Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 13

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.

A few weeks ago, Matthew warned he’d be notching up the volume/intensity, and this week he followed through on his promise.

One on One Recap: Arms?

Our first stop in this workout was thrusters.  I didn’t look at the weights Matthew had set out and figured they were the usual 15 pound weights I typically use on thrusters.  At about 10 repetitions, I was tired, but Matthew kept counting.  I got to 15 and I figured I was done, but Matthew says we are going to 21.  21? What?

By the 18th thruster, I was getting visions of my arms collapsing and the weights dropping on my head. It took ALL I had to do the final two.  I looked down and saw the weights were 20 pounds. Sneaky.  I ended up doing 3 sets of thrusters, the second set I did 15 reps and the third 9. Matthew kept reminding me to use the momentum coming out of the squat to help me get the weights up above my head.  I needed that reminder.

Pick a weight, any weight.
We quickly switched to the ARx pulldown and did 5 continuous reps.  My heart rate was up so high from the thrusters, I really kind of stumbled over.  My poor arms.  Fatigued already and it was early in my 30 minutes.  From there, I had another quick change to knee ups.  Matthew had me do 15 reps.  I don’t know what it is about those but they never seem easier and always make me feel like I have to go to the restroom.  Sorry, but they do.  Do they do this to anyone else?

The fly of ab exercises:   Knee Ups!
I did this circuit of exercises three times before moving on to a second circuit of ring rows and goblet squats.  I had done some rows using the rings in a group workout before and they were challenging. They were no where near as challenging as what they were in this workout.  Matthew had me do 40 reps.  He had me do 10 reps orienting my hands 4 different ways in relation to the floor.  By number  7 of each variation, my arms were burning.  He reminded me to focus on pulling and pinching with my back. That was hard to think about at this point.

They look harmless.

Muse literally got me through this exercise.  Madness was on the stereo and I can’t disappoint Muse. Once I finished, I was getting a drink of water and saw Matthew hoisting a 50 pound weight.  It was for me to do goblet squats with.  I honestly couldn’t feel my hands.  It was hard enough to just pick up the weight much less squat with it.  About half way into my first set of 15 squats, I wasn’t going as deep as Matthew would like, so he brought over a rubber brick for me to squat down to.  I did that once and couldn’t get up with the 50 pound weight.  Lame.  He says I shouldn’t have relaxed at the bottom.  He switched me to a 30 pound weight.  This was still quite challenging, but I made it through.

My reward was more ring rows.  This time he had me do 20 reps -5 reps of each hand orientation.  He said I could take a break, but I had to transition to a different hand position once before doing so.  Deal. I made it through 2 transitions before I had to take a break.  After finishing, I returned to the squats.
After my workouts, I usually post something to Facebook about it.   A new Primal Meet-up friend who trains with Keith Norris, said that it sounded like a humbling workout.  That’s exactly what it was. Humbling.

Group Workout Recap:  Legs?

What the one on one workout was for my arms this week, the group workout was for my legs.  There was plenty of good arm work too, but it was felt more immediately in my legs.  Me and my week 9 partner were partnered up again.


Our first exercise in the circuit for me was the wall sit.  I asked my partner to talk to me for a bit to distract me from the sit.  That works wonders over a minute.  From there we went to an exercise that is my nemesis: the step ups.  I don’t know why this is so hard for me.  Is the height of the step?  Are my legs weak?  Is it a combo of the two?
This step won’t beat me.
I started with a 10 pound weight.  Matthew saw and said I should be doing at least a 20 pound weight. I tried.  I had difficulty lifting myself onto the step.  I switched to a 15 pound weight and struggled through the first minute.  The second round through, I picked up the 20 pounds and did as many as I could, slowly, for about 30 seconds before switching to the 15 pounds.
From there, we had two familiar exercises, the 360 and the ARx pulldown.  There were a few new bonus exercises, which, as usual, I did 3 times through each.  One was the Zottman curl.  I used a 10 and 15 pound weight for this exercise where you do about half a regular dumbbell curl before rotating your hands to face the floor and lowering the weight.
Another bonus was a diamond push-up.  I did mine putting my hands on a bench.  You literally put your hands together in a diamond shape and do a push up.  Matthew reminded me to lower my body toward my hands not my head toward my hands.  And the final bonus was my favorite, the jumping pull up.  Matthew had us using a mixed grip on these.  I jumped and pulled and held with all that I had. I’ll get there.
The last exercise in the circuit for me was the hip press.  Matthew stayed at the hip press station to coach everyone and adjust the weight for each of us.  On the first time through, after about 5 reps, he had me hold the weight at the top, and he put on another plate.  That was an odd feeling.  I was lifting 245 pounds.
At the end of the workout, some of the guys were challenging Matthew to a dips for time challenge. My partner then asks me if I want to hold the top of a dip for 30 seconds.  Ok, sure.  After doing the workout and the bonuses, my arms were shaking after about 10 seconds.  I held it for about 50 seconds.  I was going to try to do a little upper range dip movement after the 30 second mark, but I didn’t have it in me.
The Paleo Review: Week 13
The one on one workout this week was the most intense workout I’ve experienced so far.  Matthew explained that its designed to be hard.  The thrusters work everything.  Then the pulldowns work the back but also the chest and upper abs.  You end that with the knee ups and you’ve hit the lower abs. Each successive exercise builds on the last.  Each exercise is hard with the end result of extreme fatigue, at least, for me.
After the group exercise, I was telling Matthew about my disappointment in my step up performance and he reminded me that it was the 3rd leg exercise in the workout.  Even if my legs are weak, this is exactly what I need to do to make them stronger.
The one on one workout was humbling and presented a mental challenge.  I wasn’t prepared to do the  number of reps that I was expected to do and I think that caused me to fall apart toward the end.  I need to work on my mental toughness and be ready.

Recommended Reading:  When I’m looking for advice regarding a fitness topic, I always look for whether or not Keith Norris has talked about it anywhere.  On mental toughness, I found this article where he gives a few suggestions to the average joe trainee.  He says, “the name of the game is to make the most you can with what you’ve got.”  I’m going to keep trying to do that.

How have you worked on your mental toughness in the gym?

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 12

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.

I’d never gotten the impression that Matthew was going easy on me in any regard until this week.

One on One Recap: J-Reps Part 2- AKA NOODLE LEGS

This workout started like many with some kettlebell swings.  After I was warmed up, Matthew had me do some dead-lifts with the trap bar.  The weight totaled 85 pounds.  He had me do 3 sets of 3.  From there we went to the Russian leg curls.  This is where a little muscle tightness in my low back made itself known to me.
From there, Matthew had me do some 360 combined with planking.  I was enjoying myself.  And then the workout began.

We went over to the hip press and he says that we are going to do J-Reps again.  I had gotten over my fear of J-Reps a few weeks ago, so I didn’t think much of it.  I knew it would be hard, but manageable. This time Matthew threw in that I needed to keep my pace slow.  Slow?  Yes, slow.


This was incredibly hard.  I’ve not felt so noodle legged in my life when I stood up from the hip press. NOODLES!  Thankfully, I was done for the day.

Group Workout Recap:

Matthew is really giving it it his all with these group workouts.  They have been intense and some sick part of me likes it that way.
My partner and I started with the ARx Overhead Press.  I was giving it my all until Wes, let out a realistic cat meow noise and made me lose it laughing.  Matt had called Wes and his partner the fire cat team or something like that.  You probably had to be there, but it cracked me up.  I figured I’d make up for it in the second round.
From there, we went to the scissor kicks which are one of those deceptively hard body weight exercises.  I had to take a break or two during that minute on both rounds.
I hit a new high on the ARx leg press with a 400+ repetition which made me happy.  I could only do it once but it gives me something new to strive for since I know my body can do it.
The next exercise was something new to me: the true squat.  I’d seen this little device and wondered what one did with it and now I know.  You stand with your feet under the round rollers and your calves against the rectangular pads.  While holding a weight plate (or not) you squat.  This is scary for a few reasons until you just tell yourself that gravity and physics wont allow anything weird to happen.
My partner and I both had the fear that this apparatus would flip while we were at the low point of the squat.  Matthew assured us this wasn’t going to happen.  The other fear is that your going to squat low and won’t be able to get back up due to the restrictions on your legs and you’ll just fall over.  This didn’t happen either.  I held a 25 pound weight plate while I did mine.  My first round of these felt wrong because I thought I was leaning too far forward, but Matthew says they were fine.
Next up, my old favorite the kettlebell swing.  Matthew had set up a 20 pound (t-bar) and a 45 pound kettlebell.  I usually use a 35 pound.  I figured Matthew had a plan, so I picked up the 20 pound one and started my minute.  About 15 seconds in, Matthew points at the 45 pound kettlebell.  Uh oh.  This was a challenge.  You can do anything for 45 seconds he tells me.  Whew.  I used the 45 pound kettlebell for the full minute in the second round.
I worked in the bonus exercises as the workout went along.  The first was a dumb bell side bend.  My first round of these I used 25 pounds but then upped it to 30 pounds.
Since these stations were close to one another, I did these bends  right after doing the dumbbell lateral raises.  I started out with the 8 pounds but had to go down to the 5 before the minute was up.  Another deceptively hard exercise.
Another bonus was the T-Bar Row, a hard but old favorite.



The final bonus exercise was a banded push up.  You took an exercise band and looped it between your thumbs and rest of your fingers and put the band on your back.  You then do a push up with the band.  The band put a lot of pressure on my previously injured distal radius/wrist and I just didn’t think it was worth it.  Rather than give up on the exercise all together, I did regular push ups on my knees.


The Paleo Review:  Efficient Exercise Week 12
Wow.  Again, I will say wow.  In my hour in the gym this past week, I demanded a lot from my body and it came through and met those demands.
I’ve had a few muscle knots and have felt a little off kilter so I’ve been doing some mobility work with rollers and lacrosse balls at home to try to loosen myself up.  Doesn’t everyone have a basket like this in their living room?
Results and Community:  Right after this workout, I hurried over to a primal meet up group presentation that was being given by Dr. Lane Sebring.  I’ve seen him at both PaleoFX events and even if his message is largely the same at each talk, he’s one of those paleo presenters/professionals that I just like to hear speak.  It was nearly standing room only.  After the talk, I saw a few people I had not seen since Paleo FX in March.
One person noted I’d lost weight but asked if I’d gotten taller.  Nope.  But I’m adding better posture to my list of results from my Efficient Exercise.  I think I am standing a little taller these days both in pride in myself but also in an actual physical way.
I’d joined the primal meet up group here in Austin, but I’d never gone to an event.  I need to go to more of them.  Keith Norris was there and Matthew came for a part of it before he needed to head back to the gym.  It really was nice to be around people who agreed with the way I’ve decided to live my life nutritionally.  If you’ve not checked to see if there is a paleo/primal meet up group in your area, do it.

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 11

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.

One on One Workout: Training Swimmingly

After a warm up of 2- 30 second rounds of 35 pound kettlebell swings, we moved on to something fun, a jumping pull up ladder.
I’m familiar with ladders in my swim workouts where either you swim increasing distances by an increment or number of reps of a set distance and then back down again.
Matthew had me do a jumping pull up ladder increasing the number of pull ups performed from 1 to 7. Matthew stood behind me and helped me completed the pull up motion.  Matthew as nice and didn’t make me repeat the 7 at the top of the ladder before going down to 1 again.  I’ve got this jumping thing down.
The rest of the workout consisted of 2 mini circuits each performed 2 times through.  The first started with 360 push-pulls and fly.  Matthew tells me to think about doing fly in the pool.  I think the fly motion on the 360 feels more like the breast stroke movement to me.  We didn’t do it this time, but the cross-punch on the 360 reminds me of free and back style core rotation.
We then quickly moved to the ARx bench press where he had me do three continuous reps- no break. Talk about burn out.
Next, an old favorite, the T-Bar row.  This time a different wider grip that works slightly different muscles.  We did 2 sets of 8 reps with 25 pounds.  This was quite challenging after the pull up ladder.
The second mini circuit only had two exercises.  Thrusters with a 15 pound weight and knee ups.  Knee ups never seem easier to me.

Group Workout Recap:  Holy Intensity!

Matthew was not kidding around on this Saturday afternoon.  There were seven of us faithful Efficient Exercisers and I partnered with my week 9 partner.  She and I started with the inverted row on the rings.  Just getting into position to start doing the exercise felt hard.  This worried me that maybe my body was feeling a bit puny.  Over the minute of this exercise, I was getting pretty sore.  My partner was equally challenged.  Matthew said it was the angle we were at due to our height (or lack there of) that made the exercise challenging.
Next, we moved on to my new favorite exercise, negative dips.  This time the brick was there to get me into position.  Matthew said our goal was to focus on holding the negative for 5 seconds.  Hard, but nothing I can’t handle.  The kettlebell swing followed.  Little did I know the fun was just beginning.
The blast strap knee tuck was a new exercise.  Matthew always runs through the exercises in the workout before we begin the circuit, but he always makes things look so easy.  I tend not to think anything in the workout is going to be especially hard and then something like the knee tuck happens. You put your feet into the blast straps with the help of your partner faced down.  You then hold your body up with your arms and tuck your knees in and out.


It killed me.  I could not make it through a minute.  The first round was slightly better than the second round.  By the second round, the pain for me wasn’t in my abs where I would expect, but my arms.  I couldn’t hold my body up.
Luckily, there were some bonuses I enjoyed that gave me that sense of accomplishment I like.  I did each bonus 3 times and added in a minute of ab roller and dips just for fun.  One of the bonuses was the cable twist low to high.  I seem to like things that work my abs and this is one.  You get down on one knee far enough away from the machine that there is tension on the handle.  Then with the hand furthest from the machine, you pull the handle from a low position next to your foot high above your head across your body.  At the 30 second mark, you switch arms.  I set the machine for 50 pounds for this exercise.


Another bonus was the glutimator.  Matthew suggested 65 pounds, so that’s what I did.  The final bonus was the 360 Cross Punch.  I was glad to get a little of that freestyle rotation.  OK, back to the actual circuit.

Following the knee tucks, there were air squats.  Though the knee tucks were hard, this is where the intensity picked up and never really went back down again.  An air squat is where you squat and jump into the air out of the squat.  You will be winded at the end of a minute.  We progressed to the ARx Horizontal Press before starting the circuit over all over again.

By the time we got to the dips in the second round, my partner looked at me and asked, is this much harder than the last workout I came to (week 9)?  Yes.  Yes, it was.
The Paleo Review:  Week 11:  Just when I feel comfortable, Matthew ups the ante and gives me a little more intensity and weight.  Which is how it should be so I don’t know why its the least bit surprising to me.  I asked Mathew why the group workout was so hard and he replied it was more of a cardio workout.  Doing a hard movement like an air squat, followed by the kettlebell will up the intensity of the workout.  I cannot disagree.
Nutrition:  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in a few social situations where I’ve come across people who are interested in a paleo diet, but have it in mind that it’s hard.  I must say that I now find my nutrition to be one of the easiest stress free parts of my life.  I used to be consumed with what I could eat or not eat and how much of something I could eat, but I’m not anymore.
Words of wisdom from Matthew
Matthew recently shared a cool blog post he wrote sharing 10 lessons he learned in his on going journey.  Lesson number 8 in his post is Stress.  He talks about the fact that we are all under stress and much of that might not be within our control like financial stress or work stress.  There is stress you don’t necessarily see caused by eating a poor diet.  That nutritional stress is burdening your body’s systems, causing inflammation that will lead to illness if it hasn’t already.   He says, “In order to become a happier and healthier human being, you must seek to control your stress.”  Of course he recommends a paleo/primal template.
There’s plenty of stress in my life that I have very little control over, but eating a paleo diet has allowed me to exercise control over both self-inflicted mental stress about what foods and what quantities I was going to eat and the stress that poor nutrition was putting on my body that had actually manifested in real health issues (e.g., IBS, weight gain).
It’s strange how simply committing eating real whole foods, actually simplified my life and reduced my total stress load?  Is paleo hard?  No.  It’s liberating.

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 10

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.

When I came into the gym for my one on one workout this week, the new Project Transformation Class was finishing up their workout with Matthew.  It was exciting to see the energy of the new group experiencing the ARx and the 360 for the first time.  I could see how much Matthew enjoys teaching.
Matthew had some new and challenging body weight exercises to teach me this week.

One on One Recap:

The one on one workout had two “mini-circuits.”  The first circuit had some tried and true exercises that I’d done before:  360 push pull and cross punch, the goblet squat and ARx Leg Press.
The goblet squat was a favorite of mine from my Project Transformation.  Matthew started me at 25 pounds and then increased the dumbbell to 40 pounds for the last set.  On the ARx leg press my goal is to hit 300+ on each rep.  Mission accomplished.  What does the number on the ARx mean?  It represents foot pounds of pressure.
The second mini circuit consisted of 2 body weight exercises and the lunge cable fly.  The first body weight exercise was a wide legged sit-up.  In this version of a sit up your legs are straight on the floor in a wide “v” stance.  You start lying down on the floor with your arms straight towards the ceiling.  From there, you sit up and reach your arms up high as you pull your torso up.  Matthew did these with me.  I like it when he sweats along.
Next, probably unknowingly, Matthew pushed my comfort zone boundaries with a new exercise to me, Mountain Climbers.  Why is this outside of my comfort zone?  Well, first, I’m a little protective of my left wrist as I broke my distal radius a few years back.  It’s recovered and strong, but an injury like that will always make you think about the way you use the effected body part in the future.  Second, it’s a jumping impact type movement that simply doesn’t feel natural or good to me.  To my surprise, I actually could do it.  Matthew told me to think about keeping my rear end lower to the ground.  That is easier said than done, which he acknowledged, but I tried to think that as I did the movement.
From the Mountain Climbers, he had me directly go into good old bicycle crunches.  I did 30 seconds of each exercise and felt every second of it.  The second time through this circuit, Matthew had me do oblique wide sit ups – alternating taking my arms/torso to the left and right.  I was thankful to have the good ole lunge cable fly in this part of the workout.  I’m glad that I’m getting stronger in my lunge so that balance isn’t my primary concern in the exercise anymore.
Was that all?  Nope.  The next exercise was an 8/8/8 dumbbell combination of curls, shoulder press, and row.  He started me out with 15 pound dumbbells.  By the second set, the shoulder presses required all that I had to keep going, but then the rows were shockingly easy.  Matthew fixed that by handing me 20 pound weights to finish the rows.
Was I done?  But wait, there’s more!  To finish things off, Matthew had me do three sets of 10 walking lunges while holding a 10 pound weight plate over my head.
Whew.  I’m beginning to like these new challenges.

Group Workout Recap:

There were 6 of us ready to go on this Saturday afternoon.   Matthew had a hard workout ready to go!
My partner and I started on the goblet squat.  I started with 25 pounds and went up to 35 pounds at Matthew’s suggestion.  From there we moved to a favorite of mine, the suspension trainer row.
And then we did overhead lunges.  These were the same lunges from my one on one workout with a 10 pound weight plate overhead, but instead of walking, we did them in place.  This felt a lot harder than the walking lunges.
Next, a new exercise to me, the lying triceps extension.  Lying down on the bench, your workout partner would hand you the suspension trainer handle.  From that position you’d do a triceps extension movement.  Matthew suggested 50 pounds, so that’s what I did.  Doing this exercise over a minute in the context of the workout was pretty challenging.


During my off minutes in the circuit, I started working in the bonus exercises – or in my mind, a regular part of the circuit.
Got Strength?  I do! 
There were two bonuses I was excited about as they’d help me with my pull up goal: the negative dip and the chin up.  First, I went after the dip.  Usually, I’ll use one of the large rubber bricks to get up into the top of the dip and then focus on the negative but today the brick wasn’t positioned.  And then something amazing happened.
I was actually able to muscle myself up and then hold the negative movement.  I know I could not do this a few weeks ago.  I AM GETTING STRONGER!! (*maniacal laugh*)  Muscling up was hard but I COULD DO IT.  I did two more sets of negative dips and on those I moved the rubber brick into place so I wouldn’t completely burn out my arms just getting up into position.
Another bonus was the flutter kick.  I did this 3 times through.  On my second or third attempt, Matthew got on me about my arms not being far enough back, but then he stops himself.  “Am I allowed criticize form on a bonus exercise?” he wondered aloud.  The group was against it but I took it.  I’m glad he wants me to get the most out of what I’m doing whether its “bonus” or not.  I’m there to succeed and with an obvious sign I’m getting stronger, I won’t argue.
The final bonus were chin ups.  He wanted us to do them on the pull up bar behind the captains chair.  I knew I couldn’t do a chin up but I could jump and try to hold the negative as long as I could, so that’s what I’d do.  When he saw me jumping, he moved me over to the regular pull up bar.  I did three sets of jumping chin ups while full of confidence from my dips!


The icing on the cake for this workout for me were the side planks.  I love planking!
The Paleo Review:  Week 10 VICTORY!  I told Matthew after the workout how I now know I’m getting stronger.   That might seem silly that I need something like a negative dip to show me I’m getting stronger, but as you workout and Matthew picks weights through out a circuit, it’s not always obvious.  This was obvious to me.   He says he can tell.  As a trainer, he says, he just wants client to try new movements and he wants to give them the confidence to try.
Well, he’s given me the confidence and I’m reaping rewards from trying.  Thank you Matthew!
Nutrition: Later in the afternoon on this Saturday, I returned to the gym to hear Amy Kubal lay down the paleo basics for the Project Transformation Class.
She had a handout with the basic paleo template complete with a specific list of suggested foods and foods to avoid.  It was interesting to hear the questions from the group as they all seemed to be about the things that Amy said to avoid.  I don’t think this is uncommon with those new to paleo.  Beans, potatoes, natural sugars and alcohol seemed to be sticking points for the crowd.  I hope that all of the current project transformation class gives basic paleo a chance and takes a leap of faith just like I did.
My advice, if I’m at all qualified to give any, would be to focus on all of the awesome healthy foods that a basic paleo template encourages you to eat.  I know from experience, I can enjoy far more whole food than I was ever “allowed” to have on any calorie-restricted, low fat, fad of the month, eat cardboard diet.
Have you given paleo a try?  If no, why not?

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 9

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.

By this time, I had found out that despite my doctor’s complete freak out, I was not in fact dying. There is a minor issue, that I can’t say isn’t a little worrisome, but not the worst case scenario that I had been distracting me from my workouts, and well, most everything. I was ready to HIIRT!

One on One Recap:

This one on one workout was a quick and dirty straightforward workout.  We were done before I knew it.  There weren’t any exercises that were new to me.
We started with a mini circuit of kettlebell swings, ARx Leg Press, and the ab roller.  I went through those exercises two times.
One of my favorites.

We then did a second mini circuit of 360 push pull and fly, overhead press and captain chair leg raises.  I was really surprised that the captain chair leg raises were a lot easier to do than the knee lifts done with the arm straps.   They are essentially the same movement.  Matthew says the difference is that with the captain’s chair, you aren’t having to stabilize as much as you do in the arm straps, so its easier. That makes sense.

Imagine the captain’s chair with me in it rather than the T-Bar.
At the end of the workout, while each individual exercise was challenging, I didn’t feel completely worked out.  I know Matthew said that each workout wouldn’t necessarily be designed to completely exhaust me, it just hasn’t happened in a while.

Group Workout Recap:

This week we were back up to 6 people in the group workout so we paired up and got ready to work hard.  I was paired up with a new face to the group.  This was another straight forward workout for me.
My partner had only been to one other Efficient Exercise workout.  She was looking to me for guidance.  I felt bad that most of the time that she was doing the exercises I was doing bonuses.  After watching her go and do bonus chin ups, I don’t think she really needed any guidance. She was able to do several jumping chin ups.  I asked her what she did before coming to Efficient Exercise that she can do chin ups and she said she’d not exercised in over 2 years and those weren’t really chin ups because they were jumping.  When I went to try my bonus chin ups, they felt plenty real to me, even if jumping.  Everyone comes with different strengths and I am gaining strength each week.  I have to remind myself not to compare myself to others, at least not strength or ability wise, and that I’m working on it.  Matt assisted me during my first attempt at the chin ups which was awesome.
I did all of the bonus exercises 2 times and the Russian twist 3 times.  Watching Matthew go after a workout has convinced me that I need to try to get the most out of each workout one on one or group. To that end, I’ve decided that at each group workout I am going to just attack all of the bonuses.
Matthew suggested 65 pounds for the ladies for the dead lift and indicated that we might need to adjust that for the row.  I kept the weight the same and while the row was challenging at that weight, it was doable.
Dead lift and row? Completely doable.
Another one of the bonus exercises was a slow push up. It’s name says it all as you basically do a standard push up as slow as you can. I did them on my knees. While doing the slow push-ups, I felt like I was moving pretty slowly, but then Matthew tells me to go even slower.  In my mind, I’m thinking if I go any slower, I’ll have stopped moving.  These were pretty challenging to do over a minute.

The Paleo Review: Week 9


I think this week in training was the most direct straight forward week of training I’ve had so far.  I knew most of the exercises. While I might not have felt completely wasted after these workouts, they were doing something as my shoulders were pretty sore the day after the group workout. I’ve not done a very good job of incorporating a walk into my day as Matthew has recommended. Truthfully, I’m having trouble getting up early enough to do it so I can still get to work on time. I go through periods where I just do not want to get out of bed regardless of how early I went to bed. Lately sleep has won over walk. I’m going to talk to Matthew about alternatives as I don’t want to be a bad trainee.
Mood/Attitude:  While relieved that nothing serious was wrong with me medically, I think my week of not knowing left me worn out physically and mentally and I felt that a bit in the group workout. I’m human, but I gave it my all and that’s all I can do.Results: For all those who love the scale, my weight is not budging, but my clothes are all getting a bit looser. I now weigh myself strictly to have a record to point to that the scale means nothing. As a woman, I have a number in my mind that represents my goal weight, but have I ever been able to maintain it without either starving myself and doing crazy amounts of harmful steady state cardio? Nope. Never. I must say, I’m looking pretty darn good these days and I’m no where near that weight. I’m certainly not starving myself nor am I doing any steady state cardio. I’m starting to realize that was never a healthy place for me to be regardless of my outward appearance and that number, means nothing. I can be lean and healthy at a much higher number. As Keith says, your weight on the scale is only showing gravity’s force acting on your body.

Nutrition- Just eat basic paleo ma’am:

It seems that I am bombarded lately in my inbox and social media with a variety of paleo gurus selling some “new tweak” to the basic Paleo template that will take my weight loss, performance, and/or insert favorable health attribute here to the “next level.” I thank my lucky stars that I have Amy Kubal on my side nutritionally. When some of these things first started coming out, I’d email her and ask if whatever it was was my solution.The answer has always been no. And Amy, you now have it in writing, shared publicly, that you have always been right.

I appreciate the consistent message I have always gotten from Amy. She says you just need to follow the basic paleo template for a year before you start exploring tweaks and supplements. In my mind, I hear her in the same tone as Joe Friday from Dragnet -“Just eat basic paleo, ma’am.” She’s written a great article for Robb Wolf on this subject.
If you are just getting started eating a paleo template/living a paleo lifestyle, sticking to the basic template is as close to a magic pill as you are ever going to find. Even once you have healed and are ready to start using your body as a science experiment of sorts, Keith Norris says it best, “supplements are just that — supplements; enhancements.  Augmentation.  They certainly should never be considered alternatives to a solid diet and exercise regimen.
It’s taken me a while to not be swayed by such paleo woo, but they say to keep it simple (stupid), so that’s what I’m doing.  It’s not failed me yet.
Rumor is Amy Kubal will be offering some sort of nutrition services more formally at Efficient Exercise.  Once I get the details, I will share them!

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 8

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.

And now for something entirely different.

One on One Recap: It’s All About Scale and Intensity

When I came into the gym for my one on one workout this week, Matthew announces that we are going to do something different.  He had written out a circuit on the board and says that we are going to do the circuit together.  We’d go one minute on/ one minute off.
After giving me instructions on how to run the clock for him, he threw on the Muse channel,my favorite band, and we got to work.  Matthew, the trainer, really has it figured out that I’ll do anything so long as Matthew Bellamy is singing in the background.

I’m in charge!
We started with the 360.  What was great about having Matthew workout with me, is that I got to see his intensity in approaching these exercises.  I’m an awful cheerleader, so his intensity was a self driven.  I think this is why I like watching Keith’s workout videos on YouTube.
Wall sits were surprisingly far easier for me during this workout than they had been in the group workout the previous Saturday.  I was able to stay in the sit position for the entire minute each round of the circuit.  I was shocked.  I asked Matthew why it seemed so much easier.  He reasoned that it was likely because we talked throughout the entire minute and my mind was distracted from the soreness.  What did we talk about?  Homeostasis, of course.
Homeostasis is essentially the body’s desire and process of keeping itself stable.  We talked about how any exercise is hurting the body to some degree and challenging homeostasis.  Matthew says pain governs us and an exercise like a wall sit makes us mentally challenge that pain.  By pain, were talking about a temporary muscle soreness/discomfort, not a pain of something being torn or broken. Keith Norris has written a bit about homeostasis and the need to challenge one’s body in this article. He explains that our bodies need new challenges or else it won’t adapt, i.e. get stronger, faster, etc.
The T-Bar Rows were the hardest exercise for me in this session.  About 30 seconds into my minute during the second round, I was really struggling with the row.  Matthew told me to take a short break during the second round so he could quickly take off a little weight so I could continue.

This picture shows the T-Bar with a different grip attached than I used in this workout. Imagine that bar handle removed and just using the strap/handle lying next to it instead.

While doing the lunge dumbbell curl, I was surprised at how well my core was stabilizing me in the lunge.  Whenever there is an exercise with a lunge or any destabilizing stance, I usually struggle with just keeping myself upright.  That was not the case in this workout.  I felt locked down and solid.
A new exercise to me in this workout was the Cuban press.
At the end of our session, I asked Matthew what we were going to do to work on my pull up goal.  He said that the rows were for that, but there was no harm in doing some assisted pull ups with bands. Bonus!  This time the band was laced around the pull up bar, but instead of having me put my foot in the band, he had me put my knee in the band.  Again, a vast improvement over the food method I’d experienced in the past.  Matthew likes to use the bands as it actually trains the muscles used in the exercise to do the work.  I must say it felt really cool to do the full range of motion, even if assisted.
In addition to seeing Matthew’s intensity throughout the workout, it was also cool to see how scalable Efficient Exercise workouts are.  Matthew is far and away stronger than me, but we were able to do the same workout side by side and both get what we needed.

Group Workout Recap:

This week’s group was pretty small again, with 4 people.  We didn’t pair up which meant for another fast paced quiet group working hard.
We started with a hard tabata squat/lunge warm up.  The second set of squats was jumping out of the squat position.  Even with the “real” rest in the set, this became quite difficult.
I started the circuit with the ARx Pulldown.  Because the group was small, Matthew ran the ARx for all of us.   It’s always nice to be able to fully concentrate on the exercise and not operating the machine.  It wasn’t until I got to the barbell thrusters that I really started to feel the workout.
Knees ups for one minute was really difficult and I thought it was the hardest thing in the workout.
Another new exercise for me was the plyo push-up.  Matthew demonstrated by getting into the pushup position with a weight plate between his hands.  In the push-up you start with one hand on the center of the weight and the other on the floor next to the weight.  You then either push up so that your hands are off the ground and swiftly switch the hand on the weight in the air or you can walk your hands over the weight.  I decided to walk them.
The second round of this circuit felt far more intense than the first.


The Paleo Review:  Week 8

Biggest Challenge:  The biggest challenge for me physically this week were the knee ups in the circuit and mentally, see “mood/attitude” below.
Nutrition:  I’m still plugging along with my N=1 Autoimmune protocol experiment.  I am no saint nutritionally though.  After Friday’s doctor’s visit, I did have a glass of wine at a concert.  While not the healthiest thing for me; I enjoyed it; and it relaxed me a bit which couldn’t have been entirely horrible for me.
Mood/Attitude:  Have you ever had one of those routine doctor’s visits spiral out into the doctor giving you un-reassuring looks while ordering nurses to get multiple tests ordered.  I had one of those fun visits the Friday before this Saturday group workout.  Needless to say, I was worried and literally using all of my mental power to not freak out.  A classmate noticed I was a bit quieter than usual, and asked how I was, which I really appreciated.  I was glad to have a workout to go to and community on that Saturday.  I pressed through the workout knowing no good would come from mopping.
Spoilers:  Mostly everything is fine.

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 7

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.


Matthew had warned me last week that this week would be focused on legs.  We had a great twitter exchange with Amy Kubal and Corbin Thomas after last week’s workout and I already knew that something called J-Reps were in my future.

One on One Recap


When I came into the gym on Tuesday night, I was ready to workout.  I have an office job. Though I have a stand up desk, I know at the end of a day often I feel physically tired but only because I’ve been mostly immobile for the day.  I was really to get moving and wake up physically and Matthew was ready to facilitate that.   I was a bit sore from the ab circuit and the suspension lunges in the last group workout.
We started off with kettlebell swings and walking lunges.  He had me do kettlebell swings (35 pounds) for 30 seconds followed by walking lunges, 20 each leg.  My legs were already on fire from the lunges. My heart rate also got way up and I was a bit light headed.  I had the feeling I get when I’ve just sprinted 100 meters free in the pool.  We did these two exercises two times through.

Facing Fears

Next, we moved on to the infamous J-Reps on the hip press.  Matthew said that until coming to Efficient Exercise, he had not he heard of the term J-Rep but rather knew the concept as 7-7-7. Basically, J-Reps is a set of 21 repetitions of an exercise.  For 7 of the repetitions, you focus on the lower half of the range of motion, then you focus on the upper half of the range of the motion, and then you finish with 7 full range of motion repetitions.

We did two sets of J-Reps on the hip press increasing the weight with each set and then he had me move over and do cable flies while standing in a lunge in between the two J-Rep sets.  I did 10 reps while lunging with each leg.  When I first started doing the flies, I thought in my my mind that the weight seemed light.  This thought disappeared by the last set.

The J-Reps were hard but nothing I couldn’t handle.  A few weeks ago I asked my twitter followers why they weren’t lifting heavy, if they weren’t doing so already.  Paleo Training Bible had a really insightful yet simple answer -“some people don’t like to lift heavy because psychologically it’s quite taxing and it can take a lot out of you physically.”

How many things do you not do that you should because you believe it will be hard?  Since taking a leap of faith out of the pool and into Efficient Exercise, I’ve had to face some of the barriers I had built mentally regarding things being hard or they will hurt too much, and I’m better for it.  I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not sore ever because I am, but it’s never to the point where I think that I won’t benefit from going back.

Even better, I know if I ever did feel “too sore” or uncomfortable about any part of my training, I could talk it over with Matthew.  Efficient Exercise trainers have the expertise to address your training concerns.  J-Reps-Shmae-Reps.  I’m not afraid.

Next, we moved on to do some squats with a 45 pound barbell.  He wanted me to focus on my form and to get used to feeling the movement.  He set up a step for me to squat and sit on before pushing back up.  He emphasized the importance of making sure I didn’t let my knees come in while pushing out of the squat.  Because of a natural muscle imbalance it feels natural to let your knees come in but doing so really robs you of the strength to push up out of the squat. While it was hard to keep my knees out, when I did, I felt more power to perform the exercise.
Matthew tells me that we are still in a learning/novice wave of my training where I’m learning the movement and becoming stronger.  He says in a few weeks time, we will really be hitting it.
We finished this session with some jumping chin ups.  I did 10 unassisted jumping chin ups focusing on resisting the negative motion as much as possible and then Matthew assisted me by holding me up for 5 repetitions.  We did this twice.  I’m so confident in Matthew helping me reach my pull up goal, I bet a friend of mine who has just started cross fit for who is able to do an unassisted pull up first.   Matthew says we will start doing German volume training to help me meet this goal.  This means we will do an exercise in each session that is focused on that goal. I’m ready!

Group Workout Recap:

I think summer vacations are whittling my group class numbers down.  There were only 3 of us for this workout so we didn’t partner up and we only took 30 seconds rest between exercises.

I happened to be the only girl, so we all kind of snickered when Matthew explained the exercises and for the goal weights he’d say, “and x pounds for the girl.”

The torture twist squiggle takes away all the pain.

I started with the goblet squat with a 25 pound dumbbell.  I am really getting better at squats.  I remember my first Project Transformation Class being asked to do a squat and how awkward it felt.  I will say that changing my shoes has made a big difference in my squat and really any exercise where you need to be able to put your weight in your heels or push through your heels. When I started project transformation, I was wearing some running shoes that had a pretty thick heels with a large drop from heel to toe.  After I completed the project transformation, I got a pair of nearly zero drop shoes.

Pretty new shoes.
I certainly would not run in these shoes, not that I run at all, but for HIIRT workouts at Efficient Exercise workouts they are awesome -at least I think they are.
For the banded pull ups, the band was set up differently than I’ve seen before.  Usually, I’ve seen the band laced around the actual pull up bar.  I liked this set up far better as I didn’t feel as though I had to concentrate as much on my legs or the band snapping me in my face or body generally.  I didn’t jump, so even with the band, I couldn’t do a full pull up, but I pulled up as far as I could each time.  I’ll get there.
The biggest challenge for me in the main workout, were the wall sits and that surprised me.  I had a really hard time getting through a full minute each round.  In fact, I didn’t.  I had to come out of the sit for a moment in each one.
Because we didn’t partner up and basically went from exercise to exercise, the bonus exercises were saved until the end.  When I came into the gym, I saw Matthew setting this up.
Torture – But not how you might think.

Certainly, this couldn’t be for our class.  I know sometimes he does a workout before our class and that had to be for his workout.  Wrong.  One of the bonus exercises was something called a torture twist. You basically sit on the bench and use the fully loaded bar to counterbalance your weight as you lean back parallel to the floor.  From that position you twist your torso to each side and hold it for a second.  This was way more difficult than I thought it would be.  I did a few, like 4 and decided it was enough.  I was talking to Matthew about this exercise, and he had me do a few more under his supervision.  This is one of those times you are thankful yet a little punished to have someone push you to do more than you would on your own.  Whew.  He explained that this exercise helps to build your natural weight belt.

I then did a set of renegade rows.  Here you get into a push up position (I was on my knees) with your hands holding onto dumbbells.  With your arms straight, you alternate pulling each arm into a row position being careful to keep your elbow close to your body.  I used 12 pounds weights.  I also went and did some dips.  I knew I couldn’t do a dip, so I got on a rubber brick and stepped off so I could focus on the negative movement of a dip.

Weekly Paleo Review of Training:

Biggest Challenge:  Overall, the group workout’s fast pace that increased the intensity of the workout overall was the biggest challenge this week.  We were all pretty quiet during this workout.  I know from swimming, when everyone is quiet, the workout is hard.  Exercise-wise, the wall sits were my nemesis.

Nutrition:  I’m still plugging along with my strict paleo plan with the added Auto-Immune protocol. I’m continually amazed at how I no longer crave those foods that I used to not be able to say no to.

Mood/Attitude:  I had a good talk with Matthew about my goals and how my fat loss was slowing down as I got closer to my goal.  He had success losing his last 20 pounds by not worrying about weight anymore and focusing on maintaining a solid routine of workouts, nutrition, and staying happy. He did suggest that I start walking 30 minutes a day.  He says that waking, and not even a power walk, is a nice low load activity that will increase my aerobic base.

I’m curious, if you aren’t lifting heavy, why aren’t you?

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 6

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.

Going into my one on one workout this week, my triceps were still pretty sore from the group workout where I really went after the bonus exercises.

One on One Recap


Little did I know that Matthew had decided that my workout would be an arm workout.  All of my workouts up until this point had been more or less full body workouts.  We started with the 360 to get my heart rate up, followed by T-Bar Rows with 25 pounds, and then bench press on the X-Ccentric Machine.
We didn’t use the ARx in this session.  Matthew explained that the X-Ccentric machine is really a predecessor to the ARx machine.  He likes to use it so that he can emphasize the positive or negative movement of a lift.  A good trainer, he explains, can sense your level of fatigue and give you the amount of assistance you need on the machine.
We finished the workout by going back and forth between suspended trainer bicep curls and triceps extensions.   What do these exercises look like?  Well, Matthew volunteered to demonstrate them, ok, maybe volunteered is a strong word but he was kind enough to let me video him.

Here is a video of the suspended triceps extension and bicep curl.  The switch between exercises happens at about the 18 second mark.  It seems elbow position is key on both exercises.  Watch how he keeps his elbows tight parallel to his body during the extension and his elbows high up on the bicep curl.

With my arms still sore from the last workout, these final exercises were a real challenge to me.

Matthew tells me that he is still increasing the volume of my workouts.  It was odd walking out of Efficient Exercise without having my legs being exhausted.  Matthew said not to worry, next time, we’d focus on legs.   Thankfully the X-Ccentric machine didn’t make me near as sore as it did when I tried it during the Project Transformation.


Group Workout Recap

When I walked into Efficient Exercise the following Saturday, Matthew had another arm intensive workout awaiting me.  There were six people in the class that day.  We partnered up and got started.


My partner and I somehow moved to the wrong exercise at some point in the circuit so we got to do the ARx row three times.   Matthew helped us do X-Ccentric bench presses.  In the first round he helped us emphasize the positive and the second the negative.
The 360 work and the squat thrusters gave a nice metabolic boost to the workout.  I had to remind myself to focus on powering up out of the squat on the thrusters.
I did two of the bonus exercises, the upright rows with bands and the medicine ball push ups.  The medicine row push ups require you to put one hand on a medicine ball and the other on the ground. You switch hands at the 30 second mark.


A new exercise to me in this workout was the suspension lunge.  Do to this you face away from the strap pictured below and put your foot into the strap.  While keeping your balance you hop away from the strap and then perform lunges.  I balanced myself a bit on the pull up/weight rack but it was still plenty hard to keep my balance.  At the 30 second mark you’d switch feet.  I’m glad that I had a partner to help me switch out my feet.


At the end of the circuit, I was happy to switch to abs.  My arms were done.  Matthew wrapped up the workout by leading us in an ab circuit that he says he made up on the fly.  It was comprised of various floor exercises.  The majority of these exercises required you to keep your legs raised off the ground. Ouch.  I was not the only one to have difficulty with the ab circuit.


Weekly Paleo Review of Training: 

After two solid workouts, the hamsters in my mind started to work a little over time.

I’ve been told by some that I am patient person.  These are usually people that only know me in a work or dating context.  Patience is not a quality I ever afford myself in any endeavor I take on personally.  I have extremely high standards, I want results and I want them yesterday.  The past few weeks my results on the scale have become erratic.   I know the end number isn’t important but rather what makes up the end number is what’s important.  I also know I have more fat to lose than I will gain in muscle mass.  I’m still losing at a rate of 1-1.5 pounds a week.  I caught myself thinking this past week about how this is just not acceptable.  It’s going to take forever to get to my goal. I’d nearly worked myself into complete frustration.  And then I thought, what is my hurry?

What’s your hurry?

I asked myself this question of myself several times and I didn’t have a good answer.  There were no golden doors that were going to open, no angels were going to sing and play harps, and Ryan Gosling wasn’t going to propose marriage.  What was actually going to happen?  I can’t deny that I will be happier generally.  I will have pride in having accomplished something, and more of the clothes in my closet will fit.  That’s all great and certainly worth my effort, but they will be there in a few months, they will be there in a year.  They will be there however long it takes my body to heal and change in response to the positive changes I have made.
There is no way I can fail.  I am eating a clean paleo template diet with Amy Kubal’s guidance.  I have even taken on an AIP protocol for 30 days to try to eliminate food as a cause for my Grover’s disease.  I am giving my body the physical activity it needs to make the hormonal changes that need to occur through my workouts at Efficient Exercise.  So long as I do my part and work hard, I can not fail regardless of the time table.
I’ve gained and lost weight many times in my life, but there is something legitimately different this time.  I am overall enjoying the process.  I enjoy going into the gym instead of dreading it.  I look forward to seeing Matthew and my regular classmates in the group workout.  I’m enjoying pushing my body harder than I ever have before.  I’m enjoying trying new recipes and flavors in the kitchen.  I might be crazy but I enjoy sharing it with everyone who reads this blog.  I have my moments and start working myself up about progress, I’m human.   But this time around, I am trying to show myself a little patience.
What’s my hurry?  No hurry.  What I know now is that taking on this endeavor and continuing it as a part of a lifestyle change even after I achieve my goals will only add to the awesomeness that is me, right now, in the present.
Biggest Challenge:  This week, my biggest challenges came in the group workout with the suspended lunge and the ab circuit.  My abs reminded me of that circuit for a few days after the group workout.  Mentally, it seems my challenge this past week is putting matter over my mind if that makes sense.

Blog Note:  A new Efficient Exercise Transformation Class begins August 6, and they still have spots available!   If you are at all curious about this program, contact them and see how it might change your life.

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 5

As we continue with the Transformation Tuesday theme, we continue to feature a guest post by Rachael Maresh.  Rachael is an Austin attorney that recently experienced how Efficient Exercise coupled with proper nutrition can be an effective and powerful solution.  She will continue to provide guest posts here on the EE blog to keep us updated on her progress and offer up a real-world client’s perspective on her EE Experience.  Rachael writes on her own blog,The Paleo Review, so be sure to check out tasty Paleo-friendly recipes and other features too.

After completing week 5, I feel like I’m starting to get to the point where I feel more comfortable testing my limits and I’m certainly being pushed to them.
Want to get your heart rate up?

One on One Recap:

Matthew explained to me that this weeks’ one on one work out was more of a metabolic workout because I was learning new exercises.  Now that I know the exercises, he’ll up the weight and we’ll do fewer reps.  Metabolic or not, this was a hard workout.

We started out with some squat thrusters.  The key here is to use some of your squat momentum to get the weight over your head.  Sometimes easier said than done.  He explained that he liked doing these first to engage the core and get me out of breath.  From there we did pull-downs on the ARx and we finished the mini- circuit with knees to to elbows.

The “Knees to Elbows” exercise is another deceptively hard body weight exercise.  This was one of the bonus exercises in a previous group workout.  With your arms in the straps, the goal seems easy – bring your knees to your elbows.  I can get my knees no where near my elbows.  I did the best I could.  It can’t be pretty to watch.
Finally, we alternated between Russian Leg Curls, Jumping Chin Ups and the 360.  This time on the jumping chin ups, Matthew helped with the last 4 of each set so that I could feel the eccentric movement for a little while longer than I could on my own.
Russian Leg Curls, a.k.a, Instant Cramping Device

Group Workout Recap

This workout was full of exercises that seemed like they’d be easy, but doing them for a minute, in a circuit, were quite challenging.  It was a slow burn so to speak of workouts.  This was the smallest group workout I’ve had so far, only 5 people total.
As he does each week, Matthew went through each of the exercises with us before the circuit began. My partner and I started with the ab wheel.  What was great about the small size of our group is that Matthew was able to go around and give more personal instruction.  On the ab wheel, he told me I needed to make sure I was crunching my ab muscles before rolling out and maintaining that contraction.


A new exercise to me was the Leg Hyper-extension. Here is the Hyper-extension machine.

You put the straps around your ankles while facing forward , next you hop up on the machine and hold onto the handles while you lift your legs while keeping them straight.
Matthew suggested I start with 15 pounds though he thought I could do 25.  The challenge for me on this machine was getting up on it high enough so that I could balance my weight on my arms/elbows. During the first round I used the weight, but I just couldn’t get myself high enough on the machine. Having height helps here.  My partner was quite tall and had a much easier time. My second round on this machine, I didn’t use the weights and was able to shimmy myself up further on the machine.  This felt much better from a form aspect.
While showing us the exercises, Matthew talked about the dumbbell curl and said that the men were using the 45 pound bar and the ladies the 35 pound bar.  Some scoffed at the low weight. Matthew reminded us we’d be doing the exercise for a full minute.  After a minute, as promised, they burned.
I got ambitious and did all of the bonus exercises three times through.  I did re-evaluate my order of when I fit my bonuses in between circuit exercises after the first round.  It was a bad idea to do dumbbell curls, staggered push-ups and then suspended triceps extensions in a row. Ouch.  A good ouch mind you.
The small group size also freed Matthew up to run the ARx for some of us.  He ran the ARx on my last set of ARx Bench Press.  My arms were already shaking when I started this set. I feel like I’m really getting the hang of pushing myself on the ARx.

Weekly Paleo Review of Training: 

Time in Gym/Other Activity:  I really didn’t have any other activity this week.  I’ve been focusing on not letting my activities get in the way of me getting a solid night’s sleep.  Due to my Grover’s breakouts, I’ve not done the yard as its been too hot.  I really hate hiring someone to do it, but I hate itching more.

How’s Your Sleep?

Have you thought about prioritizing the quality and quantity of sleep you get?    When I started working with Amy, one of the first things she recommended was making sure my bedroom was pitch dark.  Luckily, I sew a bit, so I made myself blackout curtains.  While I was still swimming, unless I got six hours of sleep, Amy said I wasn’t allowed to go to practice.

What’s so important about sleep?  Go to any major paleo/primal website and search for sleep and you will be overwhelmed with information on the importance of quality sleep.  This is a great summary of the effects a lack of good quality sleep can have on your body.  Here’s a great post talking about how stress and sleep deprivation play against each other to destroy your health.  This is an article about a recent study on how sleep deprivation harms your waistline.  The importance of sleep has even hit the mainstream media.

I know for me I get into phases where I don’t think I have enough down time/ free time from my responsibilities, i.e. work, housekeeping, cooking, so I make some by staying up late.  I also get into weird phases where I think if I go to bed early, I’ll miss something.  What I’ll miss, I have no clue.  I realize I feel much better when I make myself prioritize sleep.

I think of sleep as one more responsibility I have to myself, just like eating a paleo template or going for a proper HIIRTing at Efficient Exercise twice a week.  My body seems to want 9 hours a night and I try my best to get that much.

Biggest Challenge:   My biggest  challenge in this week’s workouts was the leg hyper-extension machine and that was really just because I’m short.

Nutrition:  Its funny the longer I eat a fairly strict paleo the less I crave things that most jump at the chance to eat.  I went for coffee the other day, and I looked at the case of baked goods and really felt nothing.

Mood/Attitude: My mood overall has been great.
Efficient Exercise Note:  If you are in the Austin area, Efficient Exercise is about to start a new Project Transformation Class that will be lead by Matthew!  There will be an information meeting at the Rosedale Location at 1 PM this Saturday, July 27.  Keith Norris, Matthew Jones, and Amy Kubal will be at the meeting.  Talk about a triad of paleo HIIRT power.
What’s project transformation?  I blogged about my Project Transformation experience, here and here.
If you are at all curious about HIIRT, and are in town, go to the meeting and consider the program. At $150 for 4 weeks of training, its a bargain to see how Efficient Exercise can help you reach your health and fitness goals.

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Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise Week 4

When I went into the gym for my one on one workout this week, I was still sore from the weekend’s group workout, especially my abs.  There’s nothing like feeling your abs every time you move in your office chair during the week.

 One on One Recap

I think Matthew is slowly testing me to see what I can do in these one on one workouts.  What I thought was my most intense workout last week paled in comparison to this session.  We started out with a descending ladder circuit of push ups and suspended incline rows.  A ladder?  I started with sets of 10 of each exercise going back and forth without rest and descended by 1 of each exercise until I was down to just one of each.
The next mini-circuit introduced a new machine to my training:   the “glutimator” machine.  I’ll affectionately call this machine, the birthing machine.  You literally put your legs in stirrups, strap yourself in with a seat belt and push your legs out and down.  If you have any tightness in your hips, you will become immediately painfully aware of it.


He had me do sets of 15 of this exercise and then move to the hip press.  The last set of each of these exercises took all of my will.   While finishing the very last set of hip presses, I started getting pictures in my mind of my legs breaking.  I have an active imagination.  I’ve talked about trusting your trainer, but finishing the set with the weight that Matthew had selected took trust in my body that it would hold up and do the job.

I thought I was done.  Nope.   Next up two sets of 20 kettlebell swings (35 pounds) followed by 4 reps of ARx chest press.

When I put my arms on the handles of the ARx my arms were already shaking from fatigue.  And then I did this mini-circuit again.  I must say that in the back of my mind, I wanted to refuse the second set of the second go around of the kettlebell swings, but how can I refuse Matthew’s instructions?

I left the gym with a whole new understanding of being tired.  I woke the next morning and still had that odd feeling of tired awareness of every part of my body.

Group Workout Recap

I had only really started feeling less sore from the one on one workout the day before going into the group workout.  Spoilers, but this was the best group workout I have had so far which surprised me as there were 11 people in the class.  I paired up with a new face, Jody.  Evidently, she has a crossfit and running background but is looking for something different.

The workout started with a tabata lunge-squat sequence.   For 30 seconds, you lunge with one leg and then 30 seconds with the other leg.  For the final 3 minutes, you do air squats for 20 seconds and then hold the squat to “rest” for 10 seconds.  Whew, and then the workout started.

Our circuit had 6 exercises to accommodate the number of workout pairs.  This circuit had a few new exercises including one of my favorite exercise ever: the plank.  There must be something about swimming, but I can plank forever.  Another new exercise was the prisoner push-up.  It was the most challenging exercise for me in this workout.  You basically do a push up and bring each knee up toward your elbow after you push up each time.  I had to modify this by going onto my knees for the push up phase and then went up on my toes (full push up form) for the knee to elbow phase.  I felt bad about my modification but Matthew saw me doing it and said he liked it.

And the third new exercise was the medicine ball sit up. I’ve done this before but always with a soft medicine ball.  My workout partner and I were careful not to hit each other while tossing the ball back and forth.

Don’t want to drop this on anyone.
I was in a really good mood during this workout and decided to really push myself in the second round of the circuit.

Did Grok Grunt? 
Something I’ve noticed in my group training is the the noise level.  I hear many ads for gyms on TV or on the radio advertising no meat head zones or yahoo fitness articles about it being taboo to make noise while working out, but I have to say when you are really being pushed to your maximum, sometimes it’s hard not to make a little noise.  I tend to be a bit reserved around people I don’t know well, so when I started the group workouts I was a little surprised by the noise level.  I’m not going to lie, the intensity and enthusiasm some of my class members attack their workouts was a bit intimidating to me.

The harder I push myself the more I understand.  I talked with Matthew about it and he agrees that there’s a point where you simply cannot help but make a little noise.  And really in this week’s group workout, I really appreciated some of that enthusiasm and felt a part of something.

During the last minute of the workout, I was doing a bonus round of ARx Pull Downs.  A classmate, Wes, a very enthusiastic guy, came over and offered to run the machine for me.  He is the best cheerleader, ever.  “You can do anything for 15 seconds, except this!” he tells me as I’m pulling with all that I have left.  He made me laugh.  He made a couple of people laugh.  He apologized after for making me laugh, but I think its great.  I was likely holding my breath when he did it.

Weekly Paleo Review of Training: 

Time in Gym/Other Activity:  On Tuesday night after my monster one on one session, I did do a bit of walking and stair climbing while out with friends.  This felt awful.  I was incredibly whiny.   The heat has convinced my yard not to grow as much, so I skipped the yard work this week.
Biggest Challenge: Trusting my body to do the work.  Efficient Exercise isn’t going to ask you to do more than you can handle regardless of what size group you are in.  It’s going to be more than you’d make yourself do, so you have to trust yourself.  You can do it.
Nutrition:  I’m have been watching my fat intake and eating strict paleo per Amy Kubal’s instructions. I can say, since cutting back my fat intake, my appetite has come back somewhat which is making it easier to eat the three meals she’d like me to get in.

As a result of Amy’s nutrition and my workouts at Efficient Exercise, I now have a new condition that is serious and needs to be addressed here:  Suddenly Saggy Pants Syndrome or “SSPS.”  While in my mind I feel live I’ve been making slow progress, my body is working quietly.  This morning I realized after I left for work how saggy my pants were.  It seemed to happen all of a sudden.  New smaller pants is never a problem!   Also friends have noticed that my face looks leaner.  I think my body is in a readjustment phase, figuring out where everything should go.  That’s my completely unscientific opinion there.

Mood/Attitude: Overall I’m feeling really good.  Having some great workouts and community in the group work out gave me a nice mood boost.  Having to buy new smaller pants didn’t hurt my mood either!

Recommended Reading:  Mark Alexander has written a great blog post over at Efficient Exercise that really hit home for me and helps me come to peace with the fact that I have to limit my fat.  His post, Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater, he talks about the fact that calories in/calories out and the progressive overload principle are still relevant.

Correction for Week 3:  Matthew Speaks!

When I came in for my one on one session yesterday, Matthew gave me some input on my post last week for week 3.  I’m going to go back and make the changes to reflect his input, but in case none of you go back to that post, I wanted to mention his points here.  He was super concerned.  First, last week I mentioned that the step ups were hard because the step was high and that Matthew had said that shouldn’t make a difference.  That’s what me and my workout partner heard.  He says that he said that the height of the step certainly DID make a difference.

His second concern was that I had made it seem that he didn’t think my pull up goal was attainable.  In fairness, when we first discussed it, I didn’t get the impression that he thought it was a good idea.  To set the record straight, he believes it will be hard work, but it is a “totally attainable” goal.

I’ve told Matthew to feel free to comment on any of these posts and set me straight if needed.

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