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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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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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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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Exercise Efficiency – The Cause of Stalled Fat Loss?

Do you use cardio for weight control? Are you one of the many people who run, cycle, swim or do classes to keep your weight under control? Did you find that at first your weight loss was quite noticeable but now it hit a plateau?  If the answer is yes to the above, it’s time to think about ways of kicking your cardio up a notch or two to make it productive again!


So, what’s gone wrong? Why is the training programme that you have been following, be it group exercise classes or running, stopped working? The answer is adaptation. Quite simply, you’ve gotten good at your choice of exercise. Firstly, pat yourself on the back for sticking with a programme long enough for this to happen but then also give yourself a slap for sticking with your programme for too long!

Your body is an amazingly adaptive organism. If a stress (and exercise is a form of stress) doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger and fitter. In addition, repeated bouts of the same stress (class, running speed/distance etc) results in your body becoming more energetically economical. For weight loss, energy economy is the last thing you want.

Consider this example. As a beginner runner, your running technique may not be very good. You might also be overweight. As a result, you use a lot of energy whenever you run and subsequently lose weight for the first few weeks or even months of your new running routine. Your body, smart machine that it is, looks for ways to make you a better runner. Your muscles develop greater endurance, your heart and lungs become more efficient and your body gets very good at making fat go a long way. The result is that, compared to when you were less fit, heavier and an energy inefficient runner, your training runs now actually burn less calories!

RunnerAnother example – you join one of many group exercise classes. For the first few weeks you find it really hard to follow the choreography, you are always having to catch up, your body is heavier and your fitness is lower. In essence, you are also energetically inefficient. Fast forward a few weeks or months and you have learnt the routine, your movements are smoother, you don’t have to try and catch up all the time and the result is you burn less energy during a class.

In both scenarios, the fitter you get, the less effective your workout becomes and, subsequently, your weight loss stalls.

So, what’s the answer? You have to learn to become energetically uneconomical again. You need to choose activities that you are not good at! Do classes that are unfamiliar so you have to work harder, try running on uneven terrain or more uphill than down, strap on ankle weights or a weighted vest, run on sand or soft grass instead of concrete…do whatever you need to do to make your efforts less economical and more energy expensive. Ironically, one of the most uneconomical fitness activities is also one of the most accessible – walking as fast as you can. Walking is by and large a very smooth and economical exercise but when you walk as fast as possible (just shy of breaking into a run) your gait becomes very uneconomical and you waste a lot of energy and remember, if you want to lose weight, you need to waste energy. Strap on a weighted vest or backpack and you have a highly effective fat burner simply because it is an uneconomical activity.

So, bottom line time. Stop doing the same old same old. If your workout isn’t working it’s because you have reached an energy equilibrium and all you are doing is treading water. Make your workouts less efficient and you’ll soon see your weight loss start again.

swimmingStill not convinced? Ask yourself this simple question – who do you think will burn more energy…the swimmer with the perfect technique who glides effortlessly through the water or the person who literally thrashes the water to foam? Inefficient exercise is your key to greater weight loss.

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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

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All About Fat Loss – Part 2

lean_bodiesIn part 1 of this article, we told you all about creating a calorie deficit. Todays article is a training programme to get you fit and lean for the summer…

Putting it all together – your fat loss training plan


If you are serious about fat loss, it’s important that you have your diet dialled in and you are eating as cleanly as possible. Cut down on sugar, refined carbs, high calorie beverages and junk food. Base each meal around fibrous vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains and drink plenty of water. Once your diet is sorted, it’s time to get busy with some training…

Monday – high intensity interval training
Run, cycle, row – it’s up to you but after you have warmed up work as hard as you can for 60 seconds and then take it easy for 120 seconds. Repeat 6 times to total 18 minutes. Follow up with some core work and a good stretch.

Tuesday – circuit weight training
After you have warmed up repeat this circuit 3-5 times using weights that allow you to perform 12-20 repetitions per set

  • Lunges
  • Lat pull downs
  • Dead lifts
  • Bench press

Finish off with a 10 minute FCR run, cycle or row at 85-90% of your maximum heart rate – treat it as a race!

Wednesday – 20 minutes LSD followed by a stretch
Today is an active rest day so enjoy taking it easy

Thursday – high intensity interval training
Again, run, cycle, or row – it’s up to you but after you have warmed up work as hard as you can for 120 seconds and then take it easy for 120 seconds. Repeat 5 times to total 20 minutes. Follow up with some core work and a good stretch

Friday – circuit weight training
After you have warmed up repeat this circuit 3-5 times using weights that allow you to perform 12-20 repetitions per set.

  • Squats
  • Bent over rows
  • Stiff legged dead lifts
  • Shoulder press

Finish off with a 10 minute FCR run, cycle or row at 85-90% of your maximum heart rate – treat it as a race!

Saturday – 20 minutes LSD followed by a stretch
Today is an active rest day so enjoy taking it easy.

Sunday – no training. Rest and recover to start again on Monday.

Now you have all the information you need and a plan to get you started on your road to leanness. 1lb a week might not sound like fast fat loss but it will be fairly painless, won’t leave you hungry, is sustainable and won’t require you to buy any expensive pills, potions, books or DVDs. Stick with it and you’ll be unveiling your six-pack by the summer!

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All About Fat Loss – Part 1

Fat loss is a question of energy balance...

Fat loss is a question of energy balance…

Losing fat is a relatively simple yet seemingly very complicated process. Why the contradiction? Because there is so much information available on the huge variety of fat loss options available it’s easy to get bogged down in the detail and lose sight of the one set-in-stone rule that everyone seems to  forget…to lose fat you MUST create a calorie deficit. You need to either eat less or exercise more or, for optimum success, combine them both. Any energy not supplied from your diet will have to come from your body fat stores and a single pound (0.45kg) of body fat contains approximately 3,500 calories of food energy so to lose 1 pound a week you need to create a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories (7 x 500 calories = 1 lb).




To create a 500 calorie deficit you could just eat 500 calories less a day but the problem with that idea is that 500 calories is a significant amount to food to cut from your daily intake and you’re very likely to feel hungry. Hunger is nature’s way of motivating you to get out and hunt or gather food and it won’t be long before you are literally forced to feed and make up for the lost calories. Ironically, your body has no idea you are voluntarily eating a calories restricted diet – it’s programmed for survival and makes the assumption that you are merely a poor hunter who has failed to catch your dinner! Hunger is the signal your brain sends your stomach to make you get up, grab your spear and hunt for your next meal.

In addition to motivating you to feed, the body’s survival response to a major calorie reduction is to slow down its energy expenditure and make your fat stores last longer. This is called the “starvation response” and was a literal life saver when we were roaming the plains as hunters and gatherers but is now a redundant reaction as our body attempts to protect its self from the perceived threat that is dieting. The starvation response, linked to the appetite suppressing hormone leptin, is designed for one thing only – to make your very valuable fat stores last as long as possible to keep you alive during periods of famine. The best way to avoid triggering the starvation response is to make sure you don’t reduce your daily food intake too far below maintenance. A deficit of around 200-250 calories a day is about right and will stop you a) feeling hungry and b) triggering the starvation response.

When it comes to exercise, almost any activity can be used to burn calories and contribute to the calorie deficit however, some exercise methods are better than others…

LSD (Long Slow Distance) cardio describes long, easy workouts in your “fat burning” zone at around 60% of your maximum heart rate. This level of exercise is relatively comfortable as minimal amounts of lactic acid are produced. LSD paced cardio exercise primarily burns fat as its fuel source BUT although this sounds like the ideal form of exercise for anyone looking to lose weight, it must be stressed that although LSD cardio does burn primarily fat, it doesn’t burn a lot of it. Fat is very energy dense (9 calories for gram) and even the leanest person has over 35,000 calories of body fat available to burn aerobically. LSD cardio is great for your heart, will make you aerobically fitter, is easy and pleasant to do but it isn’t the best form of exercise for burning lots of energy.

Higher intensity aerobic exercise such as Fartlek (speed play) training, interval training and FCR (fast continuous running) is fuelled by carbohydrate more so than fat which on first assessment might make them appear less than ideal forms of exercise for anyone wanting to shed a few pounds however, there is more to these forms of exercise than meets the eye. Because of the intensity of these training methods, large amounts of lactic acid are produced which builds up in the blood. Lactic acid is the reason your muscles burn when you are training hard. The lactic acid has to be flushed from the system and this is done with the presence of oxygen. Basically, after a hard workout (which is primarily fuelled by carbohydrates) the aerobic system has to “flush” the lactic acid out of your blood using oxygen – LOTS of oxygen and most importantly, fat. This phenomenon is called EPOC (Excessive Post exercise Oxygen Consumption)   and is sometimes referred to as oxygen debt or after burn. In a nutshell it means that after a hard workout like running some sprints on the track, your body goes into overdrive at the end of the session as it flushes out the accumulated lactic acid in your system. This process uses energy in the form of fat so essentially you end up getting 2 workouts for the prince of one!

The final piece of the fat loss puzzle is weight training. Muscle is biologically active and has a significant demand for energy. The more muscle mass you have, the greater number of calories you need on a daily basis. If you were to put a larger engine in your car, say replace your 1.0 litre engine with a 1.6, you would burn more fuel whenever you used your car. Adding some muscle to your frame does the same thing to your body. Obviously the opposite is true as well…if you reduced the size of your engine, you would need less fuel. At the very least, it’s very important to maintain the amount of muscle you are carrying to avoid reducing your daily energy requirements which would necessitate more exercise or less food to keep you dropping fat.  Interestingly, LSD cardio and very low calorie diets actually encourage your body to shed muscle (and subsequently burn less calories) where as high intensity cardio and weight training does the opposite and as a result should make up the bulk of your training time.

In part two of this article, we’ll provide you with a workout template to get you fit and lean and stay that way! 


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spartan warrior

WoW – Mondays workout 30/06/2014

The Spartan Circuit
This is one of our favourite workouts! It ticks lots of fitness component boxes and is easily adaptable according to the equipment you have available. Why the Spartan Circuit? It’s brutally effective like the Spartan warriors were and it can be performed even when exercise equipment is sparse.

Equipment: Timer, skipping rope, exercise mat.
Duration: 30 minutes plus warm up and cool down.
Purpose: Aerobic conditioning, whole body muscular endurance.
Method: Set your timer for alternating 2 minute and 1 minute intervals and then complete the following circuit twice. This is a continuous circuit so move from one exercise to the next without taking any rests. If you are not a very proficient skipper, you can substitute jogging or marching on the spot, step ups, cycling on an exercise bike, running on a treadmill, jumping jacks or any other suitable cardiovascular exercise as an alternative.

  • 2 minutes skipping
  • 1 minute press ups
  • 2 minutes skipping
  • 1 minute squats
  • 2 minutes skipping
  • 1 minute dorsal raises
  • 2 minutes skipping
  • 1 minute planks
  • 2 minutes skipping
  • 1 minute lunges

Exercise Descriptions

Skipping, or jumping rope if you prefer, is a cardiovascular exercise that also improves eye/hand/foot coordination. In this instance, it is being used as an active rest and aerobic conditioning exercises. Make sure your rope is the right length for you by standing on the middle with both feet. If the handles reach your arm pits then the rope is the right size for you. Too long or too short a rope will increase your likelihood of tripping which will reduce the effectiveness of this workout.

  • Stand with your feet together, your hands at hip-height and the rope behind you
  • Swing it up and over your head
  • Jump over it as it nears your feet – try to only just clear it by jumping no higher than necessary
  • As you get more proficient at jumping rope, try using a heel/toe action or jogging on the spot. It’s actually easier and looks much cooler!
  • Try to perform your skipping on a forgiving surface to minimize your likelihood of developing any impact related injuries

Press ups
You know how to do these now but, in case you missed it, here is a reminder…

  • Bend down and place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Point your fingers forwards
  • With your arms straight, walk your feet back into the press up position
  • Check that your heels, hips and shoulders form a straight line
  • Keep your core muscles tight and your neck long – tuck your chin in slightly
  • Bend your elbows and, keeping your arms tucked into your ribs, lower your chest to within one inch of the floor
  • Push back up and return to the starting position
  • If full press ups are too challenging, bend your legs and place your knees on the floor. This is the three-quarter press up
  • You can make press ups more challenging by elevating your feet on a 12 to 18 inch high bench

Squats are the king of lower body exercise. Performed for high repetitions using just your body weight they will increase your muscular endurance and lung capacity. Performed with heavy weights and lower repetitions they will build and strengthen your entire lower body.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides
  • Turn your feet out slightly
  • Push your hips back and bend your knees
  • Squat down until your thighs are around parallel to the floor
  • Stand back up and repeat
  • Try not to round your lower back at the bottom of the squat as this may lead to injury

Dorsal raises
Dorsal raises strengthen and condition your lower back and provide a nice balance to any abdominal exercise. Perform this exercise while lying on a mat. Males may also be more comfortable if they place a small cushion under their hips. I’m sure you don’t have to ask why…

  • Lie on your front with your legs extended and held together
  • Clasp your hands behind your back
  • Push your toes into the floor and use your back muscles to lift your head, shoulders and chest around 8 to 12 inches off the floor
  • Hold this uppermost position for one to two seconds and then return to the starting position
  • You may find you need to place your feet against a wall to help keep your balance

Planks are a curious exercise in that although they do not involve any actual movement, they are still very challenging. Planks will strengthen the anterior or front core muscles.

  • Kneel down and place your elbows in the floor, shoulder-width apart
  • Lay your hands flat with your forearms pointing straight forward
  • Walk your legs back and extend your legs so that your weight is supported on your arms and feet only
  • Make sure your heels, hips and shoulders are aligned
  • Brace your core muscles and hold this position – do not let your hips drop or your back arch
  • Remember to breathe! Amazingly it’s not uncommon for people to forget this vital instruction!

Lunges are similar to squats in that they target every muscle in your lower body but they also challenge your balance and coordination. Lunges simulate the one-legged action of running which makes them a great addition to your programme. They also make your butt look great in jeans!

  • Stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides
  • Take a large step forwards
  • Bend your legs and lower your rear knee to within an inch of the floor
  • Push off your front leg and spring back to the starting position
  • Perform another repetition leading with your opposite leg
  • Continue alternating legs for the duration of your set

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