Did my first Cage Fitness workout earlier today. First thoughts - damn glad I took Friday off.
This is a picture-perfect example of HIGH intensity interval training. The basic premise is a wide variety of exercices, done one right after the another, in 5 minute "rounds" with a minute rest between.
5 rounds, 5 rest periods = 30 minutes of pain and fun.
Each round consists of 6 exercises done for 45 seconds, and a 7th done for 30 seconds.
The only equipment they have is a training bag that has webbing handles spaced on two sides and near the top. It is about 3 feet tall, and weighs probably 30-40lbs.
Just about every exercise is something you may have done before, but it has an MMA twist.
The rounds were broken up by general exercise type, and it went so fast that a lot of the middle is a blur.
Round 1 was the "Warm-up". The instructor told us that this was actually the hardest group of exercises, and that the goal should be to survive this one and then "hold on for the rest". We held the bag upright, shuffled around to opposite sides to deliver knee strikes. We curled the bag and then drove it into the ground. We jumped over the bag repeatedly. We slid the bad along the ground across our body by pulling with the opposite arm - the friend I was with ripped one of his toenails off on the first rep! We ended with a "ground and pound" which consisted of kneeling on the bag with one knee while hammering it with punches, hammer fists, elbows, etc.
Rounds 2 and 3 had a lot of lifting and bodyweight exercises. We did squats while bearhugging the bag, squats over the bag followed by 2 punches, barbell rows, deadlifts, pushups with left arm down, right arm on the bag to both on the bag, to left arm on the bag and right arm down (and repeat - they were called around the world pushups). We also did a plank with our elbows on the bag and then had to knee strike the bag with alternate legs - that was crazy. Mountain climbers, tricep dips on the bag, and iso lunges over the bag followed by a punch. Ground and pound was repeated.
The 4th round consisted of all of the toughest exercises from rounds 1-3. The squats, the around the world pushups, the kneestrike planks, lunge punches, and so on.
Round 5 was Core/Cooldown - this was a lot of ab work on our backs with our legs wrapped around the bag. Started with feet gripping the bag so we could do a situp followed by 2 hammerfist strikes on it, Then we jumped up to sit on the middle of the bag and do situps. Then we got back on the ground and did crunches, crunches where we had two elbow strikes, and finally crunches where we alternated shoulders to slip past the bag. There were also hip raises with our feet on the bag and our shoulders on the ground, and we also used it to steady ourselves while we did circles in the air with our legs straight up and together. There was very little "cooldown" here.
It was an amazing workout. Round 1 felt like it lasted forever, but the next thing I knew we were starting round 5 and then it was done. You simply don't have time to process it all. The bearhug squats in Round 4 were brutal - if we had done it for much longer than 45 seconds, I probably would have puked. You're doing your normal squats, with your abs tight, but then you have this giant bag that you are squeezing into your body - it was rough.
For anyone that wants to do this - find out if you can wear shoes, and get some gloves to protect your knuckles.
I assumed that since it was a TKD dojo, we wouldn't be able to wear shoes on the mat. Turns out it was allowed, but I had worn sandals. The biggest problem I had was keeping my feet planted on things like the around the world pushups and mountainclimbers - I kept slipping. I brought my workout gloves that I had used for heavy bag work before, so I was ok on that front, but only one other person in the class had a pair.
I highly recommend it for someone looking for a change of pace. This is a system that is starting to crop up around the country, and I was able to get a free class to try it out.
http://cagefitness.com/cage-fitness-locator is where you find out if there is one near you.
About 60% of the exercises are shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEc_4vf_3Ho but in the actual class things were much faster. They show the around the world pushups for example, but in the video they are about 50% as fast as we were doing them in class.