Star Crossed: Bob Harper CrossFit Workout
If you're serious about the gym and love to lift weights, you probably don't watch The Biggest Loser. It may be a smash hit show on NBC currently filming its 13th season, but it appeals to women and overweight people who just can't seem to get a grip on their eating habits - not tough guys like you who have the discipline to hit the gym 3-to-5 days per week and never stray from your diet. That is you, right?
Whether this describes you or not, it's understandable if you don't know much about Bob Harper - trainer on The Biggest Loser since it began in 2004 and now an author, spokesman and motivational speaker. It's also possible that you don't think too highly of him. That may change, though, as Harper, 46, has recently entered the CrossFit arena. A growing movement of training diehards who have branded 1,500 gyms worldwide just in the past decade, CrossFit offers participants group training that meshes all kinds of workout philosophies to achieve performance-oriented but well-rounded fitness. Workouts are more or less randomly assigned and may include elements of Olympic lifting, powerlifting, sprinting, body-weight conditioning and plyometrics. Sessions are timed, with the goal being to become more efficient at the routine the next time around. While CrossFitters, as they're called, generally don't sign up to get bigger biceps or ripped abs, they often find that aesthetic results appear as a side benefit of better overall fitness.
"I've been a trainer for a long time and I've always built my workouts around circuit training," Harper says. "But jumping into CrossFit was like jumping into the deep end of a pool. These workouts are so compact. I used to do long sessions all the time, and my body started to get beat up. But with CrossFit, it's almost like my body is finally getting a chance to rest while at the same time I'm pushing it harder than I've ever pushed it."
Unlike some celebrities, Harper didn't just show up at a CrossFit gym for a photo op, sling a few kettlebells around for show, and promptly disappear. He's been a devoted member of BRICK CrossFit, L.A.'s premier location, ever since a friend brought him along for a workout last year. "I went there, and it was the most intimidating thing I've done in a long time," Harper recalls. "The members were looking at me like, 'Who the f#ck is this guy?' I had to swallow my pride and get my ass handed to me. But after the initiation process, I felt like I was a member of the club."
Harper worked hard to prove he wasn't just a TV trainer with a Hollywood attitude. "The Owner told me, 'When you first walked in, I hated you.' I said, 'How could you hate me? You didn't even know me.' And he said, 'Because you have the job every trainer wants'." Harper won him over with his open mind and positive attitude, and now he wants to spread the CrossFit gospel through the far-reaching pulpit available to him - The Biggest Loser.
Look for a strong CrossFit influence in the show's next season. Harper has been designing WODs (Workout of the Day - CrossFit lingo for the different routines), and the contestants are loving them. "I'm turning these people into badasses," says Harper of his team. "They have a new swagger." The reason for this is not only because weight is coming off their bodies, but muscles are bulging out as well.
"I have a team of five girls and two guys, and they're beating the other team badly because they're so much stronger," Harper says, noting that the value of strength is somewhat of a revelation to him. Harper had favored endurance activities in the past, like running and cycling. "I used to make fun of weightlifters who were grunting and screaming and dropping the weights, and now I'm that person! I can't help it. I have this newfound aggression, and the angrier I get, the better my workouts are."
Harper is proud of his time on "Linda," a CrossFit WOD where the deadlift, bench press and clean are performed in succession for 10 sets. "I did it in less than 25 minutes," he says, "using one-and-a-half times my body
weight on the deadlift."
Harper's passion for the CrossFit life has caught the attention of Greg Glassman, the British coach and ex-gymnast who founded the group.
He has invited Harper to get certified as a CrossFit coach. Harper says he plans to when his schedule lightens up.
"It's funny because I'm so trainer-oriented," Harper says. "I've been on Oprah and all these other shows, but when I found out that Glassman wanted to talk to me, I'm like, "Wait, who called me? The CrossFit god?' That's much cooler to me."
Take a stab at a new WOD
How It Works
CrossFit WODs may vary greatly from one to the next, but they always have one common trait: brutal intensity. The following workout, designed by Harper and dubbed "The Bob," requires only your body weight, but the pace is blistering. "It changes the planes the body moves in," he says. "Keep a chart of your workouts and times. You'll know your body is responding when your time goes down."
Perform the workout one or two times per week. You can follow your current training regimen the other days of the week, but rest at least a day before completing this workout.
How To Do It
Perform the exercises as a circuit and repeat for five total rounds. The goal is to complete the workout in as little time as possible, so rest only as much as you absolutely need to.
Hang from the pull-up bar with hands outside shoulder width. Retract your shoulder blades and swing your legs back so your torso moves forward. Then contract your chest and swing your legs forward and use the momentum to help you pull your chin up over the bar.
MODIFY IT: If Kipping pull-ups are too hard, do regular ones. If that's still too hard, attach an elastic exercise band to the bar, create a loop, and rest your feet on it. Perform pull-ups standing in the loop. The band will unload some of your body weight, making it easier to pull yourself up.
Set up a box that's moderately challenging to jump up onto. Swing your arms back to gather momentum and then jump onto the box and stick the landing. Step off the box and repeat the jump immediately.
From a standing position, bend down and touch the floor. Now shoot your legs straight out behind you so you end up in a push-up position. Reverse the motion to return to your feet and jump as high as you can.
Lower your body to the floor as in a normal push-up, but rest your chest in the bottom position. Raise your hands off the floor an inch or so, and then place them back on the floor and push yourself up.
Get into push-up position and then bend your elbows so your forearms rest on the floor. Keeping your body in a straight line and your abs braced, move one hand at a time into the bottom position of a push-up. Push yourself up to the top position, and then bend one elbow at a time to return to the plank position.
- Follow This Discussion by:
I've just started circuit training its so fun. I thought I was in good shape until I tried it out and found out I have a long way to go. I can admit I'm not where I would like to be at doing this type of training but I will be I've added it to my weekly workout plan.
Since when is kipping pull ups harder then regular ones?
Right? I kip up as a cheat rep after completing real pull ups. Crossfit is about the numbers and not so much about the art of weightlifting. Different world. I'd like to meet a cross fit bodybuilder XD
@Zazen....couple of things...first kipping vs strics its the type of debate that has no purpose because the two movements have seperate purposes...the kip is for explosiveness and speed and the strict pullup is mainly for strength .. in my opinion I think you should do both to get the benefit of both. Second, If you would like to meet a crossfit bodybuilder watch the espn crossfit games. Many of the elite guys and girls are lifting weights twice their weight....just sayin
@ biglebowski711: Lifting weights twice your bodyweight is more of a powerlifting MO than a bodybuilding one. Infact, most bodybuilders train with moderate poundages because it is a intensity more conducive to hypertrophy.
However I do agree with you that different training strategies accomplish different results. If you're training for a sport like wrestling or football, explosiveness and power are important and Crossfit addresses those needs. If you're training more for an aesthetic end such as a bodybuilding, Crossfit will do little besides hamper your gains, shape, and muscle symmetry.
@jwethall I do agree with you .. it is a powerlifting move. I was just saying in response to zazen wanting to see a crossfitt bodybuilder. Not sure what he really meant by it thats all. Just making a point like he did.
As for your cf will do little besides hamper your gains, shape and muscle symmetry that makes no sense at all. There are people in my gym that take the bodybuilding approach and year after year I see no difference in them....and yes this can apply to cf'itters as well. But I know plenty of cf'itters that have had gains in increased weight / their shape and muscle symmetry. Its not all day everyday powerlifting workouts. To each their own
Not the case. I'm one that is not an advocate of "cheating" on reps, but kipping pull-ups are different in nature because the focus is on body coordination and explosiveness. It's actually harder to do than you would think. Plus remember, CrossFit WODs are timed. You can do 100 "beginner" pull-ups in an "Angie" WOD if you want... I promise you'd come in dead last in a competition.
Im glad to see Bob has an open mind and wanted to try something different.
Zazen3- There is a hybrid his name is Jason Kalipia he was an ex-bodybuilder and has converted to Crossfit. He was 2008 CF champ. With that said I am certain by his size he still dabbles in bodybuilding styles of training.
CF and Boddybuilding are best when implemented together for that athletic look. However if you want to be the biggest guy in the gym CF probably isnt for you.
For all you thinking CF isnt real or cheats in movements I challenge you to try it, I bet you get your *** whooped; I know I did when i started. I will caution anyone trying CF for the first time get plenty of rest, I tore up my shoulders creating my own WOD's and went a little over board. I received some of the best results I have ever seen in a short amount of time though.
Why be good at one thing when you can be good at many things-CF moto!!!!
Oh FYI- Kipping P/U are not designed to cheat, they are designed for coordination and strength, the kipping part is an actual art in progress that many do not and can not accomplish. Its not some wild way to kick up to get that last rep, you can think of it as controlled explosion.
7-Day Starter Kit For Men & Women!