regimen fresh, intense and productive
Goal: Strength, conditioning
Bodyparts: Total body
If you've been training for a decade or more, then you know. It used to be that tough workouts were defined by how much time you spent in the gym.
"Oh, I trained legs for hours yesterday."
"I spent 90 minutes yesterday - all on chest."
These odd badges of honor were more a waste of time than a route to a better physique. These days, we know that by increasing the intensity of our workouts, we can drastically change the way our bodies look. Research on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), for example, has shown that you can burn more fat and keep metabolism higher and for longer than you can through steady-state cardio - all while preserving more muscle. Happily, cardio isn't the only realm where greater intensity leads to better body composition.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that protein synthesis (read: muscle building) was increased for 24 hours after training performed to failure, even when done with lighter weight. Also, high-intensity resistance training done with short rest periods has been shown to improve markers of cardiovascular fitness, which can lead to greater fat-burning. So all-heavy-all-the-time isn't the only way to build muscle and burn fat. It turns out that intense training to failure, even at lighter loads, can help you get the body you want.
CrossFit is an increasingly popular training system that combines high-intensity weight training with bodyweight exercise, gymnastics and Olympic movements, usually in a race against the clock. Some of their most popular workouts include those named after men who have served in the armed forces. "The Murph" requires you to run a mile, then do 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats followed by another mile, all for time. Most CrossFitters take it head on, as prescribed. Others break up the bodyweight moves into more manageable segments, such as 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups and 30 squats, 10 times through. Other workouts consist of small circuits that are done repeatedly for a set amount of time.
Using that CrossFit methodology to your advantage can allow you to get an intense, full-body workout in a relatively short amount of time. High-intensity training advocates such as Drew Baye (www.drewbaye.com) like the 5-10-15 breakdown found in workouts such as CrossFit's "Cindy" routine, which calls for doing as many rounds of five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 bodyweight squats as possible in 20 minutes. (Note: Baye's prescription calls for full range of motion pull-ups, rather than the kipping pull-ups advocated by CrossFitters.)
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Here, we provide three, 5-10-15 workouts you can try on your own with limited space and equipment. Each one provides a slightly different kind of sweat-soaked torture. Try performing as many rounds as you can for 12 minutes. Add one minute of work each week, or strive to perform one more round in the same amount of time, for a progressive, full-body conditioning workout that torches fat and builds lean mass.
5 - deadlifts
10 - dumbbell rows
15 - incline dumbbell presses
>> For the deadlifts, use 0.75-1.0 times your bodyweight. Use the same pair of dumbbells for the presses and rows. Use straps for the deadlifts only later in the routine when your grip begins to fail.
5 - underhand pull-ups
10 - dips
15 - bodyweight squats
>> To keep your transitions quick, try to perform this workout at a station that includes a pull-up bar and parallel bars.
5 - weighted pull-ups
10 - weighted push-ups
15 - weighted squats
>> For this more advanced workout, use a weight vest or load a sturdy backpack with a 25-pound weight plate.
For more on metabolic conditioning, visit www.drewbaye.com. To try other CrossFit-specific workouts, head to www.crossfit.com.