The following comes to mind when I think of killer workouts:
- Being out of breath and never fully recovering from one set to the next.
- The burning sensation in your lungs.
- Feels like your head might explode from the pressure.
- Your eyes start to pound and vision gets a little blurred and you need to refocus.
- The intensity is so high that you feel a little sick.
- Pushing with all that you have to finish every rep. When most people would quit—you just do it anyway.
There are two workouts I vividly remember from training with Cristi. She’s a great training partner because she’s okay with randomness and deciding on a workout right before we’re about to train.
One time we had a brilliant idea to make our own Strongman relay type of circuit. We loaded up the prowler with a couple plates. Pushed it for 40 yards. We did heavy farmers walks and ran with a 5 gallon Poland Spring water jug. Also, for 40 yards. And then we did some sort of push press.
Before beginning, we debated whether we should go for time or pick some arbitrary number of reps to complete. Somehow we decided to do a minimum of 10 rounds. I think our goal was to continue with this same circuit and try to beat our time. Once we got started I remember 10 seemed like a ridiculously high number. Neither of us were out of shape, but we weren’t doing much cardio other then the occasional bike or stadiums.
A few rounds into our Strongman circuit we were struggling, but we had to finish all ten since that what we set as the minimum. That lung searing, can’t catch your breath, sweat pouring off of you, sort of sick feeling lasted the entire workout.
I don’t remember how long it took—not very long—but when we finally finished, we sat to catch our breath before putting the weights back. We worked at an almost frantic pace, never letting the intensity drop so we were smoked. That workout was one-and-done. We never attempted to repeat the Strongman.
Another time, when my bodybuilding training was in full swing, Cristi got in on some of the lifts. She’s partial to squats and leg presses and couldn’t have picked a better day to join the training. We supersetted front squats with leg presses.
10 sets of 10 reps each. The weight was predetermined and it was the same for all 10 sets. Heavy, and it felt heavier as the sets progressed. I would complete 10 front squats, then immediately do 10 leg presses. I got to rest while Cristi did her sets. Then it was my turn again and again and again.
I don’t love front squats. It’s very different then having a bar on your back. Instead of feeling sturdy with the bar with your traps, it’s crushing your throat making it hard to breath. I gripped the knurling, rotated my elbows under, unracked the weight, got my feet set and proceeded to squat. I tried to hold my breath for 5 reps then take another breath so it would feel like two sets. I slammed the weight back in the rack then took a few steps to the leg press, slid down the back support, got my feet set and started.
10 reps of each complete, and then it was Cristi’s turn. She was having some shoulder issue so she crossed her arms to support the weight for front squats. She actually enjoys front squats, unlike me. Then she moved to the leg press. I counted her reps, staring at her beat up Chuck Taylors.
If we had stopped to think about it at all and how torturous it was, the workout would’ve been even harder. It felt great to lock out that last rep of the last set of leg presses. The sound of the weight settling back in a resting position was satisfying.
I waited as Cristi finished. 200 reps later, my legs were so blown up I leaned against a wall and slid to the ground and just sat there. When I looked over, Cristi was laying on the floor between the two leg press machines. It was brutal.
Looking back through old training logs I thought, man, those workouts were rough. But I would do it all over again. Glad I had Cristi to share in these experiences. They really were workouts from hell.