What with the forthcoming 2007 marathon canoe season and our sponsored 90 mile canoe race I’ve been hitting the gym much harder (I’ve never really stopped but I’m talking more than 5 times a week...) anyway's, Sam wanted to know what I did when I was there and rather than saying “as little as possible” we thought it would be a good idea to make a note so here it is guys.
This is mainly written for Sam and Pat (my brothers) but other people may
be interested in it for some reason or another. A disclaimer first though: I’ve got no medical or sports science to this, it’s just what I’ve found works :) I’ve been doing pretty much the same workout since I was 14 without anyone/thing to compare it to so I’d be interested to know how others find this.
My original work out
This is what I used to do on a nightly basis while I lived in Calstock (except when I’d been out on the water training). I’ve not done this workout since I moved up to Birmingham so some aspects (i.e. the set split on sit ups) is a little hazy but the numbers are correct (I’ve got the records including my nightly peak flow...)
Duration: Around an hour
- 55 x Chin-ups with your palms facing you
Nothing clever here, just your bog standard chin-up.
- 100 x 30% sit ups over the edge of bed
Strap your feet down so you’re lying across the bed horizontally (opposite to how you normally sleep). Your bum should be at the edge of the bed allowing you to hang off the edge. Cross your arms so your hands are holding opposite shoulders (similar to how Tutankhamun is classical depicted), starting with your back parallel to the floor sit up to an angle of around 30% and then back down again. The advantage of hanging off the edge of the bed is you’re not allowed to rest until the end of the reps. The 100 may be split.
- 45 x Chin-ups with the back of your hands facing you
As above, just do it with the back of your hands facing you -so you exercise slightly different muscles.
- 100 x Crunches
Standard stomach crunches rather than the new alternative version where you bring your legs up rather than your torso.
- 45 x Wide arm press ups on finger tips
Rather than having your arms just beyond your shoulders, place them a little further out (around a foot) and rather than pushing from your palms, lift yourself onto your finger tips first. I like these because they work your forearms too :) I used to place my feet together to reduce my stability.
- 35 x Hand together press ups
These are great for your shoulders and triceps, it’s almost opposite to the standard press up –place your hands together and your legs apart for stability.
- 100 x 30% sit ups over the edge of bed
- 50 x Bed dips
Standard dips off the edge of your bed.
- 150 x Wrist curls
Split into three sets of 50, seated, rest your forearms on your knees and curl your wrists upwards and then go back down again a simple but effective exercise. It’s not as impressive as it sounds, I only used to have a pair of 4Kg dumbbells haha.
Depending on what sort of mood I was in after that I would do a variety of other free-weight exercises including bicep curls, shoulder butterfly lift things etc.
Like I said, I’ve not done that since I came to Birmingham so I’ve got no idea if I could still do it (I doubt I could), but I’m aiming to do more than that now.
My current routine
This is what I’m doing at the moment, like I said earlier I’m doing this at least 5 times a week.
The training schedule is as follows:
Now --> April: Building up strength/Increasing weight
April --> September: Stamina training
Until April I’m aiming to increase the reps and/or weight by 5 reps and/or 5Kg at least every month, I’m not the sort of person that goes to the gym to take it easy, I’m always trying to do more than I did last time but I consider it “doing 5Kg more” when I can do it every time. The best way to do this is every time you’re able to get through the reps, don’t stop there –keep going until you can’t lift more.
5 is a fairly good number to work with, no justification behind that other than I tend to rep in sets of 10 (though some people prefer to rep in sets of 8). Make sure you drink at least a liter of water while training, if you’re sweating lots drink more.
I have started to rest for no more than 30 seconds between each set, this is only because I read somewhere that people that rested for no more than 30 seconds between each set gain an extra 6% muscle over those that wait for longer –then again 96.789% of all statistics are made up on the spot... that aside I can see the logic in it and it’s giving me a getter work out so...
All weights are per arm as the Hammer Strength training machines I use have independent arm mechanisms.
Duration: 1 - 1½ hours
- 70 x Wide arm press ups on finger tips
I’m still doing these in a similar way as before but now I split it into two sets of 35 reps, I also cross my legs when doing it so only one foot is on the ground for each set (and then I switch them around for the next set).
- 100 x 30% sit ups
Pretty much as before but I do these on the floor rather than off the bed, to avoid the temptation to rest I only return to a 1% angle (so your back doesn’t touch the floor). I’m currently doing these in a 50-50 split –when resting I stop on the up of #51 and hold it for 30 seconds before continuing. Always stop on the top of a sit up rather than taking it easy ;)
Today when I went I did two sets of 60 but this is the first time I’ve done that so it doesn’t count yet ;)
- 30 x Hand together press ups
As before but rather than having my legs apart I’ve started putting them together to reduce the stability. There’s no rest between these.
Today I increased these to 40 but again, it’s not every time so doesn’t count
- 10 minute run at 12-14kmph
I used to use my boarding accident as an excuse not to run though part of this was just an excuse as I don’t particularly like running but I’ve started doing it again to ensure portages are faster!
Today I increased this to a 15 minute run which felt pretty good so I’m going to increase this regularly
- Front Lateral Pull Down
A little like a seated chin up machine, I start at my maximum weight for a full set (currently 60Kg*) and do a full set, then I move down 10Kg and do another full set, then again and so on until I reach the lowest weight possible, whenever I feel I can do more than a full set I keep going to the next full set. Once on the bottom weight start going back up again to where you started –if you make it all the way back you need to start higher next time (remember no longer than 30seconds between the next level).
- 30 x 35Kg Lateral Shoulder Press
In three sets of 10 reps, it’s a standard shoulder press. I need to dramatically increase this which is something I’m working on.
- 30 x 35Kg Lateral Row
As with the shoulder press
*The machine is only marked with digit but I’ve compared it to free-weight and it feels the same –also other machines with similar sized weights have Kg so I’m making the assumption...
Then depending on whether Stacey’s finished or not I’ll continue with a combination of other shoulder and back exercises, I plan on working these into my routine more regularly.
All this is followed by at least 10 (usually 20) lengths of the 50m pool –non-stop for at least 8 lengths at a time.
I think the thing to remember is that you’re not going to the gym to take it easy, push yourself as far as you can go each time. I punish myself for resting by increasing the reps –i.e. for every second I rest over my 30 second pause time I have to do an additional repetition. If you think you can lift more weight, give it a go, if you can’t, step down a level until you can! Beat yourself up in the gym and you’ll go far :)
Remember: You’re not training for anyone else, it doesn’t matter if someone else can lift more than you, work harder and you’ll be able to do the same soon enough if that’s what you want. Personally I don’t care what others are doing, all I care about is winning (which last season I didn’t do as much of as I would have like).
After my work out I tend to have a cold shower –start off cold and then make it colder as you acclimatize, I’m not sure why I started doing this but I seem to recall someone saying that you needed to cool the muscles down as quickly as possible. Another plus point is it really gets your heart rate going which I believe gets the blood to your muscles faster (to repair them faster and allow you to recover faster etc).
I like to walk/jog to/from the gym and when I get back usually have one of my banana milkshakes as they’re not only refreshing, fills you up but also gets a load of protein into you when it’s most important.
I also rest after a work out, I feel really energized so tend to get on with a little work, the two hours I’m out of the office working out allows me to clear my head so I often find I’m really productive afterwards.
If you’ve read my article on business start-up advice you’ll already know I’m a firm believer of having goals and targets, they really help you focus so naturally I’ve got a set of goals for my training in the longer term:
- Increase each of the weights by about 20Kg by April at which point I’ll start increasing the repetitions and include more rowing/running/on-water training
- Get up to and hold 12 stone of muscle. I’m just below 12 stone at the moment but I need to get a little leaner. I’ve always felt that 12 stone is an idea weight for the type of boat I paddle –it’s not too heavy (slowing me down) and not too light (in which case I’ll more than likely not be so strong!). I don’t mind going over this as long as it’s muscle
- Paddle my 4.28 mile training route consistently in at most 25 minutes
- Paddle all 8 mile races sub hour –preferably sub 50 minutes
What to eat
In regards my diet, those of you who know me will tell you that I don’t really worry about what I eat but I do make sure I eat good healthy food, after the gym I like to have one of my banana milkshakes (see: The ultimate post-training milkshake). I’ll try and post up some more good dinners but I tend to like things like pastas, fish, baked potatoes (with tuna mayonnaise), rice dishes and lots of fruit.
The last time I was training heavily was when I first met Stacey and was sponsored by Cannons Plymouth
, I would come home, eat a big meal but I still wouldn’t be full so would resort to eating lots of tins of tuna (usually two tins made into tuna mayonnaise –but without the bread!). That was the only way I could stop the craving for food. The more scientific reason for this is your body needs protein and lots of it to repair and grow the muscles you damaged/trained during your work out.
Things to try
- Alternating the training on different parts of the body, i.e. Mon/Weds/Fri do back, Tues/Thurs/Sat do shoulders and arms etc
- Protein powder, I’ve heard a few people rave about them, I’m not interested in bulking up, just not having to eat so much (usually tuna mayonnaise) post training