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Build Your Caveman Strength with a Maximum Effort Workout

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There's a maximum effort workout that I not only use on my own, but with my clients. You can find other forms of this workout from other noted trainers under various names (for example, "Paleo Workout"). However, my simple explanation for this workout is that it builds "Caveman Strength." Think about it...our bodies are still wired like early humans, fight or flight, and this workout mimics that to an extent. It isn't to be taken lightly and I strongly recommend doing it only if you're a conditioned person seeking a high endurance workout.

This workout is completed in one-minute intervals within a five minute "round." I try to do at least three rounds...but if I'm training for an event or trying to increase strength or numbers in my personal record book I will up it to four or five rounds, the so-called "championship" rounds. Make sure you take a one minute rest between each round. Also, attempt to spend as little time as possible between each one minute exercise. Try to give maximum effort on each repetition...if you find yourself resting within the one minute work periods, you'll be able to gauge how your stamina and maximum effort stack up.

1. Swing for the Fences: I use the heavy bag in our gym and 16-ounce heavy gloves. Take a boxing stance and from there proceed to throw left and right hooks at the bag, as hard as possible.

2. Sky Jumps: Begin in a squat stance, hands loose at your sides. From the squat, explode upward as high as you can. Focus on a point on a wall for your vertical max, reaching your hands up at the apex of your jump. You should try and land softly on your feet, rolling with the impact and immediately springing out of the next squat.

3. Farmer's Lunge: Taking two 20-pound dumbbells at your sides, proceed to lunge-walk down and back a distance of at least 25 feet. Continue for the duration of the one minute period.

4. Suicide Sprints: Setting up cones 50 meters apart in distance, sprint the distance of the cones. As you near the end of one sprint, focus on maintaining agility and neuromuscular control by slowing down and reversing field for the next sprint. This will help you work both fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers.

5. Plate Lifts: Begin with a regular barbell plate (start with the 25-pounder for beginners, and work your way up to the 45-pound plate) and grip it with a driving wheel grip (think 10 and 2). Holding the plate, perform a squat. Returning to the up position, press the plate overhead, military-press style. Repeat the squat-presses for the remainder of the round.

Take your one-minute rest period and then complete an additional two to three rounds. Make sure that you take the full one-minute rest in between rounds. Good luck and go caveman!

Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at [email protected].

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