Spiral Workouts

Now many people may look at that title and start wondering, what the heck is that? Well don’t worry, it may sound tricky but in reality it’s not all that. The term spiral refers to the simple act of going up and down, which is pretty much the only two things that a spiral is associated with. You don’t actually spiral at all, you just either increase or decrease the number of repetitions you’re doing of an exercise with each new set. It’s as simple as that. If you’re doing a circuit of press-ups, sit-ups and squat-thrusts, this could mean starting with five of each and then simply increasing that number in increments of five with each subsequent set. Usually you would spiral up as high as you can go until you can’t do any more and then spiral back down. But there are other ways too.

More importantly is the issue of why? What is the benefit to spiral workouts rather than any other type. The simple answer is there’s nothing in particular that makes it better or worse, it’s just another way to vary your workouts. But the positive side to spiral workouts is that they depend purely on the individual. You see, if you follow a set repetition based workout, some people will find it easier than others, making it less of a standard workout for all. Likewise, if you do time-based workouts some people will get more out of them than others. With a limited time period, if you don’t push yourself as hard as you can, you run out of time. Equally, one person may find a 15-minute workout too short, whereas for another it may push them beyond their limits.

With spiral workouts, the amount you do is purely based on your abilities. In the earlier example, one person may only be able to get up to a maximum of 20 repetitions of each exercise whereas another might hit 50. One is doing far more work than the other but relatively speaking, they’re doing the same amount of exercise because each one is going to his own limit. So while it’s a great leveller in terms of working people of vastly differing abilities the same amount, it’s also a great way to push yourself to your max. The idea with spiral workouts is that you more or less push yourself to muscle failure, meaning you can’t actually work those muscles any harder than that!

The down side, however, is that you must set yourself appropriate targets. The earlier example was in fact a bad type of spiral workout because the vast majority of people will not be able to do anywhere near as many press-ups as they can do sit-ups or squat-thrusts, meaning they would get to muscle failure on the press-ups while still finding the other two exercises relatively easy. You have to try to set yourself the right goals to get the most out of a spiral workout. For example if you did skipping, crunches and lunges and increased in single digit increments, the chances are you’d go on forever because your starting point is simply too easy. At the other end of the scale, if you did pull-ups, clapping press-ups and push-up handstands and started off in increments of 10 reps, you wouldn’t likely get very far and your workout would be over almost before it started.

Now you can mix up exercises of varying difficulty but you have to set yourself appropriate rep increments for each one. For example you could do pull-ups in single increments, press-ups by fives and crunches, skips and star-jumps in twenties. That would make it more likey for you to reach difficulty on each individual exercise at a similar time. Like any workout, though, there’s an element of trial and error: you might have to go wrong a few times before you nail it. But don’t forget that if you get right, spiral workouts should leave your muscles quivering, heart thumping and breath panting. And that’s what you want at the end of any workout!



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One Response to “Spiral Workouts”

  1. Helen Coupe May 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Thanks CMM! I am officially spirally challanged and will build into my next FBF workout! PS Great to see a female focused workout today!! thanks Lauren!! H x