My Version of Endurance Work (and other fun stuff)

“Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.”

Samuel Butler

"WOD Wall", at the ECU throwing complex

"WOD Wall", at the ECU throwing complex

Tuesday marked one full week since I’ve been in the gym.  This is nothing that I planned, really, just something that has come about organically, kicked-off by a four-day stint of being out-of-town.  Not that I’ve been inactive, mind you — far from it.  I did some Tabata sprinting while down in San Antonio (oh to be back in dry heat!).  Actually, the mini VaCa began with a mad dash (in very humid heat, thank you) from the RDU parking garage to gate 20-whatever in an ass-hat attempt at catching a (very nearly) missed flight.  Dropped off Meesus TTP at curb-side check-in with all intentions of yours truly having to wrangle a later gig.  As luck would have it though, Meesus TTP not only made the flight herself, but managed to get the two-seat emergency exit isle (best seats in the house, in my opinion) and plead my case long enough for me to complete the RDU steeple chase in what had to be record time.  Good thing I was sporting my Nike Frees that morning.  A bloody Mary on an empty stomach, by the way, is not a half bad post workout recovery drink 🙂 And thank you, Southwest Airlines, for not kicking-off the Raleigh to Nashville, early AM party, without me.

Anyway, being that the rains seem to have at least temporarily abated here in eastern NC — and with the days being still quite long — I was inspired to continue my streak of outdoor (and, after-work) workouts.  Here were my two most recent :

Endurance for a Sprinter

Here’s an oldie but goodie drawn from my football days.  Accomplishing this was seen as baseline conditioning for linebackers and DBs by the SWTSU coaching staff.  Coming into camp without this base level of endurance would give reason to “ramp up” the camp’s difficulty; akin to pouring gasoline on an already blazing inferno.   The premise here is simple enough: with a running clock set at 15 minutes, complete 15 100 yard sprints in less than 15 seconds each, beginning each sprint at the top of each new minute.  So 15 seconds (or less) of sprinting, followed by 45 seconds (or more, depending on the sprint time) of rest, for 15 rounds.  Piece of cake, huh?  Yeah, try it some time.  On Monday I did, and found that the ol’ coaching staff would’ve, to say the least, frowned on my performance; my later sprints having dipped into the 16, 17, and even 18 second range.  I think that with some directed effort, though, I could once again master this little test.  I followed this up with 15 pull-up bar muscle-up singles, each done as explosively as possible, and with a good minute or so rest between each while I watched the ECU Pirate football team run through their evening drills.  Of course, since I hucked the fixie up to ECU to begin with, I then had to huck it back home again (if I wanted to eat); this time with a pair of rubbery legs.

A little of this, and a little of that…

Tuesday after work I headed back up to the ECU sporting complex.  I had no real plan in mind, figuring I’d put something together once I got there.  Here’s what I came up with:

  • Weighted overhead lunge, 90 lbs x 1 “runway” (a “runway” being approximately 70 feet)
  • Weighted explosive lunge, 45 lbs x 2 runways (apprx. 30 sec’s rest between trips)
  • Reverse grip, pull-up bar muscle-ups x 2
  • Elevated feet ring flyes x 8
  • Weighted “Jacks”, 45 lbs x 10

4 full rounds

Yeah, so that was an ass-kicker sure enough.  The explosive lunges were done with a 45 lb plate held at chest level (but not against the chest),attempting to get as much distance as possible with each lunge.  For the weighted Jacks, I again used a 45 lb plate in an explosive “pull-through” motion (see the Craig Ballantyne clip below) leading into a vertical jump, attempting to attain max height with each jump.

You can do this move for distance (either forward or backward) as well, with the proper, overhead “catch” being a self-regulating factor.  This is a nice, explosive hamstring movement.  And it certainly didn’t make the follow-up lunges any easier 🙂

In health,


9 responses to “My Version of Endurance Work (and other fun stuff)

  1. Man–my air travel back and forth to the Springs has been like that for the last month or two. Sprints from one side of the airport to the other, near misses–big misses (due to arriving *after* the connecting flight has already left), etc.

    This last trip back from the Springs found me staying an extra day out there awaiting a flight that was *not* delayed… yeesh.

    Ah, well, glad to see you’re getting some training in at the ‘port, too. 😀


    • The thing about running in, through and around airports nowadays is that you set yourself up for catching a bullet or two. Just adds to the fun and excitement I suppose 🙂

  2. Hey Keith,

    Have you ever had any experience with lower back problems? I’m 21 years old, about my 2nd year into seriously doing weights, and ever since I did some overly-excited dead lifts (they’re just so darn fun) about a month ago after having not done them for a while, my lower back “bothers” me every time I do squats or deadlifts. It’s not a pain, per se, and it never effects the workout, but the next couple days it’s…noticeable. It’s a stiffness that borders on uncomfortable at certain times and since I’ve never had a real injury I’m not sure exactly what you’d call this, but I’d really appreciate any insight you might have on not bothering it further and/or fixing the problem. This early in my weightlifting journey I don’t want to have to sacrifice some of the best mass building exercises because I didn’t warm up properly one time.

    Thanks a lot,


    • If you’re relatively tall (which, having not seen you, I’d wager you are), the lower back is vulnerable in the squat and deadlift motions. Make sure, of course, that your form is correct in each movement. One thing you might want to try, at least until you get your lower back strengthened a bit, is to shift to front squats and/or split squats. Both are excellent and, in fact, I prefer these movements to the regular back squat. The front squat will force you into a more upright position and the split squats will as well — along with being able to reduce the overall load on your back (with still hammering your legs a-plenty). Take a break from DLs for a while and substitute with good mornings, pull-throughs, and GHRs to get your lower back/hamstrings strengthened a bit. When you do go back to DLs, begin with the “low pull” version of the lift. This will allow you to use a lower weight, but the movement is done quickly, so as to emphasis power generation in the movement. After a while, you ought to be able to phase back in the heavier version. Note too, that you may just be overtraining your lower back if you’re currently performing heavy squats and heavy DLs in the same macrocycle. Squatty, powerfully built guys can get away with this — the taller/lankier you are, though, this just sets you up for a lower back disaster.

  3. Thanks, Keith.

    I am relatively tall, about 6’1, with a lankier build, and I suppose you’re right. No matter how much of a stickler for form I try to be the back squat with any kind of really challenging weight does cause a bit of lean forward. I’ve tried front squats but the pull on my wrists to keep my upper arms parallel was uncomfortable, do you have a recommendation on making that grip feel more natural?

    I usually organize my workout around either the squat, deadlift, split squat, push press, or snatch, using these big power movements as a base and then supplementing them with a pushing chest-dominant exercise (weighted dips, etc) and then a pulling back/biceps dominant like weighted pullups. My rest periods are usually two, if not three days between routine’s because I tend to get quite sore no matter how consistent I am with my workouts, and I take that as my body dictating my own training schedule. Would you recommend not mixing the exercises in this way, and focusing on one for an extended period of time, or macrocycle, or did you just mean don’t do both heavy DL’s and heavy squats in one workout?

    • I like the overall set-up of your workout plan, Justin, and I think the exercise mix is fine. One thing I would recommend, though (once you get your lower back strengthened a bit & you’ve phased back in heavy DLs) is to separate heavy squat and/or DL days by at least 10 days. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do other exercises/workouts, though; it just means — so as to not overtax your back (and to avoid overtraining in general) you shouldn’t pair these particular exercises in close proximity. Someone with a classic power/Oly lifting build can get away with it — someone with your build (and mine, as well) cannot, so we have to play to our strengths in some respect, be a little more creative.

      As far as the front squat/wrist flexibility issue, you just have to “train it”. I know of no other shortcuts to replace dynamic, heavy stretching of the wrists/shoulders in the rack position (daily, if possible). This is an issue everyone has to work through, akin to the growing pains involved in adopting a hook grip. The payoff for the time/effort investment is, in my opinion, well worth it, though.

  4. Thanks again, Keith. It’s good to know these things at the beginning my weight lifting career before I wear my body out (I hadn’t realized height was such a big factor in training). I had been hitting it hard and heavy every 3 days, which I thought was sufficient rest, but I suppose doing that is in fact over-training. Would circuit-like workouts with higher volume be a good alternative when not lifting heavy, ie, jump squats while holding a 45 pound plate, pushups, sprints, etc, focusing on speed, agility, and power with minimal rest?

    My goal since I began lifting was to build muscle mass, for being only about 155 at 6’1 I figured I could use about 10 lbs of good old muscle, so I went straight to the multi-joint mass building exercises, but I figure if I just stay paleo, eat plenty of protein and fat, the rest will take care of itself.

    • Yes, the notion of “train what you’re not good at” works well for someone who’s already an established weight training (or otherwise) athlete. Now, you still will want to sprinkle-in some heavy work (strength emphasis), but you’ll want to spread those type bouts out quite a bit (hence my 10-day suggestion). We also have to take into account what your goals are. Are you training for as a competitive athlete, with specific needs, or as someone who wants to be fit and healthy? Mapping out an effective training protocol is navigating the best rout through the terrain of genetics, frame, training history, goals and personal likes/dislikes. This inevitably involves some trial and error (though working with a solid knowledge base should minimize this), and it most certainly means that the end “plan” will be highly, highly individualized if it is to be truly effective.

  5. just re-reading this post and wanted to share a version of the pull through without a pulley:

    dumbell (or kettlebell) swings, but instead of letting the weight go through the legs (in the lowering phase), you decelerate the weight so it only reaches the imaginary line between the knees. And then, in a powerfull and rather explosive way, swing the weight upwards.

    This should be a smooth movement, with no stop between the knees.

    give it a try…

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