Author Archives: Sandra Morgan
Author Archives: Sandra Morgan
If you like the idea of what a protein bar brings to the table, you know—nutrition, pick-me-up, post-workout recovery—I suggest you try making your own. The protein bar pictured above is one I’ve been making lately. Okay, bit of a fib in that last line; it’s one my wife’s been making lately. The only thing I do is shove it in my mouth. You store them in the fridge because they don’t have fractionated palm kernel oil and butylated hydroxytoluene to make them shelf stable. I pack them in my lunch, and sometimes I’ll warm it in the microwave for ten seconds and have it with my breakfast.
To chastise her for putting the rest of us commuters in a precarious situation would make me a hypocrite, which I’m okay with. But it would also mean I’d have to find somewhere to place my yogurt, and there’s just too much shit already in my center console and on the passenger seat. So for now I’ll just have to settle for clutching my spoon a little tighter as I fantasize about the retribution she would’ve received if I wasn’t so preoccupied with my healthy diet.
Now, instead of moving from calibrated machine to calibrated machine with the aid of a timer prodding you along to the next station, you combine things like sprints, Olympic lifting, plyometrics, and aggression towards large tires. Faced with the choice of whacking something that used to be attached to a tractor axle with a sledgehammer or working my hip flexors on a supersized ThighMaster, I think I’d choose the former, how about you? But what if you’re a solo artist like me and don’t really care for the fraternal aspect of group exercise? Good news: you don’t have to join a CrossFit to get an effective circuit workout.
The white SUV next to me is weaving between the shoulder and center line. I move towards the edge of my lane to give the vehicle a wide berth. The driver, a woman in her thirties rocking some scrubs, looks up and corrects her steering so that she’s saddled in the middle of the lane again. Then she goes back to her texting, tweeting, online shopping, Candy Crushing, or whatever it is that is more important than driving. What the fuck is wrong with people? I want to lay on the horn. After all, someone needs to teach her a lesson. And although I desperately want to scare the bejesus out of her, I can’t. I’ve got this yogurt container in one hand and a spoon in the other. As far as navigating the highway, that’s why God invented the left knee.
These are just a couple examples. I like to stick to no more than four or five exercises; otherwise, you could find yourself standing in too many lines waiting to use equipment. Another reason I choose just a few exercises is because any more than four or five is overkill. You don’t want your body to be taxed to the point that your form becomes compromised. In terms of how many reps you do—pick a number, I don’t really care. Your level of effort is what really counts.
Pushups, whoop-de-frickin-do—that’s what used to come to mind when I thought of bodyweight exercises. But as I’ve shed some ignorance over the years, I’ve learned that the number of bodyweight exercises are endless. I’ve also learned that I’m not man enough to do even a third of them. For instance, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen on my ass in the last few weeks attempting this thing called a pistol, which is an appropriate moniker for a one-legged squat since it connotes the danger that’s involved whenever I try it.
Workout #1 is a pretty basic circuit geared toward those that fall into the beginner to intermediate fitness level. If you’ve never done anything like this, it’s pretty simple. Move from exercise to exercise with as little rest as possible.
I like to perform my first set at about ninety percent, leaving a rep or two in the tank so I’ll be able to complete all my reps on subsequent sets. When you first attempt this circuit, I recommend doing just two or three sets. Over the next few weeks, focus on perfecting your form and building your rep count before adding an extra set to your routine. Once you can do four sets without going into cardiac arrest, challenge yourself further by using a stopwatch to try and better your time from your previous workout.
One thing I recommend doing to add to your repertoire of bodyweight exercises is to go out and buy one of those pull-up doohickeys you insert in your doorjamb. Or, if you’ve got a tree with a sturdy branch in your backyard, that’ll save you thirty bucks and a trip to Dick’s or Sports Authority.
But for the sake of this post, we’re going to focus on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts that will leave you sucking air and feeling badass. I also like to call this the “oh shit” workout, because that’s what I utter between sets when I feel like I’m about to collapse. All you need is your body, a little space, and twenty minutes or less to complete these circuits.
To make your circuit routine effective, I recommend focusing on compound exercises like squats, shoulder press, pull-ups, and clean and jerks. Compound exercises are those that require multi-joint movements as opposed to single-joint movements. If you need more ideas for compound exercises, think walking lunges, bent-over rows, bench press and deadlift. Below I’m giving you two different circuit routines that you can do at the gym. Move quickly between stations (30 second rest give or take), and at the completion of the first round of exercises you can take a longer rest (60-90 seconds).