By Iron Vic Steele
I live in a remote area and wonder what might be good indoor cardio for a guy living in a cabin without a stationary bike and stuck inside for long periods when we get snowed in. I have weights and dumbbells and a power rack in the garage. What would you recommend? I get bored and have a lot of time on my hands, so lay it on me.
Renee, the Klondike
Hell, you got everything you need to get the best cardio workouts of your life. You will need to build your pain tolerance to deal with the lactic acid build-up associated with this type of cardio. The goal of Parrillo-style aerobic exercise is to huff and puff and sweat and exert. The strategy is simple: regardless the mode or tool, go all out for 10-20 seconds, then revert back to a slower pace, catch your breath, then burst again: sprint, recover, sprint again. When we say sprinting, it does not imply running, it implies an all out 100% effort regardless the mode or tool. Parrillo notes that this type of exertion is optimal for building endurance, extending the lactic acid threshold and oxidizing calories at an accelerated rate. Cardio exercise of this intensity over time builds new mitochondria in the muscles worked repeatedly and consistently.
The way for you to create the desired cardio effect is to use your barbells and dumbbells in ultra high rep sets using the classic exercises. It is really very simple: the best cardio exercises work as many muscles as possible, simultaneously. Begin with the overhead clean and jerk. This is a complex exercise (the clean and then the jerk) that requires every muscle on the body to work together. This exercise requires precision, explosiveness and coordination. Use lightweight and perfect technique. Set a 20-second alarm on your phone, or watch a gym clock. How many perfect clean and jerk reps can you complete with the empty 45-pound bar in 20-seconds? Rest 20-seconds and repeat. Start with ten 20-on-20-off rounds; in each subsequent session add more rounds. This is a killer workout. You may also string exercises together, one after another and do non-stop. Do 20-seconds worth of ab work. Now move to ultra-deep back squats – how many can you do in 20-seconds with an empty bar? All the way down. No rest between exercises. While recovering from the squats, perform 20-seconds of barbell or dumbbell bench presses. You get the idea: string together one high-rep exercise (done for 20-seconds) after another – forget the poundage, we’re looking to induce cardio effect. Believe me when I tell you that you will get the hardest cardio workout of your life if you do this right; actually, factually, this type of cardio (because of how many muscles are activated) is demonstratively better than legs-only bike cardio.
Hello and greetings!
I just wanted to write and tell you how successful my wife has done weaning herself off of chocolate. She read one of the Parrillo articles a while back about “switching out” real chocolate with chocolate-flavored Parrillo products. We loaded up on soft chew bars™, Parrillo cake and cupcake mix™, Parrillo contest cookies and Brownie mix – all chocolate. The product Deb loved best was the new Chocolate Fix protein powder. The procedure was simple; she ate “Parrillo chocolate” throughout the day. The key was taking the time ahead of time to pre-make the cakes, cupcakes, contest cookies or brownies. By having them made and ready, she could “quench” a chocolate urge as soon as it appeared. The Chocolate Fix is delicious. I must admit – I got into it myself and between us we rip through a canister each week. Kudos for this perfect product. By using Parrillo products as substitutes, she was able to purge her body of sugar and has lost 20-pound, as Deb says, “This time it was effortless – I don’t even feel like I’m dieting and I don’t feel like I am being deprived of chocolate.”
Sugar is nasty stuff. Sugar excites taste buds and wreaks havoc on insulin. Anyone that overindulges in sugar has clogged their insulin receptor sites, making it impossible to burn body fat. The Parrillo “switch out” attacks the problem on three levels: taste buds are satisfied because the Parrillo products replicate that sweet addictive chocolate taste to an amazing degree. Parrillo chocolate switch out products are potent, loaded with protein and slow-release carbs that don’t spike insulin. Consistent use of Parrillo products, in lieu of chocolate, allows receptor sites to cleanse themselves and reacquire hormonal functionality. The Parrillo switch-out detoxifies the body (assuming it is linked to a Parrillo-style nutrition program) and enables people to break an addiction to sugar every bit as strong as alcohol or cigarettes. Your tale is not unusual; we have had a dozen readers write and relate success stories about using the Parrillo chocolate “switch out.” I myself make a double serving of the new Chocolate Fix protein powder and purposefully mix it so thick (less water) that I have to spoon it out of the blender. It is so thick it barely pours! Incredibly tasty – what a delicious and potent taste treat – I would make and drink this concoction even if it wasn’t good for me – it tastes that good!
Are you down with the CrossFit Revolution?
I like a lot about CrossFit. When I watch the CrossFit Games on TV, I think, these athletes, in a lot of ways, exemplify the Parrillo ideal. The optimal CrossFit athlete engages in intense cardio, the optimal CrossFit athlete is judged on strength endurance and all out strength. The cardio tasks are varied and inject an element of muscular effort in every cardio test. Does this not sound like the type of training John Parrillo has been recommending for his bodybuilders for decades? To build the ultimate body Parrillo recommends intense cardio; intense cardio not only burns calories by the bucketful, intense cardio also infuses muscles with mitochondria, thereby resetting genetic limits. Parrillo recommends bodybuilders mix low-rep high intensity weight training with super high rep weight training. If you look at the winning CrossFit athletes, male and female, they are all prime candidates for competitive bodybuilding. They have muscle and they have leanness. All they would need to enter a bodybuilding competition would be to lockdown a Parrillo bodybuilding diet for 8-12 weeks. The top CF male athletes are muscled up and compete at the CF Games with 8% body fat percentiles. I find it fascinating that though Parrillo and CrossFit have different goals, many of the modes and methods are the same. So I am not a hater.
How important is psyche in weight training? We have some powerlifters in the gym where I train and these guys go bat-sh#t crazy before a big lift. They actually slap each other across the face to get fired up. Is this necessary? Maybe I am the one who is missing the boat. I really don’t get psyched up before a lift. I just sort of do it, I perform the set like I am brushing my teeth or taking out the garbage. Meanwhile these lifter dudes are lifting like their life depended on the outcome. They got a hell of a lot more muscle than me so maybe I need to up my ‘psyche’ game. I don’t have anyone to slap my face before squats – am I SOL?
Perhaps we could split the difference. While you don’t need to psyche to the theatrical levels exhibited by the lifters, you would be well served to get serious about lifting. If you treat lifting like brushing your teeth or taking out the garbage the results you reap will be minimal, at best. A focused and concentrated mind usually adds 3% to 10% to the athlete’s performance. The additional poundage you are able to handle when properly psyched, the extra reps you are able to squeeze out when properly psyched, the longer sessions, the more frequent sessions, all of these growth-producing factors are attributable to psyche – and it doesn’t cost a thing. How does a “regular person” get psyched up to lift? First off, no need to waste psyche on warm-up sets. Save the psyche for the top set(s) of each exercise. One good basic psyche strategy is right before ripping into the top set, run a movie in your head of you successfully performing the set. This is called “auto-visualization” and was first formalized by the great Soviet weightlifters of the 1960s. Close your eyes and picture yourself performing the about to happen set. In your mind, make the weight feel light. Push it or pull it with great authority. Then open your eyes and turn the internal visualization into reality. The Russians would picture themselves making their lifts upwards of five times (in their mind) before tackling the actual weight. Psyche improves with practice.
What is the best way to get rid of love handles? I remember a time when seated broomstick twists for high reps was recommended for reducing excess fat on the external oblique muscles. What about weighted side bends with dumbbells?
Troy, SF Cal
You must have been living in a fallout shelter the past five decades. The seated broom twists and weighted side bends have been extinct from bodybuilding for a long time. And that is a good thing as both these exercises were worthless (twists) and downright detrimental (weighted side bends.) There was a time when bodybuilders would do endless 100-rep sets of “windmill twists” in the mistaken belief that the twists would melt the fat off the two external oblique muscles. Spot reducing was rooted in the idea that body fat could be melted off a specific muscle or group of muscles by doing exercises that worked that specific area; ergo, crunches could melt the fat atop the frontal abs and twists would melt the fat off the obliques. Unfortunately this is a myth. The way to get visible abs and fat-free obliques is to lower your overall body fat percentile and that is a function of diet and exercise. Side bends are to be avoided by bodybuilders because weighted side-bends, while doing nothing to reduce body fat, bulks the obliques. Like any other weight-trained muscle, oblique muscles will grow when they are weight trained. Do you really want thick and powerful external oblique muscles? Bulked obliques turn a V-torso into a square block torso.
Got any good chicken cooking advice? I am pretty damned bored with boneless skinless chicken breasts – I am a single guy and not much of a cook. I grill or bake my boneless skinless breasts and they usually get overdone on the outside and stay pink in the middle – they suck! Help!
Paul, San Raphael
A chicken breast has a half-round configuration and this makes even cooking a real problem. The solution is to flatten breasts with a kitchen mallet. I use a metal mallet. Place a layer of cling-wrap over a sturdy surface. Place a breast on the plastic wrap and pound it until the thickness is uniform, ideally ½ inch or less. You can dredge the flattened breasts in oatmeal flour. Buy flour at a grocery store or throw raw oatmeal into a food processor and grate it into a fine powder. Dredge the flattened breast in oatmeal flour and sauté them until crispy in CapTri®. Sauté over a medium heat – too high a stove heat and you’ll burn the oil; not hot enough and the dredged breasts come out soggy. You can grill flattened breasts in less than three minutes. Chicken fingers can be breaded and sautéed without being flattened. The solution to your problem is to flatten breasts and then store them raw in a sealed Tupperware container in the refrigerator. You should always have flattened breasts handy and ready.