Sunday, November 1, 2009

I think I've got my workout schedule figured out ...

with some help from Alwyn Cosgrove.

The general idea is lifted from a program he suggested on his blog a while ago. Day 1 is low volume lifting for strength. Day 2 is metabolic training on the TRX. Day 3 is HIIT. Days 4-6 are a repeat of days 1-3, except that you do different exercises on your heavy lifting day.

That's the Alwyn version, and I'm sure it works great, but since I'm also running 3x per week and cycling 2x per week I think that for me it would be better to substitute explosive kettlebell work for the HIIT. I'm thinking of following the infamous Viking Warrior Conditioning 15:15 protocol, but using mostly 1-arm swings instead of snatches for now. I've been mostly sticking with the HKC drills for the last couple of months, meaning that I haven't been doing much in the way of cleans or snatches, so my hands aren't as tough as they used to be. If I were to attempt a high-volume snatch workout right now I'd have ripped calluses before I was halfway through, and no one but myself to blame. So what I'm thinking is, I'll do snatches for as long as seems prudent, then switch over to swings, with a goal of adding a set of snatches every workout until my hands are toughened up again.

The suggested template for the heavy resistance training workouts is as follows:

Lower body: 1 set of 5 reps, 1 set of 3 reps, 1 set of 1 rep, then lighten the load and do 1 set of 10 reps. Rest periods not specified, but with volume this low I'm thinking around 3 minutes between work sets.

Push/pull superset: 2 sets of 5 reps, 1 set of 10 reps, 60 sec. rest between sets

Kettlebell swings, 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps, half recovery.

I might try double kettlebell swings just to make things interesting ... but we'll see.

Alwyn doesn't specify what exercises are to be used on the heavy lifting days, but pretty obviously you'd need to include a squat, a deadlift, a vertical push (such as a military press or high incline press), a vertical pull (such as a pullup or pulldown), a horizontal push (such as a bench press) and a horizontal pull (such as a row).

I need to clarify that the resistance training protocol is meant to develop strength not size. I'm not expecting it to cap my delts or give me the beautiful symmetry of a physique competitor. Those are not my goals at the moment.

If they were, my training would look very, very different. I'd be lifting a minimum of 4 days per week, I would be doing multiple exercises per muscle group, and I'd be lifting mostly in the 8-12 rep range, with relatively short rests to maximize time under tension. There would be single joint exercises as well as big compound movements, and the workouts would likely last close to an hour.

This style of training works very very well if your goal is to sculpt a beautiful body, but it doesn't do a lot in terms of maximizing performance. It's certainly not inconsistent with performing well as my friend Wendy could tell you, but by itself it won't get you there. You have to supplement with functional training and cardio ... and that means spending a LOT of time working out. If you've got a high level of commitment to your physical goals, that's not a problem--but I'm lazier than that so I need to prioritize. And for me, looking fabulous in a bikini is just not that much of a priority these days.

Looking fabulous in pink tights, however ... well, that's another story. But that's mostly addressed through diet, darn it!