Okay so my title is kind of not totally honest, there is nothing special about this workout plan that makes it great for training for the end of the world other than the variety of exercises. Actually it is probably not even the greatest fitness plan for the end of civilization, that would involve more bodyweight exercises and ruck marching, no this is just the fitness plan I invented in the middle of the end times.
My goals with this plan were motivated by my need to lose weight and regain strength, a need further fueled by my increasing belief that we are seeing the slow collapse of civilization. So the apocalypse is the motivation, but there are probably better training plans for that. More endurance I would imagine, and probably more running, but either way I think this is a good plan for me.
One thing about this plan, it is not for beginners. It is great for people like me, time constrained people looking to get back into shape. I was once an elite athlete, you wouldn’t know that by looking at me though. A few years of crappy desk jobs, bad eating and depression have taken their toll. Combined with a few injuries and you have an overweight guy on the down slope to middle age. This plan is designed to help reverse that.
It is an 8 day cycle and a little complicated to follow. I recommend keeping a log to track workouts, weight loads, run times etc and also plan future workloads. I use a whiteboard but a journal or piece of paper would do the trick. It is a mix of running (or other cardio), compound lifting and crossfit.
Now before I go into explaining it, just know that I am not a personal trainer, not an expert by any means and invented this because it worked for me and the types of workouts I like to do. It is designed to be 1 to 2 hours a workout and also to be constantly increasing load. I like making progress and this workout helps me with that. It is also half optional which is great for time constrained workouts, recovery or if you push it too hard or are not feeling great one day. You can still get the main workout in and skip the supplementary part.
As I said it is an 8 day cycle with 2 off days mixed in. You have a cardio day followed by a weight day followed by cardio then off then weight, cardio, weight then off. Every alternate cycle you increase the load, so on the single weight day cycle you increase the weight and on the single cardio day you increase the distance.
With weight training days you are training primarily compound lifts and with the cardio day it is running if you can, if not, do a bike or rowing machine. Something endurance with the end goal of keeping it up for the entire hour.
Each day is broken into two sessions, your main session and then the supplemental session. You main session stays the same over the six 8 day cycles and the supplemental portion changes every six 8 day cycles.
Confusing? A little, that is why we have the chart.
Before I detail the chart here are the workouts you are doing.
Weight day A
10 reps 5 sets bench press (or chest press)
10 reps 5 sets barbell row
10 reps 5 sets overhead press
5 reps 5 sets deadlift
10 reps 5 sets weighted crunch
This is basically the 5×5 strong lift program with more reps and no squats. No squats because of the running but we do add squats into the supplemental section.
I worked squats in more when I got a rack, if you don’t have access to a squat rack just do what you can, try not to neglect legs.
The goal is to add 5 to 10 pounds to your lifts but not every day, rather on the single day in the B set of A/B sets. This is due to the cardio days, the supplemental workouts and because of limitations you may have with access to weights. This plan is designed to be done in a home gym. Work with what you got, it is all we can do.
Then you do the supplemental workout.
For day A, this is a home based cardio workout usually in the vein of a bodyweight CrossFit circuit. Something that is mainly leg focused but maybe with some chin-ups or further ab work. Your upper body is going to be pretty fried from the weights but that does not mean you can’t do some squats.
An example would be a circuit of squats, pullups and pushups with the goal of hitting 300 body weight squats, 200 pushups and 100 pullups in the hour. Or do some burpees, lunges, and mountain climbers in a circuit. Be creative but try not to lift and try to focus on training your legs here.
I like to also mix it up by wearing my kit for this portion. That means body armor and war belt. Add some challenge. Train as you fight.
Cardio day B
Then with the runs you want to start at 5k and on the B set days aim for speed and the A set days you add 1km to the run. That is a bit more simple. You can mix up the cardio by doing 5km rows or runs with a weight vest.
Then for the supplemental you want to lift but focus on the smaller muscle groups, this means bicep curls, triceps dips, skull crushers, shoulder raises, hammer curls, pullups, oblique raises, planks, forearm curls. Just pick a set of 3 and stick to it for the 6 cycles before mixing it up.
Here is the chart I use to track my cycle and the amount of weight I am loading.
You can see on my whiteboard that I kind of split this chart in 2 with the A/B in the bottom right and the day I am on in the top left along with my weight and run distance along the top right, but that works for me, find what works for you and helps you track your progress but also where you are in terms of workout because the days do change up and as we get busy it can be hard to remember if you’re on an A or B cycle.
Weights, barbells, a bench and ideally a power rack, but I was able to get a good start with just a bench and weights. Doing dumbbell chest press instead of bench press. A Rowing machine, treadmill, bike are all optional. A good pair of running shoes is really the only piece of cardio kit you need.
The 6 cycles
Every 6 cycles of 8 days take stock of where you are and what you need to work on. How are you feeling? Any areas you want to improve? Any injuries or things you want to heal? Use this info in planning the supplemental workouts for the next 6 cycles. This can mean training out an injury, skipping them entirely if you are feeling over trained, adding more stretching or just choosing new exercises to add variety and challenge.
The point is to keep things interesting and also challenging. Every workout should feel tiring but not draining. You should be able to do this in the morning and work a full day without feeling wiped at the end. If you find yourself struggling then cut back on the supplemental workouts for a few days. Give yourself time and space to heal and recover.
Also make sure you are using the off days to actually rest but not to zero. Go for a walk, stretch, clean the house, but don’t just lay on the couch eating chips all day. Recover but recover well.
As I said I am no expert and this is not a beginner program, head over to Stronglifts for a great “how to” on how these exercises are done and for running if you can’t run a 5k I would say this is not for you. Start there and get here when you are ready. For the supplemental stuff just google the name of the exercises. Heck do that with all of these, I can’t tell you anything better than actual experts can. It is probably best to learn the proper way from them.
For a “how to” from a motivation standpoint I would say that for me thinking of training better than my enemy is a big motivator. Same with weight loss, and better strength. After just 8 weeks of this I saw significant gains in strength and cardiovascular health. I was finally able to play with my dog without getting winded, to climb a set of stairs or even go for a walk without getting tired from it.
The program also left me with more energy and feeling good after, not drained.
From a tracking standpoint, use a journal and I also found a fitness watch helped a lot. I use the polar V800 but that is outdated, I would recommend one of their newer models especially for tracking your runs and logging distance.
Otherwise get out there, be safe, don’t get hurt and get stronger.
Now I know people more knowledgeable than me are already not fans of this but I wanted to train both cardio, mainly running, and my strength. I love weight lifting and love running and by training both I am also better prepping for the end times or my anarchist revolution.
There are better plans for cardio and better plans for weight lifting where you will see more gains faster. This is my plan for something that I think tackles overall fitness effectively while also growing progress in lifts and running.
As you max the program out I think you can hit a good maintenance point while working on increasing the supplemental work. For weights I would keep adding weight but in smaller increments. For the runs aim at decreasing times and getting more distance into the allotted hour. Running 12, 16 or even 20 k in an hour is a lot better for your joints and body then just mindlessly increasing the distance. Ask any marathon runner how their knees, hips and ankles feel and you will know what I mean.
I hope this works for you, feel free to tweak it, critique it, mess around. It is probably not perfect but it is what has been working for me. I have gone from 5k to 10k runs with it, increased my lifts to nearly my pre-injury levels (well more than half way to that) and just feel all around much better.
I am sure there are flaws with it but if you are looking for something new I would say give it a shot and see what you think.