18 overhead lunges (I used weighted bar overhead)
I recently received a message from a college friend asking for advice about getting into the gym. She said that she was completely new to working out and was unsure of where to start. While it’s really easy for me to create my own gym workouts at this point, it’s also easy for me to remember moments of confusion in my early workout days. After responding to my friend’s question, I realized that there might be other gym newbies (or aspiring gym newbies) out there who might benefit from this information. This post might also be useful for some of you who are pros at the gym and looking to change things up. Here are different workout “templates” or formats that you can use to challenge yourself at the gym. Just choose some of your favorite (or least favorite) exercise moves, plug them into one of these templates and you’re all set.
Many of these styles are commonly used in Crossfit but even if Crossfit isn’t your thing (I’ve never actually been to a Crossfit gym) these formats are really useful for structuring your workouts.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): I’m a HUGE fan of interval training. Not only is it proven to be super effective for getting in shape, it’s also extremely time efficient. I usually aim for anywhere between 24-30 minutes of work in any gym session and I never leave feeling like I should have done more. To design a HIIT workout, simply choose your exercises and choose how you’d like to time your intervals – how many seconds of work will you perform per seconds of rest. I usually do 30/10 for strength workouts. I alternate between two moves and do each move twice for a total of 8 rounds.
Tabata: Tabata is a specific style of HIIT training that’s structured around 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest over 8 rounds.
As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP): When I’m on a time crunch and I want to get the most out of my workout, I usually do an AMRAP. All you have to do is choose your exercises – I usually pick 4-5 different moves – and then how long you’d like work. If I’m doing one big round, I usually do somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes, adjusting according to the number of exercises you’re performing.
Mini AMRAPS: Rather than doing one long time frame, you could also do multiple smaller AMRAP sets with less moves. I often do 3 or 4 8-minute AMRAPs with only 2-3 exercises per set.
Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM): This is the style that I probably do the least but I’m planning to start incorporating it more. You simply choose your move(s) and reps and do them as fast as you can at the start of every minute for some allotted period of time. For examples, you might do 5 thrusters and 2 burpees when the clock starts and then rest until the clock gets to minute 2 and continue this for 10 minutes/rounds.
Ladder: Unlike the other workout styles mentioned here, ladder workouts are not structured around time, but rather by reps. To design a ladder workout, you choose your moves and the highest number of reps you’d like to perform in any given set. This number represents the top of the ladder. Perform each move for the maximum number of reps and then decrease the number of reps and perform each move again. Keep doing this until you reach the bottom of your “ladder.” Some variations of the ladder include reversing the order – starting at the bottom and working your way up. You could also be intense and work your way up your ladder and then come back down. Also note that your ladder doesn’t necessarily have to go up/down one step at a time. You can increase/decrease by 2,3,4 etc. too. To challenge yourself, note how long it takes you to complete your ladder and then try to beat your time the next time you do the workout.
My last bit of advice for designing your own workouts is to buy or download an interval timer. If you’d prefer to have a separate timer, here is one that I like. If you’d like to keep it simple, download a gym timer app and program it with all your preferred intervals. I doesn’t need to be fancy at all. I’ve used the free version of the Interval Timer app and it works great for me.
When naming this post, the first thing that came to mind was “This Hard-Ass Workout that I Did Last Week” but I didn’t think that it really captured the essence of the experience.
That being said, here is the hard-ass workout that I did last week. It was inspired by a workout that Theresa Coen, one of favorite instructors at Enrgi Fitness in Chicago posted on her instagram a few weeks ago. Her version was way more intense as it included 2 miles of total running in place of the burpees. She also did 50 burpees at the top of the ladder – like a beast. Power to her! I changed this up to make it more practical/gym friendly and also so I didn’t die. I initially planned to do 2 minutes of jump rope in between the strength sections but my jump rope broke during the first interval. Womp womp. “How do I replace this cardio exercise?” I asked myself. Naturally, I ended up doing burpees.
The great thing about this workout is that it works every part of your body and will probably take no more than 30 minutes. The bad news is – it’s freakin hard. Obviously the weights you choose will shape your experience. I wouldn’t recommend going too heavy though since there are a lot of reps involved. I would suggest start with your version of “medium” weight and then adjusting accordingly.
Then back up the ladder!
Time yourself and then try to beat your time in the future. I came in at about 24 minutes as I took ample breaks between sets.
Don’t let your form get sloppy. If you find this happened, downgrade your weights or decrease reps – you’ll still get a great workout, I promise.
Excited to share a new workout with you guys as I haven’t shared one in quite some time. I’ve been consistently doing gym workouts on campus twice a week this semester in addition to my yoga practice. I’ve moved away from doing any machine cardio and instead have been doing more challenging strength training in the form of AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) or HIIT (high intensity interval training). I usually aim for somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes of total work using weights that challenge me. On my bus ride over to the gym, I create my workout, skimming through past workouts (which I keep in the “Notes” on my phone) and screencaps from fitness folks that I follow for inspiration. Yesterday, I happened to stumble upon this *gem* of a workout from Emily Schromm and I was really excited to take on the challenge…
And what a challenge it was. I had NO IDEA how hard this workout would be. I thought- simple moves, 10 reps each, 5 rounds. How hard could it be? After round 1, I knew that I was in for way more than I’d planned but at that point I had to power through….
“Death By Dumbbells” (modified)
Equipment: 1 set of dumbbells of a weight that is challenging for you (I used 25#)
Check out this video by Emily Schromm to see how each of the moves is done.
Time yourself! Try to beat your time the next time you do it!
The original original workout doesn’t include 10 burpees at the end of each round but instead calls for you to do 5 penalty burpees every time you put the dumbbells down. I actually saved myself some burpees by including them this way since I had to put the dumbbells down more than I would have liked. Pick your poison on this one!
Quick post of gym my workout from this week. It was a toughie but goodie. 40 minutes of work. Cardio and strength. Choose your weights appropriately.
For 8-MIN AMRAP simply set your timer for 8 minutes and go through the sequence until your buzzer sounds.
For the Tabata Intervals, set a stop watch or stop watch app for 8 round of 20 seconds on/10 second off. Alternate between exercises for 4 total rounds of each.
30 Jumping Jacks
10 Air squats (squats without weights)
Repeat until you’re warm (I did three rounds)
8-MIN AMRAP 1
10 Goblet Squats
10 push ups
(10 each side) Side Lunges with Torso Twist
8-MIN AMRAP 2
10 Plie Squat with Lateral Arm Raise
8 Burpees with Dumbbells
(10 each leg) Curtsey Lunges with dumbbells
CARDIO TABATA 2
Skater Lunges (or more squat jumps if you’re tight on space)
8-MIN AMRAP 3
(10 each side) Box Step-ups with dumbbells or box jumps
Box (elevated) push-ups
Dumbbell Swings or Kettlebell swings
Choose weights that work for you or ditch the weights all together! For an extra challenge, make time intervals longer and/or add another cardio round at the beginning or end.
My workout routine has been a bit weird this week. On both Monday and Wednesday, I failed to get in my morning workout and ended up having to squeeze one in during my lunch break at the writing center. Since I only had 45 minutes to walk to the gym, change, workout, shower, and get back to work, I had to be super efficient to make it work my time and energy.
While I prefer to have more time at the gym, the short time frame forced me to eliminate all the procrastination that usually occurs in my workouts. Casually walking to the water fountain, gently dabbing sweat from my face, pondering over what equipment to use – there was time for none of it. I put together an interval workout on the bus ride to campus and I had to go all out once I was at the gym to get the most out of the 25 minutes of actual workout time that I had. The great thing about that was that I pushed a lot harder than I do when I have more time and can thus, do more rounds. I kept telling myself that 20 minutes was all I had to give and it motivated me when things got sticky. This underscored two things for me. Firstly, it reminded me of how often I waste time during my workouts. This is something that I’m aware of but often neglect to change in the moment. When I only had 20 minutes, I felt like I had to push to make it worth my time. Secondly, it reminded me that workouts need not be an hour long to be effective. When finished my 20-min AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) workout on Wednesday, I was absolutely gassed. There was no doubt in my mind that I had gotten a good sweat session in.
This is all to say that if you’re struggling too be time to workout in your day, you shouldn’t worry about carving out a large chunk of time. Not only is a twenty minute workout time-effective, it can also absolutely grooling when you challenge yourself. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and AMRAP style workouts are your best friends if you’re trying to save time while working towards your fitness goals. Here are some links to some great workouts that require minimal equipment and take less than 20 minutes (Including the one that I designed for my workout on Wednesday). Have fun!
My AMRAP Workout from this Week:
Adjust the reps to your liking/fitness level.
Set your timer for 20 minutes and see how many times you can loop the circuit. I got through 3 full rounds, a 4th round of rowing and 2 steps up. Beat it!
I’m really trying to get in the habit of updating more. I also create my gym workouts in the “Notes” on my phone and then never blog about them. Here’s one that I did a few weeks ago and it was awesome …. in that physically challenging way. This workout is great if you’re trying to get in and out of the gym. Just set your timer (or make note of the time on the clock) and hop to it. If you focus on the reps, it’ll fly by.
Repeat Circuit as many times as possible in 20 mins (or however long you see fit).
Comment with questions about any of this!
I’ve decided to reinstate my weekly workout posts. It’s not a big deal but it’s a nice way to let you guys know what I’ve been doing to stay active. I’m slowly getting into a workout rhythm for the semester. There are a couple of days that I’m playing around with regards to when to schedule my workout / what kind of workout I should do. Rather than trying to come up with a strict plan for everyday of the week, however, I think I’ll hold out until the night before or the day of to see how I’m feeling and just go for it. It’s very easy for me to fall victim to monotony so I think it’ll be nice to have some built-in spontaneity — if that’s not too oxymoronic. 😛 So here’s what I’ve been up to this week.
Monday – 10K Run to Silverlake reservoir + “Align” Yoga at ODD.
This was my first day trying the “Align” yoga class. It’s only offered once a week at One Down Dog and since it worked in my schedule, I thought that I would check it out. Unlike the “Sweat” and “Sculpt” classes that I usually go to, this class slows things down to focus on breath and posture, hence being called “Align.” This hour and 15 minute class is conducted, for the most part, without music, prompting you to pay even more attention to your body. While I absolutely love my faster-paced classes, “Align” was quite refreshing as it gave me the opportunity to think about building up the foundations of my practice. I’m hoping in incorporate more classes like “Align” into my schedule so that I can strengthen my postures and hopefully (!!!) finally get my headstand off the ground. Pun intended.
Tuesday Gym workout + “Flow” yoga at ODD
I started this gym sess with 20 minutes of a the preset “rolling hill” workout on the wide stride and then followed up with a 20 min AMRAP of the following cardio/core set: (I got through 3 full rounds)
Wednesday – 6:30am “Sculpt” Yoga with Alexis at ODD!!
Yoga with weights. <3
Thursday – “Express” Gym Workout (I was kind of sore but needed to get my muscles warm)
This workout started with 20 easy minutes on the wide stride followed by about 20 minutes of shoulder/arm/core work.
Friday – “Sculpt” Yoga (again. clearly I’m into it.)
So now that I’ve recapped my workouts for the week, on to the fun stuff. The food! Here’s some of the stuff that I’ve been playing around dans la cuisine.
Obsessed with these paleo biscuits from The Zenbelly Cookbook.
Moroccan Meatballs from the Well Fed Cookbook.
Ciao for now brown (and purple) cows.
As I tried to convey in my last post, life is a bit crazy at the moment. The good news is that despite the reality that this semester is going to be absolutely insane, I feel really good about it. I’m on campus pretty much all day from Monday-Thursday and then I have Fridays class free. In theory, I would get a ton of reading done on Fridays but I’m thinking that I might just make them scheduled personal health / blogging days. Judging from these first three weeks, it’s clear that my brain is going to be in no condition to be academically productive on Fridays so I think that it would make sense for me to make them personally so. Of course, for me, that means, exercise (10:15 Sculpt at One Down Dog is definitely a staple of my Friday schedule for this semester), grocery shopping (dropped by McCall’s Meat and Fish this morning for a meat stock up. Can you say meatballs? Love that place!), and cooking (made Ginger Scallion Pork Meatballs with Sesame Zucchini Noodles from the Zenbelly Cookbook for lunch with Jenny!). In about 40 minutes, I’ll be heading out for a hike at Runyon with Sarah, before returning home to make myself a lovely dinner and chill out with Netflix and get to bed. I’m planning to start my Saturday by doing 10K with the DTLA running group plus 2 miles back to my apartment from downtown so I’ll need to rest up. 🙂 This is what Fridays should and will be from here on out.
The jam-packed-ness of my schedule this semester is really pushing me to think about what’s important to me, as I have to be extremely selfish with my time. I was, and still am, a little concerned with my ability to keep up with blogging but the discomfort that I feel when I think of letting it go tells me that I need to figure out how to continue posting. In my last post, I set a goal of updating once a week, which I’ve already failed to accomplish (I didn’t post anything last week!) but I’m not being hard of myself about it. I started this blog because I thought it would be a fun and personally productive project to pursue and if I allow it to stress me out, it defeats the purpose. So instead of trying to impose a stringent post requirement, I’m simply going to update when I feel like it. This is not to be snippy or sassy in any way, but to acknowledge that if blogging is something that I do because I enjoy it, I should trust that feeling that it ignites in me will be enough to motivate me to post when I need to. This might be 3 times per month or 8. Who knows? But because this act of sharing my life through writing has become very near and dear to my heart, I’m confident that it will maintain its role in my life, even if that role looks a bit different than it did last school year.
Now that I’ve put that out there, I can get to what I really set out to do in this post and that’s share a workout. I haven’t done this in a while. When starting GWHG, I imagined it to be much more workout focused, but as it turns out, the recipes and life updates came to define the site more than exercise routines. Because I was working out at Energi over the summer, I really wasn’t putting together any of my own workouts. What I did do, however, was collect new moves and workout structures that I could incorporate into my routine back here in LA. This one that I’m sharing today, I actually did for the first time while I was in Amsterdam. I didn’t really learn how to properly use rowers until this summer at Energi, and I realized how great they were for both cardio and strengthening and sculpting the lower body and shoulders. When I saw that the gym in Amsterdam was equipped with rowers, I had to have a go at them.
This workout is great for strengthening and toning abs while keeping your heart rate up. It’s awesome if you’re short on time at the gym and want to get the most out of your session. I suggest doing it for 4 rounds and clocking yourself in order to challenge yourself the next time. I’ve also done it for as many rounds as possible within 20 or 30 minutes and it still kills. Enjoy!
Interval Timer set to do 6 rounds of 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off
Row 300 meters
Start Interval Timer (30 seconds of work / 10 seconds of rest)
Repeat 4x (or as many times as possible within a certain time period)
Comment for explanations of moves! I’m trying to keep this quick but would be happy to explain!
Ciao for now!
After four loooooong months of training, I finally completed the La Jolla Half Marathon this morning!! I feel awesome to say the least. Though everything has been building up to this day, it really isn’t the race itself that makes me feel accomplished. More than actually completing the race, the fact that made the decision to embark upon this journey back in December and stuck with it — despite being sick of running, despite having some terrible runs, despite having to get up early for group runs on Saturdays. After I ran over 13 miles for the first time during my training, my motivation started to wane. I figured that since I knew that I could do the distance, there wasn’t really a need to do an official race. I talked to a few people about it and they told me that I was copping out (which I was) so I continued training even though I was really not into it. A couple of weeks ago, I found out that the person with whom I was originally supposed to drive down to San Diego and run with couldn’t make it and I quickly started settling into, what I thought was, the reality of not being able to see this thing through. I was trying not to be too bummed about it but looking back, it would have really sucked to have trained for so long (according to RunKeeper, I logged 394 miles training for this race!) and not have been able to have the culminating moment.
As for the race itself, it was an awesome experience. La Jolla is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. Such a perfect place to run a race like this. I was a little worried about the weather initially because I hate being cold while running but it turned about to be perfect with temperatures in the high 50s/low 60s with the sun peaking out shortly after the start. The traffic was a little crazy getting there so I didn’t have too much time to prepare before the race started which, I think was ultimately a good thing. Less time to psych myself out. I spent most of my time before the start waiting in line for the Port-O-Potties, which are hands down my least favorite thing about my race experience….or about any experience that I’ve ever had that involves them.
I started out running way faster than I probably should of at a pace of about 8:09 per mile. I usually average between an 8:45-9:30/mile for runs over 10 miles so I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to sustain this for the whole race (and I was right) but it felt good in that moment and I just wanted to live in it a little. Though my playlist was on shuffle, it knew me well enough to start off with some throwbacks from Queen Bey so, that could have also accounted for my over-zealousness at the outset. 😉
The first 4 miles seemed to fly by, probably because I knew that the big uphill climb would be around miles 5-6. Coming up to mile five, I could see the incline up ahead and it was, admittedly, a little daunting. I was rather distracted, however, by the gorgeous ocean waves crashing up again the sides of the cove and I forgot to get nervous. It was kind of breathtaking. The hill itself was also breathtaking, in a different, less romantic way. Lots of panting. Lots of squeezing of the glutes. A twenty second break here and there and before I knew it, I had reached, what at the time felt like, the Promise Land, despite still have the majority of the race ahead of me. 😛
There was a fair amount of hillage even after the big uphill but nothing Elysian Park hadn’t prepared me for. I was pleasantly surprised with how well my body performed on the inclines. Was definitely grateful for my East LA training grounds. I was able to pick up my speed a bit for miles 9-11 but then we hit some steep downhill and my body got a big angry. I tend to unevenly distribute pressure to the right side of my body so I started cramping in my right rib cage and shoulders. I fought through a lot of it but eventually had to pull over to the side and stretch it out for a bit. It honestly didn’t help that much but at least it allowed me to mentally reset enough to get through the last couple of miles. There was an uphill thrown in for the first half of the twelfth mile which was rude, to say that least. I was tired and peeved and ended up having to take a couple of 20 second breaks, which was annoying because I knew the finish line was so close. I eventually got it together though and after clumsily running down some cobblestone at the end of the mile (why there was cobblestone, I don’t know), I was able to finish strong with a time of 1:55:53 or 8:39/mile. According to my RunKeeper, this is the fastest that I’ve ever run this distance so, I can’t be mad. Literally, as I ran through the finish line, “Started From the Bottom” by Drake starting playing though my headphones (hence this post title). Dancing was in order.
All and all it was an awesome experience. It was extremely trying at moments, both during my training and the actual race, but the challenges are ultimately what makes it feel so great to have accomplished this. There was moments in the race where I could feel myself getting stressed out both mentally and physically. Looking out at the amazing scenery, I realized that stress was the last thing that I needed to feel. How amazing is it that I have the time, resources, and physical ability to participate in something like this? Rather than feeling stressed, I thought it would be more appropriate to feel grateful for the opportunity and the ability. Shifting my mindset made all the difference.
So after it was all said and done, all I wanted to do was to scarf down some carbs and take a nap. The carbs definitely happened, the nap, unfortunately didn’t. Because I have less than two weeks left in LA before I leave for the summer, I reallly need to kick it into high gear on my final projects. I thought it would be practical of me to get some things outs of the way (i.e. grocery shopping, food prep for the week) so that I wouldn’t have to try to squeeze these things in during the week. After a trip to Trader Joes, making some baba ganoush (!!!), and some paleo cheeze-its, I’m wiped and ready to officially turn down. Twas an awesome day indeed. I could definitely see myself doing another race in the future though I’m in no hurry to sign up. haha Excited to get back to some of the workouts that I’ve missed (like spinning!) and to get some intense interval training in at Enrgi when I’m home in Chicago in a couple of weeks. 🙂