The gym can’t replace therapy, but it’s a hell of a good relief when you’re having a tough day at the office or a stressful family affair. Running can be meditative and yoga can be relaxing, but when you need to let off steam, you have to lift – and lift heavily.
When your temperament is high and you are incredibly frustrated, throwing some weight around is a relief beyond compare. Here are four tough exercises to help you let off steam.
Anger Management: Best Heavy Lifting Workouts for Blowing Off Steam
Workout 1: getting around
Equipment needed: Lawn, loaded sledge, heavy dumbbells
1. Farmer’s Carry – 6 x 50 m²: Stand up straight with a weight in each hand. Maintaining a “proud” chest, pulling your shoulder blades down and back, step forward with short heel-to-toe steps. Try to support your body weight. If you can’t find dumbbells that match this one, try loading a trap bar onto this equivalent instead. Rest 90 seconds between transfers.
2. Slide toboggan – 6 laps x 50 m: Stand behind the sled with your arms straight and bent and lean your body forward. Ride the sled at a fast but controlled pace. Again, aim for body weight to be equivalent. Rest 90 seconds between bumps.
3. High box jump – 5 x 6 repetitions: Squat just above the parallel and bring your arms behind your hips. With a forceful swing of your arm, explode forward and then bend your knees after you have fully extended your legs. Land gently at the same squat depth you started with. Stand up straight and lock your hips to finish the movement. Rest as long as necessary between jumps.
Workout 2: Power play for the upper body
Equipment needed: Slam ball, bench, pull-up bar, dumbbells
1. With ball slams – 5 x 15 repetitions: Keep weight relatively light (15 pounds) but move explosively to let off steam and burn calories. With your feet shoulder-width apart, reach full extension with the ball overhead (try not to bend your elbows). Hit the ball between your feet with full force. Pick up the ball and repeat the process. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
2A. Dumbbell Bench Press – 10 reps: Go hard. Sit on the end of the bench with the dumbbells on your thighs. Lie back, leg the dumbbells across your chest, and then raise your feet to begin. With the dumbbells bent and your thumbs above your collarbone, squeeze your shoulder blades together and down. Squeeze the weights into a wide V shape across the chest, then return to the start.
2 B. Plyometric Pushups – Maximum Reps: Do not clap your hands during push-ups. It’s an easy way to catch a finger and be outside with a stupid injury. Simply explode up from the bottom position to get your hands off the floor, then immediately drop into the next rep.
Directions: Perform 4 contrasting sets of bench presses and plyo push-ups, resting for 90 seconds between rounds. Contrast sets consist of a heavy lift followed by an explosive movement that mimics the mechanics of this lift. These cause your muscle fibers to explode even more than they normally would, as the body duplicates the strained pattern during the second set.
3. EMOM pull-ups – 10 x 5 reps
Directions: EMOM stands for every minute to the minute. Start your watch and do the first 5 repetitions with the watch running. It should take about 15 seconds to give or take. The rest of that minute (the next 45 seconds) is your rest. As soon as the next minute begins, you should start the first rep of set 2. Repeat until you have completed 10 sets in this way.
Workout 3: Leg Day from Hell
Equipment needed: Squat cage, barbell, kettlebell, leg press
1. Hold Squats – 5 x 3 reps: In a squat rack, spread the bar as far apart as is comfortable and get under it. Step back and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly outward. Inhale, then bend your hips and knees to lower your body with a slow negative. Take a full depth break (you shouldn’t lose the arch in your lower back). Stretch through your hips and push your knees outward to stand. Nothing is better than standing under the heavy bar when you have the last nerve. 2 minute break between rounds.
2. Romanian Deadlift – 5 x 8: Grasp the bar at shoulder width and hold it in front of your thighs. Bend your hips back and lower your torso so that your knees bend only as needed until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Instead of hitting the floor with the barbell, focus on a floating RDL. Extend your hips to come back up. If your back starts to round, you have either gotten too heavy or sunk too low. 2 minute break 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 keep your balance as you crouch, then step up to take a swing. It may take a few repetitions to lower the rhythm.
3B. Split squat with barbells x 8 repetitions on each side: Load a barbell and place it in the squat. (Use a power rack or clean and squeeze the barbell and place it on your shoulders.) Stand up straight, feet hip-width apart, knees soft. Step back two to three feet with your right foot so that your torso is equidistant between your feet. Place the ball of your back foot on the floor, keeping your heel raised to begin with. Lower your right knee toward the floor until your left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Push through your left heel to rise and return to the start. Do all the repetitions with your right leg back, then switch sides.
Directions: Perform 3A and 3B as supersets for a total of 3 rounds. 2 minute break between rounds.
Finisher: high heel leg press x 2 min: This is an insane finisher that will light the quads, help you blow off steam and more. The goal here is to adjust your body weight on the leg press and do continuous repetitions until the 2 minutes have passed. You can’t lift the weight, but you can take a break with your legs straight if necessary. Focus on the quads by maintaining a narrower stance that is lower on the platform to allow the heels to lift off the platform in the lower end areas. You’re just doing a killer set of it, so make it count.
Workout 4: Isometric Chaos
Equipment needed: Squat cage, safety pins, barbell and two benches
note: The aim of isometric training is to work as hard as possible against the immobile object. If you don’t give everything, you miss the immense training advantages. This method is also a great way to blow off steam as it will use up your nervous system and every spark of the pent-up energy you had when you started your workout. If you try it once, you will see.
1. Isometric Deadlift – 6 × 30 sec: Set the pins on the squat cage to the lowest setting and clamp the bar between the bottom of the cage and these pins. For a typical deadlift, settle in and pull the bar into the pins as tight as possible. Strictly adhere to the form and try to lift the entire machine off the ground (assuming you can’t). Rest 60 seconds between sets.
2. Isometric bench press – 5 × 30 seconds: If you don’t have a Smith machine setup, use a bench or squat cage with pins. Position the bar so that the bar is above your chest, not over your eyes, in a low position that allows you to keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Make sure the bar is loaded with a weight well above your 1RM and push as hard as possible into the bar for 30 seconds. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
3rd back plank – 5 x 20 sec .: Sit on the floor between two benches. Place your elbows on the benches and keep your arms at a 90-degree angle to your body. Make fists, look at the ceiling, and lift your hips off the floor by planting your feet in the floor and driving your elbows into the benches. Squeeze your buttocks and upper back to keep your body from falling below the level of the benches. Return to the floor between sets to rest for 90 seconds.
4. Wall seat – 3 x 1 min .: Sit against the wall with your knees bent 90 degrees. Force your back against the wall to activate the quads. If 1 minute is beyond your current ability, go for as long as possible. Rest as long as necessary between sets.
Lee Boyce is a strength trainer based in Toronto, Canada
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