Category Archives: Conditioning

Saturday’s at the Turf & Track, Vol 2

“The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.” – Mia Hamm

I thought about this quote on Saturday a few times when I was bent over, at the point of exhaustion, during my sprint workout. No one was out there with me, just myself and the drive to push beyond comfortable limits.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my “Saturday’s at the Turf and Track”. I posted a track workout I did however it wasn’t my standard session due to some discomfort with my left quad. Going into my most recent session, I was extra aware to avoid a similar occurrence because I really look forward to these track days – just me and the open field – I absolutely love it.

Saturday's delightful view...

This past Saturday was a success on all fronts. The weather was great, the field was all mine, my body and mind were in sync with the demands and I ran the hell out of myself. I actually felt like my whole body got worked to the max and not a weight involved. In fact, my abs are always sore after my track workout and not a single, isolated ab exercise will be found on this day. Sure we can finesse the technique and mechanics of our sprints, but in my opinion, these are one of the most elementary and best exercises for a sharp physique and overall athletics.

My current, traditional sprint workout from Carter is as follows:

Dynamic Warm up:

  • 1 lap (casual) around the track (400m)
  • Ground mobility work and muscle activation
  • Stationary movement drills on my feet
  • Linear and lateral movement drills
  • Build up sprints

Phase 1: Acceleration Runs
(Note: I do a gradual build up throughout the runs, hitting top speed at 40 yards and maintain through target distance. So if it’s a 60 yard run, top speed is the last 20 yards. I did not time my rests, rather I just walked back and rested as needed between runs).

  • 50 yard x 3
  • 60 yard x 3
  • 70 yard x 2
  • 80 yard x 2
  • 90 yard x 2
  • 100 yard x 1

Recovery was approx 5-10 minutes, hydrate, etc. (I walked from the track to my next location for phase 2 which took about 8 minutes, perfect!)

Phase 2: Hill Sprints
(Note: Full out effort here)

  • 5 sprints – 30 seconds each to the top of the hill.
  • 2 minutes to walk down the hill, recover and reset between sprints.

Recovery was approx 5-10 minutes again, hydrate, etc. (I walked back up to the track for phase 3 – about 8 minutes again)

Phase 3: 400m (1 time around the track)
This took me 1:24 minutes to run the 400. A few weeks ago it took me 1:25 minutes. I’m not sure if it’s good that I was consistent or not so good that I didn’t beat my time but a second 🙂 I’m not even sure how to compare it to others. Either way, it was my best effort as I was starting to feel quite gassed from the acceleration runs and the hills prior to the 400m.

Phase 4: 1 mile run around the track
This was a casual run to chill out, enjoy the pace and wind down. I still kept track of my time though – 8:30 minutes.

Phase 5: Walk it out, stretch, hydrate, home, eat, nap.

 

As for current training, I have just wrapped up my eighth week of training (two 4 week blocks) with Carter. Sometimes people ask me what I’m training for now and I simply tell them, “to get better every day.” We are taking a deload week this week (week nine) and I will begin a new four-week block on Monday. In the next post, I’ll share a little detail on my deload, a few training videos and upcoming plans!

Saturday’s at the Turf & Track

I haven’t posted in a while. My blog is not a low priority, in fact, it’s been on my brain a good bit as I’m excited to reveal a new and improved site in the near future.  On the flip side, when I’m not training clients or training myself, I’ve been spending a good bit of my free time studying for my CSCS. By the time I’m finished reading, my mental energy has been spent and I’d rather get up and move than write.

Anyhow, that all said, I’ve been training as regular as I always have – minus a bit of the cardio.   My weekly training schedule is typically the following:

Monday – Strength, Power and METABOLIC day
Wednesday – Lower body STRENGTH
Thursday – Upper body STRENGTH
Saturday – Track Workout
Tuesday, Friday and Sunday – I freestyle with outdoor runs, recovery work or a rest day

I love to train with the iron – no doubt about it. However lately, I’ve been enjoying my Track Saturday’s the most. It takes me back to my roots of athletics, sports and training. I love going outdoors – no equipment, no walls and no crowds. It’s just free space, sunshine and athletic movement.

I’m really fortunate to have gone to a highschool that has a phenomenal facility. Among the great athletic programs Hereford High was known for, it’s weight training facilities also had a great reputation. That’s where I started lifting when I was 15 with Coach Turnbaugh, the highschool Varsity Football Coach. I still have my training folders from the good old days which show I followed a Mon / Tues, Thurs / Fri split with a track day on Wednesdays…  🙂

Ten years later, I’m so grateful to still have my highschool grounds for personal use.

I was really looking forward to my track day today. I put my earbuds in, turned on Wolfmother and started with a dynamic warmup on the center of the 50 yard line. I tend to freestyle my warm up, but always incorporate consistent activation, mobility and movement drills. Now that it’s a track day, I also dug into my library of movement prep from my days at the Parisi Speed School.

Today’s Dynamic Warm Up looked something like this:
On the ground – T-Spine mobility, Double leg hip bridges, Single leg hip bridges, Fire Hydrant Hip Circuit, Push Ups, Push Up Plus
On my feet – Prisoner squats, Good mornings, Jumping Jacks, Seal Jacks, Crossover Jacks (repeat x 2)
Movement Drills (20 yards up, 20 yards back) – Walking High Knee Hugs, Skips (for frequency), High Knees, Walking lunge, Reverse lunge with an overhead reach, Lateral shuffle, Side runs, Dynamic lateral lunge
Running Prep Drills – Arm mechanics, then a mechanical sprint drill: quick feet (5 yards) into high knees (10 yards) into a build up sprint (20 yards) x 3 rounds.

All was great…music, environment, sun, sweat, free space… my left quad however was feeling a bit off.. As I ran through my first 40 yards at a build up pace, it seized up on me. NOT TODAY I thought – I was so pumped to sprint! (Although, it’s never a good time 🙂 ) I stretched and tried again a few more times. Each time it got tighter and more painful – my body wasn’t having these sprints today. I was determined however to make the most out of my time and the gorgeous day… so I improvised, tried a few things and made due with what I could tolerate.. it still wound up being a great day of movement. Not full blown intensity but still good. My quad seemed to bug out with full force hip and knee flexion on the flat surface, but it was tolerant of hills. fortunately, I had those nearby too.. in fact, the hill at Hereford probably makes any athlete cringe at the memory of climbing it!

So the following was my workout today:

The Dip - well, most of it...

Phase 1: Hill sprints (aka, up the Dip ;)) 8 rounds (1 Round = roughly 30 second hustle to the top (I say hustle bc I couldn’t sprint) plus 2 min rest to get back down, recover my heart rate and stretch my quad)
Phase 2: Back up to the track – 8 rounds of 10 explosive burpees (push up included variation) Rest between rounds was self regulated – as much as needed but as little as needed.

Phase 3: Slowing things down a bit with two miles around the track (quad is tolerant so long as I don’t try to exert too much force on the flat surface)

Phase 4

Phase 4: (I still wasn’t ready to call it a day.. too nice out… so I incorporated “Four Corners” A, B, C, D – which included the 50 yard line, sideline, the endzone and the other sideline)
Round 1 – Point A to B jog, Point B to C side shuffle, Point C to D reverse run, Point D to A side shuffle
Round 2 – Point A to B High knees, Point B to C Side run, Point C to D High skips, Point D to A Side run
Round 3 –  Point A to B Walking lunge, Point B to C Lateral lunge, Point C to D Reverse lunge, Point D to A Lateral lunge
Round 4 – Jog Final Lap

Overall, still a great day despite a resistant left quad. I will post my “real” track workout in an upcoming post.. plus videos of the warm up drills AND the new and improved site should be up soon 😉

 

All SHOW and GO!

Ahhh, you all know I love a good strength and conditioning challenge. I haven’t shared a lot of my personal training videos lately and that is simply because I keep some of Carter‘s program design private as it is his intellectual property. The following however is a new favorite of mine and one I must share!

We are in the home stretch of my figure prep for the Arnold Classic and I am proud to say that I still have as much hustle in my training sessions as I do the stage physique. I am also very pleased to report that my back has been pain-free (knock on wood) since I started this prep. I no longer consider myself an injured athlete with a fear of flaring up my low back. Though I am still cautious, I am confident in my health and movement.

Right now, Carter has me on a two-a-day schedule that is heavy with cardio or as he prefers to call it, Energy Expenditure Work :-). I am also strength training four days a week with two push / pull days, a quad dominant leg day and a hip dominant leg day. At the end of each strength training session, I have the beloved CONDITIONING!

As you know, I love to push my limits when it comes to conditioning and cross the finish line with the hardest effort available despite fatigue setting in. The following is my current conditioning segment on Friday’s push / pull training session. I have recorded the entire circuit from start to finish so you can see I do indeed practice what I preach. You can also see how hard we train and I still have the GO behind the SHOW

Push / Pull Conditioning Circuit
Reps and Regulations:

  • Explosive Burpee into Pull Up x AMRAP
  • Vertical Thrust x 8 – 10 reps
  • Jump Rope x 15 seconds
  • Complete 5 ROUND in as little time as possible

The other beautiful component of this circuit is the self-regulation. The objective is to take as minimal rest as needed, however, you may take as much rest as you need to complete the circuit. The burpee / pull ups are AMRAP (as many reps as possible) so that is relative to your abilities and the weight of the vertical thrust can be  selected based on your strength abilities. Even further, this circuit can be measured and progressed simply by cutting down your rest time and or adding weight. It’s all about relative intensity baby!!

Have at it and enjoy!

Video filmed at Under Armour’s Combine Training Center (UACTC) and a special thanks to Mike Whitman. 😀

100 Rep Kettlebell Complex for Fat Loss

Ok, I’ve had my Ra-Ra moments, let’s get back to training 🙂

For the last few weeks, my training regimen has been demanding and fun! I wanted to jump-start my fat loss early this season and started with two-a-days right out of the gate. My training weeks have looked something like this:

Monday – a.m. cardio, p.m. lift (A day)
Tuesday – a.m. cardio, p.m. lift (B day)
Wednesday – a.m. cardio, p.m. lift (C day)
Thursday – p.m. cardio
Friday – a.m. cardio, p.m. lift (A day)
Saturday – lift (B day)
Sunday – rest
Monday – repeat week, beginning with C day

I imagine my workouts will change over the next few weeks but so far, the results have been very favorable. I have come down several percentages of body fat already.

My workouts have been structured to get a metabolic response. I still have a strength emphasis (ie: upper body push, upper body pull or lower body) but they are structured to be more total body taxing. I am also moving more quickly through the training session (although they still take me the better part of 50-80 minutes depending on the day).

My dominant muscle groups for the day (ie: pulling) still focus on 3-4 sets of each pulling exercise (ie: BB wide grip bent over row, DB bent over row, pull ups, lat pull down, etc.) They would be paired however with diverting exercises such as core work, lower body movement or the contrast of pushing…although nothing to exceed the challenge of the primary exercise… more for activity, recovery and the efficiency of the workout.

After the strength portion of the workout, I have been wrapping up with different metabolic finishers. I look forward to these the most in the training session. I love the “suffering” as I feel weary out but keep pushing to the finish 🙂

complex is a string of exercises back to back (using the same piece of equipment) without rest until fully finished. One of my favorite complexes at the moment is on my Pulling day. I do a 100 Rep KettleBell Complex x 3 Rounds. Here you go friends, give it a try!!

100 Rep KB Complex
Right side KB swing x 10 reps
Left side KB swing x 10 reps
Right side KB clean x 10 reps
Left side KB clean x 10 reps
Right side KB snatch x 10 reps
Left side KB snatch x 10 reps
Right side KB racked squat x 10 reps
Left side KB racked squat x 10 reps
Right side KB push press x 10 reps
Left side KB push press x 10 reps

I prefer to use a timer so I can keep track of the time it takes me to complete a full round and the time I take to recover. I have been completing the KB 100 Rep Complex in roughly 3 mintutes and rest about 2 minutes.

Perform 3 rounds and you should be feeling pretty smoked at the end of your session with a metabolism that is geared up for burning fat for many hours to come!!

(**weight choice** I’d select a weight you find challenging through the complex. Make sure you are not “arming” the kettlebell and actually using your body for the proper technique. Also be sure not to compromise your form by selecting a weight that is beyond your control)

Final Notes: The KB Complex, like any other complex, can be structured in so many different ways. Have fun making up your own versions. Try all left side, than all right side. Work the complex from the last exercise to the first. Change the exercises all together, change the piece of equipment. You see, the options are endless and up to your creativity.

Have fun! and send feedback!

Alli McKee

Farmer’s Walk Complex for Conditioning

In the last post, “Training Day: High Rep Pulling”, I mentioned the Farmer’s Walk Complex as a metabolic finisher at the end of my training session. We have resorted to the Farmer’s Walk Complex to accompany some of my upper body workouts because of it’s friendly nature on my back. Not to mention it’s effectivness when it comes to a strength oriented, conditioning finisher.

The Farmer’s Walks have been a long time event in many of the Strongmen competitions. They usually entail a tremendous amount of weight and various distances traveled. For more about the traditional Farmer’s Walks, check out this post on Bodybuilding.com titled, Farmer’s Walk by Corey St. Clair.

In today’s version, you’ll notice the weight is significantly lighter than a traditional Farmer’s Walk and a moderate rep range is completed for the exercises. The reason behind is that we’re not trying to gain strength from it, but rather complete a longer duration of activity. I chose a weight that is challenging, but also ensures I can get through the entire complex… several rounds over. 😉  This Farmer’s Walk Complex is completed for a metabolic response.  

As you will see in the video below, the end points are about 25 yards apart. I complete my exercises at one end, carry the dumbbells up and back (either in a shoulder or hip carry) for a total of 50 yards and continue all the way through the exercises before stopping.

The entire Farmer Walk Complex takes roughly 3 minutes to complete, rest for 1 minute and repeat 3-5 rounds.

You can get very creative with the Farmer’s Walk Complex. You may include any variation of exercise choices including all upper body movements, all lower body movements, unilateral movements, bilateral movements and so the list goes on. Your only limitation is your imagination. For more ideas on Farmer’s Walk Complexes, check out Nick’s blog post here and for the ins and outs as to why we use Farmer Walks and program design specifics, check out Nick’s Farmer’s Walks for Fat Loss article on T-Nation here.

Metabolic Leg Challenge

I’ve got a great strength and conditioning challenge to share with you all today that includes squats, lunges, plyometric jumps, sled drags and sprints. It’s sure to satisfy the best of those who (like me) desire a heart throbbing, wind sucking, leg crumbling, mental challenge to the finish line!

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The above circuit that you just watched was something Nick, of Performance University, designed a few years back. He used to hold P.T.A sessions once a month for high level clients which stood for Pain. Torture. and Agony! I am gearing up for my show training to begin on May 10th, but until then, we are still training hard and with a purpose. That session was purely to have fun, work hard and sync with my lower body day.

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To complete this on your own, the following are the challenge parameters:

1. Super Legs Variation

  • 24 Squats (body weight or light weight added)
  • 24 Lunges (forward or reverse, body weight or light weight added)
  • 24 Split box jumps
  • 6 Plyometric jumps

2. Sled Drag 40 yards

3. Sprint 40 yards x 4

The above series is considered ONE round. Rest as needed between exercises, but complete one round in as little time as possible. Rest 3-5 minutes between full rounds. If you’ve never done any training like this before, begin with 1 to 2 rounds the first attempt. Eventually progress to three rounds. If you are more familiar with this metabolic training style, you could progress all the way up to five rounds. Due to the high intense nature of this type of training, I recommend only performing this type of workout for no more than 3-4 weeks at a time, 1 day per week.

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Lastly, the song in my video is “Excuses” by The Jon Bailey Band, a very talented group from the Baltimore area. If you, like me, are always looking for great new music to train to, you can check them out on their website here.

The Airdyne Bike

Blizzard number two hit Baltimore today and has us trapped inside again. I thought since the airdyne bike in my bedroom was starring me down and begging for attention, I would post a quick thought about one of my favorite pieces of equipment for cardio/conditioning…

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Dear AIRDYNE BIKE, I love you for many reasons:

  1. It is a change of pace and movement from running and sprints
  2. It engages your upper body in the push/pull of the handle bars
  3. It’s easy to control the resistance… no dials necessary… the bike is designed to increase resistance as you pedal faster
  4. In addition to just cruising along, the bike can be used for insane, heart-throbbing, windsucking, leg pumping  interval training and conditioning 🙂
  5. And, you can use your creative side and utilize the handle bars for an upper body conditioning workout

I personally choose the airdyne bike at least 3 times a week for a conditioning challenge and often have my clients tackle the bike at the end of their training session for a big finish. The following are a few ways I like to mix up my airdyne work:

  • Moderate Interval Work: 3 minutes on the Airdyne Bike (Moderate intensity, RPM in the 60’s) followed by 2 minutes of jumping rope. 5 minutes per round, complete 4 rounds for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Complete a Timed Mile on the Airdyne bike in as little time as possible. (Goal time: under 3 minutes, 2:20 – 2:30 if you’re really pushing it!) Over time, after you’ve mastered one timed mile, try incorporating a rest period (pedalling mildly for recovery–about the same amount of time it took you to complete the first mile ie: 2:45) then begin timed mile number 2! Its brutal, but doable 😉
  • Moderate to Hard Intervals: 1 minute warm up, 1 interval round = 30 seconds hard pedalling (RPM’s above 80), 30 seconds easy pedaling (RPM’s 40’s or 50’s). Repeat 8 rounds and a 1 minute cool down for a total of 10 minutes.
  • High Intensity Intervals: Another interval scheme I enjoy is 10 seconds hard (and I mean HARD, RPM’s around 90’s or breaking the 100’s) 20 seconds for recovery. 30 seconds is one round, repeat 8 rounds for 4 minutes total. This is a Reverse Tabata. If you are at the intensity level you should be, 4 minutes will be all you need to feel smoked!
  • Upper Body Interval Training: Last, try the Airdyne bike in a non-traditional way–using your upper body. This is a great way to get conditioning while allowing your legs recovery. Check out the video below for an example.

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The above suggestions are by no means an exhaustive list of all the great things you can do with an Airdyne Bike. Try these, create others and let me know what you come up with! I’m always up for a new challenge !! 😉

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…now excuse me, I have a date with my Airdyne Bike.