The ultimate 6 week workout! Here’s how you can build a base
This programme can be adjusted to fit all fitness levels – however, those who have never trained before should significantly underestimate what they think they can achieve and ensure that they master correct exercise technique first – training loads could be reduced by as much as 50% consequentially.
Many regular exercisers fall into one of two camps, neither of which makes the most of the valuable time they devote to their training. In one camp, we have the people who do the same workouts, same classes or same runs over and over again – the ones they’ve been doing for years. They’re stuck in a workout rut and making less and less progress. In the other are those who have no plan or routine and simply cobble together sessions on the hoof. There’s no way of monitoring progression and no way of knowing what’s working and what’s not. They also fail to develop the shape or fitness that they could.
work in blocks
It’s far more effective to work in training blocks each with a definite purpose and progression to the next. Each block should typically last 4-12 weeks, after which the training focus is altered and the routine overhauled – and our programme does just that. Within each block you’ll gradually increase training load, this will maximise training adaption and avoid stagnation. From a physiological perspective this ensures that your body (physically and mentally) is constantly stimulated and adapting.
the plan The 18-week plan is based around 4-6 workouts per week. In each 6-week block 2-3 of these will be gym resistance work and the other 2-3 cardiovascular sessions. During the first block the resistance work concentrates on building base strength and developing exercise technique. You’ll use simple, basic, but highly effective, ‘compound’ exercises – these work multiple joints and involve numerous muscles. Your CV emphasis is on building base stamina and economy. By economy we refer to the ability to complete CV exercise with a greatly reduced level of energy expenditure. For the second 6-week block, we’ll build on your strength foundation and introduce more advanced and functional resistance exercises. And the intensity of your CV work will increase, with the addition of more advanced methods, such as ‘tempo work’ (this is explained in our ‘Marathon Hero’ training plan – see page 58).
The final 6-week block introduces more dynamic resistance training and higher intensity intervals for your CV work. You’ll look great and be super fit.
the training programme
block 1: weeks 1-6 Cardio
Building a good CV base is an essential part of training for fitness and the majority of sports. Without it, the effectiveness of any higher intensity work will be compromised. Even if you’re training for aesthetic or health reasons, a good CV foundation is essential for meeting fat loss goals or improving cardiovascular health. Basically, the base will allow you to train harder over future blocks and burn more calories.
Base building CV work will improve your body’s economy and its ability to utilise fat as a fuel. The key session is a long and steady effort of 20-120 minutes duration. Minute for minute, running will give you the maximum return compared to other CV exercise modes, but, if you really don’t fancy it, then fast walking, cycling, swimming, rowing or using a X-Trainer can be substituted.
Intensity should be low at 60-70% of heart rate max (HRMax) or an intensity where you are able to maintain a full conversation if you had to. If you have to walk (or drop the pace right down on another piece of CV kit) to stay in your zone then do so. It’s not about how hard you push but how well you can control your effort.
If you’re new to exercise start with 10 minutes of CV work, adding 5-10 minutes per week to the session over the 6 weeks of the programme.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced CV trainer then start with a duration you are comfortable with and build from there. The two additional CV workouts are preferably pre-breakfast 10-30 minute efforts. As with the long session, sticking to the low intensity is essential. You’ll find that these workouts are particularly effective at improving economy and shifting stubborn fat.