Scot Prohaska, a 5-time World Food Championship Champion and 8-time Canadian National Champion, is the founder of Just A Little Bite , a Toronto-based healthy eating company. He’s traveled all over the world to compete in the World Food Championships and speak at events around the country, including the Canadian National Championships. Here, he shares some tips and tricks behind his success in competitions.

I don’t know who Scot Prohaska is, but if you liked the intro paragraph above, I bet you will like this one.

I’ve always been a big fan of workout music, but after working out for over a decade with the same songs constantly playing in my head, I decided I needed some new tunes.

The NBA’s Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce, the NFL’s Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzales, the UFC’s Tito Ortiz and Roger Huerta, and the NHL’s Rob Blake and Petr Sykora have all ran the Manhattan Beach sand dune as part of their conditioning regimens.

 

I stupidly accepted when my close friend Scot Prohaska, a renowned strength coach, asked me out to the beach for his “Sunday Ritual” last summer.

The sand dune stretches for more than 100 yards and is 50 yards broad, with a 45-degree slope. Walking up it may raise your heart rate to almost 170 beats per minute. Consider what happens if you attempt to execute it.

I woke up fellow Testosterone writer Nate Green at 7:45 a.m. and invited him to meet me in the Long Beach Hyatt lobby for a “light recovery workout,” as I described it. That was a savage remark.

JB, Craig Weller, and Nate Green getting ready for a “gentle recovery exercise.”

Scot arrived at 8:15 a.m. to take us up. He explained the exercise on the drive to the sand dunes:

Set 1: Walk up the dune with excellent form, then run back down. 60-70 seconds of work 5 minutes of recovery

Second set: Maintain excellent form while walking up the dune and sprinting down reverse. 60-70 seconds of work 5 minutes of recovery

Third set: Sideways shuffle halfway up the dune, swap sides, shuffle up the other half, sprint down 70-80 seconds of work 5 minutes of recovery

Fourth set: Timed sprint as far as possible up the dune 30 seconds of work 5 minutes of recovery

Set five is the same as set four. 30 seconds of work 5 minutes of recovery

Do 20 push-ups, then jog up the steps adjacent to the dune and do 20 more push-ups. 2 minutes of work 2 minutes of recovery

Do 20 push-ups, jog down the stairs, then do 20 more push-ups for the seventh set. 2 minutes of work 2 minutes of recovery

Eighth set: Maintain excellent form while walking up the dune and jogging back down. 60-70 seconds of work The remainder of the day is set aside for recovery.

I got a good chuckle at Nate’s expense at this moment. Then I saw Scot laughing as well, though he didn’t seem to be looking at Nate at the time. I’d find out why as soon as I saw the dune for the first time.

The view from the top.

The panorama from the apex.

After a 10-minute warm-up with Scot’s athletes, we began the exercise. After the first ascent, my legs were on fire. With no knees, Nate’s legs felt like one huge muscle.

Halfway up the hill on the second set, Nate auditions for a Kiss tribute band.

Nate auditions for a Kiss tribute band halfway up the hill on the second set.

We realized why Scots athletes are among the best-conditioned in the world at the conclusion of the third period, as we shuffled sideways to the summit. But it was the realization that we were still going up the dune that was really terrifying. The sprinting hadn’t started yet.

JB and Scot do the sand-dune shuffle.

The sand-dune shuffle is performed by JB and Scot.

Click here to watch a video of the sprints in action. (Notice how the group at the top of the dune teases the running group.) It’s a tough audience.) But I can put it this way: eight of the twenty athletes who were exercising that day puked on the sand. I didn’t say anything, but Nate did.

Nate, right after losing his coffee (vomit not shown).

Nate, just after he’d spilled his coffee (vomit not shown).

But there was still more work to be done: push-ups, stair running, and another trek up the dune.

It's all downhill from here.

From here, it’s all downhill.

After a 60-minute exercise, a dozen of us headed to a nearby breakfast restaurant to gorge ourselves on eggs, fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain bread. Surprisingly, despite all the puke, it was really a wonderful time.

That’s why I wanted to invite you to join in the fun. Scot agreed to share some of his unique interval exercises with me. These are the exercises he performs with the top athletes he works with to complement their strength, plyometrics, and high-quality sprint work. And, like the sand-dune exercise, they’re all a little bit wild and a lot of fun.

The Petr Sykora is the first workout.

Sykora, a right winger with the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been in four NHL finals in his 12-year career, including winning the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1999-2000. During the offseason, he works out with Scot. One of his favorite exercises is this one.

He likes to do it on the sand, but you can do it wherever you can pull a sled and throw a medicine ball, which are both required for this exercise.

Warm up before grabbing the medicine ball and loading your sled for usage.

Lie on your back with the ball behind your head for the first set. As you sit up, throw the medicine ball as far as you can. Jump to your feet and chase it down. Continue for another 30 seconds. Stop, grasp the sled straps, and perform 30 seconds of forward lunges. (A video of the workout may be seen here.) 60 seconds of work 120 seconds of recovery

Second set: Toss the ball to your side and run after it from a kneeling posture. Rep the process in the other way. Stop after 30 seconds, grasp the sled straps, and do 30 seconds of squat/wood chop/sled pulls (video here) — 15 seconds to the left, 15 seconds to the right. 60 seconds of work 120 seconds of recovery

Third set: Throw the med ball to the side (tennis toss) and run after it while standing. Continue for another 30 seconds. Then come to a halt, grasp the sled strap, and perform 30 seconds of sideways walking crossovers (video here). After 15 seconds, switch sides. 60 seconds of work 120 seconds of recovery

Fourth set: Toss the med ball above while kneeling and run after it. Continue for another 30 seconds. Stop, grasp the sled straps, and perform 30 seconds of forward lunges. 60 seconds of work 120 seconds of recovery

Fifth set: Toss the med ball high and run after it while kneeling. Continue for another 30 seconds. Then come to a halt, grasp the sled straps, and perform 30 seconds of reverse sled walks (video here). 60 seconds of work 120 seconds of recovery

After a 180-second rest period, perform the circuit one or two more times.

The Last Woman Standing is the second workout.

Scot named this one after Roseline Agboke, a middle-distance runner who has won two national championships in the 800 meters. It has been known to bring tears to the eyes of mature men.

A stopwatch is required, as well as a track or similar surface that allows for continuous sprints of various lengths.

Following your warm-up:

1st Sprint: Medium 120 seconds of work 90 seconds of recovery

Sprint #2: Moderate 60 seconds of work 90 seconds of recovery

Sprint #3: Quick 30 seconds of work 30 seconds of recovery

Sprint #4: 10 second fastest work 10 seconds of recovery

Sprint #5: 20 second fastest work 30 seconds of recovery

Medium is the sixth sprint. 60 seconds of work 90 seconds of recovery

Medium is the seventh sprint. 120 seconds of work 180 seconds to recover

Rest for 120 seconds before repeating four or five times more.

The Fighter’s Rite of Passage (Workout #3)

This exercise isn’t named after a specific fighter; rather, it’s valued by all of Scot’s fighters. You must be invited by one of them if you want to perform this exercise with Scot.

You don't need an invitation from Tito Ortiz to get tapped out by the fighter's interval-training program.

To get tapped out by Tito Ortiz’s interval-training regimen, you don’t need an invitation from the boxer.

Is there no invitation? You can do it yourself to discover what you’re losing out on.

Following your warm-up:

1st Exercise: Sprint 100 meters at 90% of your maximum pace for practice. Return to the starting line for a rest. 4 reps

Workout #2: Sprint 200 meters at 85% of your maximum speed. 15 seconds of recovery

Workout #3: 20 squat thrusts with a leap 15 seconds of recovery

Workout #4: Perform 15 side sit-ups on each side. 15 seconds of recovery

Work: 20 lunges each leg with the front foot on a six-inch step (Exercise #5) 15 seconds of recovery

Workout #6: 400 meters of running 15 seconds of recovery

Work: 15 explosive push-ups (Exercise #7) 15 seconds of recovery

Work: 15 one-leg squats for each leg (Exercise #8) 15 seconds of recovery

Work: 15 supermen on each side (Exercise #9) 15 seconds of recovery

#10 Exercise: 400 meters of running 15 second recovery

11th Exercise: Push-ups (20 reps) 15 seconds of recovery

Exercise #12: Work: 20 meters of forward hops on the right foot 15 seconds of recovery

Exercise #13: Work: 20 meters of forward hops on the left foot 15 seconds of recovery

Work: 15 step-ups with each leg (Exercise 14). 15 seconds of recovery

Workout #15: 800 meters of running 4 minutes of recovery

You can either repeat the exercise or go home, depending on your fitness level and sanity.

The Gut Check (Workout #4)

Every few months, Scot utilizes this circuit with his players to assess their fitness and mental toughness. A stopwatch is all you’ll need.

Start your stopwatch after a warm-up and perform the following:

ten powerful push-ups ten quick crunches ten ferocious Hindu push-ups (or wide push-ups if you have shoulder problems) ten quick reverse crunches triceps push-ups (10) (your index fingers and thumbs touch, forming a diamond shape) 10 crunches from elbow to knee (also called bicycle crunches)

Keep an eye on your stopwatch. Repeat the circuit when the timer reaches two minutes. So, if you completed the first circuit in 90 seconds, you receive 30 seconds of relaxation. If it took you 1:45 to complete, you only receive 15 seconds of respite. (A video of the whole circuit may be seen here.)

Rep till you can’t go any farther.

Scot sets his competitors against one another. They go around the circuit again and again until just one of them is left standing. His athletes, he claims, can complete the circuit eight to ten times on a good day.

So there you have it: five unique interval exercises, including the sand dune workout. At every time of day or year, and in any kind of indoor or outdoor facility or site, there is at least one excellent choice. The only limits you impose on yourself are those you impose on yourself.

Just one bit of advice: don’t try to accomplish things on your own. Bring a bunch of friends together and make sure you’re all competing against each other. You’ll give your exercises a boost of motivation, and you’ll all finish up looking like badasses.

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