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Breakout of the workout rut

Last week, I discussed three simple changes that could be used to break out of the proverbial “workout rut.” Since health and fitness articles are often long on generalizations and short on exactly what to do, I wanted to share a sample strength and cardiovascular routine that you can use either in the gym or at home to get better results. Of course, if there is a reason why more intense exercise may not be safe for you then consult your physician to determine if these suggestions are appropriate.

Remember, interval training means that you increase and then decrease the intensity of your activity. It does not matter what kind of cardiovascular activity you choose as long as you are able to alternate the intensity level. Complete the routine below 3-5 times per week for 12 weeks.

Weeks 1-4



• Each interval is one minute of intense activity followed by two minutes of lower intensity. The intensity level can consist of increasing speed or better yet increasing the incline or resistance. Repeat the interval three times. Total session is 19 minutes including a five minute warm-up.

Weeks 5-8




• Complete the interval four times. Total session is 22 minutes.

Weeks 9-12

• Complete the interval five times. Total session is 25 minutes.

Functional strength exercises are generally multi-joint movements that recruit multiple muscles groups to work together as a team. For example, a very popular exercise called the bicep curl is a waste of time for someone trying to lose weight or to get stronger for athletic activities. This is because the bicep, a relatively small muscle in the upper arm, does not put much metabolic demand on the body when exercised in isolation.

A better approach would be to use dumbbells to perform a squat, followed by a bicep curl and then a shoulder press. This movement recruits many more muscles for the exercise thereby burning more calories and producing more coordinated strength gains.

If you feel up to it, try the sample 12-week routine below using the following functional movements. Complete the routine 2 or 3 times per week.

If you have questions about how to perform these movements then you are welcome to attend one of our free functional exercise clinics at either South Yuba Club or Monster Gym as my guest. Just call the club of your choice to get the January clinic schedule. You can also Google these exercises and find good explanations and video clips on the internet.

Weeks 1-4

Rest 60 seconds between each set. Total workout is 15 minutes.

• Dumbbell squat to curl to press: 12 reps, 2 sets.

• Barbell row to front lunge: 12 reps, 2 sets.

• Abdominal plate press with Russian twist: 12 reps, 2 sets.

Weeks 5-8

Rest 30 seconds between each set. Total workout is 12 minutes.

• Dumbbell squat to curl to press: 12 reps, 2 sets.

• Barbell row to front lunge: 12 reps, 2 sets.

• Abdominal plate press with Russian ttwist: 12 reps, 2 sets.

Weeks 9-12

Rest 120 seconds between each set. Total workout is 27 minutes.

• Dumbbell squat to curl to press: 8 reps, 3 sets.

• Barbell row to front lunge; 8 reps, 3 sets.

• Abdominal plate press with Russian twist: 12 reps, 3 sets.

Although the above functional strength routine looks easy, it is actually quite challenging. My clients find that their heart rates soar at 80 percent to 85 percent during these strength workouts. Since the routine develops both strength and cardiovascular conditioning at the same time this workout is also very time efficient. If you are ready for rapid results and a new challenge, then give these routines a shot!

Mike Carville is a NASM/RKC certified personal trainer and co-owner of South Yuba Club in Nevada City (www.southyubaclub.com) and Monster Gym in Grass Valley (www.monstergyms.com). He has worked in the fitness and sports industry for 15 years and specializes in programming for new exercisers, weight loss/toning and athletic training. Mike is available for questions and speaking engagements via e-mail at mikec@southyubaclub.com.


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