New Tools for a New Year

Used to be, in my teens and 20s, working out meant the gym and weights, the heavier the better.

I still have a bench downstairs, but the amazing thing to me (now 48) is how little I use it—especially in conjunction with my barbell and weights.

These days, when I use weights, they’re mostly dumb bells. And it’s not the “three sets of 10 reps” routine that grew, well, routine. Instead, I’m much more likely to be using:

Bodyweight. Especially when doing a follow-along workout DVD, including Spartacus, SpeedShred, and 10-Minutes Torchers. Each one is chockfull of bodyweight exercises. Even when I’m doing something else, I will toss in 30 and 40 seconds of a bodyweight lunge or side plank. If you think bodyweight moves aren’t enough of a challenge, you haven’t tried the metabolic resistance routines developed by guys like David Jack and BJ Gaddour anytime recently.

TRX. If you haven’t tried this strap-based system, it uses your own bodyweight and a variety of angles to create load, and is a creative, fun way to get in a full-body workout. I find TRX pretty easy on my lower back, as it encourages me to set my core and basically plank through whatever the movement. That’s a great cue for me to take care of my back. I also love doing pistol squats with TRX—it gave me the balance help I needed and allowed me to work single leg through a full range of motion. I felt the difference, in real life, immediately.

Kettlebells. I’m still getting down my form—less arm, squeeze those glutes—but doing sets of 20 swings with 10 goblet squats and alternating sets of pullups and chinups is a killer workout that I’ve really enjoyed.

The last thing I’ve done is shorten my workouts. While that sounds as if I’m doing less work, that’s not true. I’ve removed a lot of rest and keep the pace higher. I can get in an exhausting workout in 30-35 minutes, easy. That means I can sneak it in at work or at night without disrupting everything else I’m trying to get done.

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