Choose Your Own Adventure – Creating Your Own Weight and Strength Routine

Does anyone else remember those books? My favorite were the Goosebumps Choose Your Own Adventure. This one will be with a fitness twist, but we’ll get to that in a short bit.

So I was reading about this Schwarzenegger 5k challenge; the guise is to test a person’s speed AND strength. The participants are first asked to bench-press a certain percentage of their bodyweight until failure, wait 30 minutes and then go race a 5k. The 5k time is then adjusted depending on how many rep’s of the bench press the person did.
strong girl
I don’t think I’ll even attempt the title, as I’m sure I’d have to bench press more than the bar, so I don’t think I’d make all that many. BUT, it brings up a very important point: Runners DO need strength.

Over the years I’ve come to embrace…errr, tolerate the weights and core work. I just find it more boring than running but I know how good it is for me:

* Build your strength = faster times. The stronger your legs are the more power you’ll be able to generate with each push-off…think more speed. The more strength your arms have will further increase your stride speed because your legs will only go so fast as your arms can pump. Stronger core will mean you can retain more efficient form as you tire (stay upright) which will translate into a faster clock time.

* More strength = more miles.
You got it, the stronger you are muscularly the more miles your body can handle…at least handle safely and efficiently…again we get back to form.

* Better form and a stronger body = less injuries. Yup, you heard it here folks, core and weight work will lessen your chances of getting injured.

* More muscle mass = leaner you. You might weight the same, or even put on some pounds, but your body fat will go down and that means you’ll be rocking more muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories per pound than fat, so if you’re into that you’ll be increasing your metabolism throughout the entire day.

Now, the thing with weights and core work for runners is it’s more about higher repetitions and lower weights…we’re going for the leaner muscle tissue. Aim to work at least each major muscle group once per weight session (2-3 times a week on non-sequential days) and do it continuously. Move from exercise to exercise without resting; this will not only make it go by faster but keep your heart rate elevated.

Here’s where we make it ‘fun’, below I’ll list a category and then different exercises. Pick one exercise from each group, cycle through all the groups and you can then ‘choose your own routine’; though for each day that you pick a certain exercise from the group stick with the SAME one for all the sets. Though for the different days you can create plenty of diverse routines. Do 15 repetitions of each one and work your way up to three sets.

Group A:

  • Walking lunges (15 each leg)
  • Forward lunge – step forward into lunge than back to center (15 each leg)
  • Prisoner Squats – squat in place
dumbbell press

Dumbbell Press

Group B

  • Push-up
  • Raised leg push-up (put your legs on a chair or step so they are at an incline, these are harder)
  • Dumbbell press – lay back on bench, dumbbell in each hand, arms straight up. Lower arms until they are at an 90n degree angle and then raise back up

Group C

  • Bicep curl – use two weights, one in each hand
  • Bicep curls – using a long weighted bar
  • Running arms – weight in each hand do a controlled motion as you use them in running

Group D

  • Bench dips – facing away from a chair, put your hands on the edge and legs extended in front of you. Start with arms straight, lower down until your bum is near the ground and arms bent at 90 degrees, then raise back up
  • Tricep kick backs – weights in each hand, bend forward at the hips and keep your arms even with your torso so that they are bent at 90 degrees. Weights in hand, extend at the elbows and lift until your arms are straight, then lower back down
  • Behind the Head Reach – lie facing up on a bench with a bar weight in your hands, bent at the elbows. Start with the bar hovering above your chest then lower it behind your head, over the edge of the bench until your shoulders are even with your ears and then lift back up to starting position.
overhead reach

Overhead Reach

Group E

  • Overhead reach – weight in each hand sit or stand with your torso straight and extend your arms straight above your head. Lower arms down until arms are at 90 degree then back up.
  • Side flies – weight in each hand, sit or stand with torso erect. Bend arms at 90 degree and place the weights together in front of your chest; keeping arms bent raise them laterally until they are even with your shoulders then back down
  • Front flies – weight in each hand, stand straight up, arms down at sides. Keep arms straight and raise weights up in front of you until arms are even with your shoulders and then back down.

Lat Pull-down
Group F

  • Bent over Row – position yourself facing down toward a bend, rest your left hand and left knee on the bench, keep your torso straight from bum to head. Drop your right arm down so it is dangling over the side of the bench and with a weight in hand. Lift your upper arm straight up until bent at 90 degree and even with your torso then back down. Repeat on other side.
  • Lat pull-downs – face one of the lat pull-down machines and pull-down
  • Total body flies – stand straight up holding a weight in each hand; crouch forward into a 3/4 squat and bring the weights together between your legs. As you stand back up cycle your arms up over your head until the dumbbells are touching and your arms are straight. Lower back down into squat and repeat.

Whew…hope all of that made sense to you. The thing with weights is that it is also smart to mix-it up so that your muscles don’t adapt and stop reacting to the stimuli. Of course you don’t have to change it every single time, but so long as you hit each muscle group you will be getting the benefits and while it may be more boring than running…it will help your running. :)

PS- this was more upper-body focused and meant to be done if you’ve already done some cardio/running. I’ll do another post centered on more leg exercises but you can also do plyometrics to target your legs.

1) Do you do weight work? Do you like it?

2) Would you do that Schwarzenegger challenge?

3) What’s your favorite kind of core or strength work?
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Beef Out Those Hummingbird Arms..It’s Good for You, I Promise

What day is it? My week is all helter skelter, yesterday I kept thinking it was still Sunday but then Bachelorette talk started storming Twitter so I knew it had to be a Monday. But I woke up today feeling more in a mid-end of week mode…not that it really makes much of a difference to me either way since I’m not reporting to a ‘normal’ job right now…but still I feel a little topsy-truvy!

So move update here, it’s going well. I have to say that I’m really liking the new place I’m staying at. I’m actually renting a room from a very nice man, and not going to lie his place is re-dic. (To steal a word from Katy.) Also not gonna lie, the biggest draw is…hold your breath folks…the full on decked out home gym up in here! Heck to the ya!

We’re talking a treadmill, elliptical, weight bench, free weights, and the much needed TV/DVD combo…if I ever go MIA again for a few days it may be because I’ve been on the tread non-stop. Just kidding on that. But seriously…I’ve died and gone to heaven!

This is how happy I am about the gym!

The even better news? You know how I was bi***ing about how my old gym treadmill made you reset after 60 minutes, well this one lets you go until 90 min’s before a reset is in order. I used to feel really ridiculous at my old place because on most my easy runs I’d come in at 8.25 miles for 60 min’s and that’s a sort of awkward point…if I wanted to do say 9 miles then I’d have to reboot the tread for what, like, less than six minutes? I’ve done it but I feel like a total weenie whenever someone would walk in and see me end my run at six minutes, lest they think that’s all I did. Another sign moment.

So anyways, today I was able to get in those 9.2 miles without any reset interruptions…hurrah, I’m a happy Cait! I did my arm routine that I do with just my free weights. I do 3 sets of 15 reps for each exercise that I split up into two groups. I cycle through continuously and seriously this takes 15 min’s tops and I do it right after my run while I’m still motivated to get er done:

Group 1:

*Chest flies: Sit or stand and start by holding dumbbells together in front of your chest, arms bent at about 90 degrees. Keep your back straight and then ‘fly’ your arms out, moving them laterally to the side until they are even with your torso then return to the starting position.

*Should flies: Start in the same position as the last one with the dumbbells together in front of your chest but this time ‘fly’ them up vertically and raise your arms up until they are even with your shoulders then return back down. (This chick is in the finishing position. But don’t be fooled, she’s really a giant so those weights she’s holding are 100 lbs.)

*Bent over flies: Stand and bend at the waist so your body is in an upside down L position. Hold the dumbbells together at your chest and now ‘fly’ them up by raising your arms out to your side until they are even with your back and then back down. For this one you want your arms to be only slightly bent, less than 90 degrees.

*Overhead raise: Sit/stand straight up and hold the dumbbells like you were in the finishing position of the shoulder flies. That’s arms bent 90 degrees and up at your sides. Now raise the dumbbells straight up until your arms are straight and then back down.

Group 2:

*Bent over rows: Stand next to a bench with one leg right beside it and the other one propped up on it. Rest one hand on the edge of the bench and then lean forward so that the arm with the dumbbell hangs straight down off the side of the bench. Keeping your back straight ‘row’ the dumbbell up by lifting your arm straight back until your tricep is even with your back. Think of like staring a lawn mover. Then lower back down. Be sure to repeat with the other arm. ;) (PS-That picture is SO obviously me too. And what the heck is up with him working out in cut off jean shorts? Sorry, this pic was just so bad I HAD to put it in.)

*Bicep curls: Pretty self explanatory there. Grab some dumbbells, hang arms down at your side and then lift the dumbbells up towards your shoulder and work those biceps.

*Tricep kick backs: Stand up in the upside down L position again, with your arms bent at 90 degrees and weights in hands. Straighten your arms and bring the dumbbells straight back, feel it in those triceps. Lower back down to starting position and repeat.

So that’s just a quickie arm routine that hits all the major groups there. As a runner it’s easy to neglect those arms and come down with hummingbird syndrome where we’ve got scrawny arms that flap like crazy while we go. Having stronger arms will not only make ya look better…let’s be honesty that is a nice perk, but it will improve your running too. The stronger you are the better able you will be to keep proper, efficient form when you’re tired at the end of races or workouts. Being more efficient means well, you’re times will be faster…duh. ;) haha. Core work does this too. Finally, even if you’re not planning on racing, you don’t want to ever just skip out on strengthening parts of your body, weak points are just begging for an injury and only holding you back!

That said, this chick is back to getting situated up in here! Happy Sunday, Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday….whatever day it is. ;)

PS-I’m going to have new pix up soon, I’m sorry, my scanner and some other supplies were still in the midst of being unpacked and squared away but I promise fun stuff is forthcoming!

1) Do your days ever blur together if you don’t report to a traditional job schedule? Do you also rely on the TV schedule to help keep you on track? :)

2) Favorite arm exercises or workouts?

3) Any classes, activities, or workouts that you’d like to try? Or have you just tried something new and would like to share?

My mom and sis (YES…so stoked they live so close now!) are into this kettlebell class, I want to jump in and try it…trust me I’ll look like a dweebette, no coordination on this chick!

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