Target the Weak Links with this Simple Program

You've probably seen or heard of some of these workouts, kettlebells and sandbags are the rage now.  Other versions may use heavy ropes, beer kegs, sledge hammers, or balls filled with water. The idea is to challenge your body, brain and muscles to produce force under different and more challenging circumstances, to get you out of your workout rut.  This workout, which I developed for a few of my advanced clients, uses typical gym equipment.  It is appropriate for someone who has been working out for a few years, and wants some integrated exercises to target the core, stabilizer muscles and wrists and forearms - the often neglected weak links.  If you've had any recent problems with wrists or elbows (ie, tennis or golfers elbow), these exercises may not be appropriate for you. 

Each exercise will use either a body bar or barbell gripped in the center to increase the challenge.  Warm up first, select a much lower weight that you would ordinary work with, and make sure that you allow adequate space between other members and yourself.  Begin the program at a weight where you can do 12-15 repetitions, and if you experience any discomfort at the joints reduce the weight or discontinue the program,

Single Arm Chest Press Using Barbell (or Body Bar) - grip barbell in center and exercise each side in individually.  Progression:  Single Arm Chest Press on Stability Ball Using Barbell.

Single Arm Bent Over Row Using Barbell (or Body Bar) - grip barbell in center and exercise each side in individually.  Progression:  Single Arm Bent Over Row Standing on one Leg Using Barbell

Lateral Raise Using Body Bar - grip body bar in center and exercise both Sides.  Progression:  Lateral Raise Using Body Bar Standing on One Leg

Single Arm Biceps Curl Using Barbell (or Body Bar) - grip barbell in center and exercise each side in individually.  Progression:  Single Arm Biceps Curl Standing on one Leg Using Barbell

Triceps Kickback Using Body Bar - bend over and maintain a neutral spine, grip body bar in center and exercise both sides. Progression:  Triceps Kickback Using Body Bar Standing on One Leg

You may experience Delayed Muscle Soreness for 1-2 days after starting this workout, because you are using muscles in a different way and activating more muscle fibers.  Try it, let me know how it works or if you have any questions.


If any of these points apply, then this is the workout for you..

- Stuck on the same machines or exercises for a while and aren't getting the results you want
- Advanced your program but need a few new moves to kick it up a notch
- Haven't been working out regularly and need to step it up

or maybe you're just looking for something different?

This workout is appropriate from the beginner/intermediate level and above, and is a total body exercise circuit.  That means you're using big muscles, a lot of muscles and you're working almost non stop to maximize results.  Warm up first, and select or set weights so that you can do two sets of 15-20 repetition of each exercise.  I've given you the basic exercises, and in some cases a progression to make it more challenging.

Single Leg Press - This is one of my favorite exercises for people who sit a lot.  Use about half the weight you normally would and pay extra attention to keeping the toe, knee and hip in alignment as you perform the leg press.  Push out through your heel and feel the fire in your glutes.

Scaption - This exercise is similar to a lateral raise but works muscles that help your posture in the shoulder area.  Use very light weights, hold them in front of your thighs in a thumbs up position and draw in the abdominal muscles.  Raise the arms in a V, maintaining a 45 degree angle, stop at shoulder height and slowly bring the weights down to starting position.  As you do scaption, you should feel the contraction between your shoulder blades.  Progression:  single leg scaption.

Pushups on a Bench - Face the bench so that the long side is in front of you, place your palms down on the bench spread wide, and spread your feet wide.  Pull the abdominal muscles tight and perform the push-up, and try to touch the chest to the bench.  It should be slightly easier to do a full push-up this way compared to on the floor.  Progressions:  Floor push-up; regular push-up with feet on a BOSU ball.

Squat with Cable Rope Row - Attach the rope handle to the cable machine at about waist level, grip the handle with the boots of each hand, and step back far enough to create a space between the plates.  Slowly squat down and as you rise back up pull the rope back into the row.  Progression:  Squat with Single Arm Cable Row.

Cable Triceps Pulldown - Attach the straight or easy bar to the cable machine at a high level, place palms up shoulder width apart and grip the bar.  Keep the elbows by your sides directly below the shoulder, and perform the exercise by pulling the bar down and resisting as it rises.  Progression:  Cable Triceps Pulldown on Balance Board.

Step Up Balance and Curl - Use a step or box and a pair of dumbells lighter than those you normally use for biceps curls.  Draw in your abdominals, step onto the box and balance on one leg.  The leg you're standing on should have a bent knee, the other knee should be raised, Perform one biceps curl in the position, step down and alternate.  Progression:  higher box; face sideways and work one side at a time.

This is the kind of workout that almost anybody can do, yet even the most advanced reader will find it quick, efficient and effective.


Interval Training: Burn More Calories. Improve Performance. Reduce Exercise Time.

Yes this sounds almost too good to be true.

Interval Training involves alternating between higher and lower intensity in your cardio workout. It could be right for you if you have a good cardio base and want to improve performance or results. If you're just beginning to train, we start by getting your cardio base established first, and prepare your body for the demands of this training. A cardio base is usually established with moderate exercise, 60-70% of your maximum heart rate or a rate of perceived exertion of about 5-6 on a scale of 10*. (A simple estimate of your maximum heart rate is 220-your age, I can give you a better estimate if you give me your age and resting pulse).

Research shows that Interval Training burns more calories than training at a steady rate, partly because it raises your metabolism for 2-3 hours after you stop exercising. The scientific term for this phenomenon is EPOC for Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption. It also seems to cause molecular changes in the muscle that increase fat burning. Interval Training may also improve your performance by increasing your body's ability to remove lactate from the bloodstream, so it can help well-trained people get to the next level. This point is often described as reaching your anaerobic threshold or "going anaerobic". Scientists now believe that "going anaerobic" is a myth, - along with "the myth of the Fat Burning Zone." Remember that you burn more TOTAL calories in the cardio zone than in the fat burning zone, and interval training can help you get there. Numerous studies have shown that for many people, interval training produces better results in less time than steady state aerobic training.

A typical starting interval training program might consist of a warmup followed by 60 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 90 seconds of recovery at a lower intensity repeated about ten times. As you become more conditioned, decrease the recovery to 60 seconds. In more advanced programs, the high intensity intervals can be 2-3 minutes long, with rest periods equal to or less than the high intensity interval. High intensity exercise generally means that your heart rate is 75-85% of maximum, and the recovery rate is about 60%. To use rate of perceived exertion, you should feel that you're at about 8-9 on a difficulty scale of 1-10 in the high intensity period, and about 5-6 in the lower intensity period.

You can do interval training on any cardio equipment, or with other activities such as running or jumping rope. Beginners may get their heart rate up with walking on a treadmill and varying the incline, while very fit people will need to do something more challenging.


Special Feature: Interview with NYSC Spin Master Rob Merluza

A snowstorm in February provided a long-awaited opportunity for me join one of Rob's spin classes at NYSC Wall Street --- his classes and my evening schedule are usually totally booked. We followed up with an interview:
Q: What's the Goal of Your Class? My classes are tailored to maximize effectiveness in 45 minutes. The focus is high intensity interval training, one of the best ways to maximize results.

Q: What Sets your Classes Apart? The thing I'm known for is that my classes simulate an outdoor ride, simulate real hill climbs. To round out the experience and make it enjoyable, I use tailor each song to the exercise, providing a nice rhythm and beat to accompany the ride.

Q: How do you keep it going? My classes focus on different areas such endurance, strength with increasing resistance, staying in the aerobic zone. I throw in a kicker - sprints - to get the class into a higher zone, increase heart rate and calorie expenditure, really tax the system. Throughout, I'm always cognizant of providing adequate recovery between sprints and intervals.

Q: What else can your students expect to learn? I touch on proper form and technique, improved pedal stroke, body alignment and positioning - so that the body works in synergy with the bike.

Q: Can you tell us some of the benefits of your class? Beginners can expect to burn about 400 calories in a class. They may not do all sprints or have endurance to maintain a high energy level throughout, but will feel a sense of accomplishment, get a good workout, and begin building their aerobic base. Moderate to Advanced students can burn 500-800 calories. I focus on challenging them to increase resistance, go harder on sprints, and maintain a high level of intensity.

Q: What about results? I've had members who've lost 30-100 pounds - including one of your clients who combined my spin classes with your strength training program and had great results. They also gain increased endurance, improved strength and leaner appearance. With advanced riders and triathletes, I focus on creating a "strong engine" for the ride - a combination of form, position, pedal stroke and aerobic base.

Rob's Spin classes are Thursday at 6PM and Friday at 530PM at NYSC Wall Street, advance reservations required call 212.482.4800.


Training by the Numbers: Exercise Guidelines to Reach Your Goals

How much do I have to exercise? A minimum of 20-30 minutes a day or 150 per week, double that to see real change

How quickly can I lose weight? Figure on 1-2 pounds per week for safe, effective weight loss

How often can I do cardio? Every day, as often as you like - as long as you're not in pain

How often can I strength train? Give your muscles a day off to recover and grow; you can do a total body workout every other day or split the routine and alternate the muscles that work and rest

How long does it take to see muscle growth? It takes about 16 strength training sessions over several weeks to see an increase in size

How do I increase muscle size? 3-5 sets with weighs that you can lift in a range of 8-12 repetitions

What if I just want to tone? Try 1-3 sets with weights that you can lift in a range of 12-20 repetitions

How about getting really strong, like increasing my bench press? Usually you'll want to be doing 3-6 sets with a weight that you can lift in a range of 1-8 repetitions, with long rests in between

How often should I change my routine? At least every 4-6 weeks, because your body adapts and you'll hit a plateau

Which is the best form of cardio? For most people, the one you enjoy most

What should my heart rate be while exercising? The simple answer for most pregnant, healthy people is this formula: (220-age)x70-75%. Higher or lower levels may not produce optimal results

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