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Two-Minute Drills

By Eddie Avakoff, owner of Metroflex LBC

For some time now, members at Metroflex LBC have been practicing a workout combination known as “two-minute drills.” Each two-minute drill involves two parts: a pre-fatigue exercise followed by a muscle burn-out movement.

“Pre-fatigue” means to perform an exercise to exhaust a specific muscle group before moving on to the primary movement (usually in that same muscle group). For example, you might pre-fatigue with quad extensions before performing squats (the primary movement). With exhausted hamstrings, the squat becomes more challenging and the squat’s supporting muscles have to work harder.

There are two different ways to approach the second movement, what I call the “burn-out.”

1) The first is a compound movement pattern, like a squat or a deadlift. An example of a pre-fatigue and burn-out combo with a compound movement is 40 hamstring curls (at a relatively mild weight—something you could complete all 40 reps in one set but will burn like hell on the last 10), followed by max reps deadlifts at a moderately heavy weight.

Just that combo alone is brutal, but adding a time cap makes it even more crippling. Let’s say that same exercise was under a two-minute time limit: Within 120 seconds, you must complete 40 hamstring curls at 60 pounds, and complete max reps deadlift at 250 pounds.


Knowing there’s a two-minute time cap not only creates a sense of urgency but also offers a unique trade-off: The faster you complete part A (the pre-fatigue) the more time you will have for part B (the burn-out). However, the faster you complete part A, the more exhausted your muscles will feel. So lifting weight after part A will be difficult, to say the least.

Muscular pre-fatigue can also be followed by a cardiovascular burn-out. At Metroflex LBC, we’ve developed a few classic two-minute drills with devastating cardio burn-outs. (Perform with a two-minute time limit for each drill.)

1)        Pre-fatigue: 45 air squats

Burn-out: Max distance Prowler push


2)        Pre-Fatigue: 60 leg extensions

Burn-out: Max distance on Airdyne bike


3)        Pre-Fatigue: 50 hamstring curls

Burn-out: Max distance on rower


4)        Pre-Fatigue: 50 calf raises

Burn-out: Max distance on StairMaster or incline treadmill


As you can see, these drills can be taxing, especially to your central nervous system. Subsequently, performing only three or four of these drills might be sufficient for an entire day of training. Intensity is the key with these drills, and each two-minute interval can feel like an eternity while in the thick of it, leaving you exhausted by the end.



Everyone is different, so judge how you feel after each set and call a stop when you feel like you need it. Every couple weeks of performing these drills should allow you to increase the set count, correlating to your improvement in work capacity and recovery from exertion. Some endurance athletes, who excel at long periods of work and require minimal recovery, are able to exceed 10 rounds of this.

Another way you can modify the two-minute drill is by changing the pre-fatigue movement from something that directly exhausts the burn-out muscle to something that exhausts an antagonist muscle. For example, if we wanted to burn out with the rower (a hamstring-dominant movement), one would think to pre-fatigue with something like hamstring curls (which technically, you could). However, rowing also offers a tremendous amount of hip extension with each rep. So instead of hitting the hamstrings, you would attack the hips and core instead. And instead of extension, we concentrically close the core through the means of sit-ups. Or even better, sit-ups on the glute-hamstring developer (GHD) machine, one of my favorite core exercises. For example:


Pre-fatigue: 35 GHD sit-ups

Burn-out: Max distance on the rower


This demands a ton of dynamic range of motion in the hips and abdomen. You get nearly 270 degrees of motion on the GHD sit-ups (assuming you’re going from the floor to your feet) and approximately 100 degrees of hip flexion during the row.


The anaerobic expenditure of this combo, mixed with two very dynamic directions of hip/core movement, along with all the abdomen muscles at play make this two-minute drill an especially devastating combo.


As you know, the term “anaerobic” implies that there is a work-rest relationship. So don’t be afraid to take a few minutes of rest after each drill. During the drill itself, effort should be all-out 100 percent. Then recover, and repeat when ready. Taking a little extra rest to ensure a higher power output during the next round is well worth it.


These drills can be extended up to three minutes or shortened down to 90 seconds. Don’t go any shorter or longer than that, as the goal is to keep the heart rate in the glycolytic range.


These burn-outs will help spike your metabolism, sending your body into a state of fat burning (assuming you abide by a decent diet). The cardio will improve vascularity, and the high volume of the exercise (rep count) will help with blood flow, thus producing size and definition. And while painful, these two-minute burn-outs are a great way to get your cardio out of the way without boring yourself on the muscle-eating treadmill.


Metroflex Two-Minute Drills

Play around with programming your own two-minute drill. Mix and flip modalities for the best results. Pair traditional cardio with bodyweight exercises or barbell moves with anaerobic-style cardio such as sled pushes. Perform three to five of these drills (or more if your conditioning is top-notch), with two to three minutes of rest between each drill. Remember, each drill should be 100 percent all-out effort.


Pre-fatigue: 50-yard Prowler push

Burn-out: Max rep back squats


Pre-fatigue: 50-yard Prowler push

Burn-out: Max rep deadlifts


Pre-fatigue: 20 deadlifts

Burn-out: Max distance Prowler push


Pre-fatigue: 20 pull-ups

Burn-out: Max distance on rower


Pre-Fatigue: 50 sit-ups

Burn-out: Max distance on rower.






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