Sunday, September 7, 2008

Prison Workout: Basic Fundamentals

The Prison Workout (PWO) is a fully integrated program. While it's based on limitations of equipment, time, and space, it can still bring first-class fitness.

Basics: It is a complete body workout program that will target all muscle groups...sometimes as an isolation and sometimes as part of a more complex movement pattern. For example, the musculature of the lower back will be specifically targeted with the Superman exercise, but also contracted/relaxed within the Air Squat exercise. The PWO will also attack many of the various components of fitness such as: aerobics, anaerobics, muscular strength, endurance, coordination, agility, and power. For example, the high intensity of certain circuits (ex: pushups, situps, and air squats) brings an increase in anaerobic capacity. Other exercises such as clapping pushups and tuck jumps build power and explosiveness. This is a well-rounded, balanced approach to fitness.

The Exercises: In upcoming posts, I will embed videos of certain exercises into the blog. The sooner you can learn and practice them, the better. It is not the time to learn them when they are part of a no-rest circuit down the road. Learn them as soon as possible. That's why I'm in the process of gathering them up now. Click on the Prison Workout label either at the end of these posts, or in the list of labels at the bottom of the right column to see all posts regarding the PWO.

The Pulls: The "pulling" movements I am including into this program are pullups and inverted rows. Including both is obviously the best option. While the pullups require a taller bar, the inverted rows require a shorter (waist high) bar. I sympathize with those of you who do not have access to such equipment. I encourage you to find some free options: monkey bars at the local playground, the I-beam in your basement, or a railing. Some of you with access to a gliding Smith machine can arrange a low bar by adjusting the height. If you have have no pull-station options, you will just have to do without....thereby losing some of the muscle groups and benefits. Be creative!

Scheduling: The format I am considering is a 7 day rotation. This way if there is a certain day of the week that does not work well for you, you can skew the template a day or two for a Recovery Day to match up. The template will be 3 days ON, 1 day OFF, 2 days ON, 1 day OFF...repeated for about five weeks. While my schedule will list Thursdays and Sundays as Recovery Days, feel free to adjust this as needed (ex: Wednesday and Saturday). Just do all the workouts!!

Programming: Each day will be something different. One day might include a high number of repetitions of a single exercise, and the next day might be a repeating circuit of 5 or 6 exercises. About twice a week you can plan on a plyometric exercise session, one that includes burpees, tuck jumps, jumping squats, or clapping pushups. Some days will be more intense than others. I'll do my absolute best to not repeat a single day...but no promises. One thing is for one will get bored during these 30 days!

Scaling/adjusting: This is my most difficult obstacle: finding a challenging program for those more advanced, yet keeping it basic enough for fitness newbies. If you find this program to be too EASY or too HARD, then adjust the repetition numbers, time durations, numbers of rounds, or the pace/speed/intensity/rest periods. The overall goal of this program is to spread the participation in a more complete, practical, functional fitness system....something many of you already do. I expect it to be easy for some of you. I expect it to be downright gruelling for others. I'll do my best to help each of you!! I just ask you to stay within the basics of each day.

Supplemental exercising: Rest and recovery is important. Some of you will see great results right away. This is no reason to abandon rest days. If you feel the need to go running or biking, be cautious of recovery issues. Also, I realize the 100 Day Burpee Challenge is ending during this period. This PWO starts on Day 74 of the burpee challenge, so some of us will be doing a wee bit more than the prescribed PWO. I'll do my best to include burpees into the daily WOs whenever possible ;)

I'm glad to have you all participating in the PWO next month. Please check back often to watch videos and learn more about the programming and scaling.

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