Monday, December 27, 2010

Shoulders, they aren't just held together with tape and spit . . .

Although one might think so.  Shoulders are one of the most common complaints I get when training individuals, especially my older male clients.  The shoulder ball and socket joint is not like the hip joint where the bones fit together nice and snug.  It is a rather open structure held together mostly by muscle and connective tissue.  And yet, most sports that include throwing, lifting things overhead, as well as most daily activities that use the arm rely on the integrity of this joint.

Dan John, in his most recent blog post, talks about the kettlebell clean and how it can help to strengthen this somewhat "delicate" joint.  If you don't currently subscribe to Dan's blog or haven't read any of his articles, or more importantly, his book, Never Let Go, by all means, start today.

As an added bonus, here is Steve Cotter's instruction of the kettlebell clean.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Some kettlebell workouts to do at home

So, I know a lot of you are traveling for the holidays.  But, if you have a kettlebell or dumbbell, you can get a good workout in wherever you are.  Here are some workouts we've done at kettlebell class the past couple of months.

This is a strength workout, you'll need a slightly heavier bell than you use for our conditioning circuits.  For example, if you usually use a 4-6 kg bell, try using a 8-10 kg bell.   These movements are meant to be done for precision and not speed.  Work to get a full range of motion on each repetition.  Rest 30-60 seconds between sets as needed.

Turkish Get Up:  10 each side
Windmilll: 3x10 each side
Split Squat: 3x10 each side
Bent over row: 3x10 each side
Goblet squat with 3 second hold at bottom: 3x10
Curl and Press: 3 x10 each side

Finish with 100 swings.

Turkish Get Up


From Chapter 11

This is a muscle endurance workout.  Use the same sized bell you use for all classes and try to get approximately 10-15 reps for each exercise.  Perform both circuits twice in an alternating fashion.

Circuit 1 (15 reps each)
1 legged deadlifts, each side
Side lunge, each side
Double handed swing
Bent over row, each side
Squat to 1 armed press, each side
Kettlebell situp with tricep press
V-sit Russian twist
Reverse situp

Circuit 2 (10 reps each)
Front squat with rotation, each side
Windmill, each side
Woodchop, each side
Alternating 1 arm high pull
Swing-catch-goblet squat
Side plank row, each side
Rotating situp, alternating sides

Repeat Circuit 1 and 2.

Squat to One Arm Press

One Arm High Pull

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Warrior Dash is coming to North Carolina!

In August 2011!  Wait a minute, August?  In North Carolina?

Warrior Dash, Huntersville, NC

Well, it will be hot, but at least there won't be frost on the ground when we jump into the pond.   And besides, we are of warrior stock, sweating like pigs and getting muddy is what we do best.

That, and pillaging. 

We will be registering on Saturday, December 18th. If you would like to join us and/or at least run in the same wave, it would be a good idea to register close to that time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday Workouts

Do those two words even go together?

Well, yes. They do and more importantly, they should. During the holidays we tend to overeat, get overstressed, and tend to get our exercise herding children through shopping malls and putting up holiday decorations.

However, during this time, there is nothing better for your body AND mind than a little exercise. During this time of year, when the days are colder and definitely shorter, its also difficult to get out and just play with the kids or find the motivation to go for a walk or a jog in the dark. By far, one of the best ways to get motivated is to have some accountability and by that, I mean make yourself an exercise date. Find a few friends with whom you can commit to training with consistently. Or, join a group exercise class or boot camp. My favorite way, by far, is to turn on the floodlights and go outside to play with the kids. Swinging, running races, playing tag, and even playing on the swing set are great ways to get your heart rate up and put some positive stress on your joints. If its too cold and/or wet, put on some music and have a dance party. The good thing about dancing with kids is that they are just there to have fun so you don't have to be awesome at it, just inventive.

However, if you want something a little more structured, here are some circuits that you can complete in 20-30 minutes with minimal equipment.

For this circuit, use a lighter weight such as 10-20 lbs:
Overhead walking lunge 20 yards (hold a dumbbell or kettlebell overhead, lined up with your shoulder and with your upper arm in line with your ear. Hold on one side 20 yards, then switch to the other side on the way back)
25 dumbbell or kettlebell swings
Run 200-400 meters
4-5 rounds

5 pullups or 10 body rows
10 kettlebell/dumbbell snatches or single arm swings, each arm (use a heavier weight such as 15-30 lbs)
10-15 deadlifts (use a heavier weight, approximately 40% of your 1RM)
3-4 rounds

500 Jump rope
Turkish Get-ups, 15 on each side, alternating sides.
Use weight that is heavy enough to be challenging.

15 Goblet squats (or an unweighted squat)
15 Dumbbell See-saw press
15 Lateral lunges, each side
15 Bent over rows or body rows
15 Alternating rotating situps (as you come to the top of each sit-up, rotate your torso to the side. This can also be done holding a medicine ball)
4 rounds

Now, regarding food. The best thing you can do for yourself is simply write it down. Simply being aware of what you are eating at different times of the day will help you to control your intake or be sure to balance your nutrients. Make sure you are getting plenty of fiber, water, protein, fruits, and vegetables. And, most importantly, plenty of sleep.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, I know, I've been remiss in posting.  But for a good reason.  I've been working on a textbook for my training organization, the ISSA.  Trying to succintly explain how to safely and effectively program boot camps and group classes for a broad range of people takes up a lot more space than you might think.  We hope to release the course next summer.  ISSA is accredited through the Distance Education and Training Council, an organization recognized by the US Department of Education. 

Yes, but what about exercising and eating this week?!

Okay, well, don't sweat it too much.  Thanksgiving is about enjoying time with family and the truth is, turkey is not bad for you.  Too much gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie might be bad for you, but nothing you can't work off with an active weekend and some yard work.  Get outside and sweat a little, even if it just means walking around the block, going for a bike ride, or hanging up the Christmas lights. 

Or maybe just some burpees . . . .

But, like most things, if you want to get through Thanksgiving without  stuffing yourself more than the turkey, or eating so little that you end up ordering a pizza later (yes I did), you need a plan.  At my mom's house, our plan starts off with having the menu consist mainly of vegetables and limit the number of starches (because that is what dessert is for).  Sweet potatoes, green beans, roasted root vegetables, and salad are the main sides with turkey and gravy with apple and sausage stuffing for the main course.  Yes, that's right, you can stuff the meat with more meat and vegetables or fruits.  It doesn't have to be primarily bread.  And the fruits help to keep the turkey moist instead of soaking up all the moisture. 

Dessert-wise, well I don't believe in low-calorie desserts that aren't naturally low-calorie.  But, guess what is?  Pumpkin pie.  And depending on how much butter you use in your crust, apple pie.  If you want to sample everything, serve yourself only a bite or two.  Most likely, if its not in front of you and you are feeling satiated, you won't get up to have more.  Well, unless you're my dad. 

We'll get back on schedule next week.  Remember, I'm teaching kettlebell conditioning classes at St. Francis on Tuesdays and Fridays at the community center.  We've got a pretty good crowd already, but would love to have more.  And, if you are interested in weightlifting, come on over to the Athletic Performance Center on Monday or Thursday evenings and train with the Raleigh Weightlifting Club.  Beginners are welcome and encouraged!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Training Schedule October 25th - October 30th

This week, we resume barbell training.  After two weeks of teaching kettlebell classes and barbell skill training, I am over the DOMS threshold for more frequent training and my joints feel much more stable.  It took two weeks of pain, but now I feel good and can get back to daily practice.

Huh?  Aren't you always yammering about overtraining and overuse injuries?

Yes, as a matter of fact I do.  However, the key to avoiding overtraining and overuse injuries is to work with adaptation and not against it.  The way a person's body responds to training is unique and a personalized approach is always good.  We often urge people to listen to their bodies, but this can sometimes lead to individuals not pushing themselves hard enough or sticking to a consistent program.  Inconsistencies or deficiencies in appropriate intensity, volume, or training can  actually cause a lot more discomfort and potential for injury than consistent practice.

A lot of adaptation is neurological and for those adaptations to occur, you need to practice.  Just like studying a textbook helps you to learn and maintain knowledge, studying, or practicing movements makes you better at those movements, regardless of load.  And as your body "learns" more about the movement and the associated stresses, you get stronger and more coordinated.  Knowing when to back off and allow adaptation to occur versus getting back into the gym and creating more stress to adapt to is more difficult.

So, to make a long story short, if you want to increase your backsquat, don't just train with max loads, practice with lighter weights more often.  You'll find that your capacity to train more frequently will increase. 

So, on to the training schedule!

Monday, October 25th

Snatch 5-4-3-3-3-3
Overhead squat 5x5
Push press 3-3-3-3-3-3

Tuesday, October 26th

Kettlebell training
After warming up, complete 3 rounds of each cycle:

Cycle 1:
15 Goblet squat
15 snatches, each side
1/2 Turkish get-up, 10 each side

Cycle 2:
15 lateral lunges, each side
15 diagonal wood chop, each side
10 windmills, each side
20 double swings

Cycle 3:
15 reverse lunges with clean, each side
15 single swings, each arm
10 squat to single arm press, each side
15 Rotating situp, hold kettlebell in front, rotate to alternate sides

Wednesday, October 27th
Rest Day

Thursday, October 28th
Clean 5-4-3-3-3-3
Clean pull 2-2-2-2-2-2
Jerk 3-3-3-3-3-3

Friday, October 29th
Squat- Pushup-pullup ladder
Perform 1 squat, 1 pushup, 3 pullups
Then, perform 2 squats, 2 pushups, and 3 pullups
Continue until you reach 8-10 rounds keeping the number of pullups at 3.

If you cannot perform a deadhang pullup, perform 10 bodyrows instead.

Saturday, October 30th

Hmmmmm, sandbags maybe?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Training Schedule October 18th - 23rd

One of my friends and fellow trainers, Chad Edwards, is now the proud owner of Crossfit Local in Chapel Hill.  Chad and his crew recently participated in a fundraiser to raise money for breast cancer, Barbells for Boobs.

 They are now gearing up for the Carolina Fitness Challenge, a CrossFit competition to be held at CrossFit Durham this December 11th.

Back to things going on in my basement . . .

Kettlebell conditioning, for one, but not in my basement.  Tuesdays and Fridays at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.  This 45 minute class is designed for general full body strength and conditioning.  If you are interested, send me an e-mail.

The rest of the schedule is going to assist us in returning to weightlifting from running.  So, this month, general strength and conditioning and back on the barbells. We'll start easy and go from there.

Training Schedule: (sets X reps)

Power Snatches, 6x2
Overhead squats 3x15

Pullups, 10
Bulgarian split squats, 10 each side


Perform the following with a single kettlebell or dumbbell

10 Goblet squats
10 overhead presses
20 swings
10 reverse lunges with rotation, each leg (step back and rotate torso to one side with each step, alternate sides)
 20 swings
1 minute rest
4-5 rounds


Light day.  Bike Ride, Walk, Row, etc.


Clean 6x2
Front Squat 3x10
Push Press 5x5


Kettlebell conditioning or Light Day


Monday, October 11, 2010

Warrior Dash! and Kettlebell Pump at St. Francis.

Well, I have to say, the Warrior Dash was an absolute blast.  Everyone was clearly there to have a good time, the weather was gorgeous, and the pond was only slightly freezing.

From  left to right, our times were 27 minutes, 44 minutes, 28 minutes, 40 minutes, 44 minutes, and somewhere between 28 and 40 (Sorry Brett, they didn't list you).  Stay tuned for some live action mud crawling. 

In other news, I will begin teaching Kettlebell Pump at the community center at St. Francis this Tuesday and Friday and 9:30.  I have kettlebells available for purchase or you can order them from Randy and Mary DeAngelo at this url:

These kettlebells are not "competition" kettlebells, but are ideal for this class and basic fitness.  They are also priced a lot more reasonably than most.  A four kg bell is most appropriate for beginners.  Please contact me if you have any questions about the class.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Warrior Dash and Kettlebell Class

Hey everyone, we're finally leaving this morning to head up North for the Warrior Dash.  Patrick has made his warrior helmet, Francis is encasing himself in duct tape, and Elizabeth has the warrior tummy bug.  This should prove interesting. 

So, when we get back on Sunday, it is going to be the start of something entirely new.  I will be teaching kettlebell classes on Tuesdays and Fridays at the St. Francis of Assisi Community Center in the Cupertino Room.  Class starts at 9:30 and will run for approximately 45 minute.  What will be really fun and exciting is that I don't know if I'll actually have kettlebells by next week, but details like that are pointless to worry about.  I am an expert at "winging it".  The class is free, but I am asking everyone to bring their own kettlebell or purchase one from me at cost.  (Approximately 25$ for the smallest size, add two dollars for each 2kg increase in weight.)  The appropriate size for a beginner is 4 kg, or 8.8 lbs.  If you purchase your bell from me, I will allow you to trade it in and just pay for the price difference as you increase your weight.

I will still be offering personalized training and some group training and I am still coaching weightlifting over at the Athletic Performance Center.  The APC may be hosting the NC State USA Weightlifting meet come next May.  Watch my blog for announcements.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Old School Circuit Training

I have an old moldy copy of a book on circuit training written by the original developers of the technique, R.E. Morgan and G.T. Adamson from Leeds University. It smells weird and the pages are brittle, but it is very interesting.

There were no machines used in this gym, it was all full body gymnastic and strength work that would be pretty hard for a lot of relatively fit folks to complete. I'm going to list some of the exercises and try and provide a description that is relatively accurate so you can see what I mean.

Rope Swings: So, picture this, you have two ropes about arm length apart. You must grab a hold of both, take two steps back and then heave yourself forward with enough force that your feet touch a horizontal beam that is approximately 8-10 in the air.

Arm jumps: They utilized a ladder placed horizontally at "jump height. So, picture doing this on the monkey bars. Hold on to the outside support beams and by pulling up explosively, use your arms to "jump" your way down the bar.

Arm walk on parallel bars: So, just like it sounds, press yourself up in a support position on the parallel bars and walk though it on your hands (you are not in a handstand position, you are hanging between the bars).

Barbell Swings: This is very similar to a clean grip hang power snatch, except that you swing the bar overhead like a kettlebell swing.

Barbell Curls: This is the same as the barbell swing, but with an underhand grip. Very much like a power curl.

Wheelbarrow lift: They have it set up to look like a partial deadlift, but the action is the same as lifting a heavy wheelbarrow.

Dumbbell Jumps: Holding a dumbell in each hand, place both feet on either side of a 12" bench. Jump onto the bench by jumping up and bringing your feet together.

Squat Jumps: This is sort of a jumping B squat. One foot is slightly in front of the other such that when you land, your back foot is on the toe as in a lunge. Alternate feet with each jump.

Dumbbell squats: Holding dumbbells in both hands and with heels supported on board, squat to the ground.

Jump and heave: This looks like a jumping pullup, but chest to bar.

Jump and press: Using the parallel bars, jump up to acquire a support position. Dip slightly and extend the elbows explosively as you "jump" down the bars. This seems to be an explosive or plyometric dip.

Squat and press with bench: So, they would hook a long bench (10-12 feet) to the wall. Then, holding onto the end of the bench, they would squat to the floor and then come all the way up, pressing the bench overhead until they were on their toes. Similar to a thruster, but stabilized on one end.

These don't require as much explanation:
Rope ladder climb
Burpee: no pushup, no jump
Barbell squats: Butt to ankles.
Bench Stepping: Up and down 2-3 rows up bleachers
Barbell Press
Parallel bar dips
Wrist rolling

Now, I can't vouch for the safety of some of these as I've never used them before, but its interesting to see how some of these have clearly evolved over the years and have been integrated into other programs. Some have been dropped altogether. These circuits were performed with 40% 1RM training loads and were not done for time, just good form. About 20-30 seconds of rest was allowed between exercises as individuals moved from one to the next.

Circuit Training, R.E. Morgan and G.T. Adamson
The Camelot Press, Ltd., Great Britain 1959

Training Schedule September 27th -October 2

Two more weeks until the Warrior Dash!  If you haven't started running, you'd better get started.

If you're interested in this sort of thing, I wrote a new article for my Back to Basics Training blog on old school circuit training (and by old school, I mean 60 years ago).


I have nothing interesting to say today so I'm just going to get on with the schedule.  Please note, this is geared entirely towards being able to run through the woods, climb over walls, and jump over stuff.  If you don't intend on doing that, search this blog for something different with the Google search bar at the bottom.  Or, if you feel like exploring your testosterone boundaries, check out this article on T-Nation:  The Ten Manliest Exercises Ever


1 jump squat, 1 pushup, run 200-400 meters
2 jump squats, 2 pushups, run 200-400 meters
continue until you reach 8-10 total rounds


10 jumping Pullups
10 walking lunges, weighted
5 rounds
Walk or jog 1 mile

 Interval training
Run 1 minute, walk/jog 1 minute
3 miles


15 Weighted step-ups, one side at a time
10 deadlifts (20%-40% of 1RM)
12-15 push press (20-30% of 1RM)
5 rounds

Run 3-5 miles

Monday, September 20, 2010


My daughter told me yesterday that I looked like Tinkerbell.

I don't look anything like Tinkerbell so I asked her why.  She got kind of embarassed and then she put her hands on my hips and said, "Well, your . . . um . . . "

"Butt is big?" I finished for her.  She smiled and nodded her head.

"Why thank you!" I said. "I've been working on that." 

Don't be mad, Tink, you're a strong girl. 
I think that Tinkerbell would probably be an excellent athlete.  She has the figure for it.  Like it or not, most of our power comes from that large muscle group on our backside so having a big engine is quite an advantage.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Training Schedule September 13th - September 19th

So, four weeks until the Warrior Dash.  Truth is, its not that far of a run.  But, we still have train with some distance if you aren't used to running.  Regular runners, you just need to do some pullups. 

If we were training for a longer distance, a 10K, half marathon, or marathon, we would phasing out the heavy weight training and doing some maintenance strength and power training with bodyweight, light implements, and/or plyometrics (jump training).  But, this is a short distance and its not worth detraining all of our strength just to run three miles.

And so, we continue to lift.  I wouldn't lift heavy a day or two before the actual race just because running with DOMS is not fun, but there's no need to give things up entirely.


Power Clean, doubles, 6-8 sets
Front squat 3x10
Push Press 5x5

Run 1 mile


Weighted walk, 3-5 miles, carry, drag, and/or push weight


3 mile run


30 kettlebell swings
Run 200 meters
3 rounds

Then run 1/2 mile


Rest day or 3-5 mile walk or run


Power Snatch to overhead  squat, doubles, 6-8 reps

10 Jump Squats
10 pushups
400 meter run
4 rounds


Run 3 miles

Monday, September 6, 2010

Training Schedule September 6 - September 11

Happy Labor Day! My personal take on Labor Day is that it is a way to honor mothers and so I take the day off.  Of course, holiday weekends always warrant a little slacking off in my opinion.  Or maybe I'm just lazy. 

So, same as last week, training for the Warrior Dash!  And that means MORE RUNNING!

Again, if running isn't your thing, well, I have almost eight months of training schedules to choose from here.  Pick one and get started.  If you haven't noticed, I have a google search function at the bottom of the page so that you can search my blog for different exercises and training schedules.  For example, tire flips.  Here is a picture of Jason Davidson, my fellow weightlifting coach, demonstrating a tire flip with one of the lighter tires over at the Athletic Performance Center.

Tuesday, August 7th

Clean and jerk, eight sets of doubles, increase weight to a max
Assistance, sumo deadlift, 3x10 (yes, this works the adductors and helps you get up from your front squat without your knees caving in)
Bench Press, 5x5

Run 1-2 miles, pacing intervals (run set time or distance, rest two minutes, repeat until you have completed the total distance)

Wednesday, August 8th

10 pullups
100 jump rope
20 kb swings
Rest 1-2 minutes
4-5 rounds

Thursday, August 9th

15 box jumps
15 pushups
50 meter sprint
5 rounds
This should be high intensity, rest 3-4 minutes between rounds

Run 1/2 - 1 mile

Friday, August 10th

Rest day, walk or jog

Saturday, August 11th

Snatches, 8 sets of doubles, increase weight as you go

Rest 5-10 minutes, 2 mile run, pacing intervals

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Training Schedule August 30th - September 4th

"Learn from the mistakes of others, because you can't live long enough to make them all yourself."

Just a little wisdom to start the week. And now back to the training schedule. I'm going to change things up here a bit and put in exactly what I'm doing. And, I a weightlifting coach who is also training for the Warrior Dash. So, I'm looking for strength and endurance, both cardiovascular and muscular.

If you are strictly strength training, use the template posted in the training schedule for August 9th - 14th.

We also have a new challenge on the horizon. Bodyweight carry, max distance in 30 minutes. That means, you must carry your own bodyweight as far as you can in 30 minutes. I would advise you not to wander too far from your starting point unless you have a cell phone and someone willing to pick you up. Use a ruck, weighted vest, farmer's carry, etc.

Monday, August 30th:

Snatch, 6-8 sets of doubles, increase weight as needed
(alternative to snatch, overhead squat 4-6 sets of 3-5 reps)
Bench Press, 5x5
Run 1 mile.

Tuesday, August 31st:

I'll be going for a 3 mile walk, either pushing or carrying weight.

Here's something else you can do:
25 kettlebell swings (moderate weight)
100 reps jump rope
25 med ball slams (use wall slams as well to get some lateral work)
100 reps jump rope
4-5 rounds
Pace as needed, take about 25-40 minutes to complete.

Wednesday, September 1:

Begin workout with high intensity interval:
15 pushups
15 jump squats
Sprint 40 yards
5 rounds

Finish with 1 mile run.

Thursday, September 2:

Another 3 mile push or carry for me.

I'd recommend taking a break or doing some steady state cardio. Ride your bike, go for a jog, run on the elliptical, row a 5K.

Friday, September 3:

Cleans, 6-8 sets of doubles
Push Press, 5x5
Run 1 mile

Saturday, September 4:
Bodyweight carry, max distance in 30 minutes

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kettlebell Classes

For those of you local to Raleigh, I will be offering kettlebell fitness classes at St. Francis of Assisi's new community in North Raleigh starting in October. The classes will run on Tuesday and Friday at 9:30. I will post more details as I figure out the logistics.   This class uses a single kettlebell for resistance through a variety of exercises and techniques for the purpose of strength and conditioning.  It is scalable for a broad range of abilities and fitness levels.  I will probably incorporate an "early bird" fifteen minute skill session for new folks before each class.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Time to get serious!

Okay, the Warrior Dash is in seven weeks and its about time we did some RUNNING! That's right, just flat out plain old running. For this reason, I am going to explain the concept of PACING INTERVALS. Pay close attention. (Or have a cup of coffee and skip ahead to the workouts.)

So, lets say you are used to walking or jogging at a moderate or pathetic pace, but every time you try and push yourself to go faster, you end up with a stitch in your side, or just plain worn out before you go the distance. Pacing intervals are designed to help you increase your intensity over time until you can maintain your new intensity for the entire duration of your run/bike/swim/row, etc.

For example, using a rate of perceived exertion scale, you are used to running at an intensity level of 5 on a scale from 1-10 with 1 being walking through the mall and 10 being close to death. You want to increase your pace such that the distance you run in 45 minutes is longer. To do this outright, you could just sprint. But after about 2-3 minutes, you would be lying on the side of the road, possibly vomiting.

Instead, try increasing the pace and/or intensity at which your run a set time or distance and then rest for a set period of time before repeating. If you were on a treadmill, let's say you are used to jogging at 4.5 miles per hour. To use pacing intervals, try increasing the speed to 5.5 mph for 2-4 minutes (don't push yourself to failure or you won't be able to complete the workout). Walk or jog to recover for 1-2 minutes.Repeat this interval for the normal duration of your run. If you don't rest too much, the immediate result is that you will have covered more distance. In the meantime, your muscles will have adapted to the higher demand for fuel and will start generating more mitochondria. Your respiratory and cardiovascular systems will respond to the increased demands for more oxygen and become more efficient. Over time, you will want to extend the length of the intervals until you are running the entire distance/time at the higher pace.

As an aside, Stephen Seiler has written an amazing course on the science of interval training and how to use it to improve performance. It is available on-line through the ISSA as a continuing education course.

So, back to training.



Back Squat 3x10
Bench Press 5x5

Kettlebell swings 1 minute on, 1 minute off, 5 rounds


5 Pullups
15 Goblet Squats
15 dumbbell curl and press
15 deadlifts
15 1/2 turkish getups, each side


Sandbag clean and shoulder, 20
Sandbag carry, 50 meters
Sandbag Zercher squat, 10


Deadlift, peak to max and do 3 sets across of triples
Dumbbell curl and press:  3x10


High Intensity Interval Training
15 pushups
15 box jumps
50 meter sprint
4 rounds, followed by 400 meter run


Rest Day


Squat,peak to max and do 3 sets across of 3-5 reps
Overhead Press, 5x5
Pullups: 3 x max reps


400 meter run
30 squats
400 meter run
30 body rows or 3 rope climbs
400 meter run
30 walking lunges or stair run
400 meter run
30 pushups
400 meter run
30 knees to elbows or situps
400 meter run

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm at the beach

Good thing my programming is so redundant.

You guys can just repeat last week or grab something from July. School starts next week so it'll be time to get serious again, in the meantime, I'm sitting here listening to the waves and contemplating doing some burpees with the kids. Yes, I'm that kind of mom.

Have a a great week.

Here's some food for thought. And, just my two cents, cardio is NOT a joke, but it shouldn't be the basis of your exercise program. Here's why:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Training Schedule August 9th - August 14th

If you are interested in fitness science and some new thoughts on what actually causes muscular fatigue, check out out the new article I wrote for my other blog, "My brain is making me tired".

This week’s schedule is going to contain a mixture of lifting and circuit training. You “can” mix the two if you’re smart about it, but don’t do all of it. If you are doing the barbell training, stick with the conditioning circuits for cardio. Any other cardio work needs to be done much later in the day or on another day entirely.

As a side note of explanation on the barbell training, we’ve been experimenting with a format where we increase weight until we reach a 5RM, perform as many sets as we can at the 5RM (should be no more than 1-3 for a true 5RM), and then do one or two back-off sets. This is not for the novice lifter, this is for someone who gone past the novice stage and is handling heavier weights. Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 program is another more advanced program that works for some folks, but at this stage of the game, its all about finding an individualized program that works for you. Keep track of your weights and how you feel. If you don’t feel good and/or you are not getting stronger, you need to tweak the program.

If you are performing a lift more than once a week, undulate your intensity and volume so that you are not maxing out too often.


Back Squat
45-5 reps, 95-5 reps, 135-5 reps, 185-5 reps, 235-5 reps, 235-3 reps (failed to complete 5), 185-5 reps (back-off sets)
7 sets total

Other reps schemes you can use:
20-20-12, include warm-ups to your 20RM (A favorite of my fellow weightlifting coach, Jason Davidson)
12-10-8-6-6-6 (more reps on the lower weights, find a 6RM working weight)
3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 (increase weight as you go, when you reach a max, stay there and try to complete at least 6 total sets, if you can’t, decrease the weight)
Be sure to include 1-2 minutes rest between sets.

Front or Back Squat, 3x10
Bench Press, max to 5 and backoff

Bulgarian Split squats, 15 each leg (use dumbbells)
Hanging knee raises, 15
3 rounds

Jump rope 50 reps
Bulgarian split squat, 15 each leg
Hanging knee raises, 15
See-saw dumbbell or kettlebell press, 15
Kettelbell swing, 15
4-5 rounds


Box Jumps or weighted Step-ups (12”-18” box), 20
Sandbag or dumbbell cleans, 15
Walking lunges, 20
5 rounds


Deadlift, max or 5x5
Overhead Press, max and backoff

One armed kettlebell swing, 15 each arm
Oblique situps, 10 each side (as you come up to sitting position, rotate torso to one side, alternate sides)
3 rounds

HIIT Circuit:
*This is high intensity so make sure you warm up sufficiently, 15-30 minutes cardio or light calisthenics
10 dumbbell thrusters
10 burpees
50 meter sprint
Rest as much as needed between rounds
3 rounds, then run 400 meters


Rest Day


Back Squat, increase to 5RM and backoff
Pullups, 3 rounds max reps. If you can do more than 10-15, try adding weight


Medicine ball slams, 20
Medicine ball wood chops, 15 each side
Medicine ball “tap and press”, 15
*For this exercise, hold ball in front of you like a basketball. Quickly squat down and tap the floor with the ball and then fully extend your body and press the ball overhead. As your conditioning improves, you can jump with the press making it more like you are shooting a basketball, but don’t let go.

Goblet squat/Pushup/Run ladder
Perform 1 goblet squat, 1 pushup, and run 200-400 meters
Perform 2 goblet squats, 2 pushups, and run 200-400 meters
Repeat until you reach 8-10 total reps.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My brain is making me tired.

You’re running and suddenly you can run no more. You slow to a walk until your muscles feel “ready” to run again and you do. Or, you are squatting a barbell for reps and on the last one, you pause at the bottom of the movement as your muscles temporarily fail. (Hopefully, you are in the cage or have someone to lift said barbell off your back with minimal damage.) What exactly is going on here?

Over the years, we’ve been lead to believe that this is a simply linear process of depletion of fuel and build-up of waste products that cause our muscle to reach a point of temporary failure to contract. Makes sense, right? This is because a long time ago, skeletal muscle cells in culture were made to contract with electrical impulses and when they failed to contract despite stimulation, it was shown that they were depleted of nutrients and/or had accumulated a high level of metabolic waste.

However, what happens in the petri dish does not always happen in real live organisms. When muscle from exercising individuals was taken during a fatigued state after exercise, there actually wasn’t a catastrophic depletion of ATP or extremely high levels of metabolic waste. Why the difference?

Well, people are complex. Those muscle cells from the petri dish are actually part of a complex organ system that interacts with other complex organ systems and is controlled by a central nervous system. Our bodies are pretty complex and perhaps sophisticated beyond simple termination of activity due to a catastrophic metabolic or physiologic condition that could possibly lead to a whole host of other problems such as organ failure.

So, I’m going to get very technical here and describe the current thoughts on what exactly causes muscle fatigue.

Although the process of muscle contraction is driven by the presence of ATP, depletion of ATP is not necessarily responsible for muscle fatigue as levels of ATP measured in fatigued muscle have not been found to be severely reduced. Instead, it is thought that other factors, possible involving temporary inability of the muscle cell to respond to nerve impulses, may be to blame. (Rhoades and Pflanzer 1989, 508)

There are many mechanisms thought to be involved in skeletal muscle fatigue including metabolism, heat, hypoxia (lack of oxygen), and depletion of glycogen stores. Somehow, a combination of increased body temperature, decreased oxygen saturation, an increase in metabolic waste products such as lactic acid, a decrease in ATP, and depletion in muscle and liver glycogen is thought to bring about fatigue at which point a period of recovery must take place before further activity can continue. However, this “linear” characterization of fatigue as a catastrophic endpoint is not supported by the current research. (St Clair Gibson and Noakes 2004)

In the previous model, it was hypothesized that the perception of fatigue was the result of the impairment of skeletal muscle by metabolic and other changes. These results were based on experiments performed in cell culture. However, in in vivo experiments, where the experiments were carried out in live subjects, feelings of fatigue did not correlate with significant metabolic changes or other peripheral endpoint changes. Therefore, the link between the perception of fatigue and physiologic variables has not been demonstrated. (St Clair Gibson and Noakes 2004)

The role of the brain as a “central governor” in fatigue has been hypothesized in recent years to account for the lack of evidence pointing to fatigue being the result of a metabolic or peripheral catastrophic endpoint. In this hypothesis, the brain acts on information gathered from the body such as heart rate, oxygen saturation, and changes in metabolites to manage muscle fiber recruitment in such a way as to maintain homeostasis while completing tasks. In this manner, fatigue may be another way in which the body self-regulates homeostasis. (St Clair Gibson and Noakes 2004) (Lambert, St Clair Gibson and Noakes 2005)

So, how can we use this information to our advantage?

Rate of Perceived Exertion

When performing a task such as running or lifting weights, it may seem easy or quite difficult. Gunnar Borg created a scale by which to gauge difficulty of a task and demonstrated that it correlated to measurable physiologic parameters such as heart rate. This scale is known at the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and using a target RPE has been shown to be as effective as using a device to measure exercise intensity level such as a heart rate monitor. (Alberton, et al. 2010) (Borg 1998) (Celine, et al. 2010) (Tiggemann, et al. 2010)

There is currently some disagreement among exercise physiologists regarding the RPE and what exactly it measures, ie, is it a sensation generated by the brain or is it a direct product of peripheral nervous system feedback? A review of the current literature indicates that the sensation of effort may be generated centrally from the brain whereas sensations such as pain or temperature may be generated directly from the peripheral nervous system. (Smirmaul 2010)

So, I can summarize this in two sentences to make this very clear: It is hypothesized (this is the important part) that our brain acts on subtle cues such as metabolite levels, body temperature, respiratory and circulatory rate, etc. to induce fatigue in order to maintain homeostasis. Using a rate of perceived exertion, the sensation of effort related to peripheral signals and neurological input perceived by the brain, we can accurately pace our workouts. The key is knowing when to listen. And just so you know, this is NOT at the beginning of the workout or before you even get to the gym when you are quite certain your brain is telling you to go get a latte or stay in bed.


Alberton, Cristine, et al. "Correlation between rating of perceived exertion and physiological variable during the execution of stationary running in water at different cadences." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010: 1-8.

Amann, Markus, and Jerome Dempsey. "Locomotor muscle fatigue modifies central motor drive in healthy humans and imposes a limitation to exercise performance." Journal of Physiology, 2008: 161-173.

Amann, Markus, Lee Romer, Andrew Subudhi, David Pegelow, and Jerome Dempsey. "Severity of arterial hypoxaemia affects the relative contributions of peripheral muscle fatigue to exercise performance in healthy humans." Journal of Physiology, 2007: 389-403.

Amann, Markus, Marlowe, Lovering, Andrew Eldridge, Michael Stickland, David Pegelow, and Jerome Dempsey. "Arterial oxygenation influences central motor output and exercise performance via effects on peripheral locomotor muscle fatigue in humans." Journal of Physiology, 2006: 937-952.

Borg, Gunnar. Perceived Exertion and Pain Scale. Champaigne, IL: Human Kinetics, 1998.

Celine, Christine, Philippe Monnier-Benoit, Alain Groslambert, Nicolas Tordi, Stephane Perrey, and Jean-Denis Rouillon. "The perceived exertion to regulate a training program in young women." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010: 1-5.

Hampson, DB, A Saint Clair Gibson, MI Lambert, and TD Noakes. "The influence of Sensory cues on the perception of exertion during exercise and central regulation of exercise performance." Sports Medicine, 2001: 935-952.

Hunter, Shelley. "Promoting Intrinsic Motivation in Clients." Strength and Conditioning Journal, 2008: 52-54.

Jackson, Doug. "How personal trianers can use self-efficacy theory to enhance exercise behavior in beginning exercisers." Strength and Conditioning Journal, 2010: 67-71.

Lambert, EV, A St Clair Gibson, and TD Noakes. "Complex systems model of fatigue: integrative homeostatic control of peripheral physiological systems during exercise in humans." British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2005: 52-62.

Marcora, Samuele. "Perception of effort during exercise is independent of afferent feedback from skeletal muscles, heart, and lungs." Journal of Applied Physiology, 2009: 2060-2062.

Meeusen, Romain, et al. "Commentaries on Viewpoint: Perception of effort during exercise is independent of afferent feedback from skeletal muscles, heart, and lungs." Journal of Applied Physiology, 2009: 2063-2066.

Noakes, TD, and FE Marino. "Letters: Arterial oxygenation, central motor output and performance in humans." Journal of Physiology, 2007: 919-921.

Nybo, Lars, Mads Dalsgaard, Adam Steensberg, Kirsten Moller, and Niels Secher. "Cerebral ammonia uptake and accumulation during prolonged exercise in humans." Journal of Physiology, 2005: 285-290.

Perrey, S, et al. "Comments on Point:Counterpoint: Afferent feedback from fatigued locomotor muscles is/is not an important determinant of endurance exercise performance." Journal of Applied Physiology, 2010: 458-468.

Rhoades, Rodney, and Richard Pflanzer. Human Physiology. Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing, 1989.

Smirmaul, B. "Sense of effort and other unpleasant sensations during exercise: clarifying concepts during exercise." British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2010: 10.1136/bjsm.2010.071407.

St Clair Gibson, A, and TD Noakes. "Evidence for complex system integration and dynamic neural regulation of skeletal muscle recrutiment during exercise in humans." British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2004: 797-806.

Tiggemann, Carlos, Andre Korzenowksi, Michel Brentano, Marcus Tartaruga, Cristine Alberton, and Luis Kruel. "Perceived exertion in different strength exercise loads in sendentary, active, and trained adults." Journal of Strength and Condtioning Research, 2010: 2032-2041.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A fitness project for the kids

So, I've been doing some reading about fitness and motivation.  I've read that intrinsic factors, internal motivators, are the most likely ones to contribute towards sticking to an exercise program.  Some of these factors are: autonomy, self-efficacy, teamwork, and knowledge.

So, today, I found myself with a house full of children, eight total, all of whom we've been trying to get more active.  Three of these children are my own and the other five live on both sides of me. I needed a way to motivate them to exercise that did not rely on me or their mothers to nag them, that had an element of self-guidance, and incorporated teamwork.

And so, we came up with the following idea.  Together, the girls and boys were going to ride their bikes a total of five hundred miles over the next three months.  Sounds crazy?  Well, not so much. 

I took all eight of them outside and we measured the distances of our driveways and the distances between.  (This took some time because I only had a 24 foot tape measure.) We figured out how long the distance was for a variety of combinations:  neighbor to neighbor, end of first driveway to end of third driveway, distance from the beginning of one driveway-up and down the second driveway-and up the third driveway.  And then we figured out what percentage of a mile each combination was.  Based on this, we now knew how many laps of each course one has to complete to make a mile (or two).  For the longest course, which turned out to be a fifth of a mile, each child simply has to ride it ten times to come up with a grand total of sixteen miles for all eight children. 

I then sent home each child with a chart to fill in each time they went for a bike ride.  The idea is that together, whether separately or at the same time, these children will be working towards a goal.  I will update everyone on their progress and hopefully this will spur some motivation to contribute through both competition and teamwork.  And, of course, upon completion of the 500 miles, we will find some way of rewarding them.

Getting kids to incorporate exercise into their lives is very important.  Its much easier to do if you find a way to make it fun.  Hopefully, these kids will find this fun and not something else to report to their therapist in ten years.

Hunter, Shelley. "Promoting Intrinsic Motivation in Clients." Strength and Conditioning Journal, 2008: 52-54

Monday, August 2, 2010

Training Schedule August 2nd - August 7th

We've been going pretty hard for a good month or more now and so it is time for a deload week.  A lot of us are on vacation and so I am going to give you four options for workouts to do in your spare time.  If you haven't been working out in a while, these will be good for easing back into things.  If you just started back up and aren't ready to take a break, simply repeat the cycle beginning this month.

Goblet squat, 10-15 reps
Pushups, 10-15 reps
Sumo Deadlift, 10-15 reps (use dumbbell, kettlebell, or small child)
3-5 rounds

Bodyrows or pullups, 10-15
Overhead Walking Lunges, 10 each leg
Pushup press, 10-15
3-5 rounds

Jump rope, 100 reps
Situps, 30
Kettlebell swing, 30
3-5 rounds

Weighted carry (piggyback with partner or kids works well), 50-100 meters
Sprint same distance
rest 30-60 seconds
5-8 rounds
(If you do this with kids, carry child piggyback the measured distance and then race back.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get strong, Get lean. But, be careful how you do it.

We all have fitness and training goals. And we use a variety of techniques to reach them. The truth is, a lot of them are pretty straightforward and a lot of them are over-hyped.

The downside to the variety of training techniques is that not a lot of folks really know exactly how they work and what's best for us, the individuals who use them. I wrote an article on the use of circuits that may shed a little light on combining strength and cardio and when its good and when its not.

Getting Strong and Losing Fat

To get strong, we lift weights. To lose fat we do cardio, right?

And who has time for all that?

So, about sixty years ago, circuits were invented.  It was shown that you could perform weight training exercises in a continuous circuit for 2-3 total sets and get both a cardiovascular and strength benefit.  But, how much benefit do you actually get?

The original circuits, done in the fifties and published in the book Circuit Training, by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Adamson, utilized such exercises as burpees, rope swings, clean and presses, barbell squats, wheelbarrow lifts, dips, pullups, and a few that I didn't recognize, but looked like fun like arm jumps across a ladder.  These circuits would vary in length from 10 to 25 minutes and although they were meant to strengthen, their main effect was cardiovascular. 

For years, circuits have been used with calisthenics, light implements, and bodyweight only exercises. Circuit weight training is a familiar sight in commercial gyms and health centers around the country using the machines that isolate a body part and take balance, core strength, and natural movement completely out of the picture.  

About twenty years ago, bodybuilders started using supersets, or short circuits with much heavier weights meant to stimulate hypertrophy and strength while keeping the heart rate up. And then a number of popular fitness trends began to incorporate high intensity circuits with heavier weights that were supposed to make us stronger, bigger, and more conditioned.  However, until recently, it hadn't actually been proven.

 What do you mean it hadn't been proven?

Well, I mean no one had actually done any appropriate controlled study to see if the observed training effect was the result of the training or other factors. 

A paper published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2008 by Alcarez, et al demonstrated that when comparing a mini-circuit of bench press, leg extension, and ankle extension using 6 rep max loads and 35 second rests to a 6 rep max load bench press with 3 minute passive rest between sets, there was no difference between the bench press efforts and bar velocity.  As an added bonus, the average heart rate was approximately 70% HRmax while performing the circuit. (Alcaraz, Sanches-Lorente and Blazevich 2008)
What did I just say?

Basically, they demonstrated that performing exercises instead of resting did not affect the individual’s ability to bench press a load known to induce strength and hypertrophy.  And, it provided a good cardiovascular stimulus. A consequent follow-up study by another group, Deminice, et al, looked at 3 different paired sets of exercises using a 10 rep max load.  This study  showed similar results and lower oxidative stress biomarkers than traditional weight training with longer rest intervals.  (Deiminice, et al. 2010)

Pretty impressive, eh?

So, this would imply that we could get all our work done in less time AND get stronger and bigger all at the same time.

But, that would be basing a whole lot of assumptions off of two papers with no long term results and the added bonus of having used machine based exercises. (I'm being sarcastic, this is not a bonus.)

To get the whole story, we have to take into account the whole picture.  Exercise physiologists have been saying (and they’re right) that to continue getting strong, especially for athletes, we need to train at or above 80% of our 1 rep max.  Willardson and Burkett did a study in 2008 as well, but they tested rest periods and intensity of the squat.  They found that resting less than two minutes diminished the intensity at which the participants could reach and that this minimum 80% could not be reached with less than two minutes rest. (Willardson and Burkett 2008)
I find this study a bit more useful because unlike the machine based tests, the squat utilizes more of the body’s muscles, including the core and is a more natural movement, ie one we use in athletics and everyday life.  The Willardson study did not test a circuit, but it did test a specific recovery period.

So, how do we use this information?

To use this information properly, one cannot assume anything not stated in any of these three studies.  However, the sky is the limit in how you can use this in your own workouts.  The idea behind circuit training is to keep your heart rate elevated throughout the workout so that you simultaneously get a strength and cardiovascular benefit.  If relative strength is an important factor in your workouts, maybe experiment using simple calisthenic or basic cardio exercises such as jumping jacks, jump rope, or rowing between sets to keep your heart rate up, but not stimulate those fast twitch muscles you are trying to rest.  Or use an exercises that use different mucle groups such as a pull-up and a squat or a deadlift and an overhead press.  Documenting your training and your results will tell you if what you are doing is working or not.

**You will not significantly increase limit strength with circuit workouts unless you are a complete novice for whom anything works for a little while.

In the end, it all comes down to specificity.  Untrained folks are much easier to train than trained folks.  What I mean by this is I can take a couch potato and have him stack cinder blocks for two hours every day and he will get stronger, have more endurance, and probably lose a little weight.  But as he becomes more fit, I have to get smarter with his workouts.  I could probably throw him into some bodyweight only circuits and have him work all of his joints through a full range of motion and that will continue to improve him for some time as well.  I would then need to perhaps introduce the heavier weight circuits and some additional assistance training.  Eventually, if he wanted to get really strong, we’d have to hit the weight room, lift heavy and rest between sets.  But, even then to keep progressing, I'd have to keep changing his routine so probably a mixture of all four techniques might be good for him.  (Although stacking cinder blocks could perhaps be replaced with something more useful or fun.)

Doing the same thing for too long will always result in plateaus, so mixing things up is good as well.  Using a mix of circuits, high intensity interval training, and traditional weight training in an undulating periodized program is a good way to keep things fresh and stimulating and will enable you to keep getting results. But, there must be a plan and an attention to detail because if you miss the plateau, you won’t know when to change. This is why a training log is your best tool in your personal fitness goals. Being able to recognize when you have stopped making progress is vital to your ability to keep moving forward, avoid overtraining, and avoid injury. Regularly test yourself on both strength and endurance to see if you are, in fact progressing, maintaining, or backsliding.

There is no “one way” to train.  If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re trying to sell you something.


Alcaraz, Pedro, Jorge Sanches-Lorente, and Anthony Blazevich. "Physical Performance and Cardiovascular Responses to an Acute Bout of Heavy Resistance Circuit Training versus Traditional Strength Training." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2008: 667-671.

Deiminice, Rafael, Tiago Sicchieri, Mirele Mialichi, Francine Miliani, Paula Ovidio, and Alceu Jordao. "Oxidative Stress Biomarker Responses to an Acute Sessio of Hypertrophy-Resistance Traditional Interval Training and Circuit Training." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010: 1-7.

Willardson, Jeffrey, and Lee Burkett. "The Effect of Different Rest Intervals Between Sets on Volume Components and Strength Gains." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2008: 146-153.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Training Schedule July 26th - July 31st

Well, some exciting things have happened this week! First of all, we finally walled off the back area of the basement and that means, yes, the whining has paid off. We got an air conditioner! Now the workouts will only be horrible because they are hard, not because they are hard and you are doing them in a sauna.

Second bit of great news! I got a bench! Well, my husband bought a bench and I had forgotten how much I loved bench pressing. Definitely going on the regular schedule more often.

So, I did not check in last week with my weight loss which I'm sure seemed a bit suspicious to some of you. However, fear not, my methods are working and I'm down to 131.5 as of this morning. I have added in a 3 mile walk twice a week either pushing a stroller holding a pre-schooler or carrying a 25 lb back pack. Now, this is no ordinary walk, we have hills, lots of large hills. So, heart rate and fatigue come into play rather quickly (sometimes crying, me or the kid). Intensity is always the key when it comes to effectiveness. For long steady state fat-burning cardio, you want your heart rate to be at about 65%-75% of max and how this affects you is going to depend on your overall fitness level.

The truth is, wearing a heart rate monitor when you are first starting out exercising can be a very good way to measure your different intensity zones, but once you get a feel for how high you can go, you will be able to translate that more easily into a less scientific scale, the RPE or rate of perceived exertion scale. This is simply a scale from 1-10 where 1 is extremely easy and 10 is pretty much as hard as it gets. You want your fat burning cardio to be in the 5-7 range on this scale. You can still talk, but you'll be breathing hard and possibly quite aware of your muscles.

Anyway, back to more important matters. The training schedule. We did not deadlift last week, oh my! So,we'll be sure to get to that this week.

Monday, July 26th

Squat 5x5
Push Press 5x5 (warm up with strict press)

Tuesday, July 27th

Sandbag carry, 1/2 bodyweight, 100 meters
Pushup, 15
Squat, 25
Hanging knee raises, 15
4 rounds

Wednesday, July 28th

Deadlift to 5RM
Pullups 3 rounds, max reps

Thursday, July 29th

Rest Day

Friday, July 30th

Squat 3x10
Bench Press to 5 RM

Kb swing, 1 minute, 1 rest
3 rounds

Saturday, July 31st

Workout one

30 reps of each, use light weights (35-45 lbs)
Overhead squats with broomstick
Body rows
Sumo deadlifts
Push presses
Med ball slams

Workout two

8 50 meter sprints
on the minute

Monday, July 19, 2010

Training Schedule July 19th through July 26th

Monday July 12th

Back Squat 3x10
Press 5x5

Tuesday July 6th

Complete the following circuit at a moderate pace:
Rest one minute between sets
Jump rope 50 reps
Knees to elbows, 10-15
(alternative 10 chin ups or body rows, 10 hanging knee raises)
Bulgarian split squat right leg 15
Bulgarian split squat left leg
Kettlebell swing, 25
Perform 4-5 rounds.

Wednesday July 7th

This is a high intensity workout.  Make sure you have an extended warmup such as 20-30 minutes steady state cardio, body weight circuits, and/or dynamic stretches.  I will typically run 400 meters and then complete 30 reps of 6 different exercises that loosen the joints and stimulate all the muscles such as overhead squats, standing russian twists with a light bar, lunges, body rows, club bell swings, etc.

10 burpees
10 dumbbell thrusters
50 meter sprint
2-4 minutes rest

Thursday July 8th

Rest Day

Friday July 9th

Perform the following at a medium high intensity. 

Overhead Walking Lunges, 50 meters (use dumbbell, bar, plate, whatever you are comfortable with)
30 situps
100 jump ropes
5 rounds

Saturday July 10th

Bench Press 5x5
Perform as a circuit:
Dumbbell Bench Press 15 reps
Back Squat 15 reps
3 rounds

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Training Schedule July 12th through July

First of all, I'd like to congratulate Adam Mathias on his MMA debut win at the Bull City Brawl Saturday night.  He won by unanimous decision.  30-27, 30-27, 29-28  It is a testimony to his hard work and skill.  Adam trains at the Triangle Jiu Jitsu Academy in Durham.

And, to get back to the mundane, in an article posted on my Back to Basics Training blog, I challenged myself to reduce my bodyfat and lost 5 lbs over the next  month by adding in some cardio and making some changes in my diet.  This week, I have made progress, albeit slow progress, but that's the kind that sticks around.

I did 4 workouts this week, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday and I added in 2 additional cardio sessions, one being a 3 mile bike ride over hilly terrain, the other being a 1 mile walk (over same hilly terrain) with 20 lbs in a backpack.  I am officially down 1.9 lbs (133.1 from 135) via my morning weigh in.  Now, that may be due entirely to other factors, so next week's weigh-in will be a bit more important to see if I keep it up.  By next week, I'd like to be down to 130-131.  Diet-wise, I simply increased the quality of my meals and have greatly increased my garden vegetable intake which both replaces some of the other things I have been eating that were more calorically dense and increased my fiber intake. We'll see what happens, fingers crossed.

So, on to bigger and better things, the training schedule.

Monday July 12th

Barbell complex:
Barbell Row
Clean grip hang power snatch
Front Squat
Push Press
Back Squat

8 reps each, 5 rounds

Tuesday July 6th

Run/walk 2-3 miles.


Complete the following circuit at a moderate pace:
Rest one minute between sets
Box Jump or Broad Jump (15) *Box jumps should be no higher than 18-24 inches
Pushups  (15)
Walking Lunges (30 total)
Pullups (15)
Situps (15)
Perform 4-5 rounds.

Wednesday July 7th

This is a high intensity workout.  Make sure you have an extended warmup such as 20-30 minutes steady state cardio, body weight circuits, and/or dynamic stretches.  I will typically run 400 meters and then complete 30 reps of 6 different exercises that loosen the joints and stimulate all the muscles such as overhead squats, standing russian twists with a light bar, lunges, body rows, club bell swings, etc.

30 Kettlebell swings, go heavy, but keep swings continuous
200-400 meter sprint
2-4 minutes rest

Thursday July 8th

Rest Day

Friday July 9th

Perform the following at a medium high intensity. 

Goblet squat, 15 reps (weight is light)
400 meter run
5 rounds

Saturday July 10th

Perform as a circuit:
Dumbbell Bench Press 15 reps
Deadlift 15 reps
3 rounds

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back to Basics Training

Guess what?  I wrote a few articles where I talk about myself incessantly and then give a little bit of good advice.  Typical of us fitness bloggers, but you may find it useful.  Click on the links below to read the following two articles.

Holy cow!

I've been trying to lose a few pounds over the past two months and instead, I've put on five. How can this be?

(click on above link for rest of article.)

Over the past two years, my fitness philosophies have been challenged, modified, and finally returned to their original form. And all I can say is thank God I'm not as wishy-washy as I thought I was turning out to be. As it turns out, fitness is pretty basic. It doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be interesting and challenging enough to maintain the attention span of the participant. Doing a machine circuit and walking on the treadmill is neither interesting nor terribly effective for the long run and so its no wonder most folks abandon their gym memberships a few short weeks after their New Year's Resolutions and long before bathing suit season is upon us.

(click on above link for rest of article.)

Trying to gain wisdom without hurting myself.

Over the past two years, my fitness philosophies have been challenged, modified, and finally returned to their original form. And all I can say is thank God I'm not as wishy-washy as I thought I was turning out to be. As it turns out, fitness is pretty basic. It doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be interesting and challenging enough to maintain the attention span of the participant. Doing a machine circuit and walking on the treadmill is neither interesting nor terribly effective for the long run and so its no wonder most folks abandon their gym memberships a few short weeks after their New Year's Resolutions and long before bathing suit season is upon us.

The key to working out effectively is intensity. And when I say intensity I mean all different ranges of intensity. This must be coupled with appropriate volume and by this, I mean how how many repetitions or sets of a particular exercise you are going to do or how long are you going to be doing said exercise. Changing both of these parameters on a regular basis and getting adequate rest is essential for effective fitness. How do I know this? Well, there are a lot of very smart guys and gals in the fitness and strength and conditioning world and I have read a lot of what they have to say.  I've also had the pleasure of training and coaching a number of athletes, fitness participants, and fitness enthusiasts over the years and I have found that a lot of the principles that I have read hold true at the end of the day.

I have taught kettlebell classes, coached at a crossfit affiliate, coached a girl's weightlifting team, and personally trained a variety of folks using a variety of methods. These are the lessons I've learned so far:

Diet, exercise, and rest are synergistic. This means they work together and rely on one another to be optimal.  If these three elements are not optimal, you will not get stronger, lose bodyfat, and or perform better. All three must be in place and more often than not, at least one, if not two are completely ignored.  I have coached a number of people who are strong runners, swimmers, and workout six times a week, and yet, they cannot lose weight, increase their deadlift, or get a real pullup because they won't eat enough protein or take enough rest.

Things do not have to be difficult to be effective.  This applies to everything.  There is a learning process to every new thing we try.  Its not just a mental process, but a physical process as well.  Our bodies must adapt to become more coordinated.  Nerve impulses from the brain to the muscle are modified to allow for more precision and self-awareness.  The muscles, tendons, and ligaments all need time to adapt to the forces exerted by new movement patterns.  This means that even at a low level of stimulation, change is occuring.  Don't miss out on the subtle changes that will improve performance and maximize results down the road.

Just because a workout is "hard" does not mean it is "good".  If workouts only had to be hard to be effective, well, I'd have a much easier job.  I can make anyone tired, sweaty, and possibly nauseous. However, using those guidelines, I can't guarantee that you will be injury free six months from now or that you will have met any of your fitness goals.  Patience is a virtue.  Practice it.

Change is good, but too much change is bad.  Changing intensities over the course of a week is good.  Changing your training focus to work on one or two aspects of your general fitness or goals every two to three months is good.  Changing your routine regularly to keep boredom at bay is good.  Having completely random workouts and using such a broad range of techniques that you can't adequately practice them all is bad.  It may work for some folks, but its not ideal.  Pick the ones you are good at and keep them as your core set of movements.  If you want to develop another discipline such as yoga, kettlebell technique, or olympic lifting, try devoting a focused period of time to practicing and learning the techniques to see if they are something you want to pursue and/or use as an element in your workouts.

Lastly, take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt.  Anyone who is absolutely sure of everything is suspect in my book.  I'm working on becoming wise, but I'm finding that the path to wisdom truly is an education in your own ignorance.  I am hoping that the wisdom outpaces the ignorance soon, although Socrates himself said this is futile.

Training Schedule July 5th through July 10th

Well, it is about 3 months until the Warrior Dash.  Time flies, eh?  So, if you're not doing it already, its time to start running.  And, don't forget about the mud.

If you are lifting heavy, steady state running for 20-45 minutes after your lifting sessions is fine and will not effect your strength, but you can split up your running and lifting days if you have the time.  Three each, per week, is a good aim.  In September, we will increase the number of running interval workouts aimed at conditioning specifically for the race.  For those of you doing more conditioning based workouts, there is still no substitute for running and one to two short runs (or running intervals) and one long run a week is going to become necessary now.  Work on increasing your distance and speed each week.

Monday July 5th

Barbell complex:
Hang Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press
(after last press, rack bar behind the neck)
Split Squat, left leg
Split Squat, right leg

8 reps each, 5 rounds

Tuesday July 6th

Run/walk 2-3 miles.


Complete the following circuit at a moderate pace:
Either complete reps or 1 minute at each exercise.  Rest one minute between sets
Jump Rope (100)
Kettlebell swing (25)
Walking Lunges (30 total)
Body rows (25)
Medicine ball slam (25)
Perform 4-5 rounds.
*Alternative for med ball slams, each round, alternate between overhead, right lateral (slam into wall), or left lateral.

Wednesday July 7th

This is a high intensity workout.  Make sure you have an extended warmup such as 20-30 minutes steady state cardio, body weight circuits, and/or dynamic stretches.  I will typically run 400 meters and then complete 30 reps of 6 different exercises that loosen the joints and stimulate all the muscles such as overhead squats, standing russian twists with a light bar, lunges, body rows, club bell swings, etc.

15 goblet squats (Choose a weight such that 15 should be relatively hard to complete)
200-400 meter run
2-4 minutes rest

Thursday July 8th

Rest Day

Friday July 9th

Perform the following at a medium high intensity.  Your rest periods are the squats/pushups.  If you need additional rest, you are going too fast.  If this isn't challenging, you are going too slow or you need to increase the distance.

Run and squat/push-up ladder:

Run 200-400 meters, perform one squat, one push-up
Run same distance, perform two squats, two push-ups
Continue in this fashion up to 8-10 rounds.
If you are working on longer distances, cut the number of rounds. 

Saturday July 10th

Sandbag work:  3 separate workouts, 3 rounds each, max rounds or distance each round
Clean and shoulder
Carry for distance
Zercher squats

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

I have a great one myself who taught me to fish, hunt, plant a garden, build a fence, use power tools, split wood, feed a baby bird, enjoy a long hike, kayak and canoe, how to be a good listener, and to also be patient and kind.

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

And so, what to do about training these next two weeks?  I'm taking two weeks off and so I am going to be ecological and recycle. 

June 21 - June 26th

June 28th - July 3rd

Take care and have fun!