Bring It Home: Coach V's Four Week Plan

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Fitness special, August 1998

Bring It Home: Coach V's Four Week Plan

By Andrew Tilin

Can't make it to IPI? Well, you're not getting off the hook that painlessly. For those too busy to come to him, Mark Verstegen has mapped out a month long, four-day-a-week regimen that you can follow in any reasonably well equipped gym. The IPI director has bundled 19 core exercises into four series of workout blocks that fit together to build, as he puts it, "an athlete with snap." Series A is a flexibility and agility warm-up. In B you'll use a 55-centimeter Physio Ball to bolster your torso and fine-tune your stabilizer muscles. Series C and D are resistance-training workouts with slightly different goals: muscle endurance and explosive strength, respectively.

Perform the exercises in the order specified in each series, with no rest during series A, 60-second breathers between exercises in B and D, and 90-second breaks in C. Take four minutes of rest between series. Should the moves start to feel, dare we say, easy, don't worry — Verstegen has devised ways to make each drill more challenging. And if you cycle through the program and still want more, simply alternate weeks 2 and 4 indefinitely. (Of course, Verstegen also wants you to do your own brand of aerobic training three times a week.) In a month's time, you'll ... well, you'll still lose to Kobe in a friendly game of one-on-one. But at least now you might get off a shot or two.

Series A

1. Hip Crossover
Holding your torso flat, twist your bent legs to the right until you reach the floor. Then twist to the left. Repeat the sequence ten times. Harder? Try it with your legs out straight.

2. Scorpion
With arms and shoulders pinned in the "spread 'em!" pose, stretch your right heel toward your left hand while keeping your left hip glued to the ground. Alternate legs and do ten per side. Harder? Switch legs in quicker succession.

3. Lateral Lunge with Twist
From a lunge, maintain an upright torso and twist at the hips across the leading leg. Do five per side. Harder? Work to straighten the trailing leg and pivot on the ball of your foot.

4. Forward Lunge to Instep
Stride into a lunge, reaching forward to touch the ground with the forearm from the same side as your forward leg. Do five per side. Harder? Try to get that forearm perfectly flat.

5. Straight Leg March to Skip
Kick your left foot toward your extended right hand, and vice versa on the next step. Do two sets of ten reps marching, and then one set skipping. Harder? Work to straighten the legs.

6. High-Knee Hug to Skip
Drive your right knee into the air, hug it to your chest, and then let go in time to plant your foot and lift the opposite leg. Do two sets of ten reps marching and then two sets skipping to work those crucial dorsiflexors. Harder? Increase skipping segment to three sets of 15 reps.

Series B

1. Supine Hip Extension
Bridge your torso parallel to the ground for three seconds; repeat six times. Harder? Do two sets. Harder still? Up the interval to 15 seconds.

2. Supine Lateral Roll
Roll left until only your right shoulder blade rests on the ball. Roll right. Repeat five times. Harder? Roll all the way to the edge of your torso.

3. Plate Crunch
Clutching a 10-pound weight, drape your back over the ball. Perform a crunch and hold it for three seconds. Repeat six times. Harder? Do two sets. Harder still? Do 10 reps while holding 20 pounds.

4. Prone Knee-Tuck
Roll the ball up under your hips so you're balancing on the tops of your toes and hold for three seconds. Repeat 15 times. Harder? Do two sets of 20 reps. Harder still? Try it with just one leg.

5. Supine Floor Bridge Leg Flexion
With your calves on the ball and your shoulders on the ground, curl your legs, rolling the sphere toward you until the soles of your shoes are on it, and hold the pose for three seconds. Repeat six times. Harder? Do two sets of 10. Harder still? Try it with just one leg.

6. Medicine Ball Push-Up
Place one hand on an 8-inch medicine ball, and perform push-ups. Do 10 reps per side. Harder? Use a ball for each hand. Harder still? Lose the medicine balls and prop your toes on a Physio Ball.

Series C

1. Alternate Dumbbell Bench Press
Lift one weight as you lower the other. Do 10 reps. Harder? For each move in series C, up the effort thusly: Lift over a two count, hold for one, and lower over three.

2. Split Squat
With a straight back, drop the trailing knee almost to the ground. Finish one side's 10 reps before switching. Harder still? In weeks 3 and 4, immediately go to drill 1 in series D.

3. Dumbbell Pullover Extension
With weights held skyward, lower them to your ears, and then the floor. Lift to finish one rep; do 10. Harder still? In weeks 3 and 4, immediately go to drill 2 in series D.

4. Romanian Dead Lift
Folding at the hips, back straight, lift the barbell to your waist; then lower it, keeping it in close. Do 10 reps. Harder still? In weeks 3 and 4, immediately go to drill 3 in series D.

Series D

1. Split Jump
Leap up from a low lunge until your legs are straight beneath you, and land as you started. Repeat six times. Harder? Do two sets.

2. Medicine Ball Pullover Throw
Lob a 4.4-pound ball from behind your head to a partner beyond the foot of the bench; catch the return toss. Repeat 10 times. Harder? Toss a 6.6-pounder.

3. Reactive Step-Up
With one foot on the floor and the other on a mid-shin-high box, leap straight up and land as you started. Repeat six times per side; do two sets. Harder? Switch legs in midair. Harder still? Do three sets of 10 reps per side.

Photos by Craig Cameron Olsen

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