Conbody Workout: Day 3 – Lock Down Wednesday

  • Day 3: Lock Down Wednesday
  • Approximate workout time: 18 minutes
  • Estimated energy expenditure: 118 C
  • Max HR: 150 bpm (measured by Garmin Vivosport)
  • Pre-workout nutrition: none (fasted)
  • Post workout nutrition:
    • Protein shake

 

Day 3 = complete. I knew there was no back work today when I peeked at the description last night. This was going to be solely a leg workout. I quietly cursed to myself and moved on.

The trainer from day 1 was back, and I finally figured out his counting cadence. He uses the military style (1-2-3- ONE, 1-2-3- TWO, etc). I remember that from 22 Minute Hard Corp (Tony Horton), so it quickly clicked in my brain when I realized what it was. And, this time I heard the music again, so I’ll update my comment on production values to say, “yes, there is some faint music.”

A few notes so far…

  1. They work out in their socks. Okay – no big deal. I work out in my old black Vans (I like zero-rise footwear).
  2. The trainers say “beast-mode” a lot. I hope Marshawn Lynch is okay with that.
  3. The program should be called Corebody. They hit your core in every workout. I wish they put that much effort into the back muscles. So far, this program is underwhelming except for the core work.
  4. I think jump ropes should be sold in the prison commissary. These guys need to learn about the world of warm ups beyond jumping jacks.

I did some yoga last night to see how my glute was doing (still can’t sprint 100%). Range of motion is there, so that is a step in the right direction. I decided to go hard on this leg day and see how it felt. It felt pretty good. I think I’m probably ready to run in some capacity again.

The workout was very leg centric (with some core) as the DVD package promised. Lots of squat moves, lunges, and hip moves. I do like the modified “get up” that he makes you do (he did this in the first workout also). Basically, from a standing position, sit down (use your right arm first), put your legs out, pull your legs back in, and stand back up using the same arm you used on the way down. Do that 10 times on the right and 10 times on the left. Not a bad little move.

I will give Coss some credit – the sequence he put together with leg raises, butterfly raises, and then combo raises (butterfly to kick) is a nice hip burner. I’ll definitely be sharing that sequence with my Wednesday morning friends next time we have a session.

Finally, he brings back an old school Jane Fonda move where you widen your feet, squat down, grab the outside of your ankles, and pump your butt up and down for high reps. Believe it or not, you do feel this move. It’s not just stupid looking. It has a function.

Note – I tried to find a photo on google by searching butt pump, glute pump, etc, but couldn’t find anything without my search history getting super weird. 

The last core sequence goes for 3 rounds and BURNS. Again – Corebody – not Conbody.

There is not a programmed cooldown, so I did the usual two minutes of dynamic movement to bring my heart rate down.

There better be some back work tomorrow!

 

Any experience with the Conbody program? Have you done one of his live courses in NYC? If so, please let us know your experience. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you!

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Conbody Workout: Day 2 – Tough Love Tuesday

  • Day 2: Tough Love Tuesday
  • Approximate workout time: 22 minutes
  • Estimated energy expenditure: 234 C
    • I didn’t see that coming – workout felt pretty pedestrian
  • Max HR: 154 bpm (measured by Garmin Vivosport)
  • Pre-workout nutrition: none (fasted)
  • Post workout nutrition:
    • Protein shake
      • NutriBio unflavored whey
      • RealReds supplement
      • Coconut water (Kirkland brand from Costco)
        • Over 600mg potassium per serving – making this the new base of my post-workout drink – nice hit of carbs as well
      • 1/2 avocado (more potassium)

 

Day 2 of Conbody is done! I felt like this trainer was a little easier to follow (looks like they will have a different trainer each time). And, I did hear some music in the background this time, albeit faintly. Maybe I missed it yesterday??? Anyway – back to the trainer. I felt like he was a little more interactive, and his counts were loud enough and made sense where I didn’t have to look at the screen every 5 seconds to see if we moved to a different sequence. Believe it or not – that matters – when you are in the midst of a set, you don’t want to unfocus and look at the screen to see what is going on. You want verbal CUES to guide you, and the screen should supplement. So, thumbs up on day 2 cuing.

The workout started with a brief warmup (thank you), and then drifted into the work segments. We did leg work, chest work, and ab work. The biggest omission was back work. We did zero back work. I’ll argue that the “reverse plank” we did does hit the posterior chain, but I’m talking about latissimus dorsi work. You know – the big back muscles. The pull up muscles.

Not these pull ups (although Lightning McQueen is pretty kick ass)…

not these pullups

These pull ups…

these pullups

I’d say the highlight of the workout was the unloaded shoulder presses we did directly following our plank work. I actually felt a little burn in my shoulders. As a side note, if you ever want to set your shoulders on FIRE, try this move for 60 seconds after doing either planks or push ups…these are called shoulder diamonds, and they will get you.

shoulder diamonds

Other than that, the chest work was underwhelming, but the leg work gets your legs burning. The clear winner of the leg work is the iron mikes. You can never go wrong with plyometric lunges. Having your hands on your head forces your torso upright which makes it just a touch harder than regular plyo lunges where you articulate your arms in a running motion.

 

There is not a programmed cooldown, so I did the usual two minutes of dynamic movement to bring my heart rate down.

Two days in and no back work – I’m getting ANTSY.

FEED ME BACK WORK!

 

Any experience with the Conbody program? Have you done one of his live courses in NYC? If so, please let us know your experience. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you!

Conbody Workout: Day 1 – Maniac Monday

  • Day 1: Maniac Monday
  • Approximate workout time: 20 minutes
  • Estimated energy expenditure: 130 C
  • Max HR: 159 bpm (measured by Garmin Vivosport)
    • My biggest spike was at the end with the burpees
  • Pre-workout nutrition: none (fasted)
  • Post workout nutrition:
    • Protein shake
      • NutriBio unflavored whey
      • RealReds supplement
      • Coconut water (Kirkland brand from Costco)
        • Over 600mg potassium per serving – making this the new base of my post-workout drink – nice hit of carbs as well
      • 1/2 avocado (more potassium)

 

Day 1 of Conbody is in the books. The focus of this workout is supposed to be fat-burning and cardio. As I’m getting wiser in my old age, I’m learning that those terms are nebulous at best. You can really make any activity “cardio” by upping the intensity, lengthening the duration, and manipulating rest. Livestrong.com defines cardio as, “…any activity that increases heart rate and respiration while using large muscle groups repetitively and rhythmically.” In that sense, yes, this was a cardio workout. As far as fat burning…well, as we are learning more and more, the ability to burn fat is as much a function of your exercise as it is your nutrition. I’d argue more nutrition than anything, so when a workout says its fat-burning, I take it with a big ol’ grain of Himalayan sea salt. After doing this workout, I’d call it more of a core workout than anything. It hit my core the hardest.

From a production values standpoint, this is a very basic presentation. The trainer is in a room with a very simple backdrop, I don’t think there was any music really going, and the timer was a numberless bar on the right side of the screen. I’m not saying that production values are critically important to me personally – if the workout is well programmed and challenges me, then I don’t care if the instructor is doing it in a cardboard box. I’m here for the work! But, since there is a very large universe of exercise programs out there, it’s worth comparing production values if that is something the consumer views as important, and helps inform a purchasing decision. At the very least, I’d say the production values shouldn’t NEGATIVELY impact the experience. If there is no timer or visual progress cue, or if the sound mixing is bad to the point where you can’t hear the instructor, then I’d certainly care about production values. I will note that I think exercise programs with a “class” or “group” of people doing the workout tend to keep my interest more than just a single dude or dudette in front of the camera. As odd as it sounds, you feel a sense of camaraderie with the group even though you aren’t there. It’s reassuring to see people doing the same work you are, and going through the same struggles (or triumphs) that you are.

The actual workout was a mixture of basic bodyweight moves (jumping jacks, planks, push ups, high knees, butt kicks, burpees, etc). It starts off with jumping jacks, so call that your warm up. Note – if you need more time to get your blood pumping or joints going, try doing a light warm up before you press play. I’ll always recommend light jump roping as a great warmup.

It takes a few exercises to get used to his counting. I’m still not sure what the exact cadence is (maybe its 2-4 reps per his 1 count), but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Each exercise seemed to last for about 1 minute (I think). There wasn’t any real programmed “rest” – just brief pauses as he transitioned from one move to the next. That is when you need to grab your water if you are going to drink it.

Overall, it wasn’t a crazy-hard workout. It gets your blood pumping and gets your heart rate up. Probably the best part of the workout is the array of core moves and their programming. You can really feel a core burn towards the end. About halfway through, he programs high/low planks pretty close to each other, so you can feel the deep muscle burn towards the end of the low planks. Later, near the end, he pairs together static straight leg holds, flutter kicks, and traditional crunches. That sequence puts your core into overdrive. I guess I’ll know I’m progressing if I can get through that tri-set w/o putting my legs down for a breather.

There is not a programmed cooldown, so take about 2 minutes to dynamically move back and forth, and let your heart rate come down.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming strength workouts with the push/pull moves. I’m really hoping that those catch my interest. This workout alone wouldn’t have me clamoring to keep coming back.

 

Any experience with the Conbody program? Have you done one of his live courses in NYC? If so, please let us know your experience. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you!

Back in the Saddle

A whole week away from my exercise routine. Today is my 7th day off, which means I can start fresh tomorrow. This was a very welcome siesta as I felt like I was drifting into overtraining. I started to not recover quickly from workouts, wasn’t sleeping well, and was probably just pushing a little too hard. Throw in the fact that I was trying to keto adapt at the time, and it was a recipe for failure. The break was needed.

I know it’s time to get back into the mix because I’ve actually been missing the workouts. I’ve been been missing the activity. I’ve been missing the challenges. The days seem kind of incomplete without being able to reflect back and know that I challenged my system. I’ve been sleeping pretty well, and I feel like I’ve turned a corner, and am ready to return to work. I feel rebooted.

The question is – what do I do now?

Up until this point, I’ve been going kind of eclectic – hitting certain skills once per week, experimenting with the Viking Warrior Conditioning program, and also programming some interesting HIIT workouts for my friends on the Wednesday and Saturday sessions. It’s been awhile since I followed an actual “program.” I’ve had a lot of success with various Beachbody programs, so I’m no stranger to hitting play and following a program for 30/60/90 days. These programs can be very refreshing. You just press play and do the work. No thinking. No phasing. No workout planning – just do the work.

Nice – I can do brainless for a month or two.

Every once and a while, Men’s Health promotes an exercise program that catches my eye. In my experience, these tend to be a little less intense than the Beachbody programs; however, to be fair, I haven’t tried them all. One program in particular really caught my eye, so I bought and stashed it. I think I’m ready to dust it off. Its called Conbody.

The creator (founder) of the program, Coss Marte, has a very interesting and inspiring story. He turned a dark part of his life into a bright spot, and has become a very successful fitness professional. Check out his website here.  Not only does he have an actual studio in NYC, he has this workout DVD, and it looks like he launched an online service as well. When I read his story in Men’s Journal, not only was I impressed, but also I was very curious. I’m a huge fan of bodyweight training and calisthenics, so I wanted to see what type of program he put together (based on his prison experience).

I’m not exactly sure how long the program lasts. I do know that there are 5 workouts (Monday through Friday), and then something called Prison Yoga. I guess I’ll get more of the details when I start tomorrow. Usually when I “review” an exercise program, I’ll summarize the workout in one huge post. I’m going to go a different route this time. I’m going to recap each day of the program as I do it, and, if I finish the entire program, I’ll give my overall impression. I say “if” because I’m not going to keep doing a program just for the sake of doing a program. There is nothing wrong with cutting bait and moving on to something different if it isn’t clicking with you. So, we’ll see if this clicks. I’m hoping to learn some new exercises, and some new ways of programming them together.

Hopefully you’ll join me for the ride and read along!

 

Have you done the Conbody program, or read about Coss Marte’s story? If so, let us know what you think below. Thanks!

Breaking Keto – Week 3 recap

The wife and I decided to cycle into a Ketogenic state for at least the next 21 days. For the background of the “experiment,” please check out the original page here.

If you don’t know what the Ketogenic Diet is, check out this link from Dr. James Mercola. 

keto meme nph

Test strip results (we use the ones from smackfat purchased on Amazon):

  • Wife – she switched to the blood test
    • This is a good idea as she keto-adapts more and more. The deeper she goes, the less “waste” happens, and the smaller of a reading will show up on the pee-strips. The blood meter will give her actual number data to help guide her as she continues.

Blood test kit results (I bought the Keto-Mojo meter on Amazon):

  • Brad – after my workout on Sunday, my ketones started trending down, and bottomed out at 0.1 mmol/l on Thursday. I wasn’t happy, and decided to stop (more on that shortly).

 

  • Wife – getting great results. Not only did she measure 1.7 mmol/l yesterday, she also registered a non-fasting blood sugar reading in the mid 70’s. NON-FASTING.

 

Basically, the wife is rocking it, and I’m no longer playing the ketosis game. 

 

If you checked out the link, you now know that the high-level road map looks like this:

  1. Absent glucose in the blood, the body breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
  2. To meet the energy needs of the brain, the fatty acids and glycerol go into the liver, and convert to sugar (glucose) and ketones.
    1. Yes, you read that correctly – your LIVER can synthesize its own glucose

 

Food log notes:

  • Wife – lots of salads, nuts, fatty cuts of meat, oils in her dressings, and avocados. She thought she might be slipping in her ketones due to some extra strawberries she ate over the weekend, so she quickly course corrected, and registered her awesome numbers yesterday. She has been doing great at keeping dairy out of the mix. More on that in a second.

 

  • Brad – I’m kind of at a loss. This was a pretty rotten week, and the only thing I can figure for my inability to sustain my ketone levels was dairy. I relied on dairy way too much as a source of fat. Between cheese and heavy cream, I might have underestimated how many carbohydrates I was really taking in. On Sunday and into Monday, my ketone levels were hovering around that 0.6 mmol/l mark. But, since Monday, the trend went down. The funny thing is I committed to eating more fat, but I guess when I ratcheted up the dairy, that ruined things. Next time, I’ll be doing minimum dairy.

 

General notes:

  • Wife – can’t say it enough – she is killing it. Her numbers are great, but, the more important thing is that she feels amazing. Her energy levels are WAY up. Most of the reading that I’ve done says that she is about to experience some really great results in the coming weeks if she keeps up this momentum. Great job lady – Love you!

 

  • Brad –  I’m done. Putting aside the discouraging numbers, I felt bad this entire week. I never bounced back from the energy deficit I created from my workout on Sunday. I clearly goofed on a few fronts here in week three that sabotaged the experience. First, I overestimated how keto adapted I was, and continued to go crazy hard with my workouts. That turned out to be a disaster. I had a very bad workout on Sunday that left me grossly fatigued and light-headed. I had to stop. I’m attributing some to potential overtraining (I’ve taken a break this week), but I’ll also attribute that acute reaction (light-headed) to an overall energy vacuum. I had two things counting against me in the energy bank – lowered glycogen (a result of carb restricting), and not enough ketones to help synthesize the energy that I needed. By doing HIIT workouts and really creating an energy NEED, my body just couldn’t do it, so it wanted to shut down. For me, the lesson learned is – STOP DOING HARD WORKOUTS WHILE YOU ARE STILL KETO ADAPTING. Give yourself a chance to switch energy systems. I foolishly thought I was switched over, but clearly my ketone levels felt otherwise. Second, I overestimated how dialed in on my macros I was, and probably let too much dairy screw up the works. The lesson and action plan are pretty simple here – next time I try a keto cycle, the only dairy I’ll use will be my butter in the butter coffee. No whipped heavy cream snacks, and no cheese unless I can see that my ketones are sustained and high. In reality, I probably should have been more proactive when I wasn’t budging above the 0.6 mmol/l mark. My numbers should have been much higher a couple of weeks in.

 

A final thought on my experience:

  • Even though my experience didn’t meet my expectations this go around, I know I can learn from the failure. This isn’t the “diet’s” fault. The ketogenic diet isn’t a flawed diet. It is a diet that requires deliberate behavior and willpower (especially early on). I still really believe in the mechanisms and science behind it. During this entire week of feeling like garbage, I spent a lot of time reading up on different people’s experiences and challenges (mostly to try and troubleshoot my own). There are a bunch of great blogs and podcasts out there full of information (both scientific and anecdotal). All of that information just reaffirmed for me that this can work and will work when implemented properly. My complications were related to my own lack of execution. I’ll own that and make sure I have a better action plan the next time I experiment. For now, I’ll go back to my pre-keto plan of keeping carbs in the 100g-150g range. This has been a great maintenance range for me leading up to this point. And, that even allows for a beer or two. Cheers to that! I might even name the next beer that I brew “Keto Fail Ale.” If you can’t make fun of yourself, what’s the point?

 

Are we still going:

  • Wife – oh yes!
  • Brad – nope.

 

Do you currently, or have you ever followed a ketogenic-style diet? If so, what were your experiences? Please comment below. If you like this post, please be sure to like and share! Thank you.

What is Overtraining?

Per the ACE (American Council on Exercise), overtraining is defined as constant intense training that does not provide adequate time for recovery.

Do a search on Google for “symptoms of overtraining,” and you’ll have no shortage of resources. The symptoms most commonly stated are:

  • Halted progress and/or regression in training
  • Lowered self esteem
  • Decreased motivation or apathy towards training
  • Increased injury
  • Loss of concentration
  • Loss of coordination
  • Frequent sickness/illness
  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Extended muscle soreness or perceived lack of recovery
  • Insatiable thirst
  • Loss of appetite
  • GI issues
  • Altered resting heart rate
  • Fatigue

Sources for the above include:

  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • Men’s Journal
  • Runners World
  • Wikipedia (which had over 30 cited sources, one of them being the ACE)

The big takeaway is that overtraining symptoms manifest both physically and psychologically. Don’t view it as a checklist (I doubt that all of these will manifest in every instance of overtraining). View them more as road signs while traveling your fitness highway. If you start to feel that something is “off,” you need to trust your intuition that something might be “off.” Absent any other exogenous causes, you may need to look inward at your own training routine, and see if you are doing too much “something” and not enough “nothing.”
The key is recovery.

Just as you are mindful about programming “push” days, “pull” days, “agility” days, “metabolic” days, etc…, you also need to program RECOVERY days. You aren’t being lazy, you aren’t slacking off, you are programming an essential piece of your overall training program.

MUSCLE IS NOT BUILT IN THE GYM. In fact, muscle is broken down in the gym. That curl you just did – it tore your muscle fibers. When the muscle heals itself, it will grow back with a little more muscle fiber. But, you have to stop lifting for that to happen. Once you stop lifting weights that day, the magic can begin. The recovery process is fueled by proper nutrition, proper hydration, and REST. Your body can’t repair the damage your workout causes, or build new muscle to adapt to a new load if you don’t get proper rest. Hard workouts do trigger an inflammatory response in the body. If this keeps happening day in/day out with no relief, you are putting yourself in a bad position. Simply stated – your muscles can’t fix themselves if you are using them. As a matter of fact, you can not only disrupt the rebuilding effort, but also contribute to the deconstruction of your muscles if you don’t provide adequate rest.

The type of overtraining that I’m talking about isn’t the “I did biceps curls two days in a row,” it’s the, “…I just worked out for 30 straight days, and I’m exhausted…,” type of overtraining. The former might end up just being wasted time and sore biceps. The latter could manifest in the symptoms stated at the beginning. The problem is that there is no magic 8-ball that tells you when you are drifting into overtraining territory. It’s a very personal experience. You need to be dialed into how you feel and how your body/psyche usually respond to training. If any of those indicators starts to deviate in negative way (using the list above as warning signs), you should consider taking a break.

This doesn’t mean packing yourself in bubble wrap, and laying in bed for the next week. I’m talking about taking a break from your current exercise program, and not being afraid to stop lifting weights or doing hardcore HIIT for a week or so. You can still move around – go for walks, do some low impact yoga, or just general movement. BUT, you should take a very deliberate break from the exercise patterns that got you here in the first place.

An article on bodybuilding.com suggests that you should consider a recovery week after 8-10 weeks of focused training. I don’t think that message is just for the folks that have an interest in bodybuilding, are aspiring bodybuilders, or are professional bodybuilders. I think that message can apply to anybody that engages in fitness multiple days per week.

The proliferation of programs such as Insanity, P90X, Daily Burn, and the like have taught us how to cram a lot of training into a short period of time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of these programs under the right circumstances. I’ve done the 60 days of Insanity, and its intense. I mean INTENSE. Even that program recommended a solid week off before considering one of its Insanity/P90X hybrid workouts. Whether its fully packaged programs like the ones I mentioned, or a personalized “boot camp” style program that is hardcore HIIT many times per week, we might falsely conclude that such a pace is sustainable for a long period of time.

It isn’t. Even elite athletes need a break.

Don’t be fearful of losing the body-type that you’ve worked so hard for, and don’t be fearful of losing reps at the gym. You can take a break and come back just as fit/strong, and put yourself in a position to be stronger. The other option is less appealing. You can try training through the warning signs, but they won’t go away. They might get worse. You might get worse.

My own personal experience inspired this post. I’m currently taking a good solid week off of my program. I’ve noticed a symptom or two recently. So, I checked my workout calendar, and I’ve probably been going too hard. In the month of April, I worked out 26 of the 30 days that month. In May, I wasn’t quite as hard, but still only averaged about 1-2 days rest. Going back even further, February and March were hard training months. That was a response to my first couple of weeks in January being light (due to the birth of my son – I wanted to get back on the horse quickly). In any event, I concluded that I ramped up and hit kind of a breakneck pace. My sleep was really starting to suffer. And, my performance wasn’t trending the direction I like. The final determinate was my kettlebell workout on Sunday. After my 14th set (I was trying to get to 20 sets), I felt a little “off,” so I stopped immediately, rehydrated, ate something, and just relaxed the rest of the day. That is when I started thinking about my training behaviors for the past few months.

It felt like time for a break. So, I’m going to enjoy this next week off, and let my body have an extended period to take a breath and repair itself.

Have you ever “overtrained?” If so, what was your experience, and how long did you take a break? If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share.” Thank you.