Previous installments of “Feel the Burn” can be found here.
I told you I was coming for you next, newbies. And here I am. With homework.
Did you ever read A Girl of the Limberlost? There’s a passage in which our heroine’s awful mother, who turns out to not really be awful, just bitter and damaged, finally takes her gross hair to a hairdresser for the first time ever (she was VERY bitter) and gets it cleaned and fixed and done up all fancy. It’s a classic makeover moment. Anyway, when the hairdresser finishes, she rips it all down right away and makes her do it and destroy it about five times in a row, so she’ll know how to do it herself next time.
That’s what working with a trainer is like, ideally. I mean, I have one regularly enough that you don’t ever have to for the rest of your life, but this is what you do if you join a new gym and get a free session or a cheap package: ask them to show you, ask them to watch you do it again, ask them how to set up the thing, ask them how many times you should do it, ask them what to do when it stops being hard, ask them if you can literally film it with your phone, ask them if they’d email you the workout you just did (they may say no, and that’s fine, but you should feel NO SHAME in asking) or describe it really slowly so you can write it down. You want to be able to fly on your own like a beautiful, muscular bird of prey.
Now, this is the workout I want you to do for me this week. It’s all body-weight based, so you can do it at home with no equipment (score!) and it can get easier or harder based on where you are fitness-wise, and it will work all of your parts, and it’s really challenging. It was MORE challenging, but I was all “oh, c’mon, guy, if they die on me, who will click the ads?” You’re welcome.
1. This is a joint creation by myself and an overly-optimistic trainer I am happy to connect you with. These are his quads —–>
2. Contact your medical professional before leaving your bed in the morning or switching breakfast cereals.
3. Eat something pleasant afterwards involving protein.
4. You’ll notice there are a lot of reps, and you may have heard that low reps are better. They are! But bodyweight stuff is different, right, this is designed to get all the muscle groups moving and working and whining at you, and we’ll give you something else in two weeks, and then we’ll get you ready to pick shit UPPPPPPP. GOD I LOVE PICKING SHIT UP.
This is a longish workout, so you may choose (this is honestly what I recommend if you are new to working out) to make this something you do over three days. They can be consecutive or not, I don’t know your life. Just break it up into three days. Here, I’ll just do it for you.
a) THIRTY PUSHUPS!!!! Lady or Tramp, as per your ability. If Lady is not where you’re at yet, and Tramp is a distant fantasy, do ’em against the wall. You may find that your first set is Lady, and your second set is against the wall, and your third set is literally half an inch away from the wall and sucks. That’s okay! What I really want you to think about is getting all the way down each time. If you’re only getting down a little bit, go to incline. I want your arms and chest used to the right movement.
b) Thirty dips off a chair or a couch or a bench. Push the chair against the wall, otherwise you’ll send it shooting away from yourself and you’ll fall and blame me. Thirty may be a LOT for you, dips are really hard. Triceps are hard, in general. The smaller the muscle group, the more it hurts and the faster it hurts and the more excited you are to get a little better at it.
c) Hold a wall sit for 30-60 seconds. Oh, hi, those are your quads. Those are what your quads are. Trying angrily pounding them with your fists to make them feel better. You may have heard this called a skier’s sit. Wikipedia says it is a popular disciplinary tactic in the armed forces. So are pushups! Maggot.
d) 30 Russian twists. When I saw this, I was all, wtf is a Russian twist? and then realized I do them all the time, I just call it the side-thing with the ball-thing. You don’t have to use a ball or a weight, though, you’ll get there eventually. It’s just something you can do for your abs and core that isn’t crunches. Crunches are boring and they hurt your neck for a long time until you get stronger. If you’re already pretty good at this stuff, do them with your feet not touching the floor.
e) Take a break. Then do everything again. Then take a break. Then do everything again. You’re done!
a) Thirty squats, just bodyweight. Everything people say about squats is true. They’re horrible, they’re the foundational move for fitness, you gotta watch your knees like a fuckin’ HAWK, and you WILL get better at them. Your heartrate will be up when you finish your first set, guaranteed. You are not weak.
b) Hold a plank for thirty to sixty seconds. You will probably not be able to hold a plank for sixty seconds. The first five seconds, you’re all WHAT A NICE BREAK, and then you start to shake like a leaf in the wind. Think about keeping a little crunch in your abs, try to keep your hips down, and try to crumple with your knees first when you fall so you don’t land on your nose.
d) Captain Superquads wanted you to do 10-30 burpees here. That is nuts, ten burpees will have you drenched in sweat as a newbie. Ten is fine.
e) Take a break! Do everything again. Take a break, do everything one more time. You’re done. There were literally thousands of websites offering to show you how to do burpees, but I kind of HAD to go with “The Art of Manliness.”
a) Alternating lunges, fifteen per side. If you’re all fit and stuff, do jumping ones, but you don’t have to! My number one tip for lunges, which will help keep your forward knee from overshooting your foot? Drop the back knee faster. Just let it sink faster, and it helps everything else out.
b) Thirty inverted or downward dog pushups. These can be challenging, but feel free to cheat by walking your feet in and out to find something more manageable. Again, the range of motion is what I want you to prioritize. Hang off your bed to do ’em, if you have to, just try to get that angle right.
c) THIRTY REPS OF BICYCLE ABS. Ugh. This shitty thing here.
d) Thirty mountain climbers. Oh, I hate these, I do them all the time. You’ll need to take little breaks, probably. They’re awful.
e) Look, you know what I’m going to say. You have two more sets.
Now, hey, this is our first time doing this together, so Captain Superquads and I want all your feedback. Too hard! Too easy! These parts are possible, these other parts are bananas and cannot be achieved! I hate you! Is he single? (Nope.) Barrage us with questions and responses. We’ll adjust accordingly for our next set of things.
I’d be so happy if a bunch of you did this workout, though, and liked it, or hated it but chose to do it again.
Nicole is an Editor of The Toast.