Daily Workout Post (almost kind of daily!)

Tonight I’ve edged back toward making daily workouts daily again! Yay, the cold, hard universe smiles upon my puny efforts at delaying the grave! Anyway, yesterday’s workout was pretty thorough, so I thought I might lay off today. But around mid-afternoon I found myself doing pull-ups. Only 10 total, in a 4-3-2-1 descending ladder. I’ve felt bad in the past about the fact I never do more than 5 reps of pull-ups in a set, but then I looked in the mirror and remembered I’m a damned 195 pound man closer to 50 than 40 and I can divide my sets and reps however the hell I want. Tonight, I did a brief burpee workout, also sort of ladder-style–push-up burpees in 15-14-11-10 descending ladder, for a total of 50. As an aside, I also discovered the etymology of the word burpee, (a word redolent of certain body functions to the juvenile-minded like me) and it turns out every con’s favorite prison cell workout is named after some guy! Quoth the Oxford Dictionary: “[burpees are] named after Royal H. Burpee, American psychologist. The original usage was Burpee test, in which a series of burpees are executed in rapid succession, designed to measure agility and coordination.” See? They’re not named after what you do after 50 of the damned things jostle your innards enough to, uh, let off steam, as it were.

Daily Workout Post (that’s still not daily)

Since the first one went on a bit, let’s make today’s dumb workout post brief. I don’t pretend there’s any coherence to this one other than I’ve been in a day on/day off pattern and even though that’s 4 days a week, it feels like slacking, so I needed a whole body workout.

Part the First, in which our hero* addresses cardio, chest and arms:

  • Burpees x 5
  • Push-ups x 15
  • Burpees x 5
  • Arnolds” with 2 25-lb dumbbells, x 10. (Link goes to a video demonstration of “Arnolds,” which are, believe it or not, not named after that football-headed cartoon character, but the former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

I did four of each set in a circuit, for a total 40 burpees, 60 push-ups and 40 Arnolds. Or Ah-nulds, if you prefer the old hacky nod to the gov’s Austrian brogue.

Part the Second, in which our hero** addresses the need for an all-over body burn:

I did the workout above, as demonstrated by one of my favorite online fitness folks, Daniel, who runs the awesome FitnessBlender.com with his lovely wife, Kelli. In the interest of full disclosure, I used a single 53-lb kettlebell (I’ve switched between the 53 and a 70 before) and added a minute’s pause at the middle of the tape, figuring I began the thing already pretty sweaty and tired. I love this FitnessBlender workout in particular because it’s a time-saver and it hits all the good stuff.

Parts 1 and 2 together timed out to 30 minutes.

Plug I give every time I mention them–I can’t recommend Fitness Blender strongly enough if you, like me, have personal and budgetary constraints that make you wary of the gym. I prefer to run 2-5 times a week if I can but winter in New England can make that a tough sell–a resource like the one provided by these guys is invaluable in that situation, as well.

The usual disclaimer: I’m essentially using blog posts like this as notes for an ongoing project. This isn’t meant to be instructional and before you try any of it, you should eat a candy bar and think about your life and know that I’m just some Internet idiot, and I like to eat donut holes and drink scotch in addition to working out. I won’t claim to tell you what to do fitness-wise but I can totally instruct you on those things. (Hey, this whole blog warns you about the “unreliable narrator” part of this deal, sparky.)

For real education on these kinds of things, you should park yourself at FitnessBlender.com for a day and absorb their videos and plans like they’re your Jedis of gym stuff.

[Fitness Blender]

*Village idiot

**Middle-aged dipstick desperately fleeing the Reaper’s scythe

My Daily Workout Post (Which Probably Won’t Be Daily)

I’ve already botched one project I planned for 2014–some kind of workout, no matter how brief, every day–barring injury or illness. I skipped yesterday because, well, New Year’s. I mean, come on.

That said, if applying myself like crazy to fitness has taught me one thing in the last 3 years it’s that I am fully capable of not giving up when I want, and starting all over again the next day. So today I started the project as if today was the first day of the year, or something. Here’s the damned workout. Skip this post all together if this is not the kind of thing you like. That seems like it should be a given, but people are weird and the Internet is awful.

(Disclaimer: I’m not any kind of fitness expert and you should never try my workouts. This is for, uh, “entertainment purposes” only and in no way intended to be authoritative or instructional. Also, most workouts I post here will be some variation on something I’ve learned elsewhere. If I think a workout is constructed in an original way, I’ll say so. Otherwise, assume it’s a variation, a cover version. The following is similar to a workout described here.)


(I believe in warming up before a workout but am a little lazy about cooling down. Also don’t stretch before runs, if running is all I’m doing. I also eat donut holes at every opportunity. I’m a rebel, Dottie.) Two minutes of mountain climbers and burpees, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. Living in a cold region with nasty winter weather, I’ve developed a masochist’s love for burpees for cardio when a run is just a dumb idea due to ice, cold and snow. I will work them into a workout whenever I can. I was a fit teen, had a strong upper body and did a lot of running, but I’m pretty convinced my legs have never been as strong as they are now and burpees have at least a little to do with that.

Workout (each exercise done with two 53-lb kettlebells) 

8 double kettlebell swings. Embedded above is a video of one of the trustworthy masters of kettlebell use and form, Mike Mahler. I can’t find an online fitness type who doesn’t occasionally say something that strikes me as a bit over the top or strange or extreme, but Mahler seems sane and his workouts well-considered. He’s clearly strong as a damned ox, which seems to prove he knows his shit when it comes to strength training. (Every online fitness instructor/guru says nutty stuff related to nutrition sometimes, but that’s for another blog post.)

4 double KB cleans and jerks. Or clean and jerks? I don’t know. Whatever, above is a shaky video of a woman who nails the form for these, based on what I’ve learned. These are my favorite kettlebell exercise, as they hit so many points and if you construct your workouts right, they can put on some muscle mass. You’d get a reasonable workout just doing several sets of cleans and presses. Or jerks. Agh. 

4 double KB squats. I hate squats, but that’s because I never knew how to do them right. Since I finally made them a regular part of my workouts, I’ve learned they’re one of the best strength-building exercises you can do for any reason. Learn squat form. Do them. Do a bunch without weight if you have to. But do them. They are, as long as you have no mitigating issues like hip socket problems or bad knees (my right hip is sometimes dicey, so I am very careful with squats), insanely good for you. This video is of Pat Flynn, another guy who’s staked out an online presence as a kettlebell-focused fitness authority.

I did the above five times through, for a total 40 swings and 20 of the other two exercises. It took 27 minutes. I rested for up to 2 minutes between sets.

If my kettlebell weights sound large, that’s only because the way kettlebells have been promoted to a general American audience is as a cardio aid, not so much a strength-building thing. The moment you start investigating online resources for kettlebell workout knowledge, you learn a five pound kettlebell is not a kettlebell, it’s a paperweight. Guys like Mike Mahler recommend women work with up to 35 lbs and 53 lbs is a good starting weight for a reasonably healthy man. Real humans, however, should consider starting with 20-25 for a woman and 25-35 for a guy, and maybe lay off some of the more complex, aerobicise-style shenanigans with the weight and aim for basic stuff like this.

Like I said, though, I’m no expert. It may be I’m just a lucky idiot that I haven’t had more than mild muscle strain since I started using them, and I’ve begun doing test workouts with a pair of 70-lb kettlebells, which I affectionately think of at the moment as my eventual death-in-waiting.

The next post like this is going to be a lot shorter, because, I mean, damn.