How to Get Out of Your Exercise Comfort Zone: Try a Workout Swap

28 Nov

I really like my soft medicine ball that I got at Target.

I love my full body, functional routines. I love my gadgets. I love training my heart and muscles at the same time with high reps of compound moves. I love doing pull ups and  being strong enough to do a 2 minute plank.  And I love how I’ve dropped a size and several inches around my waist & arse.  😉

I love them so much that I have neglected other types of exercise like straight strength training. And while I am strong, there’s a lot to be said about old school weight lifting (which I used to do about 10 years ago).

That’s how the Workout Swap began….  

Meet Suzanne (WorkoutNirvana) — She lifts. She owns the weight room and the olympic bar. We immediately hit it off on twitter and agreed that we both needed to “mix things up” a bit, so we decided to swap workouts. We did our first swap a couple of weeks ago, and while we’re both strong and fit, doing the “other” workout was definitely a challenge. Mixing it up engaged our already strong cardiovascular system and muscles in new ways, and it felt GREAT! (See how Suzanne did with mine and I did with hers.)

It was so much fun, we’re doing it again! So here’s my little gift to the Workout Swap Gang. And I’m happy to say that Greta @MiddleAgedJock is joining us for the workout swap with a cardio routine! I’ll be doing Suzanne’s Routine and Greta’s Workout this week, and I’m very excited about it!

What you’ll need:

  1. Swiss Ball
  2. Medicine Ball
  3. Kettlebell (optional)
  4. Dumbells (for the chest press, just for Suzanne)
  5. Bench or chair

And if you don’t have this stuff, no worries. There’s a substitute and modification for EVERYTHING.  You can use a dumbbell instead of a medicine ball for example. I just put this together because I know the gang can go to the gym and will have all the goodies. But remember, you can basically do a very similar and efficient workout with NO equipment.

Warm Up

  • 5 – 10  minutes on the rowing machine – great full body warm up IMO

Part 1 – Suzanne’s Special Circuit

10 reps per exercise & 5 sets total. Do each circuit with little resting between exercises, enjoy a short rest between each set. The idea of this is to keep moving through each circuit. There will be 50 reps of each exercise when it’s over, so resist the urge to go heavy on any of the weights. Also, this circuit emphasizes compound, functional and full body moves engaging the core, big muscles and multiple body parts at one time. So again, there’s no reason to go heavy. Enjoy the “rest” that the chest press & dips offer. Also, feel free to cut back to do 3 sets – the reason this has 5 sets is cuz it’s a type of 300’s routine (300 reps total).

  1. Wood Chopper with Medicine (I use a 6 or 8 lb ball) (View Demo) (10 per side)(No ball? Use a dumbbell.)
  2. Chest Press on Swiss Ball (If you’re new to balancing on the ball, go very light to get get used to stabilizing – remember – squeeze and lift the glutes & engage your core) (View Demo) (10 total) (No swiss ball? Just do some pushups.)
  3. Kettlebell Swings (I would use a 15 lb KB here, shoulders back, core strong, drive with the lower body. And if you don’t have a kettlebell, you can sub a medicine ball and do a squat + shoulder press) (View Demo)  (10 total)
  4. Tricep Bench Dips (body weight only, using a bench or coffee table or step, video shows 3 great modifications based on strength) (View Demo) (10 total)
  5. Assisted Pull Ups (I do these at about 50% of my bodyweight – I’m a big fan of the pull up – I think every routine should include them) (10 total) (No bar? Just do some single arm rows with a dumbbell.)
  6. Lunge with Torso Rotation (View Demo ) (10 per side) (No ball? You can do this without weight or use a dumbbell.)

Ab Circuit

And in case you think there wasn’t enough core above **winks**, feel free to add some more 😉 10 reps per exercise x 3 sets total

  1. Oblique Lift  (We can do this without the ball too – it is plenty challenging) (View Demo) (10 per side)
  2. V-Sits Exchange (I have a love-hate relationship with this one) (View Demo)
  3. Plank with Knee to Elbow (I do this rested on my forearms  – it takes pressure off arms/wrists) (View Demo) (10 per side)

Tabata Closer

The tabata protocol is a HIIT strategy and involves 20 seconds of sprint + 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. Ending with a tabata set is the best – because if we do it right – we are DONE at the end of the 4 minutes!

Below are some ideas for possible exercises – pick ONE for your tabata – or do another one and let me know!

  • Low Impact with Machines: Elliptical, rowing machine, or stationary bike
  • Low Impact without Machines: Body weight squats or lateral lunges
  • Medium to High Impact: Mountain climbers, speed skaters, squat thrusts, sprinting, jump rope, jumping jacks…. you get the idea!

Join Us!

We’d love for you to join us – pick a routine that is out of your “comfort zone” and give it a try and tweet about it using the #workoutswap tag. We can’t wait to here how it goes!

Related Posts:

Additional Information:

Not to put a downer on this FUN stuff, but here’s my disclaimer. I’m not a pro. I am an enthusiast. I have worked out with my trainer for over a year and have been taught proper technique for all these moves. I was not doing this workout 1 year ago – believe me! I know that Suzanne is strong and fit and invited a different kind of workout, and I know that she will approach this from a safe and healthy perspective. Know and listen to your body, get professional advice, and if you want to give this a try, modify it however you need to for safety and health.


18 Responses to “How to Get Out of Your Exercise Comfort Zone: Try a Workout Swap”

  1. Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana November 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    Looks krazy killer!! Your last workout really kicked my butt (and legs) and I expect this to be even tougher than that. (Aaack! Tabada!) You really help to challenge me in different ways, Kris. Thank you so much!

  2. lindsay November 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    so many workouts to choose from. Definitely saving this post. Great ways to bust out of rut. thanks kris!

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 29, 2010 at 7:13 am #

      Lindsay – Seriously, it’s so much fun and it’s a way to be accountable – go figure, twitter-accountability – ha! Good luck and keep us posted!

  3. ragemichelle November 29, 2010 at 3:14 am #

    I’m all about this. Even though I’ve been a slacker and a big part of me wants to continue down that road, the vacation is OVER and it’s time to get back on track.

    Gonna do this tonite. It’s possible that I will be cursing both of you tomorrow. 🙂

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 29, 2010 at 7:14 am #

      I feel you – I’ve been on the road and have had a hard time getting back into a sweaty rhythm. This is so much fun – we’d love to have you! And yes, we do curse eachother afterwards – but all in healthy, good, loving fun! Keep us posted!

      • ragemichelle November 29, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

        I’m afraid it was a wussy version of the workout. But I AM sore and sweaty.

        We’ll give it a shot again tomorrow and see if I can’t amp it up a bit. 🙂

      • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

        It all counts sistah! I’m a slow and steady kind of girl – so no judgment here – I count EVERYTHING (sweaty or not). Good for you for giving it a go – let us know what you “liked” (relative term of course – ha!)

  4. HoneyBNutrition November 29, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    This is so great. To me, variety is one of the most important thing to incorporate in to workouts!

  5. ragemichelle November 29, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Honestly, what I liked MOST? Was having a plan. I’ve been just winging it, which means I’m probably not pushing myself as hard as I should.

    Before it got cold, I just walked and ran. It was easy. (Well, not EASY), but I didn’t have to think about what I was doing at all. Now that the weather has turned, I need to PLAN.

    I’m so afraid of this change. The running was working for me. Stupid Winter.

    Now..which exercise did I like the most? Are you kidding me? None of them. They were hard. 🙂

    But I’m gonna do them again tomorrow night.

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 29, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

      I totally agree with you – when I did Suzanne’s last week, I had my notes and had to totally stay in the game. And I felt accountable to following the plan – I worked out way harder than if I were just winging it. On my own, I would have cheated on a few reps, not done as many exercises, well…. you get the idea. Don’t forget the Suzanne’s weight & Greta’s cardio routine – more great plans! Good for you and welcome to the club!

  6. Todd@PhitZone December 1, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Kris, what an awesome idea. I used to do something similar with a friend at work. Once a month we’d meet at each other’s gym, and go through that person’s workout. It’s fun to train with a workout partner, and this really shook things up.

    This one looks really cool. I’m on the tail end of doing P90X, so I can’t join in just yet, but I’ll be game at the end of the month.

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris December 3, 2010 at 7:38 am #

      Thanks Todd! We would LOVE to have you! It has been super fun, because if I tweet about it, I have to do it LOL. Let us know when you want to join the club 😉

  7. Lisa December 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    This swap is such a cool idea. I’d love to participate!

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris December 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

      We’d love to have you! And everything we do can be TOTALLY modified – so no worries. The fun thing is having a bit of a plan & doing something out of the norm. Plus, since I tweet about it, I feel accountable to do it. So I had 2 workouts this week that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Thanks again Lisa ~


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