Workout diary: Sun 23 Feb 2014

Time for another workout diary. I’ll keep adding these as and when to give a flavour of how my workouts come together and switch up a gear.

Strength training

  • Close grip chin ups
  • – a bodyweight move to focus the mind and mobilize the back ready for…

  • Deadlifts
  • – this week’s BIG compound exercise. I’ll generally switch between deadlifts and power cleans; picking one of these exercises to concentrate on each week. Update – those deadlifts really bite 24 hours after the event. Without a doubt, you can initiate a ton of muscle growth with nothing more than a barbell and some plates –

    “A barbell can and will transform a human body dramatically, radically, and quickly if the right exercises are performed using the proper techniques and protocols,” Marty Gallagher of The Iron Bible

  • Cable front raise (performed one arm at a time)
  • – shoulders, front

  • Cable lateral raise (performed one arm at a time)
  • – shoulders, side

  • Seated row close grip
  • – and more shoulders, rear, with some back and biceps, which leads nicely to…

  • A sequence of –
  • #1. Reverse (pronated) grip bicep curls using a cable and straight bar attachment
    – Why the reverse grip? I’ll let Mike Robertson of’s Built by Science – Daily Trainer explain,

    “As soon as you go into a pronated grip, you lose the mechanical advantage of your biceps. In this position, your brachioradialis has a very strong line of pull.”

    In other words, it’s a neat way to emphasise the forearm (the Built by Science series does a great job of running through the anatomy on this and much more, and is well worth checking out for free on YouTube).

    #2. Normal (supinated) grip bicep curls using a cable and straight bar attachment
    – now it’s time to fully power up the biceps, which I pair with some tricep work, namely –
    #3. Single arm cable tricep extensions

    Next up is core, which I’m now trying to hit at least once in every workout (towards the end of the session, when the heavy lifting is ticked off the list).

  • Side-plank knee-to-chest (feet elevated on a bosu, 2 sets of 10 for each side, alternating after each set)
  • I pulled these into the session after seeing Galen Rupp’s weight room routine on Flotrack, via James Dunne’s Kinetic Rev site.

    This a tough exercise and will soon highlight any strength imbalances between left and right sides, which is an area I need to work on.

  • Chest fly machine
  • – I jumped on this for a couple of sets just to fill in some gaps from last Thursday’s press-focused workout, and to give my core a few minutes rest after those side-plank moves.

  • Wide grip lateral pulldowns
  • – Getting to the end of the strength session now. As in the last workout diary, I’m keeping the weight lighter rather than heavier for these pulldowns. Adding enough kg’s to stretch out the back after the deadlifts earlier in the session.

    20 min of 2 min easy / 2 min easy-moderate
    – my slow build up towards this year’s 10k race series (starting May)

    Related reading on workingouttheworkout

    Workout diary: Thu 23 Jan 2014

    10k reboot: turning back the clock


Workout diary: Thu 23 Jan 2014

I’ve got a 3 hour company meeting tomorrow, which is a lot of sitting down time! Not good, unless I’m recovering from a workout ; ) Quick, let’s bring Friday’s session forwards and get to the gym!

Here’s how this evening’s workout played out –

First up, deadlift, beginning with a light warm-up set and then increasing the weight. It’s a whole body exercise, recruiting large muscle groups, so I place it first on the list and hit it while I’m fresh. Rippetoe’s tips on deadlift stance are spot on. As you begin the move, it might feel like you’re leaning too far forward over the bar, but the setup works a treat. Deadlifts build great forearm strength and will improve your grip no end.

Next, some lateral pull-downs (wide grip). Nothing heavy, the motivation here is mainly to stretch-out the back after those deadlifts.

And now onto shoulders, which I’ve decided will be the focus of this evening’s workout. First up here – seated shoulder press machine. I want to lift fairly heavy, and make sure that my shoulders are doing most of the work, which is the thinking behind picking a machine in this case over free weights. For the sets, I’ll pyramid the weight up and down, aiming to peak for the heaviest set.

After the shoulder presses it’s back to the lateral pull-downs, again to stretch out the back.

From here, it’s onto cable lateral raises to work the medial (or middle) deltoid, hitting the exercise one arm at a time. Then I switch to front cable raises to work the anterior (or front) deltoid, again doing the move one arm at a time. I’ll run through these exercises one after the other until my shoulders are well and truly cooked.

Now, time for some cardio in the shape of a light run. I’ve got some 10k races lined up starting early summer and so it’s time to progress up the training curve. The plan this year is to work first on running duration and then build up the speed. At the moment I’m running for 20 mins at easy-easy pace and will up this 30 mins over the next couple of weeks, before speeding things up. My PB is 39m51s (or something like that), so my body needs to be happy for running for 40 minutes at a time (at least).

Finally, it’s over to the rowing machine for a go at the O’Neill test to lay down a marker (you can see my result in the updated section of yesterday’s “how to row” post).

Workout summary
• Deadlifts
• Lateral pull-downs (wide grip)
• Seated shoulder press machine
• Lateral pull-downs (wide grip)
• Cable lateral raises (front)
• Cable lateral raises (side)
• 20 mins treadmill (easy-easy pace)
• Rowing machine (O’Neill test)