Featured Workout: Weight Plate Complex

I used to spend hours each week doing cardiovascular endurance training: running, biking, swimming laps, step classes, kickboxing, etc.  I suffered multiple athletic injuries over the years and only rarely took a day off. When I was first diagnosed with autoimmune disease, I was in the middle of training for a marathon.  I was addicted to chronic cardio. A large part of my healing journey was learning how to find balance around my love of fitness.  Chronic cardiovascular exercise increases intestinal permeability, or in other words, it exacerbates a leaky gut.  I don't think that my love of all things cardio was the cause of my autoimmune disease by any means, but it was likely one of the many factors that served as a trigger.  Chronic endurance training is not a good exercise choice for anyone dealing with an autoimmune disease.

Today, I am able to enjoy jogging for a few miles a couple of times a week.  I do this because I still love running, it feels good, and my dog appreciates the exercise.  But the vast majority of my cardiovascular training takes place through high intensity interval training (HIIT), metabolic resistance training, and conditioning circuits.  There are some technical differences between these terms, but they can all involve lifting weights at a faster pace than you normally would when performing traditional strength training.

This week's featured workout is a "complex", which means that several movements are performed in succession without putting the weight down or taking a break between exercises.  The goal is to increase your heart rate while working on muscular strength at the same time.  Complexes can be performed with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, weight plates, water jugs, or toddlers :) ...basically anything that you can wrap your hands around.  For this complex, I chose to use a 25-lb weight plate.  Depending on your fitness level, you can select more or less weight.

Weight Plate Complex

  • Overhead Reverse Lunges x5 Each Leg
  • Row x 10
  • Bicep Curl to Shoulder Press x 10
  • Weight Plate Swing x 10
  • Overhead Triceps Extension x 10
  • Full Release Push-up (Chest to Plate) x 10
  • Ski Jump over Plate x 10

Perform 10 reps of each exercise in succession without taking a rest.  Rest for one minute and then repeat for a total of 4 complete sets of the complex.

Post your time in the comments below!  Enjoy your workout!

Featured Movement: Toes to Barbell

As part of the many changes taking place here on the Paleo Nurse blog, I'm going to be including more fitness-related content, especially as it relates to those who are living a Paleo lifestyle and/or struggling with autoimmune disease.  One of the things that I know people struggle with is keeping workouts fresh and fun, so each week, I'll be featuring a movement or a workout that you can incorporate into your own routine. This week's featured movement is 'Toes to Barbell'.  This is an exercise that will work the core, especially targeting the lower abdominal muscles.  As an added bonus, it also works on shoulder stability.  Typically, when I perform this movement, I use a straight, Olympic barbell.  I didn't have one available, so I modified with a curved barbell.  If you are at an intermediate level, using a curved barbell may be a good option because it weighs less and you can slowly add weight as you progress.  If you are a beginner, I recommend performing the exercise without any weight, focusing on the lower body movement only.  As you progress, you can add dumbbells and slowly increase the weight until you are ready to try a barbell.

To perform this movement, position the barbell directly over your chest.  Your chest and shoulder muscles should be engaged to hold the barbell up throughout the movement.  Your upper body does not move at all throughout the exercise.  Once you have the barbell in position, lift and lower your legs.  The goal is to touch your toes or shins to the barbell.  If you don't have the flexibility yet, just bring them up as far as you can.  Slowly lower the legs back down to the ground using a controlled movement.  You do not want to slam the feet into the ground!  The heels should lightly touch and then come back up for another rep.  Throughout the movement, you should engage the abdominal muscles and press your lower back into the ground.  If your lower back arches at all during the movement, that is a sign that you need to modify a bit.  To modify, don't bring your legs all the way down.  Only bring them down as far as you can without your lower back coming off the ground.  In the video, I demonstrate the full movement and a modified version in which I'm only bringing my legs half-way down.

If you have any comments or questions about this movement, feel free to leave them below.  I'd also love to hear how you plan to incorporate this exercise into your routine this week!