The Lying Ox Workout



First let me say this: I love having space to train. My idea of the perfect gym is basically a massive open space full of farmer’s walk handles and oversized tyres, and I torch more calories just from stomping around to psyche myself up than you’d burn from most Tracy Anderson routines. But, although having space is great, you don’t need it. And pretending that you do is just another lie you might tell yourself in the pursuit of staying out of shape.

There’s a saying in Shaolin-style kung fu: ‘A boxer can practice where only one ox can lie down.’ Some people interpret this to mean that a Shaolin monk will kick your ass without having to move: I prefer to think that it references the minimal space some of the monks – on the run from various dictators, let’s remember – often had to train.

And so, occasionally I try to train myself in the space that an ox could lie down. This is actually quite decent – it’s bigger than a yoga mat, and Bikram practitioners will spend 90 minutes on one of them a couple of times a week. There are many, many ways to do it. But I keep coming back to one favourite:

On the minute, every minute:

10 kettlebell swings

Put the bell down, and ‘walk’ your hands out into a pressup position

10 pressups

Repeat for 10 minutes

BAM. That’s a push, a core-strengthener, a glute-awakener, a pretty serious cardio hit and a fat burner, all in one go. In ten minutes. And you don’t even move your feet. That’s the Lying Ox. Give it a try.

HOMEWORK: Do the Lying Ox. Trained guys should use a 24kg bell, everyone else can use a 20kg or a 16kg – dumbbell swings (gripping one end) are also an option. If you can’t manage the pressups, reduce the reps to something sustainable, or just walk out and hold a plank for 10 seconds instead. None of that kneeling bullshit. Live hard!

About the author


Editor and creator of Live Hard. Fighting enthusiast, steak lover and aficionado of all things self-improvement related.

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