I learned early on that if you want to see continued athletic performance gains, you need to be constantly challenging or shocking your body with every opportunity. You need to constantly push yourself outside of your comfort zone otherwise your body rapidly adapts and the marginal gains from each workout, segment, or rep decreases dramatically. A lot of this plateauing takes places because we get stuck in familiar workout patterns where we follow the same workout plan or routine over and over again out of habit. To catch myself from falling into this trap of repeating workouts, I took decided to take some of Thurman Hendrix's old quad-plex conditioning workouts I used to do and turn them into a bit of a game which I call the Dice Workout.

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It's quite easy to set up a Dice workout. In it's simplest form, you put together a list of exercises and roll the dice to determine which exercises you will be doing and the order they will be pre-formed in:

  • Step 1 - Create your groupings or exercise list
  • Step 2 - Evenly distribute exercises to groups and number them. This exercise number should correspond to a potential dice value, depending on the number of dice you use and how you want to structure your workout.
  • Step 3 - Roll the dice and create your workout, crossing off exercises from each group.

You should pick exercises and groups based on your workout goals. All of this might make a little more sense with an example, which I will go into much more detail below:

Example Dice Workout

My strength training for triathlons typically is multi-muscle, higher rep, lower-weight, at fast paces so I stack super-sets within a 'stacked group', each of which hits every different major body group (Upper Body, Lower Body, Core, Back). So for this most recent workout, I did a four group, four exercise stacked super-set (repeated) workout. So if you're counting at home that ends up being 32 sets (4 groups x 4 sets) and if you assume an average of 15 reps for each exercise that ends up being ~385 reps. Depending on the amount of rest after each set (I shoot for 60 seconds or less) and how high you want your heart rate (I aim Z2-Z3 for this) you can knock this out in under 35 minutes. So, for this four-set, stacked super-set Dice workout, I'm going to put my exercises and groupings together like so (Steps 1 + 2 combined):

Upper Body (Exercise Group 1)
  1. Push ups (until failure)
  2. Pull ups (until failure)
  3. Lat Pull Down
  4. Rows
  5. Upright Rows
  6. Military Press
Lower Body (Exercise Group 2)
  1. Deadlift
  2. Squat or Box Jumps
  3. Leg Extensions
  4. Calf Raises
  5. Lunges (Front, Side, Back)
  6. Bandwalks
Core (Exercise Group 3)
  1. Reverse Crunches
  2. Windshield Wipers
  3. Crunches
  4. Leg Raises
  5. Planks (Front, Side, Ball)
  6. Russian Twists
Back (Exercise Group 4)
  1. Superman
  2. Prone Cobra on Ball
  3. Back Extension
  4. Back Bridge (aka Scottie Pippens)
  5. Inverted Row
  6. Bird-dog

Now that I have steps 1 and 2 competed, I'm going to roll the dice and figure out what my workout groups will look like. I roll a die four times and get 2,3,1,6. This first group would then look like:

  1. Pullups
  2. Leg Extensions
  3. Reverse Crunches
  4. Bird-dog

Rolling the dice, I get a 3,2,4,1. This second group would then be:

  1. Lat Pull Down
  2. Box Jumps
  3. Leg Raises
  4. Superman

Rolling the dice again, I now get a 4,3,2,5. Because I rolled a 3 for the second group the first time, I re-roll and get a 5. You can always skip re-rolling and doing so allows you to target specific muscle groups.

  1. Rows
  2. Leg Extensions
  3. Windshield Wipers
  4. Inverted Row

Rolling the dice one more time, I get 1,4,3,2. This final group looks like:

  1. Pushups
  2. Calf Raises
  3. Crunches
  4. Prone Cobra on Ball

When I go to the gym, I'll do group #1 once, preforming each exercise until failure or until I hit my rep/weight goal, rest for 60 seconds and then repeat. Then I'll move on to group #2,3 and 4 following the same format. And that's all there is to it.

Conclusion

The Dice workout planning methodology is completely flexible and should be adjusted based on your workout goals. You can alter the number of groups, exercises, reps, weights - really anything. If I wanted, I could do ten sets of super-sets or do two sets of three exercises repeated three times. Regardless of the workout execution, the underlying goal is that I'm never doing the same workout twice and enforces variation when planning workouts. Whatever your athletic goals, make sure you are constantly stepping outside your comfort zone, challenging yourself and as Justin Timberlake would say, rock your body. An easy, compulsive-gambler way to do that is to switch up your workouts using dice. Add a little randomness to your workout.