Current training – September 2013

I’m still cycling through lift days, move days and run/swim days, generally two of each a week. This pattern has been working really nicely for a while now and I see no reason to change it.

It’s a nice balance of structure and randomness.

I’m currently doing ring dips and deadlifts for my lifting. I have been following a volume-based approach which is working nicely. I set a timer of twenty minutes and cycle back and forth between the two exercises, staying away from failure, and taking as much rest as I need – you can get a lot done in not much time if you put your mind to it.

Those sessions look like this:

  •  A1: Warm up
  • B1: Turkish get up plus overhead walk – 2 x 1L/1R
  • C1: Deadlift/Ring dip – 20mins = 20-50 reps of each
  • D2: Farmers walk –varied weights & distance
  • E1: Rope climb – as many as possible in 5 minutes

The move days are some combination of bridging, crawls and hand balancing.

The run/swim days are pretty self-explanatory!


GPP for dadding and life

GPP = General Physical Preparedness

For most folks this is all we are training for – we want to be generally physically prepared for life.

I actually prefer the phrase generally physically useful as I think it more closely describes what we’re aiming for. We need to be useful to those around us. It may be old school, but in most families it is the dad that will be expected to lift, carry, chase, rescue and fight if necessary – so we should be able to those things.

I think there are four parts to this:

  • Be strong
  • Move well
  • Don’t get tired
  • Don’t get injured

Be strong
This is number one because it’s number one. It forms the base for every other physical attribute you will look to develop and helps keep you stable and healthy as you age.

Move well
Life is not lived standing or sitting. The real fun is had in the middle, on the floor, under things and over things. That’s where your kids are and that’s where you should be able to get to as well. Be able to get up and down from the floor with your kids all day and climb up a tree to get them down if they are stuck.

Don’t get tired
Your kids don’t so you can’t. A dad should be a superhero to his children. Strength helps us do impressive feats, endurance is the other side – the ability to just keep going.

Don’t get injured
It’s very simple, you are not useful if you are injured. All of the rest is worthless if you damage yourself in training. There is no need to train like you’re in the SAS or preparing for your MMA debut – that is not why you are in the gym. There is no shame in a bit of moderation to keep yourself safe. Don’t wrap yourself in cotton wool but remember that the principle of do no harm applies to you too.

Current training – August 2013

There’s very little point me posting a weekly training plan this month as it would be a lie. I am still doing something most days but my schedule is much more fluid.

Generally my week has the following sessions, but the days I do each thing are changing week to week.

  • Strength x 2
  • Running/swimming x 1-2
  • Movement/mobility stuff x 2

The strength sessions are rotating between periods of high volume kettlebell pressing and low volume deadlifts and higher volume deadlifts with dips/muscle ups. As an example, this is what the last week looked like:

  • Saurday – rest
  • Sunday – weights at home
    • A1: Deadlift – 2 x 5
    • B1: KB clean and press – 4 x 1,2,3
    • B2: Chin up – 4 x 1,2,3
    • C1: Farmers walk
  • Monday – run
  • Tuesday – crawls/stretch
  • Wednesday – weights at home
    • A1: KB clean and press – 3 x 1,2,3
    • A2: Chin up – 3 x 1,2,3
    • B1: Deadlift – 3 x 3
  • Thursday – rest
  • Friday – random stuff
    • A1: Deadlift – 3 x 3
    • B1: Farmers walk
    • B2: Sandbag carry – bear hug, shoulder
    • C1: Crawls
    • C2: Rope climb

Current training – June 2013

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – well not too much at least.

Not a lot has changed this month – maybe the whole consistancy idea is finally sinking in!

I’m not being too rigid with the routine. I will do all of the things listed below at some point during the week but might move things around to take advantage of the good weather. I’m exercising outside as much as possible at the moment. The sunshine is a rare and welcome thing in my litttle part of the world so I want to spend as much time outside as possible.

Work is pretty crazy at the moment as well so a walk at lunchtime is out of the question. Most days when I finish I just want to get out in the park and run around for a bit (once my girls are in bed that is!).

Saturday – rest

Sunday – run (longer 6-8km)

Monday – home

  • Warm up – Becoming Bulletproof, 16kg Goblet squat & curl, 16kg Windmill
  • A1:Windmill – 16kg x 5/5, Turkish get up, 20kg x 1/1, 24kg x 1/1
  • A2: Goblet squat – 16kg x 8 (plus 3 curls at bottom of last rep), 20kg x 6-8, 24kg x 6-8
  • B1: KB deadlift, 48-65kg – 3 x 5-8
  • C1: KB clean & press – 20kg x 10-20 reps, sets vary
  • C2: Hang from bar – 10-30sec between c&p sets
  • D1: Farmers walk – 24-28kg each hand
Tuesday – run 3-4km (maybe)

Wednesday – park workout

  • Warm up – Becoming Bulletproof, run to the park
  • Run around the park stopping off for a few:
    • Push ups
    • Pull ups
    • Dips
    • Rows
    • Crawls

Thursday – Movnat/playing in the morning, swim in the afternoon

Friday – park workout

  • Warm up – Becoming Bulletproof, run to the park
  • This session is more playful:

Fitness and Health

I’ve been reading the The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing by Phil Maffetone recently. I have used his 180 formula when running since August of last year with some nice results, but had never read any of his books before. It’s a really great read and covers far more than simply training for races. He also explains how to improve health at the same time as increasing fitness, rather than compromise health in pursuit of performance.

I think this is an important point that is missed by a lot of people.

If you are competitive athlete, some trade-off between health and performance may be necessary (especially in a contact sport with a high risk of injury). But if you are a hobbiest racer, or average guy trying to get in shape, it starts to make less sense.

Why are we doing this stuff?

This is an important question to ask. If you are not competing in a sport*, then why are you doing this physical activity? The honest answers will be around some measure of health or to improve appearance. So, if that is the goal, why go about it in a way that makes your health worse rather than better?

That means not pushing super hard every run, it means lifting weights even if you just ‘do’ an endurance sport and it means adding some necessary variety to your training so you are fitter for life, rather than just the activity you have decided to pursue.

How do you know if you are healthy or not?

I think you can get a good idea using four measures:

  • BMI – it’s not perfect, but BMI will quickly tell 95% of folks if something is up.***
  • Resting heart rate – 60-70 is good, 50-60 is super-fit
  • Basic movement ability – the sit/stand test will work great for this
  • How often you get a cold (and how quickly you recover if you do catch one)

The first two are general fitness measures that can be screwed up by poor diet or stress, the third is a fitness-for-life test and the fourth one is the most simple measure of general health I can think of.

*Entering a race doesn’t mean you compete. By competing I mean fighting for a podium place or making significant improvements in performance** year on year.

**And by performance I mean race times going down, not distance ‘survived’ going up.

***Other option here are waist to height (waist less than half height), or bodyfat percentage (10-17% men, 18-24% women)

Winter running – an update from October to April

It’s been a long time since I did one of these posts. I have to confess to being a bit of a fair weather runner and have been running pretty infrequently over the winter months. I can deal with the cold ok, but when it’s cold plus rain/snow/ice I’d rather stay indoors and lift some kettlebells.

I took a big break in December and January but have been going out occasionally, and recent progress has been good.

This table has details of all of my runs from the last five or so months. I think the kettlebell training has had a positive effect on my overall endurance. There’s something about hoisting those things repeatedly that gives you relentless legs.

Date Distance (km) Time Ave HR Max HR Time in zone Time per km % in zone
26/10/2012 4.88 00:26:38 140 149 00:22:27 00:05:27 84.29%
02/11/2012 5.31 00:29:26 141 153 00:20:49 00:05:32 70.72%
09/11/2012 6.86 00:40:50 140 153 00:28:27 00:05:57 69.67%
23/11/2012 5.31 00:29:51 139 151 00:20:36 00:05:37 69.01%
02/02/2013 4.5 00:23:34 138 149 00:16:20 00:05:14 69.31%
08/02/2013 5.59 00:31:33 136 150 00:17:36 00:05:38 55.78%
22/02/2013 4.64 Forgot HR monitor
15/03/2013 4.35 00:23:04 139 154 00:15:48 00:05:18 68.50%
22/03/2013 4.71 00:24:07 139 150 00:17:22 00:05:07 72.01%
05/04/2013 4.71 00:24:19 139 150 00:16:59 00:05:09 69.84%

I said back in October that I would be happy when I was running 6km at under 5 minutes per km while keeping my heart rate between 138-148 for 70% of the time, and I’m now not that far off.

My pace and time in my target HR zone are both very close, I just need to push up the distance a bit. I’ve felt pretty fresh at the end of my recent runs and could happily carry on for a bit longer.

Endurance/HR training update – August – October

It’s been a good month for my running. I’ve not always gone out as frequently as I’d like, as I’ve had to rearrange traing to fit in my judo class, but it’s usually been once a week.

Progress has still been good though. The drop in temperature has had a really positive effect on my ability to manage my heart rate.

It’s obvious when you think about it – heat will make it go higher, faster. Interestingly barking pitbulls have a similar effect.

The general trend has been for the amount of time spent in my target HR zone to go up and the time per km to come down – all good.

Here’s the stats for the last month or so:

Date Distance (km) Time Ave HR Max HR Time in zone Time per km % in zone
29/08/2012 6.11 00:36:19 140 155 00:23:33 00:05:56 64.85%
02/09/2012 7.36 00:42:41 140 151 00:30:14 00:05:47 70.83%
08/09/2012 7.3 00:41:06 142 153 00:31:49 00:05:37 77.41%
13/09/2012 3.8 Forgot HR monitor
21/09/2012 5.75 00:30:16 140 151 00:20:32 00:05:15 67.84%
28/09/2012 5.75 00:30:31 140 151 00:21:35 00:05:18 70.73%
12/10/2012 4.4 00:23:56 139 152 00:15:22 00:05:26 64.21%

And some comments:

  • 151-2 bpm is when I realise I am out of the zone. My monitor does beep but it’s pretty quiet and this seems to be the point I notice I’m working a bit too hard.
  • It looks as though my % in zone peaked on 8 September, but that is misleading as it was also one of the longest runs. The amount of time spent warming up and cooling down is the same no matter what distance I cover so time in zone is more likely to be high on a longer run.
  • 21 & 28 September show good progress. This is exactly the same route. I was a little bit slower second time , but the time in zone increases nicely.

The best measure of progress I have is the very first and last runs.

Date Distance (km) Time Ave HR Max HR Time in zone Time per km % in zone
28/06/2012 3.8 00:23:00 142 160 00:15:03 00:06:03 65.43%
12/10/2012 4.4 00:23:56 139 152 00:15:22 00:05:26 64.21%

The time spent running is roughly the same but the distance covered, and especially the pace, is way up.

I’m pleased with how this is going – it feels like a nice four months work.

It’ll be interesting to see where I am when the progress plateaus. If I can get to a point where I’m consistently in the zone for 70% of a 6km run, where the time per km is under 5mins, I’ll be pretty happy.