Back to the Barbell | Strength and Conditioning

by Marianne  - September 13, 2011

Hey everyone,

I decided it was time for another Barbell and Kettlebell Combo “Workout” and I loosely designed what looked like a great Strength and Conditioning Training session on me wee note pad. All I had to do was just go and do it!  Now it’s time for a little story + a lesson.

It was Monday morning and I was just out of work after doing a single night shift on Sunday.  This meant I had been awake for over 24 hours by the time I had replied to my emails/comments for that morning, got my camera, my bench, my change of clothes and driven 30 minutes to get to Performance Physio Studio! My back had been giving me a little niggle during the night and I had felt a little under the weather during my shift. I would like to say I braved it but I moaned constantly to my colleagues during my shift and got ZERO sympathy – caring profession my arse 😉

Anyway, after the drive down, I was exhausted and found it really difficult to even motivate myself to set up for the training ahead. But I pushed through and got warmed up anyway because I had already had 2 days off.

Due to the tiredness and because I felt like, well, turd, I decided to take it easier and not go too heavy in any of the barbell exercises. Believe me, this is hard to do, when you are used to adding more weight after each set, but I set higher reps and off I went.

Should I have done the workout at all, or should I have rested? Because of how I felt at the start (being tired and a little sore) I could have easily have made a good case to laze about that day. Instead, I adapted the workout to account for the way I was feeling so that I didn’t end up worse and ensuring I still got benefits from the session. I felt so much better afterward – even my back!

I had to ask myself “is this pain any different to the pain I have had before?”, NO, “is it a dangerous pain” NO, “is it maybe an excuse Marianne?” Wellll…

No, it wasn’t an excuse really, but it wasn’t a new injury (in fact I don’t think it’s an injury at all, but I’m still in denial about that) and I know from experience that I can train through it as long as I don’t go heavy. I also know that I can train when I am tired but a moderate workout feels better – so that’s what I did!

If I had gone all that way and not trained, or had just sat about the house being tired, I would have got more pain from doing nothing and I would not have achieved anything! So I think I did the right thing. Today, I feel great – pain is much improved and I can go about  my daily business and get other things done – boring chores like booking my car in for a service and posting letters etc … yawn!

The lessons:

  • Sometimes we can make obstacles bigger than they have to be.
  • Just because something is sore does not always mean training with pain will be dangerous (although if you are in doubt about any pain or an injury, seek advice from a professional first).
  • Plan the workout, but allow for some flexibility in the intensity/weights/reps/exercises – be adaptable
  • Ask yourself questions and make assessments of your own form, ability etc

The Workout

When I go to the gym, I usually set up a squat rack and a deadlifting platform beside each other and I do super-sets of some sort of squat verses sumo deadlifts back and forth … I’m crazy like that LOL! But yesterday, having only one barbell, I decided to super-set or “couple” the barbell exercise with a KB or bodyweight conditioning exercise.  I also decided to focus the Session on lower body!

I gradually increased the weight with the squats, but I then decided to keep the weight more or less the same for the deadlifts (to work on form) and the glute bridges (as time became an issue).

For the second exercise in each section, set your Gymboss Interval Timer for one interval of 1 minute, or whatever time suits your fitness level. Perform as many reps as you can in that time.

Complete 3 rounds of each couplet:

Section 1

  1. Barbell Box Squats (started with a low box, but raised it as needed) (40kg, 47.5kg, 50kg)  x 10 – 15 reps (15, 15, 10)
  2. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing (20kg) x 1 minute (35, 35, 35) – should’ve gone heavier!

Section 2

  1. Sumo Deadlift (60kg, 80kg, 80kg) x 10 – 15 reps (15, 12, 10)
  2. Side to Side Step Ups x 1 min (64, 61, 61)

Section 3

  1. Barbell Glute Bridges (80kg) x 10 – 15 reps (15, 15, 13)
  2. Stand-Kneel-Stand (left) (16kg) x 1 min (18, 14, 14)
  3. Stand-Kneel-Stand (right) (16kg) x 1 min (18, 15, 13)

Each section was tough, but from one section to the next I took longer recovery. After the first section was the longest (5 – 7 mins) because I had to drag the heavy duty mats out and set up the bar for Deadlifts.

I was annoyed by my squats and in hindsight I should have done something else. In the gym the box I use is a little lower than the high setting on the Reebok Deck, so I was out of sync with this box because it was too high! Next time I want the box to be below parallel. Plus out of all the exercises the squat annoyed my back a little, but maybe that was more down to that being my first exercise, after a while it was better. Normally my squat feels a lot better than it did this day as I have been working on it every week since I came home from the USA.

I could nit-pic all day, but I won’t – some days you train great and others not so great. This session went fairly well. The KB swing felt great and the stand-kneel-stands are actually getting easier, also the sumo deadlift felt a lot better than before so those are good points to take away.

After the session was over, I went and got some food and chilled out the rest of the day.

Hopefully this workout will give you more of an idea of how you can change things up in the gym. You don’t always have to divide strength and conditioning exercises up and you don’t always have to go all out on MAX strength either. As Ben Bruno said in a recent blog post about measuring progress “Better form is still a form of progression”, which is a great point!

Hope you enjoy!



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Rep it Out! Kettlebell and Body Weight Workout

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  1. Marianne,

    How do you load the bar onto your hips for your glute bridges? That’s probably a silly question, but I’ve never seen you when you actually load. Do you put on your weights and then slide under the space? Also, where do you ladies find these awesome (and usually empty!) gyms? I’m currently going to a commercial gym where everything is super crowded with machines. There is one squat and one power rack. Alas, no deadlifting platform. If I want to deadlift I either have to take up a rack (they just use the damned things for curls anyway, ugh!) or steal a bar from a bench and do my lifts in the 3 foot aisle between the benches and machines. And I block the benches. I have a feeling I’m going to have to schedule my training sessions at about 5 or 6 am so I can have all the weights to myself. Bwahaha.

    1. Hey Sable. I sit on the floor with my legs out straight and just roll the bar up to the right level. The plates are big enough so I fit under the bar. If the plates you have are not big enough then yo can make a little platform for them to sit on and allow you room to slide under 🙂

      Usually I go to the gym in the morning about 10 or 11 – it’s not busy then at all! 😀

  2. Hi, this is my first post on this blog. I’ve been keeping an eye on your blog for the last couple months but I’ve only recently started doing some of your workouts. I did this one today and boy my buns are sore!
    I was actually really surprised. I’ve been following another blog called and I thought I was some tough stuff. But your workouts have been really tough and challenging:-) Thanks for doing what you’re doing. I’ve become so used to doing such a variety of interesting and new workouts I can never go back!

    1. Hey there! Thanks for visiting and for your feedback. I am really glad that my workouts can offer you an extra challenge and some more variety to your training. I think that BodyRock’s workouts are good for supplementing your strength training and also for those days when you don’t have much time for a full body workout but still want to do something fun. In fact I will say if you continue to progress your strength training, you will see much better results in your overall performance in strength AND conditioning 🙂 Variety is definitely a great way to stay motivated!


  3. I did this workout on Friday with modifications, I also used only kettle bells. and I did Turkish get ups instead of the stand kneel exercises, also I skipped rope instead of the box jumps.
    I thought it was a really good workout, and I pushed quite hard, plus I sailed in really harsh wind and seas so my body is quite sore.
    Much rest needed. Hope you had a great weekend.

  4. i wondered myself if it was form….. should my back be flat as i’m going down to pick up the weight. It was only on the first Dl, for some reason if i remember correctly i did not have this problem with the Sumo DL.. do you have a tutorial on this. or if you don’t who is the best person to watch.

    1. I’m confused … “first DL”? I only did one type of DL in this vid. Your back should always be flat. As I go heavier, sometimes my lower back starts to round a little WHICH IS WRONG of me. I am trying to strengthen my lower back and form to stop this happening above 85kg. You should check out the following link because it has THE BEST and more thorough information on the DL and all its variations. Scroll down to see a section on the Sumo DL, although mostly the principles stay the same.

  5. Hi Marianne,
    Thanks for another great workout! Man, I sure do HATE you when I am doing the stand kneel stands (but always love you again after 🙂 ). I was feeling motivated today (or maybe just wanted to punish myself for some reason), so I added some hanging leg lifts into one couplet, and a fourth couplet at the end with push ups, dips, and plank climbers. By the end, I really didn’t know what I was thinking with the extra couplet, Haha. But I pushed through and finished. Yay! I always look forward to your workouts, and inspiring words! Especially on days when I don’t feel the motivation to push myself. It is great to have you as that little voice saying, just do it. Thanks again for all you do, even when you are crazy enough to workout after being up for 24 hours. I hope you got to catch up on some rest since then! I find that I my body does better when I workout 3-4 days a week too. I used to try to push myself to do 6 days a week, but it was too much. I felt tired and burnt out. I look and feel better then ever, and people don’t believe me when I say I don’t workout everyday, and for less than an hour. Haha.
    Hope you have a great day!


    1. You are a glutton for punishment Amanda – Great job! Motivation is something we all struggle with from time to time, so it is nice to be able to talk it out. After I do this, I feel much better and often can’t wait to train 🙂

      I think too, if you know you are only training 3-4 times a week, you become more efficient with your time and do better exercises and put more effort in. It definitely yields better results to have more recovery too!

  6. ok i attempted to do this workout. ha ha ha ha , The last couplet was a joke for me. First of all i had done another workout yesterday that consisted of some stand kneel stands. so with that in mind, i only did one round of these for 45 seconds, WIHOUT WEIGHT, AS I WAS ALREADY spent, whipped, dying from the first two couplets and the bridges. Man you are he-woman for sure. i almost would rather try the stand kneels stands in the middle, not for sure. Also when i was doing the sumo DL my back hurt, i’m not sure if it was because this is not something i have done for years, or if its because weight was to heavy. any suggestions. I was only lifting 10lbs per side, yes i know i’m a whimp. ha ha, But you have to start somewhere. Anyway i guess considering i had run/walk 4 miles today, and did a good long KB workout yesterday, i feel okay about the workout i completed.

    1. Hey Tempest, it’s most likely a form issue or possibly a lower back strength issue. Also remember to snap the hips fully forward at the top of the lift to take the tension off the back. Obviously it’s difficult for me to assess what may be the problem, but you are right to try it with a lighter weight. Also remember to watch your form doesn’t break when lower the bar back to the floor. It is often here that people end up hurting themselves.


  7. one more thing, sorry. ha ha, i noticed on the sumo DL you use the grip of one overhand one underhand, whatever they are called ha ha. are you doing that on purpose. just curious.

    1. Yes, I use a mixed grip because for me it feels more comfortable as I get to the heavier weights. It acts as a grip-saver. You shouldn’t rely on this grip all the time, try using double overhand grip first and then, if you need to, change to a mixed grip as the weight increases.

  8. Marrianne, I do believe you do cardio. I go to the gym and weight lift 3 days a week. The other 3 days I jump rope do kettlebells and body weight exercises. I wear a heart monitor and I slow down when my heart rate goes to high and then back at full throttle until it gets to high again. The thing is my heart rate is always in a cardio range. This is my reason to do your workouts on my in between days at the gym. I feel I get cardio 3 days and the heavy weight lifting the other 3 days.As always, thanks for the workouts.

  9. Hi Marianne

    How timely, I am always watching and taking your workouts to the gym. I’m having a bit of PT at the moment and am sitting here feeling sore and sorry for myself but thanks to you I am going to get my arse to the gym and do SOMETHING!!! My PT has been using an evil toy on me called the vipr OMG lots of fun but hard work. I can’t believe how in a few short years my training has changed, I now have kettlebells, TRX, and now the Vipr – so different from traditional weight training which I still love – nothing like a bit of variety hey!!

      1. Hi Marianne

        The Vipr is a cylinder of heavy plastic/rubber. It comes in different weights ie starts from 8kg. On one side it has two hand holds and on the other it has one. It reminds me of Farmers walk metal thingy I used many years ago.Have a look on You tube it’ll make more sense.

        PS I’m soooooooo sore today thanks to you 🙂 Have a good day!! or night!!

  10. Looks like a great workout. Too bad the gym I go to doesn’t have kettlebells. I have kettlebells at home but no barbell. =(

    I have a quick question for you, maybe you answered this before but I missed it. I was just wondering if you do any other form of cardio? Any intervals or steady rate cardio?

    1. Roxanne, I don’t do any other training right now. I have done in the past, like the KB Classes and I used to do cardio in the morning. But the classes stopped 6 months ago and the cardio stopped over a year ago :/ I probably should do some cardio just for endurance, but I actually hate it and can’t be bothered – eek! Too many other things to squeeze into my busy life right now. But, I am not against adding a little cardio into a programme, but I would add it in around the resistance training rather than vise versa. 🙂

  11. Great workout Marianne, you’re always an inspiration and filled with great workouts and ideas!

    Just an FYI (and a suggestion to others), last night I purchased a “Gymboss” via a link from your website, in the “customer comments” section I specifically stated that “I learned of Gymboss from Marianne’s blog at“. I don’t know if anyone at Gymboss will take notice, but hopefully so!

    Cheers 🙂

    1. Thanks for this Bryan. I got a comment a while back on FB because she saw that another fitness blog was mentioned by name in the “where did you hear about Gymboss”, hopefully they will notice the business they get from me. It’s a great product and I would be lost without mine!


  12. Hey Marianne, this looks like a great workout, thank you! One question. I have a bar at home, but no squat rack, so I cannot load it on my back for box squats, will doing a front squat type box squat have the same effect, like if I use two Kb’s in the rack position or even goblet style? Personally I try not to do any type of bar on my back anymore, due to neck and low back surgery. Thanks for your input!

    1. Hey Dawn, yes you can do front squats instead. They will hit the muscles slightly differently, but it will not be a strenous for your back, which is best. Wish I had a bar at home! 😛

      1. I know, I love my bar for deadlifts, but I really wish I had a squat rack, even for front squats. have to go to the gym if I want to use a bar for them or the reverse lunges with a bar.. I’d love to have it all at home. 🙂 Thanks!

          1. oh what is the barbell clean. i have a smaller size of barbell here at my house, and i’m always looking for something new to do.

          2. The BB Clean is when you take the bar from the floor or hang position (just above the knees) into the front loaded position in one explosive and powerful movement. It looks like THIS. But obviously this guy has a LOT of weight on the bar, so he needs a lot of power!

          3. Hey Tempest, the clean is a safer way of getting the barbell up into the front rack position. Google it, you should be able to find a utube or something! 🙂

  13. maybe i’m blind, but how many rounds did you do of each couplet or round? in the video it shows you doing it twice, so i was not sure. looks like a great workout. I have never done box squats at all. looks very challenging

    1. I was in the shower earlier and this came to mind, I forgot to write this! Trust you to pick up on it 😛 There are 3 rounds of each couplet. I have amended the post now too. Thanks for reminding me, coz after the shower I was in a rush and forgot again! LOL

  14. Hi Marianne,
    Great workout. Don’t beat yourself up. You fought the little voice that was trying to tell you to skip the workout. You worked through the pain and felt better afterward. Your glutes are strong , you breeze through the stand to kneel exercise. I’ve learned through the years that when you stop moving the pain is worse. You did well. I luv, luv, luv the quote from Ben Bruno. It’s something my coach taught me many moons ago, and I still follow it. Form is so important. When I first started out at competitions all I strived for was three white lights. It meant that the judges found my form impeccable. And I did get them. I’d come in maybe second or third but for me I’d won because my lift was perfect, and I was happy. So I’m giving you three white lights today. You were perfect.
    Minnie 🙂

    1. Three white lights 😀 Now that I have been to a powerlifting competition, I know what that means 😉 I have been remembering your tips for the Sumo DL each time I approach the bar. I think it’s getting better! Cheers 🙂

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