Spartan WOD for Tuesday, 8.14.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

~By James Villepique CSCS & Hobie Call

This WOD is a pyramid based, time regulated workout. This means that the exercises are timed, done back to back, and that the monitored rest periods will dwindle.   All that’s needed is a weight plate, a dumbbell, and a staircase next to an area where you can do short bouts of cardio.

This workout will get you into a peak functional fitness, ready to dominate any obstacle race course, or, essentially, any physical task or endeavor that you might find in front of you.

Let’s get to work…

Cycle 1 – 5.5 Mins Per Exercise – 1 Min Rest

Cycle 2 – 5 Mins Per Exercise – 50 Seconds Rest

Cycle 3 – 4 Mins Per Exercise – 40 Seconds Rest

Cycle 4 – 3 Mins Per Exercise – 30 Seconds Rest

Cycle 5 – 2 Mins Per Exercise – 15 Seconds Rest

19.5 Mins Exercise – 3.15 Mins Rest = 22.20 Mins Workout

Weighted Stairs: We start by taking the weight plate into our hands at the bottom of the stairs and preparing for one quick cycle. There are basically two ways you will be going up and down the stairs, straight forward, and sideways.

During both balancing acts, it’s important to keep the weight close in to the body to alleviate some of the excess tension on the lower back, while not babying it,  and to ensure that the weight wont slide here and there making a slip or fall likely.

When going straight up and down the traditional way, go slower if needed, but keep your head up rather than watching your feet. Use solid footing, but don’t stop, all the way up, turn around, and then come back down always keeping the weight in the heels. To increase difficulty, raise the weight plate above the head and hold it there. This will place far more stress on the core, and burn extra calories.

When going sideways, the feet stepping up should alternate, in multiple ways. Not only should the feet take turns in which goes up first, but switch from placing it in front, and in back, of the higher foot. It takes a little getting used to, but the plus side is that you’ll be training your mind and internal balance mechanisms along with the legs, hip complex, and all the slow twitch muscles involved in holding the plate continually against gravity.

Free Form Wall Sits: Too many people do wall sits that allow basically the entire upper body to rest against and lean on the wall. To burn extra calories and increase the work load, do sits in space without a crutch, holding the weight plate either against the chest or above the head.

Squat low, and then sit still for the prescribed amount of time. This not only taps into the slow twitch muscles in the lower body, but again, all the countless muscle fibers, joints, ligaments, and tendons involved in balancing the body and preventing you from going to your knees or falling over.

Intense Cardio: It’s not true that cardio must be extended experiences. While most physiologists will tell you that 12 continuous minutes of exercise that forces you to breathe really hard will do the trick, this workout should keep that happening the entire 20 minutes. The intense cardio can be anything from sprinting, to running in place, or burpees.

Whatever works best for the area you’re in, keeps the body moving at a fast clip, and utilizes drastically increased amounts of oxygen. With this directly in the middle of the circuit, it makes the last half extremely challenging and keeps the muscle tissue in a state of playing catch up in terms of supplying the needed glycogen and filtering lactic acid buildup.

Pilates Plank Kicks: The core is crucial, and planks are the best in terms of suspended animation and prolonged tension, but there’s always room to make things more difficult. Keeping the Pilates principles of maximum body control, deliberate movement, and precision muscle targeting in mind, get down in a traditional plank stand on elbows and toes.

Keep the time split in half between both legs for each bout of this exercise, and alternate kicking one leg like a scissor kick above the ground. This is going to continuously tip your center of gravity, and bring into the mix a plethora of tissue that would otherwise simply be under tension without movement. Within seconds you’ll understand why this is such a popular exercise in Pilates. It burns countless calories by using so much of the body at once, demand body control, and precisely targets integral sections of the musculature that deal with nearly all human movement. These kicks can be done on both sides for the oblique muscles as well.

Creative Dumbbell Press: This one is a little tricky, but a fascinating exercise that nearly everyone gets excited to try upon first being shown. It’s like mixing a one armed dumbbell chest press, a plank with transverse motion, a pushup, and a dumbbell back row into one continuous motion. It’s best to do sets of five per arm before switching, as that will cut down on situational time.

While in a traditional plank position with one hand on the dumbbell, and the other on the ground about shoulder width apart, begin with a pushup. Then, as you come up to full arm extension, bring the dumbbell up and perform a back row. Now, instead of going back down, twist your torso around so that you’re on your heels rather than your toes, wait for the body to square on one arm, and then perform a chest press with the dumbbell.

While at first it will seem awkward for the shoulder joints, when done correctly, deliberately, and slowly at first, you’ll see that it’s actually a rather fluid and natural series of movements. The amount of calories burned and muscles used goes into overdrive. Reps, sets, and weights are good tools, but nothing compares to focused movement and great form.

Afterward all five cycles, the entire body from head to toe should be aching and the post workout oxygen uptake substantially increased for hours. A few tips for maximizing the leaning down potential are to drink extra cold water during rest periods, and eat a post workout meal with plenty of protein saving carbohydrates within 20-40 minutes.

Always remember that working out to lose body fat has a lot to do with training the mind as well, above and beyond the contraction of muscle fibers. The more control of our body we have, the better our form is for whatever we do, from creative compound dumbbell exercises, to sitting up straight in our chair at work or at home.

Because the rest was kept at a minimum and slowly dwindled, the intensity on the musculature was incredible at the molecular level, releasing tons of fat devouring enzymes expediting the breakdown of bloated adipose tissue cells.

Keep Going!

James Villepigue & Hobie Call


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27 Responses

  1. avatar

    I am confused. If you do each exercise for the prescribed amount of time, then cycle one will take over 25 minutes and cycle two will take 25 minutes, cycle 3 20 minutes…total workout will be over an hour and a half….am I correct?

  2. avatar

    Apologies for dumbness but I can’t get my head around this. What is the first cycle? The first exercise, or a circuit?

  3. avatar

    it might just be that it’s early yet but with the cycles and the exercises is it just one exercise performed each cycle or all of them just for a shorter period of time?

  4. avatar

    How long is each individual exercise? “The prescribed amount of time” per exercise isn’t specified. I’m not in the best shape, so 5.5 minutes of free form wall sits seems a bit excessive. But the portion at the top says 5.5 minutes per exercise. That would be nearly 30 minutes to get through each exercise just once.

  5. avatar

    I’m not sure having unsderstood. Do we do each cycle for each exercice ? But that doesn’t drive with your total, or should we do the exercice 1 (weighted stairs) for 5.5 minutes, and after the exercice 2 (Free Form Wall Sits) for 4 minutes, and so on ? Or should we pick up any cycle ?

    • avatar

      I had the same question. For a 22 minute workout, it’s got to be that cycle 1 = exercise 1, cycle 2 = exercise 2, etc. But then why does it say “minutes per exercise” which seems to suggest that you do all of the exercises in each cycle?

    • avatar

      Also misunderstanding this. Anyone who can clarify would be great. If you do each cycle time for each exercise your workout is going to be an 1 hour 37 minutes excluding rest. And I don’t know anyone who can hold a plank for 5.5 minutes (Alex Morgan can do 4). I’d like to assume what Mark said about cycle 1 = exercise one but most WOD’s from Spartan aren’t only 22 minutes of workout.

  6. avatar

    I’m a little confused about this WOD – is it 5.5 min (in cycle 1) per exercise or for the whole set? If its actually per exercise, then the workout time you totaled at the bottom doesn’t add up…help!!

  7. avatar

    How about some pics of the creative dumbbell press? I don’t quite understand the “body to square on one arm”?

    I like the complex exercises you post from time to time in the WOD’s.

  8. avatar

    Yes, I’m confused about the cycle thing too. Is cycle 1, for ex., all exercises completed in 5.5 min. or just the 1st named exercise for 5.5 min? Or did you mean something else?

  9. avatar

    I’m not sure I understand either. Does a cycle consist of all exercises? Or is each cycle one of the exercises you listed? Thanks for the help!

  10. avatar

    I have to agree with Emmanuelle here, I do not quite understand the flow of this WOD. All 5 exercises in 5.5 minutes, each exercise 5.5/4/… or like she said, first exercise is 5.5, second is 4…etc.

  11. avatar

    Looks like a great workout. However, a little more clarity re the time per exercise would be helpful. Does each cycle include all 5 exercises or is each cycle per exercise? Pics of the creative dumbbell press would be helpful as it is a more complicated exercise. Love this one though.

  12. avatar

    Hey gang. Give me a few mins and I’ll clarify everything. Thanks!


  13. avatar

    Sorry gang. I should have done a better job explaining…

    The cycles are meant to be a certain amount of exercise, and then a certain rest period, not a certain amount of time per exercise.

    Instead of, “Per Exercise”, it should say “Work Per Cycle”
    So, the cycles get quicker as you go, and the rest dwindles.

    • avatar

      Okay, so start with the five exercises for 5.5 minutes, rest 1 minute, 5 exercise for 5 minutes, rest 50 seconds, and so forth.

      • avatar

        Yes, but how long on the wall sits, how many plank kicks, how many dumbbell presses…this one is kind of hard to understand :S

    • avatar

      Still a little confused. Are the exercises listed just suggestions, not necessarily “the” list of exercises? If they are what are the reps or times per exercise during the cycle?

  14. avatar

    Still not getting it. Is each exercise one cycle? Is it max reps per cycle?

  15. avatar

    Ok I am just making sure I get this straight as I am a little OC about these things. For the first cycle it is 1min 10sec each exercise, next cycle 1min each and so forth right?

  16. avatar

    Still not getting it…

  17. avatar

    So…if I’m tracking you correctly,

    first cycle we would do each exercise for roughly 1 min 6 sec. which would total 5.5 min.

    second cycle each exercise 1 minute

    third cycle for 48 seconds (48*5)/60 = 4

    fourth cycle 36 sec / exercise

    5th cycle 24 sec / exercise….

  18. avatar

    Thanks everyone for bringing these discrepencies to my attention. Mistakes do happen, but thankfully it’s an easy fix. The goal of this workout is to in about 20 minutes deliver a high level, athletic, and metablically demanding workout.

    The exercises are straight forward enough. I goofed on the W-T-R. So, to clarify, Cycle 1- 5.5 Mins Work – 1 Min Rest at the end.
    Cycle 2 – 5 Mins Work – 50 Seconds Rest etc.

    Finally, thanks so much for all the action in the comments section!

    It’s good to know that you hold us to the same Spartan standards that we expect from you.

    Keep Going!


  19. avatar

    this is so easy to understand, i’m not sure how everyone is freaking out about it. do every exercise for 5.5 minutes each and between the exercises rest for 1 minute. then start over, doing all the exercises for 5 minutes and resting for 50 seconds. keep doing that until you get to the lowest exercise/rest time and then you’re done.

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