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Outside of what I do with American Gymnast, I work in one of the most challenging industries when it comes to trying to stay in shape – the airline industry. I am a pilot, and like most pilots, my schedule can be rough at times. In a typical summer month I may spend 4 days on the road, come home for a few days and then repeat. While on the road, you can have up to 14 hour workdays, spending 8 of it in the cockpit and the rest hanging around small airports trying to avoid the most unhealthy food you can imagine. Once you finish with the day, you wind up at a LaQuinta Inn (free continental breakfast!) so exhausted that the last thing on your mind is trying to squeeze in a workout.

Somehow, I manage to get it done.

When you go out on a four day trip with an airline job, you are typically paired with another pilot for the entire four days. You spend a lot of time in a confined space with a perfect stranger trying to muster up any form of interesting conversation you can. Nine times out of ten, at some point I will get asked the question, “what do you do to stay in shape?”

The question is common because of the difficulty to maintain a healthy lifestyle with my job as well as staying motivated enough to get in solid workouts. I’m not the only one with a challenging schedule so I know this is a tough for a lot of folks. Throw kids in to the mix and…yeah, it’s hard!

I wrote an article recently on working out and why so many people dread going to practice or the gym. In the article, I also touched a little on how I like to train and what keeps me excited and motivated each day to go in to the gym.  Since I do often get asked the question about training, I thought it would be helpful to go in to a little more detail and actually show a full example of one of my workouts this week.

The best way I can describe my workout is high intensity combination of strength training and cardio that varies every single day. It involves a lot of core strength, gymnastics, bodyweight exercises, yoga and some weight use as well. It’s sort of a blend of Insanity and Crossfit without the heavy olympic lifting and more emphasis on gymnastics. Any resting is typically done in some sort of strength hold like a plank or hollow hold. To give you an idea of what a typical workout may look like, I’ve provided an example below.

My workout for this particular day ended up looking like 8 rounds of an intense short interval of cardio followed by several exercises of strength. I would catch my breath slightly as I transitioned from the cardio portion to the strength exercises. I didn’t plan any of this going in, I just started, added on, and this is how it ended up. Each round flows right to the next.

Round 1:

  • One lap around the track (.25 miles) as fast as I could run it
  • 20 pull-ups
  • 30 dips
  • 35 push-ups

Round 2:

  • One lap around the track (.25 miles) as fast as I could run it
  • 10 Burpees
  • 10 hanging toes to the bar
  • 15 pull-ups
  • 25 dips

Round 3:

  • One lap around the track (.25 miles) as fast as I could run it
  • 20 inclined sit-ups
  • 20 Handstand push ups
  • 30 pushups

Round 4:

  • Row machine going as hard as possible for 2 minutes
  • 20 V-ups
  • 12 up and ups (push-up and then at top of the push up you thrust your hips to the ceiling in to a pike position)
  • 10 burpees
  • 30 rapid mountain climbers

Round 5:

  • 10 sprints on the basketball court
  • 15 handstand pushups
  • 30 pushups
  • 30 second hollow hold

Round 6:

  • 8 laps around the basketball court as fast as possible
  • 20 squat jumps
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 up and ups

Round 7:

  • Utilized flight of stairs in the gym and sprinted up 10 times
  • 15 pull-ups
  • 1 minute bridge hold, 30 second side plank hold, 30 second side plank hold
  • 20 sit-ups

Round 8:

  • 1.5 laps around the track as fast as I could
  • 30 dips
  • 20 lunge jumps
  • 20 conditioning rope jumps with arm swing
  • 30 pushups

Vomit…

As I mentioned in my previous article, I don’t think about what I’m going to do any given day. If I had looked at that workout on paper that morning, I think I would have stressed over the thought of having to go do it. The first thing I literally think about is putting on my gym clothes and I go from there. Every step after just gets me more in the workout mood and gets the blood flowing. I love the idea of creating on the fly and doing what feels right at the time. This was the whole idea of creating our Ring Strength Fitness Guide, Medicine Ball Training Guide and Parallette Training Guide. It was to provide you with unique exercises that you can use and arrange however you want to create an intense workout.

Remember, intensity is a relative term when working out. Anyone can do this type of training. It doesn’t matter if you can only do a fraction of the workout I did above, if you are pushing yourself to the point of being completely uncomfortable and sucking wind, you are doing things right. If you leave the gym still looking good, you didn’t go hard enough.

You should look like a train-wreck.

Keep things fresh and ever changing and keep your mind focused on one thing at a time and then add on whatever feels right. Motivation comes from within so your mindset plays a huge role.

Tip 1 to Help With Extra Motivation: In addition to the things mentioned above to get you started towards that workout, try this little strategy my wife and I use. We go to the gym together with the mindset I’ve written about. We start off separate from each other in the gym (or home, park etc), doing our own thing and get after it pretty hard. We agree that we will meet up sometime during the workout when we both are starting to feel fatigued and finish the workout together. That meet up point gives us some extra motivation mid workout and gives us a second wind because we really love pushing each other. At this point we basically play follow the leader until we are exhausted. This brings me to my second tip with your partner.

Tip 2: Once my wife and I meet up, we swap off picking the next exercise, getting as creative as possible. Sometimes it’s a combo of things or just one, but we never know what’s coming next. It’s all out craziness, with non stop (with a sip of water while running to the next thing) exercise after exercise. I love this and it really helps with keeping me going and making it fun. It also typically extends my workout far beyond what I would do alone.

Tip 3: If you don’t have a partner and you don’t think you have the will power to make yourself do all of this, have someone tell you what to do. Of course you could use a trainer to do this or there are less expensive alternatives. We created the GymABstics strength series specifically for people who want an extra push. It’s the same idea. They are intense workouts that we are taking you through so you don’t know what’s coming next. It keeps that element of surprise and excitement and that’s what is all about.

Train hard and have fun!

Email me at [email protected] you have any questions.

Brad Thornton

Strength & Fitness Team Lead

www.GymnasticsStrength.com