It’s so weird to be back up north and suddenly have seasons to deal with – namely, winter. So with that, I figured I would defrost my workouts and write about some off-beat ways to focus on conditioning and still make progress while waiting for the snow to melt.
1. Ropes – Both battle ropes and traditional climbing ropes have always been useful to bust through plateaus no matter what the season. If you’re lucky enough to have access to either of these, make them work for you. Rope rows & pull ups with a traditional climbing rope are awesome variations, especially for the challenge in grip and stability. Using both have helped both my deadlift and my pull up numbers increase noticeably. I also love ending workouts with battle rope sessions because they’re high intensity and completely unforgiving. There is also a lot of variety in terms of work:rest ratios and movements.
2. Valslides – I invested in a pair of these bad boys, and they’ve added some major variations in training. They’re awesome because you can bring them anywhere and they fit into any program. I also love putting plates on them and pushing them across the ground. Normally you can get away with pushing the plates without them, but to avoid tearing up the gym floor/rug, the slides help. Plate pushes are great if you don’t have access to a prowler and/or if space is limited – in fact, they’re actually more challenging since they’re so low to the ground. I sometimes throw a couple of sets of plate pushes in at the end of a session or between exercises to keep my heart rate up. I also love adding the valslides to traditional exercises like reverse lunges, lateral lunges, and core work. They’re great add-ins for super sets, or perfect for circuits.
3. Super sets – Since my main goal has been to keep my strength but not increase body fat, most of my weight training has been using some form of a super set or contrast set method. My main goal with this is to do a strength movement (squat, deadlift, etc) followed by a total body cardio movement. For example: KB goblet squats s/s tuck jumps or OH bulgarians s/s snatch jacks. They keep your heart rate going the entire session, and you’re wiped out after 30-40 minutes. Amazing.
4. Treadmill pushes – Use with caution because I’m sure they tear up the machine, but again, if you don’t have access to a prowler, running against the resistance of the treadmill when it isn’t on is FIERCE. It’s a killer interval workout when you can’t get outside – I love running intervals and then finishing with some pushes to absolutely smoke a conditioning session. I typically go about 10-15 seconds on, 30 seconds off for 5-8 reps. I’ve also been experimenting with sprints on the treadmill using an incline of 10 & high speed running for 20 sec on, 40 sec off.
5. Jacobs Ladder- I know they’re not available in every gym, but if you have one, give it a shot. It’s perfect for intervals, and it is MUCH harder than it seems at first. I like the fact that it is a manually controlled total body movement that keeps track of your pace along with the time. Try to hit the same pace each time and mess around with different work/rest ratios (sometimes I just do a simple 1 minute on, 1 minute off, or 1 minute on, 30 sec off for example). It’s just something different from the same old stuff and it is fairly easy on the joints. All good things.