The gym can’t replace therapy, but it’s a damn good release when you’re dealing with a tough day at the office or a stressful family affair. Running can be meditative and yoga can be relaxing, but if you need to blow off steam, you need to lift—and lift heavy.
When your temper is high and you’re frustrated beyond belief, throwing some weight around is an incomparable release. Here are four heavy-lifting routines to help you blow off steam.
Anger Management: Best Heavy-Lifting Workouts to Blow off Steam
Workout 1: Locomotion
Equipment needed: Turf space, loaded sled, heavy dumbbells
1. Farmer’s Carry — 6 x 50m: Stand tall with a weight in each hand. Maintain a “proud” chest, pull shoulder blades down and back, and walk forward using short heel-to-toe steps. Aim for your body weight equivalent to be carried. If you can’t find dumbbells that can equate to this, try loading a trap bar to that equivalent instead. Rest 90 seconds between carries.
2. Sled Push — 6 rounds x 50m: Stand behind the sled with arms straight and flexed, body leaning forward. Drive the sled using a fast yet controlled pace. Again, aim for bodyweight equivalent to be pushed. Rest 90 seconds between pushes.
3. High Box Jump — 5 x 6 reps: Squat down to just above parallel and bring arms back behind hips. Explode with a strong forward-arm swing, tucking your knees after you’ve fully extended your legs. Land softly in the same squat depth you started with. Stand up tall, locking hips to finish the movement. Rest as long as needed between jumps.
Workout 2: Upper-Body Power Play
Equipment needed: Slam ball, bench, pullup bar, dumbbells
1. Med Ball Slams — 5 x 15 reps: Keep the weight relatively light (15 pounds) but move explosively to blow off steam and torch calories. With feet shoulder-width apart, reach to full extension with the ball overhead (try not to bend your elbows). With your full force, slam the ball down between your feet. Pick the ball up and repeat. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
2A. Dumbbell Bench Press — 10 reps: Go heavy. Sit on end of bench, holding dumbbells resting on thighs. Lie back, guiding dumbbells over chest with legs, then plant feet to start. With dumbbells angled in and thumbs over collarbone, squeeze shoulder blades together and down. Press weights over chest to a wide V shape, then return to start.2B. Plyometric Pushups — max reps: Don’t clap your hands during the pushups. It’s an easy way to catch a finger and be out with a silly injury. Just explode up from the bottom position so hands come off the floor, then immediately drop into the next rep.
Directions: Perform 4 contrast sets of bench press and plyo pushups, resting 90 seconds between rounds. Contrast sets comprise a heavy lift followed by an explosive movement that mimics the mechanics of that lift. These trick your muscle fibers into exploding even more than they normally would since the body is duplicating the loaded pattern during the second set.
3. EMOM Chinups — 10 x 5 reps
Directions: EMOM stands for every minute on the minute. Start your clock and perform the first 5 reps with the clock running. It should take you around 15 seconds, give or take. The remainder of that minute (the next 45 seconds) is your recovery. Once the next minute begins, you should be starting your first rep of set 2. Repeat until you’ve completed 10 sets in this fashion.
Workout 3: Leg Day From Hell
Equipment needed: Squat cage, barbell, kettlebell, leg press
1. Paused Back Squats — 5 x 3 reps: In a squat rack, grasp the bar as far apart as is comfortable and come under it. Step back and stand with feet at shoulder width and toes turned slightly out. Inhale, then bend your hips and knees to lower your body using a slow negative. Pause at your full depth (you shouldn’t lose the arch in your low back). Extend through hips and push knees out to stand. Nothing beats standing under the heavy bar when you’re on your last nerve. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
2. Romanian Deadlift — 5 x 8: Grasp the bar at shoulder width, holding it in front of your thighs. Bend your hips back and lower your torso, allowing your knees to bend only as needed, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Focus on a hovering RDL, rather than touching the floor with the barbell. Extend your hips to come back up. If your back begins to round, you’ve either gone too heavy or descended too low. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
3A. Kettlebell Swing to Squat Swing x 12 reps: Perform a typical kettlebell swing, but at the top of the swing, use the weight of the bell to counter your balance as you squat, then rise to go into a swing. It may take a couple of reps to get the rhythm down.3B. Barbell Split Squat x 8 reps each side: Load a barbell and rack it in the back squat position. (Use a power rack, or clean and press barbell and rest it on shoulders.) Stand tall with feet hip-distance apart, knees soft. Step right foot back two to three feet so torso is equidistant between feet. Plant the ball of back foot on ground and keep heel raised to start. Lower right knee toward floor until left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and shin is perpendicular to the ground. Press through left heel to rise and return to start. Do all reps with right leg back, then switch sides.
Directions: Perform 3A and 3B as supersets, performing 3 total rounds. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
Finisher: Heels-Elevated Leg Press x 2 min: This is a maniacal finisher that’ll torch the quads, helping you blow off steam and then some. The goal here is to match your body weight on the leg press machine, and perform continuous reps until the 2 minutes has elapsed. You can’t rack the weight, but you can rest-pause when needed with straight legs. Focus on the quads by keeping a narrower stance that’s lower on the platform, allowing the heels to raise off the platform at the bottom end ranges. You’re only doing one killer set of these, so make it count.
Workout 4: Isometric Mayhem
Equipment needed: Squat cage, safety pins, barbell, and two benches
Note: The goal with isometric training is to work as hard as possible against the immovable object. If you’re not giving it your all, you’re missing the immense training benefits. This method doubles as a great way to blow off steam since, well, you’re going to zap your nervous system and every shred of pent up energy you may have had at the start of the workout. Once you give it a try, you’ll see.
1. Isometric Deadlift — 6×30 sec.: Set the pins on the squat cage to the lowest setting, and wedge the bar between the bottom of the cage and those pins. Set up for a typical deadlift, pulling the bar into the pins as hard as possible. Keep the form strict, and attempt to lift the entire machine off the ground (assuming you can’t). Rest 60 seconds between sets.
2. Isometric Bench Press — 5×30 sec.: If you don’t have a Smith machine setup, use a bench or squat cage with pins. Set up so the racked bar is above your chest, rather than your eyes, at a low-rack position that allows you to keep elbows bent at 90 degrees. Make sure the bar is loaded to a weight far above your 1RM, and press as hard as you can into the bar for 30 seconds straight. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
3. Back Plank — 5 x 20 sec.: Set up between two benches while seated on the floor. Place elbows on the benches, and keep arms at a 90-degree angle to your body. Make fists, look at the ceiling, and raise hips off the ground by planting feet into the floor and driving elbows into the benches. Squeeze glutes and upper back to keep your body from falling below the level of the benches. Return to the floor to rest for 90 seconds between sets.
4. Wall Sit — 3 x 1 min.: Take a “seat” against the wall with knees bent at 90 degrees. Press your back into the wall with force to engage the quads. If 1 minute is beyond your current capabilities, go as long as you can. Rest as long as needed between sets.
Lee Boyce is a strength coach based in Toronto, Canada
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