So I'm trying to get back into my work-out habit, and thought I'd try something new since I don't have easy access to a gym that I'm comfortable using1.
So I picked up one of those funny doorway-pull up bars, and trying a pyramid/circuit thingy. Basically, for every chin-up/pull-up I do, I do two push-ups and three sit-ups. Start at 1 pull-up/chin-up for a set, after I finish the set I do two chin-up/pull-up, and so-on until I can't do more chin-ups/pull-ups, then go back down the other side.
And if my explanation is non-sensical... Set 1: 1 pull-up, 2 push-ups, 3 sit-ups Set 2: 2 pull-ups, 4 push-ups, 6 sit-ups Set 3: 3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups, 9 sit-ups ... Set n: n pull-ups, 2n push-ups, 3n sit-ups Set n+1: n-1 pull-ups, 2(n-1) push-ups, 3(n-1) sit-ups ... Set 2n-2: 2 pull-ups, 4 push-ups, 6 sit-ups Set 2n-1: 1 pull-up, 2 push-ups, 3 sit-ups.
It... tired me out. Which I suppose is the point. But my question is this: how well does this sort of circuit/pyramid work? I mean, I'm always being warned from pyramid schemes, so I'm a little skeptical4.
Also: If I decide to do squats or something as well5, would it work to mix them in with the pyramid circuit (same # as push-ups?) or something? ________ 1That is to say, I do have easy access to a gym, but I'm not comfortable going to a gym used primarily by current military members. I mean [Section 2 violation], I barely had the self confidence to use a gym primarily used by faculty members at the college and other scrawny/overweight geeks. Having ripped sailors and marines around2? Yeah... not comfortable with that3. 2A boy can dream. 3Yes, I'm neurotic. 4A joke. Ha-ha. 5Probable. My masculine vainity does not like old-lady thighs6. 6Apologies to any old ladies in the audience who have awesome thighs.
If you really want to get into shape, suck it up and pick up some weights. You'll progress a lot further and a lot faster. I do plenty of body weight exercises, but usually either as a burnout (doing pushups at the end of my chest workout until I hit muscle failure, and actually even then it's usually weighted pushups) or just as something thrown in on a different muscle group day (so on a back day I might still do a few sets of pushups at home). I usually do pyramids when I'm training for a PT test where I'm just trying to get my body used to squeezing out as many reps as possible vs my normal training where I'm trying to increase my weight lifting.
As far as circuits, I'm not really a fan, although it depends on how it's set up. A lot of times you see circuits where people go from one random exercise to another random exercise (the Army does this a lot) and in the end you've worked every muscle group a little, but none of them a lot. If you set up a circuit that focuses on specific muscle groups you could be good. So maybe exercise 1 is wide arm pushups, 2 is situps, 3 is chest dips, 4 is crunches, 5 is diamond pushups, 6 is leg lifts, etc. That way your body burns a lot of energy by not resting in between sets like during normal weight lifting (but you are alternating muscle groups to give them a chance to recover) and you are focusing on hitting specific muscle groups over and over with different exercises. Of course, this is just my opinion, I'm not like a personal trainer or anything.
For squats, you should be mixing them into a circuit with other leg exercises. Do squats, box jumps, calf raises (standing on a box or ledge of some kind to get that full range of motion), and burpees. I usually mix legs with abs (since a lot of ab exercises use the thighs and hip flexors) but really it's whatever.
And really the circuit you have set up isn't terrible, but like I said it'll be slower than if you lift weights. You'll also probably get bored really quickly with the lack of variety. That's another reason to throw in lots of different exercises. Not only do they work muscles in different ways, but they keep you engaged. My rule of thumb is that if I'm bored during a workout, I'm doing it wrong and it's time to change up my routine again.
As far as confidence, just suck it up and deal with it. Get a buddy to go with you to help spot you and motivate you. I felt the same way at first, but pretty soon you realize that no one is laughing at you, and a lot of the guys there aren't really that ripped or buff (you just tend to notice the ones who are and thus that's the image that gets stuck in your mind when you think of the gym). And as you start to improve, so will your confidence and you won't feel so bad in there.
Preferably you should pair up with someone that knows their way around the gym and can help you with different exercise, make sure you have proper form, etc. If not, go to bodybuilding.com. They have premade workout regimes and videos of the exercises. And when in doubt, ask someone at the gym. Most guys there have no problem helping you out. In fact, it's a compliment to ask them for help or advice so it gives them an ego boost.
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We did some pyramid lifting for a while. It was absolutely devastating, too. Well, the high weight low reps one was painful but damned effective - and sorta fun. We did sets of 6, 4 and 2 with the goal of finding whatever weight you could only get that many reps with. So, we increased between every set. Then you go back down. Brutal. I think you're supposed to just use the same weight the whole time, but whatever. Sometimes we do dumb stuff. Anyhoo, at the end of a month of that, all of us were stronger. Then we did a month of low weight high reps. Like 16, 14, 12. That was insanely bad. Like, 'I don't wanna do this stuff anymore' bad. In the end, we lost some strength, too. But we also lost weight so that particular workout got filed for later, different use. But yeah, pyramid stuff can work well but, like any other regimen, it'll eventually lose effectiveness and you'll need to change up. Oh, and get back to weights when you can. Much betterer.
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To be honest... it depends on what kind of shape you want to get into1. What is the end result you want? How do you want to look? If you are looking to get big and buff like the sailors, Naga's suggestion is great. Pick up some weights. If you are looking to build up muscle endurance and get cut up, circuit training, when properly done, can be great.
So what are your workout goals?
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