Category Archives: Fat Loss

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. 😀

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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.

Sprinting: 1 – Steady State Cardio: 0

I was just about to post another exercise superset for Lower Body Contrast Training, until I did my regular quick check on T-Nation. I came across the following article and enjoyed reading this so much, I thought I would rank it as a must-share over the next set of exercises. 

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If you have followed my blog, I have preached this before and I’ll say it again– If you’re goals include a chiseled physique (not to mention the athletic benefits that come from this) then you ought to be adding sprint and interval training into your program. Regardless of whether you’re a physique competitor, an athlete or a weekend warrior– this applies to you! Check out Erick Minor‘s article on T-Nation called “Sprinting Towards Single Digit Body Fat.”

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This is my first exposure to Erick’s work and I think he has great stuff here…it’s an easy read and easy to understand–not to mention, very helpful in providing great program design. Check it out

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P.S. Do not misinterpret my message, I too enjoy a little steady state cardio here and there, but it’s more for cardio health, a good sweat and mental therapy 🙂 Sprinting, I belive, is far more aggressive when it comes to conquering your physique goals. I even find that those who claim “I will only run if I’m being chased” can manage a few bursts of sprint work. More tomorrow on Contrast Training for the Lower Body 😉

Strength Training & Fat Loss: An Upper Body Day

As promised, I wanted to share with you a version of my current training schemes. I explained in my last post that we are working hard to eliminate body fat to bring me down to a very competitive percentage while preserving my muscle mass to present the best physique I can bring to the stage.

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A good warm up is important to me. I want to be prepared to train. I want to make sure my CNS is fired, my muscles activated and ready for demand and most important to any prevent injury. Although as important as the rest of the session, if done right, they may not require a tremendous amount of time but they should be thoughtful to your training goals of that day. My upper body and lower body warm ups are VERY different. I have referenced quite a bit the band warm up I use for upper body days and below is a video clip for to help explain.

  • The warm up is designed to bring up my body temperature and prep muscles and movements. It is not supposed to be fatiguing. Choose a band that is moderate for you. We like to use the JC Bands.
  • Five movements, 20 reps per drill, 2 rounds.
  • The movements are: band pulls (hip dominant), row (starting from a bent over lat pull position), tight rotations (both sides), band press, chest fly (letting your shoulder blades retract between each fly).

**Note, when lifting heavy, after the band warm up, we always transition into the working sets with 1-2 sets of build up weight.

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Moving on, we start out with strength work. In order to bring out my smaller muscles now, I isolate and pre fatigue my shoulders with a front raise before I hit incline press and isolate and pre fatigue my rear delts before rows.

  • For the smaller muscle groups (front raises and rear delt work), I completed 8-10 reps.
  • Bigger muscle movements (incline press and row), I completed 6-8 reps.
  • Four rounds, a minute between each round.

Strength work complete. On to metabolic conditioning. I mentioned in the last post, we do a variation of a complex every time. These are great for fat loss, they can integrate all muscle groups, elevate your heart rate and the list goes on and on.

  • a complex is a string of exercises back to back without rest inbetween.
  • 6-8 reps of each exercise 
  • go for speed if you can (without compromising form of course)
  • rest 1 minute between rounds
  • complete 3-6 rounds

The following is an example of a complex using dumbbells:

Last and never least! We move on to conditioning. As you know, I focus on upper body oriented conditioning on upper body days to provide my legs with the rest they need to recover. My upper body conditioning recently has been either boxing intervals or a circuit which I have posted in my Strength Training Split, High Rep, Part IV post.

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Good Luck!