Workouts

Radical Resistance Training

A Gold’s Gym expert explains the bonuses of boot-camp-style resistance training and presents a powerful workout to get you bathing-suit-ready fast.

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Boot-camp-style resistance training—and by that we mean nonstop, heart-pounding workouts that employ a mix of medicine balls, kettlebells and your own body weight—is at the heart of the functional fitness craze, but you don’t need to join a special studio or buy a set of DVDs. These kinds of workouts have a history of real results and can help you get in show-off shape for summer. We caught up with a Gold’s Gym expert to talk resistance training and get a powerful six-move workout that can be done right at the gym.

Q: Why is this kind of training perfect for summer?
A: Two reasons. It saves time: Boot-camp-style training lets you get a total-body workout in a short time. People want to get in their exercise, then get out of the gym—especially in the summer when you’d rather be outside enjoying yourself. And you don’t get bored: You have a set of exercises, and you have to go quickly from one to the next, so it keeps you engaged.

Q: Why try resistance training as opposed to classic strength training?
A: Classic strength training is more start, stop—like lift a weight, put it down, stop, wait, start again—and is normally aimed at one major muscle group at a time. That takes a lot more time and dedication. With this kind of resistance-style training you don’t stop, so it’s a quicker workout, and a lot of the exercises work the entire body.

Q: What are the main tools of resistance training
A: The single biggest is your own body weight. Using that for resistance is really intense. Then you also use kettlebells, medicine balls, resistance bands, ropes and box steps.

Q: How do you know what resistance or weight to start out with?
A: Make sure you can comfortably lift it at first. After you’ve done eight or nine reps, you should still be able to lift the weight, even though your body is telling you not to.

Here’s a challenging workout to get you started. Do these exercises in a circuit, i.e. do one set of an exercise then move on to the next. The key to these workouts is to keep your heart rate high by constantly moving, but make sure to rest as instructed between sets. Here are guidelines for every level:

BEGINNER: 20 minutes
Round 1: 10 reps
Rest: 1-3 minutes until you get your breath back
Round 2: 10 reps (try to work up to 15 reps on this round)

INTERMEDIATE: 30 minutes
Round 1: 15 reps of each
Rest: 30 to 90 seconds depending on how you feel
Round 2: 20 reps of each
Rest: 30 to 90 seconds depending on how you feel
Round 3: 25 reps of each

ADVANCED: 45 minutes
Round 1: 15 of each
Rest: 30 seconds if you need to—if not, keep going
Round 2: 20 of each
Rest: 30 seconds if you need it—if not, keep going
Round 3: 25 of each
Rest: 30 seconds if you need it—if not, keep going
Round 4: 20 of each
Rest: 30 seconds if you need it—if not, keep going
Round 5: 15 of each

To make the training more fun and motivating, get a partner to join you.

Squat press with medicine ball

Squat down with a medicine ball held in front of your chest. As you stand back up, press the medicine ball above your head until your arms are fully extended. Bring the medicine ball back down to your chest.

Supported pull-up

Set a dead weight bar at chest height and grip it as you normally would. Walk your feet forward until you can lean back, with your heels still on the floor while your neck and chest are above the bar. Slowly lower your body, then pull it back up.

Pushup with medicine ball

Get in a normal pushup position (lower your knees to the floor if you need to). Place the medicine ball under your right hand. Lower your torso as you normally would, and as you push back up, roll the medicine ball from your right hand to your left.

Step-ups with kettlebells

Stand facing a bench or a set of stairs and hold a kettlebell in either hand. Step onto the bench with your right foot, then bring your left foot up to meet the right. Curl the kettlebells up to your chest, then lower them. Return your left foot to the floor, keeping your right foot on the bench. Repeat with your left foot, then switch sides and step with your left foot to begin.

Kettlebell swings

Place a kettlebell between your feet. Bend down as if sitting and pick it up. Snap your hips and swing it up to chest level.

Ball pass crunch

Lie on your back holding a stability ball above your head. In one motion, lift your legs, arms and upper body off the ground and place the ball between your legs. Lower your arms and legs back down, then repeat the motion, passing the ball from your legs back to your hands.