How to Make Jo Cry




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

Ever.

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.

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