Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Post-Round 2 Recovery Week: Original Turbulence Training Workout A + Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit

And now for something completely different.

I know I'm only a few days into my post-Round 2 recovery week, but I got a little restless this morning and decided to give Craig Ballantyne's Turbulence Training a try.

The super-ripped Ballantyne (pictured above) -- a fitness trainer, author and entrepreneur -- has been developing and refining his Turbulence Training workout program over the past decade. Using his website, he sells downloadable e-books that guide users through various iterations of Turbulence Training; in addition, paying members can access Ballantyne's online forum (similar to the forums) to get coaching, support and advice.

Knowing that some of you have had success with one or more of Ballantyne's programs, I started looking into Turbulence Training a while back. Initially, I was turned off by the sheer ugliness of the Turbulence Training website -- it's cluttered and difficult to navigate, and its dizzying use of various font sizes, styles and colors made my eyeballs want to shrivel up like prunes and fall out of my head. Even more problematic was the fact that I couldn't differentiate between the products and packages offered for sale. Ballantyne desperately needs to hire a new web designer. (Of course, it's very possible that I'm just a tasteless idiot.)

But once I finally decided to plunk down $40 for the "Basic" Turbulence Training package and flipped through the materials, I was impressed by the content. Ballantyne's created a number of different exercise routines suitable for beginners and advanced athletes alike. Each workout combines brief (but intense) supersets of compound heavy-resistance exercises and interval training, giving users a full-body workout that doesn't eat up hours of time. Turbulence Training's greatest selling point is that it's meant to help you torch calories, burn fat, and build muscle -- all in a time-efficient way. Each workout is designed to take only about 45 minutes in total.

More after the jump...

Here's how Ballantyne describes the two main components of his Turbulence Training workouts:
The bottom line: Heavy resistance training has long been under-rated by those seeking to lose body fat, however it is likely the best type of exercise to improve your body composition because it promotes both energy expenditure and muscle growth!

Don't believe that long, slow cardio is the most important aspect of a fat loss program. Many successful trainers know that weight training and nutrition are far more important. In addition, interval training is an amazing adjunct to a fat loss-oprogram focusing on resistance training.
Ballantyne's writing isn't perfect, and he could definitely use a good proofreader and an editor (and did I already mention he needs a new web designer?), but his premise is solid: "Resistance training and interval training increase your metabolism far more than aerobic exercise. Combined, resistance and interval training result in the greatest amount of Turbulence in your body, and therefore more fat loss!"

I'm not looking for a fat loss program, but I'm certainly interested in adding variety to my exercise routine. Plus, I'd kill to have shorter morning workouts.

So I gave Turbulence Training a test drive. According to the FAQ section of Ballantyne's insanely ugly website, the best Turbulence Training routine for someone like me is the "Original" version, which consists of two different workouts: A and B. You're supposed to work out three times per week, alternating between the two routines. So this morning, I whipped out the manual and jumped right into Workout A.

Workout A begins with two quick warm-up circuits consisting of Y-Squats, Close-Grip (Military) Push-Ups, and Forward Lunges, and then one brief warm-up superset of Romanian Deadlifts and Chest Presses -- both using dumbbells.

After a one-minute break, we dive right into the first of two supersets. For each exercise, you have to pick a weight that'll max you out at 8-10 reps.

Superset One:

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. With a flat back, slightly bend your knees, keeping your head up, shoulders back, and arms straight down. Lower the weights to mid-shin while keeping the dumbbells as close to your legs as possible. Reverse direction, pulling with your upper back. That's one rep. Do eight, and don't rest before moving onto the next exercise.

Dumbbell Chest Presses: This is pretty basic -- you lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor and with a dumbbell in each hand, and press up. Pause before lowering the weights. After eight reps, rest for one minute.

Repeat Superset One twice, for a total of three sets.

Superset Two:

Dumbbell Reverse Lunges: Start in a standing position, with a dumbbell in each hand, and then step back with your left leg, resting your left toe on the floor so that you're in a low lunge position. Your right thigh should be parallel to the floor. Pause, and then return to your starting position by pushing up and forward with your right leg. Do eight reps, and then switch legs and do another eight reps. Without resting, move on to the next exercise.

One-Arm Standing Shoulder Presses: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold one dumbbell at your shoulder level. Place the other hand on your obliques. Engage your core, and press the upraised dumbbell towards the ceiling. Pause at the top, and then slowly lower it back to the starting position. Do this eight times, and then switch to the other side for another eight reps. Rest one minute.

Repeat this superset two more times, for a total of three sets.

Unlike Workout B, Workout A requires just two supersets. Including the warm-up, the weight-resistance portion of this workout took just 25 minutes. But because I used heavier weights than I typically do in P90X, I could feel the burn.

But we're not done just yet. Turbulence Training workouts also require interval training. The guidelines for Workout A call for a 5-minute warm-up, followed by six intervals -- each consisting of "30 seconds at a very hard pace (at a subjective 9/10 level of effort)" followed by "'active rest' for 90 seconds by exercising at a slow pace (at a subjective 3/10 level of effort." You then finish with another 5 minutes of cool-down, for a total of 20 minutes of interval training.

But 90 seconds of rest after 30 seconds of intense cardio? Screw that. I just finished Insanity. I'm hardcore. (This is the part where you laugh and shake your head at the puny, deluded man who blogs here.)

I popped in the Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit DVD and skipped to the beginning of the actual interval circuit training, which lasts for 20 minutes per Ballantyne's guidelines. But this is, after all, an Insanity workout, so it was a looooong, crazy, super-fucked-up 20 minutes.

I finished it. Barely.

I know I'm going to feel this tomorrow.