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The Reverse Pyramid Full Body Strength Workout

There are lots of different rep ranges you can use in your workouts. Traditional rep ranges are 1-6 (max. strength), 8-12 (hypertrophy), 15-20 (endurance/stability).

However, you shouldn’t get stuck on using only those rep ranges or even just a single one of those ranges.

There are lots of other ways to work on strength, hypertrophy and/or endurance and stability.

One great workout set up that I like to use is Pyramid Sets…and in this case, simple Descending/Reverse Pyramid Sets.

Pyramid Sets allow you to work through numerous different rep ranges all in one workout.

pyramid sets

The workout below is a variation of the Descending/Reverse Pyramid Set Workout – This means you will start with lower reps and higher weight and go up in reps as you go down in weight over the sets.

You want to push to fatigue each set. You shouldn’t be able to do the same weight at the end that you used at the beginning!

The Reverse Pyramid Full Body Strength Workout

WARM UP
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Quads
Hamstrings
Hips
Adductors
Back
Chest/Shoulders

WORKOUT

Rest as needed between rounds. Use as heavy a weight or perform as advanced a variation as you can at each rep range. Push to fatigue!

Start with one rep of each. Each round add one rep until you hit 10 reps on the final (10th) set.

CIRCUIT:
KB Deadlift
Pull Up
Airborne Lunge
Dip

COOL DOWN 
Stretch and Roll Out:
Calves
Quads
Hamstrings
Hips
Adductors
Back
Chest/Shoulders

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS:

KB Deadlift – Kettlebell deadlift. You can do a sumo deadlift, straight leg deadlift or conventional deadlift using a kettlebell (or two). Choose the one that best meets your needs. One of my favorite is the Sumo Deadlift…Set your feet up at least shoulder-width apart. Point your toes slightly out. Set one or two kettlebells down between your legs, centered between your heels. Sit your butt back and hinge forward slightly, keeping your back flat. Grab the handles and keep your arms straight as you sink into a wide squat. Pull the kettlebells off the ground and stand up nice and tall. You almost want to pull up and back so that you don’t lean or fall forward. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Then sit your butt back and hinge over to bring the kettlebell(s) back to the ground. Touch them down and then stand back up. Make sure you are driving up off your heels and not rounding your back. Do not lean too far forward. And make sure you sink your butt. This is not a straight leg pull. TO ADVANCE OR REGRESS THROUGHOUT THE REVERSE PYRAMID, CHANGE THE WEIGHT.
Pull Up – Hang from the bar with your palms facing away (you may also sub in chin ups or a neutral grip pull up). Press your chest out and draw your shoulder blades down and back. Then pull your chin up above the bar. Once your chin reaches above the bar, lower back down. Stay in control. Do not kip or swing. As you fatigue, you may swing a little on the last rep or two, but it shouldn’t be used to do reps quickly. Beginners may want to use a pull up assistance machine or their feet or a band to help them perform their pull ups. TO ADVANCE OR REGRESS THROUGHOUT THE REVERSE PYRAMID, CHOOSE A MORE CHALLENGING OR LESS CHALLENGING VARIATION. Maybe do a plyometric pull up to start and regress to a chin up or even assisted variation as you go.
Airborne Lunge – To do this move, you will bend one knee and you are going to squat/lunge down, dropping that back knee toward the ground. Do not touch the foot down when you drop the knee to the ground. Lean forward as needed to counterbalance but do not round forward. You can add a box or pad under your knee if you can’t hit the ground. Make sure to sink back into the front heel and drive off that heel to come back up to standing. If you need assistance,  you can also hold a weight or a suspension trainer in your hands. TO ADVANCE OR REGRESS THROUGHOUT THE REVERSE PYRAMID, HOLD WEIGHT AT YOUR CHEST TO MAKE THE MOVE HARDER OR USE AN ASSISTED VARIATION/SMALLER RANGE OF MOTION TO MAKE IT EASIER.
Dip – Beginners may do an assisted variation off of dip bars or parallel bars. They may also do these off of kettlebells or a bench. Advanced exercisers will do full dips and may even add weight to challenge them. To do a full dip, place one hand on each bar. Press up to the top so that your arms are fully extended. Then slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down. You want to lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Then drive back up through your hands until you are fully extended at the top. Keep your core tight so you don’t arch your low back. Do not lean too far forward. To do this move from the bench, place both hands on the bench behind you. Your finger tips should hang over the bench and face you. Stretch your legs out then in front of you. The straighter your legs are and the further your heels are from your butt, the harder the move will be. Bend your elbows and drop your butt toward the ground. Drop so your upper arms are parallel to the ground then press back up. Keep your butt and back right up against the bench. Do not let your body drift forward. TO ADVANCE OR REGRESS THROUGHOUT THE REVERSE PYRAMID, CHOOSE A MORE CHALLENGING OR LESS CHALLENGING VARIATION.

B-I-N-G-O

So I heard this great quote in an ESPN 30 for 30 last night…

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

YES! This is why I’ve said you need to plan out your workouts and diet program and PROGRESS yourself toward your goal!

But apparently not everyone has heard this quote before.

Yesterday I was also told about a trainer that plays “Bingo” to provide people with their workouts.

BINGO.

Basically, people pull exercises out of a hat and the exercises that they pull out make up their workout for that day.

That means they could pull out all leg exercises and just completely annihilate their legs that day even if they did a leg workout already that week. It could also mean that they pulled out four or five sheets with the same exercise on it so that they had to do burpees the entire workout.

AH!

When I heard this, I honestly had to shake myself because I couldn’t believe it. It was potentially the dumbest thing I’d ever heard.

Talk about a lazy trainer. Sorry…but it’s true. And potentially a dumb trainer…Because who the heck could put such little thought into their workouts for their clients and think it was ok!?!

And the worst part about all of this for me was that it wasn’t even being done with people who were just casually working out (not that it would be good even then!)…BUT it was being done with a college athletic team!

A COLLEGE ATHLETIC TEAM!

A team competing at a high level with specific needs – a specific GOAL!

How the could that trainer think it was ok to have them do random exercises? Did that trainer really think it would help the players reach a SPECIFIC goal!?! Random exercises!?!

And all of the players weren’t even doing the same intensity workout or working the same parts so when they went to do a “planned” workout later that week, some of them may have already completely destroyed that muscle earlier when they played BINGO while others may not have worked that muscle for over a week!

Plus it the stupid game didn’t address imbalances or injuries or ANYTHING!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Seriously hearing that made me so angry.

It also made me sure that I had to post the following statement:

Just because someone has a title or certification DOESN’T mean they actually KNOW anything.

Sorry…but it doesn’t.

So that is why I constantly post that you’ve got to experiment and do your own research.

You should be able to judge if what you are given by a trainer or dietitian or anyone else for that matter has merit. You should be able to judge if something is totally bogus and worthless or something that does have potential to get you to your goal.

And please…NEVER….EVER…play BINGO as your workout!!!!

Elementary School Moves

So when writing up some new workouts, I began to think about all of the games we played in gym class…dodgeball, crab crawl soccer, scooter ball…just to name a few.

And I thought…why not include some of those moves!?! Remember when you used to swing from the monkey bar or do wheelbarrow races? Remember when you’d have to crab crawl around the gym and you considered it to be a GAME!?!

Those moves while super fun in elementary school were actually super good for you!

So now each of our workouts includes some element of elementary school play. And while it might not be as easy as it once was…it is still ridiculously “fun!”

So next time you want to work on shoulder strength, consider a wheelbarrow crawl. Or next time you work your core and upper back, consider a skin the cat.

Or what about climbing a rope? Remember when you used to climb up those poles on the playground?!? Not as easy as you remember it I’m sure!

There are so many great moves that we did as kids, but somewhere along the line we stop. And instead we start doing bicep curls and tricep extensions, which honestly aren’t near as good for us or even half as functional.

So below is a great workout with some simple elementary school moves. Try it…it might be fun! (If you don’t have some of the stuff or understand what it is, feel free to email me at manbiceps@gmail.com and I can either explain it or give you some substitutions!)

Workout

Warm up (make sure to get shoulders, glutes, back and core warm)

3 rounds (Rest in between each round or do with a partner for a relay):

Rope run and drag and then plank hinge and pull (Run down about 50ft and drag a 1.5 inch rope behind you until it is stretched out along the ground. Then go into a plank/table top crawl position facing the same way as the way you ran. Reach back between your legs and grab the rope. Sit your butt back to really get a good reach and then pull the rope through as far as you can, extending your hips as you pull. So you will go from about a plank position on the hands to almost a child’s pose still on the hands to really get a reach back and through. Pull the rope until it is completely piled in front of you and run it back.)

5 rounds:

Rope Climbs (can sub in inverted rows if you don’t have a rope…5 reps if you do it on a rope and 10 reps slowly if you do rows)
Crab Crawl 50ft forward and 50ft back (Crab crawl is with your hips facing the ceiling)

Crab crawls!

Crab crawls!

Skin the Cat (This is the move where you hold a pull up bar or monkey bar and swing your feet through over your head between your hands and all the way down toward the ground behind you. If this is too tough, simplify it by just first tucking the knees to the elbows and then next by doing a straight leg lift up to the bar) 8-12 reps

Rest and repeat for all rounds!

For our conditioning we actually played tug of war with a few stipulations to prevent injury.

You may be thinking…”Oh that isn’t a workout!”

But trust me….it really really was!

You make the workout hard

So this month we’ve changed up our training a bit at the gym and have been on a new progression.

A “back to basics” progression.

And apparently a few people complained that it was “too easy.” Which honestly made my jaw drop.

I’ve done basically all of the workouts in the progression and I’m sore as all get out. There have even been a few that have made my legs want to give out or my food to come up.

The workouts in our progression…Easy?!?!?

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAH! NOPE!

But as I began to really watch people around me do the workouts with me, I realized one big thing….They weren’t pushing THEMSELVES.

They were used to a more complex workout that forced them to become fatigued and when we simplified it, they just didn’t know how to push themselves through simple moves.

They didn’t know how to challenge themselves with weight….or rest…or reps…or ANYTHING!

And the worst part is that being able to push yourself is the KEY to success!

Any success for that matter.

I can write someone up a workout and diet plan, but if they don’t do it when I’m not there to push them….well they won’t make near the progress they could.

They need to be able to PUSH THEMSELVES.

Anyway, so I was watching people cruise through the same workout that was literally destroying me….And it started to piss me off.

Why are they wasting their time using weights that are way too light? Or why are they doing only 10 reps when they could do 12? How can they complain that crawling is easy when their butts are way up in the air!?!

And then I realized another key thing…Most people don’t really know what it means to push themselves. Their workouts have to be an hour long or they have to do some crazy moves to be satisfied that they got a great workout because they can’t challenge themselves enough with a simple squat.

Well let me just clarify something right here…YOU DON’T NEED FANCY MOVES OR HOURS OF WORKING OUT TO GET IN A KILLER WORKOUT!

You just need to make sure that you are challenging yourself with weights and reps and even rest times. You just need to make sure that you are doing moves correctly and getting the most out of them.

Not to ramble or side track, but let’s just pause a moment to think of a move that most people do incorrectly  – THE PUSH UP.

Most people don’t do the push up….They do the worm.

Their core is flopping around and the have scapular winging and their heads are jutting forward and their arms are out at some odd angle.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Found this on a crossfit website…The caption they had is that she is “working on her push ups.” I really hope someone corrected this form….OUCH…Sorry chica.

So of course they aren’t getting the most out of the move.

BUT neither are those guys who do keep a decent push up line but only move up and down an inch when they do their push ups.

THOSE DON’T COUNT! Think push ups are easy…THEN DO A FULL ONE! Lock your arms out at the top and hit your chest to the ground!!!

And then if that is too easy, PROGRESS THE MOVE. Move your feet up to a chair. Add a weight to your back.

Don’t just whine that it is easy and think you need to be doing some other fancy move.

MAKE THE MOST OUT OF SIMPLE MOVES!

Anyway, I’ve ranted enough. I’m just sick of hearing about how a workout is too easy because if you give a workout 100% effort, trust me….It won’t be easy!

So try this workout and REALLY REALLY give it everything you’ve got.

WARM UP

SAQ x5 rounds with a little rest in between each
Ladder ICKY Shuffle
Zigzag cone shuffle
Lateral step and throws x6 reps

REST

STRENGTH x5 rounds with little rest in between each round
Sandbag pull throughs x 8 each side
Sandbag Zercher lateral lunges x 8 each side
Circle crawls x 10

CONDITIONING x 5 at least double the rest to work

Sidewinders 25 seconds on as fast as you can

(The last can be subbed for any full body “sprint” activity for 25 seconds if you don’t have ropes)

This workout left me fatigued and sore. And I only did 8 reps on two of the strength things when many people did more. It is all about choosing a weight that you want to give up on before you’ve completed all your reps. Like with the lunges…I wanted to give up around 6 reps….Like literally just wanted to drop the bag and NEVER pick it up again! BUT choosing a challenging weight DOESN’T mean choosing a weight that you can’t use correct form with.

Anyway…CHALLENGE YOURSELF! Take a seemingly “easy/simple” workout and really focus on doing everything perfectly. Really choose a weight that makes your muscles scream. Push yourself to rest less or do more reps. PUSH YOURSELF!

What can you accomplish in 21 days?

So yesterday I talked about shrinking your goals – taking one step at a time and overcoming small obstacles.

But then another question arises, “Where the heck do you even begin!?!?!”

NOOOOOOO

NOOOOOOO

A few of my co-workers and I started discussing this topic when we thought about all of the new people who would be coming into the gym this new year.

We came to the conclusion that there are two big things that keep people from even getting started on their health and fitness New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Their goals overwhelm them and they feel too stressed to even get started

AND

2. People honestly don’t even know where to begin!

I mean where do you really start if you want to lose weight or get healthier? With diet? Or with exercise? Or do you need both?

And then what kind of program even works??!

So while I preach that you have to do some self-experimentation to really find out what will work best FOR YOU, I do think there are certain programs out there that can get you started.

And most of those programs aren’t a year long…Most are really only 1 month “jump-starts.”

While for some people it works best to make small changes slowly, it can also really work to make a change “cold turkey.” (Only you can know which works for you!)

Programs like the Primal Blueprint 21-day Transformation or Whole 30 are meant to help you dive right into a healthy lifestyle.

And while I can help clients that I see and talk to on a daily or weekly basis make slow steady changes, I can’t very easily create a program for the masses that does that.

So a group of us at Innovative Results put together our own “21-day Jump Start!”

We make getting started easy – we take out the guess-work.

But to have success, you do have to go all in.

Do our workouts and follow our diet program and you will get started moving toward your goals. You might not get there in just 21 days, but you will have gotten the momentum going!

I’ve included the link above if anyone is interested in checking out the program. If you do get it, make sure to email me (manbiceps@gmail.com) so I can help guide you through it! I can help you make adaptations so that the program will work well for you!

So don’t keep putting your resolution off! Start today and get the momentum going!!!

Being a BADASS

So this relates to my post from earlier and responses I got to it…

All too often people don’t heed advice, like the advice I gave yesterday about warming up with some sort of balancing exercise, because it isn’t BADASS.

BADASS is lifting heavy weights. Or working out so intensely that you puke.

Right?

Uhm…sure. Yea I think getting in a killer workout or accomplishing some impressive feat of strength or stamina is BADASS.

But you can’t be a BADASS if you injure yourself!!!!!!!!

Being a true BADASS means taking the time to warm up your body. It means paying as much attention to your recovery and stabilization and mobility training as you do your actual workouts.

It means not just constantly lifting more and pushing harder.

So next time you pooh pooh something like balancing on one leg because you don’t see how it directly benefits your desire to be a badass…DON’T.

That rehab/prehab/flexibility/mobility/stabilization exercise may just be the key to you developing stronger lifts, more endurance and better overall health and fitness.

Anything you can do….

I can do better.

So Ryan and I weren’t a finalist in the Primal Blueprint workout video contest, but we did have a whole heck of a lot of fun making the video.

Maybe it will inspire you this weekend to workout!

If it doesn’t below is a great bodyweight workout that I did in my training session today (which the Man Bicep Mom attended!)

Weekly Workout

10-1 (10 reps of everything for one round, then 9, then 8…down to one. On one-sided exercises, that means 10 to each side)

1 arm TRX rows
Push ups (chest to ground)
Rainbow slams with a medicine ball
Squats
Skater Hops

10-1 (10 reps of everything for one round, then 9, then 8…down to one. On one-sided exercises, that means 10 to each side…so like 10 Mountain Climbers each leg)

Backwards lunges on sliders
Scapular hold against a wall or floor for 30 seconds
Mountain Climbers on sliders
Side lunges on sliders

Complete the entire workout as quickly as possible. Really a good workout for a stabilization day!

ONE Exercise

So I love circuit training. Maybe I’m ADD but I hate doing one thing for a super long time.

I find it easiest to push myself when I know I have only a circuit amount of reps before I can move on to the next thing.

But recently I’ve been experimenting more with doing ONE THING the entire workout.

Not just like running or VersaClimber or CARDIO…But one exercise.

Like crawling, kettlebell swings, kettlebell long cycle or battling ropes.

I just do the one activity for the whole workout.

It is torture.

And I don’t do this every day nor would I want to.

BUT mixing in one exercise workouts does have its benefits.

For one, it adds variety to your workout routine.

Two, it truly pushes your body to ultimate failure.

Three it works on your mental toughness.

I usually set a timer. You can set it for anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour depending on what you’re doing or hope to accomplish.

I then force myself to do the single activity for the entire time WITHOUT taking any breaks. (Of course sometimes my body truly fails and I have to rest for a second, but my ultimate goal is not too.)

It is difficult to keep pushing until the timer goes off because after a while everything is truly so fatigued that you don’t think you can mentally keep pushing yourself.

But you have to!

That is the one thing I like about these workouts. Unlike circuits where the harder I push the quicker I’m done, I can’t change how quickly I’m done.  And for me, that is mentally tougher to handle.

It has also show me how sometimes I give in and rest too quickly on exercises during circuits.

It’s not that I’m taking a ton of rest, but where as I used to think I was tired at 20 kb swings, I now realize even though my body is really burning at that point, I can actually hang on for at least 100.

Granted during the circuits I am doing other exercises that are making my body more tired, but mentally now I also have realized that I wasn’t pushing myself near as far as I could actually go.

So aside from the one exercise workouts being physically challenging they do really have  a mental benefit that for me has been amazing.

So if you really want to try something new (and variety is very important to your workouts!!!) and you want to challenge yourself mentally, try a one exercise workout!

Try to choose something that is challenging…you can do the exercise for any length of time that is just a little longer than you think you can handle. You don’t want to set your timer for an hour and just cruise!

And once you set the timer…DON’T GIVE UP!

So I got some weird looks…

So currently I don’t have a gym to train at consistently.

But that is no excuse not to workout intensely!

Sunday I went and ran Stadiums, or as Ryan calls them “Serpentines.”

On Monday, Ryan and I borrowed any random workout equipment we could and did a workout in the backyard.

And then yesterday, I went to the park and busted out a very nice workout.

Yep….the park…er…playground

So what if a couple of people gave me a very strange look?! So what if I was crawling through the grass?!

Monkey bars are a great place to do pull ups and knees to elbows. Heck if you even just go back and forth across the monkey bars it is a great workout.

Ok so this wasn’t from yesterday…it was from Boston when I spent the afternoon playing with preschoolers!

A park bench or picnic table is perfect for box jumps.

There is just so many great exercises that you can do on a playground!

And hey, at least a kid said, “Mommy, I want to do what she is doing on the monkey bars!” (At this point I was doing knees to elbows.)

Who cares if you look “weird” bear-crawling on the ground?!?!

You are running and “playing” just like a kid! Shoot! Get your kids to do the workout with you on the playground! They will think it is so much fun!

It’s better than being one of those people just sitting around WATCHING their kids play, right!?! 🙂

So no excuses! Go out and play in the sun (and get in a great workout while you are at it!)

You can even try this workout!

Workout of the Week:

Bear crawls (forward then back) 25 steps forward and 25 steps back
Pull ups 25
Picnic bench jumps 50
Leg lowers 50
“Walking” Lunges (jumping up and slightly forward each time switching legs) 25 each side
Knees to elbows 50
1 leg skater squats 25 each side
Monkey bars 50 (go back and forth across the monkey bars until you hit 50 reps)
Mountain climbers 50 each side
Pull ups 25
Bear crawls (forward then back) 25 steps forward and 25 steps back

The good, the bad and the simply stupid

I’m not sure where this really goes, but I found it on Facebook and thought it was awesome.

The Good

  • Ryan saw this video and I thought it fit well with my post from yesterday. Most of the functional training we SHOULD be doing isn’t NEW…it’s actually some of the oldest forms of training!
  • AWESOME! While I’m still working on holding a one-handed handstand, I’m also going to start working on this! A kip-up!
  • The Crossfit games were this past weekend. Can I just say, “AWESOME!” To me there is no better test of true fitness than having to do activities and exercises that you haven’t necessarily prepared for! Annie Thorisdottir, you are amazing!
  • Awesome! 86 years old!

The Bad

The Simply Stupid

  • Seriously!?! The Paleo Diet is Uncivilized!?! I love how this woman can claim her information is CORRECT because she is an RD. She is still biased! She is a vegetarian!!!
  • This pictures isn’t stupid. The fact that people actually think this way is the stupid part!
Tomorrow is my last day in Boston. I already miss all of you here! It has been a great 7 years!
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