Friday, August 29, 2008

Return to Manliness - The Cheapest, Hardest, Baddest, Most Manly Exercise Nobody Ever Does

A cool post on fitness from The Art of Manliness.
The Cheapest, Hardest, Baddest, Most Manly Exercise Nobody Ever Does

There are hundreds (no, thousands) of posts and websites talking about how to lose weight and get in shape. They all say the same thing - eat a sensible diet, workout regularly and do these exercises.

For most men, though, it never happens. Not enough time; not enough money; not enough energy; boredom sets in; and then, before you know it, you are working out once a week and your diet has gone to the crapper. The weight is not coming off - matter of fact, the numbers keep growing!

Where things break down with today’s experts is there is a different exercise for every muscle in your body. They want you to “isolate” the muscle for maximum workout. They want you to alternate between muscle groups on different days and workout every single day.

Who has time for that? We need exercises that are going to work muscles and get us tired - at the same time. We need an exercise that is going to work out several, dozens even, of muscles. We need an exercise we can do quick, fast, cheap, and does the job so well we come back wanting more.

We need the burpee!

The burpee is the most perfect exercise known to mankind and let me tell you why - it works out every single aspect of your body; you will be out of breath after only a couple; you don’t need a single piece of equipment to perform it; it can be done in a very confined space; and finally, every elite military force in the world couldn’t be wrong.

From prisoners to prisoners of war to elite fighting forces to elite athletes - ask them about the burpee and they know its secret powers. They know this one exercise, combined with a few others, is all one needs to accomplish your fitness needs.

How to perform a burpee

The excellent folks over at provided this amazing information for us to learn about the burpee. Ross Enamait explains in great detail how to perform a burpee and different variations to make it more challenging (as if it needs it). However, here is a summary of the process:

  1. Begin in a squat position with hands on the floor in front of you
  2. Kick your feet back to a push up position
  3. Immediately return your feet to the squat position
  4. Leap up as high as possible from the squat position
  5. Repeat, moving as fast as possible

You should maintain a fast pace for this exercise. Strive for maximum height with each jump. Most athletes will average between 12 and 15 repetitions per 30 seconds.

Ross’s different variations are not for the faint of heart. I have been doing these exercises for two weeks now and have yet to be able to get past 2 sets of 10. However, I am combining this exercise with a few others which probably makes it harder for me to advance, but the burpee does not require much alteration to be completely effective.

For those who want to display their true burpee manliness, follow Ross’s link to his Ultimate Burpee section. Excellent if you want to blow chunks as part of your workout routine. I am not there yet, but I like the idea of working out so hard, I hurl.

Here is a video that shows the entire motion in sequence.

Other exercises to round out the perfect, fast workout are as follows.

Remember, the criteria to be included in this list is fast, cheap, does the job quickly, works out several muscle groups, and has staying power.

This is the best cardio exercise in the world. Next time you are around someone that’s served our country, ask them about boot camp and getting into shape. Ask them if they did any running while getting in shape. They first will laugh and say, “oh yeah” and then tell you they got in some of the best shape of their lives while doing it. AND, there is nothing that will get you in shape faster.

If running is not your thing, then walking does the trick. I have seen studies where they say walking is actually better for you than running. It might be better on the joints and back, but I am not sure how you could burn more calories.

Push ups
Same deal with running. Ask that soldier if they had to do any push ups. Push ups are the answer to whole upper body workout. If done correctly, they will blow up your arms (biceps and triceps), explode your chest, and work every muscle in your upper body. Many variations help with joint protection, but if you do the push up, and do a lot of them, you get AMAZING results…fast…

Sit ups
That’s right. I said it. Sit ups. Not crunches. Not some wheelie thingie. Not some palates move that isolates. Sit ups. These things have been around for decades and the full sit up (along with variations) work out all kinds of muscles in the abdominal area. When you get to the top of the sit up and work your way back down to the ground, you are using balancing muscles as well as all your abdominal muscles to control the entire movement. Nice.

Squats ranked this is the number one exercise for calisthenics. This works so many muscles in your legs, you will be shocked to feel how crappy you feel afterwards (crappy in a good way, though). The biggest surprise for me was the amount of pressure these put on my hamstrings. I know they are working out the quads (front of your legs) but the backside as well? These are very good for several muscle groups. I have heard of guys (pro athletes) doing 1000 squats a day during training camps. Now that is amazing.

There are some other moves and activities that do just as well as the ones mentioned, but they cost more or need some kind of apparatus to perform. Exercises like the pull up, lunge, riding a bike, bench press, dips, and running stairs all fit the mold of working out several muscle groups while wanting to make your hurl in the process.

There is no excuse not to do the exercises laid out above other than laziness or injury. These exercises are natural; their fast; their effective; their ever changing with your ability to run variations off them; and most of all, they are as manly as heck!

If you don’t have time for all of them, then start out with The Cheapest, Hardest, Baddest, Most Manly Exercise Nobody Ever Does - the burpee.

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