Archives for running

How to Survive a real-life disaster with Intense Workouts

There’s a brand new show about to be launched in December on Discovery Health titled, “Could You Survive?” The show takes ordinary participants and puts them through a real-life disaster situation. Once the participants have “woken up” to the fact that their fitness levels are not enough to survive a natural disaster, they undergo a grueling 4-week diet and training program to help them get into “survival” shape.

This show has an interesting concept to it, and something I’ve written about before. On the Discovery Health website, they have already given a synopsis on the first four episodes. I thought it would be fun to guess what kind of recommendations I would give to getting someone in shape for that particular situation:

“Episode 1: Could You Survive a Car Accident in a Remote Area?

Car accidents are violent and unpredictable, injuring millions of Americans every year. On Could You Survive?, a lonely stretch of road becomes a proving ground for three average people when their passenger is seriously injured in a frightening accident. Help is only a mile a way, but for these three people, getting there fast enough may be more than their over weight and poorly conditioned bodies can handle. Do they have the mental toughness and physical endurance to save a loved one?”

First thing that comes to mind here is endurance training. I would see how long it takes a contestant to run a mile (or if they can even run a mile). Assuming that the contestant is able to run a mile, now lets assume it takes them 15 minutes to complete it.

The goal is go get that person running as fast as possible within 4 weeks. So, we’re going to be doing a lot of interval sprints and high intensity workouts targeting the lower body. An overall reduction in bodyweight would also help in improving the speed and endurance of an individual.

Interval training alone would help with mental toughness. But in order to really focus on mental toughness and simulate a worst-case scenario, you want to perform some sort of exhausting exercise before your regular workout. For example, perform burpees all out for 2 minutes before starting your workout, and see how much mental strength it takes you to finish now.

“Episode 2: Could You Survive an Accident on the Water?

A disaster can occur any time, anywhere.  On Could You Survive?, a day at the lake turns terrifying when ordinary people are faced with a critical life and death situation.  In this hypothetical scenario, someone they love is in trouble.  They’re in the water, hurt, struggling and rapidly losing consciousness.  Without help, it’s only a matter of minutes before they will drown.  All three challengers are still young, but already overweight and unhealthy.  Can they get to their loved one in time to save a life?   To find out, they will be competing against the toughest opponent possible – their unfit bodies and their own worst fears.”

Well, I can’t swim, so I’d probably drown. Well, I can swim, but for some reason I can only swim underwater. And it’s been years. I’m sure muscle memory would kick in, but we can’t rely on that, can we? At the very least, I know how to float and paddle.

You don’t need to be a world class swimmer in the situation, but being a decent swimmer would help. Some sort of familiarity with the water is always a good thing. On top of that, swimming itself is great exercise. However, unlike sprint intervals, I would suggest learning to swim on your own.

Get yourself an instructor or personal trainer that can help you with both learning how to swim and intense swimming workouts.

“Episode 3: Could You Survive a Wildfire?

A wind whipped wildfire can be deadly and unpredictable. On Could You Survive?, a leisurely hike in an urban park will become a potential deathtrap for two average couples. Faced with a wall of flames racing in their direction, they will have to run up a steep hillside and tackle several obstacles as they try to save their own lives. Can they overcome their lack of fitness and work together as a team to make it to safety?”

Not only does this challenge involve endurance, but also strength endurance. You’re pulling your own bodyweight up steep cliffs. And you better make it, or else you die. For this challenge, you’d need lots of upper body strength. Lots of pullups just to hold an pull your own bodyweight.

On top of that, rock climbing also involves using your lower body. Hence, lots of squatting. Pullups and squats are going to be your friends. And the thing here is that you can’t stop and rest, at any point. So interval training is out. You’re going to have to perform high repetition workouts for time.

I’ve never done any rock climbing, but I have done some wall climbing. Climbing a wall with spotters and safety equipment is hard enough, so I can imagine how rock climbing without spotters, safety equipment, or formal training of any kind could be absolutely frightening.

“Episode 4: Could You Survive an Earthquake?

When an earthquake strikes, an old theater becomes a potential deathtrap.  On Could You Survive?, three typical Americans – over weight and out of shape – struggle to find their way through a deadly obstacle course of stairs, props, scenery, ladders and dangling power lines.  They have less than four minutes to make it out before a gas leak blows the building sky high.  Do they have the strength, agility and stamina to save their own lives? “

This scenario calls to mind a few workouts I used to do with my friends. They were like obstacle courses, and the goal was perform them as fast as possible. If you want to improve your strength, agility, and stamina, design a set of physical challenges and see how long it takes you to perform them.

For example, you can start off at the bottom of a staircase. Run up stairs, do 10 pushups, then run back down and do 20 squats. Run around the house or block, come back and do 10 pullups. You can add in other physical challenges such as jumping over objects, carrying heavy boxes across distance or up stairs.

We did a lot of sprinting and odd object carrying. If you have the equipment, you can try holding a dumbbell over your head while walking really fast. Or try holding something heavy close to your body to simulate carrying somebody. Or, you can literally carry someone.

Overall, I’m impressed with the overall variety of the scenarios this show has come up with. I’m going to be extremely excited to check this out! It’s going to start in December, Thursday Nights at 9pm ET.

Train Like the Military: Exercises, Workouts, and Principles You can Use for your Home Workouts

A few years ago, I bought a book about the Navy Seals and how they worked out. There were four main parts to the Navy Seals program: upper body training, core training, stretching, and cardio.

For some reason, the book did not talk about lower body training. Either way, the workouts presented in the book were very minimalist and 100% bodyweight exercises. I remember in particular the format of the workouts. The used a pyramid style of training.

For example, lets say that your workout consisted of pushups and pullups. Here’s what the workout would look like using the pyramid method:

  • Pullups, 1-2-1 reps
  • Pushups, 2-4-2 reps

You can either alternate between the two exercises, or just rest in between each set. The Navy Seal book actually features 2-3  variations of each variations for each workout. The core workouts followed a straight set approach. For example, if you were doing situps and leg raises, the workout would look like:

  • Situps, 4×25
  • Leg Raises, 4×25

Naturally, this is not how the Navy Seals actually train. If they did, then I’d be afraid that the strength and conditioning programs of out military were not optimal for combat. However, what this book does is open up people to the idea that they can train like the military in the comfort of their own homes.

Military Workouts for Fat Loss

People are marveled at how incredible well conditioned the military is, despite training with just their bodyweight. The truth is that the military training program has transformed over the past few years. They’ve gone from training primarily with bodyweight to incorporating a lot of different training methods.

Some military programs have full gyms were soldiers perform strength workouts similar to bodybuilding and powerlifting programs. Others focus primarily on Crossfit and Kettlebell training regimens. But, if you were to enter basic training tomorrow, you’d be exposed to 100% bodyweight training.

Hence, the base of military fitness still lies in basic bodyweight movements. The Navy Seal book focused on pushups, pullups, core training, and swimming as the four fundamentals of training. I personally feel that all you really need are pushups, pullups, bodyweight squats, and situps to develop a base level of strength and fitness.

Military Principles for Fat Loss

It’s not really the exercises that are special, but it’s the principles that the military follows that gives them such great results. They could probably achieve better results than you can, even if you had a better workout program at your disposal. The reason is that they follow two very important principles that can help achieve success with any goal you may have:

Train Early in the Morning

Training early in the morning will jump start your metabolic rate and have you burning fat all day long. The days I workout first thing in the morning, I feel incredibly hungry and energetic throughout the day. I’m alert, and ready to get things done.

Training is Mandatory

There are no excuses in the military. That’s why they’re so disciplined and they get the results they get. If you have goals to achieve, there’s no way you’ll achieve them if you don’t actually do your workouts. Start today by getting rid of all the distractions and excuses you might have.

Military Cardio for Fat Loss

We’ve discussed workouts, exercises, and principles. Now we get to the fun part – cardio. Actually, to most people cardio is not fun. Especially me. When you look at traditional military workouts they do a lot of running, and a lot of swimming. They also do a lot of circuit training and obstacle course training.

They pretty much do cardio everyday and all day. They’re always on the move. So what can you learn from them? Well, one of the biggest aspects to their is that they are in a large group. You don’t need to start some workout club, but running, swimming, or biking with a friend will help you get your extra cardio in.

When I was in Karate, I performed my best when I was fighting or competing against someone who was able to push me hard. My friend Dominic and I were of equal strengths and techniques. So when we fought, there was war. But it was fun, and we both burned off a ton of calories during the workout.

Putting it All Together: Military Style Workouts you can Do at Home

Well, if your goal is to get started with some basic military training, then you should take the following steps:

  1. Stick to the basics: pushups, pullups, situps, and squats.
  2. Get a friend to workout with. Make sure you push each other.
  3. Train first thing in the morning.
  4. Make sure you train on a consistent schedule. Don’t let yourself make any excuses.
  5. Find a fun activity to perform. This is the best cardio.

The last step is to actually get yourself a very basic bodyweight program you can do at home.

Reap the benefits of high-intensity interval training

Want a more time-efficient exercise to help burn more calories? Try high-intensity interval training!

I used to run up to 3 miles each day. It was until my knees and shins began hurting that I stopped and doing research on more efficient ways of burning fat. I believed that running was the best way to burn fat, and absolutely crucial to cardiovascular health. It was until just a few years ago that I finally made the switch to high intensity interval training (HIIT). This not only shorted my workouts, but I also found myself leaner and stronger as a result of the switch.

HIIT is a method of exercise where you alternate between periods of short burst high intensity exercise with periods of rest or low intensity exercise. One example of a HIIT workout is to perform an all-out sprint for 30 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of walking or jogging. You can substitute the sprinting with nearly any sort high intensity exercise: cycling, swimming, kettlebells, jump roping, bodyweight training and more. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), you should aim to keep your heart rate at 80-95 percent of your maximum. This is calculated as 220 minutes your current age. So a 30 year old should keep their heart rate between 152 to 180 beats per minute during their high intensity interval.

As the ACSM suggests, HITT tends to burn more calories than traditional steady state workouts because you keep burning calories after you have ended your workout. Due to the intense nature of HIIT, you end up burning 6-15 percent more calories in addition to what you’ve burnt during your workout.

The Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic recommends HIIT for patients recovering from heart attacks, bypass surgery, heart failure, and coronary artery disease. The belief is that HIIT allows the heart to transport more blood and oxygen to muscles, hence improving a patients ability to process blood sugar and improve blood pressure. The ACSM agrees with this prescription as well. They have seen that HIIT improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol profiles. What I’m personally interested is in HIIT’s ability to reduce body fat while maintaining muscle.

It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor before jumping into high intensity interval training. If you don’t currently exercise, then start slow and ease into it. It’s best to grab a solid done-for-you fitness plan to help you. My suggestion is Kate Vidulich’s Bodyweight Cardio 500. This is a HIIT training program using only bodyweight movements. Click here to learn more. 

3 Advanced Bodyweight Workouts using the Basics

A while back at Tastefully Driven, I wrote a post where I claimed that all you need to get into great shape is running, push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. Well, I’m going to back that claim up and design three intense workouts using only those four exercises. Each workout builds on the one before it. My suggestion is to try each workout once per week and cycle through them. For example, Workout A can be performed on week one, then Workout B on week two, and finally Workout C on week three. Week four you would perform Workout A again and try to beat your time.

Workout A
3 rounds for time:
Run 400 meters
5 Pull-ups
10 Push-ups
20 Sit-ups

Workout B
For time:
30 Sit-ups
20 Push-ups
10 Pull-ups
Run 800 meters
10 Pull-ups
20 Push-ups
30 Sit-ups

Workout C
For time:
1 mile Run
50 Sit-ups
35 Push-ups
20 Pull-ups
800 meter Run
30 Sit-ups
20 Push-ups
10 Pull-ups
400 Meter Run
15 Sit-ups
10 Push-ups
5 Pull-ups

A tip on how to set these workouts up:

It will be difficult to find a track with a playground nearby where you can perform pull-ups. What we have done in the past is run around the block (355 meters according to Google Earth), then run up the stairs to my second floor room, perform the pull-ups on the bar, then run back down and complete the rest of the workout. This adds another extra element of stair running.

Other options u can do is to replace the pull-ups with body weight squats if you are unable to find a bar nearby. I can also foresee issues with the sit-ups,as it may be uncomfortable (and potentially harmful to your spine and lower back) to be performing sit-ups on the ground. The best solution is to purchase a mat. Another option is to replace the sit-up with a kettlebell or dumbbell option such as windmills, where you are hitting the same muscle group. Sometimes we have thrown in the kettlebell swings to replace the sit-ups, and Hindu push-ups to replace regular push-ups.

The options are endless. Take the format of these workouts and make them your own. You may need to replace exercises or reduce/increase reps to fit your fitness level.

High Intensity Training Fat Loss

The summer of 2007 was a crazy time for me.  I was motivated to start Shah Training, become a Marketing Consultant, and finish up my Full-length Script. All my accomplishments so far are all a cause of one singular event.

But out of all those accomplishments, nothing is as great as losing the 15 lbs I did during that summer. Most people end up gaining an incredible amount of weight during the summer times. I lost weight. Looking back, I did a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t do now. Some of my ideas about weight loss have changed. I think there’s a better way. But when you’re 170lbs at 25% bodyfat, almost anything will work wonders on you.

Looking back, my weight loss can pretty much be split up into 2 large phases. I will illustrate these phases into a 12-week program which combines what I did to lose the weight and also a few tricks that I’ve learnt in the past four months since the weight loss.

Phase One: Weeks 1-6

What I did: I began running almost every morning, building my up to a 3-mile run that took me about 40 minutes.

What I would do now: Do a 2-mile run every other morning, focusing on speed. Greater emphasis on diet, and high-intensity workouts.

Phase Two: Weeks 6-12

What I did: Switched gears to intensify workouts and placed greater emphasis on diet.

What I would do now: Workouts would already be intense, and diet would already be clean, so just take it to the next level by dieting 6 days a week as opposed to 5 and increasing the frequency of intense weight training while decreasing the amount of steady state cardio performed.

There you have it. I’ve just created a rough out line of a really good weight loss program for people to follow. I think I might start this in mid-march or earlier, when the whether gets warm and I can run. Or maybe I can start this now by doing another form of cardio instead of running. We’ll see what happens.

But if you’re looking for a well-structured program which takes advantage of high intensity cardio and strength training, then I suggest you try Turbulence Training. Turbulence Training is the original fitness program for anyone who wants to lose weight fast in the comfort of their own home.

Click here to Grab your Copy Today!

The Beauty of a Playful Run

In years gone by I have hit the road countless times just running for 30-45 minutes, although I found this fun I was always naturally inclined to throw in things like sprints and pushups but wouldn’t as I had been brainwashed into ‘Jogging’ which is slow monotonous and simply painful. As time went by I discovered the joys of what I like to call a “Playful Run.”How to Run PlayfullyI go about my playful runs by simply putting on my Nike Free’s/Shorts/ T-shirt grabbing my iPod and hitting the road. I run at varying paces and throw in all kinds of things which make the whole process a 20-30 minute workout of varying difficulty dependent on how I feel that day; Some days I will throw in more sprints and pushups, other-days I will do more running and lunges. It all depends on how sore I am and how energetic I am feeling…Favorite things to do while Running1- Sprint Combinations: I love to throw in a few sets of sprints while running I usually go for 100-200 meters and then throw in a set of either explosive pushups or jumping squats. This combination of exercise has been shown to elicit a great HGH response.
2- Lunges to Burn: This is something to throw in at the end of a run, simply lunge until you feel your legs really burn, this will normally be 10-15 reps for each leg. It’s a great way to finish off a run and get a good burn in your quads.
3- Agility Training: This basically means doing things like sidesteps, running backwards, doing some long jumps and weaving between objects. It’s a great way to work on your balance and agility. Preparing you for a sport and it really works your mind-body connection.
4- Drop and Give me 20: This is quite simply stopping your run and either doing 20 pushups, 20 body-weight squats or Burpees. It’s a great way to change the rhythm of running and allow you to get a full body workout.
5- Hill Running: I am lucky to have a nice uneven hill near my house, which I can do, sprints up. These are especially challenging, as the surface is uneven and your running at an incline. If you don’t have access to a hill try and find an uneven surface to run on like grass or gravel.

Give it a Try

Hit the road and improvise, just keep things intense and keep the time under 30 minutes. If you throw in a combination of the above techniques you will achieve a great full-body workout with no equipment and it will allow you to get in touch with nature, try and improvise even further if you see a solid tree branch do some pull- ups, the beauty of a playful run is that it allows for so much creativity and randomness allowing your mind and body to be free….

I personally love doing these workouts first thing in the morning and there is no better way to start a day!

Photo Credit: ansbachers

About the Author

Chris writes on his blog, Zen To Fitness, to pass on things he has learned through life about fitness and lifestyle.

Marine Training Program

The other day my friend said he wants to join the military to pay for Law School. He then asked me if my workouts would be able to prepare him for military. I did some research and found out that basic training for all branches of the military focuses on four exercises:

  • Pushups
  • Pullups
  • Situps
  • Running

I don’t know why they don’t test squats, because that is one of the most important movements for both average joes and military men. In addition, Situps are clearly an out dated form of testing your abdominal strength.

Back to my friend – I told him that his core was certainly getting stronger. We were still working on his pullups, and his pushups were top notch. One thing we never worked on was running, because frankly I don’t like running.

So I said, I’ll set a timer for 10 minutes. And we’ll just jog as far as we can. Then, we’re run back and try to make it back in under 10 minutes. My friend agreed, and off we went.

8 minutes later, my friend was gasping for air. I looked at him. What the hell was this? How can a 24 year old man who’s been training with me for 2 months not be able to jog at a steady pace for 10 minutes?

I saw problems.

I believed that my short, intense workouts would have carry over to endurance training as well. I’d tested this out when after about 8 months of not running, I went out for a 3 mile run. The run felt easier after 8 months than before the 8 months.

And what did I do in those 8 months? High intensity Kettlebell training. So I was training my heart.

Why didn’t it work for my friend? He used to be on the lacrosse team in High School? His coach would make him run 2 miles before practice every day.

But he told me he would eat a lot of bad food. He would literally eat onion rings right before practice, and be able to burn it all off. Ah, the good old high school days. Unfortunately, you’re not in high school any more, and you’re body isn’t the same as it was back then.

You can’t eat crap food, and expect to recover properly. In order to get maximum benefits with my, or any training program, you MUST clean up your diet. And that involves banning yourself from McDonalds and knowing when to say no.

How to Clean up your Diet

Cleaning up your diet isn’t rocket science. Here’s what you do:

  1. Write down everything you eat for an entire week.
  2. Organize your list into three parts: good food, bad food, and ok food.
  3. The key is to expand on the good food, get rid of the bad food, and cut down on the ok food.

Pretty simple. Here are some more tips to help you organize your food intake:


Don’t avoid carbohydrates, especially if you’re training like an athlete. Choose carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. The Glycemic Index is a measure of how quickly carbs are absorbed into your bloodstream.

Some foods with a low glycemic index include noodles, mixed grain bread, carrots, corn, and chickpeas. Foods with a high glycemic index include bagels, candy, honey, and sports drinks.

So, avoid Gatorade and your morning bagel with cream cheese as much as possible.


Don’t be a protein whore. Average people only need about .36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you workout, you can get away with .5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. The 2 grams per bodyweight recommendation is strictly for bodybuilders.

Focus on learning how to listen to your body. If you feel sore and tired, then increase your protein and carb intake slightly to aid recovery.


All fat’s are not bad. In fact, you need good fats in your diet. When you get hungry, instead of reaching for a piece of candy, grab some almonds or peanuts. Start using olive oil in your cooking.


I think calories are important, especially if you’re trying to change your body composition. But you don’t need to count every single calorie. Once a week, just count up your calories for that day, to see where you are, and make sure you’re not over eating.

Once again, learn to listen to your body. As someone who works out, you will need more food to fuel your workouts, and recover from them.

How to Improve your Core Strength

As mentioned earlier, I do not believe that situps are important for core strength. Even elite branches of the government, such as Marine RECON, use situps as a measure of core strength. They’re standards are 80 situps in 2 minutes.

Seems simple enough. No?

Well, then you obviously need to do more situps. Here’s the right way to do them:

The reason why I hate sit ups so much is because you need to round your lower back in order to bend forward at the waist. This is the exact same motion that doctor say causes a herniated disc!

So how do you train your abs properly? Try this:

These movements are certainly going to make your abs stronger, so situps are going to be super easy. However, right before your military physical exam, make sure you see that you can actually meet the requirements they set for you.

How to Improve your Running

The abdominal training exercises laid out by Craig Ballantyne will help improve your running, pushups, and pullups. That’s the first step.

The second step is to focus on your breathing.  Most people have erratic breathing patterns while running, causing them to hyperventilate. Improper breathing also causes extreme cramping in your abdomen and legs.

Here’s a great way to practice a full inhale, and full exhale:

  • INHALE on your left, right, left foot steps
  • EXHALE on your right, left foot steps

Slow down your pace, and practice breathing in this manner. It will soon become a habit, and you will notice that your body is much more relaxed while running.

High intensity training is great, but when your heart rates are elevated for too long a time at once, you are unable to full exhale and inhale. This raises the CO2 levels in your body, raising your lactic acid production, and preventing your from finishing the run.

The final step is high intensity training. One of the reasons why the 3 mile run felt so easy to me was because my heart was used to tougher training. Start incorporating interval training, bodyweight or kettlebell circuits.

Here’s a sample bodyweight circuit to try:

How to Do More Pullups

The minimal amount of pullups necessary in any military branch is 3 repetitions. However, the more pullups you do, the higher you score on your physical test. So lets first make sure that you can do pullups.

Here is the best way to work up to your first pullup:

Here are some more tips on getting your first pullup:

Now, lets focus on increasing your pullup repetitions. There are three different techniques you can use:

Reps for Time

The first method is to choose a number, lets say 10 pullups, and then time yourself to see how much time it takes you to do 10 pullups. So, for complete pullups, you’ll most likely have to do sets of 1-2, with 2-3 minutes rest in between each set.

Lets assume it takes you 20 minutes to do 10 pullups. The following week, try to do those 10 pullups in less then 19 minutes. Keep going until you cut your time in half. Then, increase your goal, lets say 15 pullups, and start over.

Max Reps

Very simple: perform a maximum set of pullups. Rest 5 minutes, and repeat 2-3 times. This only works if you can do at least 5 pullups. If you can’t do more than 5 pullups without restin, then use the first method.

With max reps, simply record your total number of repetitions over the 3-4 sets, and focus on performing at least on more repetition the following week.

Pyramid Training

Pyramid training can be used by all fitness levels. They allow you to perform more repetitions in a shorter period of time.

Here is what a beginner pyramid scheme might look like:

  • 1-2-3-2-1

That is 9 repetitions! So with this workout, you perform 1 repetition, rest for 60 seconds, then do 2 repetitions, rest for 60 seconds, then do 3 repetitions. Go back down the ladder. If you still have the strength, then repeat the sequence.

You can combine the pyramid scheme with Reps for time, for improved scores.

How to Do More Pushups

First, you should be able to do pushups. Here’s a quick tutorial to get you started with your first pushup:

To increase your pushups, you can use the same methods as I mentione earlier for Pullups. Craig Ballantyne also has some tips to perform more pushups:

So, that’s that. Whether or not you wish to join the military, getting the basics down is extremely important. If you with to improve with your bodyweight training, or are simply seeking to lose fat, then I strongly recommend Craig Ballantyne’s bodyweight workouts.

Click here for more information