Tag Archives: Strength training

C25K Week 2 Day 1 – Hills

Hill running session by Andrew Gills
Hill running session, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

It’s 29’C at 5:15am and the humidity is climbing. I’m awake and sweating while doing my pilates exercises. I’m getting better at them but am still only doing three sets of six repetitions for each exercise. I figure it’s better to have good form than to do more repetitions. And right now, it’s difficult just getting my form right. I can really notice the lack of stability in my right hip but I can also feel the improvements in my core.

At 6:10am I set off down the road for my Couch-to-5k session. I might as well be swimming I’m so wet except that it’s smelly sweat, not deliciously clean-smelling chlorine. I am up to Week 2 Day 1 and my session is:

  • 5 min brisk walk
  • 20 mins x 90 sec running, 2 mins walking
  • 5 mins brisk walk.

Hills used to be my strength as a junior runner and triathlete but over the past eighteen months they’ve been my weakness. But now that I’m starting from scratch, I am going to address this weakness. I am inspired by Run Nature’s blog and a post she wrote about joining her friend on hill sessions. So Tuesday is hill running day. We have some nasty steep climbs in the bush near my home and I want to be able to run them comfortably. They are not mountains by North American or European standards, but they rise sharply from sea level to about 70m above the sea.

After my C25K session, I came home and did a push-up session using an app I downloaded from Exercise for Pink. I’ve set the app for the easiest level and just five minutes but still I can’t yet complete the whole circuit, which contains nine different pushup exercises. At just five minutes, the session is short but it’s intense. It felt good to do it. I think it would feel great to actually complete it one day.

Total: 5km run/walk, 40 mins pilates, 5 mins push ups


A solid gym session

Image coutesy of idea go / Freedigitalphotos.net

I never thought I’d like going to the gym to do weights but I have to say I am enjoying it. I feel strong when I pump iron. I don’t lift big weights because I don’t want to get huge but the weights I lift are a suitable size for me right now.

I am not a big fan of stationary aerobic equipment but I am learning that they can be beneficial. For example, I’m sure my road cycling will improve through my use of the stationary bike. The stationary bike encourages me to spin. There are no obstacles, hills or corners to negotiate so I can teach my legs to keep up a higher than usual cadence without complaining. I’ve always been the type of cyclist who pushes big gears and breaks bottom brackets. Perhaps a few months watching the cadence metre on the stationary bike will encourage me to become a cyclist who is able to spin efficiently all day long instead of being the guy who keeps having to stand on the pedals up every little hill and then rest my legs on the way down.

The rowing machine also has good purpose for me. I can use it as an alternative to cycling and swimming to recruit more muscles to the aerobic exercise. It’s not all that exciting sliding back and forward on the spot but I do get a kick out of watching the measurements on the display. There’s an instant gratification to being able to see that I’m rowing at 43 strokes per minute or passing each 500m mark. Also, rowing is a sport I just don’t have the equipment to do out in the real world. Not only do I not have a boat, but even if I did it would quite difficult to get it to the water on my motorbike. I can feel my back and thigh muscles toning as I use them to row.

And, of course, there’s always the guilty pleasure of checking myself out in the mirrors as I lift weights in the free weights room. 😉

Today I started with 10 minutes on the triathlon-style stationary bike, riding at 110-115 RPM and covering 5.4km. I followed this with 10 minutes on the rowing machine, stroking at 43 strokes/minute and covering 2,180m.

I completed 3 sets of 8 repetitions in the weights room:

Exercise Weight
Incline dumbbell bench press 12.5km / dumbbell
Leg curl 45kg
Seated row 35kg
Bent arm pull-over 7.5kg + barbell
Chin up 6 + 4 + 3
Dumbbell bicep curls 10kg / dumbbell
Back ext Body weight
Decline crunch Body weight

I completed my workout with a 5 minute cool-down on the reclining stationary bike, riding at just 90RPM and covering just 2.1km. I usually try to do 10 minutes after my weights workout but I didn’t have time today because I was getting a lift to work.

Total: Weights +

  • 10 mins stationary bike @ 110-115RPM covering equivalent of 5.4km
  • 10 mins rowing machine @ 43 s/m covering equivalent of 2,180m
  • 5 mins reclining stationary bike @ 90RPM covering equivalent of 2.1km.

It’s fun to play at the YMCA

Image courtesy of chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I intended to do a yoga class at my local YMCA today but I misread the class time. It didn’t matter though because I enjoyed the workout I ended up doing.

I started with 10 minutes on the fancy triathlon-inspired stationary bike. I rode fairly hard today, sitting in the 110-115 RPM range for the whole set. The bike computer said I covered the equivalent of 5.25km.

I followed that with 10 minutes on the rowing machine. I haven’t used a rowing machine in years but always like them. I rowed at an average of 40 strokes/minute and covered the equivalent of 1,997m in the 10 minutes. I could cheat and call it an even 2km but I would only be cheating myself.

After my 20 minutes of cardio I had a nice light sweat going. I then did my weights sets. I got most of the workout from the Outdoor Athlete book I’m reading but couldn’t do two exercises. I added back extensions and bicep curls to the program to replace those two exercises. I completed three sets of eight repeats with 90 seconds rest between each. I kept the weights moderately light because it’s the first time I’ve done this routine.

Exercise Weight
Incline dumbbell bench press 10kg / dumbbell
Leg curl 40kg
Seated row 30kg
Bent arm pull-over 7.5kg + barbell
Chin up 5 + 3+ 3
Dumbbell bicep curls 10kg / dumbbell
Back ext Body weight
Decline crunch Body weight

After my weights set I finished my session with 10 minutes on the reclining stationary bike. I rode at an average of 110RPM and the computer said I completed the equivalent of 5.2km.

My foot felt good during the stationary bike sets so perhaps I will try cycling a real bike sometime this weekend to see how it holds up.


  • 10 mins stationary bike
  • 10 mins rowing machine
  • 30 mins weights
  • 10 mins reclining stationary bike.

Getting back up again

Last night I joined a gym for the first time in years. This foot injury seems like a good opportunity for me to work on my strength and flexibility; things I’ve not paid much attention to since I started this whole ‘get fit again’ thing last year.

It felt familiar to walk into the gym this morning to do my first session. I have a book The Outdoor Athlete in which are listed a range of strength programs specifically suited to outdoor athletes, like mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and mountaineers. The programs are separated into phases from ‘return after absence from gym work’ through to ‘strength and endurance’.

I am starting out with the easiest two routines for the next 2-3 weeks. It will allow me to assess where my muscular strength is at and build on it safely. My goal is not to bulk up but to strengthen my body to help reduce the risk of further injury after the ones I have are healed.

I started my session with 10 minutes on the stationery bike. The gym has some nice triathlon bike inspired machines complete with tri bars and fully adjustable saddles. While it was boring, I was able to settle into a nice 105RPM cadence for the full 10 minutes and didn’t once have to worry about a traffic light or idiot in a car trying to kill me. So there were some benefits.

After my aerobic warm up I hit the weights. I started out light today because my body’s not used to doing repeated strength movements and I don’t know what my limits are. I did 2 sets of 12 reps for each exercise with a 60 second rest between each set.



Barbell back squat


Dumbell overhead press




Dumbell shrug


One-arm dumbbell row


Ball leg curl


Lat pull down


Leg extension

30kg / 20kg

The barbell back squat put a bit too much pressure on my injured foot so I need to find an alternative exercise; I’ll do some online research today.

After pumping iron I returned to the aerobic machines. I started out trying the eliptical machine but it hurt my foot too much so I swapped to the reclining stationery bicycle. I cycled for 10 minutes at 115RPM. I wanted to keep my legs spinning, rather than pushing heavy loads because I’m currently not allowed to cycle uphill due to the strain I put on my calf at the weekend when I aggravated my shin splints. I think the high RPM cycling is probably really good for me though because I got a good sweat up and it will help me increase my cadence both when cycling on the road and when I get back to running.

Total: Weights + 20 minutes stationery bike.

Gardening as training


I did a lot of gardening this weekend. I did the 8 hours on Saturday then did 5 hours Sunday after volunteering as a course marshal at the Brisbane Running Festival.

This morning (Monday) I didn’t have any running on my schedule so I did some serious weeding. For about 2 hours I pulled out years of weeds that have been growing in a neglected part of the garden. There were so many weeds that I filled the back of Mum’s ute.

It was a solid full body workout. Pulling and carrying weeds worked out my upper body. Repeatedly pushing the full wheelbarrow uphill was a good leg workout.


This photo above shows the area before I started this morning.


And this is after. I can’t wait to turn it into a native garden.

Tough Mudder training session 4/37


As the full moon sank into the horizon and the day dawned, I was out doing my Tough Mudder boot camp training session.

There’s not much more I can say.

Tough Mudder Training session 2/37 (12 weeks to go)

I had to skip my three Tough Mudder training sessions this week due to illness. But I am pretty much all better now so this morning I decided to do yesterday’s Tough Mudder session so that I only missed two sessions. While I could have gone running or cycling, I know that I need the core and leg strength work that’s included in the Tough Mudder boot camp sessions.

I started the day with a light 2km walk and jog around our neighbourhood then rode my mountain bike 1.6km down to the park with my 5kg dumbell in my backpack. At the park I found a sport where I could set up to do the 60 minute Tough Mudder boot camp session. After a week of rain the park was quite boggy so I set my exercise list and mobile phone on a table under a shelter that had a concrete floor. Though, by the end of the session, my feet would be wet.

By the end of the five minute warm up I knew that I still aren’t at full fitness. I did one minute each of running on the spot, grapevine, side shuffles, high knees and butt kicks. I was suffering at the end of the warm up so decided that I should practice pacing myself so that I got through the session. When I say I was suffering, I don’t mean that I felt sick (though my stomach wasn’t happy with the fact that I’d eaten a piece of chocolate cake after breakfast).

I decided to pace myself for the five circuits in the session, rather than doing them flat out like I did last Friday; partly to get through them and partly because I have a duathlon race tomorrow morning and don’t want to be too sore for that.

My first circuit was ten minutes of running, spider pushups, jumping jacks, squat press with the 5kg dumbell, jump rope (without actually having a skipping rope) and ‘rest’ position (aka stress position). That session went alright. it was tough but I managed to get through it. I ended with one minute rest,

The second circuit really hurt. I did ten minutes of burpees, Turkish get-ups, skates, crawl outs, ski jumps and side plank. It was the burpees that really caused my stomach to complain about the chocolate cake; I got serious acid burn. But I guess that’s what happens when your diet isn’t quite as healthy as it should be. Again, I ended with one minute rest.

I started to feel good during my third circuit. I hit my stride as I completed ten minutes of standing climb, leap frogs, high knees, pull-ups (I completed a set of 5 followed by a set of 3), quick feet where I dropped to the ground every 20 seconds and lunges. As with each set, I ended with one minute rest.

Set four was okay. The ten minute circuit consisted of standing on each leg, plank, running, jumping jacks and scissor jumps. By the scissor jumps I was glad that the fifth set would be my last. Like the previous sets, I completed set four at about 65% capacity. I ended with a one minute rest.

Set five was a real test of endurance and commitment. The ten minute set consisted of burpees, chin ups (I only managed 5 this time), skates, squat jumps onto the bench, ski jumps and lunges. I was so glad to see the back of the set and the session.

I finished the whole session with five minutes of stretching and cooling down before jumping back on my bike to ride the 1.6km home.

While the session was tough, despite only doing it at about 65% capacity, it felt good to complete it. I have fresh new goals for the 2012-13 season and I know this strength work is going to prepare me to achieve more than just Tough Mudder. I know it’s going to make me strong enough to achieve what is now my ultimate season goal: to run the NorthFace 100 within 20 hours so I can qualify for the Cradle Mountain Run in 2014. That’s good incentive to keep at the Tough Mudder sessions too.