The Conan Workout Challenge Week 1

November 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Right, well we all saw Conan a couple of months ago didn’t we? And we all saw Jason Momoa, a hulking beast of a man who looked like he’d been assembled in a shipyard by a team of elves. The guy probably eats villages for breakfast.

Now, Christmas is coming up and I thought that I could do with being in a bit better shape (round is a shape I know). With that in mind, I’ve agreed to take part in the Conan The Barbarian Workout Challenge compiled especially for journalists by Eric Laciste, Jason’s personal trainer. It’s called the AR7 workout. Although Argh7 would probably be closer to what it feels like.

Firstly, I’m reasonably fit. I’m a martial artist with an instructorship in Kali (www.karasackali.co.uk) and I train four times a week, but you can always do more. Read Week 2’s here and Week 3’s here.

Here are the “before” shots

The hardest thing for me will be the diet. I usually eat everything in sight: crisps, biscuits, cake, several hundredweight of cheese, small mammals that wander into my line of sight. The AR7 is comparatively restrictive:

No carbs after 4pm. Nothing bleached or white, three complete meals and two snacks and you have to eat every two to three hours without fail. (The programme says something about eating “even if you need to hide in the bathroom” – why would I need to hide in the bathroom? Is snacking shameful?). It’ll be a long hard road but if I’m going to crush my enemies, see them driven before me and hear the lamentations of their women, it’s the only way to go.

Monday

Porridge for breakfast. Urgh.

Warm up: 15 jackknives/3 burpees
1-2min real rest between rounds
Complete 3 rounds

The Concept:
5 pull ups, 10 push-ups, 20 body weight squats CONTINUOUSLY, NON-STOP for 20 mins. Record the number of rounds completed.
The goal is 20 rounds in under 15 mins.

I’ve done something like this before and it’s killed me every time. I did 15 rounds, the last few by pacing around the bottom of the bar like a caged lion psyching myself up to do one more chin up before collapsing in a pool of my own sweat.

7.6.5 Series Barbell Military Press
* Utilize 60-70% your Max

7 reps, 7 secs active rest (arms locked out controlling the weight above your head, abs engaged, hips beneath the shoulders, head forward – POSTURE, POSTURE, POSTURE!)
6 Reps, 6 secs active rest
5 Reps, 5 secs active rest
= Round 1

1-2min real rest between sets.
3 sets.

That didn’t feel too bad but in the last set I felt like my arms were no longer attached to my body.

35 minutes of cycling finishes the workout.

I’m shattered…time to go home for dinner. Without carbs!

Tuesday

Porridge for breakfast again. It’s like someone’s spoon-feeding me warm sick. Urgh.

Lunch was a load of pasta and meat. Carb loading at lunch is actually really difficult because my biggest meal is usually dinner. Trying to get that down my neck at 1pm was really difficult. Also, the amount of water I’m drinking makes it feel like I’m drowning my organs.

Warm up: 100 push-ups/100 body weight squats. CONTINUOUSLY, NON-STOP however you can get it done.

Not too bad, although when reaching the 100 mark on the push ups I had to concentrate very hard on how I’d be letting my Barbarian forebears down if I failed.

The Concept:
7.6.5 series Body Weight Dips/Diamond Push-ups
7 Dips/ 7 Diamond Push-ups
6 Dips/ 6 Diamond Push-ups
5 Dips/ 5 Diamond Push-ups
= Round 1

1-2min real rest between rounds
Complete 3 Rounds

Ha ha ha. Body weight dips are so damn hard. It took me ages to do them properly and I feel like a big girl’s blouse.

7.6.5 Series Incline Dumbbell Basic Chest Press/Close Grip Press
*Utilize 60-70% your max

7 Basic Press/7 Close Grip Press (turn your palms in, pressing the same weight from the top of your chest to your line of sight), 7 secs active rest – lock your arms out holding the weight above your chest, maintaining control).
6 Basic Press/6 Close Grip Press
5 Basic Press/5 Close Grip Press
= Round 1

1-2min real rest between rounds
Complete 3 rounds

Really tough, especially on the last set where I felt like my arms might shake free of their sockets. After a while, your muscles simply cease to obey you.

35 minutes cycling finishes the workout.

That actually didn’t feel too bad – after all that intense weight, even a hard cycle doesn’t feel that bad. I’ve realised I need to get my iPod fixed though – the biggest enemy is boredom; I spent a good 10 minutes counting wall tiles in the gym. Anyone got any suggestions for motivational songs?

Wednesday

Porridge for breakfast again. I think by the end of this I won’t have tastebuds but until they go numb I’m stuck eating this gruel. Conan wouldn’t stand for it I tell you!

Warm up: 100 push-ups/100 body weight squats

The Concept:
7.6.5 Series Pull Up/Barbell Bicep Curl
*Real Pull Ups are key but if you need to perform an Assisted Pull Up be sure the assisting weight is set at its minimum. The barbell weight should be 60-70% your Max
7 Pull Ups/7 BB Curls
6 Pull Ups/6 BB Curls
5 Pull Ups/5 BB Curls
= Round 1
1-2min real rest between rounds

Complete 3 Rounds

Right, here’s where the cumulative damage of the last couple of days begins to kick in. I can usually do 15 pull ups without problem but after finishing the first 7.6.5. set I had to move to assisted pull ups – my body just wouldn’t obey me. It’s not that it hurt, it just didn’t work anymore. After much frustrated teeth-gritting and false starts I finally got it done but I’m the rest times were slightly longer than they were supposed to be.

7.6.5 Series Seated Cable Row/Dumbbell Bicep Curl
*Both the row weight and BB weight should be 75% your Max

7 reps Seated Row/7 DB Curls
6 reps Seated Row/6 DB Curls
5 reps Seated Row/5 DB Curls
= Round 1
1-2min real rest between rounds
Complete 3 Rounds

By now my arms felt like they were being operated by remote control with only a distant connection to my body. Gritted it out and got through it. Again it’s not pain, my body just feels defective.

Can’t fit the cardio in today as I’m doing this on my lunch break but I think the 1 1/2 hour long martial arts class tonight should take care of that requirement.

I now feel like the world’s most feeble man. Even having a shower was an effort: who could have thought shower gel could weigh so much?

Thursday

I can no longer taste the porridge, it’s just white goo akin to that stuff the rebels eat in The Matrix.

Warm up: 100 push-ups/100 body weight squats

The Concept:
7-5 Series Deadlift, Rear Squat, Body Weight Jump Squat

*Weight for Deadlift and Squat should be 50-70% your Max. Be smart, use the correct form and if you’re not sure or don’t know, ask someone to show you!

Deadlift
7 reps, 7 secs active rest (standing tall, arms extended, maintaining grip/control of weight),
7 sets = 49 Reps
1-2min real rest

6 reps, 6 secs active rest (Standing tall, arms extended, maintaining grip/control of weight),
6 sets = 36 Reps
1-2min real rest

5 reps, 5 secs active rest (Standing tall, arms extended, maintaining grip/control of weight),
5 sets = 25 Reps
Total reps = 110

I’d never done deadlifts before and I’ve heard they’re really dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, so I got a handy gym person to show me. It’s absolutely agonising. Not only that but because it targets your lower back you end up walking around like a Thunderbird afterward. Every step feels like I’m treading on a bouncy castle.

Rear squat
7 Reps, 7 secs active rest (standing tall, abs engaged, hips remaining beneath your shoulders, controlling the weight)
7 sets = 49 Reps
1-2min real rest, rack weight

6 Reps, 6 secs active rest (standing tall, abs engaged, hips remaining beneath your shoulders, controlling the weight)
6 sets = 36 reps
1-2min real rest, rack weight

5 Reps, 5 secs active rest (standing tall, abs engaged, hips remaining beneath your shoulders, controlling the weight)
5 sets = 25 reps
Total Reps = 110

At this point, the fire alarm went off and I couldn’t finish my sets. While I was sort of glad for the reprieve, I would have liked to have finished the workout – if you’re going to put yourself through the fire, you might as well do it properly.

Body Weight Jump Squat
*The landing is more important than the take off. Protect your knees, bend your knees on the landing utilizing your muscles to absorb the impact.Do not land stiff-legged even on the last rep!
7 Reps, 7 secs active rest. Standing tall. Breathe…
7 sets = 49 Reps
1min real rest

I didn’t get a chance to do this but I think I’m going to have to ask for a substitute anyway. A long time ago I tore my anterior cruciate ligament completely during a training accident and my knee has a tendency to give way if it’s not anchored properly.

Off to do more martial arts tonight, so that should make up the rest of the deficit. Maybe I’ll do some more squats later if my spine hasn’t shattered.

Friday

The back exercises from last night have left me a crippled husk. Little old ladies on motor scooters are yelling at me to get out of their way. I am a broken man. But what sort of attitude is that? Crom would be ashamed. Time to get back on the horse.

Warm up: 100 push-ups/100 body weight squats

I went into a sort of zone here. My reasoning was thus: pain in my arms will distract me from pain in my back. That worked until the squats crept up behind me and clobbered me over the head with the lead pipe of despair.

The Concept
7.6.5 Series Rev Grip Pull Up, Body Weight Dip, Burpee

7 Rev Grip Pull Ups/7 Dips/7 Burpees/7 secs active rest, stand tall. Breathe.
6 Rev Grip Pull Ups/6 Dips/6 Burpees/6 secs active rest, stand tall. Breathe.
5 Rev Grip Pull Ups/5 Dips/5 Burpees/5 secs active rest, stand tall. Breathe.
= Round 1
Complete 5 Rounds

Confession time. I did the first set of seven and then was physically incapable of actually doing anymore. The cumulative damage of the last four days means my muscles have betrayed me. I figured that it’s better to get through the workout assisted than not at all, I used a machine to assist me and had to take a bit more time between sets to compose myself.

I never thought I’d do a workout where the pull ups were the bit I was looking forward to. The dips were absolute agony; the amount of shaking I was doing was threatening to give me a headache. The burpees sapped the life out of me faster than anything I’ve ever done leaving me a gasping incoherent mess by the end of the sets.

I’ll get the 35 minutes of cardio in later…

Still, I’m proud I’ve got through week 1. 3 weeks to go. It’s beginning to seem like a long road already.

Read the continuing saga here.

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Comments

  1. Nice one Jez, can’t wait to see how it goes. Sounds like fun… sort of.

  2. Joel says:

    Hey man, good luck ! I know I wouldn’t have the determination to go through something like that

  3. curiosity says:

    “I thought that I could do with being in a bit better shape (round is a shape I know).”

    Jez, judging by those pictures, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t know round if it hit you.

  4. Dick says:

    I am actually training to do the 300 rep Spartan workout and this is what im working on to prepare for it. Holy crap it is serious.

  5. Richard says:

    Hey Jez. How did you find week 4? What results did you get from this in the end?

    Good work mate

  6. admin says:

    Final results can be seen here – http://blog.onthebox.com/2011/11/30/the-conan-workout-challenge-final-week/

    I really enjoyed it despite the difficulty. Trying to keep it up is the hardest thing.