Today was the first day of my deload week, and I was excited to get outside and play with my kettlebell and TRX. Unfortunately, the skies over Long Island looked an awful lot like Mordor, and the threat of rain forced me to the gym. Although inside, I only used two pieces of equipment, so creativity is an a premium when designing these workouts. I came up with two awesome metabolic circuits, and they’re easy to recreate without the TRX. (I’ll admit that the Kettlebell is important here.)
The first circuit is a quick one; I probably completed the entire set in about 4 minutes. The second one took a little bit longer, and was much more difficult.
Circuit 1 included 3 movements, each performed 10 times, and was repeated 4 times.
- Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing x 10
- Push-Up x 10
- TRX Row x 10
Circuit 2 also included 3 movements, but the first two were unilateral, so you can consider it 5; right leg, left leg, right arm, right arm, chin-up. I took a short break between circuits for approximately 15-30 seconds, then started the next circuit. I used 10 reps for each movement here; that’s 10 per side on the two unilateral movements, and then 10 Chin-Ups to round it out.
- TRX Split Squat x 10 (per side)
- Long Cycle Clean and Jerk x 10 (per side)
- Chin-Up x 10
Now this second circuit was only done 3 times, because it took about twice as long as the first one, and kicked my butt about twice as hard. Those Kettlebell cleans get your heart racing! I’ve only had it for 6 days, and I’m already planning on using it for a good deal of my conditioning work. Here’s a video of the Long Cycle Clean and Jerk:
Okay, now on to the shoes!
It took a while, but I finally have a pair of Vibram Five Fingers! Thanks to the folks at River Sports Outfitters, I have a sized 44 pair of the Bikila in Sky Blue, Yellow, and Grey. After the first pair, a sized 43, being too small, and the larger 44’s having a manufactures defect, I thought I’d never be able to enjoy these. The customer service was amazing (Thanks, Bethany!) and I’ve been using these for the past week. The Vibrams feel amazing; it’s as close to being barefoot as possible. I’ve been performing the majority of my lower-body work in socks, but this isn’t possible in all gyms, so I picked up the Bikila to maintain the barefoot advantage. According to the Vibram website:“The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.
That’s why we recommend wearing FiveFingers for exercise, play, and for fun. Stimulating the muscles in your feet and lower legs will not only make you stronger and healthier, it improves your balance, agility and proprioception.”
The most important part of this is the last sentence. If we want to be as healthy as possible, and have the best body we can, we should be working from the ground up. How many people actually consider their feet and ankles when they exercise? Exactly. Essentially, regular sneakers prevent your foot from functioning the way it’s supposed to; with the Vibrams, you are the technology.
In the running community, there is a massive shift towards barefoot running. The trend began when Christopher McDougall wrote Born to Run, and now a recent Yahoo! article has really propelled this into the mainstream. Plenty of top coaches in the field recommend training barefoot or in socks to optimize performance. While there isn’t a great deal of scientific evidence to back this up, the anecdotal conclusion is that barefoot is better. A good recommendation is to go sans-sneaker for warm-ups and posterior chain exercises. (That’s glutes and hamstrings, people!) In a recent blogpost, Eric Cressey made this recommendation: “…I recommend that people do their warm-ups, 1-leg (pistol) squats, all deadlifting variations, and box squats without sneakers. Everything else (including more quad dominant squatting variations) are done with footwear.“
If you really want to learn more about barefoot training, you can try links here from T-Nation, Nick Tumminello, and Xtreme Human Performance. If you’re serious about your training and exercise, I’d read up on it, and consider making the switch to barefoot training, even if you don’t go all the way to Vibrams. They will make your feet look as awesome as mine, though.