It’s been a while since I last posted something purely fitness related. This post will serve as my mind dump for my search for the perfect fitness program. Maybe if you read along, you’ll find something useful as well. Let’s get it on!
I recently signed up to Anytime Fitness and so far, the convenience really pays for the exorbitant monthly fee. I can work out anytime and with the key fob working for all branches worldwide, almost anywhere. But in order to really get the bang for my buck, I have to go the gym as much as possible. This sacrifices my running mileage as I don’t have the mental fortitude to do both in a single day (actually I can, but not consistently). So I have to think of a way to balance both of them.
I found this article online and it’s really helpful. I decided to use it as the backbone in creating my own program that will help me achieve my personal goals.
But why not just follow the said program down to a tee? It’s simply because I like to customize and fit things to my own personal situation. I’ve got a fucked up back (by falling down Mt. Tapulao) so some exercises aren’t that viable. Some adjustment needs to be done. However, I do recommend this program and if you have the goal of strengthening your run, then by all means go ahead and follow it. If you are interested in this endurance and strength mix, also check out Hybrid Athlete by Alex Viada.
To create a personalized program that complements running. The dream is to go faster and longer on the trails and roads while still maintaining upper body strength and sexy aesthetics (because I’m petty and vain).
I’m not planning to be a top ultrarunner while also being in the thousand-pound club, so the program I’m making might not be the best if that’s your goal. I just love both running and going to the gym so I plan to make them work together via a program that is simple, scalable, sustainable, and (most importantly) enjoyable.
Taking some tips from the article above and based on my personal experience in both running and weightlifting, I, Jai, certified fitness instructor, will make the perfect program by blending running and gymming like peanut butter and jelly.
When I was still a gym buff, I really liked the set up of Stronglifts. This 3x a week program with only two workout menus is simple and easy to memorize. Because of this, I’m going to pattern my program into just two workout sets. Set A and Set B. They will be done interchangeably every other day or on consecutive days if I miss one. The important thing is to do at least a Set A and a Set B per week.
That simplifies things up, right? Now I only need to remember two sets of workouts. Now that the schedule is done, we go to the hard and most crucial part: choosing the right workouts.
Since we’re focusing on increasing our running performance, it’s clear that the bulk of our workouts will be for the lower body. However, we will still incorporate our upper body through compound lifts and isolation exercises. And importantly, we will need to focus on the thing that connects them: our core. Unlike other gym workouts that use core workouts as an afterthought or as some kind of cool down after all the heavy lifting, core strength is extremely important for running so we need to utilize it throughout the whole workout as well as have some core-specific training.
The workout will basically have this flow: Warm Up ⇨ Compounds ⇨ Lower Body ⇨ Core ⇨ Isolations
For the warm up, we will be using some exercises that I’ve been doing for a while. They’re dynamic, and wake the whole body up.
For the compounds, we will include both pushing and pulling exercises into both days. As there is (ideally) a rest day between each workout day, this will be enough rest for our muscles to recover.
I ordered the exercises in a pull-push-pull pattern to give the muscles a small rest after every workout. But as they get easier it’s possible to superset them. Start with light weights and focus more on your form and time under tension. Rest for around 2 minutes between each set or according to feel.
The reason for more pull exercises is because I have a weak back and need to strengthen it more. For other shoulder and chest exercise, we can fit those in the isolation part later. I’d put barbell deadlifts and squats for the first exercises, but with my lower back pain and the unavailability of barbells in my gym, those aren’t options right now.
These exercises optimize leg strength and power. Again, form and time under tension is important. They are aerobic and should be done slowly to feel the burn. Most are single-leg exercises to build balance and body awareness.
Rest between 1-2 minutes per set. Don’t do them too fast, we have enough time for anaerobic workouts when we do actual running.
For the core, we will just do two exercises per session. However, each exercise will focus on one natural movement that our core is built for. The key here is to feel each rep. Again, there’s no need to rush the exercise but it should take you no more than 10 minutes to finish. There are many exercises to choose from so we won’t get bored.
If you find the exercises too easy or feel some fuel left in your tank, double up and choose two exercises per movement. Don’t forget to stretch your whole core when you’re done with everything.
Last but not the least, this is the most flexible part of our session. Here, we will complete our workout with upper body isolations as well as corrective exercises. These will be the exercises that will maintain hypertrophy to our upper body. This part can also be called “workout fun time” because we can switch things up with anything that we feel like doing. This part keeps the session from getting too boring.
Do these fast with about a minute rest in between sets. The weight used shouldn’t be too heavy, but enough to get a burn going. This is the last part of your workout so just enjoy and adjust according to the time you have left. No pressure.
So now that we’ve finished, our whole workout should look like this:
Written like that, it looks like a lot of volume, but if we divide them and take it one at a time, it’s doable. 3 compounds, 3 lower body, 2 core, and 3 Isolations.
These are the exercises I chose because they are the ones that I enjoy doing. I plan to run this program for 15 weeks and see the results and improve it from there. For the other days of the week, I’ll be running my mileage and getting some recovery done. Let’s see how it goes. I will either go faster or my legs will fall off. Either way, I’m excited.
If you’re still reading, thank you for sticking around as I develop this program. I an hoping you learned a few things here and looking forward to the results. This is a different approach than what I’ve been doing before, but here’s to being constantly on the move towards a better version of ourselves.
Let the suffering begin.