A blog about life after weight loss.


Spartacus Workout 2013: Get a Leg Up!

The Spartacus workout is one of the most popular features in Men’s Health and at least once a year, the magazine scratches its readers’ gladiator-themed circuit training itch. We always look forward to the new Spartacus workouts because they deliver marathon intensity in 40-yard dash doses. You can burn a lot of calories and build a lot of muscle in very little time.


Spartacus promotional photo courtesy of Starz.

MH unveiled the latest version of this warrior’s routine in their January/February 2013 issue. We’ve sweat through the newest Spartacus workout in our gym a few times now, and here is the run down.

Unlike the previous Sparties, which move from exercise to exercise in normal circuit fashion, the newest incantation features triple sets. A triple set is a three move series that you repeat before moving to the next triple set. You perform each exercise for 40 seconds and rest for 20.

MH instructs you to rest one minute before each individual triple set, but to kick into a higher gear, we kept up the 40-20 ratio for each round of the trio of exercises and only rested before changing triple sets.

Without further ado and explanation, let’s answer the big question: What are the exercises?

Triple Set A: Plank with Single Leg Lift, Woodchopper, Alternating Lunges

Triple Set B: Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts, Push Press, Goblet Squat

Triple Set C:Alternating Dumbbell Row, Dumbbell Side Lunge, Dumbbell Deadlift

You actually lose an exercise here—all the previous Spartacai featured ten moves—but that loss comes with a psychic gain. No, you won’t be able to go all Miss Cleo and see the future, but after each exercise in this new Spartacus routine, the light at the end of the workout seems closer, and in terms of time it is.This workout will take you about 20 minutes, a full ten minutes less than the older versions of this MH staple.

If you are thinking, “Holy Spartacus, that’s a ton of legs,” then your reaction mirrors mine. Even if you use light dumbbells—I use 20s or 25s, Liz uses 10s or 15s—your legs will feel hollow at the end of the workout. Your quads will burn like you just biked up a mountain with a full-grown chimp on your back, and your glutes will feel like they are made of bricks. Not saying this is a bad thing, just something you need to be prepared for.

This workout is no picnic on your arms either. The combination of pushes and pulls will make you go noodle-y and wonder how 40 seconds can feel longer than Django Unchained. This is especially true if you sprinkle in some bicep-building add-ons. We piled on a pulse to the bottom of the goblet squat and a hammer curl to the top of the side lunge for a little upper-body pop.

The new Spartacus workout will test your muscles, but the intensity is underwhelming compared to its predecessors. It just doesn’t get your heart racing as quickly as the lung-burning Spartacus circuits that came before it. What this routine could use is a good jump squat or squat thrust to challenge your ticker to pump harder and faster. Add some to the beginning and end of the workout to push your heart rate into the Spartacus stratosphere we have come to expect.

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It’s All Fun and Games

The sports lover that he is, Tom often looks up the exercise routines of his favorite athletes. We have done the workouts of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard and many others. Last week Tom came to me with a new idea, the routine of Bo Jackson.  I didn’t think much of it, just assumed it was similar to the other workouts we had done. When he told me it included a deck of cards I was immediately intrigued.  I grew up with family game nights, we play cards with friends, and at every family Christmas you can bet there is some sort of trivia tournament. So the thought of bringing a game into our workout was exciting!

Here is what Bo did:

Every red card is that number of squats. So, a 10 of hearts equals 10 squats.

Every black card is that number of pushups. An 8 of clubs means 8 pushups.

Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, Kings = 13, Aces = 15, Jokers can be used as 20 mountain climbers or left out.

I am sure Tom could have done all those pushups, but I know I could not have. We switched it up to include more activities. We made hearts cardio, diamonds abs, clubs bottom of the body, and spades top of the body.

Here is how our version of the card workout looked:

Hearts – Squat Thrusts

Diamonds – Crunches

Clubs – Calf Raises

Spades – Pushups


We did the card game later in the week and it looked like this:

Hearts – Jumping Jacks

Diamonds – Side Crunches

Clubs – Jump Squats

Spades – Tricep Extensions

The absolute best part of the card workout is not knowing what will be next. Normally Tom or I pick a workout and we do as the instructions say. But in this game we don’t know which exercise or how many reps will be next. Once in a while we will have a hot streak of cardio cards, and though we are out of breath and panting, it’s fun to look at each other with shocked faces. Here are some other reasons this is my new favorite workout:

  • ·         It’s like a game! The novelty of using a deck of cards in your workout is great fun.
  • ·         You can use whichever exercises whatever you like.
  • ·         Every workout is a full body workout.
  • ·         Each time you play is different because you never shuffle the deck in the same order.
  • ·         This take less than 45 minutes. It can be done in 30 if you are already in shape.
  • ·         You can do this at home if you can’t make it to the gym.

Give it a try and let us know what you thought! I promise you’ll have fun and get a great workout at the same time.

Helpful Hint: The first time we tried this we accidentally used a Pinochle deck of cards (all 10s and above). Don’t make the same mistake we did!

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Complexes and Intervals: Our 2012 Coup de Grace

After sleeping in for the last time this year, but not this week–thank goodness for days off, we took to the gym for our last workout of 2012. I received a handful of fitness and workout books for Christmas, and to send the year out in sweaty style, we did a workout from two of them.

We started with a dumbbell complex from Cardio Strength Training, a book full of useful information and workouts by Robert dos Remedios. A complex is similar to a circuit in that you move from one exercise to the next, but different in that you do not rest between exercises. You don’t even put the weights down. Dos Remedios, a strength and conditioning coach at College of the Canyons, explains that complexes not only help you tone your muscles and burn fat during the workout, but shakes up your metabolism so the benefits continue well after you leave the gym.


For this complex, we did three sets of seven reps. I used 25lb dumbbells and Liz used ten pounders. When it comes to complexes, you are only as strong as your weakest lift–even at seven reps, I wasn’t confident I could curl more than 25lbs, thus, I lifted that load for the whole complex.

  • Lunging Curl & Press
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Bent-over Row
  • Squat jumps

This complex didn’t take us very long to complete; we probably spent 8-12 minutes working, but like an action sequence in a guy move, when it comes to exercise, length takes a backseat to intensity. At the end of the first round, we didn’t feel too bad. We both thought moving from lift to lift without even setting the weight down added some novelty and fun to our workout, and the squat jumps were a great, heart-pumping finisher. During the second round the dumbbells felt a little heavier, making the curls a bit more of a challenge. By the end of the final round, my feet barely left the ground on the squat jumps, and we were debating whether complexes are best used as a way for busy people to stay fit or as a punitive measure for petty crimes like vandalism and littering.

Everyone finds themselves searching for the time to fit in a worthwhile workout from time to time. Some days, it feels like there is just not enough time for fitness. Complexes are a great way to get yourself out of this kind of a jam. As I type this, I can still feel the effects in my arms and quads.

mens health 15

We moved to the treadmills for an interval workout from The Men’s Health Big Book of 15 Minute Workouts by Selene Yeager and the editors of Men’s Health. The routine started with a three-minute warmup walk, and from alternated between sprints and brisk jogs. The sprint was defined by setting the treadmill speed to 8 or higher and the brisk jog at 5.5-6.5. These intervals were “ladder” style meaning they started at 45 seconds, worked their way up to 1:15 and came back down again. By the team we reached the top of the ladder, we wished we were climbing a step stool instead. After a couple of sprint intervals, the brisk jog was a bit too brisk, and our legs burned as hot as a New Year’s Eve fireworks display. By the time we reached the cool down walk, our chests were heaving. It was a great end to the year.

We will see you in 2013. Have a happy, healthy new year.


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Push a Prowler and Go Beast Mode!

I am lucky enough to work in an office with an onsite gym. Last week, one of our trainers was pushing a weighted sled back and forth across the warehouse.

“Hey!” He yelled from across the warehouse. “Guess what my heart rate is gonna be when I get down there!” Yes, he is a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I humored him anyway.

“What is it now?” I asked.
He checked his watch. “112!”
“155?” I guessed.

He drove the white and black apparatus toward me. As he approached, I noticed a 45lbs plate at the bottom of either post he wrapped his hands around.

“155, 156, 157, 158!” he counted, panting. “Not bad, you were close.” I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was pushing a Prowler. He claimed that if I did ten reps with the Prowler every day, I would add ten years to my life. I didn’t buy it (I still don’t), but I had to try it.

When it was my turn to tame the beast, I noticed a sticker on the base of the Prowler warning me of the “Prowler Flu.” According to the sticker, the Prowler has been known to cause nausea, fainting, and vomiting. I knew it was tongue-in-cheek, but it still gave me pause. If you were about to order food at a restaurant and the menu warned you that some of their patrons became sick after they ate there, would you stay? Even if you knew it was a joke?

But I tried it anyway. If you get a chance, you should too.

The Prowler works every part of your body from the shoulders down. Your legs burn from churning, your arms and shoulders tighten from pushing and your core works as well. However, the muscle that worked hardest from me was my heart, which beat as desperately as a prisoner attempting an escape. Even after one rep, my ticker felt like it was going to leap out of my heaving chest. Hours later, typing away at my desk, I felt my heart beating harder than normal.

I never got the “Prowler Flu” and I don’t know if that satanic sled will add any years to your life, but it will test your strength, your stamina, and your will. Try it. If you dare.

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Three Great Autumn Exercises for Women by Guest Blogger Jim Rollince

Most of the workouts you read here are geared toward men. Today, guest blogger Jim Rollince of Gym Source has some fat-blasting exercises for women, just in time for fall! Enjoy!


Now that bikini season is over and fall is here, many women are tempted to forgo exercising. However, inactivity coupled with too many pumpkin spice lattes can lead to increased weight gain and decreased muscle tone and fitness. There are many fun fall indoor and outdoor exercises that can help women achieve their fitness goals.


Most women already know about the standard outdoor exercises, walking, running, and biking. These exercises can be performed on a crisp fall day, and women can have fun doing them. However, there are many other outdoor exercises. The three examples listed below can be performed in the fall and provide exceptional fitness benefits for women.


Tricep Extension: Many women focus on aerobic exercise, to the detriment of strength training. However, strong arms are healthy, and help women look great. In order to perform triceps extension, take a weight or a weighted object such as a can of soup outdoors. Find a chair or a bench and sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Grab the weight or object in both hands, lift it above your head slowly, and slowly bring it back down. Perform ten repetitions, take a short break, and repeat.


McGill Curl-Up: In addition to helping women have flatter stomachs, core muscles are important in keeping women’s backs strong and healthy. Grab an exercise mat and find a flat surface outdoors. Lie flat on your back, with your right knee bent and your left leg straight. Raise your head and shoulders, while keeping your lower back flat. Hold this position for up to ten seconds, and then slowly bring your head and neck back down. Perform this exercise five times on each side.

Photo courtesy of


Hip Raise:  The hip raise helps women achieve the strong glutes that look great in the jeans and khakis often worn in the fall. Strong glutes also help women maintain proper balance. To perform hip raises, you can remain on the exercise mat used in the McGill curl-up. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet firmly planted on the floor. Raise your hips while squeezing your glutes and hold for two to five seconds, then release and bring your hips back down to the mat. Try to do at least ten repetitions, take a short break, and repeat.


Of course, many fall days are rainy and prohibit outdoor exercise. Luckily, the three exercises listed above can easily be performed indoors. In order to maintain fitness on bad weather days, it is a good investment to purchase quality equipment for home gyms.


Exercising in the fall, both indoors and outdoors, can be fun and can help women reach their fitness goals and look great. Take some extra time this season to exercise, indoors or out!


Jim Rollince is a member of the creative writing department of Gym Source.He enjoys writing about Fitness, Nutrition, and many other related topics.