"Strength + Endurance equals Strendurance"
And just like that, Coach Troy kicks off yet another series of exercise DVDs. The man hardly needs an introduction as I doubt there's a competitive cyclist, triathlete, or mountain biker alive who hasn't bought at least one or two Spinervals videos over the years. I own a few and only a few because I've politely declined offers to have dupes made for me of the many others. Troy Jacobson has made what I imagine to be a pretty nice living for himself by leading personalized training sessions and by creating a number of training videos for cyclists to use with stationary trainers and for runners to use with their treadmills. And some of them even interrupt the pedaling to get you off the bike and doing squats and other plyometric exercises -- usually after a particularly tough interval set.
Coach Troy can be a bastard when he wants to.
I was about to buy another Spineverals video that focused on core strength. It combined on-bike intervals with stability ball off-bike exercises. Then I saw an ad for his "Strendurance" video. It's a 6-workout video designed to be done repeatedly over the course of 12 weeks in a particular pattern. The workouts are 20-40 minutes in length and are high intensity strength training designed for endurance athletes. I couldn't resist. My 2007 training was sorely lacking in strength and conditioning and with any luck this video would be the impetus to improve on that in 2008.
The video has 6 workouts, A through F and you're supposed to spend two weeks doing the same workout 4 to 6 times in that period. So, to start with, I'm doing Workout A every 2 or 3 days for 2 weeks, then I'll move up to Workout B and do that 4 to 6 times over the next two weeks and so on and so forth. There's a 7th "maintenance" video for weeks 13 and beyond.
I did "Workout A" for the third time tonight and let me tell you that this 25-minute video kicks my ass. And it sounds oh-so simple. Granted, I haven't done any real strength and conditioning training in years, but since the workouts sound really easy I had Kristin do it with me on Saturday after we went running and then again tonight when she got home from work (followed by a 20-minute yoga sequence... more on that later).
Workout A is supposed to be the easy, basic workout meant for starting out. This is the first set you do:
3 reps of the following with no rest between sets
20 seconds of pushups
20 seconds of upright rows with dumbells
20 seconds of jumping jacks
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "big deal". That's what Kristin was thinking before she tried it. Now she curses Coach Troy just like I do.
Let me tell you that going from the pushups to the upright rows right into the jumping jacks and back again for three minutes of near-nonstop activity is exhausting. Subsequent sets combine crunches, shoulder presses, and mountain climbers, squats, and back extensions. Every set picks three exercises and you do them for 20 seconds each one right into the next for three cycles then you get a one minute break. The whole workout only lasts 25 minutes including a little warmup time at the beginning and a painful 5x5-second set at the end, but I was sore for two days after the first time I did it. Now I can do it without getting sore, but there are definitely one or two times during the workout that I essentially collapse on the floor in a pool of sweat.
The second set is a combination of squats, shoulder presses and mountain climbers and I have no problem admitting (and Kristin will admit the same, and she has been strength training weekly for years) that after the first repetition my arms are so tired that I can barely hold them behind my head during the squats. And even the 8lb dumbells feel like they weigh a ton during the shoulder presses.
I'm laughing as I type this because I know how utterly pathetic it must sound -- Doug can't shoulder press an 8lb dumbell! -- but trust me that the speed and combination of the exercises makes for a humbling experience. Give the Strendurance video a try and I think you'll be laughing at yourself too. When you aren't gasping for air and cursing at your tv.
Yoga Note: I never did any yoga before two weeks ago. It wasn't something I really thought about much and, when I did, I figured it more about spirituality than fitness and wouldn't really be beneficial. And it certainly wouldn't be that hard. Boy was I wrong. I've been doing the yoga routines from the "Yoga for Athletes" DVD a few times each week and I have to admit that not only are some of the poses really hard, but even ones that look simple enough and don't demand double-jointed contortions really become hard to hold for long because of how deep the stretch can be. I'm not a very flexible person and apparently the only reason stretching has become easy for me is because I've been doing the same 7 stretches my entire life. The yoga routines are introducing me to new stretches and poses that are not only helping my flexibility (yes, I can notice a small difference already) but many of the poses feel as beneficial as doing squats or crunches. Sure, all the yoga toys are purple and a lot of the "faces of yoga" look a bit demasculinized but yoga is certainly not for wimps. It's tough stuff. I only hope I'm man enough to continue with it.