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Building The Full Fourteen Strength Workout

I took some time off from strength training, somewhat inadvertently. Following my 3 day and 21 day training cycles, I had a tough couple weeks with coming off antibiotics and ramping up run training.

So scheduled swolework days would come up and I’d make the judgment call to skip them. After a bigger 8/6/22 workout (which itself came after a 5 day break), I went two weeks until my next strength workout.

I’m not oblivious. During that time away, I realized my rotating strength workouts had become somewhat demanding. This was fine when I was not seriously run training following Vancouver 2022.

Now that I’m getting back to longer aerobic runs, the strength training sessions were a little too much. I wanted to scale back strength training but not train too infrequently, or go too long between training muscle groups.

So I made an adjustment

Right before my 8/21 workout, I decided to keep my current 3 day micro-cycle (strength + maybe cross train, running 2nd day, tougher running 3rd day, repeat). But instead of cycling between two workouts with 4-sets per group, I would do one set of every exercise. This reduces the demand a great deal, but also allows me to train everything more frequently.

Plus, with running now once again taking focus, strength is secondary and this volume better reflects that. I won’t get so tired or sore that it impacts my running, and reduces chances of having to skip workouts. Why skip what should be more easily attainable? Even if I dread an exercise, it’s just one set! I can do that!

I would maintain the overload progression I’ve been following to good results: Progressing from 8 reps to 12 reps over multiple workouts, then increasing the weight, dropping back to 8 reps, repeating. But now, it’s just one set, of every single exercise.

I did my central seven exercises, with some revisions. In my last such workout, I incidentally tried Overhead Squats with dumbbells instead of on the Smith rack. Since that felt considerably better, I decided going forward to do overhead squats that way. I also re-added Russian Twists, which would give my obliques some neglected work.

It went fine.

The 8/21 workout was fairly simple and went great, before I got on the spin bike for some low aerobic work.

Garmin Connect’s strength heat-map shows muscles worked. Red sections indicate groups that were primary movers in the workout. Yellow sections indicate secondary movers. Gray sections are untouched.

This workout was a nice snapshot of all the muscle groups I had been working over the last couple months. Everything from both workouts was for the first time together on one chart. (The exception is the obliques, as I hadn’t been doing Russian Twists in a while before this workout.)

It also provided a clear picture of what muscle groups were missing work. The workout was so easy, and I had only done 8 exercises, with plenty of room for more.

Connecting the missing links.

I decided to research a bit and try to get the whole picture red or yellow in one workout. I wanted every muscle group to work in at least one exercise. And then one set of all that can be my go-to total body strength workout.

In Garmin Connect, I’d go back to a prior workout that worked few muscle groups, then edit in different exercises to see the heat-map change. Then I’d delete them. This allowed me to find do-able exercises that would hit the different muscle groups.

  • I decided to re-introduce deadlifts, which I’d done in prior workout plans months ago. This addresses missing red work for the lower back core muscles. I injured my lower back doing them last December, so I had avoided them since. Some helpful feedback (from the Manosphere of all places) recently fixed my form issues that contributed to that injury. I decided to start deadlifts at a definite sub-max weight and progress from there. I also decided to avoid the Smith rack (where I suffered the December injury). Instead I’ll use dumbbells (DB’s), which I’ve done before with good results.
  • I mentioned re-adding the Russian Twists. I do these with one of the DB’s from my bench presses, so they’re done at half those exercises’ weight. This reds the obliques, so they’re staying in. I do these on the decline or flat bench after those bench presses.
  • I re-added triceps extensions on the cable deck. I had removed these, as my other upper body exercises were already involving triceps as secondary movers. However, I wanted one set of red primary exercises for triceps, so the extensions are back.
  • I re-added work on the hip abduction machine (your legs are in weighted clamps and you press them outward). They’re usually a skippable isolation exercise. But the abductors are a hard muscle to red out otherwise, and hip abductions are a red exercise for those. Abductions are not hard to do with considerable weight and proper form.
  • The hardest heatmap group to find exercises for is the neck. Exercises you think impact that group (like shrugs or neck extensions) don’t impact them on the Garmin heatmap. Randomly I thought of the levator scapulae muscles. I found a Garmin option for the Levator Scapulae Stretch (a neck stretch against resistance from your arms). It turns out that exercise turned the muscle group red! So I’m doing those now (no weight added).

I gave this a try this morning.

This morning I knocked out a total body strength workout. I did 1 set of 11 reps for all twelve (12) exercises, in this order.

Shown are the scheduled exercises for my 8/24 swolework session. Notice I messed up and accidentally did 12 incline bench presses. Whoops!

This workout, tough but do-able, only took 21 minutes.

After I finished, I updated Garmin Connect and then realized I hadn’t done or programmed anything for calves. Calves however are pretty easy to program. I just did a quick set of standing bodyweight calf raises, to get to 13 exercises total.

My heatmap for this morning’s workout then looked like this.

So, cool. I managed to work every single muscle group. And, a few of them are yellow. So, I now want to make the whole chart red. This ensures every muscle group Garmin calls out is a primary mover in at least one exercise. This is a total body strength training workout should do.

I had good energy in this workout (at 7am, despite no coffee, I might add!). There’s certainly room to add more exercises. (I’m currently not concerned about keeping these workouts to 20 minutes. It’s a total body workout rather than a split routine. These can now go 30 minutes if needed.)

The muscle groups in question:

  • The forearms
  • The hip flexors
  • The hip adductors (inner thigh and groin muscles).

It would be easy to just do specific isolation exercises for those groups. But finding other compound exercises that worked with other muscle groups would be more productive and better for run fitness. Isolation is better suited to bodybuilding, which needless to say isn’t a high priority goal of mine.

So I went to work:

I programmed a new total body strength workout, that would work every muscle group as a primary mover.

If you create a strength workout manually in Garmin Connect, you won’t get a heatmap for exercises. I just figured out that doing a super quick set and saving it on my watch allows me to freely edit that workout with a full heatmap.

So I did a couple squats, saved that “workout”, and went to town in Connect on swapping in/out different exercises.

The Hip Flexors

The Flexors are a hard muscle group to program. We use them a lot in our lives, but isolating them as a primary mover is another matter entirely.

Initially I was at a loss for what exercises to consider. But then I randomly thought of burpees, the classic ‘squat to full plank, do a pushup, jump back to plank, tuck jump straight up and back down to squat, repeat’. I entered that as a lone exercise, and found myself a mother-lode exercise:

The burpee works so many muscles. It does in one set what bench presses, squats, and calf raises would do. Plus it works anterior hip flexor muscles as a primary mover, not the easiest group to program. It does all that in one exercise.

So I definitely will add burpees, which I’ve done many times before. I won’t have trouble doing one set of 8-12.

Now, I could subsequently remove my bench presses, since this uses the pecs as a primary mover. But I still want to improve my incline/decline bench weights, as well as build my overhead squat. So I’m leaving those bench presses in. My chest will just get 3+ sets of work every workout at different angles, as will my quads and glutes. Plus, the overhead red-works my deltoids and traps (shoulders).

The one set each of those exercises isn’t a killer, and fronting those with burpees won’t be a problem.

So that only reds out the hip flexors and calves. It also eliminates the need for the hanging leg raises, which red-worked the abs and quads. The raises were always a secondary priority, and finding the captain’s chair free is often a pain anyway. That eliminates a hassle at the gym.

The Forearms

I always do Hammer Curls, a stiff-forearm bicep curl that along with biceps work the forearms as a secondary mover. I really didn’t want to waste time on separate forearm curls or similar.

It was while separately considering Farmer’s Walks (walking the gym while carrying weight at your sides, akin to carrying groceries into the house), seeking out an alternative to obliques and hamstrings, that I found the Farmer’s Walks actually red-work the forearms as its primary mover.

Yes, you are carrying weight with your legs. But your leg, shoulder and back muscles are actually secondary movers. It’s the forearms that do the bulk work holding and balancing the weight. So the rest of your body can capably walk with it.

This seems a lot more cumbersome than simple forearm curls. But its total body engagement is closer to what I’m looking for. Plus, it’s essentially a dynamic cousin of the deadlift. Most of all, it’s one of the more functional exercises you can do. Think about how often you’ve got to carry stuff this way in everyday life (e.g. I mentioned carrying groceries).

No matter how crowded the gym gets, walking across with a pair of weights has never been a problem. So Farmer’s Walks are definitely going in.

The Adductors

There’s pretty much no other exercise aside from the Adductor Machine that works the inner thighs as a primary mover, without being cumbersome and needlessly redundant. Doing burpees on the floor is fine, but I’m not doing clam-shells or weird squats/planks on the floor just to red out one muscle group, when I can just get on a machine and knock out one easy set in seconds.

I’ll just use the adductor machine, before moving to the abductor machine.

The Full Fourteen

From all this I have put together a sequence of what is now fourteen exercises. Below is the Full Fourteen, a total body strength workout (including sample reps and weights). All listed exercises are just one set, with at least 60 seconds rest (longer is OK as needed).

Entry of all these exercises into a sample Garmin Connect workout confirmed that every muscle group is red-worked.

Garmin Connect estimates this workout would take about 21-22 minutes if done efficiently. I’d imagine some breaks would run a bit longer as needed, so it’s more like 22-25 minutes, certainly less than 30 minutes even with some challenges.

Let’s do it.

This going forward will be my total body strength workout, done on schedule every three days (barring races or race taper timing requiring a day off).

I will follow my 8-12 rep and weight progression normally, and see how far I can go with all of the above. For new exercises, I’m using a known-do-able weight and will just progress that the same as the other exercises. This last workout was 11 reps of everything. So the next workout will start with sets of 12 reps. If everything’s fine, I’ll increase exercises’ weight by 5-10 lbs and go back to 8 reps.

Go ahead and give it a try.

Obviously, you’re free to take this template and use it as a workout yourself. Google and research any exercises as needed. From my experience, these are easily do-able exercises in a gym for most people.

Eventually, I will devise a total body-weight strength workout equivalent, and will post it here.

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Bent Up And Motivated: First Look at My Runalyze Data (2016-2021)

I’d like to think I spent the last 2+ yeras hibernating from serious training, brifely coming out of the cave for some hard, extended training here and there, but eventually finding my way bcak to the cave for a while.

First, I had to change careers again in late 2019 after deciding to move back to Vegas.

Then, all that COVID mess started in March 2020, and there wasn’t any practical need to train for most of the year.

Then there was no Vancouver Marathon in 2021, so I just ran a lot on work breaks after starting my new job.

Then I actually got to train for a marathon in summer 2021, but then my lower body decided to implode about midway through, and I never quite got bcak on track before deciding to abandon ship on that in mid-October.


Now, after a couple years of sustained regular cross training, progress in mostly regular strength training, after having to learn a few more things about running to help stay injury-free and avoid past burnout mistakes… here we are at the doorstep to 2022, and just in time for that I discovered a neat run-data-tracking website called Runalyze.

After porting all my Garmin data over and seeing what they showed me, I was suitably impressed and paid for a Premium membership.

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Tactical pace management in an otherwise simple workout

On Monday I had a fast finish training run scheduled, 45 minutes. I usually run these with just my Garmin watch timing and monitoring stats. But this time around I decided to program the workout in and have it monitor my heart rate:

  • First 5 minutes within Zone 1 (50-60% of heart rate reserve (HRR), easy aerobic).
  • Next 30 minutes within Zone 2 (60-70% HRR, mid/high aerobic).
  • Final 10 minutes within Zone 3 (70-80% HRR, from aerobic threshold to lactate threshold).

When running a programmed workout with defined pace/HR parameters, the watch beeps at you when you’re not within them. Typically I’ll run by feel unless doing a speed or other goal-specific workout.

Monday, though, I decided I would practice staying within the zones, something I’d worked to do more in previous training plans.

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Intuitive intervals: Using a heart rate monitor to pace your run/walk intervals

If you have a Garmin watch you can set it to alert you during workouts if your heart rate goes higher or lower than a given threshold… kind of like a built in speed limit monitor for your heart rate.

I tried this feature once and quickly disabled it. I wanted to just run at my own pace and found the alarms when I reached a moderate heart rate annoying.

After a long recent layoff, as I recently started ramping up training, I found basic runs to be a bit too difficult, and sure enough my heart rate would rocket into marathon pace and the lactate threshold. It’s one reason I started doing Galloway style intervals, run/walking the workouts in 2 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals.

Galloway Intervals kept my heart rate level on-average: Even if it spiked during the runs, the minute of walking would bring it back down, the overall average more closely resembling a typical easy run. And overall the effort on these runs didn’t feel terribly difficult.

I’ve since gone on actual full-length training runs of 30+ minutes, and this past weekend I ran a 10K (albeit at closer to regular training paces), so I’m now in condition to run at distance again.

But I want to improve the usage of my natural speed. Now that I track walks on my Garmin watch, I can track paces of not just my walks, but those moments when I run across streets and the pace of those brief, hurried sprints that have always been a part of Working Class Running.

I find those easy, brief sprints vary around a 5:00-7:30 pace without much difficulty. I have speed, but it’s hard to maintain that speed over anything beyond those random little sprints. Even in 400 meter repeats and other workouts I find it very tough.

Is there a way to develop my ability to use that speed at distance in a race?

I think there’s a way, and it goes back to that once-annoying Garmin alert feature.

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Half Marathon Training and Finding A Faster “Easy” Pace

Training for a Half Marathon, and running quicker on eays runs than before

Ambivalent about forming any 2021 training plans, I decided none the less to use one of Garmin’s automated training plans to build up for a hypothetical half marathon by the start of next year. Being in shape to run a half by January would get me in line to be ready for a late spring marathon… if coronavirus allows it to happen.

(Incidentally, BBSC Endurance currently plans to host the Lake Mead Marathon, Half Marathon and other races on January 9, 2021, which incidentally fell 18 weeks after I had started the half marathon program. So, if that Half Marathon happens, it would be a good goal race. We’ll see.)

Garmin’s automated training plans prep for either the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon or Marathon distance. You select a desired training schedule and time goal. You choose from one of three coaches, whose identity determines the algorithm that automatically prepares your training schedule. Garmin then has you do a brief 5 minute “benchmark run” to estimate your current fitness, from which your initial workout distances, intensities, schedules, etc, are set. This benchmark also clues you into how realistic your chosen pace goal may be.

I’ve built my own training schedules for years, but for many reasons decided this time around I’d prefer to let Garmin build it for me.

  • I have more schedule flexibility.
  • I’m doing other strength and cross training
  • Garmin tends to book shorter workouts, which is easier to get done.
  • I’m studying for certifications and working on other projects.
  • I wanted to train and build volume, but didn’t want to worry too much about how to go about it.
  • Not to mention… with coronavirus cancelling everything for a while, I had nothing to lose in trying things this way.

So this time around I used an automated plan.

Garmin’s three choices for coaching styles are:

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Finally Running A Lot Again

With today’s 4.5 mile run I earned this August Rundown badge on Garmin, for running 40 miles within 2 weeks.

This sort of thing should not be a big deal if you’re running regularly. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t been running like I was before. After I stopped training due to Coronavirus cancelling everything, and since I pivoted towards strength training once I resumed training… I hadn’t been running all that much. Before beginning the badge challenge in mid-August, I had averaged zero or single digit mileage every week since March 15.

When I finished the week of August 16-22 with 14.6 miles, it was the first double digit week of mileage I had logged in 5 months. And with today’s run I finish this week of August 23-29 with 22.6 miles, my first 20+ mile week since mid-February.

Granted, I had one other practical reason for not running, aside from Coronavirus or wanting a break or wanting to focus on swolework:

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Garmin and the Challenge Carrots

One thing I’ve noticed more of from Garmin is that they’ve recently rolled out time-based challenge badges.

For example, you opt into a challenge to bike 300km in the month of August, or take 70K steps in the next week, 300K steps in August, run 40mi in two weeks, etc.

Perhaps they’ve always done this. Perhaps they’ve caught my eye more recently because the Coronavirus restrictions have taken away all live races and there’s nothing to train for. Maybe this is a new thing that Garmin’s social-engineered to keep users motivated in the short term.

In any case, last week I opted into the step badges, 70K in a week and 300K in August. I’ve recently averaged about 8000 steps a day, a far cry from the easy 16K or so I’d average daily in Chicago. And this 8K was an improvement over previous months, where average days were 3K-4K and I had several 2K days. Even recently, my rolling average would ebb and flow up and down as my overall activity ebbed and flowed.

But in trying to cut some more fat, I’ve decided to get more active with walking or running. Once the challenge badges came about, I figured the artificial goal of trying through the end of August for 10K steps a day by hook or by crook would spur some valuable extra calorie burn. This took me from sometimes trying sometimes not trying to hit a rolling automated steps goal to setting a hard baseline of 10K steps a day. It was like the first time I wore a Fitbit all over again.

A 2 mile morning walk or 2-3 mile run every day gets me about 5K-6K steps right away. Incidental walking at the office gets me a few more, and longer walks during breaks at work pad the totals until I finish a typical office day at over 9000 steps. At that point, incidental end-of-day walking at home gets me to 10K if I haven’t already hit the mark.

On weekends I take that walk or run, then go to the gym at some point during the day which adds a couple thousand more incidental steps (my gym has a large footprint and you need to do some walking to get around). If by work-at-home day’s end I’m short a couple thousand steps, I go for an evening twilight walk in the neighborhood, however long is needed to hit 10K (usually 10-20 minutes is enough).

My days off begin with a walk or run, and a variety of day-off activities usually logs a good deal of steps, not including another trip to the gym. I usually have no trouble getting to 10K on my days off.

I’m sure the overall net calorie-burning effect is minor, but the hamfisted goal has certainly helped me be more consistent about moving around every day. Previously I would let days get away from me due to work and other concerns and I’d finish with maybe 3K steps. This likely played some role in my not being able to burn fat as I slim back down. This keeps my metabolism on point, and now it’s just a matter of eating right.

Now I’ve decided to do the 40mi two-week run challenge, which will require a 2-3 mile run every day through August 29. I had jogged sporadically in the mornings, opting to walk most days. I want to see how doing those short runs everyday at 7am will affect me. Since there’s no races to train for, it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t work out or a setback forces me to bail on this. It’s a chance to see if easy everyday running for two weeks can work for me.

Plus, more importantly, running burns more calories per minute than walking, and will generate more muscle/mitochondrial benefit than just walking. I will ultimately be in better condition for it, and might even lose a few more pounds of fat in the process.

Will I keep up with the Garmin Challenges of the day/month/etc once this month is out? We’ll see. I always like to trial-run ideas like this, a la Steve Pavlina’s 30 day challenges. Once I finish it out at month’s end, maybe I’ll have gotten everything I wanted out of it and forget about it. Or maybe I’ll just keep taking the Challenge Carrots every week, every month, building up fitness through hitting artificial Garmin-badge milestones until a more serious challenge emerges.

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