Monday, November 1, 2010

Get in Shape in Four Hours

Is your endurance not quite what it should be?  Do you find yourself gasping for air after four or five rounds of sparring?  Do your skill classes tire you out so much that your technique gets sloppy halfway through?  Worse yet, do you have some event coming up - a competition, a promotion, a tournament - that requires real stamina, and you're not up to the task?

You're in luck.  For the low, low price of only $99.99 $79.99 $49.99 $24.99 Free! you can get my top secret ultra awesome conditioning method.  All I ask for is your name and social security number your e-mail address that you keep reading, a little equipment, and four hours of your time.

You will need:

  • A timer of some sort - a Gymboss would be best, but any large clock with a second hand will do the job.
  • A dumbell or set of dumbells or selectorized dumbell.  I'm about 180 and moderately strong and I never need one less than 25 lbs. or much more than 45 - scale up or down based on your size and strength.  If you're an out of shape 110 lb. female you might want to go as low as 10- 30 lb range.  
  • A space at least 3ft. X 3 ft., preferably with a slightly padded floor.  A carpet or mat would be nice, but you could put down a couple of towels and probably be okay.
  • Willingness to work hard.
The exercise:

This is the simple part.  The only movement you'll do is the one handed dead power dumbell snatch.  Here's how to do it:
  1. Take an athletic stance - shoulders slightly wider than shoulder width, toes pointed forward or slightly out so when you squat down your knees track over the toes, core held tight (abs braced), shoulders down, neck straight.
  2. Put the dumbell between your feet, probably with the handle parallel to your shoulders (so as you grab the handle your palm would face your back, not either of your feet).  DO NOT put the dumbell in front of you or behind you - that puts too much strain on the lower back.
  3. Squat down, lowering your hips until you can grab the dumbell with one of your hands.  Don't bend forward at the waist to get the dumbell - your upper body should be fairly upright - you get down to the dumbell by squatting.
  4. Lift the dumbell off the floor.  When it's around the height of your knees, really explode upward (O-lifters call this a jump) by snapping your hips straight so the dumbell kind of flies upward.  You need to pull hard enough that the dumbell would be flung overhead if you let go of it (but don't actually let go).
  5. Guide the dumbell to an overhead position with your hand and "catch" it with your arm straight up, like you're a kid in elementary school asking to go to the bathroom.  You're not supposed to use your arm to push the weight up - it gets the momentum from your pull and the snap of your hips, your arm is just along for the ride.
  6. Lower the dumbell to your arm, then to the floor.
  7. Touch the floor.  Don't rest the weight on the floor, but make soft contact.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7.
When you pull the dumbell up keep it close to your body, but not so close that you whack yourself in the genitals or the chin (trust me).  The weight won't move in a perfectly straight line, but it won't be very far from it, either.

In a real snatch, the lifter "catches" the weight with the arm overhead but in a full squat position.  This, however, is a power snatch.  When you catch the weight your legs should be basically straight.  

The program:
  1. Find a weight that is comfortable to snatch for multiple repetitions - you should be able to get at least 12 or so reps in a row with either hand without your muscles screaming in agony (though you might be out of breath.
  2. Warm up.  Do some dynamic stretches for your hips, some glute activation, and some shoulder circles.
  3. Take that weight and set up.  Set your timer.  You need to be able to see intervals of 30 seconds.  
  4. Start with your non-dominant hand.  Start the timer.
  5. Do 5 reps.  That won't take anywhere near 30 seconds - more like 10-15.  Breath.
  6. Once 30 seconds have elapsed from the start of your first set, do 5 more reps with the dominant hand.  You're NOT resting 30 seconds - each set is some work and some rest totalling 30 seconds.  If you take 18 seconds to finish the reps, you only get to rest for 12.  
  7. Repeat, alternating hands.  Never do more reps with your strong hand than you got with the weak hand.  This should be taxing but not killing you.
  8. Start with this rep scheme:  5/5/6/6/7/7/7/7.  That's 8 sets - 4 with each arm - totalling about 4 minutes of work.
  9. Rest a full extra 60 seconds (whatever time is left on the 30 s clock after your last set is done, then 60 more seconds).
  10. Repeat.  Try for 7/7/6/6/6/6/7/7.  Do 7/7/6/6/6/6/6/6/ instead if you can't get 7's on the last pair of sets.
  11. Repeat step 8 - take an extra 60 s rest.
  12. Repeat.  Try for 7/7/6/6/6/6/7/7 again.  If you're not breathing real hard, do 7/7/7/7/7/7/7/7 or go for 7/7/7/7/8/8/8/8.  Take an extra 60 s rest.
  13. Repeat.  
The whole workout is 19 minutes if we don't count the warmup.  If you do it at the end of a technique session you won't need the warmup.

After each workout, adjust the reps and weights so you're having a hard time but you're not puking.  Once you can average 7-8 reps a set for the entire 32 sets go up in weight.

ALWAYS make your first few sets (the first 4 or so) relatively easy.  It's too easy to wreck yourself in the first couple of minutes and then you won't get enough work in.

Do this three times a week.  Each time, either up the weight 5 lbs. and back down to lower numbers or try to add reps.  I'd usually try to add 2 to 4 reps for each arm each workout.  For example, suppose Monday I'd do:
5/5/6/6/7/7/7/7; 7/7/6/6/6/6/6/6; 7/7/6/6/6/6/6/6; 6/6/6/6/6/6/6/6;
Wednesday I'd shoot for (and usually be able to do):
5/5/6/6/7/7/7/7/; 7/7/6/6/6/6/7/7; 7/7/6/6/6/6/7/7; 7/7/6/6/6/6/7/7.

Notice I added 4 reps to each arm - the last two sets in the second group; the last two sets in the third group, and the first and last sets in the fourth grouping.  Those are actual numbers for actual workouts I've done.

Continue for four weeks.

The goal here isn't to become a stronger snatcher - you're not aiming to us anywhere close to maximal weights.  The goal is to stress your cardiovascular system.  

At under twenty minutes a workout, three times a week, for four weeks, you're going to see real gains in endurance as long as you work hard.  Total time invested:  four hours.

Now you can't just continually progress with this until you're a cardio beast.  Your gains will peter out - maybe not at exactly four weeks, but somewhere in that ballpark.  By all means, keep going until you stop progressing, but at that point you should try to switch up to some other scheme.

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