Getting Fit with Sandbag Training

Even though sandbag training isn’t necessarily a new concept, it hasn’t been until recent years that it has become more consistently used with fitness professionals and athletes.

Sandbags can mimic most exercises performed with dumbbells, barbells and medicine balls, but the key difference is that they bring more challenge to stability during exercise due to the shifting of the weight. This helps improve core strength and endurance in our postural muscles. Plus, with more of a “dead weight” feel, there is more metabolic demand placed on the body, which creates a great cardiovascular challenge as well.

Lastly, sandbags effectively allow the exerciser to train for movement and in all planes of motion. We need to remember muscles are designed to work in synergy and in three-dimensional space, allowing the body to rotate, move forwards/backwards and side to side. This will help minimize muscle/movement imbalances, decrease risk of injury, improve athleticism and simply improve overall function.

Sandbags themselves come in a variety of sizes and allow for the user to adjust the weight depending on his/her strength or skill level. There are two approaches that can be utilized: a heavier, more stable sandbag or a lighter, less stable sandbag. Specifically, the more the sandbag weighs or is filled, the more strength is emphasized. In contrast, by removing one of the filler bags, the overall weight is less, but it also allows for more shifting of the weight inside of the sandbag, thus placing more emphasis on stability.

Brand-wise I personally recommend the Ultimate Sandbag. They are durable and don’t have any issues with leaking sand like some of the less expensive models I have tried. They offer four sizes based on fitness/strength levels. If you are just starting out I recommend the “core” or “power” bag. For more advanced users, the “strength” or “burly” bag may be the best fit.

Now that you’re ready to give sandbag training a go, here is sample circuit to get you going.

Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions each.

Cleans: Begin with the sandbag directly in front of you. From there, “hinge” at the hips by pushing them behind you, as you lower and grab the parallel handles of the sandbag while keeping your shoulders pulled down and back to lock in the upper body. Pushing through the heels, quickly accelerate by extending at the hips and simultaneously pulling in a straight line with the arms, keeping the bag as close to your body as possible. Allow the bag to roll as you catch it shoulder-level with your elbows up. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Shoulder Lunge: Begin with the flat side of the sandbag resting on your right shoulder. Step forward with your right leg and lower into a lunge position by bending your front leg until you reach a 90-degree bend in your front leg while maintaining an upright posture. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg. Continue for 10 reps total, and then position the bag on your left shoulder and repeat.

Shoveling: Begin with the sandbag in front of the body. Pivot one foot while rotating the bag to the opposite side by the knee. Absorb and decelerate the bag by bending the knee and hinging at the hip. Extend the knee and hip, pivot and swing the bag back to the other side. Continue to pivot and swing the bag back and forth to either side until the set is complete.

Bear Hug Squats: Hold the sandbag vertically by wrapping your arms around the midpoint of the bag at chest level by squeezing the bag, keeping your shoulders down and back. Slowly lower into a squat, keeping your knees slightly outward, keeping weight in the heels and maintaining squeezing pressure with your shoulders back. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Take your fitness everywhere with suspension training


It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to fitness. Do you find yourself ever falling into the same patterns and basically sleepwalking through your workouts? This is when we need to get creative with our fitness routine, and trying something new can often be the solution. This lifts you not only physically, but mentally as well.

One popular method exercisers are turning to is suspension training. Suspension training is a form of body weight training that incorporates the use of suspension straps on a stable overhead anchor point. This allows the user to angle his or her body as is appropriate for that person’s strength level.

Suspension training’s popularity has surged mostly because of its versatility and economic appeal (prices range from $99 to $199). Suspension straps can be used both indoors and outdoors. Plus, with one suspension unit you can perform more than a hundred exercises, all while minimizing cost and maximizing space. This is why more gyms, personal training studios and home exercisers are using it.

So the next time you see suspension straps at your gym, try a few of these exercises — your body will thank you for it.

Suspended Lunge: Position one foot in the foot cradles while positioning your leg/body approximately 3 feet from the anchor point and balancing on the opposite leg. Slowly descend into a lunge by actively reaching back with your suspended leg while simultaneously bending your balancing leg until you reach a 90-degree bend at your knee. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions before switching sides.

Note: If you have balance issues, modify by using a dowel rod for balance assistance. Also, this exercise can be replicated by holding the handles instead.

Hip Press: Position your heels in the foot cradles and lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Contract your abs and slowly lift your hips off the ground until you are fully extended. Pause for 2 seconds and slowly lower yourself back onto the mat. Repeat this move for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Body Saw: Position your feet deep into the foot cradles, toes first, while lying face down and resting on your forearms. Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle with your hands clasped together. Engage your abs and slowly rise into a plank position. Using your arms, slowly rock your body back and forth as if you are sawing wood and maintain good alignment. Repeat this move for a total of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Note: As a prerequisite, you should be able to hold a plank position for 1 minute prior to trying this exercise. The Body Saw can also be performed from the knees as a modification.

Chest Press: Stand facing away from the suspension straps with your arms fully extended at chest level. Your body should be angled approximately 45 to 60 degrees relative to the floor, and your arms should be slightly shoulder-width apart. Maintaining alignment and control, contract your abs and slowly lower your body toward your hands until the handles are even with your chest and your arms bent at 90 degrees (just like a pushup). Press yourself back into the starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Note: For more challenge, angle your body closer to the floor.

Row: Stand facing the anchor point with your arms fully extended at chest level. Your body should be angled approximately 45 to 60 degrees relative to the floor, and your arms should be shoulder-width apart. Maintaining alignment and control, contract your abs and slowly pull your body toward your hands until the handles are even with your chest and your arms bent at 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Note: For more challenge angle your body closer to the floor.

Speed Kills…Fat that is!

I must admit…this weather has me fired up!  As absurd as seventy degrees in early March may sound, I’m certainly not going to complain and I’m sure as hell going to take full advantage of it…particularly when it comes to my workouts.  I’ve always been a believer that we should all train like athletes and what better way to do so than kicking up the intensity with some speed and agility work. The fact is, many of us are athletes at heart. And the good news is, we can use some of the training methods the pros use to improve our overall fitness and shred fat as well!  Speed and agility work comes with many training advantages.  It helps improve balance and coordination, increases our efficiency at acceleration/deceleration and increases our ability to change directions quickly. Not only is this important for improved performance, but is key for injury prevention as well.  Also, with speed and agility work we get the fat burning benefits of high intensity training.  In fact there are numerous research studies that show you can burn more fat, increase your strength, and improve cardiovascular endurance in less time by utilizing high-intensity, low volume training into your routine.  Look at this way…when’s the last time you saw an overweight sprinter?  The answer is never! Reason being the majority of their training is at a very high intensity effort and with that comes high levels of calorie burning during and post-workout which contributes to maintaining their very strong, lean physique!

Before you begin, it should be noted that If you are just starting an exercise program, I recommend at least 12 weeks of aerobic base conditioning and muscular endurance training before adding speed training into your routine.

Now that you’re ready, get out and kickstart your heart with these fat torching speed and agility drills!

Note: Begin with a 10-15 minute dynamic warm up before performing the exercises.  Perform 1-2 sets if just starting out, 2-3 sets for  advanced exercises. Allow a full three minute recovery between sets.

40 yard sprints: Set up two cones 40 yards apart. Starting at one end, quickly run to the opposite side until you run past the cone. Gradually slow down, walk back to the starting point and repeat for a total of 4 to 6 repetitions.

Note: For beginners, run approximately at 60-80% of your maximum speed.  Intermediate, 85-100% of maximum speed.  Advanced, 100% and/or with a parachute or weight resistance (5-10% of your body weight).

M-Drill (Set up): You will need 5 cones for this drill. Begin by setting up 4 cones in a box formation, with each cone spaced 10 yards apart. Then place the fifth cone in the middle of the square.

M-Drill (Exercise): Begin at the bottom left corner (Cone 1). Quickly run to the cone straight ahead (Cone 2). Now, backpedal to the center cone (Cone 3), turn slightly right and run to the cone in the top right corner (Cone 4). Last, backpedal to the final cone in the bottom right corner (Cone 5), then finish by sprinting through Cone 4 straight ahead. Return to Cone 1 and repeat for a total of 2-3 reps before repeating the sequence in the opposite direction.

Medicine Ball Reverse Scoop Toss to Sprint: Begin with a medicine ball weighing 5-10% of your body weight. Beginning in an athletic stance, then explosively jump while swinging and tossing the ball over your head behind you as far as you can.  Immediately sprint to retrieve it and repeat for 4-6 repetitions.

Shuffle Drill:  Place two cones 5 yards apart from one another.  Perform a burpee, quickly hop to your feet and quickly shuffle sideways to the opposite cone and perform another burpee.  Repeat until you have shuffled down and back a total of 5 times.

Prepping for a Mud Run!

There has been a tremendous wave in popularity of outdoor obstacle course races over the last several years.

Races like The Dirty Dash, The Tough Mudder and Spartan Race bring much more challenge and variety than what you would find in traditional courses that involve only running. These races can also include climbing over walls, crawling through tubes, trudging through mud, swinging over bodies of water with gymnastic rings – pretty much anything and everything is fair game. This, of course, adds to the allure of the event.

But because of the variety, preparing for these events can be a challenge. Participants need to bring high levels of strength, power and endurance to finish successfully – particularly when you consider the majority of us are not professional athletes.

But the good news is you don’t have to be. With adequate training, preparation and time, anyone can get a taste of the glory – including you!

But the first obstacle to overcome is deciding to do it. Whether the race is three months away or a year, just go for it. Also, recruit your friends while you’re at it. Many of these events require teamwork, and having a few of your best partners in crime to train with will only add more enjoyment and consistency to your training.

So now that you’re all in, here is a weekly outline of how to get ready for the big event. This program is designed with the assumption that you have already built a foundation of strength and cardiovascular endurance. If you are just beginning with a fitness program, you should follow a general strength and conditioning program for at least 3 to 6 months before progressing. Also, we all have individual differences and levels of fitness, and the following training program may be modified in any way that better suits your needs.


We’ll begin our weekly workout here since this one will place the most demand and intensity on the muscles and should be done when we are fully recovered. Begin with a dynamic warmup 10-15 minutes in length. Then perform the following circuits for 3 sets each:

Power Circuit

• Squat Jumps x 10 reps

• Medicine Ball Slams* x 10 reps

• Split Jumps x 10 reps per leg

• Wall Ball* x 10 reps

* Use Medicine Ball that is 5-10 percent of your body weight.

Strength Circuit:

• Push-ups x 8-12 reps

• Dumbbell lunges x 8-12 reps per leg

• Pull-ups x 8-12 reps (Assisted/resisted if needed)

• Single Leg Deadlifts x 8-12 reps per leg

Refer to video link for details.


Since a good chunk of these events still involve running, it makes sense to include a day strictly for running. But I got news for you: The course isn’t going to be flat. Pick a hilly trail run of your choice and go at a steady pace. Distance should be based on whatever course you’ll be participating on. For example, the Tough Mudder is 10-12 miles. So begin your first week doing about a 5-6-mile run, then add one mile each week leading up to the event. You may start with shorter or longer distances depending on your current fitness level.


A hybrid workout is simply one that incorporates all the elements of fitness into one circuit, specifically exercises that will challenge strength, endurance, power and core. Because of the nature of an obstacle course race, this style of workout will most closely mimic the demands the body will need to be ready for and help condition you for anything that is brought your way. Perform each exercise for 1 minute with minimal rest in between. Recover 1-2 minutes after completing all eight exercises. Complete 3-5 sets total depending on your fitness level.

• Renegade Rows

• Quick Feet

• Lunge with Overhead Press

• Horizontal Jumps

• Single Leg Squats (30 seconds per leg)

• Mountain Climbers

• Rope Pulls

• Iceskaters

Refer to video link for details.


This day should be strictly for recovery. Any combination of restoration should be used. This may include foam rolling, massage, restorative yoga, flexibility or hydrotherapy, basically any method that personally gives you the best recovery.


This workout is similar to our first workout except you will be combining a distance run with a strength circuit used intermittently throughout. Begin by running at a steady pace, then perform a strength circuit at the end of each mile. You can utilize body weight exercises or take a portable training tool like a resistance band or TRX Trainer with you as you go. Preferably this should be done on a trail run, but this can also be used on a track as well. Below is a sample resistance band/body weight circuit. Perform 15-20 repetitions each. Repeat the sequence for 3-5 miles total.

• Resistance Band Squat Rows

• Pushups

• Resistance Band Rotations

• Alternating Lunges

• Resistance Band Presses

Refer to video link for details.


This will be the lightest workout of the week. Your goal is to train at a lower heart rate with minimal to no impact. Go for an easy bike ride or use the stair stepper or elliptical. Keep your heart rate around 50-60 percent of your maximum. Workout time should be 60-90 minutes total.


Here you have the option of simply taking the day off or using any of the active recovery methods mentioned on Thursday. The goal is to recharge and get ready to hit it again come Monday.

Read more here:

Cool Fitness Tools to Keep Workouts Fun

Let’s face it. Staying motivated with the same exercise routine can get boring – fast. The human body and mind have a certain threshold when it comes to doing the same thing over and over again. And exercise is no exception.

The good news is you don’t have to limit yourself to the usual go-to of free weights or strength and cardio machines. The fitness industry is always creating training devices that are different and challenging and produce great training results.

I’m not talking about fad infomercial products like the shake weight or the ab belt. These are the same training tools used by fitness enthusiasts and even professional athletes. Specifically, a few that are “outside of the box” include SandRopes, SandBells and the TRX Rip Trainer. From a training standpoint they are great because of their versatility, and each one will help improve cardiovascular endurance, strength and power – and burn fat.


SandRopes, as the name implies, are neoprene battling ropes filled with sand.

Made by Hyperwear, SandRopes come in either a 15- or 30-pound option. SandRopes give you a few advantages over regular battling ropes.

First, they take up less space. Regular battling ropes range from 30 to 50 feet in length, while sandropes are only 10 feet. Second, they don’t require an anchor point like battling ropes do (though they can be anchored if preferred).

And last, because they are filled with sand, they will challenge grip strength much more.

SandRopes are used traditionally by implementing a whipping or circle motion with your arms, creating a “wave” in the rope. And with the shifting of the sand and dead-weight feel, it’s even more challenging to keep the wave going.

As a bonus, SandRopes are also great for resisted running drills as well. Overall, they are a great total-body training device that will tax your muscles and cardiovascular system.


• Basic wave

• Ultimate Warrior (Side-Facing Wave)

• Rope Drags

• Ax Chops


Also made by Hyperwear, SandBells are sand-filled neoprene disks that range from 2 to 50 pounds. SandBells create great workout diversity because they can simulate exercises used with dumbbells, medicine balls and kettlebells. And, of course, there is the increased challenge to grip strength, which you don’t experience with traditional free weights.

Also, because they are compact, SandBells can easily be used for workouts when traveling or if you have limited space.


• Rotational Slams

• Squat Toss

• Walking Plank/Row

• Swings


This is a resistance-cord system that creates an unbalanced load to help develop core strength, power and endurance. The cord can attach to one end of the resistance bar for high-variety asymmetrical and rotational exercises to challenge core strength. But you can also attach the cord to each end of the bar for more traditional strength exercises, giving you countless options. The Rip Trainer is very portable. All you need is a stable anchor point for the opposite end and you’re ready to press, pull, squat and rotate your way into a killer total-body workout.


• Squat to Overhead Press

• Slap Shot

• Rotational Punches

• Squat Row

Related Links:

Read more here:

Strength Complexes Get Fast Results

It seems every summer is the same. Life simply gets … busy. Kids are out of school, there are vacations, you’re working more hours and still trying to maintain anything remotely close to a social life.

With the mad shuffle, it’s our fitness routine that usually gets put on the back burner first. Why? “I don’t have time to spend an hour at the gym.” Well, you may not actually need an hour. In fact, you might get more out of your routine now in as little as 20 minutes using strength complexes.

Strength complexes are similar to circuit training with one exception: We limit our workout to one piece of training equipment. This can be in the form of dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, TRX, barbells – anything, really – as long as it’s simple and allows for a wide variety of exercises.

The advantages of using one training tool are: First, it minimizes setup time; and second, it allows us to move seamlessly from one exercise to the next without moving to another station.

Strength complexes come with many fitness advantages as well. Not only are they great for building strength, but they are highly effective at improving cardiovascular endurance. Also, strength complexes come with a high metabolic, which taxes our bodies more in less time, yielding a higher-calorie expenditure post workout, higher fat loss, etc. And lastly, strength complexes utilize total body movement, which is what our bodies were designed for. If you watch an athlete or people move in general, you see that movement involves multiple regions of the body.

Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball, picking up your kids or putting away groceries, these actions require multiple muscles to fire and work synergistically. So, by using full-body strength complexes, we experience a better carryover effect for our recreational activities and day-to-day living.

OK, here’s how we set it up:

Choose your equipment: The only rule for this is choosing something that can be taken anywhere in the gym, preferably where you have ample space to maneuver. My favorites are the TRX, dumbbells, barbells, resistance tubing, medicine balls and kettlebells. One isn’t necessarily better than the other; simply know that each has its own advantages, and any of them will suffice.

Pick a rep scheme: There are countless options when it comes to choosing reps. Typically, strength complexes are more endurance-based.

I recommend working with lighter loads and training at higher reps due to the high demand of the workout. Anywhere between 10-15 reps per exercise/combo works great. Another option is performing each exercise for a specific time, typically between 30-90 seconds per exercise.

Exercise sequence: Again the sky is the limit. Pick two or three combination exercises (e.g. barbell deadlift/row) or four exercises that focus on a total-body movement (e.g. lunge with lateral raise), a pressing exercise (e.g. overhead press), a pulling exercise (e.g. dumbbell row), and a squat and/or lunge. The goal of the sequence is to use all the movement patterns of the human body.

The workout: Once you have your exercises and reps selected, perform your strength complex for a 5- to 10-minute block of time, resting only when needed. This will get your heart pumping and your muscles burning in no time. Rest between 1 and 3 minutes and repeat, performing a total of 2-3 blocks.

There you have it. A killer workout in 20-30 minutes. Outlined below are three strength complexes to get you started.

To see a video of these complexes click here

Barbell strength complex: Perform 10 reps each for a 5- to 10-minute block. Complete 2-3 training blocks total.

1. Alternating lunge

2. Push press

3. Deadlift to barbell row

Dumbbell strength complex: Perform 10 reps each for a 5- to 10-minute block. Complete 2-3 training blocks total.

1. Squat to lateral raise

2. Single leg squats

3. Renegade row

TRX strength complex: Perform 10 reps each for a 5- to 10-minute block. Complete 2-3 training blocks total.

1. Pistol squats

2. Wide row

3. Pushups

4. Hip press

Full-Body Strength Exercises for a Quick and Effective Workout!

Full-body exercises place an emphasis on multiple areas of the body during one exercise. They are being used more by fitness enthusiasts and are popular for a variety of reasons. First, they are efficient.  Combining upper and lower body moves into a strength routine cuts down on workout time and the frequency to the gym.  It’s more feasible for most people to commit to a strength routine using two total-body workouts per week opposed to four to five using a traditional split-routine approach (i.e. Chest & Triceps on Monday, Legs, Shoulders & Abs on Tuesday, Back & Biceps on Wednesday, etc.).   Second, full-body exercises increase the metabolic demand on the body. Typically, the higher the metabolic demand, the higher the calorie expenditure per workout. Plus, you get more challenge to your cardiovascular system as well.  In other words, you’re getting more bang for your buck.  And lastly, our bodies were designed for total-body movement.  If you watch an athlete or people move in general, most movement involves multiple regions of the body.  Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball in, picking up your kids, or putting the groceries away, these actions require multiple muscles to fire and work synergistically.  So by using full-body exercises, we experience a better carry over effect for our day to day living.

So if you’re looking to mix up your routine or are short on time, try this four exercise circuit for a quick full-body blast!

Isometric Lunge w/Cable Chest Press

Muscle Focus: Chest & Legs

Begin by grabbing both cable handles and positioning your body into a split stance with your left leg forward.  Lower your center of gravity just like you would for a stationary lunge and position your arms in line with your body with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.  Straighten your arms by pressing out in front of you while maintaining your leg position.  Return your arms back to the 90 degree position and repeat the chest press for 10-15 repetitions before switching legs.

Squat w/Lateral Dumbbell Raise

Muscle Focus: Legs & Shoulders

Standing with a dumbbell in your right hand, lower into a squat position while positioning your arm across your body with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and slightly rotating your torso.  Perform a backhand like motion by returning to an upright position and performing a lateral raise with your right arm simultaneously.  Remember to keep your elbow bent at 90 degrees.  Repeat for 10-15 repetitions before switching arms. 

If you want more challenge, try this exercise with a single leg squat!     

Barbell Deadlift w/Bent Over Row

Muscle Focus: Legs & Back

Stand with your feet hip width apart while holding a barbell.  Use an underhand grip and position your hands on the bar just outside of your stance.  Keeping your chest out and back flat, contract your abs and slowly lower your upper body by hinging with your hips while slightly bending your knees.  Continue lowering until your upper body is almost parallel to the ground.  Keeping your abdominals contracted and a back flat, pull the barbell towards your mid-section and roll your shoulders back, then slowly lower the barbell away from you.  Once your arms are fully straight, contract your glutes and unhinge back to the upright position.  Repeat this sequence for 10-15 reps. 

This one is a little difficult to master, so remember start with lighter weight and master your technique before going heavier.   

Stability Ball Tricep Extensions

Muscle Focus: Hamstrings, Glutes, Triceps

Begin by lying on a stability ball while holding a pair of dumbbells.  Keep your head, neck, and shoulders in alignment with the rest of your body with your hips fully elevated and legs bent at 90 degrees.    Now, position your arms above your chest with your palms facing in.  Keeping your hips elevated and upper arms straight and slowly lower the dumbbells by bending your elbows to a 90 degree angle.  Return your arms to the straight position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions. 


For modification, use a wider stance to make balance easier or use a BOSU if you are uncomfortable using a stability ball.

Feel Like a Kid Again with these Fitness Games

What image do you think of when the subject of fitness is brought up?  Do you envision going to the gym, hopping onto a cardio machine, and zoning out for the next hour.  Or perhaps you’re more of a Monday is Chest/Shoulders Tuesday is Back/Biceps kind of person.  While either approach is effective and may be satisfactory for some, others will count every painful minute until it’s over or worse, quit due to boredom or lack of results.

Now I’m not saying having a structured gym routine is wrong, it should be part of the process…just not the entire process! What I am suggesting is adding some unstructured, “play-like” workouts into the mix.  Remember when you were young and played pickup games of basketball, rode your bike, played tag or participated in other fun games that had you running, jumping, and actually enjoying yourself?  Play was great, and it also kept us in shape without realizing it.  These same games were great for improving agility, increasing speed and reaction time and were mentally engaging.  We can use this approach for our fitness routine as well.  A great way of doing it is by incorporating a workout each week that centers around fitness games/drills.  Not only are they fun, but they are very challenging fitness wise as well.  And the best part?  They give you something to look forward to, keep you consistent, and have you feeling like a kid again. So grab a workout partner and enjoy a blast from the past with these games and drills!

Crab Race: Set up two cones approximately 10 yards apart.  Begin in the crab position (See Photo).  For one minute using your hands and legs, crab crawl down and back between the cones as many times as you can within the time limit. Switch partners and repeat.  The person who accumulates the most distance wins the round.  Or as a second option, make it a race and go simultaneously with your workout partner.  Perform 1-3 rounds total.

Shadow Drill: Set up two cones approximately 5 yards apart with your partner standing at the mid-point between the cones facing each other.  One will start off as leader while the other follows.  Using a lateral shuffle, the leader’s goal is to outmaneuver (i.e. juke) the follower for 15-20 seconds.  The follower tries to shadow and match the leaders every move.  Rest for 20-60 seconds, switch rolls and repeat.  Perform 1-3 sets total.

Pulling Drill: This drill requires either a rope or a rolled up towel.  Set up two cones approximately 10 yards apart and begin the drill at one end. Both partners will hold the ends of the rope with both hands.  The person whose back is facing the cone at the opposite end begins by pulling and dragging their partner towards the other end.  The person facing the cone at the opposite end is providing strong resistance, but allowing their partner to move.  Switch rolls once you reach the other end and repeat to complete the first set.  Perform 1-3 sets total.

Farmer Walk Race: Set up two cones approximately 10 yards apart.  Each participant will need a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells. Weight selection depends on your level of strength/fitness.  Generally 15-35 lbs. for females and 35-55 lbs. for males.  More or less can be used, adjust accordingly.  The drill begins with each participant holding their

For a video demonstration please click here.

Renegade Row

This total body exercise is one of my favorites and has numerous benefits:

  • Increased Shoulder Stability
  • Increased Core Strength
  • Upper Body Strength, specifically in the chest and back
  • Lower Body Stability and Strength Increases
  • Cardiovascular Endurance

It’s best to implement this exercise early in the workout (after warm up) due to the it’s high energy demand.  Weight selection should be around 40-60% of what you would normally use for a dumbbell row at 10 repetitions.  In other words, if you use a 50 lbs dumbbell for 10 reps of a dumbbell row, you would use a 20-30 lb dumbbells for the renegade row.  Repetition ranges generally between 5-10 reps per arm.

Optimal core and shoulder stability is a prerequisite to this exercise.  The head, shoulders, and hips should stay in alignment throughout the movement.  Modify to the exercise to the knees if deviations are present.

Strength Endurance Training

One of my favorite strength training workouts that I use personally and with clients is Strength Endurance Training.  Specifically from NASM, this strength endurance training method is a hybrid form of superset training that promotes increased stabilization endurance, hypertrophy, and strength.  This method of training entails the use of superset techniques where a more stable exercise (ex. bench press) is immediately followed with a stabilization exercise with similar biomechanical motions (ex. TRX push-up).  Thus, for every set of an exercise/body part performed, there are actually two exercises/sets being performed.  High amounts of volume can be generated with this method which can result in body fat loss and/or hypertrophy. Training variables should be manipulated depending on which is a higher priority. If body fat loss is desired, utilize more complex/total body strength moves while keeping the repetitions around 10-12 per execise. If hypertrophy is desired, segmenting per body part with each superset is more effective, keeping the repetitions at 8-10 per exercise (see acute variables below).

All in all, these workouts are very taxing but well worth the rewards!  Below are five of my personal favorites.  Countless combinations can be used with this training method…play around with them and you’ll be hooked too…

Strength Endurance Workout:

  • Perform a 10-15 minute dynamic warm-up
  • 3-4 sets/pair of exercises
  • 8-12 reps/exercise @ 70% of 1RM
  • Rest 1 minute between pairs/2-3 minutes between sets


  1. Barbell Clean to Overhead Press/Single Leg Squat with Dumbbell PNF
  2. Barbell Deadlift to Bent over row/Single Leg Deadlift to Dumbbell row
  3. Rockstars/TRX Atomic Pushups
  4. Barbell Squats/TRX Pistol Squat
  5. Pullups/TRX Rotational Pullup

Training Tools for Fitness Fast

Many think they don’t have time to exercise…well I’m here to say THINK AGAIN! With minimal resources there is always a way.  Recently I did a “Fitness Fast” workshop featuring resistance tubing, TRX, and dumbbells.  I love all three of these fitness tools for a few reason.  One, they are convenient.  Two, they are easy to use.  And three, they are great for functional training.

Here is a brief overview of all three with a sample circuit with each.  Perform any of the circuits for a quick 10-15 minute workout or perform all three for a longer, more challenging workout.


Resistance Tubing: is a simple and effective way to get a complete workout and comes with many benefits.  It’s portable and can be taken anywhere, whether you’re traveling, looking for an alternative to the gym or just want to add another element to your training.  In addition to the convenience, resistance tubing can also create some unique training challenges as well.  Tubing adds a progressive increase in resistance, it can be used at different speeds, and provides a horizontal load similar to the cable cross over machines you see at the gym. Simply hook one to a solid anchor point and now you can perform rowing, pressing, rotations and leg movements.  Great for training variety and preparing for recreational activities year round!

Sample Resistance Tubing Circuit:  1-3 sets x 1 minute each

  • Squat Row
  • Rotational Chest Press
  • Resisted Lunge
  • Torso Rotations

TRX Suspension Trainer: is a body weight training tool made from suspension straps. Attach the TRX to an overhead anchor point or door attachment and adjust the angle of your body to make exercises easier or more challenging. This training tool also creates more demand on the core muscles and helps increase joint stability because the straps need to be controlled by the body. You can easily perform hundreds of exercises using the TRX!

Sample TRX Circuit: 1-3 sets x 1 minute each

  • Pushup
  • Single Leg Lunge
  • Pull ups
  • Ice Skaters

Dumbbell Training: is one of the oldest yet most effective training tools around.  Dumbbells allow for every movement essential for human function and can be used virtually anywhere.  With a single pair of dumbbells, you can easily perform a total body circuit that will get your heart pumping and muscles burning.  Dumbbells are a great accessory to add to your home gym.

Sample Dumbbell Circuit: 1-3 sets x 1 minute each

  • Lunge to Bicep Curl & Press
  • Plank/Dumbbell Row Combo
  • Squat to Dumbbell Upper Cut
  • Standing Dumbbell Paddle

Training Ropes

Using training ropes in your fitness routine provides a fun and unique type of training stimulus. The exerciser must train with a continuing velocity by using their arms to maintain a wave-like motion throughout the entire length of the rope leaving no lull in action!  Of course this is easier said then done…even highly fit exercisers are shocked at the difficulty of maintaining the wave for as little as 20 seconds their first time using it!

Training ropes come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 30-50′ in length, 1-2″ in diameter, and 12-40 lbs in weight. Basically, the larger the rope, the more challenging it is to keep it moving.  More advanced exercisers will find the medium to larger rope as the most ideal (40-50’/20+ lbs).  And if you are just beginning a fitness program the shorter/lighter rope (30-40’/up to 20 lbs) will provide plenty of challenge.

Of course implementing training ropes into your fitness routine has many physical benefits. Cardiovascular endurance increases,  noticeable improvements in strength and power are found, and a rope workout is a great calorie burner for individuals trying to improve body fat.  A variety of exercises and movements can be used at different angles and positions, giving you a complete and well-rounded workout.  So whether you are an MMA fighter, weekend warrior, or just looking for training variety…the ropes are an absolute must!


Circuit 1 – 3 sets @ 30 s/exercise. Rest 30-60 s between pairs

1. Alternating Waves x 30 seconds/Burpees x 30 seconds

2. Double Waves x 30 seconds/Split Jumps x 30 seconds

3. Circle Waves x 30 seconds/Iceskaters x 30 seconds

4. Flips x 30 seconds/Side shuffles x 30 seconds

Rest 2-3 minutes before moving to circuit 2

Circuit 2 – 3 sets @ 30 s/exercise.  Rest 30-60 s between pairs

1.  Alternating Circles x 30 seconds/Wall Acceleration Drill x 30 seconds

2.  In Outs x 30 seconds/Quick Feet x 30 seconds

3.  Big Waves x 30 seconds/Squat Jumps x 30 seconds

4.  Jumping Jacks x 30 seconds/Mountain Climbers x 30 seconds


Kettlebell Towel Swings

The Kettlebell Towel Swing has quickly become one of my favorite  exercises.  Not only is it different from most strength movements, but it really is a fun exercise.  It’s a great total body and core exercise that will help increase upper body strength, shoulder mobility, stability, and  rotational strength and power.  Give this one a try and you will feel muscles you never knew you had the next day.

Here’s the what you’ll need:

one kettlebell between 18-35# depending on your strength.

one long durable towel.

clear space

The Exercise

1.  Thread the towel through the kettlebell handle

2.  In one continuous movement, bring your arms up and swing the kettlebell up to your side, turning your shoulders and torso with the kettlebell.

3.  Keeping your abdominals tight, extend your arms up overhead swinging the kettlebell behind your back.

4.  Bring your arms to the opposite side of your body, continuing to follow with your shoulders and torso.

5.  Continue to follow through with your arms in front of you and repeat in the same direction.

6.  Repeat the movement for 10-15 reps before bringing the kettlebell to a controlled stop.

7.  Repeat steps 1-6 going the opposite direction.


Fitness Fast with the TRX

When I want to bang out a fast workout, more times than not I go to the TRX Suspension Trainer.   In a nutshell, the TRX is a set of suspension straps that you hang from a stable overhead anchor point and perform exercises by leveraging your body at various angles relative to your strength/skill level.

It’s popularity surged mostly because of it’s versatility, economic appeal, and convenience.   The TRX can be used both indoors and outdoors with the capacity to perform over a hundred exercises!  You can easily knock out a 10-15 minute workout, anywhere…anytime.

Don’t believe me?  Try to the workout in the clip above for 10 minutes…you always have time!

TRX Circuit – Workout Time 10 minutes

Set a timer for 10 minutes.  Perform 10 reps of each exercise completing as many rounds as possible within 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

1. Atomic Pushups x 10
2. Ice Skaters x 10/leg
3. Wide Row x 10

To learn more about the TRX, please checkout their website.

Fitness Fast – Burpee Combination

This is the first of many posts to come with a “Fitness Fast” theme. Many think they don’t have time to exercise…well I’m here to say THINK AGAIN! With minimal resources there is always a way and it will be my pleasure to serve as your guide.

And now we are going to start this series off with one of my favorites, the burpee combination. There are many ways you can approach this sequence for a fast and challenging workout. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and a pull up bar (optional). Weight selection is the same weight you would use for an overhead press for a 10-15 rep set (60-70% or your 1 rep max). Essentially when you break the sequence down there are five primary movements:

1. Burpee
2. Prone Dumbbell Row to Pushup
3. Dumbbell Bicep Curl to Overhead Press
4. Reverse Lunge
5. Pullup.

I love this sequence because it involves the four pillars of movement: a push, pull, raising/lower the center of mass, and rotation. Also, a the burpee combo comes with a high metabolic demand. Not only will it challenge your strength and endurance, it will tax your cardiovascular system tremendously as well.

There are two approaches I recommend for the burpee combination, flow or repetitions. By flow, I simply mean moving through the sequence exactly as its drawn up, 1 repetition for each movement. You can either do the sequence for time, in other words “flow” for one minute followed by a one minute recovery. Or you can flow through the sequence five consecutive times followed by a one minute recovery. The workout looks like this:

Burpee Combination – Flow
5 sets @ 1 minute each
1 minute rest between sets
Circuit Time: 10 minutes

This is a great circuit if you need to get in a workout fast. But, if you have more time you can easily add a second circuit of your choosing. However, I highly recommend a full 3-5 minute recovery before starting the second circuit.

Your second option is the repetition approach. Rather than flowing from one movement to the next, you perform 5-10 reps of each individual movement before moving to the next. In other words, a clusterf#$!:

Burpee Combination – Repetitions
2-3 Sets
5-10 reps/movement
Rest 2-3 minutes between sets

1. Burpees x 5-10 reps
2. Prone Dumbbell Row to Pushup x 5-10 reps
3. Dumbbell Curl to Press x 5-10 reps
4. Reverse Lunges x 5-10 reps/leg
5. Pullups x 5-10 reps

Because this approach had a high volume for each movement, I recommend only 2-3 sets. Plus you’ll need a little more recovery between sets, 2-3 minutes ideally since this option will take a little longer per set and will tax the muscles a more due to the compartmentalized approach. This option still will only take around 15-20 minutes. Still a pretty quick hit.

There you have it! The first of many “Fitness Fast” segments to come. You always have time now get after it!

Have Fun. Get Fit.