Stuck for time? Want an evil finisher to your workouts?
With having more time on my hands, I revisited some old workout notes and remembered the horrible, horrible 20-10 protocol:
-Work for 20 seconds.
-Rest for 10 seconds.
-Repeat for 8 rounds.
-Wish for death.
However, doing 20 - 10 for 8 rounds is too much for most people and in this video I talk you through how to build up:
LEVEL 1: 10 sec work - 20 sec rest. Up to 8 rounds.
LEVEL 2: 15 sec work - 15 sec rest. Up to 8 rounds.
LEVEL 3: 20 sec work - 10 sec rest. Up to 8 rounds.
MAD BASTARD LEVEL: 20 sec work - 10 sec isometric hold. Up to 8 rounds.
If you're stuck for time or don't fancy doing a lot, you can do a warm up and up to 8 rounds of this and be done in less than 10 minutes.
If you want to add a challenge to the end of your workout, these are ideal.
You can stick to 1 exercise throughout such as Squats. Or you could alternate such as round 1 = Squats. Round 2 = Press Ups.
When you're working out at home, unless you've got a decent set up it's likely you'll find yourself being limited by your own bodyweight or the weights you have.
In a lot of cases your only option is to keep increasing the reps you are able to do.
Which is fine for a while but it can become impractical if you're having to do lots of reps of an exercise.
So here are three ways you can try to either make light weights feel heavier or make your muscles do more work so you do not necessarily have to keep adding more and more reps.
I love the Romanian Deadlift exercise - it works a lot of muscles, ticks a lot of boxes and can be progressed to a decent weight.
There are a number of tips and techniques to help you get even more out of this exercise - both in terms of safety and making the muscles work even harder.
In the video, I give you a number of tips to try so the exercise works even better for you.
If you've never tried this exercise before, I would recommend looking at my hip hinge tutorial first and mastering the movement before doing Romanian Deadlifts.
I like the X Band Walks for hitting the butt muscles in a different way to usual exercises.
Whether it is technique or lack of strength, these are tougher than they look.
Leading your body to compensate and find ways to move without working the muscles it's meant to.
Here is an alternative which stops you being able to cheat and fires your butt muscles up like crazy!
If I say "hip hinge", it will likely mean little to nothing.
However It is an important movement that is done as part of a lot of exercises such as hip thrusts, cable pull throughs, kettlebell swings, and romanian deadlifts.
It is fairly technical, requires coordination and getting it right takes practice.
I've put a video together showing how to build the movement up from scratch.
If you give this a try and struggle, drop me a message and I'll be happy to help!
Split squats and lunges are used in a lot of training programs and fitness classes.
And with good reason - they are fantastic leg exercises.
They work a lot of muscles and can really get the heart rate going.
However, they aren't necessarily a first option if you are new to the gym because they require a good amount of leg and core strength, along with balance and coordination
With that in mind, I've put together this thorough guide on how to:
a) build up to doing split squats and lunges if you're completely new to exercising
b) perform them with good form so you're getting the most out of the exercises
Before we get into it all, it's important to give 2 disclaimers:
1) Any lower body issues that may prevent you doing this exercises, speak to a doctor or physical therapist first
2) The guidelines I give for progressions are approximate - you might be ready to progress before you reach that level. You might need longer before you get there. I just gave some figures based on what I generally see with my clients.
Before we think about doing the split squats, let's look at what you should start with:
Squats are performed on both feet and so are a stable exercise to start building up the leg strength.
As per the video, the main technique to focus on is:
1) Play around with foot stance to see what feels comfortable for you
2) Brace stomach muscles
3) Keep chest up
4) Push hips back and down whilst bending through the knees
5) Keep knees in lines with toes
6) Lower as far as comfortable and then reverse the movement to push yourself back to standing
Once you can do bodyweight comfortably, add weights to the exercise to help build up leg strength further.
You have to understand that if your legs do not have the strength to do squats well, trying to do exercises on one leg at a time will really tough.
It's important to have strong stomach muscles as they will help to support your body and assist your balance when you come to doing split squats and lunges.
When you look at those exercises, you're basically holding a plank position whilst moving your legs.
The 90 90 or half kneeling position is important to get comfortable in as it mimics the bottom of the split squat and lunge exercises.
For many people this position can feel really tight on the legs to begin with.
Stick with it and that tight stretch will improve over time!
This blog post goes more in-depth on the "Feel the whole foot" concept you'll hear me talk about in the videos. It's highly worth your time practicing this as you hold these positions - https://www.joncoulson.co.uk/blog/feeling-the-whole-foot-important-cue
If you feel that your hips are really, really tight then this blog post gives you some good exercises to help your hips loosen up and feel better - https://www.joncoulson.co.uk/blog/improving-your-hip-mobility
Once you reach the stage of being able to do squats with a good weight and your legs feel strong, you're holding front and side planks with ease and the 90-90 position doesn't feel like it's trying to ping the muscle off your legs.
Then it's the right time to start practicing the splits squats
Balance is often an issue to begin with.
Usually this comes down to finding the right foot position and your body figuring out what the hell is going on.
As with all other exercises, this is a skill and it takes practice so don't give up on your first try.
One word of caution - these can be tough on your legs to begin with so don't try and perform all the reps ever on your first try.
Well you can, but enjoy having to crawl everywhere because your legs will be total Nope.
It can take from a few weeks to a few months to build up solid, stable split squats.
Everyone is different so do not get disheartened if they're tough for you.
Remember the key cues from the videos:
1) Whole foot
2) Split stance, not too short
3) Stomach muscles braced
4) Upright or slight forward lean
5) Bend through knees and move hips straight up and down, not forward
Once mastered, it is then time for:
There are two main lunge variations - Reverse Lunges and Forward Lunges (and then advanced versions not shown such as Walking Lunges and Forward to Reverse Lunges).
My preference to begin with is reverse lunges because I find them a little easier on knees.
Once you are comfortable with reverse lunges, then give forward lunges a try.
These are the main starting points and progressions I use with clients who come to me. We work on them and build up their exercise capacity over time.
I've tried to give key details and troubleshoots for building up to safely doing split squats and lunges.
I tried not to completely overwhelm you with technique, plus without seeing you in person or seeing videos, it's impossible to tweak the exercises to you.
Give this a try and if you get stuck, you're welcome to drop me a message!
With social distancing measures increasing, it may only be a matter of time before your gym has to close for a period of time.
Or maybe you've already taken the step to stay away from big social places.
I completely understand and I want to do a small part to help you out.
I've put together a simple PDF with some lists of bodyweight exercises you can do at home. I've also given a few ideas for how to put the workouts together.
I've based this on the fact you're already training at a gym, rather than a complete beginner so I haven't provided exercise descriptions, just the video demo's.
If you get stumped on anything, drop me a message and I'll be happy to help!
Just click on the below PDF icon to download your copy.
There's a cue in many leg exercises that often gets over looked.
It was highlighted to me several years ago by Mike Robertson in one of his videos / articles and I've been using with my clients to help their technique.
The cue is "feel the whole foot"
This applies to leg exercises such as Squats, Split Squats, Lunges, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats, Leg Press, Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts and I'm sure several more.
The idea is that during these sort of exercises, many will roll onto the ball of the foot / toes because of a balance issue or because it will often feel easier to push off through the ball of the foot than through the heel.
I find that pushing through the ball of the foot uses the muscles at the front of the leg more whereas pushing through the heel brings in the butt muscles more. When I cue my clients to push through the whole foot, rather than just the toes, they find the same too.
Here's what to do:
1) When you start a leg exercise, spread your weight across the heel of the foot and the ball of the foot / toes
2) Then make sure both sides of your foot are on the floor. You want to feel the weight of the foot from the ball under the big toe across to the little toe and across the heel too
3) As you perform a leg exercise, focus on feeling your whole foot keep in contact with the floor / platform. This will help to keep the foot stable so you do not roll it - front to back or side to side
4) As you push through your foot for the exercise, focus on pushing through the ball and the heel.
For exercises that use both feet at the same time - Leg Press, Squats, Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift - you will want to do this through both feet at the same time.
For exercises that use 1 foot at a time - 1 - Leg Romanian Deadlifts, Split Squats, Lunges, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (Bulgarian Split Squats). You will only be focusing on 1 foot at a time doing this.
Are you stuck doing endless, endless, endless, endless, endless, endless reps of glute bridges with 5 or 10 kg weight plates?
I get it, trying to add more weight is either uncomfortable on the hips or awkward to get into position.
In the first video, I give you some tips on performing the glute bridge correctly and then how to progress with heavier weights.
Heavier weights will work and shape the butt better than sets of 30 reps with super light weights.
In the second video, if you struggle to feel glute bridges in your bum... instead feeling it in the back of your legs or lower back, give this tip a try
This is my, mostly, Personal Trainer musings and information which I hope you'll find helpful!