Is it a Rope Trainer, a Suspension Trainer or a USA? None of the Above

I want to share today’s workout routine with you, because it was a little weird and kind of fun, and still gave me a great back workout and more. You might even want to try this, but real quick, some back story.

Since I made my first suspension trainer out of rope,
(you can read about it here: http://mosladder.hubpages.com/hub/Adventures-with-Suspension-Training-in-My-Garage-Gym)  I have had something of an obsession with the stuff. The rope that is.

The tire swing/climbing rope

I made a jumprope suspension trainer, pull-up handles with pvc and rope, I even made a tire swing/climbing rope with yellow 1 inch polyester rope.  Braiding the rope became a therapeutic pastime.  Take a 100′ foot length of rope, cut it into three or four equal lengths and braid it together.

It would be used for something, I just wasn’t sure what.

Then I saw the Universal Strength Apparatus (About the USA)
which could be called ‘suspended ladder training,’ since that is what it is. Two narrow ladders with multiple rungs. The rungs/handles are stiff, the rest is not. The nice part is there is no adjustment necessary, and you can do crazy things like ‘jumping dips’ to the next rung.

Bingo! Why not tie some handles into my braided ropes and use them like the universal strength apparatus? Using two braided ropes with loop handles tied in every few inches, I could hang them side by side and get a ‘suspended ladder training’ style workout.

Before the second one was done I tried it with one. I used the yellow and black hanging in the picture below by throwing it over my pull-up bar.

Hmmm, it was a little awkward, but good for pushups, flyes, body rows and the like. Still not a USA, though.

With a second braided rope of equal size, I tried again:
This wasn’t working. Does the contraption above look strange and uncomfortable? Yeah, it was, in a bad way. So I thought about it some more. In the meantime, the thicker blue rope (with only two handles) made the perfect suspension trainer, and was comfortable enough to get a full workout on. Adjusting by looping the ends around the pull-up bar is easy.

                                           Still, what to do with all this yellow and black rope?

Ahaaaa!! Rowing! 

Functional exercises are great, and in this case, you can target your back muscles as well. Which brings me to today’s workout, which consisted of standing in place pulling the weighted rope towards me in a hand over hand motion. Let me just say this beats the hell out of rowing a barbell or dumbbells, and IMHO, is better than sitting in front of a machine with cables.
In the pics above, you will notice a green rope and some pvc pipe. The original plan was to loop the braided rope end through the plates and tie a large knot to pull against the plates. But I found this pipe and rope sitting around, and that was that. The only tying involved was green rope to braided rope. Done.

One plate was good for getting a rhthym, but far too light for a decent workout. So I threw another 45# on. Much better. I probably knocked out 10 back and forth laps before doing a few pull-ups and curls and calling it a day. My lats were definitely worked and my arms as well. There were other advantages to this fun outdoor workout too.

1.) Core involvement. The hand-over-hand motion requires core rotation plus hip and glute stabilization; and who doesn’t want a tighter core and gluteus?

2.) Progressive Resistance: Because I was dragging these plates through the gravel, the closer it got, the harder it became. Also, the more weight you add, the greater the drag because it picks up even more gravel. This works well in sand, too.

This exercise/workout will be part of my permanent rotation from now on. There are a myriad of ways to use this. Put the handles in front and push, or hang them from your shoulders and pull like a sled dog. Either way, this satisfies my need for unusual, interesting and effective workout equipment!

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To see the Universal Strength Apparatus for yourself:

Universal Strength Apparatus

For more great workout ideas:

Traveling Workout and Portable Gym and Exercise Equipment

Gymnastic Ring Workout Routines at Home

Every Pushup Exercise you can Think of and the Celebrities Who do them

How to Build Strong Back Muscles

A complete muscle-building program for free:

The Fast Muscle Program

Workout at Watson Lake in Prescott Arizona

If you are in the state of Arizona, one of the best places to visit is Prescott, specifically the Granite Dells and Watson Lake. I haven’t been all over Prescott, but I hear the rest of its attractions are also spectacular. Speaking from our experiences on a day trip to Watson Lake, I learned two things:

1. You could climb rocks and take pictures all day and not even explore a quarter of the area.
2. Climbing over rocks, even if you are not top-roping or bouldering, is a great workout!

For anyone who doesn’t like to do long boring cardio sessions, this place is the way to go. You will burn fat and probably build some leg muscle too, all in a tranquil, idyllic outdoor setting. Of course, this applies to your neck of the woods too, so to speak. Find an inspiring, challenging outdoor ‘gym’ and breathe some fresh air while you burn calories.

In the meantime, if you are in the Arizona area, check out watson lake in prescott, arizona:

Watson Lake and Granite Dells in Prescott, AZ

The Best Exercises for Increasing Metabolism Rate

What are the best exercises for metabolic conditioning? Well first, let’s have a definition of metabolic rate and how metabolic conditioning, affectionately known as ‘metcon,’ relates to it.
In short, your metabolism is that engine in your body that carries out the chemical processes to keep you alive. Any conditioning done to improve this process is attempting to make more efficient the transport of energy through the bloodstream to working muscles.
In turn, the muscles learn to be more efficient at using these energy stores for their various activities.
The metabolic rate is divided into two categories: Basal Metabolic Rate and Resting Metabolic Rate. The sum total of these two is the entire amount of energy used for mental and physical tasks and at rest, throughout the day.
So how do you crank this up to burn more calories? It’s no secret; exercise and hit all three metabolic pathways and the metabolism rate increases; the more you do, the more efficient your metabolism becomes.
Exercise and metabolism are inseparable, but depending on the type of exercise you do this grand calorie-consuming system takes different paths.
These metabolic pathways are the phosphagen, glycolytic and oxidative, respectively.
Here are some exercise examples related to them:
Oxidative:Aerobic/cardiovascular conditioning tops the list here. This system requires less energy and is used for longer, low-powered activities. Think jogging, running at a steady pace, easy cycling and repetitive low impact physical activity.
Glycolytic:This is the pathway for people who have high energy needs lasting several minutes. It resynthesizes ATP with the help of lactic acid. A typical interval workout using weights, running or any other activity is going to draw a lot of fuel from this system.
Phosphagen:Short, high intensity activities. Powerlifting, maximum weight efforts, short all-out sprints lasting less than 10 seconds. These are all activities that will use this metabolic pathway.
If it looks like you might use all three of these energy systems in any given week, you are right. Most athletes draw from all three systems to some extent, and certain athletes and tactical professionals use all three regularly.
For example, the ideal metabolic training workout for an MMA fighter will include high-intensity intervals lasting several minutes that stimulate cardiovascular adaptations while increasing power and muscular endurance.
This successful combination of anaerobic (synthesizing ATP without oxygen) and aerobic changes has been well documented by Dr. Tabata and his team.
By doing interval training at the highest intensity possible, resting a few seconds between efforts and repeating, this form of metabolic conditioning does the work of much longer efforts in a fraction of the time.
There is no doubt that the best way to increase your metabolism rate is to exercise. The best metabolic training workout is one that combines all three pathways on a regular basis.
Try the following to incorporate this concept into your training week:
Day 1:
3-5 rounds of stairs or sprints, jump squats (x10+,) pushups (x10+)
Don’t rest between exercise, and only 1-2 minutes between rounds. Push as hard as possible.
Day 2: Easy cardiovascular activity for 30-90 minutes. Running cycling, walking, etc. Don’t push too hard; keep it steady.
Day 3: Powerlifting/strength exercises. Use Olympic lifts, deadlifts, squats, bench press, overhead press, kettlebell clean & jerk (long cycle.
For Olympic lifts and powerlifts, use heavy weights and low reps. Do sets of 5, 3, 1. As soon as the movement slows down, stop the set.
*Kettlebells/ballistic training presents a unique option because you can generate power over several minutes. This is ideal metabolic conditioning for the glycolytic and the oxidative pathways.
Of course you could also use heavier kettlebells and keep the reps low.
Incorporate these concepts into your training, but in the beginning don’t overdo the intervals.
If you push hard enough, the high intensity interval day will take two or three days to recover from. Make sure all metabolic pathways are used and your metabolism will become more efficient at using every calorie you put in your mouth.

Find more metabolism training workouts here:
Try these great products for your interval workouts. Perfect exercise equipment for the home gym or outdoors:

The Life Saving Effects of Exercise

We all know that an active lifestyle is good for us. In fact, most of you would have a hard time getting through the day, let alone sleeping at night, without a good workout.

The effects of exercise are much wider reaching than we could have ever imagined however. Just about everything we do is dependent on staying active and keeping junk out of our bodies. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to try to tell you to put down those peanut M&M’s or skip the occasion cocktail, but just in case you are lacking motivation to workout on any given day, I offer the following reminders.

Exercise:

-Releases ‘good’ brain chemicals such as endorphins, catecholamines and brain-derived neurotropic factor. No you can’t get addicted to them. But they are primarily stimulated by exercise and affect everything from your mood to your heart rate; even your long term memory.

-Reduces bodyweight, but more importantly, reduces the visceral fat that likes to build up on our internal organs. It does ugly things like pump chemicals we don’t need into our system. Plus, it’s ugly, real ugly.

-Increases blood flow, improves orgasm, increases testosterone and growth factor hormones.

-Helps you sleep better and more soundly.

This list could go on for a couple more pages, but i think you get the idea. We were born into a world more sedentary than any our genetics were designed for. Resist the urge to watch that TV show when you get home from work.

Don’t sign on to Facebook or Twitter, I promise it will be there later.

Forget about exercising ‘later.’ Yeah, right, after a beer or a Jack n’ Coke?

Instead, start moving, get your heart rate up, build some muscle. Here is a little workout I like to do when I head to the garage for a beer and see my gym staring me in the face. I think ‘oooooh, but I don’t have the energy…sniffle sniffle.’ The cure for that? Get moving!

You don’t have to change into your workout clothes (maybe you should if you’re not in your pajamas yet.)

Just start rotating your neck, gently now, it’s stiff from staring at a screen all day I bet. Now swinging an arm around in circles, small at first, then full arcing circles. Now switch to the other. If you want you can swing both around and run around in circles making airplane noises, whatever gets you going.

Now rotate those hips, loosen up, that’s it. You know how to move your hips!

Ok, start doing calf raises, don’t worry about weight for now. Just rise up and down on your toes, squeeze the calves at the top, now go faster, now pause at the top. Give yourself a number to hit. “I’m going to 20, 30,…”

Now bounce up and down in a partial squat while swinging your arms. Not a full squat, wait until you’re warm. Get that stretch reflex in those leg muscles going. When you feel ready, start launching off the ground.

That’s it, you’re doing mini jump squats, plyometrics; build up to a high jump and knock out 20 or so of those. Feeling good? Right on, now the blood is flowing! The beer is still in the ‘fridge, but it seems a little farther away now…

Ok, quick, arms out to the sides and rotate your trunk. Swing from side to side. After a few, squeeze the obliques on each side for about 2 seconds, release and repeat on the other side.

Now, if you are feeling warm, choose an exercise. Not two, not three. Not a whole bodybuilding program for a specific bodypart, not even a whole workout routine named after some random woman.

In my garage I see:

-Homemade sandbags, 40-80 lbs. I can choose the 80 and do lifts off the ground. Catch it in a full squat, then heave onto one shoulder. Start with three hard sets, then decide what else, if anything, i want to do.

-Pullup Bar/Homemade Gymnastics Rings: Hop on either one and start off by doing nothing but hanging while engaging your scapula. (Pull it back and down.) They call this active shoulder hangs.

When I’m ready I start doing pullups. I’ll mix it up though. First hangs, then without letting go, pullups; without letting go I do knee or leg raises. Now, if I am on the rings I can swing my legs over and do flips or inverted positions, you see?

-Dumbbells: There in the middle of the rug are dumbbells, ready to clean and press. Hell, 5 sets of that and I won’t feel bad about a beer at all! Great workout.

-Homemade Indian clubs: On the wall I have several homemade clubbells, a homemade mace, i can just pick any of these up and start swinging and swaying. Talk about getting the blood pumping!

You may not have any of this, but that’s ok. Get on the floor, do pushups. Change the hand position. Don’t pushup, just see how long you can hold yourself up. Do leg raises, squats, supermans, even shadowboxing.

Your workouts always deserve to be priority number one! So give them all you’ve got, even if you’d rather have a drink and watch TV. You will never regret ignoring that urge and exercising instead. Never.