I'm fairly new to strength work. Which looking back on it is kind of dumb considering the amount of time I've spent running. I knew having a stronger core would be a huge benefit but never had the motivation to work on it. At the end of the day i just enjoyed being outside and working out inside didn't tick any boxes for me. A few years ago I started using dumbells a bit but my efforts were patchy at best. I would use them for a while then find an excuse to tail off. The same with stretching, mobility and core exercises. So as part of Late Rising and especially driven by the One Year project I've been far more invested in aspects of fitness that don't involve running. Although the benefits will no doubt have a big impact on my running through injury reduction, a stronger core to hold posture on longer runs. and better mobility and flexibility in general.
I've discovered that when I set my mind to something and I'm interested in the subject then I'm eager to learn as much about it as I can. It was the same with running, I devoured books, articles, podcasts and videos and extended my knowledge and learned how to apply it. The same is happening with strength work. I've read about the subject, watched videos, sorted some wheat from chaff (I hope) and have devised a training plan for my weightlifting. I principally want to improve my deadlifts and benchpress initially and looked into markers I could use as targets.
From reading around it looks like deadlifting my bodyweight x 1.5 and benching my own bodyweight is a realistic target to start with. This will be ok as an initial target considering my age and experience (not much) So as I'm hovering around 70Kg Im looking at 105Kg for deadlift and 70Kg benchpress. Currently im around 73Kg in deadlift (admittedly I think i could go higher now but i'm working to plan. And 56Kg benchpress. So both are a way off. The plan is to improve slowly by doing cycles of training lasting 2-3 weeks where the weight increases slowly, alternating the lifts each day. Then a short break and repeat the cycle but at the start of the cycle drop back say 10Kg and build up again to a higher peak.
So for example in deadlift I hit 73Kg at end of cycle two. So cycle three starts with 63Kg and then progresses over 8-9 days of deadlifts (alternate days to benching) increasing by 2Kg a day so the cycle should end on 79Kg. Obviously loads can be increased, decreased or held depending on progress. It's a long term project and I'm in no rush and want to avoid injury. As the weight increases the increments may well get lower. Improvement is bound to slow after the initial gains from nothing. Again that's fine.
21/06/23 - Weightligting progress update
A bit of an update on strength work. It can be difficult as a hybrid athlete to find the balance between strength work and running. I've always said that running takes priority and that is still the case. So in the buildup to Preseli I backed off, especially the deadlifting and the squats. But as that was over five weeks ago I've been back at the strength work. I think that looking back that the cycles that I was originally using were actually overkill for a beginner. From a bit of research and general poking about the internet at my level I can happily keep working away at just progressing by adding weight in a linear progression. That seems to have been working fine since Preseli and to good effect.
I have now benched 71Kg which was my target - To bench my own weight. So a few days ago I was super happy to have managed to do that. The rep could have been cleaner but it was there. I'm still working my way up with the squats as I always prefer to take them at a slow pace of progress due to the strain on the legs and in particular knees. Deadlifting however has moved on well and now I've hit 99Kg - Which with the weights I have available is literally all I can fit on the bar. So I'm just 6Kg off my target of 105Kg which is my weight plus half. I need to buy a few more weight plates to get there but I'm sure I will soon as when I pulled 99 I felt that there was more in the tank.
End of cycle 4 - Up to 89 Deadlift, 64 bench press and this cycle I brought in the squat which also maxxed out at 64. Well I think there is more to come from the squat but thats where I left it at to be on the safe side. The weightlifting was supposed to compliment the running and not interfere in anyway and so it's a case of finding the balance between the two. It's hard to deadlift or squat on legs that have just run a long way. 4 or 5 miles and I can still do it but any longer and it would probably be putting too much strain on them, Even with shorter distances I'm obviously going to be compromised on performance. I ran a 15 miler with hill repeats last week and I was scheduled for deadlifts that day, I clearly had to shift them in my lifting plan from that day and not even to the next day as it was clear I hadn't recovered in time so it became a 2 day break - I filled in with benching but it's an indication I need to become more adaptable.
I have also gone from a 2 day rotation, deadlift, bench, deadlift, bench etc to a 4 day - This allows better recovery and adaptation which may slow progress in those two lifts but the upsides are the introduction of squats and a medley day with dumbbells. I am also incorporating a dedicated rest day to recover and prevent burnout. At the moment running takes priority and so it may be up to a week before a type of lift if big mileage days delay deadlifting or squatting but that's fine as I have other work such as benching to do.
End of cycle 3 - Up to 84Kg Deadlift which is 11Kg improvement over the cycle - I know diminishing returns will kick in as my beginner progress fades but still good to be on rack for 100Kg and 1.5 times bodyweight. Benching is a bit odd, I hit 66Kg - but that was on my old bench and due to my high spotter rails for safety I wasn't able to lower the bar far enough - which as I found out on my new bench with adjustable spotter rails means I can go much lower safely with the bar and it makes it harder to press - So Im at 59Kg - but its all relative and the road to 70kg will just take a little longer. Im fine, no rush, lets do this safely without injury,
Cycle 4 - Changing things - I need to incorporate squats into the cycle now I have a safe squat rack to use. So I've been trying to figure out how to do this. As deadlifts and squats are both leg intensive days I am probably better off separating them - So benchpress between but that still leaves a two day period of one following the other. I can no longer do the current 8/8 16 day cycle anyway with squats and so I'm going to try deadlifts/benchpress/squat/dumbbells in a 4 day rotation. This means a few knock-on changes. I will switch to a 4/6 cycle so those 4 repeated 6 times which means a 24 day cycle with at least 4 rest at the end and if required rest days during depending on how it goes. So each cycle will be closer to a month. It does mean less deadlifting and benching but obviously this is ade up for with squats and dumbbells. It will be good to do a dedicated dumbbell day too, at the moment they get squeezed in after the bar work and so I will be able to concentrate on the bar work, fit in an extra set or two there and do dumbbells properly when not fatigued. Hopefully having a 3 day "rest" between each type of lift will prevent injury and promote growth anyway as maybe the alternate day model I've used does not allow enough recovery. We shall see - after all at the moment it's an experiment of one.