Day 6 – Program Test – Viking Warrior Conditioning

DAY 6 UPDATE – 5/10/18

Check out the background on the project, and my Stage 1 results here – Program Test – Viking Warrior Conditioning.

  • Current stage – 36:36 protocol (36 seconds work, 36 seconds rest)
  • Current rep range: 17 per set
  • Target sets to complete stage: 35 (I’ll do 36 for symmetry sake)
  • Current kettlebell weight: 35 lb
  • Next VO2 testing review – after Day 8
  • Current VO2 test results:
    • No change in Garmin measurement (still 44)
    • Negative change in RHR method (my resting heart rate (according to my fitness tracker) went up a few BPM in the past 7 days.


  • Sets completed = 14
  • Reps completed = 238
  • Total work time = 504 seconds
  • Total rest time = 504 seconds
  • Rest between workouts: 5
  • Warm up: 3 minutes jump rope, 2 minutes jumping jack skills
  • Notes on hand prep – sports tape and duct tape are still my friend! Need to go lower on the palm though.
  • Notes on workout – This is definitely harder. It makes sense – going from 7 reps to 17 reps per set is a pretty huge jump. But, power through I guess. Just gotta keep the form solid. Adding a few sets rather than a whole block of sets is probably the best progression this time around.
  • Post workout – did a VO2 max run test right afterwards (to test VO2 max on the Garmin Vivosport, you have to do a run until it tells you to stop). That run clocked in at 8:49 (with a 6:35 mile pace).
  • Post workout nutrition – Rise Bar (banana flavored) at work a couple hours later
    • Note – starting a 21 day Ketogenic cycle today. The Rise Bar accounts for 40% of my total carbs for the day!
  • Next steps – probably add between 2 and 5 sets next go around.


Day 7: coming soon…


Workout review: Insanity Max 30 – Max Out 15

I wasn’t planning on doing a post for this workout. I’m in the process of finishing a full review of the Insanity Max 30 program (spoiler alert: it’s GREAT), and this workout in particular is part of the “deluxe” kit. I stumbled upon it because I just happened to scroll to the right after I finished the “Pulse” workout in the basic Max 30 kit. At only 15 minutes, I figured, “what the heck – I could sweat a little…”


Continue reading Workout review: Insanity Max 30 – Max Out 15

Day 5 – Program Test – Viking Warrior Conditioning

DAY 5 UPDATE – 5/4/18

Check out the background on the project, and my Stage 1 results here – Program Test – Viking Warrior Conditioning.

  • Current stage – 36:36 protocol (36 seconds work, 36 seconds rest)
  • Current rep range: 17 per set
  • Target sets to complete stage: 35 (I’ll do 36 for symmetry sake)
  • Current kettlebell weight: 35 lb
  • Next VO2 testing review – after Day 6


  • Sets completed = 10
  • Reps completed = 170
  • Total work time = 360 seconds
  • Total rest time = 360 seconds
  • Rest between workouts: 4
  • Warmup: 3 minutes jump rope
  • Notes on hand prep – hands are in great shape. I did a quick layer with sports tape around the problem areas, and then did a layer of duct tape on top. It worked perfectly. No new trauma to report, and the existing damage is healing nicely.
  • Notes on workout – I spent the first 4 hours of the day in the sun doing yard work. That probably drained me a little bit. The longer sets were definitely harder. I actually had to lock in mentally on the last two sets to push through. For the first time in this project, I did feel my upper body get a little tired.
  • Post workout – since I hadn’t reached 10 minutes of total work yet (3 minutes jump rope, and only 6 minutes of actual snatching), I did 13 reps of hex bar deadlift @ 335 lb, and then did a 1 minute rep test for single arm alternating battle ropes (223 reps).
  • Post workout nutrition – shake with the following ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1 scoop NutraBio unflavored whey
    • 1 scoop RealReds
      • Note – I’m not a huge supplement guy, but I do take a multivitamin. I consider this to be a multivitamin that I take on days when I don’t take my regular “Adam” multivitamin by Now. I’m very picky about my vitamins due to my attempts to avoid lectins.
    • 1 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk beverage
    • 1 raw egg
  • Next steps – probably add between 2 and 5 sets next go around.


Day 6: coming soon…

Insanity: The Asylum Volume 1 Review

Call it a graduate class for traditional Insanity if you’d like, because it feels a lot like it. If you jump into this program without any prior HIIT experience, you are in for a rude awakening. Shaun busted you up for 60 days in Insanity, and then all bets are off. He takes on a more hardcore trainer persona in this first installment of the Asylum series. Be ready to work and work hard.

asylum graphic

You’ll know this thing isn’t messing around when you do the warmup. Where Insanity felt more like a relentless cardio assault, Asylum has more of a sports performance feel to it. Between all of the agility ladder work and jump roping, you really do feel like you are developing the hand-eye coordination, and quick feet of elite athletes. The addition of the strength workout is a welcome one – back strength training was a major deficiency in the Insanity program, but this program addresses that. In 30 days, you will see some tangible improvement in your speed/agility as it relates to overall sports performance.

Continue reading Insanity: The Asylum Volume 1 Review

Program Test – Viking Warrior Conditioning

As mentioned in previous posts, its important to track metrics about your health that actually tell a story, and are actionable. It’s no secret that I think tracking your overall weight is a waste of time if you aren’t gathering other data points to tell you something about the weight number you see.

A metric I’ve become very curious about is my VO2 max. For a deep dive on the metric, check out this Wikipedia article. In a nutshell, the number is a measure of the maximum level of oxygen you can metabolize during exercise. A higher number is good. When researching ways to train VO2 max improvement, I stumbled upon an interesting book called Viking Warrior Conditioning. The book was an interesting read. It does a DEEP dive on cardiovascular fitness and training aerobic capacity. The author’s thesis is that by following his kettlebell snatch protocol, you can see significant gains in your overall VO2 max.

One exercise. One protocol. Big gains in VO2 max. Kettlebell snatch.


Most training protocols I’ve seen to increase VO2 max involved high intensity sprinting, rowing, or other similar type of cardiovascular work. This protocol called for progressively high intensity kettlebell snatching with a very specific prescription for reps and time. Here is the best part – the first level requires you to complete 80 sets of kettlebell snatches (in a row) before you can advance to the second level.

shitting me

Sign me up!

My plan is to execute the protocol as the book prescribes, and see what type of gains can be accomplished with this protocol. In order to do this properly (within the bounds of my resources), I’ll need to:

  1. Define how to do a kettlebell snatch properly
  2. Define how I’m going to track/measure my VO2 max and define when I’ll measure
  3. Execute the program

How to do a kettlebell snatch:

I’ve done swings before, but never the actual swing to a snatch. I tried doing it dry (without instruction), and it hurt my wrist. The damn kettlebell clanked down on it. The book offers an explanation and some pictures, but they didn’t tell the whole story. I found this on YouTube, and it was very helpful:

It took me a few practice sessions, but pretty soon, I was snatching like a pro and not hurting my wrist. Doing his dry steps really helped. Specifically the high pull. That was kind of my “ah-ha” moment. Once I got that down, I was catching the bell softly before it crushed my wrist.

How to track my current VO2 max:

The most accurate method would involve a treadmill stress test with a mask strapped to my face. That is a bit over the top for what I’d like to accomplish. I’m going to rely on two estimates, and track the trends. As long as the estimates are “wrong” by the same factor each time I measure, the TREND will tell me how I’m doing.

Method 1: Garmin Vivosport

This is my fitness tracker of choice. It measures heart rate, has an integrated GPS, and also estimates VO2 max. This will be one of the numbers I use to track my trend. I’m currently a 44, and have a resting heart rate of 47 bpm (this number will be important in my second estimate).

Method 2: The resting heart rate method

You can estimate your VO2 max with the following formula

VO2max = 15.3 * (maximum HR / resting heart rate)

In this case, my VO2 max using that formula is 59.05. For the purposes of this exercise, I estimated by maximum heart rate (again – not going to a lab for this) by using the following formula:

Maximum HR = 208 – (0.7 * age)

In this case, my theoretical maximum HR is 181.4 bpm.

So, my goal for this experiment is to see if those numbers go up. For the Garmin Vivosport, I’ll be at the mercy of what the computer calculates. For the math approach, it looks like the key will be my resting heart rate going DOWN. That loosely makes sense – if my cardiovascular health improves, my resting heart rate going down should correlate. To keep things consistent, I’ll take readings and chart them after the last workout of the week. More to come on program scheduling later.

I also need to decide what size kettlebell to use. The book suggested starting around 35 lbs. That seems like good advice, so I went and bought one and my local sporting goods store. Note – these things are EXPENSIVE. I kept the receipt because if it was too light or heavy (based on testing feedback from the book), I’d want to swap it out.

UPDATE – the kettlebell weight is good!

Execute the program:

cMVO2 Test: this is the “entry level test” where you figure out what rep number you will use for the first level of the protocol. It’s basically 5 sets of kettlebell snatches for a specific duration of time. BUT, each set has a difference cadence/frequency for you to follow. Finally, on the 5th set, you are supposed to go for maximum reps in the alloted time. It my case, it was maximum reps for 60 seconds. I did 27. According to the protocol, I’m supposed to divide that number by 4, and that will tell me how many reps I use for level 1. In this case, I’ll be doing 7 reps.

I have a decision to make – I need to figure out how many times a week I want to do this protocol. The book offers a few suggestions/paths, and lays out the pros/cons. I’ve decided  that I’m going to do this 2 times per week, with no less than 2 days rest between each session. I want to allow for maximum muscle recovery.

On to the workouts…

Continue reading Program Test – Viking Warrior Conditioning

Insanity Review

This is the program that got it all started for me back in 2012. I’ll always have a bias towards this program, and it’s my go-to if I need a kick in the ass. If you’ve never done intensive “HIIT” (high intensity interval training) before, this program will quickly indoctrinate you, and show you very early on that everything you thought or perceived about a “hard workout” is wrong.

everything wrong

This program is as much a mental crucible as it is a physical challenge. If you commit to the 60 days, and have some type of sensible nutrition approach (note – this program does provide a nutrition plan if you want to follow it), then you will undoubtedly see some very noticable results at the end.

Overall Program Rating: 

My biggest gripe with this program is the lack of modifiers. Future Beachbody programs dedicate more time/energy to calling out modified moves so that people of ALL fitness levels can do them without much thought. In this program, the user is kind of left to his/her own devices to alter the moves and/or tempo to modify to a lower fitness level. Beyond that, the only other shortcoming is the lack of back (pulling) strength work. If you are a person that regularly does pull ups, do NOT stop doing them for the 60 days that it takes you to knock out Insanity. Do a couple of sets before each workout, to keep up your pulling strength.

As far as the videos themselves, the camera work was nice (seeing other people struggle and/or being tortured kind of makes you feel good). The music is a nice compliment – it isn’t annoying or distracting. As far as Shaun’s performance as the trainer, aside from the lack of modification instruction, I feel that his verbal and visual cues are very helpful and do the job. In total, I’d rate this 4 out of 5 “ass-kickings.”

insanity scale review

Continue reading Insanity Review