A Jim of All Trades

Working Out Recently (Part 2 – Lifting)

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Though I’ve spent a lot of time running, biking and training for races recently, I’ve still been weight lifting routinely too. I really enjoy lifting; I’ve been doing it for a long time and can’t imagine stopping any time soon, but over the past year or so my approach and goals for lifting have been changing. I don’t lift to supplement my racing goals, but I don’t really lift for power or for gaining mass like I used to, either.

So why am I lifting then? Well, I guess, just because I enjoy it and don’t want to stop. It no doubt does help me stay healthy and I don’t think it really hinders my running or biking because I’m not an overly big guy. If I lost some mass I’d definitely be lighter on my feet/wheels, but my can’t imagine it making that big of a difference considering I improving in the races I do. If I plateau in that training, maybe then I’d consider scaling the lifting back significantly, but until then I’m going to continue.

Anyway, last year after I finished up the 5-3-1 lifting program I came to the realization that the I’m never going to be a power lifter. I have trouble putting on size and gaining much strength, and lifting like that really took a toll on my body. I have a bad knee that was always sore, my back was always tight, and my legs were too stiff to be able to run and bike enjoyably. So I made the decision to stop lifting hard like that. Truth be told, I haven’t lifted my legs since I finished that program last August. I don’t regret that decision at all; it’s great not being sore and stiff all the time and my running and biking is going well. Guess it comes down to priorities.

But like I said, I still am lifting regularly, just differently than before.

For the past several months I’ve been lifting four times a week. I mostly focus on a single muscle group per workout, and I’ve been super-setting the same muscle group. It really makes for a tough workout, while keeping the time in the gym to a minimum. To give some examples, on my chest day I’ll do a set of explosive push ups (thrust yourself up so your hands come off the floor) followed immediately by a set of bench pressing. I’ll then wait about two minutes before repeating. I’ll usually do a total of four super-sets before moving to different exercises. Then I might incline press with dumbbells followed immediately by incline press with a bar, then rest and repeat. You can do three or four groups of exercises like this, doing three or four super-sets for each, and leave the gym feeling pumped and like you really accomplished something in only about 45 minutes.

To me it’s a really challenging and rewarding workout. My strength gains have been pretty minimal working out like this, but my muscular endurance has improved and I’ve noticed slightly better size and definition in some areas. I usually try to super-set different types of exercises so I’m not working the muscle out the exact same way between both. Like doing push ups and benching, or when doing my biceps I might do an isolation lift followed by a compound lift (curls for the first set, then reverse grip pull ups for the second). You’ll always be fatigued in the second set of the super-set, having already worked the muscle out pretty hard, so you need to use a weight lower than what you’d normally do. I’ve been trying to keep my rep ranges between six and eight, maybe up to ten depending on the exercise. I don’t lift to failure but do use weights that I struggle with on the last couple reps.

My weekly schedule usually looks like this:

Monday: Chest
Tuesday: Biceps
Wednesday: Has been an off day where I did extra cardio, but I’m going to start doing some leg lifts again
Thursday: Triceps
Friday: Shoulders and Back – this is the only day where I do two muscle groups in the same workout. I still do super-sets but do them “traditionally,” doing my shoulders first then my back.

I mix in ab work one or two days as well.

This schedule has been working well for me and I’m going to keep with it for a while. I’m also going to start doing some light leg lifts once a week through the rest of the year. It shouldn’t hurt anything and slightly stronger legs might help my racing a little next year. I don’t plan on doing super-sets or anything crazy for my legs, I’ll probably just do two or three different exercises, three sets each. After the New Year I’ll stop lifting them again as I focus on training for an April race.

If you’re looking for a way to mix up your workout routine I’d recommend giving this a shot. It’s challenging if you’re not used to super-sets, but you’ll leave the gym knowing you worked out.

Thanks for reading and happy lifting!


Written by Jim

October 6, 2014 at 10:47 pm

One Response

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  1. Oh wow! I hadn’t realized you weren’t lifting legs at all, that’s great that you’ve been saving them for running and biking. Good post on your super-sets! I’ll have to try!


    October 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm


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