Rowing Machine Workout: More Muscle and Less Fat in Under 30 Minutes

This is Frank Underwood.

Frank is America’s most hated and loved fictional president of the United States.

Why am I talking about President Underwood in a fitness blog?

Well, if you can’t figure it out just go to a scene back in season 1 of “House of Cards.”

Frank Underwood is using a rowing machine.

Interesting seeing this machine being used in a popular drama series.

This is Jason Statham.

He looks nothing like Francis Underwood.

Underwood doesn’t look fit.

But it’s pretty obvious Jason Statham is fit.

And he probably knows how to use cardio to his advantage.

He’s quite athletic.

So why do I bring them up.

Before I answer that I have to point one thing out.

There’s two camps in fitness.

Those who do cardio.

And those who don’t.

For some reason there’s this belief that cardio isn’t necessary.

Or there’s this belief that cardio will make you lose muscle and get skinny.

If you’ve read previous articles on this site you’ll see examples of how cardio helps you maintain muscle.

In some instances you can gain muscle.

It all depends on how you use it.

Muscles Worked By Rowing

(That’s USA Rower Susan Francia)

I’ve seen rowers many times.

Especially in the Olympics.

I’ve seen the way the exercise works.

Grab two oars, hold them in your hands and start rowing.

Naturally, I used to think that the biceps did all the work.

But rowing is way more complicated than that.

It’s possibly one of the few total body cardio workouts around.

Done right it is similar to a power clean movement.

Check out the rowing motion.

The following muscle groups are involved.

  • Legs
  • Buttocks
  • Calves
  • Lower Back
  • Lats
  • Traps
  • Biceps
  • Abs

The entire body is getting a workout.

But lost in the motion is the idea that only the upper body is doing all the work.

The truth is it’s the opposite.

Done right, the legs and core do the majority of the work.

Your biceps are only there to finish the job.

How To Properly Row

First thing’s first.

In order to make a rowing workout effective you have to follow a series of steps.

Here are the steps:

  • Hold the bar with two hands
  • Start at knees bent position
  • Without leaning forward use your legs to push off
  • Once your legs are completely straight, lean back slightly
  • Now use the momentum to pull the bar into your upper ab area

That covers the first half of the exercise.

The motion of the exercise should be smooth and controlled.

Don’t jerk the handle and don’t rush through each step.

Now comes the 2nd part of the motion.

Going back to the starting point.

  • Once the bar touches the upper ab area, smoothly let the bar glide away from your body.
  • As the bar crosses above the thigh area let your upper body come back to an upright position.
  • The legs should be straight at this point, now bend at the knees and go back to the starting position.

Again, this should follow a controlled effortless motion.

The 2nd part of the motion should be slower than the first part of the motion.

It’s important to learn the proper way to do this exercise for the following reasons:

Doing this exercise incorrectly will lead to injury.

Not doing the exercise properly will screw up the benefits of rowing.

You’ll struggle with your rowing stamina and tap out too soon.

Choose Your Damper Setting Wisely

A big mistake most people make when using a rowing machine is underestimating how good of a cardio exercise it is.

One of the first things that people notice when trying out rowing is that it feels pretty easy.

Unlike sprints or a jog on a treadmill, if you’re out of shape you’ll tap out pretty fast.

A few minutes into a light jog and it’s possible to get winded.

On a rowing machine going for a few minutes can feel easier.

The first instinct is to make it harder by increasing the setting.

It’s also common for beginners, and even more experienced rowers, to not know that settings can be changed on a machine.

Look at a rowing machine and you’ll see that the front looks like a wheel.

On the “wheel” of the machine you’ll see a black round piece that can be adjusted.

That’s what’s called the “damper.”

The damper is basically the part of the machine that adds more friction to your rowing.

Naturally, you’d think that the higher the setting, creates a tougher and better cardio workout.

But the damper determines how much air flow enters the machine.

  • A higher damper setting (like a setting of 10) causes more air to enter the machine. The higher setting allows more air to enter the machine during the recovery period. More effort will then be required at the next stroke (Damper Setting 101).
  • A lower setting allows less air flow in the recovery phase of rowing.
Lower Damper Setting vs. High Damper Setting

If you’re just starting out it’s best to use lower damper settings.

A lower setting in the range of 3 to 5 will give you a better cardio workout.

If your goal is to focus more on strength goals, then a higher damper setting in the range of 7 to 10 is a better option.

However, a higher setting is recommended if you’ve been doing rowing for a while.

It’s important to learn to properly row and perfect the steps of a proper row.

A lower setting will also help you build stamina and keep you from gassing out too soon.

4 Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts

#1 The first benefit to rowing is the overall athleticism involved in this workout.

Sure, you can get on a stationary bicycle.

You can use an elliptical if you want to burn some fat.

But rowing requires your entire body, including your core, to be engaged in the workout.

I’ve talked about the importance of making workouts as athletic as possible if you want to look fit.

#2  A second benefit is the combination of muscle building and cardio.

There’s few ways to combine both of these factors in one cardio workout.

Most cardio workouts have their limitations.

Some cardio workouts are mostly effective for just that- cardio.

Muscle building isn’t possible, as in the case of the elliptical.

A stationary bicycle can help you gain muscle in your lower body along with cardio.

But rowing will help you gain muscle from your calves and thighs to your traps and lats.

In fact, research in the Journal of Applied Physiology has shown that rowing, paired with strength training, helps maintain muscle, prevents atrophy in important muscle groups and helps improve cardiovascular health.

#3  A third benefit, which is popular, is the low impact of the exercise.

If you row the right way you won’t be busting your joints.

In fact, it’s pretty tough to mess up your joints.

Unlike sprinting and jogging which put strain on the knees, ankles and lower back, rowing doesn’t cause this problem.

Rowing is a smooth exercise that doesn’t impact your joints in any way.

#4 I’ll throw this as a fourth benefit- the meditative/zen like feeling of rowing.

One of the benefits I’ve  gotten from using a rowing machine is the peaceful yet focused feeling i get from it.

The repetitive motion of using my legs, core, arms and back in a controlled manner has a peaceful feeling.

The sound of air going into the machine, steady repetitive movement and staying in tune to your body and breathing keeps you focused throughout the exercise.

It’s hard for your mind to wander.

Rowing feels like meditation.

And i’m sure that rowing in the outdoors is even more meditative.

A Rowing Workout to Get Extra Lean

Getting ripped is not tough.

One of the best ways to do so is by using HIIT.

Rowing for distance works for burning fat.

But you can combine distance along with intervals to maximize fat burning while gaining muscle.

Here’s a way to combine the two.

  • Warm Up (10 minutes)
  • Set your damper to level 3.
  • Row for 10 minutes at an easy to moderate pace.
  • Stroke rate should be at an average of 20 during this phase.
  • Intervals (15 minutes)
  • Increase your stroke rate to 24 for the next 15 minutes.
  • Break your intervals by 2 minute intervals with one minute rest in between.
  • So it’ll look like this:
  • Rowing for 2 minutes
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Row for 2 minutes
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Row for 2 minutes
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Row for 2 minutes
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Row for 2 minutes
  • Rest for 1 minute

Finish by walking on a treadmill for 10 minutes at an easy pace to cool down.

Some training programs break up intervals by distance.

These work too but I find it tougher to follow distance intervals for beginners and even intermediate rowers.

Beyond Intermediate Rowers

However, if you want to follow a more challenging interval plan you can do it in the following way.

Warm up by doing 10 minutes of rowing at a moderate pace.

Follow the warm up with the following:

  • 500 meters of rowing
  • 1 minute rest
  • 750 meters of rowing
  • 1 minute rest
  • 1000 meters of rowing
  • 1 minute rest
  • 750 meters rowing
  • 1 minute rest
  • 500 meters rowing
  • 1 minute rest

Finish by walking on a treadmill at an easy 10 minute pace.

Try including some rowing into your workouts 2 or 3 times per week.

Add rowing at the end of strength training workout day.

Or do it on a cardio day.

There you have it.

Rowing is a great way to switch things.

By doing rowing as a cardio workout, you’ll find it providing many benefits.

You won’t have to worry about getting skinny.

Quite the opposite.

Rowing is an excellent way to build your back, traps, strengthen you core and get strong legs.

Combined with strength training you’ll see how athletic you’ll look.

Try it out.

Comment below and let me know what you think of rowing workouts.

To your fitness,

Sam- Look Like An Athlete

Source:
Krainski, Hastings, Heinicke, Romain, Pacini, Snell, … & Levine, (2014). The effect of rowing ergometry and resistive exercise on skeletal muscle structure and function during bed rest. Journal of Applied Physiology, jap-00803.

A Sprinter Style Workout For Maximum Muscle Gains And A Lean Body

sprinters workout

Picture yourself running at full speed.

Arms pumping, legs kicking, going fast for ten seconds.

Your lungs are burning and as soon as it began it ends.

You stand at the end the track feeling exhausted but your body doesn’t show it.

In fact, your body looks more lean and muscular than the people watching you.

Now take a step back.

Stop.

That’s not you.

You’re the spectator.

You are in awe of what sprinters look like.

But what does it take to look like that?

Let’s think about it for a second…

What are these guys and ladies doing to stay so lean and stay muscular.

  1. Do short bursts of cardio
  2. Avoid long cardio

If you look at short distance runners, those who run in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters range you see some of the most muscular athletes around.

We can also lump NFL running backs and wide receivers in this category.

Guys who run for short and intense burst of time.

And even though you’ve seen plenty of guys do this on TV you still avoid doing any form of cardio.

I get it.

You’re afraid you’ll lose your muscle gains.

You’ll look like Screech from Saved By The Bell.

Or at least that’s what you’ve been told in countless bodybuilding forums and by meatheads the world over.

Nonsense.

Cardio is necessary if you want to look lean.

Unless you’re already the skinniest guy within a 100 mile radius you should be doing cardio.

Benefits Of Cardio

Heart Health: What good is it having a strong set of muscles if you’re going to run out of breath after all why are you going to risk having a weak heart with a short life span?

Supplying Oxygen:  When you lift two things happen.  You breath at a faster rate and your heart rate quickens which means your body will require more oxygen.  Now if you aren’t breathing and processing that oxygen as effectively as you need to your workout will suck.  That’s right, if you want to have stronger muscles the best way is to develop stronger and more efficient lungs.

Muscle Building: This is where most of us get confused.  Many times you hear the words cardio and a panic ensues.  Don’t fret.  Cardio is very important for muscle building.  Yes, your workouts will improve and you’ll develop stamina and conditioning but let’s not kid ourselves, we want to gain muscle.  Well, cardio workouts will help develop slow twitch muscle if you do long form cardio.  Slow twitch muscle fibers aren’t really the type that you’re looking for if you want to look muscular…  however, if you do cardio the right way, by doing intervals, you will see an increase in fast twitch muscle fibers, in other words you’ll have strong muscles.  This is what you see in sprinters.

Fat Burning:  Do cardio and you will burn fat. True? Not quite.  There is such a thing as the chubby aerobics instructor or the not totally slim guy who runs 5 miles every other day.  Yes, cardio will help you burn fat but it is important to do so in a way that is strategic yet effective.  Again, if you look at lean athletes you will see them doing interval training, combined with slow to moderate cardio.  Add strength training and you’ll be looking like the next Olympic track star.

Long Form Cardio Versus Short Intense Intense Intervals

So there’s always the fear that by doing any form of cardio will lead to a loss in muscle mass.

Here’s the deal.

Unless you run marathon sessions on a regular basis you really have nothing to fear.

Marathon running and any long distance type cardio will have you looking skinny if you choose to do this long term.  Unless you decide to run several miles every day, run for more than 30 minutes straight nearly every single day, believe me you don’t have to worry about it.

However, if you want to look more like a sprinter and less like the winner of Survivor, then you have to do your cardio in a way that is higher in intensity and not time consuming.

Unlike a professional sprinter, you don’t have hours to train.

So the goal is to maximize your workouts using a fraction of the time while gaining muscle and keeping the fat demons away.

If we break down a typical sprinter’s routine you will find that these athletes train mostly with short distances.  It is common to see these athletes training at distances ranging from 10 meters to 300 meters.

The difference in distance will vary on whether they are training for speed endurance (60 meters and above) or simply working on starting line speed (10 meters to 50 meters).  Different days are dedicated to either one of these two types of drills.

However along with these drills, which can take up to an hour, we have to take into account warm up drills as well as technique and body mechanics.

Here is an example of a sprinter routine:

http://www.coacheseducation.com/sprints/george-payan2-apr_02.htm

Along with doing these drills there’s also strength training/ weight training usually on the same day.

Unless you’re a college level athlete or professional athlete or have several hours to spare, have enough rest time and have your nutrition in check you won’t have a problem at all.  If you’re just a regular guy or lady with either work, school or family responsibilities then you can’t train at this level.

Not to worry.

You can be a muscle building and fat burning machine by using your time wisely and working with the right types of exercises and drills in a fraction of the time.

A Sprinter Routine For Non-Athletes

If you’re reading this chances are you are a regular guy or lady.

You have a busy life but at the same time you are dedicated to working out.

So your time is precious.

You only have so many minutes and not hours to dedicate to your training.

Perfect.

We are going to keep our workouts short in typical Look Like An Athlete fashion.

The focus on the workouts will be specifically on speed endurance.

It doesn’t matter how fast you can run.

It doesn’t matter if you run faster with each session.

All you need to focus on is intensity and making the sessions as brief as possible.

So we can eliminate working on how fast we take off from the starting line or working on mechanics.

The only things we need to work on are warming up properly and doing a series of drills that will fire up the fast twitch muscles.

Your sprinting schedule will consist of anywhere between 1 to 2 sessions per week.  Ideally you want to start with one session and work up to two sessions after a couple of weeks.

I like to start off conservatively in order to avoid burnout.

Start With A Warmup

I’ve previously talked about doing dynamic warm ups.  You can do the same types of warm up exercises prior to starting sprints.

A quick warm up can go like this:

Jumping Jacks (30 seconds)

Bodyweight Squats (10 reps)

Bodyweight Lunges (5 per leg)

Mountain Climbers (15 to 30 seconds)

Do this drill without resting in between exercises.

Next jog one lap (400 meters) or jog for 60 to 90 seconds.

The Drills

Ok, we’ve covered prepping the body for action.

Time to break it down with some drills.

Day 1

100 meter sprints; 6 to 10 sets

Rest for 60 seconds between sets

Sprint speed should be at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum effort

Day 2

Pyramid Drills

100 meter sprint, 200 meter sprint, 300 meter sprint

Repeat one more time

Rest 90 seconds between sets

Spring speed will be at 80 to 90 percent of maximum effort

Treadmill Sprints

If you are going to choose a treadmill make sure to apply the same principles.
Keep the sprints short and fast.

Sprint at a speed that is 80 to 90 percent of your maximum effort.
Sprint for 20 to 30 seconds
Rest for 60 to 90 seconds
Repeat 6 to 10 times

A bit over a year ago I was sidelined from lifting any weights for close to 5 months.

Thanks to a pickup game of basketball I wound up with mallet finger in my pinky.

Basically, I tore the tendons and I wound up with a crooked finger all thanks to a basketball banging the tip of my pinky on a quick pass.

Even though I didn’t need surgery I still had to wear a splint in order to keep my finger straight 24 hours a day.

Under doctor’s orders I was not allowed to grip heavy objects.

So other than doing pushups and some lower body exercises I was out of commission from most strength training.

If you’re used to training 4 or 5 days a week and then having to eliminate lifting entirely for months is nerve wracking.

My first thought was that I would lose muscle, end up skinny and all my effort would go down the drain.

Well I had to do some form of training in order to stay in shape.

Luckily I have been a fan of interval training for a long time and despite my injury doing an activity like sprinting was still fine.

Over the course of these 5 months I lost very little muscle and definition.

I didn’t lose weight and my legs continued to gain muscle all thanks to sprinting.

Strength Training

So now that we have covered the sprinting portion of the workout we need to cover the strength training portion.

In other articles I have written here I’ve talked about the benefits of doing Olympic movements in order to build a lean and muscular body.

If you want to come as close as possible to looking like an athlete and especially if you want to look like a sprinter then doing Olympic movements will be important.

(Here’s Usain Bolt showing some Barbell Hang Cleans)

For maximum results try and find a way to blend these types of exercises along with bodyweight movements.

Here is a sample workout

Day 1 & 4 (Lower Body)

Power Clean (4 sets of 5)

Front Squat (3 sets of 6 to 8)

Deadlift (3 sets of 5)

Leg Raises (for the right way to do this exercise read here)

Upper Body Day 2 & 5

Bench Press (4 sets of 6 to 8 reps)

Chin Ups (4 sets of 6 to 8 reps)

Shoulder Press (3 sets of 6 to 8 reps)

Biceps Curls (2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps)

Day 3 & 5 Rest

In order to achieve a very athletic body it is best to give enough focus to the upper body muscle groups as well as the lower body.

Although it is fine to blend upper and lower body workouts on the same day I would recommend splitting them into separate days.

Do your sprints after your strength training for added benefits of fat burning and to boost HGH.

Final Thoughts

In order to get the most out of this type of training make sure to combine both strength training and interval training.  Sprinters, and nearly all athletes, combine both types in order to have highly athletic bodies.  If you do the same you will get results that will have you looking like a sprinter as well.

The Skinny Guy Cardio Workout

cardio for skinny guys‘Hey man I’m trying to gain weight, but not fat you know. I’m trying to add muscle.”

“Well, you have put on a bit of mass.  What’s your goal now?”

“I’m trying to add about 10 pounds of muscle and stay at single digit fat.”

“How much do you weigh?”

“About 150… 155 on a good week.”

“Really? Man, you look a bit heavier than that.  I guess it’s the height and your lean muscle which fools me.”

The trainer continues…

“What’s your routine like right now?”

“Dude begins to lay out his training split in detail.”

“Sounds pretty solid.  How about your diet?”

Dude lays out his diet in as much detail as possible.

“Yeah, that’s pretty good too so far.  I can’t see why you’re struggling to add mass.  What about cardio?”

“Oh right, yeah I do about 3 days, 20 to 30 minutes each session of intervals after my strength training.”

“Aha! There’s your mistake!”

The year was 2005 and the skinny guy was none other than ME.

I had done all the research that was available at the time.

Looked through magazines.

Read every article that was written in the last 5 years.

I desperately wanted to build mass.

I wanted to enjoy the benefits of cardio for my heart and at the same time have ripped abs.

That’s all I wanted.

Was that too much to ask?

If you’re an ectomorph, i.e. SKINNY DUDE like me, yes it is too much to ask.

Having a high metabolism is blessing and a curse.

I still have an easy time keeping the fat demons away from me.

Give me some food, any food, in just about any quantity and it won’t create a dent in my diet, or a spare tire.  Well, all within reason.  I can’t live on a diet of cheesecake and expect to look lean year round.

In that sense I am genetically blessed.  However, when it comes to gaining mass it can be the biggest uphill battle.

Should Skinny Guys Do Cardio

I often get this question asked either in my inbox or even at the gym.

If you can relate to being a true Ectomorph and are a skinny dude who simply struggles to add mass then cardio should not be your priority.

Let’s say you are a true ectomorph, have a body fat in the single digits or barely over 10 percent and you can’t gain any mass.  Switch your priorities.

Your priority should be on the strength training part and hitting the weights using compound movements.

Skip cardio for a bit.

Don’t bother with running on a treadmill or a track.

Going for a jog is definitely a No-No for skinny guys with very little muscle mass and low body fat.

Unless you want to keep your gains from kicking in just do the same you’ve been doing so far.

By doing cardio as well as strength training you will be burning more calories.  The last thing an ectomorph who is trying to add mass needs is a calorie deficit.

Create a calorie deficit and you will start losing weight.

Have a surplus and your gains should come.

They may come slowly for some but you will definitely not lose weight.

Let’s say that after a couple of months you have managed to gain some significant muscle gains.

You eat healthy and want to avoid the dreaded fat to creep up on you.

What do you do?

A great alternative to using traditional cardio is doing low impact cardio.

Walking is a great example of this.

It is easy to do, doesn’t mess with your joints the way running does and you are basically using every major muscle group.

It doesn’t sound glamorous or exciting.

I mean what athlete is known for his or her walking skills?

I don’t know of any but it is the easiest thing to do.

For most people in the modern world, between sitting at home watching T.V., driving in our cars and sitting at a desk we rarely get to move around and walk.

You could and technically should walk on a daily basis and you won’t have to worry about losing muscle.  Chances are you will continue gaining muscle and not add on fat if you are keeping your eating habits healthy.

Jump Rope Workouts and More Athletic Type Training

(Here’s Bloom To Fit on the jump rope)

Let’s say you are looking for something a bit more challenging.

I know most of you are looking for something more athletic.

One exercise I recommend for skinny guys (and even those who aren’t skinny) are jump rope workouts.

Jumping rope has always been a must do routine in the boxing world.

Doing jump rope workouts are an easy and effective way to:

  • Build stronger calves
  • Strengthen the ankles
  • Create natural muscle tension in your shoulders
  • Engage the core/ ab muscles
  • Burn fat
  • Boost HGH
  • Build cardio stamina

For a boxer one of the best ways to build their stamina is by doing jump rope drills.  By combining their drills in short yet intense intervals, this helps them work on their foot speed and their ability to last short bursts of intensity in the ring.

Here is an example of a jump rope drill you can do:

  • Grab a jump rope and a timer
  • Set that timer to 30 second intervals
  • Jump rope for moderate to intense activity for 30 seconds
  • Rest for 30 seconds
  • Repeat

Perform drills for a total of 15 to 20 minutes

You can ideally perform these drills after completing a strength training session.  You can also jump rope on rest days from strength training however, I would recommend not doing high intensity intervals on those days.  Simply get your heart rate up, work on your athleticism and save some for your next training session.

Training with jump ropes is ideal for any level of fitness.  If you are a beginner or more advanced level you can do these types of drills.

If you are an ectomorph or skinny guy this type of training and workout is one I highly recommend if you are looking for something that will help you keep your body fat down all while building your conditioning and developing muscle in your lower body.

How Much Cardio Is Too Much For Building Muscle

So back in 2005 I was training with high intensity sprints 3 to 4 days a week on top of doing weights.

Although this seemed like a great idea at the time, a personal trainer showed me that this was not the best approach for me if I wanted to gain mass.

As an ectomorph training 3 plus days for 20 to 30 minutes of sprints on a treadmill was simply too taxing on my body and sending my already high metabolism into overdrive.  A better approach for me would have been training with sprint intervals for 2 days per week at the most.

Working on conditioning as well as strength training is very important if you want to achieve an athletic physique.

For an ectomorph who is just starting to train it is best to lay off on cardio.  However, for anyone who has been training for more than a few months it is always a good idea to work on conditioning at some level.

I do want to point out that for ectomorphs it is always a good idea to keep an eye on how our bodies react to cardio work. 

Although cardio is a great tool for fat burning, when done right it can help develop muscle as well.

This is where most of us mess up.

We either do too much cardio, such as my 3 to 4 day interval training, or simply do steady state cardio which is something to avoid at all costs.

One thing I didn’t mention earlier is that when I first began going to the gym, which is now over a 10 years ago, I would jog as many as 5 days per week and lift weights 4 days per week.

Big mistake.

I dropped from an already skinny 145 pounds down to a measly 135 pounds.  The weight just melted off in 3 months.  Even I knew this was not a good thing.

ectomorph body type

That’s how fast my metabolism was working and the results were not good.  I looked more like “The Machinist” than “The Dark Knight.”

As any ectomorph can attest we have high metabolic rates and going out for a long jog keeps us skinny.

Training With High Intensity Intervals

In order to build muscle while working on our conditioning one of the best ways is to add explosive intervals done in short sequences.

Here are some benefits of doing short athletic intervals:

  • Build muscle in our lower body
  • Helps with developing muscle in the upper body
  • Boosts HGH
  • Burn fat without sacrificing muscle gains
  • Provide cardio benefits without looking skinny
  • Helps you build an athletic physique

Rather than doing long running or jogging for 30 minutes straight the best way to train is by doing intervals in short periods of 20 to 60 seconds of activity followed by a rest period long enough to recover.

For example you can sprint for 30 seconds and rest for 30 to 90 seconds and repeat this sequence anywhere from 5 to 10 times.

Examples of Athletic Interval Training:

  • Sprints
  • Hill Sprints
  • Sled Push
  • Sled Pull

These types of exercises not only help with conditioning but also build core strength and help build stronger leg muscles.

Along with the core there is muscle development in the following areas:

  • Core/ Abs
  • Legs and Lower body
  • Upper Body, including arms, chest, back and shoulders

How Often Should You Do Cardio

how much cardio is too much

Athletes such as NFL players, Rugby athletes, MMA and UFC athletes use these types of conditioning workouts to get an edge.  Rather than risk losing muscle you can add on muscle and improve conditioning at the same time.

For best results work with these types of exercises anywhere from 1 to 2 times per week.

Keep your sessions short, explosive and intense.

Coupled with your strength training there is no way you can go wrong.

Final things to keep in mind

If you are a beginner or desperately need to add muscle, simply wait on doing cardio until you have been training a few months.

Once you have put on a bit of muscle mass begin to introduce cardio into your training sessions.

Make sure you keep your conditioning sessions in intervals and ditch jogging or long running sessions.

However, walking is highly encouraged for any level of strength training, even for ectomorphs.

Examples of intervals can range from jump rope training to sprints, hill sprints, sled pushes and sled pulls.

Short burst intervals are ideal even for an ectomorph and highly recommended if you have been training for more than a few months.

Training with intervals will help you develop a muscular body all around but don’t overdo it.  Stick with 1 to 2 sessions of this type of conditioning and you will be safe.

There you have it.

Make sure you hit “Like,” “Tweet” this article if you enjoyed it and drop a comment below.

Dynamic Warm Up Exercises: Prepare Your Body For Battle and Avoid Injury With Athletic Drills

I have a confession to make.

I don’t warm up before a workout.

Let me make a correction.  I sometimes warm up before my training.  I am not consistent with this part of my training and I really need to get my act together.

There I said it.  I’m guessing many of you don’t warm up either.  And I’m not talking about some stretching before you start lifting weights.  I’m talking about stuff that gets your CNS (Central Nervous System) fired up.

For a long time I have had this old school approach to training and warming up.  I remember reading Jack Lalanne’s opinions on this a long time ago.

Jack Lalanne:  “15 minutes to warm up? Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ No! He just goes out there and eats the sucker.”

I read that and thought, heck that’s good enough for me.

Now if you don’t know Jack Lalanne he was a beast in fitness.  Lived until the age of 96 and was a fitness eccentric.

I admire the man and have since I was a kid.  I also have to give him credit for something else and that is he had a gifted physique and health.

I have followed his approach for a long time but I just can’t do it anymore.

I have to face my limitations.  As much as I would like to be a lion or more like Jack and attack the weights immediately I can’t do it.  I am only setting myself up for injury or lousy workouts

If you are like me you are jumping in to your workouts and you give it a go.  Lift the weights, build up momentum and you are done.

Or maybe you start off with some off hand stretching.  You grab your ankle, pull it behind you and hold it for a few seconds.  Stretch.

Grab your arm, hold it over your head, pull it slightly behind your back and then across your chest.  Another stretch.

Some call that a warm up.  But it isn’t.  That is just simple static stretching and if you do it before a workout it won’t help you avoid injury or the quality of your training.

Or maybe you get on the treadmill and jog for a few minutes and get your temperature elevated this way.

That works at getting your temperature up, get a bit of a sweat on but does that help you prepare for attacking the weights the way you want?

Preparing the CNS

In order to help the body work to its potential you need to get your muscles prepared for battle and not only the muscle fibers but your entire Central Nervous System (CNS).

The muscles, nerve endings, neurons and basically all the system that is in charge of activating your body, from your brain to your spinal cord.

Like any machine (yes, your body is a machine), your body needs to prepare before it can work to maximum efficiency.

If we are going to work with weights in a manner that is explosive, then the best way is to prepare the body for what is to come with an equally athletic warm up and not a slow jog or simple stretching.

Dynamic Stretching Warm Up

Rather than doing simple stretches where you pull your arms or legs to feel muscles pulling try exercises that require your body to stretch and move.

Here are some examples:

Bodyweight Lunges:  You can do walking lunges but it is best to keep it simple and just lunge forward with one leg, hold the lunge position and come back up.  Switch legs and do the same movement.

Shoulder Dislocations:  This is an excellent exercise to loosen up the shoulder area and helps it protect it from injury.

Forward Leg Swings: Start in a standing position and with one leg slightly behind.  Kick the leg that is slightly behind in a forward motion and swing it up to waist level.  This will get the hips and hamstrings loosened up for any lower body workout.  Repeat several times for each leg.


Arm Circles:  Move your arms in wide circles first going forward and then backwards.

Hip Circles:  Stand with your feet at close to shoulder width and move your hips in circles.

Cherry Pickers:  If you remember this exercise from your middle school physical education class you may recall it as a silly movement.  Well, this will stretch your lower back, hamstrings and even your upper body.  Stand with feet shoulder width apart and with your hands reach down and touch the floor.  First touch the floor slightly in front of you, then slightly closer to you and finally the space between your legs, come back up and place your hands on your waist.  Repeat.

Hand Walkouts:  Stand with feet shoulder width apart and place your hands on the floor.  Proceed to walk with your hands and leave your feet firmly planted on the ground.  Walk your hands as far as possible going forward and then walk them back to your starting position.

Superman Exercise:  Get on the floor face down and on your stomach.  Begin by starting flat and then elevate both your arms and legs off the floor a couple of inches at the same time.  Hold the position for 3 seconds and come back down and rest for 3 seconds.  That is one repetition.

Dynamic Warm Up Examples

Now let’s move on to dynamic warm up exercises as these work in great combination with dynamic stretches.

The following dynamic movements will help the muscle fibers with upcoming activity.

Here are some examples:

Jumping Jacks:  Yeah, jumping jacks are a good way to warm up.  Do some for anywhere between 20 and 30 reps.

Overhead Bodyweight Squats:  This exercise can also be done as traditional bodyweight squats but doing it this way will only work the lower body.  Raise your hands above your head as if reaching for the sky and hold this position as you do bodyweight squats.  You will feel the muscles in your back and shoulders working together along with the lower body. Ten reps will work just fine.

Burpees:  You can do it with or without a push up as you please.  As a warm up you can leave a push up out of the movement and without a jump as well.  Do 10 reps in a warm up.

Mountain Climbers:  This movement will work the core and the entire body.  Get in a push up position and move as in a running motion making sure you drive your knees up. 30 seconds of this exercise are good to include in a drill for your warm ups.

Jumping Rope:  I would rather do this as a finisher but you can keep also substitute as a warm up exercise to get the body moving.  As opposed to a finisher which would be performed with high intensity, you can do this exercise at a moderate pace divided by intervals.  Five to ten minutes is enough if done as a standalone exercise.

Knee Tuck Jumps:  This is similar to a bodyweight jump squat, except the starting position is not from a deep squat.  Once you are up in the air the knees come up to waist level or higher and close to the chest if possible.  10 reps will get the body prepped for action.

These are some exercises you can include in your warm up and as you can see they are athletic.

However, the best way to maximize them is by putting them together as a combination.

Dynamic Stretching Drills (Warm Up)

Here is a series you can perform as your warm up next time you are ready to begin your training session.  It is a combination of dynamic stretches and dynamic warm up exercises.

1)      Jumping Jacks (20 repetitions)

2)      Overhead Bodyweight Squats (5 reps)

3)      Bodyweight Lunges (5 lunges per leg)

4)      Forward Leg Swings Leg Swings (5 leg swings per leg)

5)      Knee Tuck Jumps (5 jumps)

6)      Shoulder Dislocations (5 reps)

7)      Arm Circles (10 circles forward and 10 circles back)

8)      Cherry Pickers (10 reps)

9)      Mountain Climbers (do as many reps in 30 seconds)

10)   Superman Exercise (5 repetitions)

This is just a sample warm up and you can substitute some exercises and even change the order which they are performed.

This may seem like a workout in itself but that is the point.  This is like a mini workout or preparation for the real work that is to come.  It shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes but it will get your upper body as well as lower body activated.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, I have not been consistent with warming up.  The weeks and months that I have ever chosen to include drills in my training I have noticed better quality gym sessions.  Believe me, I will warm up without fail from now on.

The best thing to do is include some type of warm up to avoid injury and prepare your body for a productive session.  Maximize your workouts as much as possible and save your body the wear and tear that accumulates over time.

Remember, you are not Jack Lalanne, or an animal ready to hunt and kill its prey.  However, you can train smart, stay healthy and look like an athlete by training like one.

Outdoor Workouts: Make The Most Of The Weather And A Bad Economy And Get In Great Shape

I am lucky to live in Los Angeles where the weather is awesome 90 percent of the time and gives us the chance to have outdoor workouts.  I know many other places are not as lucky, but we are right in the middle of summer and it looks like many places are experiencing the type of weather that makes it perfect to do workouts and activities that will benefit our health.

Make The Outdoors Your Personal Gym

Most people do not go to the gym for various reasons: time, money, distance, etc.  Believe me, I understand how hard it is if you are low on cash and can’t sign up to a gym, the economy is killing us! Literally! So what options do we have?  Well, the best alternative is to use the outdoors in your favor.

When we think of a workout outdoors we usually develop a picture in our minds of someone rock climbing, mountain climbing, mountain biking or surfing.  These are all excellent workouts and I highly recommend them but they are not for everyone, especially when most people don’t have the skills to do them.

Go Back To Basics- A Gym Class Approach

Remember the days in gym class when you used to run outside doing laps? What followed next were burpees, maybe some push-ups, sit ups and about 30 minutes of a sport.  If you think about it you were probably in decent shape and so were the rest of your classmates.  So why not apply the same techniques now to get fit?

Because you are going to be outdoors the best approach should combine bodyweight workouts along with your cardio.  Instead of doing steady state cardio like going for a long jog, instead do interval training as this will burn more calories and have you looking lean faster than if you were to do long cardio sessions.

Cardio Outdoors

Most of us have a high school or college campus with a track, well why not use it? You can easily run sprints for 2 laps on a track by doing the following approach:

Begin with a 5 minute warm up of jumping jacks and running/ jogging in place.  Alternate between one minute drills of each exercise.

Lap 1

  • Jog for 100 meters
  • Run at 80 percent of your maximum speed the next 100 meters
  • Jog for 100 meters
  • Run at 80 percent of your maximum speed the next 100 meters

Lap 2

  • Jog for 100 meters
  • Run at 80-90 percent of maximum speed for 100 meters
  • Jog or walk for 100 meters
  • Run at 80-90 percent of maximum speed for 100 meters

This workout follows principles of HIIT/ Interval Burst Training and will help you burn fat more effectively than if you were simply jogging for over 30 minutes

Sprinting at the Park, Lake or Beach

If you do not have access to a track or prefer a lake, beach, or park you can follow the same drill.

Simply estimate a distance of 100 meters in a straight line and jog or walk one way then follow that with a quick sprint the opposite way.

If you find it difficult to estimate a distance of 100 meters do the following;

Jog in a straight line for 60 seconds and mark off the ending point.  This will serve as your guideline between your starting point and end point.  Perform the same drill as the track workout.

You could technically do these drills on your neighborhood street, especially if you live in a neighborhood absent of traffic, preferably staying on the sidewalk.

You can also do hill sprints if you live in an area that has hills simply jog/ walk for one minute and sprint for one minute. Do this for a total of 15 minutes.

Outdoor Bodyweight Workout

After a 5 to 10 minute break from your cardio follow this with the following workout.

This completes one set.

Move continuously from one exercise to the next without resting.

Repeat cycle three more times for a total of 4 sets.

Rest 30 seconds between sets.

If you have access to a pull up bar you can finish with 3 sets maximum number of reps per set.

Do this workout twice or three times per week on non consecutive days for best results.  Try to stay active by going on a jog or walk on your off days and maintain a healthy diet.

You can use the outdoor workouts samples I have outlined to turbo charge your fat burning to a new level.  Hopefully this workout sample will help you take your fitness plan beyond just a gym.  Try this to switch it up or to get started on your goal of looking fit and d feeling healthier.

Burpees Exercise: Lose The Fat In One Simple Move

“OKAY CLASS, LET’S DO THIS! BURPEES EXERCISE ON THREE! ONE, TWO…”

That was the drill every morning in middle school. I hated it.  I know everyone in my physical education class hated it, but we did not have an option.  All we wanted to do was play basketball, softball or flag football, but not this.

At the time I did not understand just how valuable an exercise this was.  I mean, who would think that an exercise that requires you to move quickly from a standing position, do a push up position and back up could be so valuable?

Build Athleticism Using A Simple Exercise

In order to becoming athletic or simply get fit it takes doing a lot of cardio or lifting weights- or so we are told.  We have become used to hearing that it takes expensive equipment in order to get in shape but sometimes the smallest and simplest techniques can get us in shape as fast.  If you look at programs like Jason Ferruggia’s “Renegade Bodyweight Bodybuilding” you will find that all it takes to get in shape is your body alone.  A burpee exercise is one way to get in physical conditioning in a short time.

Bodyweight workouts are often not even mentioned in gyms and are rarely talked about in fitness magazines.  However, these workouts are also an excellent way to do strength-training workouts without having to spend money and they can be done in the comfort of your own home.

Burpees Exercises- A Full Body Exercise To Lose Fat

The burpees exercise is a simple exercise that only requires your body and nothing else.  There is no need to use equipment, yet it gives you cardio and strength training benefits like very few other exercises can.  Here you will find a sample workout using burpees.

In order to do a burpee you have to follow this sequence:

  • Begin in a shoulder wide stance
  • Quickly move in to a squat and crouching position with your hands on the floor
  • Kick your feet back in to a push up position and perform a push up
  • Bring your legs in together at the same time back in to the crouching position
  • Explode up and jump as high as you can (similar to a bodyweight jump squat)
  • Land in the same shoulder wide stance
  • This completes one repetition

Note:  the movement should be done without stopping and each repetition is performed non-stop, moving from one repetition to the next.

Do as many burpees as fast as possible for a period of one minute.  Rest for two minutes and repeat the minute sequence 4 more times for a total of 5 sets of burpees.  However, if you cannot do 5 sets that is fine.  You should be able to do a challenging 3 sets and build up to 5 over time.  Do this workout twice a week allowing 72 hours between workouts.

This exercise is an excellent total body workout.  As you can see the push up will work the triceps and chest muscles.  The explosive jump and landing will work on your thighs and hamstrings along with your calves.  The leg tucks and subsequent jump also works your abs/ core region.

If you are a beginner or simply find this sequence challenging you can eliminate the jump in the burpee as well as the push-ups.  If you can perform push-ups I definitely recommend that you keep them.

For an example of a burpee you can see the following video by Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training (turbulencetraining.com).  In this video he incorporates burpees at the end of this bodyweight routine.

Why This Exercise Works So Well

The best way to burn fat and keep lean muscle is by doing burst training or interval training along with strength training. As you can see, this workout combines the two.  Rather than do long cardio sessions you can get better results by doing short bursts of cardio broken up by short rest periods.  In the 15 minutes that it takes to complete this exercise you will get more benefits than if you were to take a jog for over 30 minutes.

How To Make This Your Workout Routine

If you do not have access to a gym, do not have the money, time or you want to switch things up a bit here is my sample weeklong workout.

Monday:  Sprint Workout (15 minutes followed by 15 minute jog or walk)

Tuesday:  Burpees & Abs/ Core Workout

Wednesday:  Rest

Thursday:  Sprint Workout (15 minutes followed by 15 minute jog or walk)

Friday:  Burpees & Abs/Core Workout

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

What I have outlined is a simple workout you can try.  If you are interested in a complete bodyweight program you can follow a more structured and complete program like Jason Ferruggia’s “Renegade Bodyweight Bodybuilding.”

As you can see a burpees exercise can be a great way to burn fat and get lean if you are new to working out or if you are looking for a different way to get in shape.

Feel free to comment below and join in the discussion.

Short Burst Training Workouts: The Best Way To Become A Fat Burning Machine

I am sure you are wishing there was a quick way that would burn the excess fat from your body.  What if I told you that there is such a way and it is through short burst training workouts that you will achieve quicker gains than if you were doing long cardio sessions.

I am not going to lie and tell you that doing one quick session once a week you will get lean and looking athletic.  But if you do these types of workouts you will definitely shave time and boring days during your typical workout.

What are Short Burst Training Workouts?

Burst training involves doing brief yet high intensity training either with cardio or with weights.  This type of workout gets your fast twitch muscles involved .The principles used in short burst training is the same as what you see in interval training and HIIT workouts.  A separate example of this is with Fartlek training (for an example of this go to Not Your Average Fitness Tips).

Short burst training consists of doing high intensity short duration exercises followed by a period of less intense activity and/ or rest.

This type of training helps create an increase in growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone that are highly effective at burning fat and creating muscle growth.

An Excellent Way to Raise Your Metabolism

Performing this type of workout helps elevate the metabolism of the person doing a workout.  Although most of us think that doing long and moderate level cardio helps more for fat burning the truth is that performing these brief high intensity intervals is more effective for fat loss.

By performing brief intervals you are simply forcing the body to use fat for energy.  Although traditional cardio does this as well it takes longer periods of time and longer workouts.  In the end by working out less with a higher intensity you end up becoming a more efficient fat burning machine and that is a time saver.  For a great example of these types of workouts check out Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training as he shows very specific techniques for torching fat.

Have you ever wondered what is the secret weapon behind some of the best physiques at your local gym or when you go to the beach or even celebrities and actresses?  Believe it or not, it is performing short burst training workouts.  These exercises are what give people a lean look year round.

Get The Heart Pumping

There is no other way around it.  In order to burn the fat you will have to get the heart pumping and get some sweat going but you will enjoy the results.

The Benefits Of Burst Training

  1. Burns fat at a higher rate
  2. Will speed up your metabolism
  3. Help build more lean muscle
  4. Help you have higher energy levels

As mentioned earlier, burst training can be done with weight training or resistance training.  This includes bodyweight training, kettlebells, resistance bands training and weights.

Example of Burst Training with Weights For Arms

Triceps Workout

  • Triceps Pulldown
  • Seated Triceps Pushdown
  • Overhead Triceps Extension

Biceps Workout

Barbell Biceps Curl

Double Biceps Cable Curl

(Option: replace all three biceps exercises with my short biceps workout)

  • -Heavy Weight for 4-5 repetitions and 3-4 sets each exercise
  • -Rest time between sets 15-30 seconds
  • -This sequence takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
  • I prefer starting with a 5 minute plyometrics training warm up

You can do this type of sequence for any muscle group: chest, back arms, legs etc.  You can do them with any type of equipment and even with bodyweight exercises.

Do not choose a bunch of exercises, no more than four per muscle group. If your body can only do less then that is fine as well.  The goal is to get the heart elevated and pumping to an athletic level.

Once you complete the resistance portion move in to a cardio phase.

Perform a series of intervals doing your favorite type of cardio exercise.  You can follow a sprint workout if you would like.

I like doing a sequence as follows:

  • Start with a moderate walking pace for 2 minutes
  • Follow with a sprint at 70 percent your maximum speed
  • Follow with 2-minute walk or jog
  • Sprint at 80 percent max speed for one minute
  • Jog or walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint at 80 percent max speed for one minute
  • Jog or walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint at 70 percent max speed for one minute
  • Jog or walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 90 percent your max speed for one minute
  • Jog or walk for 2 minutes

Total time for cardio sequence: 18 minutes

You can adjust it to a one-minute rest, one minute sprints sequence, or any variation you feel comfortable with.

As I said earlier, you can use any type of equipment for this cardio sequence.  You can even do it by swimming the bursts/ intervals can be very brief as long as they are explosive.

As you can see following this type of program is challenging but spending only 30 minutes to 45 minutes working out beats long 2 hours long workouts any day.  For further examples of how short workouts can get you to burn more fat check out Turbulence Training by Craig Ballantyne.

Say goodbye to long boring workouts and hello to a fit fat burning body with these short burst training workouts.