Sometimes you need (or just want) a ten minute workout. I think the guys over at Mind Pump (funny fitness podcast) would call these ‘trigger sessions’. Sort of micro workouts intended to offer a quick hit of stimulation, but nothing too intensive. Not sure if my workouts would be considered the same thing, but I like the term, so I’m using it.

Given the fact that most of us spend hours sitting each day, it’s beneficial to add small, frequent bursts of movement to wake up our body. This in contrast to exclusively engaging in only one or two intense workouts each week, with all remaining hours spent virtually motionless. That’s why I use these sessions. Well, that, and the following reasons:

  • I’m sometimes lazy, and 10 minutes is less than 11, 12, or even 20 minutes.
  • Alternatively, maybe I do really want to exercise, but happen to be at a stage where I need to reduce volume. Ten minutes lets me do something, just not too much.
  • I’m short on time. Something is better than nothing.
  • Again, I’m lazy. 

THE LAYOVER: Perform 10 minutes of suitcase carries with a kettlebell or dumbbell.

Suitcase carries are similar to farmers walks, except the weight is loaded asymmetrically (one side heavier than the other). This lopsided loading requires you to maintain an upright torso, fighting the urge to be pulled down by the weighted side. If you have the opportunity, this is a great workout to do in the backyard, barefoot, under some vitamin D delivering sunshine. Try to keep a steady pace with a solid posture for the entire 10 minutes, switching hands periodically (say every 50 metres or every 30 seconds). I personally use a roughly 60 lb kettlebell for my suitcase carries. 

This routine isn’t meant to blast you. It’s a little extra work you can throw in, especially on an ‘off’ day. For me personally, it allows me to feel like I’ve worked out, without really overtaxing my body. 

BAMBI LEGS: This is so easy it hurts. One plate (135 lbs) barbell squats: 3 sets of 20 reps. That’s it. That’s the workout. Get in. Get out.

BACK TO BASICS: To be honest, this one takes longer than ten minutes, because a little extra recovery is required between sets. That said, the total time actually moving is less than ten minutes.

The goal here is five supersets (back to back exercises) of 10 pull-ups and 20 push-ups (for a total of 50 pull-ups and 100 push-ups).

I’ll often perform this routine while cooking dinner. It’s a simple way to add a little exercise in without disrupting my day. For example, using my recent hamburger recipe, my session might look something like this…

  • Perform set #1
    • Chop some onions
  • Perform set #2
    • Prepare spices, form hamburger patties.
  • Perform set #3
    • Warm up BBQ.
  • Perform set #4
    • Place burgs on BBQ
  • Perform set #5 (final set)
    • Finish cooking the burgers, enjoy dinner.

These are but three potential workouts you can use. The main point is, sometimes all you really need is a quick burst of movement. It doesn’t need to be planned days in advance, and it doesn’t even have to involve changing into dedicated workout clothes. The fewer hurdles you encounter, the more likely you’ll actually engage in these activities. A few extra push-ups sprinkled in here and there will go a long way. Don’t overthink it, just give it a try.

Don’t forget to wash your hands after doing the push-ups!

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I don’t exactly know why I stopped, but here I am, once again posting. Something triggered me to write today. I’m not going to dwell on what that trigger was, I’m just going to ride this motivation train, and see where I end up. See if I can keep the momentum alive past one post. Wish me luck.

A New Decade Begins

2020 has been great so far. The year started with Liz and I wrapping up a trip to the US South-West. We spent Christmas in San Diego, where we celebrated my parents 50th anniversary with our extended family. We had a blast hanging with cousins and nephews. Although we ate and drank too much, sporadic walks peppered our schedule, hedging some of the negative activity. And either way, it was a vacation, with the family together. Our intention was to live life, and so we did.

As part of the visit, we took a spectacular – albeit short – road trip through Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. The landscape was absolutely breathtaking. We found ourselves constantly in awe and appreciation of the hues of red that cover the dessert. I simply can’t get enough of this landscape.

Well, it’s back to reality now. The vacation offered a small break from heavy lifting, but I’ve been back to the barbell the last few weeks, slowly ramping up the workouts. Training has been productive and enjoyable lately. I’ve been working on checking my ego at the garage gym door, attempting, though not always succeeding, to stick to appropriately heavy weights. This approach has certainly contributed to lowering instances of injury, and helped me maintain a more consistent and predictable regiment into the new year.

Brief Deadlift Update

I’m happy to note I have now surpassed a 400 lb pull. In fact, I’ve since gone as high as 420 lbs, though I would be lying if I told you my form was on point. If all goes well, I’d aiming to pull 425 lb+ on my 35th birthday, coming up in less than two weeks. And for the end of this year, the goal is to hit 450 lb for a single. Safely! May as well record this goal here and now.

What’s Next?

Honestly, I don’t know. I want to continue to leverage this blog as a forum to practice my writing, express myself, and hopefully, share some useful anecdotes with readers along the way. Maybe this morning’s post will act as the catalyst for many more. Maybe not.

“The Office”. Our squat rack in all it’s glory.

Last year my wife and I decided to pull the trigger and buy a squat rack for our home. Prior to the purchase, we would frequent our local gym whenever we wanted to get under a barbell. Unfortunately, often times obtaining a rack would be difficult when the gym floor was busy. Moreover, we were a bit intimidated by the power racks in the club during our lifting infancy. To address both issues initially, we started only lifting once a week, early on Sunday mornings, while the gym was relatively quiet.

We quickly became much more comfortable using the power racks, however we still had the issue of often not being able to secure one for our use. And even when it wasn’t too busy and we would get a rack, we often wouldn’t perform the workout the way we intended, feeling pressure to move through the exercises quickly so the next person in line could access the equipment. Of course, occasionally someone would work in with us (or us, them), but this wasn’t always possible. And the fact that you often need long rest periods between heavy barbell lifts, means you might just be sitting around a busy gym, seemingly occupying a rack someone else could be using (yes, I overthink these things).

Ultimately, for peace of mind and convenience, we cleaned out our garage, and installed our own rack. Our garage is now almost exclusively used as a home gym. Given it’s only a one-car garage, and we live in a cold and snowy climate, this dedicated space came at the cost of a clean and warm car during the winter months (thanks Babe!)

Our home gym is fairly sparse, but more than sufficient for our purposes. Currently, we have the following equipment:

  • Squat rack with safety’s
  • Standard, 45 lb Olympic barbell
  • Just over 400 lbs of bumper plates
  • Flat bench
  • Dip/Pull-up belt
  • Rings
  • A few bands
  • 35 lb kettlebell
  • A few light dumbbells

We made a commitment to first see if we would survive a winter using the garage gym before we added too much equipment. We wanted to determine if we’d actually use the space on frigid January mornings. I’m happy to report the space was in fact used regularly, though it could definitely use some added insulation. A little bit warmer would be nice.

We survived the winter, and we’ve really been enjoying the space through the summer months. Since the garage gym is working well, we’ll likely pick up a few additional pieces of equipment at some point. Although not required, here are a few items I’d personally like to add:

  • Perhaps one day replace the squat rack with a full-fledged power rack
  • Additional, heavier kettlebells
  • Add an additional Olympic bar
  • Trap bar (especially to perform loaded walks in the backyard during the summer)
  • Incline bench

I’ll continue to share updates about our garage gym as we make changes. So far, the experiment has been a success, and we’re very happy we decided to do it. Now all we need to do is figure out how to keep the barbell warmer in January!

I can’t wait any longer. My intention was to use this two-week trip as a complete break from barbell training. Get out of my routine, and give my body a break from the heavy squatting and pulling. We’re now on the eleventh day of our vacation, and the iron is calling my name.

Today we leave our cottage outside of Halifax and head into the city centre where we’ll spend our next three nights. Since we have a number of spare hours today between the checkout at the cottage and check-in at the Airbnb, our plan is see if we can drop-in at a local gym for a workout. Assuming we’re successful and locate a gym today, I’ll have enjoyed a solid ten day break from any heavy lifting. Not the complete two weeks as originally intended, but a solid rest period nonetheless.

If and when we find a gym we can use, I want to ensure I cover the main compound lifts. The core of the workout will therefore look something like this (specifically, the working sets):

  • 5 x 5 Squat
  • 5 x 5 Overhead Press
  • 5 x 5 Barbell Row
  • 2 x 5 Deadlift

It’s a simple workout, but it covers everything I need. Squating, pushing, pulling, and finally, hinging. Of course, I may chose to add some accessory exercises to the workout, but the overwhelming majority of benefits will stem from completing these primary compound lifts alone. They are the unsexy, no bullshit lifts. They are fundamental, tried and tested. They are relatively simple to learn (though the squat in particular can take years to really master), and translate directly to actual day-to-day human movement (dare I say ‘functional’?!). Why would I use anything else?

I’ll keep you posted.

Update – Later that day…

We ended up at the GoodLife in the Clayton Plaza in Halifax (for those who might be familiar with the area). The staff was extremely friendly, especially a young gentleman who was very helpful.

The workout didn’t unfold exactly as planned, but it was decent and I’m glad I went. In the end it was just five working sets of squats and overhead press, plus two sets of pull-ups. Got the push, pull, and squat, but missed the hinge. If we have time, we’ll come back once more for a deadlift session.