3 Chip-Away Workouts for Muscle Conditioning and Grit
A chip away workout or chipper takes every lifters favorite security blanket and rips it away. I'm referring to your precious rep range. Whether it's one in five or eight in twelve you pretty much always start your workouts having your work divvied up in convenient little bites. But not anymore. All of a sudden it'll be you and a big number like 30, 50 or more. These types of workouts are well-established part of CrossFit programming. Do these work for outside the box lifters who want to add muscle? The answer is yes. More and more trainers are realizing that total time under tension and total volume of work matters more than how many reps you do and a particular set.
In the CrossFit community most chip away workouts dictate that you finish one exercise, perhaps in a single set before moving to the next. Doing 50 straight reps of an exercise or 10 exercises can result in heavy fatigue and sloppy form. Rather, I give a list of exercises and total reps and tell my client that it doesn't matter how it gets done. They can pick the exercise order and the reps. Limit it to 6 to 10 exercises and choose different reps for most of the exercises. The lifter moves from one exercise to the next, doing a chunk of as many reps as possible with good form.
Most people won't do a chip away workout in four sets and they will do something else in between. The exercise orders are left up to you. With a chipper, there is no need for a defined rest interval. One should move as quickly as possible through the body of work going from one exercise to the next with as little or as much rest as required. The goal is to complete the body of work as quickly as possible. When fatigue gets too great, form breaks down so step back and rest for as long as you need. Finishing the same amount of work in less time means your conditioning has increased. Don't be surprised if your muscle increases as well.
When it comes to choosing weights keep it at a weight that one can normally use for 8 to 12 reps with good form. If you can use 8 to 12 reps and one set you want to try to get somewhere in the 30 to 60 rep range and that will give you a solid time under tension.
If your chipper is combined squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, planks and kettle bell swings you're sure to get a great work out. But it might be miserable and your form will suffer.
Separating exercises into 2 to 3 blocks can make the whole program simpler and more effective. Alternate groups until the whole body of work is complete. You can separate the groups into leg exercises and upper body.