As the year is coming to a close, I am proud to say that I have witnessed and trained several athletes who made the jump to endurance events and completed their first 5K, half marathon, or triathlon this year. What a wonderful accomplishment that has left many of you wanting more of this in the coming year but at the same time wondering can I just look better at the same time? Well, the answer is yes! You can!

Several of you added varying levels or cardiovascular exercise in the form of jogging, biking, or swimming over the last several months. While doing just that will indeed help you reach the goal of completing the event you are aiming for, this alone will NOT, in many cases, get you LOOKING like you want. In order to get that, you will need to balance nutrition and a resistive weight program as well.

Obviously, this isn’t rocket science and I’m not telling you anything you didn’t know (especially in terms of diet), but you will need to make a conscience effort to eliminate unnecessary sugars and unwanted fats that are just wasted calories. For the purpose of this article, we will only address the exercise component and leave out an extensive discussion of nutrition. Meeting with a nutritionist to help you find a diet that works specifically for you is a good plan if you aren’t successfully doing this on your own. Timing is almost just as important as what you are ingesting and I strongly urge you to discuss this with the nutritionist when you meet with them to maximize the gains.

So that leaves the resistance weight program. This is where many of us fail, especially in the endurance athlete world. We just don’t have a grasp of what exercises are best to facilitate the gains we are making in our cardiovascular realm while helping us look the best we can. Some of us also fight to balance the time it will take to add this type of training to your already jam-packed days. The answer is full-body multi-joint movements in conjunction with a high-intensity timing routine to build lean muscle tissue and at the same time improve cardiovascular function and VO2 max which will speed up metabolism and shed fat to bring the muscle out.

Setting up exercise in small groups are pairs and rotating between them like a circuit allows you to “actively rest” the muscle that you just worked while exercising a completely different muscle group. You only need about 8-10 total movements that you can do a few sets of each of them and still get done in 30 minutes of total exercise time (including the warm-up and cool-down). After you have chosen your exercises, then you have to decide the timed interval or quantified number of repetitions that you want to complete. Sometimes the timed interval is the easiest to choose because this allows you to go as hard as possible for a given time regardless of resistance level.

One of the more famous researchers and innovators of the high-intensity training is Izumi Tabata. His Tabata Method or Protocol is a heavily researched means of training that has you go hard for 20 seconds of a various exercise and then rest for 10 seconds. The original protocol called for a 5 min warm-up followed by 8 minutes of exercise using the 20 secs on and 10 secs off continuously followed by 2 minutes of cool-down. I would modify and extend that over a little more time to look like such: 5 min warm-up, 4 x (4 mins of exercise then 1 min of extended rest to get some water) followed by a 5 min cool-down.

So that leaves us with what exercises should someone do in that time. I would pick 8 exercises, pair them together, and repeat them throughout the routine. Here’s a sample of 8 great movements put together in order that allows for some active rest. Please visit YouTube channel “activedgefit” for a video with all 8 of these exercises. Also, feel free to paste the url’s below into your web browser to see the Youtube video of the exercise. (Make sure and check with your doctor or physical therapist if you’ve had any pathology in the past. These exercises can be modified for all fitness levels and impairments. Please email me if you have any questions).

Exercise 1 – Spider push-ups

Exercise 2 – Split jumps

Exercise 3 – Full-body sit-up and press

Exercise 4- Horizontal pull-ups

Exercise 5 – KB push-up and squat

Exercise 6 – Holding pull-up and leg raises

Exercise 7 – Seal-ups

Exercise 8 – Alternating DB curl to press

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