Vail Daily column: Stay fresh with fitness challenges |

Vail Daily column: Stay fresh with fitness challenges

Ryan W. Richards
Make It Count

My general fitness advice is to train intelligently using common sense. Training intelligently requires attention to detail during execution, practicing moderate levels of intensity and staying as fresh as possible. Staying fresh is counter to the mainstream idea of high intensity puke sessions that are advocated by many fitness brands. Staying fresh is the opposite of becoming overly exhausted during the implementation of an exercise. After all, fatigue is the enemy of strength; it’s very difficult to maintain any reasonable level of postural integrity during a heavy workout if you’re fatigued. If your goal is to constantly test your mettle by getting your face kicked in during fitness competitions, and fitness is your sport — carry on. But if your goal is to live in the absence of agony while developing exceptional fitness read on.

Fitness challenges once every four to 12 weeks are ideal. Physical challenges objectively measure the efficacy of the program you have been following. Putting your fitness on the line toughens your spirit by highlighting what you’re truly made of. Beating up your body and spirit in the name of health must remain within the context of safety, however. Challenges must be repeatable and should be simple in design to encourage the ease of entry for most fitness enthusiasts. The following trials require minimal equipment and can be performed anywhere. The following tasks involve exercises that are relatively safe under duress; complicated movements under fatigue are not recommended for users who are interested in fitness to supplement sports, recreational pursuits or general wellness.

The Boa Constrictor: Use a 50 pound bag of sand that you can purchase at any hardware store. For the incredibly fit, use a 100 pound bag. Pick up the sand bag and bear hug it across your chest. Walk in one direction for 10 minutes. Drop the bag if you must, but minimize your rest periods to the absolute minimum. After 10 minutes, turn around and walk back. Squeezing the bags hard enough so you don’t drop them will give you an idea of why this is called the Boa Constrictor.

Get Up and Jump: Put on a music playlist. Jump rope for the duration of the first song without stopping. When the song changes, lay down on the ground and get up, switch between getting up from your back and getting up from your stomach. Stand tall each rep. Do this for the duration of the second song. Switch between jumping rope and laying down and getting up every time the song changes. Repeat for 60 minutes. Classic rock music is a sweet spot for fit individuals. For people with less gas in the tank, punk rock works well because the songs are typically shorter. If you opt for classic rock on Pandora for example, just hope you don’t get “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” by Pink Floyd, or “Mountain Jam,” by the Allman Brothers Band, during a jump rope set. For hearty, fit individuals who really want to go for it and have experience with kettlebell training, try this with a 70 pound kettlebell in lieu of body weight get-ups. Women, try a 35 pound bell.

Burpee Challenge: As a cautionary disclaimer, I have not attempted this workout, nor did I invent this like the two workouts above. I read about this online from a fitness brand I admire. The simplicity is what’s appealing. The intensity is worrisome. Perform one burpee. Walk 20 feet, perform two burpees. Walk 20 feet back to the starting position, perform three burpees. Keep walking back and forth increasing the number of burpees in a linear fashion until you’ve reached 20 consecutive burpees. That’s 210 burpees without rest. Perform this workout as fast as possible while maintaining good form.

Report back to me and let me know if you see the light. I just hope it’s not the lights in the emergency room.

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Contact him at or 970-401-0720.

Support Local Journalism