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Indoor rowing 2

Rowing Workout Ideas

Rowing ergometers are used by indoor rowers as an alternative to rowing on water and are also popular with sportsmen and general exercisers. Rowing is an effective whole-body exercise that can be aerobic or anaerobic depending on the type of workout you perform. All workouts should be scaled to suit your individual fitness levels and because rowing strongly uses the lower back, you should row using good technique to minimize your risk of injury.

indoor rowing

Time Trials
Time trials are like races except you compete against yourself. The aim of a time trail is to develop top-end aerobic fitness by rowing at your fastest sustainable pace. Typical distances for time trials include 2000, 5000 and 10,000 meters. Perform time trials on a regular basis to monitor your progress.


Long Intervals
Interval training describes alternating periods or work with periods of rest and long intervals are performed at just below maximum pace. Long intervals will develop your top-end aerobic fitness, muscular endurance and mental toughness as well as being excellent for fat burning. Generally, work periods are twice as long as rest periods so a 5 minute row would have a 2 1/2 minute recovery. Perform multiple intervals, for example 4 sets of 4 minutes fast rowing with 2 minutes recovery. 

Short Intervals
Short or sprint intervals will improve your anaerobic fitness, strength and power. Perform short intervals at your top speed. Work periods should be between 30 and 90 seconds and rest periods should be between one and three minutes. Perform multiple intervals per workout, for example 10 sets of 30 seconds sprinting with 60 seconds recovery between efforts.

Power Intervals
Power intervals will develop your rowing strength and your aim to generate as much force as possible for a very short period of time. Power intervals are all about maximum effort so recovery periods are disproportionately long to maintain the quality of the workout. A good example of a power interval workout is rowing as hard as possible for 20 seconds and then recovering for 40 seconds and repeating 10 times. If you find your performance is dropping significantly from interval to interval you should increase your rest period-with power intervals, think quality and not quantity.

Indoor rowing 2

Fartlek is Swedish for speed play and describes a workout consisting of a variety of rowing speeds mixed randomly. Either as directed by a coach or as you see fit, row for a set distance or time and mix your pace for the duration of the workout. Alternate between sprinting, fast, easy and moderate paced rowing to work both aerobically and anaerobically.

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WoW – Thursdays workout 24/04/2014

Indoor Triathlon

Equipment: Rowing machine, exercise bike, treadmill, stopwatch.
Duration: Against the clock.
Purpose: Aerobic conditioning.
Method: This workout is a straight race against yourself and the clock. Perform each discipline as fast as possible, including the transitions between exercises—the time starts when you begin rowing and ends when you finish running. Although speed is of the essence, make sure you don’t set off so fast that you fail to finish. Record your time and try to beat it when you repeat this workout.

  1. Row 2,000 meters
  2. Cycle 5,000 meters
  3. Run 2,000 meters

Exercise Descriptions

Row 2,000 meters
Rowing is an effective all-over cardiovascular exercise. As rowing machines vary from model to model you should view these instructions as technique rather than operational guidelines.

  • Set the rowing computer to 2,000 meters
  • Fix your feet to the foot plates so that the strap is across the broadest part of your feet
  • Grasp the handle with an overhand grip
  • Bend your knees, extend your arms and sit up tall – this is your starting position
  • Drive hard with your legs and, as the handle crosses your knees, begin to pull with your arms
  • Continue pulling until the handle touches your abdomen
  • Extend your arms, bend your legs and slide forward to return to the starting position
  • Do not allow your lower back to round as this can lead to injury

Cycle 5,000 meters
This simple cardiovascular exercise can all go horribly wrong if you don’t set your bike up correctly! Professional cyclists spend weeks in wind tunnels making sure they are properly positioned on your bike. Make sure you spend a few seconds you are set up properly too! Do this prior to starting the workout to save transition time…

  • Stand next to the bike and adjust the seat so that it is level with your hip
  • Sit on the bike and place your feet in the pedal straps. The balls of your feet should be directly aligned with the pivot point of the pedal
  • Push one leg all the way down – you should have a slight bend in your knee and should not need to rock over
  • Repeat this process with the other leg in case you have a leg length discrepancy
  • Place your hands on the handle bars, set the distance on the bike computer and begin pedalling
  • Try to keep your upper body relaxed and avoid rocking from side to side – this is uneconomical and can make cycling uncomfortable

Run 2,000 meters
Your legs may be feeling decidedly jelly-like now and the only way you will get them feeling even halfway normal is to set off on your run at a good, fast pace. Starting off slowly merely delays the recovery of your leg muscles. As each treadmill operates differently, use these instructions as a guide to running technique.

  • Stand on the centre of the belt near the front
  • Start the treadmill and quickly progress from a walk to a jog to a run
  • Focus on a light foot fall while using a heel-toe action and keeping your upper body relaxed
  • Stay fairly close to the front of the treadmill so you can hit the emergency stop button if you get into trouble

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woman push ups

Ladder training for muscular endurance

woman push upsMany muscular endurance and conditioning workouts require high volumes of work which, for neophytes and the de-conditioned achieving these numbers, may seem like a very distant goal.

How do you go from only being able to perform a couple of press ups or dips to completing the 100 reps required by some coaches or workouts?


Strength training, like gymnastic training, is part physiological adaptation and part neurological adaptation – by which I mean in many cases the limiting factor is not the size of your muscles but the nervous supply to those muscles.

As strength training is in part a skill, we need to perform repeated movements with sufficient volume to allow the body to learn how to perform the exercises in a skillful coordinated way.

Here in lies the problem – the best was to get better at pull ups is to do lots of them, but if you cant do many in the first place, how do you achieve sufficient volume to get really good at the exercise?

Luckily, the conundrum has a solution – and that solution is called “ladder training”

In a normal workout, our neophyte trainee may manage for example an initial set of 7 pull ups, a second set of 5 and a final set of 3 to give him/her a total workout volume of 15 reps. More volume (repeated efforts) is required to improve the skill of the pull up but insufficient strength makes this a difficult task.

In many strength training circles this principle of repeated efforts to improve specific exercise performance is called “greasing the groove”.

By applying ladder training to our trainees pull ups, our newbie will be doing more volume and therefore more practice and soon be on their way to improving their pull up numbers to a level which was previously an impossible dream!

Ladder Training Protocol.

  • Perform 1 rep of the given exercise
  • Rest a few seconds
  • Perform 2 reps of the given exercise
  • Rest a few seconds
  • Perform 3 reps of the given exercise
  • Rest a few seconds
  • Perform 4 reps of given exercise
  • Rest a few seconds etc.

(Note that rests are intuitive and should only just be long enough to allow the trainee to reach the next rung of the ladder)

Keep adding one rep and resting a few seconds until you are unable to continue i.e. you mange 5 reps, rest a few seconds but cant then manage 6. This is the end of the first set.

Using our previous trainee as an example again, our beginner client manages to ladder up to 5 reps in the first set – giving a rep total for that set of 15 (which is normally the total for their whole work out.)

After 90 seconds rest, they perform ladders again and reach a high of 4 reps – giving a rep total of 10 reps and on their final set managed 3 reps giving a rep total for that set of 6 reps.

So, in total, our trainee will have completed 31 reps of pull ups – 16 reps more than they could normally have achieved!

Ladder training is an excellent tool for increasing overall training volume which can be applied to pretty much any exercise and provides a great way of exposing the trainee to a much higher volume of work than would normally be possible training in a more traditional way. It works very will with  “easy” exercises like bodyweight pull ups, press ups and dips, as well as with traditional resistance exercises like squats, bench press and deadlifts – particularly when utilizing a substantial load. 

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WoW – Mondays workout 21/07/2014

It’s legs all the way today with our The Leg Blaster Giant Set workout!

Duration: 20 minutes approximately
Equipment: Stopwatch
Method: Perform 3-5 laps of the following circuit and rest 60-90 seconds between laps. Adjust the reps up or down depending on your personal fitness level.

  1. 12 squat jumps
  2. 12 squats
  3. 12 jumping lunges (12 per leg)
  4. 12 lunges (6 per leg)
  5. 30 seconds isometric wall squat

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Copy of sit up throw 3

Effective Medicine Ball Exercises

Medicine balls (or med balls as they are sometimes known) are versatile training tools with which you can perform a variety of exercises. Working out with medicine balls is popular amongst sportspeople such as boxers and martial artists as well as regular exercise participants. These exercises are advanced and not suitable for beginners so only perform these hardcore exercises if you believe you are ready to do so safely.

Medicine Ball Slams

This whole-body exercise will strengthen your core and arms and give you a great high-intensity workout. Holding a medicine ball in your hands, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise the ball above your head. Initiating the movement by contracting your abs and immediately followed by using your arms, hurl the medicine ball down at the floor about 12” in front of your feet. Catch the ball as it rebounds and repeat. Make sure you are using a non-burst ball for this exercise.

Medicine Ball Thrusters

Using your arms and legs simultaneously, this exercise is an all-round exercise that works lots of your muscles at the same time. With your feet hip-width apart, hold a medicine ball in both hands at chest height. Your hands should be holding the bottom part of the ball and your elbows should be below your hands. Push your hips back, bend your knees and lower your body into a squat position. Immediately drive up out of the squat and push the medicine ball up above your head so that you are stood at full stretch. Lower the ball back to your chest and drop back into the squat and repeat. This exercise can be made harder by adding a jump as you drive out of the squat and push your arms overhead-a truly hardcore exercise!

Medicine Ball Push-ups

Push-ups will develop your chest, shoulders and triceps. Using a medicine ball will make this traditional upper-body exercise into a hardcore challenge. Adopt a regular push-up position but place both hands on the top of a medicine ball. You will need to actively push your hands together to maintain your position. Keeping your elbows tucked into your sides, bend your arms and lower your body until your chest touches the ball. Drive back up into the starting position by extending the elbows, making sure you keep your abs tight throughout.

Medicine Ball Sit-up and Throw
This ab power exercise requires the use of a partner. Lie on an exercise mat with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor holding a medicine ball in both hands. Your partner should stand about 10’ from your feet. Sit up and throw the medicine ball to your partner. Try to use your whole body to throw the ball as opposed to sitting up and then throwing the ball. Your partner should catch the ball and quickly return it to you by throwing it to a point in space 12” above your head. Reach up and catch the ball before lowering your body back to the ground and repeating. If you don’t have a training partner available, you can perform this exercise solo by throwing the ball against a sturdy wall.

Copy of sit up throw 3

Medicine Ball Burpees

An exercise for the whole body, medicine ball burpees are a very hardcore conditioning workout! Place the medicine ball on the floor between your feet. Bend down and place your hands on the ball. Jump your feet back into the push-up position and perform a single push up. Jump your feet back in so that your feet are either side of the ball. Grasp the ball and jump up into the air, lifting the ball above your head as you do so. Land on the balls of your feet and bend forwards to place the ball back on the floor and repeat the sequence.

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WoW – Thursdays workout 17/07/2014

Two workouts today one for the upper body and then one for the lower body, hence the name!

Upstairs, Downstairs
Duration: Approximately 25 minutes
Equipment: Pull up/chin up station,
Method: Perform 5 laps of both of the following circuits. One focuses on upper body (upstairs) while the other focus on your lower body (downstairs).

Part 1 – upper body
5 laps of the following exercises with minimal rest between exercises and laps

  • 10 pull ups (substitute lat pull downs or body rows if necessary)
  • 20 press ups
  • 30 rubber band high pulls (squat combined with an upright row)

Rest 2-3 minutes

 Part 2 – lower body
5 laps of the following exercises with minimal rest between exercises and laps

  • 10 burpees (no press up – focus on the jump)
  • 20 lunges (10 per leg)
  • 30 squats

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Deadlift collage

Exercises To Help Improve Your Dead Lifts

The author practicing what he preaches…

The dead lift is a compound exercise that utilizes a large number of lower and upper body muscles. In the sport of power lifting, the dead lift is one of the lifts that is contested in competition. The dead lift involves lifting a weight from the floor and standing up until your knees and hips are fully extended and is used by many athletes and sports people as a tool for increasing strength. There are a number of assistance exercises you can perform to improve your dead lift.

Stiff Legged Dead Lift
The stiff legged dead lift or SLDL is an exercise that will strengthen your hamstrings and lower back, both essential for successful dead lifting. To perform the SLDL, grasp a barbell in both hands and stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your knees slightly bent but rigid, push your hips back and bend forward as far as your flexibility will allow. Make sure you don’t round your lower back as this can lead to injury. Stand back upright in a single, smooth motion and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Rack Pulls
The rack pull will improve your ability to lock your hips out to perform a successful lift and is a dead lift with a reduced range of movement. Set the pins on a power rack so that the bar is just above your knee level. This reduced range of movement will increase the amount of weight you will be able to lift. Stand in front of the bar and bend forwards at the hips. Bend your knees slightly and grasp the barbell in both hands using either an overhand or a mixed grip. Using only your hips and back, lift the bar to waist height. Return the bar to the pins by bending forward at the hips and repeat. This exercise is best performed for low repetitions using a heavy weight.

Dead Lifts from a Deficit
This exercise will improve your ability to get the bar moving off of the floor. Place a 4 inch step next to a barbell and stand on it. You will now have to bend down further and deeper to be able to reach the barbell which will make initiating the pull from the floor more difficult. Perform your dead lifts as normal but be aware that your lower back is more prone to rounding using this technique. You should take extra care to avoid this. You can make this exercise even more demanding by using a wide snatch grip which will increase the range of movement further.

Kettlebell Swing
Using either a kettlebell or dumbbell, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the weight in both hands. Slightly bend your knees and push, hips back and lean forwards so that the weight is between your knees. Forcefully extend your hips and knees and simultaneously swing the weight up to eye level. Decelerate the weight as it falls back to the starting position and repeat. This is an explosive exercise which will improve your hip and hamstring power and should be performed at speed.


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burpees 1

WoW – Mondays workout 14/07/2014

This workout gradually builds in intensity and can really creep up on you…!

Press up/Burpee Pyramid
Duration: Against the Clock
Equipment: Stopwatch
Method: Perform burpees as per instructions below BUT increase the number of press ups you perform mid-burpee each time*.

  • Stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides
  • Bend down and place your hands outside of your feet
  • Jump your feet back into the press up position
  • Perform a single press up*
  • Jump your feet back in
  • Stand up

Option 1 – STOP at 10 press ups…your workout is complete!

Option 2 - Carry on adding a press up per burpee until you are unable to continue and see just how many you can do…

Option 3 – On reaching 10 press ups, continue but reduce the press ups/push ups by 1 rep at a time until you get back down to 1.

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running shoes

WOW – Thursdays Workout 10/07/2014

This simple but challenging workout targets your legs and cardiovascular system…

Legs and Lungs A
Duration: Against the Clock
Equipment: Treadmill or rowing machine
Method: Complete the following as fast as possible…

50 bodyweight squats
500 meter run
40 bodyweight squats
400 meter run
30 bodyweight squats
300 meter run
20 bodyweight squats
200 meter run
10 bodyweight squats
100 meter run
(Rowing can be substituted for running if preferred)

 running shoes

Posted in Fat burning, Fitness, Resistance training, Workout of the Week (WOW), Workouts2 Comments

door frame stretch

Exercises for Better Posture

Your spine is made up of five separate sections, all of which are curved. The inward curves are called lordotic curves whilst the outward curves are called kyphotic curves. When these curves become excessive you can develop problems with your spine such as back pain. Because of modern-day posture caused by long periods sat at your computer or watching TV, your upper spine can develop an excessive outward or kyphotic curve which presents as rounding of the upper back and a forward head position. There are a number of things you can do to avoid developing an excessive kyphotic curve, which is correctly termed hyper kyphosis.











Soft Tissue Release using a Foam Roller
Lying face up on a foam roller and performing soft tissue release can help to reposition your spine and is a lot like having a massage. Foam rollers are available from sporting goods stores and in 2010 cost around $15.00. You should spend 5 minutes a day using a foam roller to maximize its effectiveness but be careful not to overdo it. If you are overly aggressive with your rolling you may make your back sore.

foam roller





Door way Chest Stretch
Kyphosis is, in part, caused by overly tight chest muscles. When your chest muscles shorten and become tight they pull your shoulders forwards and inwards which can increase your kyphotic curve. Stretch your chest by using a standard doorway. Standing in an open door way and place your elbows on the door frame at shoulder height. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees with your hands flat on the door frame. Keep your elbows in place and lean through the door to gently stretch both sides of your chest at the same time. As you feel your chest muscles relaxing, increase the depth of the stretch. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times every day.

chest stretch






Face Pulls

Strengthening the muscles in your mid-back can help to draw your shoulder blades back and lessen your kyphosis. Attach two rubber exercise bands to a sturdy anchor at chest height. Grasp a band in each hand. Keeping your elbows level with your shoulders and held out wide, pull the band towards your face-hence the name of the exercise. Concentrate on keeping your elbows up and your wrists straight. Pause for 1 to 2 seconds in the most contracted position before slowly returning to the start. Repeat for 15 to 20 repetitions, resting 60 seconds between sets. This exercise can also be performed using an adjustable pulley.

face pulls





Standing Wall Angels
This exercises strengthens the muscles between your shoulder blades but does so isometrically. This means that although your muscles are working, they don’t actually move. Your muscles often work isometrically to maintain your posture. Stand 12 inches away from a wall and lean back against it. Keeping your head against the wall, raise your arms and place your elbows against the wall. Bend your arms to 90 degrees and place the backs of your hands against the wall. You should now be in a “stick ‘em up” position. Slowly slide your hands up the wall as far as your flexibility allows while pushing your elbows against the wall. Once you have reached up as far as you can, slowly lower your arms until your elbows are level with your shoulders. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions, resting 60 seconds between sets. 

wall angels

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