Tag Archives: strength training

The Next Day Of The Rest Of Your Life

Since withdrawing from Indy, I’m now focused on more frequent strength training, which I plan to do almost daily (though today is a rest day).

I’ve spread out all my strength exercises over a repeatable 5 day sequence, to do more sets of each exercise while only focusing on 2-3 per 20 minute workout.

I’m back to doing Rapid Fire Sets for key machine exercises, spending about 6-10 minutes on key machine exercises while doing a basic 4 set progression for any dumbbell and bodyweight exercises. If this progresses well, I’ll do a future writeup on how it all works together.

Even though my hamstrings ache a bit when I do it, I’m riding the recumbent spin bike easy as well, focusing more on circulation and general aerobic fitness than trying to build or maintain anything. I’m doing this no more than every other day, just in case it’s possibly aggravating anything rather than just an idle ache.

I don’t feel any hamstring pain most of the time. The only time I feel any sort of ache, aside from when I use the spin bike, is when I’m sitting for long periods. That might be why it aches on the recumbent spin? I’d like to think so, but still I’ll be cautious.

If I feel better in the next week, I’ll test out a short run this weekend. If that goes fine, I’ll gradually ramp back up to regular running, probably focusing on easy intervals with longer runs or races on weekends as the opportunity arises. But I’ll probably restrict myself to running every other day for a good while afterward, just in case running back to back workouts was causing the issue.

Obviously I’m not work break running anymore for now. I’m sticking to walking on these breaks for the next while, which feels comfortable for now.

Mentally, I’m good. What happened was slowly unfolding over weeks, so it wasn’t exactly a huge surprise it came to that. Admittedly, I wasn’t even particularly excited about or looking forward to Indy like I had with past marathons. I could see I wasn’t ready, that training wasn’t progressing the way I wanted, and I didn’t feel confident. So moving on felt better than it would have otherwise.

The goal with everything right now is to get stronger overall while healing up. Hopefully in a couple months I’m feeling great. I’ll continue working on this until then.

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Should you strength train before or after a run?

Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything besides daily check-ins. I’ve finally found a topic I want to separately discuss.

I’ve talked about this before, when you as a runner want to strength train with your endurance workouts, and whether to do it before or after the run.

First of all, I offer the caveat that serious endurance training will always compromise growth and development in any strength training you also do. Your body physiologically does not compartmentalize its recovery and adaptation to multiple simultaneous forms of exercise. Your finite hormonal and nutritional resources will spread recovery efforts across everything in your body that needs repair.

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Building A Better Self: July 2021 Edition

I not only finished Friday with 34 miles this week, with this weekend and a long run workout still to come (after 36 miles last week), but I did so despite insomnia on Thursday night and my air conditioner problem messing with my sleep earlier this week.

While obviously tired, I didn’t feel burned out, and I had the energy in me to pump out 30-45 minute training workouts on the treadmill after work, AND run 1K-2K on all my work breaks (except only for Thursday afternoon, which I walked). I played everything by ear and was willing to bail on any of the above if I simply didn’t feel well enough to do it.

But I did all of the above. No stimulants (outside of the same 12 oz of coffee I have had every morning for years and years), no crutches, no supplements I hadn’t already been taking for a while. Even now, other than understandable general fatigue (and yes I got decent sleep last night), I feel okay.

How am I doing this? I haven’t taken a complete day off from training since June 23 (10 days ago)

There’s a few new things I’m consistently doing. Some regular readers already know about, but some things not as much:

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Rapid-Fire Sets: A Strength Training Workout For Endurance and Strength

The Rapid Fire Set workout can be done on a Smith Machine rack or on strength machines at the gym

The following strength training workout is an excellent way to test your strength while still developing your muscular endurance.

It requires that you can quickly adjust the weight: Gym machines, a Smith rack, or at home with quickly adjustable dumbbells. I wouldn’t recommend doing this workout with conventional barbells or dumbbells unless you have the entire training area to yourself, such as at a home gym. Definitely don’t do this with barbells and dumbbells at a regular gym.

You basically do a lot of light, gradually increasing reps for each exercise in rapid-fire sets of just 4 reps per set. Eventually, you hit a max weight, then take the weight down and repeat the rapid-fire cycle one more time.

This can build muscular endurance while still building muscular strength, and gets your heart rate going enough to generate better mitochondrial development than your typical strength endurance weight training.

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A Home Endurance Workout Series Using 5-lb Dumbbells

My 5 pound dumbbells

With Nevada’s “Pause” lockdown reducing gym capacity to 25%, going to the gym to strength train or otherwise exercise could become largely impractical. I don’t foresee the restriction being lifted anytime soon. Plus, with New Year’s having arrived, what little capacity is available is likely getting swallowed up by many poorly-planned New Year’s resolutions.

Until a couple weeks ago, I hadn’t lifted weights at all, since I hadn’t been to the gym at all. I’ve had personal dumbbell weight sets at varying points in my life, but the last few years certainly hasn’t been one of them. My only free weights are a pair of 5 pound dumbbells that I once used in a clown theatre piece years ago. I long since figured I’m probably not getting swole off such light weight.

Or so I thought.

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Reverse Engineering a 1RM Formula to find your training weight

In personal training you can use max-effort reps on an exercise with any weight to estimate a trainee’s one rep maximum (1RM). Your 1RM is the most weight you could possibly lift one single time at full strength for an exercise. Calculating this with lighter lifting removes the risk of trying to lift the maximum weight you possibly can.

A CPT has a trainee lift as much weight as they can for 4-6 reps. You start at a reasonable weight and progress until they reach a failure point. You then enter that max weight and the number of reps performed in a mathematic formula that can estimate a 1RM. You then use this number to program workouts for that exercise.

This is similar to runners using conversion charts to figure out, from a previous 5K or 10K time, how fast you could run a mile, or a marathon, without having to first do either. Weightlifting and endurance running of course have different goals. But both use formulas and estimates to determine training intensity.

There are a lot of 1RM formulas, and each certifying organization seems to recommend a different one. NFPT for example uses the Brzycki Formula. Meanwhile, NASM just gives you a chart, and that could have been calculated from just about anywhere. I personally use the Epley Formula. For what I’m about to describe, I have found Epley from experience more accurate for training purposes. It has accurately gauged my true 1RM. Various studies also indicate that it’s among the most accurate of the formulas.

I used the weights I trained with during swolework not just to determine my 1RM for those exercises, but also reverse engineered the 1RM formula to determine weight to use in sets.

At one point I was doing four 6 rep sets of lat pulldowns at 85 lbs. This for me is pretty heavy. I gave close to max effort on these 6 reps each set. I wanted to focus more on endurance with 12 rep sets. But I didn’t want to take the weight so far down that my strength wasn’t being challenged.

To start I used the Epley formula to estimate my 1RM for lat pulldowns. I presumed that 85 lbs was the most weight I could lift in one 6 rep sitting.

Weight: w = 85
Reps: r = 6

1RM = w(1 + (r/30))
1 + (6/30) = 1.2

1RM = w * 1.2
1RM = 85 * 1.2 = 102 lbs

I can use this formula backwards by applying some algebra, understanding that any equation divided by itself equals 1.

If I divide both sides by (1 + (r/30)), I can isolate the weight (w) to one side. This basically creates a reverse engineered formula where I enter my known 1RM and a set number of repetitions to determine what weight and number of repetitions can produce the maximum benefit from the workout.

1RM / (1 + (r/30)) = w

Knowing I want to do 12 reps (r = 12), knowing my 1RM = 102, I can determine the optimal weight:

102 / (1 + (12/30)) = w

(12/30) = 0.40

102 / 1.40 = w

w = 72.9

I can’t get a lat pulldown machine to give me exactly 72.9 pounds of resistance. But I can get a multiple of 5, so I round down to 70 lbs. I could try rounding up to 75 lbs and see how that goes. It’s probably safer to round down and get through a whole workout at 70 before deciding to add that 5 lbs.

So I do my 12 rep sets of lat pulldowns at 70 lbs weight. This likely gives me the max strength endurance value out of that 4 sets. In my experience, this weight gave me exactly the challenge I wanted for that exercise.

Note: That’s in line with NASM’s 50-70% max recommendation for stabilization and endurance. But rather than using their wide range (51-72 lbs) and just randomly picking a weight within that, I get a firm answer in line with the specific number of reps (12) I’m using.

Let’s say I do 15 reps instead, r = 15.

102 / (1 + (15/30)) = w

(15/30) = 0.50

102 / 1.50 = w

w = 68

At 15 reps, it’s best for me to use 65 lbs. If I were to use the same 70 lbs, it might be too much. I could round up to the nearest 5 lb increment from 68 for, say, the last 1-2 sets. So I could do the first 3 sets at 65 lbs, and the last set at 70 lbs. I could do the first 2 sets at 70 lbs, the last 2 sets at 65 lbs. There’s other ways you could probably come up with.

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Two Common Strength Training Mistakes

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

I spend a lot of time in the gym with a lot of people who work out. Social media shows me countless others who also work out, train others, etc. I don’t have a Kinesiology degree but I know what I’m talking about. I preface with this because some of you are not going to like what I’m going to say next.

The two most common mistakes I see people make with strength training are:

  1. People train like a powerlifter, with powerlifter goals, even though that’s not or should not be their goal.
  2. People train continuously without taking any proactive, conscious training breaks.

Why are these problems?

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