We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Monday, December 31. 2018
It's a typical time of year for people to change up their fitness program. The daily exercisers I know shift their programs around about every 3-4 months just to keep their bodies off balance. If it isn't stress, it ain't exercise.
For example, I've spent the past 3 months emphasizing my cardio endurance (while doing heavy wts only twice a week). I've seen some improvement in my running and stair machine work, but far from enough to reach my goals. Darn it, I get tired! I'd like my 25 year-old body back...
Anyway, time for a change so I will add a third weights day to replace one of my calisthenics/athleticism classes. I hate to do that because the classes are great fun and damn stressful, but I can switch back in 3 or 4 months.
What do I mean by "weights days"? Barbell or goblet squats, deads, dumbell rows or seated rows, bench. I can't do overhead presses due to a bum shoulder (which needs replacement but I don't want to go through the down time). Also, I do accessory efforts like curls, press-downs, pullups, dips, kettlebell lunges.
Because of time constraints (1 hr/day usually) I tend to do 3 sets of the accessories, and 5 sets of the basics. I usually do 50 jump ropes between sets as part of 90-second recovery. Don't ask me why.
For those who want to spend a few months emphasizing strength and power-building, a 5X5 program is known to be effective.
Anyway, for a few months my program will be 3 days of weights, 1 calis/cardio class, 1 day higher intensity and HIIT cardio, one day with 1/2 hr calis and 1/2 hr HIIT cardio, and one day "endurance" long slower cardio (just jogging as long as I can) as a "recovery" day.
Doing the same things all the time is not the most effective plan. How do our readers keep their fitness programs changing?
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
To be honest, your weight day sounds like a "I think I'll go to the gym and do whatever I feel like" day. Hard to make progress that way. 90-second recovery time jumping rope between sets? You're not lifting heavy. A true heavy set would require at least five minutes to recover from. But that might not be your goal, and that's fine. It's your body, your goals, your routine.
However, barbell back squats, bench press, and deadlift will work all the muscles you need to work until you get significantly stronger. (The overhead press is also important so it is unfortunate you can't do it. Surprised you do dips, though. Those are quite risky for people with shoulder issues.)
Pull ups and chin ups are excellent, pretty much the only accessory exercise most people will ever need. They are a close to a whole body exercise, involving arms, back, shoulders and abs.
I keep my body off balance by adding weight to the bar. The changes in my program are how often I add weight and how I work up to that added weight, not what exercises I do. At first, weight is added every workout (the novice linear progression phase), then weekly (advanced novice phase) and then every two to three weeks (using, for example, the heavy-light-medium [HLM] program template). 5x5 is a very effective program, with the main drawback being the high volume causing recovery issues, especially for the older population. The Starting Strength 3x5 (three sets of five) paradigm allows greater recovery and thus you are able to add weight for a longer period of time before modifying the program.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: https://www.amazon.com/Barbell-Prescription-Strength-Training-After/dp/0982522770/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1546292385&sr=8-3&keywords=the+barbell+prescription+strength+training+after+40. Buy it, read it, learn it, live it.
Let me hasten to add that I have always been very impressed with your dedication to your fitness routine. We'd have a much healthier country if more people were like you. Keep it up!
Fair enuf. Some people do accessories, some don't. They might not be required, but they don't hurt me is all I can say.
"They (accessory exercises) might not be required, but they don't hurt me is all I can say."
I think your reasoning may be faulty.
How do you know that you wouldn't be making better progress if you eliminated the accessory exercises? It's like saying, "I can get to town faster on my bicycle than by walking, therefore my bike is the optimal mode of transportation." It ignores the possibility that a car may be faster.
I agree with RJP that your "rest" between sets is inadequate if you're training for strength. You need a minimum of two minutes (many would say longer depending on how "intense" your sets are)....and that means rest, not jumping rope.
Recognizing your time constraints, I think you would still do better - gaining strength while maintaining met con - if you did two days of strength training (yep, I know that's how many you do now) concentrating on three big lifts (SQ, DL or Cleans, and BP) plus chins with no accessory work, cardio, etc. on those days. If time is really a premium, you can alternate the exercises in circuit fashion - still getting at least 90 - 120 sec between each set (not as good as 3-5 minutes complete down time, but life is about trade offs).
Personally, I prefer to alternate DL and cleans on different days, i.e. if I am doing two days of strength training per week, I do DL one day and cleans (or some DL variant) the other. DL is a very taxing lift if trained properly. In fact, Rippetoe's mentor (Bill Starr) often trained deadlift using primarily cleans and only occasionally doing DL. It all depends on your goal - I don't think you're training to be a competitive powerlifter.
One day per week of HIIT will allow you to maintain your metabolic conditioning and, if your work intensity is high (and hence the duration of each work interval is low), it will interfere less with your goal of strength.
Give it a try. Like you said, you can switch back in 3 - 4 months
The rest time needed depends on the weight being lifted. I squat in the mid to low 300's currently. There's no way I could do a second set of five after 90 seconds rest. I need 5 minutes absolute minimum. If Bird Dog is able to complete all sets and reps with just 90 seconds rest between sets (plus jump roping!), then I have to assume the weights being lifted are not at all challenging. There's no need for him to rest 3-5 minutes. Of course, with weights that light, he's not going to get stronger.
I meant 90 - 120s between each set in a circuit. If your circuit is Squat - 120s rest - Press - 120s rest - Clean or PullUps - 120s rest and repeat and you are increasing weight each set as in Bill Starr's 5X5, you have plenty of rest. Many athletes made great progress on his program. It's important to note that many also did sprint work in addition making it very difficult (and counterproductive) to do more than one max intensity set of squats in a workout.
If you are doing all of your squats back to back and every set is "hard" (as in 5 reps at 85% or more of 1RM), I agree that you need at least 3-5 min rest between sets IF your goal is max strength.
If your goal is recovery, i.e. strength endurance, you could benefit from gradually decreasing RI each workout while keeping weight the same. While I agree that almost everybody - especially those over 40 - benefits from added strength, everybody has different goals and trying to train too many fitness attributes at the some time usually leads to failure as recovery is overwhelmed.
Birddog, you should look into the rock solid program for old folks and those with Parkinson's. Apparently there are some tangible benefits from the old boxing workouts.
As coach Dan John says, "that program worked so well i stopped doing it."
Most of us are not at the elite level that requires major shifts to stimulate progress. And if a major goal is to hold on to what we have (or to do other things in our lives) habit is very important.
If you are doing the "major lifts/olympic lifts" program often discussed by Rippetoe and others mentioned here, you can probably get enough variation - and shore up weak spots - by switching between barbell and dumbell versions of the motion. Asymmetrical loading works too.
Another simple way to get variety is to stick with the same weight through a larger range of sets-n-reps. Start with a weight that challenges at 2 sets of 3-5 reps, then work up to 3-4 sets of 15-20. This moves your body through "programs" that target strength, then mass, then endurance. It also helps prevent injury as you have full control and range of motion with the previous weight before you move up, with a built-in "recovery" period when a weight is "easy".
Last week I did 3 sets of 5 squats at 330 lbs. Are you suggesting that I should work up to 4 sets of 20 at that weight?
That's what the little blue pills are for!
Footnote: D was originally made as little pink pills (somebody failed marketing 101).
1. How many middle-aged exercisers have reached the basic benchmark of bodyweight in the major lifts? If you're in the majority who are not there yet, my advice will work for you.
2. What are your goals?
Avoid deterioration and help shlep on moving day.
different programs for each of these.
I don't think he's saying your advice won't work (it may or may not depending on one's goals), but (respectfully) your wording is unclear and inconsistent.
When you talk about most of us not being at an elite level in terms of weight lifted, one assumes your advice will relate to training for strength, but then you go on to make recommendations for endurance with 15-20 reps per set.
As RJP pointed out, going from a weight that is "challenging" for 3-5 reps to doing 15-20 reps with the same weight is virtually impossible for anyone with any significant years of weight training. I would add that doing Olympic lifts for 15-20 reps is a recipe for injury unless you are doing them with a weight that is too light to matter.
While I've never purposely done asymmetrically loaded cleans, I have accidentally done this. It's not fun. It's not effective. It's not safe. It is stupid!
If you are doing 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps and it's easy and you view it as endurance work for recovery, I'm not sure what the hell you're really doing. If your goal is recovery, then recover. If your goal is endurance and it feels "easy", you're either not using enough weight, not doing enough reps or your RI is too long.
Preach it, brother!
I wouldn't wish 4 sets of 20 squats on my worst enemy, even at 225 lbs. I've done a few sets of 20 at a lower weight a couple of times, saw Jesus towards the end.
You are correct that this is impractical for the experienced lifter. My impression was that the post was for another audience.
Using the methods i described i went from sedentary novice to 70 percent of bodyweight in my late 40s. Without the injury or overthinking that plagued many of my fellow travelers.
Every 2-3 months I switched between barbell and dumbell versions of "big basic all-body movement" routines outlined by Dan John and Rippetoe. Stuck with each weight until i was in the endurance range.
I am now using the same approach to recover after a medical issue. I will gladly reduce/drop the volume at the endurance phase as i can move more weight. But i am convinced that this built in brake helped prevent joint injury.
70% bodyweight squat? Honestly, with a goal that modest, I don't think it really matters what program you use.
The only things I can't do are overhead lifts and inclined bench.