The Spartan SGX Training is getting more obstacle specific as Mark Barroso, SGX, SOS is honing in on Albert’s grip strength, monkey bar skill, bucket carries, sandbag carries, pullups and more. Read on to see how Albert’s quest to his first medal is playing out.
Week 5: The Workout
Lessons Learned: With this being my weakest exercise out of my combination lift of deadlift squat and bench, I am definitely pushing hard to improve here. My back was never the strongest part of my body. My max right now is 275lbs on squat. My deadlift is 360 and my bench is 265 for a combined total of 900. I am doing well in other exercises such as dumbbell cleans etc. so the progress is coming along.
This exercise has always been difficult for me because of the strain that it puts on the back muscles. We started low on this one and worked are way up doing decreasing reps as we increased reps finishing out at 3 reps of 225 before moving onto the rest of the workout. Starting with 10 reps at 135lbs was of course easy but you start to feel fatigue after doing that many reps knowing that you’re about to do 4 more sets. This exercise is absolutely going to wear you down. Keeping that bar even is very important for this exercise so that you don’t get hurt. Engage the safety bars at the bottom of the squat rack if you don’t feel comfortable with the weight or get yourself a spotter!
I definitely broke parallel but I am not going to the ground during my reps. It is not a comfortable feeling for me. I am growing to like this exercise more and more but I definitely know this is what is going to help me get to the 1000lb combined mark.
5 Minute Incline walk with 30lb sandbag
This exercise is certainly very difficult due to the face that the incline is at an insane 10 incline. This exercise is designed to test your grit climbing a mountain with a heavy weight being carried. I can tell you that by minute three I was shot and becomes a mental game. I was walking at a 3.0 speed which is a solid walking speed and switching the bag every minute shoulder to shoulder and even my mid-section to carry it up the incline. When doing this carry at your mid-section, you will certainly feel strain in your back. I don’t care how in shape you are, this Spartan exercise is meant to test your capabilities during the race. Yes, you may feel less fatigue than others if you are elite but this will undoubtedly wear you down. The mentality for me was just to finish the exercise and not stop. I have been testing my grit lately to get myself ready for the Tuxedo, NY Race.
Stairmaster: 5 minutes while wearing 32lb weighted vest
This is hard enough doing for five minutes in the middle of this workout but now adding the vest added a new dimension to the difficulty. We cranked the speed of the stair master up to an 8 to start and I fluctuated at no lower than 6. I was running on pure explosive energy at this point. I didn’t even focus on the weight, I just had the mentality to keep climbing those stairs.
The weight definitely is a factor but it is also as mental as it is physical. Your brain is an amazing thing that can block out certain areas of pain that you are feeling so that you can zone in on the task at hand. After the third minute I knew that I had this in the bag. I got a second wind at that point. I saw the results of where I want to be and where I was and I was not going to stop because of pain. I just recommend that you do NOT slouch as this will make your time that much more taxing and it will destroy your mentality. You should not be dreading this, it is for a better you!
Monkey Bar Traverse
20 Dumbbell Curls
Lessons Learned: This was definitely a cool down from the exercises of that day and due to the intensity I could barely get through the pullups assisted but I managed to get through the entire exercise to finish it. Dumbbell curls are well within my wheelhouse due to the fact that dumbbells are one of my better exercise categories along with the one handed dumbbell clean and jerk. This is my best exercise of all.
WEEK 5 FINAL THOUGHTS
This week brought a lot of intensity and really brought into focus the grit that I will need for this race. I 100% have the grit for the race. I am just worried about doing the inconceivable amount of burpees which will fatigue anyone especially me because it is not one of my strengths. So take my advice and BUCK FURPEES and finish as many obstacles as you can to avoid them. When going into a day of intense exercise.
I have created a mentality that I will push through it and finish without setting limits. This is not to say that you set unrealistic limits. All of things I have been doing have been built from doing smaller exercises and working my way up. Setting insane expectations is a perfect way to get hurt and then be injured so that you can’t race. When I say push your limits, it means take what you have been doing and maybe amp it up to a harder intensity and then when you are ready try that harder exercise. Always set bigger goals. When you reach your goals, set a bigger goal! All three of those exercises including the squat, stair-master, and bucket carry were all taxing on the lower back but it was rewarding. Proper grip on the bucket carry my interlocking your arms is so important so that the weight doesn’t shift and is secured.
I learned to keep my momentum forward to say all I have to do is finish. Finish might be a difficult thing to think about mid-workout but it’s about the reward it’s about the constant pursuit of improvement!
Week 6: The Workout
3 Rounds of
0.3 mile jog
Lessons Learned: This was a bit taxing for me considering the burpees were right at the mini circuit but I got through it. I found that if I am too tired to keep going with the burpees, I break them up into sets of 5 with a small rest in between. I always finish but this helps me get through it. The band pullups were a bit difficult but they’re getting a little easier but by no means am I great at them yet. The jog went well considering I am getting used to it a bit more. I jog usually at a speed of 5.0 to keep a good pace.
Bucket Carry 10 trips: upstairs and downstairs
Sandbag Carry 10 Trips: upstairs and downstairs
Lessons Learned: This is as hard as it sounds because this bucket must be carried at your mid-section. This is pure dead weight and it may not sound bad until you try it. Take a home depot bucket and fill it up with 60lbs worth of Spartan pancakes or kettlebells and you’re good to go! The first four trips were a breeze but then it starts to get ugly. It feels like you are getting pulled to the ground and your back really gets fatigued in this demanding exercise and display of endurance. Going down the stairs is difficult because you have to watch where you are going so you don’t drop the bucket and fall down the stairs. On the sixth trip I got into a groove and I took a quick kneedto recoup which is very common in Spartan races during the bucket carry. A knee is typically 30 seconds long which is exactly what I took then I kept going to finish the exercise. I was totally spent on trip 10. When I got to the top of the stairs I physically dropped the bucket. I didn’t have the energy to bring it down slowly since my back was in so much pain. This will test your grit for sure and it is not for the faint of heart done outdoors in 90 degrees realizing you have miles to go.
The sandbag carry was a lot easier since it was as 30lbs and not 60lbs this time. I barreled through this exercise by shifting shoulders as I ascended and descended the staircase. The sandbag carry will not be as much of an issue as the bucket carry on race day. Even the bucket carry is not what I am really worried about since I am pretty well versed in weight lifting exercises. I am worried about conquering the rope climb!
3 rounds: 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest
Lessons Learned: This gave me a run for my money because of such a short rest time. This is a more intense version of HIIT training in my opinion because you have to be so versatile and be ready to move into the next exercise. You can’t stop or you lose the point of the exercise. I finished this whole thing but I was soaked when I was finished. The hardest one I think out of all of them was the quick feet. Quick feet is shuffling your feet in place while listening to your trainer to say down, up or burpee. You must complete each task and continue to quick feet after that. It could be an ugly 20 seconds when done in repetition. This exercise was hard but I had such a blast doing it. This was rewarding for me because I wouldn’t have been able to finish this circuit in 4 minutes with rest in between, never mind blow through it in 80 seconds like this AND do it 3 times!
My lesson for you especially in the heavier workouts like the sand back carry and the bucket carry is to keep your posture centered and straight as slouching will kill your performance. There is no way to describe Tabata except for that it is a tough exercise especially at the end of the workout. You have to keep your eyes on the prize. This is where you must push your limits and really see what your body can do. You are not getting really any rest because 10 seconds goes by in a blink. You have time to catch your breath and you are right back in it. This advanced exercise will test your grit to the MAX.
WEEK 6 FINAL THOUGHTS
I have to give a shout out to Mark Barroso (my trainer) for being there for me every step of the way. This guy who I now call a friend has given me more than training but equipment along the way to help me such as a water pack, protein, pre-workouts and unrelenting determination. I bust my ass every workout to finish but he made it clear that it wasn’t just for the day but you have to come back on your own and haul ass like we do together. I have made that promise and I can tell you first hand that I love coming to the gym after work and giving it all I’ve got in the weight room and doing cardio to prepare for the upcoming races. I am blessed that my work schedule is cohesive with me being able to go to the gym because I do work two jobs. I teach in the day and I work at a store at night but I have cute down my hours over the last three years at the store to Sunday-Tuesday nights so that I can have the rest of the week to myself once I am done teaching. Guess where that time is spent….Right at 24 Hour Fitness. Road to Tuxedo #SpartanUP #AROO