October 08, 2009

How to Make Jo Cry

This past Monday, Attila put me through the toughest workout I have ever done.


I mean *ever* ever.

You know that point in a workout where you really and truly think you might vomit? I passed that point at about 25 minutes in. I moved from there to the "I think I might cry" point, and from there on to the "I think I might cry--wups, no, I *am* crying" point.

It was SO MUCH FUN. I had such a good time, and felt so good (once I stopped) and slept so well and felt so fantastic the next day, that I asked her for a repeat today. What the heck did this workout involve?

We started with our usual warm-up: walking and easy jogging for a total of a half-mile in ten minutes.

From there, Attila had me do crunches combined with bicep curls on an Instability Ball with eight-pound weights. I did twenty of those, only nearly-falling three times. Those sets were interspersed with this weird routine where I step sideways up onto a step with five pound weights in each hand and punch as I step. That bit makes me feel like Jane Fonda every time.

One: three sets of twenty crunches-with-bicep-curls, with two minutes of step-punches in between.

Then we moved on to pushups on the step. Because I've been trying to work on my pushup form, she let me do bent-knee pushups on the condition that I was very, very mindful of what my back was doing. We started with three and added one more each set, for a total of eight. In between those, I did deadlifts.

Two: three sets of pushups with deadlifts in between.

Now we got to the really hard stuff: I have no clue what it's called, but it involves a barbell, a complex, multi-part move, and thus the very real risk of injury. (I should probably mention here that my workout room has a very low ceiling as well as a ceiling fan, so every session is an experiment in dancing the line between muscle-building and finger-amputation.)

You take a bar and slap, say, thirty pounds on it. Not too much: what you'll be doing is rather unpleasant. Holding the barbell with an overhand grip, squat so that the barbell goes over and down past your knees. Now un-squat, bringing the barbell up to your chest and over your head in a sort of clean-and-jerk maneuver--but make it smooth and without any jerking or rocking. Do twenty. In between, do mountain climbers for 45 seconds each time.

Three: Light-weight cleany-jerky moves (aka Achy-Breaky Lifts) with mountain climbers in between; three sets of twenty each. (I did one set of twenty, one of twenty-five, and one of thirty of each of those, but then, I'm a masochist.)

Then I did Good Mornings, which might be the best exercise ever. One set of twenty, then one set of 25, then one set of 30. In between I was forced to do itty-bitty leg lifts while propped on the ball (twenty-five on each leg).

Four: Good Freakin' Mornings: 20/25/30 (with 50 lbs on an Olympic bar), alternating with unweighted side leg lifts while propped on a stability ball (25/25/25) and oh my frogs did those hurt.

Then it was back to the step, but this time, Attila had something new for me: chest flyes with eight-pound weights *in combination with* a raised-knee crunch. Basically, for those of you lucky enough not to have to do that, you start on your back with your by-now-noodle-like arms in a fly position. Do a chest fly at the same time that you raise your upper body as though you were doing a situp *AND* raise your bent knees, as though you were doing a knee-up.
Do thirty. Then do some weird sort of sideways-hopping, weighted-ball swinging thing that always makes for sore obliques for two minutes, then thirty more crunchy fly horrors.

Five: Excerable Chest Flyes From Hell, three sets of thirty, with 1.5 minutes of Ankle-Spraining Agility Training in between. It was at this point that I put my head on the utility sink in the workout room and wept softly. Just a few tears, though, because:

Finally! You only have fifteen minutes left! What'll you do for the next fifteen minutes? I'll tell you: Lat rows (20 lbs each, three sets of twenty) alternating with running sprints on the treadmill (as fast as you can for 30 seconds).

Six: Thank God It's Only Lat Rows and Then Running.

Just as I thought I was going to absosmurfly die, Attila decided that I'd had--almost--enough. So we finished off with two sets of twenty Kneeling Tortures and forty (in a row holy kamole) crunches with shoulder presses.

Kneeling Tortures are as follows: You kneel (duh). You hold a 15-lb weight between your hands. Lowering your butt to your heels, you bring the weight down to the ground. Rising up into a high-kneeling position, you bring that weight up, straight out in front of you. That's one. Do thirty-nine more. Before you cry, though, be aware that you'll have to do a sit-up with 5 pounds in each hand, pressing out from the shoulder as you come up into the crunch.

Seven: Kneeling Tortures and shoulder-press crunches.

I ended the session on my hands and knees on the floor, shirt and ponytail both completely soaked with sweat, cursing the fates that brought me Attila. And then I asked her if we could make two out of every three workouts like this one. Today's workout was mostly upper body and thus easier, but jiminy crickets! did I ever sweat.

Caution: I wouldn't, if I were you, try this whole thing at home unless you have somebody there to catch the weights you nearly drop on your head. For reals. It's an ugly, ugly workout.


  1. I'm tired just READING about this! (Does that count as my workout for the day?)

  2. I wish Attila were here! I would love her to work me out!!!! The fact that you survived tells me something! You are getting some great workouts!

  3. Wow... that sounds painful! A little too hardcore for me! I think stability balls are evil enough on their own! I tried one for the first time this week and managed not to kill myself (amazingly) by falling off and hitting furniture. The dog tried to help knock me off, adding to some more amazing feats of stability! Then I did extra because it didn't feel like I had worked out enough. Today my abs... they disagree... they really disagree!

    I think Attila would kill me in some marvelous feat of death by exercise :)

  4. Hmm.. sounds like fun. Her complexes are pretty kick ass.

  5. I was reading, going, damn, that's intense, maybe I could replicate it at home, and then you said now for the hard part. At which point, I said screw that, I'll stick to being lazy. (;

  6. I am very curious about your workout... how long did all of this take?

    Not really my kind of workout, I am a crossfit addict and trainer but sounds awful just the same.

    Good job pushing through the mental hiroshima and tears tho!

  7. Oi, the second worst thing to do behind Burpees is Mountain Climbers...YIKES!!! That sounded painful and I need a nap now after reading it.

  8. Aren't trainers fun?!? I swear, the crazy combinations they come up with are, well, CRAZY...but dang it if they don't seem to address every muscle in the body! I feel the same way you do - I enjoy the workout once I'm done, lol!

    Awesome workout, Jo!

  9. That is HORRIFYING!! I was laughing at you calling this person Atilla. Now it somehow doesn't seem so funny.

    Great job making it through! Many people, not me...no...not me at all, may have revolted.

  10. Shouldn't you and Attila have a safe word or something?


  11. Good god.
    Here I was pleased about going walking :)

    Someday I may work myself up to part of that :)
    That sounds like a great workout...

  12. I think I lost 5 lbs reading this. And my abs are tighter too.

  13. Oh my goodness. Fun! Um. Sort of ;) I want to workout with you and Attila.

  14. OMG this sounds like deadly fun. My shoulders won't let me do the overhead snatches with 90# over my head, but I'm going to adjust the weight and put myself through this within the next week.

    Your trainer is BRILLIANT. And you are STRONG. Most trainers I know keep their clients away from oly lifts- and I wonder why. Glad to see another one using them.

  15. Oh man. Now we know why you call her Attila (said the trainer who makes every 3rd workout tabatas).

  16. I don't think I' coordinated enough to do most of that stuff; sounds like way too many things to keep track of at once. Good for you though!

  17. Uh, that cleany-jerky lift sure sounds like a snatch. Am I really the only one who's going to use the word "snatch"?

    Come on, ladies, no need to fear the word. Watch televised olympic weightlifting (during the Olympics, duh) sometime, it can get quite hilarious.

    And congrats, Jo, on getting through a tough workout!

  18. Holy cow. It sounds intense! This is the reason I would do so much better with a personal trainer but am simultaneously terrified of getting one.

  19. elfsie: I thought the "snatch" part of the move was when you got the weight off of the floor; that's why I didn't use the word (the weight never hits the floor in Attila's combo). However: Snatch! Snatch! Snatchy McSnatchersons!

    Whobody: It took an hour. It was a long hour, but just an hour.

    Diana & Camevil: Attila knows her nickname on the blog is "Attila", and it cracks her up. She's tiny, with curly brown hair down to her waist and gorgeous green eyes and a high, sweet voice--but she's definitely an Attila.

    Everybody Else: Please keep in mind that this is Year Three with Attila; when I first started out, I would be horribly sore after 10 bicep curls with, like, five pounds (and I do not exaggerate). I've come a long way, but I still associate sessions with her with one particular scene in "Casino Royale". If you've seen the movie, you'll know which one I mean.

  20. OMFG.

    Seriously, I can't imagine getting through a workout like that without breaking down into a whimpering sniveling quaking mass of pain, frustration, and fear.

    "Fun" is so not the word I'd use!

    It's great to have a Hardcore Fitness Freak here at Cranky Fitness, because barbell toting monkeys will fly out of my ass before I ever get that intense.

    You rock!

  21. Holy crap-- This sounds like Jillian Micheals on speed-- no gracias! Would love to see pics of some of the moves though. Maybe I'd try about half of them!

  22. Piling on a bit late here, but OMG Jo. I'm in love with Atilla (don't tell my dear husband). And with you! I'm so totally impressed at your bad-assedness that I de-lurked for only the third time. (I like to think of it as ninja mode.)

    I'm with Sagan...where do I sign up?

    Oh and *snort* @Camevil. Safeword! Ha!


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