Effective Strength Training Splits:
There are many options to choose from as shown in the image below and you’re not just limited to these examples. You can see how various training splits can be structured per these examples.
However, which type of split and training frequency provides the most benefit?
My simple answer: the one you can stick to.
But, personally, I’ve been reaping huge rewards from a Push (chest, shoulders, triceps) / Pull (back, rear delts, biceps) / Legs (including calves) routine with core built into every session. Hitting every major muscle group twice per week is an optimal growth stimulus.
Note: I only do legs once per week because I cycle 3-4 times per week which is taxing on the legs.
Don’t forget to rest! Recovery is a crucial part of progress!
My current schedule (just for reference) looks like this:
Monday: Push “Routine A” / Cycle 45 min
Tuesday: Pull “Routine A” / Cycle 45 min
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: Push “Routine B” / Cycle 45 min
Friday: Pull “Routine B” / Cycle 45 min
Sunday: Rest Day
Feel welcome to post or send questions! Happy to help if you’re wondering how to set up a program.
Cardio Tip: Interval Training
Interval training is hard. Interval training is uncomfortable. And...well, it’s just better. In simple terms, interval training is a method of conditioning that alternates periods of work with periods of recovery—it’s the opposite of steady state cardio. Interval training develops aerobic capacity better than steady state aerobic training. The fastest way to raise VO2 max, our standard measure of aerobic fitness is through interval training.
Side note: steady state cardio definitely has its place—great for recovery or if you’re an endurance athlete, then long steady state training is very important.
The complicated part of interval training is figuring out the rest and work ratios. But it doesn’t have to be complicated if you use heart rate.
I prefer heart rate based methods of dictating work to rest ratios as opposed to arbitrary time based intervals because with time based intervals, we have no idea what’s happening inside the body and we may either work TOO hard or not hard enough—it’s easy to either over work and under rest or under work and over rest. Get yourself a heart rate monitor and use that — to use this method, have an idea of your max heart rate and select an appropriate recovery heart rate—I use 60% of theoretical max heart rate as my recovery. Note—if you use a HR calculator/formula to calculate your max HR, understand that at least 70% of the population does not fit into the theoretical calculations of the commonly used 220–age maximum heart rate formula. My actual max HR is higher than the formula based max HR for my age—I know this because, well I’ve exceeded the formula based maxHR and I’m still here. Do the formula based version anyway to have a ballpark idea. Note your heart rate immediately after completing your first hard work interval. During a HIIT work effort, you want to hit 80% or more of your estimated max HR. The recovery is set by the time it takes to return back to the recovery heart rate (~55-60% max HR). You’ll notice that initial recovery after the first interval may be rapid, but subsequent intervals may require slightly longer rest periods.
How many intervals should you do? Start small and build up—your first several sessions might include only 3 total intervals. And then, you might add an extra interval for several more sessions. Gradually, you can build up your total number of intervals. Note: up to 20-30 total HIIT session minutes is sufficient — you don’t need to go beyond this.
When to do it? I usually do 10-15 total minutes right after a strength training workout (rest is included in the total time so actual work time might only be 5-7 minutes).
Find a modality you enjoy—I love sled push sprints. The AirDyne Bike is great too—it’s probably one of the best modalities because it’s non-impact, safe for everyone and uses both the legs & arms effectively raising heart rate. Mix it up though—don’t always do the same thing—have a few options to rotate through—battle ropes and sleds, treadmill or track sprints, Assault Bike (AirDyne) sprints, etc. I do not recommend elliptical machines or stair climbers for HIIT/interval training.
VERY IMPORTANT— WARM UP THOROUGHLY BEFORE INTERVAL TRAINING
EXERCISE AND MEDICATION MAY REQUIRE YOU TO ADJUST YOUR HEART RATE. A common example is a group of drugs called beta-blockers, prescribed for patients with heart problems and high blood pressure. This drug reduces both the resting and exercise heart rate, although not always by the same amount. In some cases, a person can workout much harder without the heart rate elevating even into the aerobic zone. In this case, exercising at 125 beats per minute, for example, may be the same as 155 without the medication—so if your max aerobic heart rate is 140, you can easily be overtraining at 125. In fact, some people are unable to attain their max aerobic heart rate while on a beta-blocker. Anti-arrhythmic drugs, calcium channel blockers, and other medications can sometimes reduce exercise heart rate as well. If you’re taking any prescription or over-the-counter drug, you should know whether it affects the heart rate. Some drugs raise the heart rate. These include thyroid medication, Ritalin and other amphetamines, and even caffeine, which is found in certain cold remedies, pain relievers, and, of course, coffee, tea, and some sodas. These drugs will often cause higher exercise heart rates, forcing you to slow down to maintain your maximum aerobic heart rate. This means that by following your heart rate you may have to reduce your exercise intensity.
NOTE: Before beginning any training regimen, make sure it is medically safe for you to do so. If you have any injury, disease, disability or other concerns about starting an exercise program, consult your healthcare provider first.
Questions always welcomed! And I’m always happy to take you through a conditioning workout!
Mini Band Exercise Series:
What can you do with mini-bands? So much! If you’ve been in one of my exercise groups, then you’ll be familiar with these bands. Attached are 3 exercise videos using mini bands and I’ll post more next week. Then, we’ll use exercises from this series to put together a complete workout!
Where do you find these? You can get them on Amazon delivered straight to your door! I have the Synergee Mini Band multipack. This brand is a little higher priced but shop around-you don’t need to spend a lot —just search for mini bands on Amazon. You’ll need some med/heavy bands for lower body and lighter bands for upper body.
Exercise Form Cues:
Mini Band Deadlifts:
Bend knees slightly, hinge forward from hips until chest is almost parallel to the floor, keeping back naturally straight and abs in tight. You should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings in the "down" position. Maintaining straight spine, engage your glutes to bring body back to start position
Mini Band Bent Over Back Row:
In a hinged position, row the mini bands up to your side, pulling with your back and driving your elbow back and up as you row. Keep your core tight as you row
Mini Band Stationary Lunges:
Be sure to keep your chest lifted, chin up and abs contracted so your back stays straight. During the lunge, make sure you’re balanced on your back toes and your front knee is in line with your ankle. Squeeze your glutes as you rise. If your knees bother you, decrease the depth to which you lunge. Only lunge in a pain free range of motion.
All exercises can be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates or resistance bands. If you don’t have any of those, then get creative! Use a backpack or fill up a jug of water and use that as your weight. A full gallon of water is heavy!
All exercises can be modified so please let me know if you need modifications or if you have any questions.
There are 3 parts to this workout. Each part is performed 3 times. This will take you 40-45 minutes.
If you try it, let me know!
Here’s an equipment free workout that you can do anywhere!
Substitutions / Modifications:
Burpees — substitutions (kettlebell swings; jumping jacks; jump squats; if jumping bothers your knees—take out the jump and do modified jacks or a squat to calf raise)
Pushups: Modify on knees or perform on an elevated surface or try wall pushups
Sit-up — substitutions (any style crunch or plank)
Air Squats (aka: bodyweight squats) — substitutions (Glute Bridge; Hip Thrusts; Wall Sit)
Mountain Climber — substitutions (high knees; plank with alternating side to side toe taps)
Get creative! This is only a template! Make up your own workouts with your own exercise ideas using the pyramid template!
Share your workouts with me if you try it!
20 Reps per exercise
Single Arm KB/DB/Band Row
SPRINT (one straightaway) & Jog Back
REST & REPEAT X 3
Bicep Curls (Dumbbells, KBs, or Bands)
SPRINT (one straightaway) & Jog Back
REST & REPEAT X 3
KB Swings X 20
Abs x 20—mix it up (med ball & mat)
REST & REPEAT X 3
How are you introducing yourself energetically?
Energy is a very real thing. What we feel inside we reflect outside. Your energy is contagious; make sure that's a good thing. Be an example of the standard you expect in others. Those who want to live on that same level will meet you there. Trust deeply that the people who belong in your life will find you and stay. Remember that your energy affects the room, so you have an opportunity to be intentional with your energy every time. You decide what you’d like to bring to the room. Having a great energy about you creates a positive presence. People want to be around those who have good vibes and don’t want to be around those with negative energy. If you don’t like what you’re broadcasting, then change the channel.
Creating a new field of energy is not only important to your personal health and well being but also to your life in general. Imagine the quality relationships, meaningful friendships, and opportunities you’ll create!
“Whatever you give is what you are. In order to inspire one must be inspired and to motivate one must be motivated. If we want to spread happiness, one must be happiness. And in order to love someone, we must be love itself. We cannot give what we are not ourselves.”
Ways to Improve Your Energy:
Relationships—If you want to make true energetic and personal change, begin hanging out with those you have a common future with, not a common past with. Often times we hinder our growth because we continue to surround ourselves with those who suck our energy dry. Take inventory of your relationships. The people you spend time with should fill you up, not drain you. If you know someone who sucks your energy just by virtue of their presence, beware. You could be dealing with an energy vampire. Get around people who uplift you, encourage you and inspire you to be a better version of who you already are.
Exercise – Movement is medicine and motion creates emotion. The more you move the better you’ll feel.
Feed Your Mind—Have a growth mindset...read, listen to podcasts or TedTalks...continue learning daily.
Set Goals...work towards them...and make progress—When you’re working towards a goal and are taking daily actions towards achieving your goal, you are going to feel accomplished. This energy will shine through whenever you’re around others.
4 + 1 Things I’ve learned in 41 years:
Starting this year, I’m starting a new birthday tradition...each year, I’ll add to a growing list of “things I’ve learned in life”. This year, I’m turning 41, so I’ll list my top 5 (4+1) personal pearls of life wisdom and I’ll add a new one each year (assuming I will hopefully grow wiser and not just older each passing year).
1. The company you keep impacts the life you lead. Choose wisely. Some people around us are energy vampires while others are energy boosters. Our bodies resonate like a tuning fork, that’s why their vibration impacts our own vibration.
“Relationships matter. The roles people play in your life will influence you so get serious about who you allow to affect you. Nurture those relationships in your circle that foster success and happiness, and continuously position yourself among change agents and thought leaders.” -Germany Kent
2. Life is all about the journey and less about the destination.
A lot of times we get so focused on our big dreams and goals, that we forget to enjoy this journey called life. Always remember that life is all about this moment. Life is all about the journey and less about the destination. So allow yourself to be present in everything you do. Allow yourself to enjoy each second of your life – to observe the world around you, the people present in your life and the beauty that is present within and all around you.
3. When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or whether you take them with GRATITUDE. We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, etc. Nothing in your life is guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love. This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant and everything is impermanent. So be grateful for who you have in your life and for what you have in your life right now!
The more we express our gratitude, the more things we will have to be grateful for.
The law of attraction works in all that is good and also in all that is bad, and it’s only up to us whether we choose to focus our attention on the negative or on the positive. Focus your attention on the many great things you have and you are grateful for, and you will see that the more you do that, the more reasons you will have to express your gratitude for.
4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset
Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there...until it isn’t. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to. Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely PREVENTABLE diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.
5. We are here to LOVE and human connection is what life is all about. Deep human connection is...the purpose and the result of a meaningful life and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity and humanity.
Learn to strengthen and deepen the important connections in your life.
Brene Brown, a professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, specializes in social connection, said in an interview that “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to.” We may think we want money, power, fame, beauty, eternal youth or a new car, but at the root of most of these desires is a need to belong, to be accepted, to connect with others and to be loved.
In a world full of people, what can be more beautiful than knowing how to form healthy relationships and establish deeper connections with those around us.
Cheers to 41 years...cheers to this beautiful journey we call life. I’m truly grateful for the beautiful people who have shared in my journey and filled my life with love!
Fit Nick's Blog
Welcome to my blog! Various topics related to fitness, health and wellness will be covered here.