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Friday, January 11, 2013

I'm not going to get all emotional on you again, I swear. This is a post about my workouts - for accountability and just to share.

emoticon Strength Training
I do Jim Wendler's 5-3-1 program four days a week. It's an awesome program that uses the big compound movements with heavy weights and lower reps. I love it. You can modify it a lot for your own schedule (3x/week, even 2x/week, etc) and for your own goals. For me, each cycle is four weeks long, with three "working" weeks and one "recovery" week. Each week has four sessions, each focused on one big exercise. The first week you do 5 reps for each working set, the second week you do 3 reps, and the third week you do 5 (add weight) - 3 (add weight) - 1. You can just do the one "big" exercise or you can add in accessory work at each session. My lower body is already strong, so right now I'm just doing the "big" exercise for those days, and I'm doing a bunch of accessory work on the upper body days. Two example schedules are below.

week 2 Squats (takes about 20 minutes):
warm up: 5 min rowing
warm up squats: 5 x 70 lbs, rest, 5 x 85 lbs, rest, 3 x 100 lbs, rest
working squats: 3 x 120 lbs, rest, 3 x 135 lbs, rest, 3+ x 150 lbs (the plus means do as many as you can.

week 2 Bench Press (takes about an hour):
warm up: 5 min rowing
warm up bench: 5 x 45 lbs, rest, 5 x 45 lbs, rest, 3 x 55lbs, rest
working bench: 3 x 60 lbs, rest, 3 x 70 lbs, rest, 3+x 80 lbs
Dumbbell row: 15lbs, 5 sets, 20 reps
Assisted pull ups: -100lbs, 5 sets, 11 reps
Skull crushers: 20lbs, 5 sets, 10-12 reps
foam roller 5 min

To start the program, you just go to the gym, do each of the big moves (squats, deadlifts, bench press, over head press) and count the number of reps you can lift a fairly heavy weight (you want to pick something you can't do more than 5 or so times). Plug those numbers into a calculator that you can find online (or in the book) and it lays out exactly what you should be doing for the next four weeks. I highly recommend reading the book and using an educated trainer or friend to help teach you how to do the moves properly if you are new to lifting. This program is giving me the nearly daily workout schedule I need, plenty of rest days to make sure I'm not overworking any muscles, and BOY does it work! I'm so so so much stronger. I've done it inconsistenly, but in July I could squat 105lbs x 5 reps and felt like I was going to die. Now I'm doing 150 lbs x 8 reps and walking out of the gym with a spring in my step. And OMG the toning is outrageous. I love it.

This week, I added something new - box jumps. On upper body days, when I'm resting between warm up and work sets, I do five box jumps on the bench. I think I need to try a higher box because this is fun, but not killer hard. It's a good way to keep the HR up and to train myself to have some more explosive power.

emoticon Cardio
For cardio, I'm running and using the rowing machine (called the erg). I'm doing a lot more running lately because the weather is good for it. I try to do 3 cardio sessions per week.

Two are "long & low" sessions. I try to keep my heart rate well below max and just accept that is going to make me super-slow and sometimes I will have to walk. Those sessions are a minimum of 60 minutes. I'm recalibrating just what heart range I'm using now. By my calculations, I wanted to stay below 146 bpm....but I can get that by walking and not even briskly. Based on the rate of perceived exhaustion scale, I really want to be doing those workouts in the range where I can speak a sentence, but only a short one. That would be more like below 160 bpm. So that's where I'm keeping those runs for now. It's harder to do that on the erg, so I generally just try to match the RPE scale and zone out while I bore myself to death rowing indoors. All of this is supposed to really help my performance in the long run so that I can run faster at races without killing myself.

My other cardio session is more like HIIT - high intensity interval training. This feels like killing myself. My current plan is to do a set number of 1 minute intervals. I run all out till it feels like dying and I do it for 1 min, then I lightly jog or walk until my HR is back to 160bpm...then I ramp back up for the next interval. This is super hard and gets my heart rate up to 95-100% of my max. So today was my first HIIT session and I did 4 intervals. The upside is that it take less than 20 minutes, so you can slog through it knowing that it's almost over. This should help me build some athleticism and may also help me be a better performer at races.

emoticon Yoga
Right now, I'm not doing any. I need to add it back in though. Just 20 minutes once or twice a week helps my body feel less tight and constricted, and 20 minutes every day is amazing. I don't want to hurt myself doing anything else because I don't have the flexibility I need. Plus, it feels good to stretch and be stretchy.

As you'll notice, the reason I do stuff is NOT to get skinny or give myself more wiggle room in my diet. I want to be better, faster, stronger. If I think about burning calories as the sole reason for doing anything, it feels like punishment. Since I switched my goals to better performance, speed, and power, I find myself less likely to skip workouts and more likely to see improvements. Plus, I actually LIKE working out!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JANAMP09
    Thanks for sending me this link.
    1862 days ago
    Sounds like a great plan. emoticon
    1863 days ago
    1864 days ago
  • STODD251
    Sounds like a great workout!
    1864 days ago
  • EVEMG12
    Wow super intense workout plan, sounds awesome. I need some guidance for lifting once my personal training sessions end and I'm back on my own. I'll look into the 5/3/1 program. I just started doing yoga again. I have to admit that I don't love it, but seeing as though I can't touch my toes, probably something I should keep doing.

    Great job on all the hardwork! emoticon
    1864 days ago
    Oh course I am now have Queen in my head... of course there are worse things than Freddie Mercury on Friday!

    Love This: "the reason I do stuff is NOT to get skinny or give myself more wiggle room in my diet. I want to be better, faster, stronger"

    Perfect attitude!

    I need to try to keep remembering the same!
    1864 days ago
    It is great that you have found workouts that you love doing. I think that is the biggest hurdle I faced a year ago. I love to workout at the gym in a cardio class or strength class. Having others around me motivates me and I enjoy it more! Keep up the good work and thanks for all your leadership on our challenge.
    1864 days ago
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