How do you put a taiso workout together? Easy.
- Remember the movements you need to cover, pick the appropriate mode of movement and a loading pattern.
- Pick one ‘anchor’ exercise for the day, that is to say, one big exercise you will use as punctuation. I usually settle on one of falling (ukemi), swings, pistols, or maybe squats.
- Do some big complex exercise from each group.
- When you finish, do the anchor again and repeat with all different exercises. This I refer to as a period. Yes, this is also called a circuit and that would be a fine name for it except people tend to think it is “circuit training” which is different. You should change activity every 30-60 seconds and never do more than 10 of a given exercise. Yes, you will be moving lickety-split the whole time.
We refer to taiso exercises as simple that is to say, consisting of one of the basic set (swing, side press, push-up, pull-up, etc.) or complex which is some combination of these simple exercises. A complex exercise would be the swing + side press + windmill combination, consisting of three simple exercises.
The main focus of an exercise is doing one of these motions along with maybe some other movements. You can intersperse smaller exercises, aerobic or anaerobic exercises (drop everything when in doubt and jump rope, sprint or do stars, for example) to vary the pace. Four or five such periods constitutes a workout and should take about 3 to 4 minutes for a period, depending on various factors.
Remember, there are a lot of possible combinations and your goal is to have a pretty fair amount of chaos as you train. Normally I have more focus one day on body weight, partner, or weights, depending on equipment and such, or just completely mix and match.
A good measure of wear and tear is periods per week. Start with a couple of sessions a week with a couple of periods. You can gradually increase these. After several years of doing this, I can do a session daily with 5 periods per, five days a week, depending on how strenuous I want to do things. In other words, I find that about 20 periods a week is a pretty good goal.
I might do more than this as a training program: Every summer I send myself to “boot camp” (alias shugyo or “ascetic training” in Japanese) for a couple of weeks, consisting of 40+ taiso sets weekly and a solid hour of cardio a day, but this can’t be maintained for more than a small march of time.