Thursday, July 26

Personal Training Insights

I mentioned in previous posts about the friend that R and I are helping to get in shape so that he can join the Air Force. It turns out there was a bit of a breakthrough this week in terms of understanding his abilities and adjusting his training accordingly.

The biggest problem for me was in gauging his endurance during our training. His pace during his mile runs on the treadmill was very uneven, and the quality of the weightlifting sessions seemed very hit-and-miss. When we were trying to do all sorts of different exercises every session, it got kinda messy. He'd do, say, bench press well, but then he'd be unable to do sufficient reps on squats and sit-ups that day.

The main change we've made is that now we focus on one specific area of the body during each workout (legs, arms, core). There was no way he could effectively work all 3 in a given day, so now he gets a workout of several different exercises focused on the same basic muscle groups. We have also split the workouts into low-weight/high-repetition days and high-weight/low-repetition days. If he knows going in that he must do 3 sets of 10 reps, then he'll make the conscious choice not to try to max out his weight. That is an important change for him, because he used to focus primarily on increasing his load, but all that would mean is that he would fail to complete a reasonable number of reps (to say nothing of completing several sets).

His running has been similarly tweaked. He used to start off his runs at an 8mph pace, but he'd crash within about a quarter mile. We now have specific days where he sets the treadmill at a steady (albeit slower) and he doesn't touch the setting until he's done a mile (or as much of a mile as he can). On the other days he still does interval training, but it's much more structured. He can still start at 8mph if he wants to, but each high-speed interval must be longer than the previous session, and the low-speed "down time" must be shorter as well. So if he did 0.25 miles last time before slowing down, he will do 0.3 miles before slowing down next time. Even if it's not the method that I prefer, I daresay he can't help but get in shape if he sticks to it.

All in all, I think his training regimen is starting to come together rather nicely. Over the last month, I have been really worried about being able to help him effectively, but I think we've both begun to adapt to the reality of his current abilities while still keeping the ultimate goal in mind.

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