Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Winter training - Seeing the light

Being ridiculously dark and cold in Ireland at the moment, most of the training is spent in the gym.  The odd sneaky surf was had, especially over the Christmas period as the Donegal coastline was battered by the famous winter storms that grabbed global headlines.

In the depths of winter, the focus is typically on heavy weights, aiming to build strength in major muscle groups and core through some compound exercises, namely bench press, squats, weighted chin ups, deadlifts, and lie-down rows. 

To keep on top of the fitness aspect, circuit training and spin are also built into the weights program.

Luckily I've a training partner, Emmet, who ensures that motivation is at an all time high. (or guilt if you don't make a training session). 

We're also lucky that we have a fully equipped gym with a large weights room in the basement of the office where we work. Checkout Energie Fitness Ballsbridge for more info.

From October to December, we undertook a 5x5x5 strength program, which we aimed to do at least twice a week.

This program was 5 exercises, each 5 times, each time 5 reps. Each week, the weight on each exercise was increased by 2.5kg, which allowed for constant strength increase but was small enough to be achievable week on week.

A typical session was:

  • Bench Press: 5 sets 5 reps
  • Deep Squats: 5 sets 5 reps
  • Weighted Chin Ups: 5 sets 5 reps
  • Deadlifts: 5 sets 5 reps
  • Lie Down Rows: 5 sets 5 reps
Needless to say, by the end of it you're pretty much ready to fall over with exhaustion. It's a great program however, and we saw constant progression in strength right up to the end of December.

Including the fitness element our typical week was then:
  • Monday: Strength Weights
  • Tuesday: Circuits
  • Wednesday: Spin
  • Thursday: Strength Weights
  • Friday: Kettlebells/TRX combination (killer end to the week)
  • Weekend - Any extra time on the water/running/etc.
With the start of the new year, and race season fast approaching, we extended the weights program to focus more on stamina, so instead of 5 reps, its now 10, with a corresponding weight drop to 75% of the highest weight. (E.g. if I was benching 100kg 5x5, this changed to 75kg 5x10).

Don't know if you heard me counting, but I did over a thousand

The first few weeks of this were so painful! The lactic acid build up towards the end of each set was almost too much to bear. 

A month in now, and we're managing to increase the weight on each exercise on alternate weeks. So upper body exercises get increased by 2.5kg on week 1 and remain that way for week 2, and lower body exercises get increased by 2.5kg on week 2 and remain that way for week 3 etc. 

We still include the circuits/spin/kettlebells as they are key for core strength and cardio. (Doesn't get any easier doing a kettlebell workout the day after deadlifts)

As the mornings and evenings get brighter, more time will be spent on the water and focusing on technique and paddle stamina, ahead of the racing season kick off in March.

On the diet front, in the run up to Christmas the weights were making me so hungry I was eating everything! A big focus was on protein intake to help aid repair and growth.

Since January however I've been focusing much more on complex carbs and trying to cut out the crap! (Hard to do after the Christmas period)

Snacking has been aided by Wyldsson Elite Nutrition, which Emmet introduced me to . Their fruit & nut tubes are perfect for when you need something to keep you going but don't want to eat something unhealthy.

A quick word of thanks to my sponsors  Jimmy Lewis UK & Ireland, and K4 Fins for their awesome support. Looking forward to the season ahead.

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