As mentioned yesterday, I’ve started whipping myself back into shape after a few too many nights of meatballs, whisky, and NYC-inspired Tom Foolery.

However, this year’s Big Diet will be markedly different as I intend on doing ZERO CARDIO. Not that cardio is “evil” or “eats teh muscle”; it’s just that cardio is:

Inefficient. If I’m going to head halfway across Manhattan to exercise, I want to accomplish more than just burn 350 digital calories while watching the Sportscenter highlight loop.

A nuisance. My apartment is the size of your average litter box. I can’t find room for toiletries, much less a 3000-pound treadmill.

Sure, there’s walking the mean streets of the East Village first thing in the morning — and I may start doing that eventually — but right now that option blows. It’s cold out. Like, balls cold, as we say back home.

And I do my blogging in the am. You should read it, not try to guilt me into a farce of a pre-dawn neighbourhood stroll so that some surly fishmonger might hurl a dead mackerel at me.

Fishmonger, Jerez, Spain final 13x19 color CRW_2562

Teaches nothing. Here’s a thought. Say you hit the treadmill for three 1-hour runs per week. What does it do? Well, it burns a bunch of calories, improves your cardio vascular capabilities, yadda yadda. Fantastic. And that’s about it.

Now let’s say you swap the cardio for three 1-hour martial arts classes. You’ll burn a similar amount of calories but also work different movement planes and improve flexibility — things that basic gym training doesn’t address.

(A big part of my training code is to expose yourself to new things, identify any weaknesses, and then address them. I call it having no holes in your game. More on that later.)

You’ll also build confidence and develop a skill that could one day save your life, something you can’t say about that strobe light filled spin class you took in SoHo.

Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, boxing, BJJ are all options. I prefer Krav Maga, though you have to make sure the school is legit.

That caveat applies to any martial arts training — be wary of any school that tries too hard to emphasize how “fun” the training is or how it’s a “great workout.” The aerobic benefits may be your motive but the class should focus on drilling the skills. In other words, it shouldn’t look like Zumba.



Not this:



I’ll cover this in a future post, but as my diet progresses I’ll slowly incorporate more and more met-con (metabolic conditioning) work, especially for lower body. These workouts are basically like cardio on a 3-day meth binge. For now check out the intelligent insanity at — some of the posterior chain-emphasis workouts in particular are terrifying.

Enough cardio bashing. This is supposed to be about my leg day! Here it goes…

A1) DB Spilt Squat – 4 x 8. I do these first to help loosen up my hips before squatting. And yes, my knee goes past my toe, much to the weekend certification crew’s chagrin. 40 pounds x 8.

A2) Glute-Ham Raise – 5 x Fail.



B1) Front Squat, Clean Grip. 6 x 6/4/2; 6/4/2. According to my friend and trainer Dan Trink, the fact that I can back squat really well only makes my front squat look even more like, uh, shit. What can I say, I’m working on it.

185 pounds x 6, 205 x 4, 225 x 2; 205 x 6, 225 x 4, 245 x 2.

B2) Lying Leg Curl — 4 x 4-6. Toes neutral on the concentric, toes pointed on the 4-second eccentric.

C1) Standing Calf — 3 x 8. Heavy here, with a one-second pause in the top and stretch position. No rest:

C2) Donkey Calf Raise — 3 x 30. That’s right, this gym has an old skool donkey calf machine! No homo, no problemo.

D) Glute Extensions. 2 x 20. I’m not a fan of barbell hip thrusts (sorry Bret) though I do enjoy doing the single-leg version unloaded for glute activation purposes as part of a warm-up. That said, along with the donkey calf machine from 1950, the gym has an old plate-loaded glute machine. I like to blast a few high-rep sets after my heavy work is done. Plus, it makes the girls think I’m sensitive.

Krav Maga x 1 hour — Today we did elbows. Lots and lots of elbows. I feel like a shorter, whiter, less athletic Jon Bones Jones. With bigger calves.