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.)