The End of Painfully Boring Cardio Workouts by Mike Mahler

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The End Of Painfully Boring Cardio Workouts

By Mike Mahler

When was the last time that you got excited about doing some cardio? Doing traditional forms of cardio such as riding an exercise bike or running on a treadmill are about as exciting as watching a movie on the family channel. Lets face it one of the main reasons why people give up on cardio is similar to why smart people do not watch daytime television as both are beyond boring. Moreover, with regular cardio it takes too long to see results to persevere through the boredom. Do not believe me? Take a trip down to your local gym and look at the people in an aerobics class. Now go back in a month and see if you notice any physique composition differences. See what I mean? Fortunately there are several alternatives that offer more variety, are more challenging, and produce faster results. I am going to cover three highly effective fat loss programs in this article: PHA, HOC, and the “Descending Sets” Program.
Lets start off the boring cardio revolt with PHA. PHA stands for Peripheral Heart Action. P.H.A is basically an intense form of circuit training in which you group several exercises together that work the entire body. Instead of pumping a lot of blood into one muscle, the goal according to John McCallum, author of “The Complete Keys To Progress”, “is to increase your circulation enormously without congesting your muscles. You pump blood through your muscles rather than just into them.” The keys with P.H.A training are to one focus on compound exercises and to move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible. Feel free to take one-minute breaks in the beginning between each exercise and reduce the breaks gradually over time until you are not resting at all in between each set. P.H.A workouts usually start with two groups of circuits per workout. Do five rounds in group one and then five rounds in group two. I have met very few trainees that can handle this much volume initially. Thus, I would start with one group and build up to multiple groups from there. Here are some sample PHA workouts:

BEGINNER

Group 1:

  • Dumbbell Clean and Military Press 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Squat 10 reps
  • Weighted Pull-up 6 reps
  • One-arm Dumbbell Swing 10 reps l,r (left and right)
  • Slow and Controlled Sit-up 10 reps (4 seconds up and 4 seconds down)

Here is how the program works. Do each exercise in Group One in circuit fashion. In other words, do one exercise after the other with short or no breaks. At the end of the sequence, take a one-minute break and then repeat four more times for a total of five rounds. If necessary, take one-minute breaks between each exercise and when you can do all five rounds with one-minute breaks, decrease the breaks to forty-five seconds. Work on getting down to no breaks in between each workout. At that point increase the weight on each exercise.

ADVANCED

Group 1:

  • Incline Dumbbell Press 6 reps
  • Barbell Squat 8 reps
  • Barbell Bent-over Row 6 reps
  • Stiff-legged Deadlift 8 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raise 6 reps

Group 2:

  • Dumbbell Clean and Military Press 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Squat 10 reps
  • Weighted Pull-up 6 reps
  • One-arm Dumbbell Swing 10 reps l,r (left and right)
  • Slow and Controlled Sit-up 10 reps (4 seconds up and 4 seconds down)

Do five rounds of Group 1 with one-minute breaks in between each set. Take a one-minute break after all five rounds have been completed and then move on to Group 2. Do five rounds of Group 2 with one-minute breaks. Decrease the breaks in between each exercise and work on getting down to no breaks between the exercises in each group. Continue to take a one to two minute break in between each group.
In addition to being an outstanding program for fat loss and muscular endurance, PHA is also effective for strength training. You cannot beat that. If fat loss and endurance are your main goals then try doing three PHA workouts per week. Take a day off in between each workout. For example, do the workouts on M-W-F. Avoid doing additional cardio on the days off. If your goal is strength and size then try doing two full body 5×5 workouts per week and two moderate PHA workouts per week. Moderate meaning no more than one group. Do the 5×5 workouts on Monday and Thursday and the PHA workouts on Tuesday and Friday.
Next, lets move on to HOC, which stands for High Octane Cardio. HOC is brutal and not for the faint of heart. I mean that literally and figuratively. If you have high blood pressure, you want to clear this program with your doctor as your heart rate is going to go through the roof with HOC training. HOC is based on a form of training that boxer’s use called “Roadwork.” Legendary boxers such as Muhammad Ali used to do “Roadwork” in order to get in great fighting shape. “Roadwork” is still a staple in the arsenal of today’s fighting elite. Here is how it works, go out for a jog and every fifty yards or so, drop down and do some bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups. Crank out twenty-five reps and then get up immediately and start jogging again. After another fifty yards or so, drop down again and crank out some more bodyweight drills. This is a very efficient way to build up cardio and muscular endurance that will carry over to the ring. It is also an extremely effective method for fat burning. Regardless, you can increase the benefits of “Roadwork” tremendously by combining moderate aerobic training with high intensity aerobic training in the form of ballistic weight training. Ballistic weight training is a form of weight training in which weights are moved quickly and explosively. One obvious example is Olympic Weight Training. Of course, it would not be prudent to use exercises that are technically demanding such as Barbell Cleans and Barbell Snatches. However, ballistic exercises done with dumbbells or kettlebells are a fit assuming that you are familiar with exercise such as Dumbbell Cleans, Dumbbell Snatches and Dumbbell Swings. If not, get your form down with those exercises before doing them in the context of an HOC program. Here are some sample HOC Programs:

BEGINNER

  • One-minute of jump roping at moderate pace
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Push Press 10 reps l,r (left and right)
  • One-minute of jump roping at moderate pace
  • One-arm Dumbbell Snatch 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of jump roping at moderate pace
  • One-arm Dumbbell Swing 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of jump roping at moderate pace
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of jump roping at moderate pace
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Push Press 10 reps l,r (left and right)
  • One-minute of jump roping at moderate pace
  • One-arm Dumbbell Snatch 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of jump roping at moderate pace
  • One-arm Dumbbell Swing 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of jump roping at moderate pace
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean 10 reps l,r

Do each round back to back and then take a one-minute break before going to the next round. A round is one set of jump rope work and one ballistic exercise set. When you can do all eight rounds with one-minute breaks, decrease the breaks to forty-five seconds. Work on getting the breaks down to thirty seconds per round. If you really want to become a machine then work on getting the beaks down to zero. Just do not rush into it, crawl before you can run or you will be crawling after each workout. If you find this program too demanding, then switch to Richard Simmons’ “Sweating To The Oldies” workout. Just kidding, just increase the breaks between each round and take a break between the jump rope work and ballistic exercise work as well.

ADVANCED

  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Push Press 10 reps l,r (left and right)
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Snatch 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Swing 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Push Press 10 reps l,r (left and right)
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Snatch 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Swing 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Swing 10 reps l,r
  • One-minute of heavy bag work
  • One-arm Dumbbell Clean 10 reps l,r

Really go at it with the heavy bag work, which by the way is a blast and very tiring as well. Throw some punches, kicks, bitch slap the bag a few times. You get the idea. Take a minute to catch your breath and then crank out the ballistic work set. Rest for thirty seconds and go right into another round. Work on getting the breaks down between the heavy bag work and ballistic exercise sets and in between each round. Ease into this one gradually. If your main goal is fat loss, do three HOC workouts per week and do one full body strength workout. For example do HOC on M-W-F and do one 5×5 full body workout on Saturday. Do two full body 5×5 workouts per week and two moderate HOC workouts per week if you want to train for size and strength and as a secondary goal increase muscular endurance. Just stick with six to eight rounds of HOC at a moderate intensity.
Finally, lets move right into the “Descending Sets Program.” I picked up this killer program from my friend Marc Lobliner. Here is how the program works. Pick a ballistic exercise such as Dumbbell Cleans, Dumbbell Swings, or Dumbbell Snatches. I prefer to do these exercises with kettlebells but Dumbbells will suffice if that is all you have. You just will not impress the opposite sex as much. Knock of a set of fifteen reps in the first set and then take a short break. Do another set of fifteen reps and take another short break. Then do a set of twelve reps. See where this is going? As the program continues the reps decrease and boy will you be glad that they are as you will be huffing and puffing like a locomotive after a few sets. Here are some sample programs:

BEGINNER

Pick the One-arm Dumbbell Swing and do the following set and rep scheme:

  • Set 1: 15 reps l,r (left and right)
  • Set 2: 15 reps l,r
  • Set 3: 12 reps l,r
  • Set 4: 12 reps l,r
  • Set 5: 10 reps l,r
  • Set 6: 10 reps l,r
  • Set 7: 8 reps l,r
  • Set 8: 8 reps l,r
  • Set 9: 6 reps l,r
  • Set 10: 5 reps l,r

Pick a weight that you can knock off twenty reps with. Take one-minute breaks between each set and work on getting the breaks down to thirty seconds. When you can do all ten sets with thirty-second breaks, increase the weight by five to ten pounds. This workout is a smoker but it can get a lot worse. Just try doing it with One-arm Kettlebell Snatches or better yet snatch your girlfriend, pun intended. Now that is brutal.

ADVANCED

After a few months of taking it easy with the beginner “Descending Sets Program”, it is time to take it up a notch. Start by picking a harder exercise such as Snatches or Clean and Push Presses. Now instead of doing one-arm work, do double work. In other words, have a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. Double Snatches are brutal so try doing Double Clean and Push Presses first and make sure you train on an empty stomach or you will end the workout on a forced empty stomach.
Do the following with Dumbbell Clean and Push Presses

  • Set 1: 15 reps
  • Set 2: 15 reps
  • Set 3: 13 reps
  • Set 4: 12 reps
  • Set 5: 11 reps
  • Set 6: 10 reps
  • Set 7: 9 reps
  • Set 8: 8 reps
  • Set 9: 8 reps
  • Set 10: 7 reps

Take one-minute breaks between each set and work on getting the breaks down to thirty seconds. When you can do all ten sets with thirty-second breaks, increase the weight by five to ten pounds. An option is to add a rep to keep adding reps to sets 3-10 until you are eventually doing 10×15 per workout. A worthy goal that will take some time and have a major payoff in serious fat loss and increased muscular endurance. Try adding two “Descending sets” workouts to your regimen per week if you wan to add some endurance and fat loss work to your program. If you main goal is fat loss, then try three “Descending Sets” workouts per week and one full body strength-training program per week. Again the 5×5 program is a good option.
The end of boring cardio programs is upon us. Three programs for trainees that are bored to death with standard cardio programs. Pick one of these programs and get to work. When you get tired of one program rotate it with another one. Be creative with these workouts and have a good time. If you find the programs too hard, do not worry you can always check out Richard Simmons’ ‘Sweating To The Oldies” program or pick up a tae-bo DVD at Target.

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