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“Death By Abby”

If that title sounds daunting, it should. In honor of another Workout Wednesday, I share the latest and greatest killer workout courtesy of Roberto Murichi, UFX instructor extraordinaire.

The workout concept is pretty basic: a one-minute timer starts counting down as we push out three burpees immediately followed by three kettlebell push presses. With the remaining time in that 60-second window, we begin our quest to conquer 200 sit-ups.

When the timer “dings,” a new 60-second countdown begins and we start all over again with the burpees and move on to the push presses. Then we add on to our previous round of sit-ups and continue to push toward 20o. Every minute marks a new start on the exercise trio. Roberto gave us a max of 20-minutes to reach the 200 mark. I finished in just under 12 minutes. (And second to classmate Zac.)

Here’s what one round looked like:

This killer workout has endless possibilities when it comes to the exercises you can include. Sticking with the 200 sit-up goal, options for the other two exercises include squat thrusters, box jumps or even pull-ups. Whatever exercises you choose, I guarantee you’ll finish feeling like you got your butt kicked pretty hard!

Tonight marks my last UFX class for awhile. I can’t thank Roberto enough for opening my eyes to new workout options and for his motivation and energy! I look forward to keeping in touch with my small group training classmates and meeting up to keep the workouts alive and continue along the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Strong Finish Friday!

AMRAP Example


No need to adjust your eyes. I had no idea what that “word” meant when I first saw it written in erasable marker on a mirror in the gym before one of my first Ultimate Fitness Experience classes. Since then, not unlike the burpee, it’s a word I’ve come to love and hate. It’s an abbreviation that stands for “As Many Reps / Rounds As Possible.”

The directive pushes you to do as much work as possible in a given amount of time. Here are just a few some examples of the high-intensity AMRAPs I’ve pushed through during the past month courtesy of our class instructor Roberto Murichi:

7-minute AMRAP: 21 sit-ups, 7 box jumps
For this workout, you push out as many rounds of 21 sit-ups followed by seven box jumps. You rest when you need to, but of course the idea is to sweat through multiple rounds.

20-minute AMRAP: 15 rear lunges, 15 push presses, 10 kettle bell high pulls
Same concept as above but different exercises for longer amount of time. I managed to get through six rounds. Adding it all up in terms of reps, that meant 90 rear lunges; 90 push presses and 60 high pulls.

If you’re not a complete fitness newbie, AMRAPs can be a great way to make the most of a limited amount of time. You can also progress or regress as needed. The first day of UFX, Roberto had us perform a four-minute Tabata using a combination of four rounds of squats followed by four rounds of sit-ups. That meant pushing out as many squats or sit-ups as we could (or AMRAPs) in a 20-second work period followed by 10 seconds of rest and repeating the cycle eight times. Maybe the first time you try this Tabata, you can barely perform seven squats in 20 seconds. Then a few weeks later, you’re banging out 15-18. Listen to your body about moving at a good pace for you.

Again, these workouts aren’t for the faint of heart or anyone who’s brand spankin’ new to exercise. However, if you’re looking to kick things up a notch, using the AMRAP practice in your workout can be a challenging way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

(Sledge)Hammer Time!

“Action” shot taken by Roberto Murichi

During my 38 years on this planet, I never had any reason to pick up a sledgehammer. That all changed recently, and of all places, it happened at the gym.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I kicked off a small group training class called “UFX” at New York Sports Club back in March. Each and every workout put together by our instructor Roberto Murichi has been unique and challenging. Each one starts with Tabatas. The idea is simple: you perform four minutes of work at high intensity. That breaks down to doing as many reps as you can for 20 seconds straight and resting for 10 seconds. You repeat the cycle eight times for a total of four minutes.

The day I first tried sledgehammer swings, the exercise was just one of five stations Roberto set up for us that day. Roberto captured about 40 seconds of my work with the 12-pound “Thor Hammer” on my iPhone. (You’ll also see a few seconds of my classmate Louis working hard at the squat station.)

Needless to say, after four minutes of sledgehammer swings, my heart was racing, the sweat was pouring and my shoulders and arms were screaming at me a little bit. From watching the short clip, you can also see how the swings force you to maintain core strength to control the motion and hit the tire as your target.(I then had to move on to Tabatas for squats, rings, ropes and sit-ups for a total of 20 minutes of work.)

While I’d be hesitant to use sledgehammer swings as part of workout routine for a fitness newbie, I do believe they’re a great exercise for the more conditioned gym-goer looking to take things up a notch. I’ve also learned the sledgehammer has been a conditioning tool for fighters since the birth of combat sports. Whether you plan to step into the ring or not, adding sledgehammer swings to a workout can help improve work capacity, develop core strength and also build grip and forearm strength. Oh, and the cardio kick doesn’t hurt either!

Of course, like any other new piece of equipment or new set of moves, be sure to get some instruction before you simply pick up a hammer and start swinging. If you do belong to a gym and see a hammer sitting in a corner, don’t be shy. Ask a personal trainer if he or she can help you use the sledgehammer correctly. Don’t forget, understanding how to execute new exercises with proper form is a crucial part of the plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Tabata Training

This week marks the start of round two of the “Ultimate Fitness Experience” small group training class. For the next four weeks, Roberto Murichi will continue to push us to perform kick-butt exercises including burpees, kettlebell swings and push-ups. While I’ve been writing about my experiences in the class, I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to describing a key component: the Tabata Method.

= 1 Tabata

4 Minutes of Rings 

The idea behind the Tabata is this: you perform four minutes of work at high intensity. That breaks down to doing as many reps as you can for 20 seconds straight and resting for 10 seconds. You repeat the cycle eight times.

Sounds simple, right? Well, after a couple of cycles of pushing out as many push-ups, squats or sledgehammer swings as you can, no doubt you’ll feel your heart racing and the sweat starting to pour.

Tabata training gives you lots of mix-and-match options. You can perform a single exercise for one 4-minute Tabata, followed by another exercise and another four-minute Tabata. Or you could try four cycles of squats followed by four cycles of push-ups. Last week, Roberto set up five stations of five different exercises and we had to get through one Tabata at each station. The scenario offered 20 minutes of hard work:

  • Rings
  • Sledgehammer swings
  • Squats
  • Sit-ups
  • Ropes

There’s lots of debate surrounding whether Tabatas and other types of high-interval training are okay for the fitness beginner. Based on my personal experience, I can tell you my strength and endurance gains took a serious hit last year thanks  to a foot injury that put me on the sidelines for several months. When I started working back up to my normal routine, I had a hard time getting through Tabatas. So, for all you fitness newbies, click here for an article I found featuring some suggestions about Tabatas for beginners.

Like any other activity, mixing things up in your workout is a great way to stay motivated to keep moving. Whether it’s Tabata Training, a new group exercise class or a new path for your next run, adding some variety to your exercise routine is a surefire way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


My classmate was amazed I could still smile after the killer workout!

We made it to another Workout Wednesday!

I have no idea where the last four weeks went, but tonight actually marks my last Ultimate Fitness Experience small group training class at New York Sports Club. It’s been a challenging month, as my friend and fellow NASM certified personal trainer Roberto Murichi made sure each and every workout was a true butt-kicking experience.

What I’m about to share with you is not a workout I’d recommend for a fitness newbie or anyone returning to an exercise routine after a hiatus. However, for anyone looking to kick things up a notch – here’s the workout I sweat through on Monday night.

Our warm up consisted of 16 rounds of kettlebell lunges and kettlebell swings. We performed as many reps as possible in 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. We’d switch exercises every two rounds. With our heart rates up, it was time to get to the heart of the workout: the 50-30-20. The idea is simple. The execution, however, is a different story.

Roberto chose four “basic” exercises for us to perform in the following order: push-ups, squats, sit-ups and squat thrusts. (A squat thrust is basically a burpee without the jump at the end.) For round one, we had to perform 50 reps of each exercise. In round two the reps dropped to 30 and finally for the third and final round, we ended with the “easy” task of 20 reps per exercise. So yes, that meant 50 push-ups followed by 50 squats, 50 sit-ups and 50 squat thrusts. At the end of the workout, we’d completed 100 reps of every exercise. Of course, we were allowed to rest whenever we needed to catch our breath or get some water. It took me just under 23 minutes to complete the workout, and kudos to one of my classmates who nailed it in about 18.

The breakdown

Again, the 50-30-20 isn’t  for everyone, and it’s crucial to make sure you add some flexibility training before and after this kind of routine to take care of your muscles. One logistical benefit of this workout is that you don’t need a gym to make it happen. Aside from needing kettlebells for the warm up, the heart of the workout includes exericses that can be done at home or at the park.

I can’t wait to find out what Roberto has in store for us tonight in our last UFX session. I’m glad I took the class, as I learned some new techniques and definitely pushed my body to new levels. Even those of us who thrive on working out can get caught in a rut sometimes, and this class kicked me right out of it! That’s one of the things I truly love about exercise – there’s always something new you can do to to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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