Workout of the week part 4

Tata…? Tababa? Tabata!

Fabi is back! The world doesn’t need saving this week or the Functional Fitness Frenzy is more important to him. Either way – good for me. It is strange though that Elmar doesn’t join us this week. Come to think of it, there has never been a sighting of both Fabi and Elmar at the same time in our aerobis gym. There are rumours going around that say we have a typical Bruce Wayne/Batman case here. There has never been a double sighting of those two either. (There might be some comic fans crying out loud now. Since I haven’t read all Batman comics I am clearly referring to the movie versions of Batman. If you still feel the overwhelming urgency to write and insult me please send all emails to I will read and answer them in my bat cave.)

Before we begin

Regarding the last Workout of the Week I have to say that the soreness of my muscles never seemed to go away. Right on time for the new Workout it disappeared, but until then I felt it with every little movement of my body. I hope you have done the Workout as well and achieved a similar success. In contrast to Fabi’s workouts the workout from last week was rather specialized and focussed on a certain area (core and arms). It certainly got the job done, though. However, we turn towards a complete body workout this week that Fabi has designed in his Functional think tank: a Tabata protocol workout. What sounds like an action movie is really an interval training that is characterized by a high efficiency in a relatively short amount of time. As soon as I hear ‘high efficiency’ I automatically duck down because I have learned the hard way that this is equal to ‘insanely challenging’. But let’s be honest: this unique feeling of accomplishment after the workout must be earned. Completely exhausted, but at the same time just satisfied and a little bit proud – that is the result of Fabi’s Functional Fitness Frenzy. Well, yes, the following two to four days of complete muscle soreness might be a bit hard, but as Fabi likes to say: ‘You can always train through the pain’. Why shouldn’t this count for everyday life? You just limp a bit on the way to work, drag your weak body over the stairs (or you take the elevator in a bad case of FFM – Fabi’s Functional Muscle soreness), and sit down on your office chair with a deep moan. No big deal. In every movement you also feel the satisfaction that only a hard workout can give you.

The Tabata Protocol

Now to the core of it all: the workout! As mentioned before we are going to do a Tabata workout. Here every exercise consists of 8 sets which take 20 seconds each. In between you take breaks of 10 seconds. Since Fabi has no experience with Tabata workouts and thus took the liberty to use me as a guinea pig ‘we’ decided to do 2 exercises alternatingly. This means that after one set of the first exercise we do the second exercise for one set and then switch back to the first exercise and so forth. So while, e.g., Fabi does rotational lunges with the blackPack I try my best doing the alternating arm lifts overhead. After 20 seconds we change positions and I get to swing the blackPack around and Fabi works with the aeroSling. During the round we have personally felt that you could actually do the exercises after another, so that you first do all 8 sets of exercise 1 and then go on with exercise 2. In our version where we change exercises after each set some exercises might not have the required intensity to challenge you enough. You have to take into account, though, that this workout gets significantly harder in the later rounds regardless how exhausted you get. The first round is relatively easy, but round 2 with the burpees offers a greater challenge. And round 3 with the triceps pull down of the revvll ONE is guaranteed to destroy you. It doesn’t matter whether you do the exercises alternatingly in the third round or not: the revvll will exhaust you. It is not a coincidence that revvll sounds like ‘devil’. This thing comes straight out of hell.

The structure of the Workouts

As I have already mentioned we divided our workout into 3 rounds. Every round consists of 2 exercises. How long you decide to take a break between two rounds is up to you. But don’t take too long to keep your metabolism running. Now for the individual exercises:

  • Round 1:
  • Rotational blackPack Lunges with Loading-Bag AQUA
  • Alternating Arm Lift Overhead with aeroSling
  • Round 2:
  • Deadlifts with blackPack SAND
  • Burpees
  • Round 3:
  • Hip Extension lateral with Sling Trainer
  • revvll ONE Triceps Pull Down

Round 1

The first round starts off with a great exercise: rotational lunges with the blackPack. As the loading weight we chose the Loading-Bag AQUA which adds a whole new dimension to this exercise. Obviously the water does what it wants so you need significantly more strength to stabilize the blackPack during the movements. An exercise that – in its normal form – already demands a relatively high amount of coordination becomes a whole new deal with water. Please make sure to check out the video below when you have never done this exercise. Your upper body is always upright, keep your gaze steady. The rotation comes solely from your arms, your upper body doesn’t move. The lunge backwards should also come easy to you otherwise you will probably become unbalanced when the blackPack is added to the equation. Now the instruction video:

The second exercise is the alternating arm lift overhead with the aeroSling ELITE. You can only do this exercise with an ELITE (Plus) or the XPE because the sling trainer needs to have a pulley. You stand up straight, lean your upper body back a bit, and lift your arms as an extension of your upper body over your head. Your arms are straightened out all the time and your palms point towards the aeroSling suspension point. The actual exercise consists of alternating movements where you move your arms back and forth. This exercise might feel a bit strange at first so you should definitely try it before starting the actual workout just to get used to it. You can do the alternating movements very fast, but be sure to not overdo it. The following picture should give you an idea on how to do this exercise:

Alternating arm lift overhead - exercise instruction

As I have mentioned before, you should decide for yourself whether you want to do 8 sets of one exercise before changing to the other exercise. I personally was very happy that we did the exercises alternatingly. It is still very challenging but you don’t tire out the targeted muscles as fast and unrelentingly as you would by doing 8 sets in one go.

Round 2

The second round with deadlifts and burpees consists of two classic exercises that I probably don’t have to explain much. We have decided to use a Loading-Bag SAND for the deadlifts because we could use more weight that way. Deadlifts are a great exercise that lets you use a relatively high weight load. And since the instability of the water doesn’t come into play that much with deadlifts (you only move up and down, not sideways) we decided to concentrate on a decent weight. Of course you are free to use the Loading-Bag AQUA, but be sure to use less weight to account for the unpredictable movement of the water that you have to balance.

Burpees are a great exercise with which you can really give it all. The movement can shortly be described like this: you start in a push up position, your feet jump towards your hands while your hands stay in their positions and don’t leave the ground, then you move your balance point a bit to the back to be able to stand up, and jump off the ground with power. During the jump you stretch your arms upwards. Then you repeat the same motion only backwards to get back into the starting position. Of course you are free to add in a push up everytime you are in the starting position. For beginners it is definitely sufficient just to hold the position for a bit. When jumping towards your hands you have to cover enough distance to be able to stand up straight in a fluent motion. The following picture should give you a good impression of the exercise:

Burpees sequence - Workout of the Week

After these two exercises you should have worked up a sweat. I know I have. Especially the burpees separate the boys from the men. Or, in our case, my level of fitness from Fabi’s performance level.

Round 3

Phew, that was very exhausting, but now I can finally go ho… what? Another round? But I have to clean my windows. I have a mechanic waiting for me. I have to feed my hamster. All of these are excuses that bounce right off of Fabi. There is another round to be mastered, regardless of the consequences for me. So my hamster has to clean the windows after feeding the mechanic. In the same time I’m bound to burn of the last calories my body possesses. That is quite easy because, first, there is not much left in the tank and, second, the awe-inspiring revvll ONE comes into play. But first something about the hip extension with a sling trainer: here you can use a static sling trainer (in contrast to the alternating arm lifts of the first round). You just grip both handles with both hands and hold them over your head so that the main rope is under tension. The only motion happens in your hip area. The sling trainer is only used to hold on. This also means that your hands never change their positions right over your head. You slowly move your hip to the side and then stand up straight again. It sounds pretty easy but it is harder than it seems. Please make sure that your pelvis doesn’t move forward or backwards, only sideways. This picture shows Fabi doing it right:

And now for the ultimate exercise: triceps pull down with the revvll ONE. I will say that much regarding the difficulty of this exercise: Fabi was very optimistic when he set the resistance to level 3. It only took two sets to make us realize that this was way too ambitious. So the resistance setting went down to 2 just to go down to 1 shortly after. It still didn’t help much. The last two sets were simply mean. The revvll ONE would make for a great drill sergeant of the marines, without the yelling. It just breaks people. You start off motivated, the training is really fun, but then there comes this inevitable moment where you just break down. No matter how fit you are you will reach a point where you can’t go on. You will witness how your muscles simply stop to work. The mind seems to be fresh and you don’t realize how exhausted you are, but you will notice it when you start to move significantly slower. The rope runs slower through the revvll ONE and your arms seem to be trapped in slow motion. At least at this point I was more than happy that we decided to change the exercises after each set. The mere thought of doing the triceps pull down for eight sets one after the other brings tears to my eyes and my arms become weak. I can only beg you, even when you do the first two rounds one exercise after the other: for the love of god, do this round alternatingly! If you even want to be able to lift your bed sheet the next two days you will follow this advice. The following picture gives you an impression of Fabi doing the exercise. After that you’ll find a video showing the exercise in motion.

revvll ONE triceps pull down - exercise instruction

And? Did you do the Workout of the Week? Have you heeded my advice for the last round? I couldn’t answer Fabi’s high five because I couldn’t lift my arm. For a short moment I wished for Elmar being the coach again. But then I remembered last week and realized that, though the coach might change, the result will always be the same: I’m completely exhausted. I could start questioning my fitness but instead I choose to compliment Elmar and Fabi on their ability to design a maximally challenging Workout of the Week every time. It’s nice to have competent co-workers…

As always I’m looking forward to your comments, suggestions, and exercise recommendations so send them in! See you next week!

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