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  1. You guys know much more about weight lifting than I do, so I'd love some feedback on my resistance training routine. Again, my goal for weightlifting is to improve functional strength and to improve my distance running.

    With that in mind, I lift once a week, typically the following:

    Pull ups (one set in between each of the other routines, usually 5-10 reps/set)

    Dumbbell shoulder press (6 sets, 10 reps each, ~20 lbs per dumbbell)

    Dumbbell bicep curl (6 sets, 10 reps each, ~20-25 lbs per)

    Dumbbell bench press (6 sets, 10 reps each, 30-35 lbs per)

    Dumbbell one-armed row (6 sets, 10 reps each, 35-40 lbs per)

    [just added Dumbbell flyes, 6 sets, 10 reps each, 15 lbs per -- too light]

    Barbell shoulder press (3 sets, 10 reps each, 30 lbs)

    Barbell bicep curl (3 sets, 10 reps each, 40 lbs)

    Barbell bench press (3 sets, 10 reps each, 50 lbs)

    Should I do fewer sets and use the time to do more routines of other weight exercises (deadlift, etc.)?

  2. Tungster - Got your post. We are going to take a little time to put together some specifics for you. Look for a reply by tomorrow afternoon!

  3. Tungster Reply

    Let's start with your goals: We'll infer from the term "functional strength" that you're not primarily concerned with physique building, more that you recognize that strength is a component of your overall fitness. So that's the tack we will take on the routine. If that's not correct, let us know. We'll also assume that you have about two hours to devote to your lifting program, estimating based on your current numbers, so we will stay within that.

    Basic principles: Your muscles are adapting to the challenge, so weight must be adjusted to continue the work load as you progress. Pushing and pulling exercises should be balanced in volume to create balance in strength. Compound lifts are more efficient than isolation lifts, especially if you have limited time to lift.

    A quick audit of your program shows:
    - Reps by muscle group:
    - Biceps 130
    - Shoulders 90
    - Chest 190
    - Triceps 180
    - Back 60
    - Lower body - 0
    - Core/abdominal - 0?

    Reps by push/pull:
    - Push 330
    - Pull 100

    Reps by isolation/compound:
    - Isolation 150
    - Compound 280

    Just from this, you can see that there are some opportunities to balance things out and make it more efficient for you. We have to make another assumption here: that you have access to a full suite of weight equipment.

    For each of these exercises - select a weight you can handle 8 times with good form. The goal is to get to 10 reps. When you can get to 10, go for 12. When you can do 12, increase the weight to where you're back to an 8 rep max again. This will keep your weight level appropriate for continued adaptation, and you don't short yourself by "finishing" a set before you're done working.

    You're also going to "super set" specific exercises. Complete one set, do a set of the complimentary exercise, then return (groups of 2 or 3 lifts). This makes better use of your time while resting a muscle group and working its complimentary group. Rest periods between supersets shouldn't exceed 1-1.5 minutes.

    Deadlifts 3x10 (superset with shoulder press)
    Dumbbell shoulder press 3x10
    Back squats 3x10 (superset with upright rows)
    Upright rows 3x10
    Barbell bench press 3x10 (superset with rows)
    Row (dumbbell, seated cable, bent barbell - take your pick) 3x10
    **Dumbbell flys 3x10 (superset with reverse flys)
    **Reverse flys 3x10
    Single leg press 3x10 (superset with pull-ups)
    Pull-ups 3x10 (to failure, really)

    ** These are the sets you can drop if you're short of time or exhausted.

    This is 300 reps (** or 240) vs 430 in your routine, but the compound exercises will both wear you out more and train more muscle groups. Pull and push exercises are balanced, and you're getting some lower body training, which is actually pretty important to you as a runner.

    Some other factors you might want to consider with your implementation:
    - Nutrition: Lifting day will be high carb and high protein. Probably the following day should be high protein as well.
    - Rest: consider making the following day a rest day to maximize recovery and supercompensation
    - Rotation: if you're doing your lifting all in one day, consider a five-day rotation, rather than seven. You'll likely see improved progress.
    - Sprint intervals: my distance running speeds have been significantly improved through HIIT twice a week. Consider adding a day of HIIT in your week. It's VERY time-efficient (20 minutes plus warm-up) and adds another anabolic element to your training

    Final note: Michelle found a great article from Charles Poliquin on the subject of weight training for runners:

    Best of luck with your program and your goals, Tungster! Please keep us posted on your progress and any other questions you have.

  4. PS. For core/abdominals, I do ab wheel rolls (kneeling, sets of 40) or planks.

  5. All right, reporting back after my first time going through the new routine:

    1. This was much more time-efficient than my old routine (fewer overall reps, less rest time) -- about 50 minutes compared to 75ish before. I feel about as equally exhausted in the upper body, and more so in the lower body.

    2. Heart rate went higher today than it did before. (I wasn't wearing a HR monitor, but I could tell the difference even without one.)

    3. The squats/deadlifts took their toll, and when I went for my post-lifting reward (i.e., easy 5 mile run on the treadmill), I took it very easy and still felt the effects of the routines for about the first three miles.

    Upshot -- I'm really pleased with this; thanks again for the great advice. One question I have is, would you still recommend the seated and upright rows if I used the Concept 2 rowing machine once a week for 10,000 meters? If not, what exercises would you substitute?

    1. Hey there Tungster! Thanks for checking back in with us and we are really glad to hear your first round went so well. In response to your question, I would still keep the rows in the program and here's why:

      The program rows are to balance the strength work you're doing for your chest and shoulders. The 10k m rowing is a great compliment to this, but it's developing muscular endurance, not strength specifically.

      Hope that helps. Let us know how it is going as time goes on. Your legs should get used to the change in a couple weeks.

  6. Hi

    I found your blog through a link from Fitocracy in the over 40 group. I love that there are so many people over the age of 40 who haven't given up on lifting weights and staying active. I really believe that this end of the market is under supported when it comes to advice and support.

    I look forward to reading your blog and staying connected through Fitocracy.


    Darren (darrenmoroney on Fitocracy)

    I've just entered the blog world myself so check me out.

    1. Darren - thank you for the read and the support. We are following you on Fitocracy as well. You are absolutely right about the need for information and support that really focuses on our generation; that's why we felt so strongly about reaching out with our blog.

      We look forward to reading your posts when you share them. You're also welcome to "guest post" here if you would like to share with and reach our audience. Knowledge is power.

    2. Thanks for the follow. I would love to guest post. Are there any particular topics that you would like to cover?

      I'd be more than happy to have you do the same for my blog.

  7. If you ever need a physical therapist point of view on a topic let me know. Randy Bauer

  8. tracy.rose@healthline.comOctober 8, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Hi Michelle,

    Healthline is interested in contributing a guest post to We would be open to contributing any blog that would be of interest to your readers. Healthline bloggers have been featured on a variety of sites including:

    Washington Times:
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    Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    Warm Regards,


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