Feel The Burn?

​Last week I discussed the need for variation in your workout intensity. If you didn’t read it (insert finger wag here), now’s your chance to catch up HERE. However, the short version is that if we pound away at ourselves with only high-intensity exercise, we’ll miss out on the majority of the benefits of the recovery process. And, you’ll be more likely to experience burnout, injury, or even decreased lean muscle mass. Nobody wants that, right?

So today I’m going to give you a real-world example of how I implemented this technique with myself.  

Ever have one of those days?
A couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t feeling well. I’ve had arthritis since I was in my early teens and, if you have a similar condition, then you know flare-ups sometimes happen. 

A flare-up is when your symptoms suddenly increase beyond normal. On this particular day, every joint in my body was on fire. Maybe it was the change in the weather or the pot of coffee I had the day before. Whatever the case, I was scheduled for a workout and didn’t want to miss it. I could have opted for a walk, some stretching, or even <gasp>, taken a day off. But, no. I decided that on this day I wanted to lift.

Meet my “Sore Joint Workout.”
So, to make the most of my workout without pushing myself too hard, I picked appropriate exercises and arranged them in a specific order:

  1. Warm-up
    • 10 min Airdyne Bike. 
  2. Resistance Training. Three circuits of ten repetitions each exercise with no rest between exercises or circuits. 
  3. Cool-down
    • 10 min Airdyne Bike 

Here’s the “Why” Behind the Workout
While some of my personal behaviors may lack evidence of a thought process 😉, my program design is steeped in it. Here’s my reasoning behind the program above:

  1. Arrangement. I used a modified version of my “Big 4” because I wanted to make sure to hit every movement pattern, burn a few calories in the process, and be efficient with my time.
  2. Intensity. I needed to keep the weights reasonably light to be kind to my achy joints. 
  3. Warm-up. At the Bodysmith, we are serious about warming up before every exercise session. We work on mobility and stabilization while activating the nervous system to prepare for the work ahead. On this particular day, I needed something much gentler, so I used the Airdyne Bike. I love these bikes because they allow you to use your arms and legs while remaining easy on the joints. 
  4. Exercise selection. Since I wanted to go easy on the body, I selected exercises that were still going to challenge me without using heavy weights. How did I accomplish that? By increasing the number of muscle fibers used during the exercises.
    1. Stability Ball Single-Arm Chest Press. A stability ball is an excellent tool for challenging our stability, and this exercise is one of my favorites. In addition to getting chest and shoulder work, it works the glutes, low back, and the entire core to keep the body level.
    2. Total Gym Single-Leg Squat. Chuck Norris was on to something when he endorsed this equipment. Long a staple in the physical therapy world, the Total gym allows me to isolate each leg in a squat pattern while controlling the amount of resistance and still providing enough stability to give my knees a rest.
    3. Single-Arm Bent Over Row. Holding the hinge pattern with good posture uses the muscles of the back. The offset load requires the body to resist rotation, so the entire core is recruited.
    4. Barbell Romanian Deadlift. This old-school exercise focuses on the posterior side of the body and the hips. What can I say? When your knees are hurting, work the hips. 🙂
  5. Cool-down. Since my workout was short and sweet, I wanted to add another ten minutes of bike.

The Aftermath
This workout took me about thirty minutes, and I felt great afterward. I wasn’t exhausted but felt like I accomplished something. I left feeling invigorated and had a light sweat. I didn’t suffer any setbacks since I had not pushed through an intense exercise session on a body that was NOT prepared for it on this particular day. In fact, the next day, I felt great and was ready to up the intensity of my next exercise session. Work-in mission accomplished!

What do you think? Does a work-in have a place in your fitness routine?

Let me know what you think. 

~Coach Brad

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