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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Brandon’s Fitness Corner

    Think about the last time you changed up your fitness regimen. How long have you been lifting that same weight for a particular exercise? More importantly, how many weeks have you been doing that exercise? After a few weeks, your body adapts to the stress you place on it, a time period after which it is advisable to add some changes to your regular routine. Changes in your workout can come in many forms. Here are some of my favorite routines that have proven effective over my years of training:


    This workout method is structured in the form of a pyramid, where you work your way up to a ‘peak’ number of repetitions and gradually come back down to the ‘base.’ For example, let’s say you choose pull-ups and push-ups for your pyramids. You would begin by performing one pull-up and five push-ups. After a brief 60 second rest, do two pull-ups then ten push-ups. Continue in this manner until you reach the peak of your pyramid, after which you will work your way back down to the base. Say your peak is seven pull-ups and 35 push-ups. Your next set on the way down would consist of six pull-ups and 30 push-ups, and so on. Adjust the amount of repetitions for each exercise according to your individual level of fitness.


    Ladders are similar to pyramids in that they provide a gradual buildup of volume for your selected exercises, however, they do not require you to come back down once you reach your peak, or top ‘rung.’ Each progressive rung on the ladder requires you to perform one more repetition than the previous. Once again using pull-ups as an example, begin by performing one pull-up. Drop from the bar and take a brief rest. Get back on the bar and do two pull-ups. Rest again. Continue in this manner until you come close to muscular failure. Take a rest for a few minutes then start back at the bottom of the ladder. You can repeat this sequence as many times as you wish, however, keep in mind that the numbers will add up quickly. Additionally, it is best to stop about one or two rungs from failure. So, if you can typically make it up to the tenth rung on the ladder, stop at the eighth or ninth. Ladders are ideally done with a partner, where rest periods are dictated by the amount of time a partner is on the bar. If you don’t have a partner, use your own judgment to determine how long you should rest. Additional exercises can also be paired with your main exercise on each rung. I personally enjoy doing ladders with pull-ups and push-ups.

    One-Minute Volume Method

    The focus of the one-minute volume method of training is just that; the volume of the exercises performed, or the total amount of work completed. In weightlifting, this is calculated by multiplying the amount of weight lifted by the number of sets performed, then multiplying that figure by the number of repetitions performed. Each set in this workout will consist of a low number of repetitions, which will allow you to concentrate on your form and avoid overtraining. For this method, you need a stopwatch or a wall clock to keep track of time. Using our old standbys, the pull-up and the push-up, begin by starting your stopwatch and doing ten pushups. Wait until the minute is up, and then perform five pull-ups. After that minute is up, get back down and do ten push-ups. Continue in this manner, alternating exercises every minute for at least a half an hour, after which you will have completed 150 push-ups and 75 pull-ups. If you have another half an hour, you can perform other exercises to create a total body workout, such as sit-ups and bodyweight squats. You can add another exercise into the mix and perform the workout for 45 minutes. Mix and match exercises and repetition numbers to see what works for you, as you would with pyramids.

    Tabata Method

    The Tabata method is a daunting workout that requires a great deal of both mental and physical endurance to complete. The workout lasts a whopping four minutes, but believe me, the first time you do this workout, those four minutes will probably be among the hardest of your life. Basically, you take a selected exercise and perform AS MANY REPETITIONS AS POSSIBLE for twenty seconds. Rest ten seconds, then repeat this series seven more times, alternating between work and rest periods. When choosing an exercise to use with the Tabata method, pick one that involves as many muscle groups as possible. The one exercise I recommend for the Tabata method is the Thruster. To perform Thrusters, you will need two ‘light’ dumbbells. I say ‘light’ because you will not want to go for four minutes with twenty plus pounds in your hands, especially when you first try this workout. Five to ten pounds is what I would recommend for starters. Begin by placing the dumbbells at shoulder level so that your palms are facing in front of you. While keeping your back straight, squat down with the dumbbells still at your shoulders. Now, in one continuous motion, rise up and press the dumbbells over your head, locking out your arms. Now squat back down, bringing the dumbbells back down to shoulder level, and repeat. At the end of each twenty second period, you can put the dumbbells down, but it is ESSENTIAL that you stick to the rest and work periods stated. It helps to have a wall clock to keep track of your time so you can easily see how many seconds you have to go for each set. After your four minutes are up, your heart will feel as if it’s going to burst out of your chest. Enjoy the pain.

    Greasing the Groove

    Promoted passionately by Russian strength expert Pavel Tsatsouline, ‘greasing the groove’ is the ultimate program for people who can’t seem to find any time for the gym but who want to see their numbers in their chosen exercises go through the roof. When you ‘grease the groove’ you basically practice your chosen exercise throughout the day over multiple sets, however you do not come anywhere near muscular failure during any of these sets. The multiple ‘practice’ sets that you perform throughout the day will ultimately improve your body’s neuromuscular response when it comes to doing maximum effort sets. To begin, pick one exercise you can perform throughout the day. Bodyweight exercises are ideal for this method of training as they require little or no equipment. Let’s say you choose the push-up. Throughout the day, perform half the amount of your maximum amount of repetitions. For example, if you can do a max set of 20
    push-ups, your sets throughout the day will consist of 10 repetitions. There are five principles that you must keep in mind when greasing the groove:

    1. Choose no more than two exercises to perform throughout the day.

    2. NEVER train to failure.

    3. Perform sets frequently throughout the day (i.e. every hour or two).

    4. Use perfect form on each of your repetitions.

    5. Every few weeks, perform variations of your chosen exercise(s) to keep things fresh.

    Deck of Cards

    Who knew a deck of cards could be so painful? For this workout, all you need is a regular deck of 52 playing cards. Every card in the deck will correspond to a particular number of repetitions for a certain exercise. Since there are both red and black cards, it is advised that you choose two exercises that you are able to perform high repetitions of. Begin the workout by taking a card from the top of the deck. For red cards, you’ll do push-ups, and for black, you’ll do squats. The number value on each card will determine how many repetitions you’ll do. Face cards call for ten repetitions, while aces call for 11. Jokers are wild and call for 20 repetitions. You should strive to complete the deck as fast as possible. If you are craving for some extra pain, perform the workout as prescribed, only do twice the number of squats as each card indicates.

    Whenever you start to feel like you need to shake things up in your fitness regimen, add one of these workouts to your routine and see where it takes you. Don’t be afraid to tailor each workout to your specific level of fitness.

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