Two Tiers, Revisited

As you have read earlier this year, my new, freshly revised training regimen reflects a two-tiered approach to training. Up to now, though, the "two tiered" aspect of the training hasn't been immediately obvious.

Let's take a closer look at the twice-a-day exercise regimen and try to understand it as a two-tiered fitness approach. These two tiers, expressed as two daily workouts, are analogous to the three levels in last year's marathon training regimen. The difference between Level 2 and Level 3 was the inclusion of the morning workouts.

Tier 1: Strength Training
We can just as easily go the other way. Rather than opting out of the morning workouts, we can opt out of the evening workouts. Doing that, of course, we are no longer training for a marathon, but that would certainly be appropriate for someone who is focused on strength training. Hence the 2012 program contains a built-in strength training tier in the morning workouts.

These Tier 1 workouts start with minimal cardio and some plyometrics. As the regimen proceeds, we phase in regular - but light - cardiovascular exercise in the form of jumping rope or running. One who is focused on building strength will likely not need any more cardiovascular exercise than that.

But I do recommend maintaining the cardio across Tier 1. These days, the strength training fad is to opt out of cardio. Doing so, however, detracts from an important step in strength training: fat-burning. True, a few well-placed HIIT workouts pack a better fat-burning punch than a few morning runs. But I have yet to see any evidence for the superiority of long-term HIIT compared with long-term endurance training. Frankly, it is a lot easier on your body to go for an easy run 3 times a week than to crush through two HIIT workouts per week. It's easier on your mind, too.

Running has the added benefit of strengthening your abs in a way that crunches, planks, etc. cannot. Running improves the strength of your oblique muscles while you burn fat. What could be better than that?

Tier 2: Endurance Training
Nevertheless, if you opt out of Tier 1, you're presented with the same Level 2 evening endurance workouts we had in last year's training regimen. We can call this Tier 2 - an endurance program for people seeking to perhaps complete their second-ever marathon.

1 + 2 = 3
Putting it all together gives you a Level 3 training regimen for a more experienced marathon runner seeking to get a leg up on the competition. Or, perhaps, someone uninterested in running a marathon who is simply looking for a long-term plan to shed fat, build muscle, and get in the best shape of his/her life!

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