The Routine

by Robert Ericksen
(Estacada, Oregon, USA)

It's a a flower pot!

It's a a flower pot!

The Routine: A Narrative

The Routine is more than just motions we complete, more than just a way of making ourselves physically stronger. It is a physical representation of a guiding philosophy. Every part of the routine that exists, from its earliest incarnations to the more mature product we experience today, even the evolution itself is a product of the application of a philosophy of self-betterment and a rejection of complacency and mediocrity. A commitment to the routine is a commitment to the pursuit of an ideal in every motion and every breath. Moving constantly and relentlessly toward fulfilling our potential physically, morally and socially.

It is important to be able to determine for yourself how much of each exercise you can reasonably do without injury. Be mindful of your current level as well as improving with prudence.

Ten push-ups on the fingers. Place the hands a little more than shoulder-width apart at shoulder-level. Lower the body until the bones in the arms create a ninety-degree angle at the elbow. At the bottom of the motion, you should have the back straight and create a straight line from one elbow to the other across the shoulders. Inhale on the down; exhale on the up.

Sit-ups. Have the knees bent with the feet flat on the floor. The closer the feet are to the buttocks, the harder the exercise will be. Place the feet close enough to make it difficult, but far enough away to be able to exercise the full range of motion. Keeping the elbows close to the body, hold the hands in a loose fist next to the face and just below the level of the eyes. This is to train into yourself a basic defensive hand position while maintaining field of vision.
Do two sets of eight sit-ups in a two-count up method. The first count of the upward motion raises the head and shoulders off the ground, the second count brings the entire torso up to a sitting position. Return to ready position in one count. After the second set of two-count up, do one set of eight at one-count up. Inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up.
Now lay the knees down toward the left and do it again, then repeat with the knees on the right. Alternate which direction the knees fall first each time you do the routine for a more balanced development.

Pyramid style push-ups. Do ten regular push-ups, then nine, then eight, until you reach one. Reverse the order (1.2.3…10) with diamond-style push-ups and then a final set from ten to one on the knuckles. See detail for regular push-up procedure and breathing above.
It is best to do these on a firm surface– squishy surfaces such as mats can damage the wrists. I’ll usually alternate between regular and diamond style push-ups as to which I do first each time I exercise. For the knuckles, I’ll do ten through eight with the elbows out and seven through one with the elbows in.
Diamond-style: place hands so that the tips of the index fingers are touching and the tips of the thumbs are touching, creating a diamond shape in the negative space between the hands. With elbows out, the hands want to be no lower than the center of the chest but can be as high as is comfortable– I choose to place mine right about neck level.
Nuckles: Nuckle push-ups should be done slowly when doing them for the first time. Keep the pressure on the first two knuckles, i.e. the knuckles of the index fingers and the middle fingers. When doing them with the elbows out, the same ninety-degree angle method applies for these just as in the regular push-ups, however bring the hands a little closer together such that the arms, from knuckles to shoulders, create a straight line at the top of the motion. When doing them with the elbows in, place the hands more in the mid-torso range to create the proper angle at the elbow at the bottom of the motion.

6 inches. Lie flat on your back, place hands together in a diamond-style position on your stomach such that your waistband passes between the webs of your thumbs. Keeping the feet together and the toes pointed toward the ceiling, lift and hold the feet such that the heels are six inches above the ground. Hold for a sixty count.
Counts should fall at the peak of an inhalation and the peak of an exhalation. Inhale, one; exhale, two; etc.

Supermen. These were known as swimmers but we renamed them in honor of Christopher Reeve. Lie on your stomach, hold your arms outstretched in front and off the floor. Hold your legs straight and off the floor. Kick your legs at the hips, keeping them straight and never touching the floor. Maintain this activity for a thirty-five count.

Back crunches. Lie on your stomach with your arms at your sides. Keeping your legs straight, lift them off the floor and hold that position. Lift the arms and chest off the floor such that only your body from your groin to your diaphragm is touching the ground. This is your ready position. Keeping the legs and feet stationary, lift the torso off the floor and return to the ready
position. Do this fifty-five times.
Inhale on the way up, exhale on the way down.

Horse stance. Angling the feet diagonally outward, lower yourself until your bones create a ninety-degree angle at the knee and your femurs are parallel to the ground. Stand with the back straight and upright. Extend the arms forward to maintain balance and hold this position for a forty-five count. Be careful not to let the knees go beyond the balls of the feet or sag inward; try to keep everything vertical or horizontal.
Counts should fall at the peak of an inhalation and the peak of an exhalation.

Arm rotations. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms extended out to the sides at shoulder height. Rotate backwards starting with smaller circles and moving to larger circles for a ten count. It doesn’t matter where you end in the rotation, e.g. in front of you, behind you, above you. Reverse the motion, rotating forward from larger circles to smaller circles for a ten count. Repeat.
Counts should fall at the peak of an inhalation and the peak of an exhalation.

Stretches. When stretching, move to the point of discomfort, not the point of pain. Hold the stretch at the point of discomfort for the duration, then release.

Shake it out. Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart, letting the arms hang down to the sides. Rotate the upper body from side to side letting the arms swing. Rotate left and then right for “one,” repeat twenty times.

*All counts should fall at the peak of an inhalation and the peak of an exhalation.

Straight forward. Sitting on the floor with the legs together, stretched out in front of you, lean forward, grasping the toes and letting the upper body relax toward the legs. Hold for a thirty count.

Left/Right. Spread the feet as far as is comfortable. Turn upper body to address the left leg. Lean forward, grasping the toes and bringing your head toward your knee. Hold for a thirty count and repeat toward the right leg.
Then, with the upper body addressed forward, take the right arm over the head and grasp at the toes of the left leg, letting the left arm rest on the floor and the upper body relax toward the left leg. Hold for a thirty count and repeat toward the right leg.

Straight forward. See above.

Calves. Placing palms on a wall, extend the right leg directly behind and place the foot flat on the floor. Place the left leg in front, being sure the knee does not pass forward of the ball of the foot. Allow the body to sink into the hips to feel the stretch in the right calf. Hold for a thirty count. Readjust for the left calf to be stretched. Hold for a thirty count. Repeat.

Quads. *It is best to do this on a mat or some other sort of pad to avoid damaging the knee.
Using a wall for support, place the right knee at the crotch where the wall and floor meet with the shin and foot following the line of the wall up. Place the left leg in front with the knee at a ninety-degree angle. Pull the torso upright to stretch the quad. Hold for a thirty count. Repeat on the left.
Achieve the position again on the right and lower the hips to stretch the hip-flexor. Hold for a thirty count and repeat on the left.

Teddy bears. Curl the right leg under the left buttock such that the right leg is completely touching the floor. Place the left foot on the opposite side of the right knee. Use the left hand to place the left knee in the crotch of the right elbow. Pull the left knee toward the right chest. Hold for a thirty count. Repeat for the right leg. Repeat for both.

Straight down. Extend the feet toward their respective sides and lower the body into a middle-split position. Hold for a thirty count.

Inside shoulder. Lie on your stomach with your right arm outstretched to the right at the level of your shoulder, palm facing the floor. Plant your left hand, palm on the floor, to gain leverage. Extend your left foot behind you to the right and turn your body toward the left. This is to stretch the right shoulder. Hold for a thirty count and release. Move the right hand six or eight inches higher, hold for a thirty count. Move the right hand another six or eight inches higher, hold for a thirty count.
Repeat for the left shoulder.

Outside shoulder. Lie on your stomach with your left arm outstretched in front of you (above your head) palm flat on the floor. Stretch the right arm under your torso toward the left at shoulder-level, palm against the floor. Hold for a thirty count. Move the right hand six or eight inches higher, hold for a thirty count. Move the right hand another six or eight inches higher, hold for a thirty count.
Repeat for the left shoulder.

Wrist stretch. I usually do some wrist stretches here but if I told you what they were, I’d be revealing closely guarded, non-martial art secrets. :P
pssst. ipponme, nihonme, sanbonme, yonhonme.

You’re done. You survived The Routine. Now drink plenty of water.

Comments for The Routine

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Sep 27, 2021
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Apr 19, 2015
Thanks for your responses NEW
by: Robert Ericksen


Sorry to take so long to get back to you. If you are talking about the ripples in my forearm, that's from grip strengthening. You can do some flexed-arm hangs from the pull-up bar at your gym. Grab the bar with your palms facing you, and pull yourself up until your chin is just above the bar. Hold there as long as you want, or as long as you can. That will add more focus to your gripping muscles.
You can also use a short bar with a weight on the end of a string. Some gyms have them, but you can make one with a short piece of dowel or a branch. Tie a string to the center and put a weight at the other end of the string. Roll the bar one way to raise the weight, and roll it the other way to lower the weight. Smooth, controlled motion is always best when working with weights, so keep breathing and you'll amaze yourself with how hard it is to do even a light weight.
Let me know if that addresses your question.

Amanda, are you telling me to start a blog? That is really flattering. I could just post more versions of my routine, how does that work for you? Or if you are curious about anything in particular, just let me know and I’ll do my best to address it.

Thanks all.

Apr 16, 2015
The Routine NEW
by: Amanda Elizabeth

I found good and comprehensive details on stretching, weight lifting and six pack abs. All I wanted to know is here in your blog. I sit on my sofa with a mug of coffee and read all your instructions and tips. I am a weight watcher and I notice real difference in me after applying your tips. Lets start saving our time from assignments, so hire and do some more exercise.

Mar 12, 2015
Reply NEW
by: benson

I have been going to the gym for the past 2 months and I just cannot get a good biceps. I only get a big fat hand. I need those rips in my arms. How do I get it as you have? I am just bulk with no rips. Web Based EMR

Jan 15, 2010
Exactly it.
by: Anonymous

Yes, this is pretty much what everyone really needs. Now if only we had the Routine Recording to play in the background to walk us through as we do it....


Jan 04, 2010
Wow, The One Routine to Rule Them All...
by: Aaron McCloud

Rob, awesome job! I've been curious to see The Routine written out for a while, as I lost focus on what exactly was happening when I did it. I also hadn't gotten your full philosophical take on it before; very intriguing.

It's also horrendously intimidating to see it all right there! Now I know why my muscles were hatin' on me so the next day ;-)

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