The Workout Program

The first four weeks

The Shape of Your Life: Weeks 1 through 4 (click to enlarge)     Photo: Outside Magazine

Strength Exercises

Strength Exercises

Strength Exercises

Strength Exercises

Stretches

Don't forget to stretch

This Installment of The Shape of Your Life is devoted to building endurance. This weekday plan (use your weekends for hiking, biking, running, climbing, paddling, whatever) utilizes heart-rate training zones to raise your VO2 max and lactate threshold (see above).

You need to round up a heart-rate monitor (see "Heart-Rate Training"), but for the first two weeks, to get familiar with how your HRM works, just wear the unit and mentally note your digits during the aerobic sessions. At the end of week two, you'll determine your personal lactate threshold with a simple test. The interval sessions in weeks three and four are engineered to raise your LT.

We also introduce you to basic strength and flexibility training (see sidebar). For dumbbell lifts, use enough weight to bring you just short of exhaustion in each set. If you struggle with pull-ups, have a partner hoist you at the waist, or get friendly with the weight-assisted pull-up machine at your gym.

Begin each strength session with a warm-up (ten minutes of rope skipping, stair stepping, easy jogging, or zero-resistance cycling) and end with the stretch sequence. As always, if you have health concerns, consult your physician before starting this or any other exercise program. Finally, should you miss a workout, don't panic, just pick the workout back up as soon as you can.

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