Monday, December 1, 2014

UltraPedestrian Training Challenge

UltraPedestrian Training Challenge:

Winter Strength Training For Bipedal Hominids


photo by Chihping Fu
by Ras

     Winter is a great time to change things up on your training. Throughout most of the year a lot of my training is 'Lifestyle Training,' meaning physical conditioning resulting from the way I live my life. Forest thinning, cutting firewood, trail work, climbing scaffolding and balancing on ladders wearing a heavy tool belt, hiking saws and tools around, building fence, and other physically demanding labor provide me with both strength training and 'time on my feet,' which contributes to endurance. 

     The decreased employment of the snowy winter months is the perfect opportunity to focus on specific aspects of strength training and cross training that don't get targeted during the busy trail season. This winter 2014/2015 I'll continue with what has worked well for me in years past, including running in the snow unweighted, with a weighted pack, and occasionally dragging a tire; Fartlek Fridays; cross-country skiing; and a small amount of trials bike riding, jiu-jitsu, and kickboxing. In addition this winter, I've planned out a regimen making use of 30 Day Challenges of increasing difficulty to build strength throughout my structure with an emphasis on my legs, but with enough core and upper body work to balance it out.


Turning Adaptability To Your Advantage

     The success of Human Beings as a species can fairly accurately be ascribed to a single broad trait: adaptability. We are amazingly adaptable on every level: physiologically, psychologically, socially, environmentally, and in a myriad other ways. We thrive when challenged. Ease slowly kills us.

     In training this can turn against us. Doing a set amount of exercise that requires a set amount of effort on a regular schedule quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns. The human body adapts so well that a regular and unvarying fitness regimen is downgraded in the body's perception from a challenge to nothing more than the expected workload. To continue to reap benefits, the type of exercise, duration of the workout, and required amount of effort need to be varied. New and different challenges will keep the body striving to adapt, thus increasing strength, fitness, and athleticism.

     Toward that end I planned out the below regimen for myself. Each 30 Challenge is, indeed, challenging. And every 30 days it changes and becomes slightly more difficult. My goal with this series of challenges is to give my body an optimum amount of time to adapt to and benefit from an exercise, and then change it up and step it up.



What An Amazing Time To Be Alive

     The interwebs are an amazing training tool. By just performing simple searches on YouTube, the average person nowadays has access to training tips and video tutorials that are exponentially more varied, detailed, and abundant than what was available to professional coaches and trainers just a decade ago.

     If you want to participate in any of the 30 Day Challenges I'm using to train this winter, simply search up on YouTube how to do the exercises. Watch a number of videos from a variety of instructors. Note their differences and similarities in form, technique, and methodology. Then feel free to choose the version of the exercise that best fits your fitness level and training goals. Each of the graphics below includes Optional Badassedness, simple tweaks to make the workout more challenging, but feel free to create your own or use a method from a video. The main thing I want to put across here is that there is an amazing amount of information available online for free. Doing your own research to develop a custom training plan is astonishingly simple in this day. Take a little time and start becoming an expert on a topic no one else can know better: yourself.


     For all of these exercises you can find both easier and more difficult variations. For example, if you aren't quite up to full push ups, you can do the variation pivoting on your knees instead of your toes. Or if your push ups are rock solid and you have a lot of upper body fitness, you can include a stability ball or dumbells or kettlebells. You can customize each challenge to fit your needs, or even vary them from day to day to keep it interesting and accommodate your other training, which may vary in intensity and, thus, the wear and tear you take.

     At the beginning of each month I will post the graphic for the challenge(s) I'm doing on my personal facebook page, and will post frequent updates on my progress and what optional badassedness I am doing, if any, to keep me accountable. I will use the hashtag #UPtrainingChallenge, and anyone who wants to join in can do the same. Share the graphic out on your social media and use the #UPtrainingChallenge hashtag so we can keep track of one another's progress. 
       
Challenge #1: November
30 Day Squat Challenge

     I have somewhat weak glutes, so when Kathy suggested a 30 Day Squat Challenge, I jumped on board, beginning November 1st. I was able to complete every set on the assigned day, erring on the side of caution on a couple of occasions and doing a few more than necessary when I couldn't recall the exact amount for the day. I've definitely been feeling this in my quads and glutes. And these Challenges are great mind training, as well. Many of the days I didn't want to do my allotted squats, and making myself do them when I was unmotivated also exercised the mental skillset that helps keep me moving deep into a race, adventure run, or thru-hike.


graphic by Ras/UltraPedestrian.com




Challenge #2: December
30 Day Lunge Challenge &
30 Day Push Up Challenge

     In Challenge #1 I built up some new leg musculature. For Challenge #2 my goal is to use Lunges to maintain that strength and build more, while refining the focus to movement more specific to hiking and running. I'm doing to stated number of lunges per leg, so for day 1 that's 20 lunges per leg for a total of 40. And I am doing walking lunges; again, in order to more closely mimic the movements for which I'm training.


graphic by Ras/UltraPedestrian.com

     During December I'm doubling up by including a push up challenge in order to bolster my upper body fitness in preparation for January's challenge. The goals below are modest and should be fairly doable.


graphic by Ras/UltraPedestrian.com




Challenge #3: January
30 Day Burpee Challenge

     January's Burpee Challenge promises to be a difficult one. Widely considered one of the best all around workouts, burpees are a great old school body weight exercise that can be done anywhere there is room. As far as straight strength training for the legs, this is letting off the throttle a little bit from November's Squat Challenge and December's Lunge Challenge. But by doing full fledged burpees, with a push up in the middle and a jump at the end, I'll be stepping up my core fitness as well as building some explosiveness in my legs, all in preparation for February's Extreme Squat Challenge & Dip Challenge Psycho Double.

graphic by Ras/UltraPedestrian.com




Challenge #4: February
30 Day Extreme Squat Challenge &
30 Day Dip Challenge

     The numbers on this one are intimidating and promise to push me toward my limits. But I was able to complete November's Squat Challenge handily. So beginning this challenge with the final number of reps from November's challenge seems like a logical progression, and a great way to round out my winter's strength training.

graphic by Ras/UltraPedestrian.com

     I use trekking poles when running and hiking, so I chose this Dip Challenge specifically to target my upper body in a way that will apply directly to poling. I use my own poling technique I've developed which differs slightly from traditional nordic skiing type poling. Rather than using long poles and reaching forward with them to pull myself, I use short poles and plant them even with my feet or slightly behind and push myself forward. In essence, I use the poles to tip myself forward, helping perpetuate the forward lean at the ankles which is the foundation of the physics of my form. I included this Dip Challenge in my plan to build strength specific to this technique, as well as to keep my structure in balance in light of the heavy leg workload I am taking on with the Extreme Squat Challenge (above). I chose a plan where the rest days coincide with the rest days for the squat challenge that I am doing simultaneously.  

graphic by Ras/UltraPedestrian.com



Go Ahead, Call Your Shot

     One of my favorite parts of a Fastest Known Time attempt is posting the goal ahead of time. Publicly stating what you hope to achieve, and then dealing with all the ramifications of publicly declaring it, is part of the thrill and part of the risk. These, and numerous other, 30 Day Challenges are a fun way to do that same thing on a smaller scale. Posting a workout online and publicly declaring your intention to complete it is a little bit of a risk, but not a huge one. However, the knowledge that others are watching my progress helps keep me focused and livicated and pursuing my goal. On more than a few occasions during November's Squat Challenge, I did my squats at 11:30 at night, right before bed, in my underwear, because I knew I would have to answer for it if I didn't complete that day's set.

     So please feel free to follow my workouts on my personal facebook page, and be sure and call me out if you catch me slacking! 



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