Thoughts on Current Physical Fitness Training Program, July 2016

Bottom Line Up Front: This is a summary and explanation of my physical fitness training program as of July 2016.

Physical Fitness Training Program

Photo Credit: tmac2272 via Compfight cc

Background

Before I tell you about what I’m doing for physical training, I should tell you why I am doing it. It is important to understand the goals of the person and the objectives of the training program.

My goal has been and will probably always be to maintain a baseline of General Physical Preparedness (GPP). This is sort of what everyone doing “functional fitness” is trying to do. Physically Fit means to be good across the spectrum. See more on my definition of Physical Fitness here if interested. I also am interested in staying healthy with acceptable performance. It is possible to train for max performance at the expense of health so this is an important caveat. I would train more and harder at the expense of something else in my life or at the expense of my long-term overall physical health.

At times, there are some specific things I want to be good at that may pull me in one direction over another but that doesn’t mean I ignore the other parts. It means I shift focus from 20% focus on something (say strength) to 10%. I then take that free 10% and focus it elsewhere.

For example, I am planning a mountain archery elk hunt. The physical skills for that become something I would tailor my training towards. I would maintain by baseline GPP but then do more walking with a weighted pack over steep terrain. If I were going to run a marathon (did it already and it is stupid but for the sake of example), I would not stop squatting heavy or sprinting. I would just be running long distance more and doing those other things less.

The bottom line is my routine is for GPP. The weekend work I do is heavily focused on my elk hunt though it is the kind of training that would still be useful any time honestly whereas the marathon training would not be useful for health and longevity. I think everyone should be training with a GPP baseline but that’s another article for another time.

As I briefly introduced in What I’m Up To Now, June 2016, currently I am using a framework as follows and have been for about 6 months:

General Overview

  • Monday: Strength (lift heavy things, something like 5 sets of 5, whole body – push, pull, hinge, squat).
  • Tuesday: Speed (sprints on rower, bike or running)
  • Wednesday: Muscular endurance & work capacity (conditioning circuit, some like a 15-30 min rotation through various movements)
  • Thursday: Cardiovascular Endurance (row, bike, or run 20-40 mins at steady state, 70-80% max heart rate)
  • Friday: Strength (like Monday with focus on different muscle groups)
  • Weekend: Ruck, walk, spend time outdoors. Sometimes do some chassis work (explanation below).

Specific Execution

Caveat: I have been following a total body routine. It is built around the fundamental movements of Push, Pull, Hinge, and Squat. I will introduce this concept for those unfamiliar now:

Push = Pushing resistance away from you, horizontally (chest press) and vertically (overhead press)
Pull = Pulling resistance towards you, horizontally (row) and vertically (pull-up)
Hinge = Predominantly hip extension, less knee movement (kettlebell swing, clean, snatch, deadlift)
Squat = Predominantly knee extension, less hip/back extension (squat, lunge)

Monday – Total body routine using push, pull, hinge, squat framework. One movement each. Varying rep scheme of multiple sets usually less than 5 reps. I change the rep scheme every few weeks based on feel. No set plan. Examples would be 5 sets of 5 (5×5) or 5×3, or 5-4-3-2-1 (1st set of 5, then set of 4 then set of 3, etc.). To ensure variation across workouts, Monday’s work is specifically a vertical push, a vertical pull, a deadlift variation, and a lunge variation. I am trying to include a vertical and horizontal push and pull each week, trying to do one unilateral (lunge) and one bilateral squat (back squat), and trying to do one deadlift for hinge and then one clean or snatch.

Tuesday – I most typically run sprints here for about 20 minutes (this includes rest of course). Lot of options to mix this up like timed sprints 1:1 ratio such as 60 second sprint, 60 second rest or 1:2 (60 sec sprint/120 sec rest). You can do fixed distance sprints with no prescribed rest (6 x 400m sprints). You can do the same for swimming, biking, jumping rope, or rowing.

Wednesday – These are typically longer conditioning workouts meant to stress muscular endurance with repeated contractions without rest. I usually put two movements from push, pull, hinge, or squat with one chassis (aka core). So something like Pull, Squat, Chassis one week then Push, Hinge, Chassis then next. Minimum time is 15 minutes and as high as 30 minutes. How long is based on feel that day.

Thursday – Objective is cardiovascular endurance, so run, bike, or row for at least 20 minutes up to 40 at a low intensity.

Friday – This workout complements Monday’s workout and hits all the other movements on the checklist for strength that weren’t done on Monday. Horizontal pull (row), horizontal push (floor press), bilateral squat (front squat), and clean or snatch for hinge. Same rep scheme I use on Monday would be used here.

Saturday & Sunday – I usually do 1-2 long walks with a weighted pack (30 minutes minimum up to hours). 40lb pack is pretty common. If I am out hiking in the woods, I take a 25-30lb pack out for many hours at a time. If I am at home hanging around (nothing specific to do), I work out in the garage gym. I would choose to do things that are abnormal or supplementary like carries, holds, steel mace work, steel bell work, direct arm work, chassis work, etc.

Chassis Work

This is a concept I adopted from Rob Shaul at Mountain Tactical Institute from posts such as this one. Basically the chassis is the frame of the body, the core that everything else is built upon. We are talking abs and lower back here. While you get a ton of core work from overhead pressing or squatting or deadlifting, these are complementing them. I took what Rob was doing and organized it differently but used it similarly.

I do a chassis workout 2-3 times per week. Right now that looks like 3 movements done back to back to back for 10-20 minutes. I do this after Monday’s and Friday’s workouts, then one more day. I will do it more often if I can/care to. I think this kind of conditioning can be done frequently whereas I wouldn’t sprint every day or lift heavy every day.

I organized all true chassis movements into the following 5 categories. Note you can search YouTube for any movements you don’t know. Many are on Mtn Tactical’s channel.

  • Total Core – Complex/engages too many areas all at once to be subcategorized.
    • Ex. Turkish Get-up, Med ball/Sandbag toss and chase, Med ball slams, Sandbag keg lift
  • Bottom Up – Lower torso static, upper torso moves.
    • Ex. any sit-up variation, back extension
  • Top Down – Upper torso static, lower torso moves.
    • Ex. toes to bar, knees to elbows, leg raises, reverse hypers
  • Static – Core maintains isometric position (no moving)
    • Ex. L-sit, any plank variation (front, side, back, on elbows, on hands, weighted, etc.), kettlebell slasher to halo
    • NOTE: You can make static holds anti-rotational or anti-lateral flexion. For anti-rotation, you rotate in horizontal plane with a band and hold as the band tries to pull in the opposite direction. For anti-lateral flexion, one arm deadlift or one-hand suitcase carry/hold.
  • Rotational – Twisting left and right
    • Ex. Russian twist, med ball pass, rotational med ball throws

There is a lot of bleed over here, I know. There may be more categories but I don’t think there’s a need for them. The reason I have categories is to ensure my chassis work gets after each movement category over time and keeps me capable across the physical spectrum.

How I use these categories is I pick 3 (why 3? No reason, just feels like the right number to keep me interested) and rotate through them for a set number of rounds or a set time.

For example:

10 x Sandbag keg lift
10 x Toes to bar
30 second plank hold

Repeat for 15 minutes.

I usually do one Total Core, then pick two others. I love picking up and throwing sandbags (60lbs usually) or 50lb slam balls filled with sand. Turkish get-ups are also a training staple of mine.

Summary

All in all that is what I do in a given week of training. I honestly think this is a solid foundation for lifelong training that can be adopted by anyone with any goals. It is a strong baseline GPP program, keeps me interested yet forces me to do some things I don’t enjoy doing. Let me know if you have any questions.

QUESTION: Does the program you are on focus on GPP? Why or why not? Post thoughts to comments.