Unconventionally Fit…

The World Got Smaller…

Ewa and I first crossed paths in the early days of fitness blogging. Her blog was directed towards outdoor fitness; hiking, trail running, and the occasional piece dealing with breast cancer. At that time my blog was still geared toward indoor fitness; strength, cardio, and proper eating because I foolishly thought people gave a shit. Around the same time fitness blogging began to die, Facebook arrived. Ewa and I connected there, and continued to dialogue relating to a healthy lifestyle.

As the social media era evolved and brought the world closer together, I began getting requests from people in the fitness blogging community to offer my training services from a distance. Using Skype, Youtube videos, texting, and email as tools, I took on several distant clients as their fitness consultant. Ewa was among the first of these.

A 17 Inch Window To The World…

Despite that she had access to thousands of trainers in the immediate San Jose area, she felt that an established level of trust with me, would not have been immediate or even guaranteed had she picked a random trainer from one of the gyms in her local area.

Making use of the equipment she had at home; an adjustable bench, squat stands, barbells and dumbbells, I designed a series of workouts for her which she found to be useful for overall conditioning for trail hiking and running. Over the course of several months we would Skype weekly to discuss the quality of these workouts, the progress made, and adjust her workouts according to this dialogue.

Sleeps Less In Seattle…

Several months back Ewa relocated to the Seattle area. Around the same time, she made the decision that she would climb Mt. Rainier in June of 2015. With said climb in mind, and a level of trust already established she contacted me and asked if I would design a conditioning program to support her preparation. For me this was an opportunity to work more deeply into my craft, and I happily agreed.

Something a bit more than a day hike...

Something a bit more than a day hike…

Utilizing the tools that she inherited in her new location; a crude exercise bench, some rusty barbells, adjustable dumbbells, and something to step-up onto, I designed a series of 4 workouts to be done in rotating fashion with one or two days rest in-between.

Rust shmust.  It's all about gravity management...

Rust shmust. It’s all about gravity management…

Due to her being a limited sleeper, her workouts take place early in the morning, often before sunrise, in the dark and cold Seattle pre-dawn. Due to her limited living space, her strength equipment is located on a covered patio behind her house. Covered is good because it keeps out the rain. Time of day and season though, will have her working out in some pretty cold temperatures.

Four On The Floor…

The structure of the 4 workouts I designed for her are the sum of these intentions:

  • To help keep injury free during the climb
  • To maximize hip, leg, and low-back strength
  • The (help) promote an increased cardio capacity
  • To support the mechanics of repetitive motion
  • To provide increased balance
  • To provide increased flexibility

Each workout contains 6 exercises. Exercises are done in pairs (supersets), 3 sets of each before advancing to the next superset. All 4 workouts are designed to be completed in under 55 minutes.  The higher repetition lower body compound movements are incorporated to help improve conditioning; lung capacity, VO2 uptake, etc.  The upper body movements are the standard 10-12 repetitions, and beginning next week, we will alternate heavier upper body days, incorporating sets of 5, always with an emphasis on form.

(there is a link at the end if you wish to see videos of these exercises)

Workout #1 Strength & Conditioning

Superset #1

DB Incline Bench Press 3×10-12 reps

Walking Lunges 3×20 reps

Superset #2

1-Arm Dumbell Row 3×10-12 reps

Squats To Bench 3×20 Reps

Superset #3

Step, Curl & Press 3×20 reps

Stiff Legged Deadlift 3×10 reps

Workout #2 Strength & Conditioning

Superset #1

Standing Shoulder Press With Dumbbells 3×10-12 reps

Standard Deadlifts 3×20 reps

Superset #2

Crossover Crunches 3×20 reps

Lunges Of Choice 3×20 reps

Superset #3

1-Legged Heel Raise From A Step

Lateral Raise With Dumbbells 3×10-12 reps

Workout #3 Strength & Conditioning

Superset #1

Barbell Bench Press To Neck 3×10-12 reps

Standard Lunge 3×20 reps

Superset #2

Standard Deadlift 3×20 reps

Shoulder Press With Barbell  3×10-12 reps

Superset #3

Bent-over Barbell Row 3×10-12 reps

Overhead Squats 3×20 reps

Workout #4 Emphasis On Flexibility

Superset #1

Chest Fly With Dumbbells 3×10

Lunges With Torso Rotation 3×20

Superset #2

Ball Tucks With Pushup 3×10

Straight Legged Deadlifts With Feet Crossed Over

Superset #3

Cross Bench Pullover 3×10

Barbell Upright Rows With Barbell 3×10

Of note: Ewa’s trail, backpacking, running, and cycling workouts were administered by her. I only took ownership of her strength workouts.

If you wish to see video demonstrations of any of these exercises in action, please follow this link to my youtube channel, type in the exercise name, and have a look.

Variations Of Normal…

As her workouts unfolded during the first few weeks of this process Ewa took ownership and made a couple of suggestions which we incorporated into the workouts.

  • She began doing all forms of lunges (except those involving a torso rotation) with her backpack on rather than weights on her shoulders or in her hands. This, in order to replicate balance and core strength required for her climb.
  • To do the Step, Curl & Press with her climbing boots. To replicate the footing placement, and balance required during her climb.
These boots were made for... ...climbing!

These boots were made for…

On Success…

Of course it won’t be known until the climb in June how successful these workouts will have been in support of the climb. Through the videos and emails we have exchanged though, I am able to monitor her exercise form, suggest when it’s appropriate to increase weights, repetitions or incorporate more rest.

So far progress has been quite good. That, however, has less to do with workout design, and more to do with work ethic.

I look forward to writing this June about Ewa’s successful, injury-free climb. Be well… rc

please take a moment to scroll up and rate this.  thank you.


Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from  R.X. Bertoldi.  Enjoy…

7 responses

  1. There is a lot more to the story than Roy wanted to share possibly of fear of embarrassing me.
    I do not have the drive to keep on training many people do. I get discouraged easily, I skip workouts. If there is an excuse for not working out, I have used it. Having a trainer helps me stay on track. Having a trainer I trust, makes me want to work harder.

    Roy’s advice has proven invaluable. His workouts are not flashy, there are no complicated compound movements that work all your muscles at the same time but are impossible to perform in good form. No, his exercises are time tried, simple and effective, which does not mean easy. Every workout leaves me sweaty but energized.
    And then there is his gift of listening and flexibility in his approach to training. It is that, which allowed me to adjust his workouts to my specific mountain climbing needs.

    I can’t stress enough what a huge difference it makes having a trainer who knows his stuff and is respectful of one’s needs.

    Thank you, Roy.

    • I’m just a schlub, but thanks. You have a supreme work ethic, a high tolerance for resisting gravity, and you do dumbbell rows with 50s — freaking 50s, in perfect form. Thems is man weights!

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