~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:
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!
James Villepigue & Hobie Call
Tags: Gaspari Nutrition WOD