Gym Routines

Lunge Affair

Conquer the multifaceted challenge of the overhead walking lunge.

When traditional gym-rats first discover CrossFit they assume their years spent in the weight room will provide them with an advantage. For the most part they’re right. Guys who have been in the iron game can squat, deadlift, bang out a respectable number of pull-ups, and they generally have decent aerobic capacity and core strength. In some instances, however, those years spent under the bar can be a problem.

“The two biggest things we see as far as mobility issues are tight hips and shoulders. It’s a lifestyle thing. If you’ve been bench pressing your whole life, your shoulders may have really closed up,” explains Dave Lipson, a CrossFit Headquarters trainer who also teaches athletes at CrossFit Invictus in San Diego, California.

Immobile shoulders can impair any overhead move, such as the push-press or handstand push-ups, but they become a significant liability when a complex move is being performed, something like the walking overhead lunge.

“What I often see with the walking overhead lunge is people taking this crappy overhead position and then lunging around with it. That’s not going to give them a good return,” says Lipson. “The first thing we want is people moving well.”

Finding the proper mechanics for a walking overhead lunge might take some effort in the form of mobility work as a a dedicated warm-up. However, once you’re able to dial in the correct position, the benefits — lower-body strength, upper-body flexibility, isometric core conditioning, overall balance and coordination — will continue to pay off.

What You’ll Need

You can perform an overhead lunge with almost any type of weight. A barbell is the easiest since the wide grip makes it easier to get your shoulders into alignment. A weight plate can be slightly harder to get into the proper position because your hands will be so much closer together. Performing an overhead walking lunge holding a kettlebell in each hand recruits more core muscles but also demands significantly greater midline stability. After choosing your preferred weight, stake out at least 25 feet of clear and level floor space.

 

The Set-Up

Stand in an athletic position with your feet shoulder width apart. Holding the weight in each hand or with both hands if it’s a barbell, retract your scapula and press your arms overhead, locking out the elbow. Engage your shoulders and actively press them up toward your ears. Your shoulders, elbows and wrists should form a straight vertical line. Activate your core so that your spine, which should still maintain its natural s-curve, is braced and doesn’t move.

“Instead of relying on the musculature to hold that weight up, we have the skeletal structure of the bones in the arms and shoulder to give it a structural support,” says Lipson.

Execution

  1. Step forward with your right foot and drop into a lunge position.
  2. Unlike a more traditional lunge, allow your back knee to kiss the ground as your front knee flexes. Keep the front knee over the heel. Do not let it float out over the toes of the front foot.
  3. Keep your arms completely locked out and your shoulders actively driving up the whole time. Your arms should be vertical, with your ears in front of your biceps.
  4. Push up from the front foot and come to a standing position.
  5. Step forward with the other foot and drop into a lunge.

The Overhead Walking Lunge Workout

The overhead walking lunge doesn’t pop up in Workouts of the Day as often as the thruster or deadlift, but it closely matches CrossFit’s rallying cry of “constantly varied functional movements performed at a high intensity.” For a true shock to the nervous system that’ll leave you shaken and shaking, try this workout.

Perform five rounds for time

  • 45-pound barbell overhead walking lunges, 50 feet
  • 21 burpees

Coaching Clues

  • Don’t walk on a tightrope. Keep the feet at least as wide as a squat the entire time, with equal weight distribution between both legs.
  • Take plenty of time to prepare the entire shoulder girdle before attempting this exercise with weight. Perform a dynamic warm-up and include moves such as wall slides, arm circles, and overhead squats with a dowel.
  • Actively work on your shoulder mobility. Several times a week, lie with a foam roller under your thoracic vertebrae, perpendicular to your spine. Let your arms hang out to the sides and relax your weight into the foam roller.
  • “As soon as the mechanics of the overhead support start to change — if you break at the elbow or at the shoulder — stop and correct the position and possibly move to a lighter weight,” says Lipson.
How to Build a Killer Body III

Workout C: Upper Body Push Day

 

  1. DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

(Hits chest, deltoids)
Grasp a pair of dumbbells and lie on a flat bench, feet flat on the floor. Position upper arms perpendicular to the torso while holding the dumbbells directly over the elbow joints (the upper and lower arms form 90-degree angles). Keeping your lower back in a neutral position, press the dumbbells toward the ceiling until they are directly over your chest. Pause, contracting the chest muscles, and then reverse the action, returning to the start position.

  1. INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS

(Hits pecs, with emphasis on upper pecs, across the clavicles)
Grasp a pair of dumbbells and lie on a bench that’s been set to a 45-degree angle, feet flat on the floor. Position upper arms perpendicular to the torso while holding the dumbbells directly over the elbow joints (the upper and lower arms form 90-degree angles). Keeping your lower back in a neutral position, press the dumbbells toward the ceiling until they’re directly over the clavicles. Pause, contracting the chest muscles, and then reversing the action, returning to the starting position.

3a. DUMBBELL CHEST FLYE

(Hits pectoral muscles, with emphasis on the sternal section)
Grasp a pair of dumbbells and lie on a flat bench, feet flat on the floor. Position upper arms directly over your chest, palms facing in. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows to protect the joints, contract the pectorals and slowly move arms out to the sides until the elbows are on the plane of your torso. Pause, and then slowly move the arms in an arc back toward the starting position, maintaining the contraction.
3b. SUSPENSION TRICEPS EXTENSION
(Hits triceps, abs)
Set-Up: Facing away from the anchor point, grab the handles (palms forward) and lean your weight forward in a push-up-like position with your arms extended directly in front of your shoulders. Shoot for a 45-degree angle, torso relative to the ground, and adjust accordingly from there.

Action: Bend at your elbows, lowering your body until your palms pass the plane of your forehead (think skullcrusher). Reverse the direction by extending your elbows as in a triceps extension. That’s one rep!

Coaching Tips:

Keep your entire body straight throughout the full range of each rep.

Keep your humerus (upper-arm bone) directly underneath your shoulders during the exercise.

 

4a. DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS
(Hits overall delts, with emphasis on middle and anterior portions)
Hold dumbbells, palms facing forward, out to the sides of the body, dumbbells stacked directly above the elbow joints (the joints should form 90-degree angles). Keep knees bent slightly, core locked and scapulae in a retracted position, press dumbbells toward the ceiling, moving them in an arc toward one another until they’re nearly over your head. Pause, and control the dumbbells back to the sides, reversing the pressing action.

4b. BENCH DIP

(Hits triceps, and chest and deltoids secondarily)
Place your hands, palms down, on a flat bench, and place your heels on the floor directly in front of you. Your legs should be straight and your torso upright. Bend your elbows, dropping your glutes toward the floor until your upper arms are parallel with it. You should feel a tension in your shoulders, pectorals and especially triceps. Then, slowly extend your elbows, using the triceps muscles to push your torso back to the upright position.

Coaching Tip:

For maximum stress on the triceps and to protect the shoulder capsules, avoid flaring your shoulders to the sides; instead, keep them pointing rearward.

  1. SUSPENSION PUSH-UP

(Hits pecs, triceps, shoulders)
Set-Up: Assume a push-up position with your hands on the floor (palms directly beneath your shoulders) and your ankles inside the straps at roughly the same height as your shoulders. Your feet should be directly beneath the anchor point.

Action: Perform push-ups, keeping your elbows relatively close to the body — don’t flare them outward.

Coaching Tips:

To increase the difficulty, shorten the straps, elevating your feet.

Keep your spine straight throughout the exercise.

Bring your hands closer together to increase triceps involvement.

 …

How to Build a Killer Body II

1a. DUMBBELL SQUAT

(Hits quads, glutes, calves and some of the hamstrings)
Grasp a pair of dumbbells and let them hang by your sides, palms facing in. Slowly bend the knees, lowering yourself into a squatting position, stopping the motion when your thighs are parallel with the ground. Next, forcefully drive through your heels, moving your torso back to an upright position. Note: Fix your focus on a spot directly in front of you and maintain that focus throughout each rep. Don’t lean forward excessively or round your back; maintain a natural arch as much as possible. Also, keep your elbows directly beneath the bar to maintain your balance.

 

1b. SUSPENSION ABS FALL-OUT
(Hits lats, abs, obliques)
Set-Up: Facing away from the anchor point (that is, toward the floor), grab onto the handles (palms facing the ground) and lean forward into a push-up position. The body should have a 45-degree angle relative to the floor. (Experiment to determine other angles depending on the intensity you want.)

Action: Keeping your arms straight (don’t bend the elbows) and your core locked, move the handles out above your head as if you were diving into a pool. Stop the motion when your upper arms are adjacent to your eyes, and then pull your arms back to the start position to complete one rep.

Coaching Tips:

Don’t allow your hips to sag toward the floor.

Keep your abs tight and spine straight throughout.

To increase the difficulty, start the exercise from a more severe forward angle, which will bring your body closer to the floor, increasing the resistance.

  1. DUMBBELL LUNGE

(Hits quadriceps, glutes, calves and hamstrings)
Stand with feet together and dumbbells hanging at your sides, palms facing in. Step forward until the knee of the trailing leg floats a few inches off the floor; the knee of the lunging leg shouldn’t cross the plane of your toes. As you lunge, maintain an erect posture; avoid rounding the back or bending at the waist. Then push back on the sole and heel of the lunging leg, reversing the lunging action until you’re upright again and your feet are close together. You can lunge with the same leg until you’ve hit the required number of reps before mirroring the movement with your opposite leg, or you can lunge, alternating the legs until the set is complete.

 

3a. STIFF-LEG DUMBBELL DEADLIFT

(Hits hamstrings, glutes and calves)
With feet spread hip-width apart (knees bent slightly), grasp a pair of dumbbells, positioning them on your front thighs (palms facing down). In the start position you should be standing erect, pulling the shoulders back slightly. Then, while keeping the knees slightly bent to protect the joints, slowly bend forward at the waist, allowing the dumbbells to travel along your torso and thighs until your torso is nearly parallel with the ground. Using the power in your thighs and glutes, slowly reverse the process until you’re standing erect again, pulling your shoulders slightly toward the rear. Note: Keep your back straight as you bend at the waist and as you return to the upright position; don’t round it as you rep.

3b. SUSPENSION ABS PIKE
(Hits abs, obliques, hip flexors, shoulders, lats)
Set-Up: Assume a push-up position with your hands on the floor and your ankles inside the straps, which have been positioned at roughly shoulder height. Your feet should lie directly beneath the anchor point of the straps. For the start, keep your body straight.

Action: Without bending your knees, use your abs to pull your legs toward your chest by lifting your hips up into the air into a pike position. Raise your hips until they’re slightly higher than your shoulders. Pause, then reverse the motion and slowly return to the push- up position. That’s one rep!

Coaching Tips:

To decrease the difficulty and reduce the stress on the shoulders, modify this action to perform a knee tuck by bending your knees and pulling them in and out, toward your chest. To increase difficulty, begin with your feet hanging slightly in front of the anchor point of the suspension device.

Keep your elbows, knees and spine fairly straight throughout this exercise.

Lower your body in a controlled fashion.

4a. SUSPENSION HAMSTRING CURL
(Hits hamstrings, calves, glutes, erector spinae)
Set-Up: Lie on your back with the soles of your feet in the straps, which should be positioned about 12 inches above the ground.

Action: Lift your hips towards the sky and bend your knees, pulling your heels toward your glutes. Pause for 1–2 seconds before straightening your legs into the starting position. Repeat.

Coaching Tips:

Lift your hips using your glutes, not your lower back. Emphasize lifting your hips as high as possible on each rep.

To increase the difficulty, begin with your feet hanging slightly in …

How to Build a Killer Body I

Build a killer body with free weights and suspension straps with this old school meets new school workout.

You may have noticed one of the latest additions in your gym — those cool-looking yellow and black straps, likely from TRX International, hanging in certain sections of the training facility. Perhaps even one of your friends has a similar kit in his home gym. If you haven’t seen this gear yet, trust us, you soon will. The fitness world is witnessing the growth of suspension training, or more broadly, bodyweight leverage training, which has been increasingly used by professional sports teams in recent years and is now infiltrating the training environments of everyday gym heads like us.

According to surveys conducted by both the IDEA Health & Fitness Association and the American Council on Exercise, bodyweight leverage training will be one of the top programming trends among trainers in 2012. And there are good reasons for the explosion in the growth of this training technique: It’s a simple, versatile and very effective method for adding a new challenge to your workouts. Plus, the tools of suspension training make a nice addition to your home gym and, because they’re portable, they can easily accommodate an active guy’s lifestyle. Says, Bill Sonnemaker, MS, PES, CES, CSCS and founder of Catalyst Fitness in Atlanta, “What makes this equipment so accessible is its portability, whether at a commercial gym, personal training studio, home gym, camping trip or hotel room. It can be easily set up and used.”

YOU AND SUSPENSION TRAINING

Although you can get in a great workout exclusively using suspension equipment, a case can easily be made for getting a more rounded and comprehensive workout by combining suspension work with traditional workouts that use barbells, dumbbells, machines and so on. The best way to launch into suspension training without feeling like you’re a free-weight Benedict Arnold is to incorporate suspension moves into a classic push-pull free-weight regimen. And that’s what the new Reps! has created here exclusively for you.

WHAT’S SUSPENSION TRAINING?

Put simply, suspension training is just how it sounds: You either hold onto the suspension handles or suspend your ankles inside the straps and work out. The inherent instability of the suspension straps creates an additional challenge for your muscles, engaging them in different ways than with free weights. Additionally, the suspension approach forces your body to move into many new positions with which it’s unfamiliar during exercise. Hence, new neural patterns of movement may be established as you enlist muscle fibers that aren’t often engaged with more standard forms of resistance training.
Adjusting the resistance load (that is, the difficulty of a suspension exercise) is a simple matter. When holding onto the handles, the lower your torso is to the ground, the more difficult the exercise becomes. So, by moving your feet in one direction from the suspension point, you can reduce the angle of the exercise and increase the resistance. By moving in the opposite direction, you can increase the angle and reduce the resistance.
In other words, the closer you are to standing vertically the less difficult the exercise is; and the more severe the angle you create with your body, the more resistance you deliver to the working muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments.

BENEFITS OF PAIRING THE SETS

This dynamic workout involves single sets and paired sets. The paired sets are indicated by A) and B) in both the workout charts and exercise descriptions. Perform each exercise in a given paired set back-to-back with as little rest as needed (e.g., do 12–15 reps of suspension biceps curls immediately after doing 10–12 reps of suspension rear-delt flyes, resting only as long as it takes to transition from one movement to the next).
Pairing exercise sets in this manner increases workout intensity by reducing the time between certain movements, which helps you complete more high-quality exercise in less time. Plus, it also allows you to work a greater number of muscles during a given training session, and the more muscles you work, the greater amount of calories you’ll burn!

 

Workout A: Upper Body Pull Day

 

  1. CHIN-UP

(Hits lats, biceps)
Using a shoulder-width or wider overhand grip, hang from a chinning bar, legs extended beneath you. You can cross your ankles and keep a slight bend in your knees. Slowly pull yourself up toward the bar until your chin has moved beyond its plane. Lower yourself slowly.

2a. DUMBBELL ROW

(Hits upper lats, mid-upper back)
Grasp a pair of dumbbells and bend forward at the waist until the torso forms a 45-degree angle or so. As your arms hang full, maintain a natural arch in the lower back. Retract your scapulae and pull up the dumbbells at an angle toward your sides, stopping when the dumbbells arrive …