Back to Basics!

Runaway training…..never coming baaack!  Sorry, I was channeling Soul Asylum for a moment.

If you’ve been following me then you know I keep a calorie spreadsheet of everything I eat calorie-wise. Why?

  1. It keeps me honest.
  2. It let’s me know when indulgence has crossed the line into gluttony. (fine line sometimes!)
  3. I’m a nerd like that.
  4. It’s one more way to keep my goals in front of me.
  5. Body Bugs are expensive. (Google it if you don’t know what it is!)
  6. Numbers don’t lie. (See previous post with this title)

Previous Goals:

Being able to say I lost 50 pounds is great! Being able to say I lost 50 pounds last year is still pretty good, but the longer ago I hit that short-term goal the less shiny and brilliant it is….imagine saying, “Yeah, I lost 50 pounds back in 1995.” If you’ve maintained it, great!!!  If you’re like me and you have a longer term goal then it’s time to go Back to Basics!  See how I worked the title of the post in there just now? I’m crafty like that sometimes!

Now before I go on I want to say that I am very proud of my accomplishments. It’s difficult to lose 50 pounds, believe me. Losing 50 pounds wasn’t about starving myself (which doesn’t work) or just cutting out “bad foods”. It was about behavior change and deciding I wasn’t going to live on the Standard American Diet (SAD) anymore. 34% of Americans are obese. I don’t like being a part of that statistic, but last year I was.  Only 1% of Americans will run a full-marathon in their lifetime. Now THAT is a statistic I like to be a part of friends! It took me 13 months to leave one statistic behind me and join the latter. All I’m saying is don’t rest on you laurels for too long. Find a new goal and GO FOR IT!

As usual I have digressed from the subject of my posting.  Now back to the topic at hand!

Back to Basics:

Getting back to basics for me is all about focusing on healthy behaviors like eating well, getting some activity every day like shoveling snow (hopefully no more of that activity for a while!), staying hydrated and finding new ways to train so I don’t burn out.

Some things I’ve been doing on the workout side of my “Back to Basics” program include Spin Class, more body weight exercises (Thanks Tatum…my trainer.), and a variety of different types of runs each week. So for my next few posts I want to discuss some good ol’ training, how I felt about it and how it made me feel the day of and the days that followed.

First, let’s talk about burpees (aka: 4-Counts). You may remember them from high school gym class. I apologize about any flashbacks I may have just caused. Recovered yet? Good, let’s move on.

4-Counts or Burpees...call 'em what you will!

This picture details how to do them (Remember now?). This picture also shows the practitioner (not me) doing a version with a jump at the end. This is optional as it is a fairly difficult exercise without the jump. That being said, if you want to make an overall awesome exercise 10 times better then add the jump after you can do 10 regular ones with good form.

Now for some of the finer points of the exercise such as the do’s & the don’ts so you can stay injury free.

  1. Notice that you start in a standing position & squat straight down with your butt BELOW your chest.
  2. DO NOT bend over at the waist for this exercise as you run the risk of back injury.
  3. From the squat position you thrust your legs straight back again NOT raising your butt up so you’re bent over.
  4. Bring your legs back again so you are once again in the squat position.
  5. Using your legs, stand up OR thrust yourself straight up into the air for the jump version.
  6. Repeat.
  7. Remember, as you get tired you are going to want to just bend over at the waist instead of squatting down. Also, as you fatigue, when getting back up you will be tempted to raise your butt up first and use your back to straighten up. DO NOT DO THIS!  If you physically can’t do the exercise correctly for another rep then you’ve reached your limit for that set of repetitions. It’s okay to push yourself, but be smart about it.
  8. Starting out with 3-6 reps is okay. This IS a difficult exercise! It is also one of the best full-body body weight exercises!

My Experience:

Now let’s talk about my experience with “Burpees”.  Before last week’s training session I hadn’t done a 4-Count since the 90s when I was taking martial arts lessons and working toward earning my Black Belt. At that time my sensei told us that the number of 4-Counts a person could in 30 seconds was a good indicator of their overall fitness. I believed him. He could do almost 30 reps (sans jump) in 30 seconds. This exercise works everything! Try it!

After one set of these things (she made me do the version with the jump) I was sucking wind. In past sessions my trainer has told me that I am one of her best when it comes to keeping up and being able to breathe during the workout…and I was dying!  The thing is that THIS EXERCISE WORKS EVERYTHING so my body was wondering what was going on! Set #2 came and went (more wind sucking). On set #3 I may have started cursing (internally). 🙂

The day after I did 3 sets of 12 reps I felt like I had worked out for the first time in a long time. I had used muscles in ways that I hadn’t in a long time! In other words, I knew I had worked out hard and it felt good! I was a bit sore and there is nothing wrong with that…it was a good soreness from knowing I had accomplished something in my workout! I wasn’t so sore that I couldn’t function mind you.  I still got up at 4am the next day and ran 7 miles.

Variation on Burpees/4-Counts

  1. The first variation you already know. Add a jump at the end. This works the core, quads, hips, glutes, hams, calves, back, chest & arms even more!
  2. The second variation is to turn the 4-Count into a 6-Count. You know how you’re technically in a push-up position after you thrust your legs back? Do 1 push-up since you’re down there anyway!
  3. These two variations are more difficult so add them as you go. Regardless the “good ol’ fashioned version” is pretty awesome!

Next Time:

Next week I plan on discussing different types of runs you can do. Not sure whether I want to write about tempo runs, intervals, something else or multiple types. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration at some point to direct my musings!

Happy Training!

-Brian

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