Posts Tagged ‘functional fitness’

By Jesse Kulla, Forteza Personal Trainer and Martial Arts Instructor

Obstacle or “Adventure” racing has become one of the most popular ways to test your mettle and inspire yourself to a new level of training. At the top of the obstacle race food chain is the Spartan Race – a race of pure craziness. When you are going to call yourselves “Spartans” and label your skill levels as “Beast”, “Ultrabeast” and “Death Race”, you pretty much have to be ready to throw down and throw the kitchen sink at competitors. And oh how they do, as you can see at the Spartan Race: http://www.spartanrace.com/

Spartan Group X

As an athlete, I’ve taken part in the Spartan Race for several years now, as a personal trainer, I’ve respected the Spartan’s goals of seeking excellence, and then pushing one level further. Of course, that means that once there was an opportunity to become an actual certified Spartan trainer – the first in Chicago – I wasn’t inspired to go, I had to do it! So, what do the founders of the Ultra Beast put would-be trainers through?

Wow, Where to start? I carried myself to Atlanta, in hopes that the weather would be nice, and so it was. We call that a small mercy, because it would be the only gentle thing that weekend. Got some sleep. Woke up, and got to the venue. It was a fancy gym, with everything you could want in a health club and spa. Not what I expected – I was thinking more like a sand-pit with ropes and stones. Nor did I expect that the first thing I would become acquainted with wouldn’t be the gym, but the first rate conference room. (More on that in a minute.)

Introductions were made, and stories from races that we have all run were shared. I did not win the farthest traveled award, there was a gentleman there form San Francisco. I also met the winner of the 2012 Spartan Death race. It was inspiring and humbling to learn that he had absorbed over 60 hours of punishment to claim that title. Yeah, 60 hours. I have some new standards of “toughness”.

Before we got started, we took a 5 minute burpee test. Yes, that means we got up, paired up, and did “hands off the floor” burpees for 5 minutes, to see who was could hack it. I was not at the bottom of the heap, but 63 was nothing to brag over either, I think 84 was the winning number. Now, I expected something like “drop and give me 5 minutes of burpees” – these are the Spartans, right? But see, like the Spartans of old, who were both warriors of supreme physical skill and tactical warcraft, we were here to hone our minds alongside our bodies.

And that was why we went from burpees to that conference room, where my brain was filled with science data, recovery charts, and the importance of Mental Grit. Vital to all racers, and more so to those who profess to learn the arts of defense, Mental Grit is the power to preserve despite terrible odds, nasty surprises, and truly “long haul” exercises. We then did a little work out before breaking for lunch: about 300 meters of bear crawls, just to whet our appetites. Lunch was all business, talking with other trainers, sharing success stories and work out tips.

Of course, having just filled our bellies, it was time to dive into nutrition as soon as we got back. That was extremely in depth, and changed how I viewed athletic nutrition. After a few hours of that, we broke, and did an hour long “level one” work out, which is just the Spartan way of saying “Good job in the class room, see you tomorrow”. I went back to my hotel and soaked for an hour, rehydrated, and got ready for day two.

Day two was all talk of program design and goal-setting. This was partly a refresher course, but had a lot of insight into helping clients set goals, as well as getting to the root of clients’ health issues. The program design was intensive. We talked for hours about how to “Spartan folks up”. Far and away, this was my favorite portion of the weekend. Skipping lunch, we broke into groups and went running, with one group running their work out, start to finish, and the other two groups sweating through them. Three hours of pure brutality. It was hard, but I got through all of it. Not everyone did. Survival is the first step on the road to excellence!

I now know why the Spartan gym has a full spa – you need it just to go home. After some time in their hot tub, I felt better, I limped to the hotel, packed, returned my car, and spent 18 hours In the airport getting back to good old Chi-town. This was a mind-blowing weekend, and my ideas about training for peak performance will be broken into before SGX and after. My clients are already profiting from the new ideas and strategies, be they there to cut weight, increase functionality or race train, and I can’t wait to share more of the techniques for honing Mental Grit.

Later this summer, I’ll begin my preparation to run the Beast. I’ve beaten the Sprint, and I’ve beaten the Super. Time to go for the gold, and come home with my running shoes or on them. I hope to see you there, because I’ll need a team. Spartans, are you ready? Aroo!

Spartan Coach badge

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The Forteza Spartan Race team has been busy getting ready for the October 28th race.  In addition to doing some long runs through Chicago’s beautiful Ravenswood neighborhood, building up much needed core and pull-up strength, and dreaded hill sprints, we’ve also had healthy doses of various circuit training workout.
This weeks circuit is the 300 Workout.  This workout was made famous by the actors for the movie “The 300”, who had to complete this circuit in under 20 minutes in order to be allowed on the set of the film.  This is a great benchmark workout, and whenever there is a Spartan Race coming up, it seems fitting to make sure we do the 300 at least once.

One note: notice that instead of deadlifts, we’ve opted for heavy kettlebell swings instead.  The deadlift is an awesome exercise, and should be on the menu for anyone looking for functional strength.  However, sacrificing form for speed when it comes to deadlifting is irresponsible at best.  The swings should take much less time than deadlifts, so if you’re in shape, getting a sub 20 minute time should be a piece of cake!
The 300

25 Pull-Ups

50 Kettlebell Swings (ladies 20kg for higher, men 32kg or higher)

50 Push-Ups

50 Box Jumps

50 Floor Wipers

50 Clean and Press (ladies 12kg, men 16kg)

25 Pull-Ups

Ready for a challenge?  The Forteza Challenge Workouts are designed to test both your fitness level and mental toughness via fun, but demanding workouts.

There are plenty of these sorts of workouts online, but as with everything else at Forteza, we’re going to try and make it a little different.  Challenge workouts will combine training themes, combined with our love of old-school training methods and martial arts to make you sweat but crack a smile between all of the grimacing.  Keep watching this space, as the workouts will sometimes include photos, videos or even contests, to see who is out there watching – and training!

The first Challenge Workout is the Spartan 1500.  This is the workout we did last weekend with our Spartan Race team, and its a tough one!  Give yourself only 60 minutes and complete as many of the exercises as possible.  If you don’t quite finish it, keep training, and give it another shot in a couple weeks.

Spartan 1500

  1. 100 Burpees
  2. 100 Pullups
  3. 100 Box jumps
  4. 100 Medicine Ball Slams
  5. 100 Jumping Jacks
  6. 100 Russian Twists (50 each side)
  7. 100 Bodyweight Squats
  8. 100 Round House Kicks (50 each side, against Thai pads or heavy bag)
  9. 100 Kettlebell Swings
  10. 100 Curls (50 each side)
  11. 100 Dips or TRX Tricep Extensions
  12. 100 Kettlebell Snatches or Clean and Press
  13. 100 Push-ups
  14. 100 Battle Rope waves
  15. 100 Crunches