Everyone loves to overcomplicate training. It’s easy to believe that there’s a secret formula out there that will work if you can only find it – that someone, somewhere has invented the set, rep and percentage-of-max combination that’ll unlock your genetic potential. But there’s only one real secret:
You have to do the stuff you hate.
You know what you need to do: it’s the stuff you consistently avoid, because you aren’t good at it or because it’s boring. For you, it might be heavy squats or long slow runs or foam-rolling. For me, it’s direct ab work and correctives. How do you do this stuff? Easy: you trick yourself into doing it.
For a while I’d been thinking about doing Roxanne, Sting’s awesome love song and Grammy smash, as a squat workout: the idea would be that you’d do a rep every time the big man yells his lady-of-the-night friend’s name, and ‘rest’ with the bar on your back the rest of the time. The problem with this? There’s a lot of singing, and not much squatting. Boring.
Then I got bored one Saturday and amazed myself with a revelation: why not do it with press-ups?
Genius, I know.
So here’s the workout.
1. Find a version of Roxanne somewhere (this one is fine).
2. Hit play, and get into a press-up position plank – the top position of a press-up.
3. Whenever Sting sings ‘Roxanne’, do a full-ROM press-up – your chest should touch the floor at the bottom of the move. For style points, do a slow-tempo press-up on the long notes. And yes, of course you have to do the one in the fadeout.
4. That’s it.
I won’t spoil how many press-ups you’ll have to do (spoilers!), but they’re not really that challenging. The real toughness is in holding that plank – it starts out very easy, but you’ll certainly feel it by the end. Back health expert and trunk-stabilisation specialist Dr Stuart McGill says that if you can’t do a two-minute plank then your ab routine (whatever it may be) isn’t working, and so really you should be able to manage 3:14 as a point of mere pride. Would it be worth going beyond that? Well, maybe – but if Roxanne is too easy, then try the super-plank. Smartarse.
So there’s your training plan for today. Forget conjugate periodisation and the Smolov programme, and trick yourself into doing some ab work while you listen to one awesome song.
HOMEWORK: Seriously, get on this. Fully-fledged Live Harders should be able to do the full thing with a strict plank throughout, but if you aren’t, then try to rest in the downward or upward dog positions rather than just lying on the floor. Do not do knee press-ups – they do almost nothing to improve core stability, and translate incredibly badly to full press-ups. I’d much rather you did wall press-ups or just did half the song and tried to improve. But whatever you’re going to do, do it today. It’s only three minutes.