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I Don’t Want To Sprint Because I’m Afraid I’ll Accidentally Qualify For the Olympics

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Guest Post by Molly Galbraith

ROMAN’S NOTE: Today’s guest post is written by my good friend, Molly Galbraith. She’s an awesome coach, athlete, and all around bad-ass; she’s also one of the founders of Girls Gone Strong, and the author of the recently released The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training.

I could wax poetic about Molly’s talents, but in the interest of saving time, I’d like to just share with you the quote I provided for the book itself: 

“Molly Galbraith is a rarity in the fitness industry, because she actually makes sense. Too many coaches out there don’t: they get bogged down in too much science, or forget that their clients don’t know as much as the trainers themselves. Molly is different; she’s one of the rare breed of professionals who meet clients at their level, both in the way she writes programs and the way she communicates information. This program is that attitude made tangible–it’s a fantastic blend of researched backed methods and tried-and-true systems, presented with a sensitive certitude that only comes from years of experience.”

I’m not sure I could give a much snugglier endorsement, or come up with a more creative introduction than that. And so, bereft of something profound to say, I shall beat a hasty retreat, and leave you in the capable hands of Ms. Galbraith.

++++++++++++++++

Enter Molly–

Yep.  You know how that goes:  you sprint a couple of times, and you wake up one day, and BAM! Usain Bolt’s eating your dust.

Similar things happen when you learn your ABC’s and then become a New York Times bestselling author the following week.

Or when women start to strength train and they wake up hyoooge and muscular almost overnight.

molly

See also: how hyoooge I got from heavy lifting. (L) 2004; 185 lbs. (R) 2014; 162 lbs.

OK, so now that we’re done discussing extremely ridiculous things that don’t actually happen (come on, everyone knows Roman learned his ABC’s at least 4 weeks before hitting the NYT bestseller list) let’s talk about some legit stuff.

Namely, what type of training a woman should be doing to get the body (and health and strength) she desires.

It always baffles me the ridiculous-ness-ocity that’s spewed at women in regards to what they need to do to look and feel their absolute best.  From 2 hours of cardio 6 days per week, to 1200 calorie diets, to wearing sweat bands on their bellies and shadowboxing in the sauna for an hour (yes, I’ve actually spoken to women who have been told to do each of these things by “qualified” trainers).

It’s complete bullshit.

The fact is, we know (as well as we can ever know anything) exactly what women need to do for their training to get the results they desire.  They need to engage in:

  • Relatively heavy strength training 2-3 days a week
  • High Intensity Interval Training 1-2 days a week
  • Moderate Intensity Cardio (heart rate in the 120-150 bpm range) 1-2 days a week

That’s it.

Beyond the training, I’d be remiss not to mention that they also need to eat a diet consisting primarily of whole, nutrient-dense;  manage their stress effectively; get moderate amounts of sunshine regularly; get 7-9 hours of sleep in a cold, dark room every night (preferably after making sweet whoopie – wait, do people still say that? “Making whoopie?”  If not, I’m totally bringing it back. Just you wait.)

So why does this training program structure work so well? Simple.  It covers everything a woman needs to look and feel her absolute best, while allowing for adequate recovery, and preventing burnout.

Benefits

Relatively Heavy Strength Training:

  • Increased muscle mass
  • Increased strength
  • Improved posture
  • Increased bone density
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Increased self-confidence

High Intensity Interval Training:

  • Metabolically expensive (read: burns a lot of calories)
  • Increased EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption; read burns a lot of calories even after the workout is over)
  • Increased metabolic flexibility (i.e. your body’s ability to transition back and forth from using fat for fuel to using carbohydrates for fuel)

Moderate Intensity Cardio:

  • Builds aerobic base
  • Allows for better recovery between sets of exercises
  • Allow for better recovery between workouts so you approach each workout fresh and ready to train
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest and digest) dominant activity
  • Increases your ability to relax, focus, and deal with stress
  • Can improve sleep quality

Sample Workouts

Obviously, you want to know how to put all of this together, right? Of course. No worries. I have plenty of examples for you. However, please note that just reading these workouts can increase your baseline awesomeness by 34%, and performing them can increase it by as much as 96.3%.  #science

The following workouts are broken down into individual categories.

Relatively Heavy Strength Training:

So what would each of these workouts look like? Obviously it depends on specific goals, ability levels, equipment availability, preference, blah blah blah.

For women, I prefer full-body, upper/lower splits, or a push/pull/lower body split (with a deadlift variation on your pull day to incorporate lower body twice throughout the week). And let me note, I say relatively heavy strength training because it just needs to be heavy for you. If you’re a beginner, maybe manipulating your body weight is enough.  If you’re intermediate or advanced, you’re likely tossing around a fair amount of weight.

I generally like to pair 2-3 exercises in a circuit that work different muscle groups to maximize work in minimal time, and keep your heart rate elevated, while still allowing your muscle adequate recovery time between sets.

However, if I am starting with a very heavy movement (generally a weight lifted for less than 5 reps) then I’ll perform that exercise alone with 2-3 minutes of full rest in between to allow good form to be maintained and close to maximal weight lifted.

Obviously this isn’t all-encompassing, as its part of a larger program, but it gives you an idea of how I like to structure my strength training workouts.

High Intensity Interval Training

High intensity interval training can be performed a number of ways using a number of work: rest ratios.  You can have set work: rest ratios, variable work: rest ratios, positive rest, negative rest, or any combination.

In general, the longer you have been training, and the more “fit” you are, the more work you can do with less rest.  Try a few combinations and see what works for you:

Work: Rest Ratios

  • 15 seconds: 45 seconds (positive rest, as you rest more than you work)
  • 20 seconds: 40 seconds (positive rest, as you rest more than you work)
  • 30 seconds: 30 seconds (equal rest)
  • 40 seconds: 20 seconds (negative rest, you rest less than you work)
  • 45 seconds: 15 seconds (negative rest, you rest less than you work)

Variable Work: Rest Ratios

Here’s a sample workout with variable work and set rest ratios. The further into the workout you get, the longer the “work” portion will likely take you, so you’ll get closer and closer to equal or negative rest. This is fine, as these exercises can still be performed using pretty good form, even when fatigued.

  • Work as long as it takes you complete an exercise or set of exercises: rest twice as long (positive rest)
  • Work as long as it takes you complete an exercise or set of exercises: rest exactly as long  (equal rest)
  • Work as long as it takes you complete an exercise or set of exercises: rest half as long  (negative rest)
  • Work as long as it takes you complete an exercise or set of exercises: rest until your heart rate drops to 120 bpm

Plate Pushes & Farmer’s Carries

Equipment needed: Weight Plate and Dumbbells/Kettlebells

Instructions:

  1. Place a plate and a pair of heavy dumbbells at the end of a long strip of turf or carpet
  2. Perform a Plate Push for 10-15 yards at a very quick pace
  3. Rest 30 seconds while walking back to the dumbbells
  4. Pick up the dumbbells and perform a Farmer’s Carry for 20-30 yards (down and back)
  5. Place the dumbbells back down and rest 30 seconds while walking back to the plate
  6. 6. Repeat as necessary for allotted HIIT time

Moderate Intensity Cardio

When people think of moderate intensity cardio, they always seem to think of slaving away on the treadmill or elliptical, but there are tons of options for this type of workout.  As long as your heart stays in the 120-150 bpm range, you’re good to go.

Here is one of my favorite workouts:

Rope Slams & Walk-Outs

Equipment needed: Battling Ropes

Instructions:

  1. Perform 20 Alternating Slams with moderate force/intensity
  2. Perform 10 Walk-Outs
  3. Perform 20 Bilateral Slams with moderate force/intensity
  4. Perform 9 Walk-Outs
  5. Perform 20 Alternating Slams with moderate force/intensity
  6. Perform 7 Walk-Outs
  7. Perform 20 Bilateral Slams with moderate force/intensity
  8. Perform 6 Walk-Outs
  9. Repeat until you get to 1 Walk-Out, resting 30 seconds between every exercise (during this time, take your heart rate and ensure that it’s between 120-150 bpm. Adjust your workout accordingly as necessary.)

So you’re probably wondering how you would structure these workouts over a week’s time.  No worries – I won’t leave you hanging.  (*I wouldn’t play you like that).

*Disclaimer: Unless your name is Stephanie and you stole my boyfriend in 6th grade.  I’d totally play her like that. 

Weekly Layout:

Monday: 50 minutes Strength Training + 6-10 min HIIT
Tuesday: 30 minutes Moderate Intensity Cardio
Wednesday: 50 minutes Strength Training
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 50 minutes Strength Training + 6-10 min HIIT
Saturday: 30 minutes Moderate Intensity Cardio
Sunday: OFF

As you can see, a well-laid out and effective program allows you to spend less time in the gym, and more time outside of the gym enjoying your life.

If this sounds good to you, and you’re interested in more programs like this, you MUST check out Girls Gone Strong’s FIRST nutrition and training resource for women:

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Shit just got real.

The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training isn’t like many other programs, because it’s not just a program. Sure, there are training programs and workouts aplenty, but it’s also a guide to teach you about training, and how to understand the process.

Here’s the thing you need to understand: like you, I’ve had my own personal struggles with exercise. I’ve tried Globo gyms, Personal Trainers, High Intensity Classes, and a smorgasbord of other sources who all promised  the world…

Like you, I’ve seen the same pattern repeat itself over and over again: go into workouts highly motivated, train you butts off, inevitably end up getting stuck in the same old cycle of pushing ourselves past exhaustion, and winding up either injured or feeling broken down.

I realized there had to be a smarter maintainable way…so I went to work creating one.

In the end, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training was born–a resource you can use continuously as you continue to progress.

Here’s everything that comes with it: 

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 12.31.29 AM

click to embiggen

These different but extremely valuable components come together to form The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training. While valuable on their own, by combining them into a single system, you maximize your results. Unlike most cookie-cutter programs, this lets you personalize your workout to help you reach your goals in less time.

Wrapping Up

Rather than slapping together yet another program you’ll have to organize your life around, we’ve gone ahead and created a program that’ll fit into your life.

After years of building up a community of strong, empowered women, and guiding them in their training while constantly getting their feedback, we’ve been able to perfect a formula to help women look and feel their absolute best in the LEAST amount of time…without running themselves into the ground.

Like all of the workouts and ideas presented in this article, that formula can be brought to bear with a bit of knowledge and some old fashioned effort. With The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training, you’ll have absolutely everything you need to take your body, training, knowledge, and spirit to the next level.

We’re so excited about this amazing resource that the GGS girl and I have decided to release it for an insanely low sale price…

however, the sale ends Friday at midnight, so you’ve only got two days to grab it!

About the Author

Molly Galbraith

Molly Galbraith is co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, a movement dedicated to helping women improve their physical strength, mental strength, and strength of character through strength training, as well as co-founder J&M Strength and Conditioning, a private studio gym in Lexington, Kentucky.

Her mission is to, ”Help women discover and accept what their best body looks and feels like, with minimal time and effort, and once they discover that, help them have grace and compassion about it.”

No stranger to the gym herself, she has competed in figure and dabbled in powerlifting and her best lifts include a 275-lb. squat, a 165-lb. bench press, and a 341-lb. deadlift.

About the Author