress and proper form.

Active Recovery is Better Than Rest

Going from these intense and taxing exercises to standing or sitting still isn’t a good idea, and it’s counterproductive. Instead, keep an eye on the clock and follow the prescribed active recovery times below. In between rounds, do these exercises that keep the heart pumping, but give the muscles some time to refill their glycogen stores.

Active Recovery Exercises

1st Round - Go up to a wall and do some bouncing pushups. This isn’t going to require much effort from your recovering body, but the activity will keep your muscles warm and prepared for the next bout of exercise.

2nd Round - Because of the type of muscle tissue in the abdomen, it can be used and abused more than almost any other muscle group. Perform a plank during this recovery phase to really engage the abdominal muscles and core.

3rd Round - Take a minute to stretch any muscles that are tightening up or knotting. Some good preventative stretching ideas for these exercises would be the thighs, hips, and chest.

4th Round - Rehydrate, but don’t drink too much and then do some torso twists to loosen up the abs. Some jumping is a great idea to keep those muscles warm while maintaining your elevated endorphin levels for the last set.

If you make it through the 5th round, congratulations! Remember not to sit down or rest just yet. Your heart will benefit with a short cool down. Go for a short walk and cool it off.

Active Recovery Times at the End of Each Round

1st Round – 2.5 Minutes
2nd Round – 1.5 Minutes
3rd Round – 1 Minute
4th Round – 45 Seconds

Pre and Post Workout Recommendations

This workout is geared towards strength endurance over brute force. Therefore, a meal consisting of clean complex carbs (fruits, vegetables, berries, etc.) protein, and fat should be eaten about an hour before hand. The portions should be roughly 60% carbs – 20% fat – 20% protein.

After the workout a blended shake with close to the same portions of carbs, protein, and fat should be consumed within 30 minutes for best results. Also, keep in mind that the metabolism is going to go into overdrive for hours after this routine, so adequate amounts of calories are needed, especially protein saving fats; mono and polyunsaturated are best.

As always, if at any point during the circuit, you feel dizzy, nauseous or you cannot catch your breath, please be smart and stop! Take the time to assess your condition.

If you haven’t already, get yourself a timer. Here is a great GymBoss App that I found:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gymboss-2-interval-timer/id500887448?mt=8

Check out the brand new BodyBuilding.com obstacle race training section that I just put together with the support of my awesome team at Gaspari Nutrition. Spartan Race is now being recognized as the most competitive and rugged obstacle race in the world. Please check out the new BB.com section, “Like” and share it with your friends and loved ones!

Keep Going!

James Villepigue & Hobie Call

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Spartan WOD for Tuesday, 11.20.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

By James Villepique CSCS

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.

—Abraham Lincoln

 

This week’s WOD is going to be something different for all those Spartans out that that supplement their outdoor conditioning inside the gym. I’m going to throw a workout at you that’s actually rare to find anymore, despite the facts that isometric training is a great plateau buster, and rewards those who do it regularly with big gains in strength.

The first thing many Spartans new to isometric contractions realize when they’re first exposed to them, is that they’re metabolism goes through the roof and their heart rate shoots up but they’re not actually moving any muscles!

Typical rep based exercises take time to tap into all of your muscle tissue, but isometric contractions cause the brain to engage them all at once. We’re going to hit every part of the body, and I mean every. Because when you think about it, there is a ton of isometric type challenges in obstacle racing. Here’s what we’re going to do:

 

-  Isometric Seated Rows
-  Isometric Bench Press
-  Isometric Core Exercise
-  Isometric Pull Ups
-  Isometric Squats

While I only listed one core exercise, in truth, most isometric contractions incorporate tons of musculature, including the core, so they’re actually all going to tax your abdomen. The work to rest ratio is pretty simple with these.

 6 x 10 second holds each = 5 Minutes Isometric Contraction

30 Seconds of rest between each rep

2 Minutes rest between each exercise

 

Let’s Do This…

1) Isometric Seated Rows

What you’re shooting for here is to be able to maintain perfect form while holding onto really heavy weight. This means your back is up straight, core engaged, head up tall, shoulders back and squared, and knees bent.

Furthermore, at no time during this exercise should your knees lock out.

Experiment with the weight first, and find something that’s challenging to hold onto for 10 seconds, but not so heavy that you might lose grip and smash the entire stack of weights. Push it though, find a weight that’s on the edge, and that will cause your brain to tap into everything you got, from your hands, through your entire body.

The type of handle that works best is one that keeps the hands closer together rather than really wide.

Once the weight is where it should be, grab the handle, lean back to get the weight up, and then slowly come forward until you are in a good kinetic posture. Hold for ten seconds, then set the weight back down, rest, and repeat.

2) Isometric Bench Press

This shouldn’t be done without assistance. Even if you’re a complete loner, there’s bound to be someone in the gym that will spot you for a couple minutes. I would! Chances are this will be something new, and they may even want to try it themselves.

Here is why you need help: you need to have more on the barbell than you can physically bench even once. Yes. For a minutes worth of time, you will be telling your body that you need it to adapt and become stronger than it currently is.

Make absolutely sure the other person has both hands on the bar 100% of the time. But don’t go crazy, it just needs to be more than you can bench press, not 500 lbs.

They should help you lift off, and then lower the bar a few inches so that your elbows aren’t locked out. Now you just hold for a solid ten count. As you approach the sixth rep, it’s going to be hard, and as long as you’re ever so slowly lowering the bar, that’s fine.

If it gets to the point where the weight is likely to drop down quickly because of muscle fatigue or failure, then stop and lighten the load.

3) Isometric Core Exercise

You can do these either with your hands alone, on some bars, rings, or with your hands up on some dumbbells. I like to use the dip machine, but facing out. As you can see by the picture, your hands should be directly below your butt around your hips.

You’ll know what muscles it’s going to take within seconds. This is one of those core workouts that show you what you’re made of. Remember to breathe! Once you master the ability to fully flex your abdomen and breathe from the diaphragm, you’re in good shape.

It’s ok to lock out your elbows on this one. It becomes challenging when you begin to mess around with the leverage your hip position creates. For example if you shift forward, and have a completely straight back vs. a quasi crunch pose.

4) Isometric Pull Ups

I’d like you to mix it up between over and underhand positions with these. The idea is to get your chin above the bar, and hold. When I first started these I was actually shocked by how much my body shook. I’m trying to think, and I don’t know of a single upper body muscle that isn’t fully engaged.

Once you master these guys and can sit up there like that for a while before feeling any real tension, begin messing around with your lower body. As you add movement, things will pick up intensity. Why not add in a mid-air L-sit position?

These are a great first stepping stone on the way to solid regular pull-ups and muscle ups.

5) Isometric Squats

I advise you to use the squat cage with safety measures in place. You’re only going to go down a little bit and then hold. It’s fine not to go back up and put it on the pegs, just slowly lower it onto the safety bar and back away.

I looked all over for a better picture but couldn’t find one. So picture yourself in the squat cage and only go about as low as you see there. You should pick a weight that is very challenging to hold, but not so heavy you can’t.

Boom, the second you engage every strand is working and tensed. You’ll get the same amount of metabolic work done as you would if you did three sets of ten reps with a more typical weight.

Keep Going!

James Villepigue CSCS

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