I’ve got two blog posts waiting to be written, but have put them on the back-burner in favor of trying to plan a house build that needs to happen ASAP, unless we want to start paying rent. I’ve discovered planning for a house build isn’t my favorite activity, nor is it one that I expect I’m particularly good at. It’s been a stressful month even though we’ve not even begun the actual process yet (beyond sketching on graph paper and researching stuff online). When I’m stressed, it’s even more important for me to maintain some consistency in a workout program, which is one of the primary ways I cope with stress.
The upshot of all of this is that the program I’ve been using pretty consistently for the past couple months has been really enjoyable and easy (stress wise) and flexible too and so I thought I’d share. To begin with, I’ll lay out the aims I had back when I was heading what I knew was going to be a stressful period–winter coming on, no big missions on the horizon, occasional but inconsistent big, physical, days at work, and all the mental stress of the home building project outside of work. For me, fitness is a double edged sword–if my pursuit of it demands too much time/energy and adds stress to my life, this is a problem. But if the program I’m using isn’t effective then I suffer because I am grumpy and unhappy in my priorities. It’s a challenge to find this balance, but this program has found it, remarkably well too. Specifically, my aim is to keep up my fitness in terms of endurance and speed in cycling, running, swimming, and paddling, as well as strength (bodyweight specific), and my climbing ability. I’m not in a phase of life where increasing ability is a priority. But I am (and expect I always will be) in a phase where maintaining ability, is. I call this principle Maintainable Base Fitness, or MBF.
Some of the ideas presented in the free training guides and UltraMental always seem to apply to my workouts, even when I experiment (as I have been recently) with much less structured programs. Higher intensity work of course is important, as is the use of Baseline workouts–repeated efforts that allow for good honest data to track progress/maintenance and encourage proper effort. Both of these elements are part of this current program I’m using. Days off between workouts, and a ‘regimented consistency’ are not. Without further ado…
The Plan: It’s a loose plan really, in which I cycle through the following disciplines–running, biking, swimming (or SUPing), hanging (hangboard workout), and upper body strength. I will hit each of these disciplines once to complete a cycle. Within a cycle I don’t have consistency of order, meaning on one cycle the swim day might come at the beginning, and on the next it might come near the end (some days are just better for swimming!). Once in a while, one of the workouts will be longer efforts, when this fits in my schedule and I’m properly motivated, but often (the last two weeks for example) each effort has been pretty minimal. I have a pool of workouts for each discipline that I choose from and at least two thirds of the workouts I do will be from this pool. This means 2/3 of the time I’ll have data, and all the benefits it brings with it, heading in to the workout–i.e. a target pace, confidence of hitting that target pace, numbers for comparison after the fact. Here is a list, by discipline, of the workouts in my pool–
Running: 1 mile time trial (on a consistent course), 2 x hill repeat (about .3 mile) intervals, 4 x 400 intervals leaving every 2:00, pylon run (~1.75 miles, hilly course).
Cycling: Short loop time trial, MTB (2.5 miles), 3 x hill repeat, MTB (same course as run), Pylon TT, MTB (same course as run), Road Bike time trial, rolling hills course (~4 miles).
Swim/SUP: Buoy time trial (for either)–out n back (~400 meters), Buoy loop time trial (for either, ~1 km), 4 x 100 meter intervals (swim) leaving on 2:30, 6 x 100 meter intervals (SUP) leaving on 1:30.
Strength: CTLs (continuous tension lifting) for chins/pulls and pushups. I’ll always do one set of each (per workout) but will change rep length for variety. Currently I’ll choose between 20 second reps (10 sec each for positive and negative phases), 8 second reps, and have now added 30/30/30’s to the mix where I’ll start each movement with a controlled 30 second negative followed by a 30 second positive (concentric) and then a 30 second negative, finishing with as many full reps in good form has possible. Ouch.
Hanging: Done on a hangboard. I’ll alternate between 1) a tabata inspired effort where I hang for 8 rounds of 20 seconds separated by 10 seconds rest, measuring intensity/progression by the number of rounds I manage on a smaller edge before going to the large edge, and 2) a 10 minute ‘intermediate’ hang program from the Metolius website.
Plenty of variety. Plenty of flexibility. And a total training time ‘requirement’, depending on my exercise choices, of somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes a week. Results so far have been awesome…my mile time trial has remained consistent as have my interval paces. Same for my biking. Swimming has gotten a bit faster, although there is far more variability there in terms of conditions, as has my finger strength (I managed 5 rounds of the tabata on the medium edge last time…three months ago all rounds were on the large edge and it was brutal!). Strength is staying put, which, after all, is really the point. So all up I’m pretty happy.
Interestingly enough it has taken me longer to write this than it would have taken to do a weeks worth of training. Go figure. Better get back to researching flooring options.