2011-08-31

When You Can't Do Cardio

There will always be times when you can’t get in a cardiovascular workout. Some examples:

·         You only have time for weights or cardio, not both.
·         You acquired an injury, perhaps while training for a marathon.
·         You fell ill with a chest cold.
·         Et cetera.

When precluded from participating in your favorite cardiovascular exercise regimen, you have a great opportunity to hit the weights. Well, for the past four weeks, I’ve been doing just that, and the results have been tangible.

So, today I’d like to start by describing my current (and temporary) workout regimen, discuss how I developed it, and provide a look at what the future holds for me in terms of exercise.

Part One: The Current Workout
I’ve been holding myself to a classic A-Day/B-Day weight-lifting schedule, as follows:

A-Day (Triceps, Abs, Chest, and Shoulders):
1.       Three sets of 35 push-ups. One set is a standard push-up, the second is a “wide-stance” push-up, the third is a tricep (or “triangle”) push-up.
2.       Three sets of 15 front-raises. I started at 10lbs., but have worked up to 15lbs.
3.       Three sets of 15 lateral raises.
4.       Three sets of 15 rear-deltoid raises.
5.       Three sets of 15 incline presses, holding 35lb. weights in each hand.
6.       Three sets of 15 chest presses, using a machine, at 90lbs.
7.       …and my usual abdominal routine, which you can find elsewhere on the blog.

B-Day (Biceps and Back):
1.       Three sets of 15 runners’ curls (15lbs).
2.       Three sets of 15 bent rows (35lbs per arm).
3.       Three sets of 15 lat pull-downs, preferably with a cable machine to work out each arm independently (90lbs).
4.       Three sets of 10 pull-ups.

On each day, I have been trying to get in whatever cardio I can, ranging from 10 to 40 minutes per day. I have also been taking the weekends off to help prevent fatigue.

As you can see, A-Days are a bit more involved than B-Days. While this probably isn’t optimal from a workout perspective, I find it psychologically beneficial because I can’t always psych myself up enough for intense strength training every day of the week. Having a bit of a reprieve is nice.

Part Two: Why That?
Workout design can be daunting for neophytes, but it’s really not that bad.

The first step is to identify your goals. Mine was to build some good upper-body mass until I could get back to running regularly.

The second step is to incorporate what you know about the human body. In this case, you don’t need to know much. All you really need to know is that your body has various parts: lower legs, thighs, quads, abs, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms. Easy, right?

The third step is the only really tricky part: Don’t over-work any one part. As you can see above, I only work out half my arm on any one day. On ab day, I lay off my back, and vice-versa. In order to succeed at dividing up your exercises like this, the only requirement is knowing what exercise works out which muscle groups (i.e. parts) and dividing them up accordingly.

Part Three: What’s Next?
My original intent was to change things up every two weeks, to keep my strength training fresh. Because I had the flu and went on an insulin pump, that didn’t work out, so now I’m at four weeks of the same thing. Next week will be time for a change.

I am enjoying the process of building upper body mass, even though I am now able to re-dedicate to some good cardio. So next week I plan on increasing the cardio significantly, but also maintaining a significant weights regimen, in an ongoing A-Day/B-Day pattern.

For now I think I will keep the basic idea, but swap-out some of the exercises. Rather than push-ups, I’ll bench press. I’ll keep the deltoid raises for another two weeks, but switch to military presses instead of incline presses. The chest press I’ll swap for a bench/free-weights version of the same thing.

On B-Days, I’ll swap the running curls for chin-ups, do some front-rows instead of bent rows, but keep the pull-ups and lat pull-downs.

In the mornings on both days, I’ll see about jumping rope; in the evenings, I’d like to run. On the weekends, I’ll lay off weights entirely and maybe get some biking or light running in.

I’ll post the specifics when I can.