For the last year, I have not been to the gym.
Well, to a big box gym that is. And for this reformed cardio queen and gym rat, that’s a big change. I have not been on a cardio machine in a year, and I have been loving getting out of my training comfort zone, trying new exercises, learning new movements and getting outside more. I mainly train at the Metabolic Effect studio, which is outfitted with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbell racks, benches and rowers. That’s it.
Mind you, years ago, someone would have had to pry my cold, dead hands off the stepmill or “my treadmill” (you know what I’m talking about!) because I simply didn’t trust that there was any other way. I’d do 2 hours of cardio a day because it was what I felt I needed to do or else I would gain 100 lbs. I was terrified to quit exercise or even to pull back because I was so scared of gaining weight. I was convinced that more was better and if I could just keep up my routine and “get all my cardio minutes in” then I could control what my body looked like, and then, by extension, I could control my life.
For a long time, exercise was my crutch, my control mechanism. If I could just do enough, it meant I was worthy and adequate and okay.
Obviously looking back, it’s sad to me that I spent so many years in that mental prison, terrified to skip a day or pull back. I didn’t trust myself, I didn’t trust the process and I didn’t trust there was any other way, despite the fact that soon 2 hours of cardio daily not only didn’t get me any results, but I was slowly gaining body fat and my metabolism was becoming less responsive.
Fast-forward 3 years and I over that time, I’ve pulled back completely to 3-4 days a week of 30-40 minutes a day. It took a whole lot of courage, many moments of “fuck it” and many mental pep talks, ha! It was scary as hell, but I did it. Now, exercise is enjoyable. I don’t need it to maintain my weight. I don’t exercise to “burn off” treats or as penance. It’s simply icing on the proverbial cake and I do only what I want when I want.
The kicker? I LOOK THE SAME. Way less volume of exercise now, my cravings and appetite are under control for the first time in my adult life and I don’t spend all day every day at the gym.
On the left, it was years ago, doing 2 hours of cardio daily, at the gym 2-3x/day and fighting cravings constantly (and losing plenty), and on the right, it’s February 2015, 30-40 minutes 4 days a week, leisure walking as able and not trying to resist chocolate every second:
Hence my latest schedule. The last 6 months have been 90% metabolic conditioning and sprinting. I’ve thrown in some heavy lifts but barely any bodybuilding type stuff (in fact, I can’t remember the last time I did a dedicated “leg day”). I’ve learned new movements like snatches, cleans and deadlifts and I’ve been improving my strength and training more intensely overall, simply because the workouts are shorter, less pacing. And to my pleasant surprise, the full-body workouts have got my abs popping a little ;) It’s been a ton of new challenges and I am loving every minute of it.
So, here they are, 5 workouts I have been incorporating regularly into my routine over the last 6 months. No machine cardio, no marathon workouts and nothing that makes you hate life. Enjoy!
1) 2 x 10 min Metabolic Chains (20 mins total)
“Metabolic Chains” are a type of training coined by Metabolic Effect that includes 2 parts: a base chain (string of movements put together to create one long movement) and a movement (or movements) to “chain up” or add reps to each round through the chain. This workouts includes two 10 minute chains, one with a chest/shoulder focus and one with a back focus. You “chain up” to 5 on one specific movement within the chain. Once you reach 5 reps of that movement, you start back at 1. Continue for 10 minutes. Go heavy with dumbbells and rest as needed, Rest-based Training style. Here are the two chains:
Do this one first:
2) Delt Domination – featured in Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster 2.0
I’ll admit it, I can’t resist a tough-ass shoulder workout. I love training delts, and when I was competing it was twice a week every week to build dem caps. Not so much anymore, but I still love a good shoulder-focused workout. I was able to sneak this into Lift Weights Faster because it’s a monster set featuring compound movements, so you do get a little bit of a cardio effect, plus plenty of anaerobic effect. In fact, I just filmed this workout with my friend Emily — the full 15-minute workout — as a bonus for all those who buy Jen’s program through my link. Emily agrees — it’s brutal. As do these other ladies:
3) “Angie” – a CrossFit benchmark workout
Jade turned me on to this workout about a year ago, and the first time I ever did it, I honestly have never been so sore in the biceps and lats. So PLEASE, if you are going to attempt this and have not been exercising regularly, or if you are not used to these movements, start with 50 reps of each, and add an additional 10 reps each week until you reach the Rx.
The workout is very simple. Which I like, and what I recommend is doing it weekly, timing yourself and trying to get faster. I always aim to beat my previous time. It’s fun! Here’s the workout:
After a sufficient warm-up, do, for time:
- 100 pull-ups (use a band as needed for assistance)
- 100 push-ups (toes or knees, up to you)
- 100 sit-ups
- 100 air squats (bodyweight squats to parallel or below)
That’s it! My fastest completion ever was 18 minutes flat. Try it and report back to me how you did!
4) Track sprints
An old stand-by. I don’t do any machine cardio anymore. But I do #liftweightsfaster, obviously, and then I sprinkle in sprints when the weather is nice enough. My goal is once every 6 days or so, so not quite twice a week. I switch uo my routines, but I will never do anything longer than 400m, and even then, it’ll only be one or two. My goal is fast and hard, and that also means short. I would rather sprint 100m ten times than 800m (half a mile) once, because the shorter and the faster, the better for joint health and aesthetic purposes. Plus, it’s just fun to go fast.
Here’s a sprint workout I’ve been doing recently. After a sufficient warmup (at least 10 minutes), perform:
- 1 x 400m (walk 300m to rest, as slow as you want)
- 2 x 300m (walk 200m between each to rest, as slow as you want)
- 3 x 200m (walk 200m between each to rest, as slow as you want)
- 4 x 100m (walk 100m between each to rest, as slow as you want)
Soooometimes, I am gassed out by the 100m’s and I’ll only do one or two. I don’t ever want to feel like I am having to pace or can’t go all out. So as soon as I start feeling like my intensity is waning and my legs are done, I quit. Just like that. Because I am always choosing quality over quantity. I don’t want shitty form, and I don’t want to injure myself, and duration just for duration’s sake is a waste for me and my goals. Don’t be afraid to quit early if your performance is suffering. Just work up to it over time, and do your best with where you are right now.
Intensity trumps duration every single time.
And finally …
5) Metabolic 10 Workout
Metabolic Effect has recently rolled out its Metabolic 10 Workouts, which is are #CrossFit-like, but with more of an emphasis on physique, so in general there is more progressive overload. Still great for fat loss, but with a focus on hypertrophy training for specific muscle groups, too.
This workout blows. But in a good way. You know what I mean.
The strength component of the workout is back squat, one of my favs. I started going below parallel these last few months and my glutes and adductors are thanking me for it. Below parallel is not for everyone, BUT if you have healthy knees, it can actually make them stronger. I love it. Big changes to my legs as a result.
Take 10-15 minutes to perform:
- 10 reps at 60% 1RM
- 8 reps at 70% 1RM
- 6 reps at 80% 1RM
- 4 reps at 90% 1RM
- As many reps as possible (to failure) at 60% 1RM
(I finished at 185 lbs in set #4 above, taking ~90s between sets)
Then, set your clock for 12 minutes and get as many rounds/reps as possible in 12 mins:
- 5 Handstand Pushups
- 10 Chin-ups
- 15 Pushups
- 200m row
Cycle through the circuit as many times as able until 12 minutes is up. #idie My highest score was 4.30 (that means 4 full rounds + 30 reps — I finished the strength work on round #5, but didn’t get to the row).
Below is the pretty version of your workout :) And be sure to follow @meteffect on Instagram to get all the newest #Met10 workouts!
Some tweetables for you: