Workout: If you want progress, do what you hate

As humans we tend to avoid the things we hate. Sometimes that’s good. Getting kicked in the face by a buffalo? I hate that. However, sometimes we hate things that are actually good for us. We hate them because we’re all somewhat lazy. We’re all trying and hoping for the quick fix, but we all know there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Personally I have a quiet, reserved hate for squats and burpees. They both, in a word, suck. I’d rather do a set of 50 mountain climbers than 10 burpees. SFF would likely tell me, in that case to do the mountain climbers. Then, once done, 20 burpees. And while evil, she makes a good point. I hate those exercises because they’re hard for me to do. Burpees make me sick to my stomach. They work every part of the body, you are going from prone to upright. The heavier you are, the harder these are, and the more you get out of them. And the more you hate them. Squats I hate mostly because of my bum knees. They’re difficult to do for me, but I need to (safely) do them. Again, they work a large number of muscles.

So of course, today’s post plague workout (I caught a nasty bug last week) involved not just squats and burpees, but the infamous “prisoner get-ups” we all know I love.

To start I ran a quick mile on the mill. The lungs were still a bit burnt from the cold so we skipped sprints. SFF is a saint.

The workout worked this way: there were 5 “rounds”. Each round started with 10 burpees (ouch), 15 v-ups and 20 mountain-climbers. Then I would do 30 reps of a particular exercise, and restart with the burpees/v-ups and mountain-climbers.

Round 1 was a dead-lift row. Essentially you hold a dumbbell in each hand. You then lean into a dead-lift position, abs strong, with your head up, and do a row with each arm. Then return to upright. That’s 1 rep. 30 of those.

Round 2 was a Belgian split with a 1 armed dumbbell military press. If you’re wondering what that is… so was I. Basically it is a 1 legged squat with the back leg up on a jump box, while doing a 1 armed military press with a dumbbell with the arm opposite the leg which is squatting. It was… difficult. The balance is a factor, combined with the 15 reps each side of the press. Having the back leg on a box forces you to squat straight down, which prevents you from loading some of the squat weight into your hips (a common way of cheating). All in all a very challenging exercise.

Round 3 was a set of 30 “push-up jacks”. Exactly what you’d think they were, you start in a push-up position, then split your feet and do a push-up  Bring the feet back together as you come up. Definitely an advanced push-up.

Round 4 brought the core into play. 30 hanging knee-ups. Basically you hang from a pull-up bar and bring the knees up to your chest. No swinging. I stopped my motion each time by touching the ground. A lot of people will swing these and they’re cheating themselves. The difficulty should be felt in the lower abs, hips and some in the lower back. A little bit in the quads. Anything else and you’re probably doing it wrong. You want to do them right because they are the first stage in ever more difficult versions of this type of exercise, and by building a strong foundation you’ll be able to do the more difficult versions as you get stronger. Cheat and you get squat. And not the good kind I hate.

Finally, round 5 was the fabulous “prison get-up”. You begin prone, arms up, legs straight. You sit up and tuck your feet under your butt. As a fat panther I still have to cross the legs under me to do this, but a proper yogi can simply get their heels underneath them. You stand up without using your arms (other than for balance) and reach up to the sky. Lower down to prone, that’s one rep.

As you can see, lots of burpees (50 in all, 10 in each round) and a large number of squat-like activities. SFF doesn’t have me doing this stuff because she knows I hate some of them, but because they’re highly effective. Which might just be why I hate some of them, but why I should in fact love them. They will be huge factors in sculpting the functional muscles that I will need to become the world’s best underwater knitter. I know you all believe in me.

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