Beginner Workouts for Running And Upper-Body Strength

Beginner Workouts for Running And Upper-Body Strength

"I'm out of shape" is a lament many of us hear virtually every day -- sometimes in our own heads. Getting fit can take many forms, but ideally, people should seek to balance aerobic gains with strength gains to achieve overall fitness. This means doing several runs and strength workouts a week, with an eye on each type of exercise complementing the other to the fullest extent possible.

General Running Guidelines
Former "Runner's World" editor-in-chief Amby Burfoot offers a number of tips to people just starting a distance-running program. If you're over 40 years old, sedentary or 20 or more pounds over your ideal weight, ask your primary care provider whether it's safe for you to start a walk-run regimen. Also, set aside specific time for exercising so that you won't find excuses to skip your runs. Expect to have days on which you don't feel great, and above all, be patient -- it takes a while to get fit if you've been inactive for a significant stretch.

General Training Guidelines
Certified strength and conditioning specialist Cameron McGarr, writing for "Men's Fitness," suggests always taking a day off between strength-training sessions if you're returning to the gym after a layoff or getting started for the first time. You should experiment in your first few sessions to determine how much weight you should use for each exercise. One recommendation is to do about 80 percent of your max; for example, do 12 repetitions of a given exercise if your maximum for that weight is 15, or eight if your maximum is 10. If you don't have access to a gym, take heart -- you need no special equipment to work your upper body. You can do pushups, triceps dips and other exercises in the comfort of your own home.

Specific Running Workouts
Burfoot advises that you begin training with a mix of walking and running, and take one day off a week all together. In your first week, shoot for 10 sets of one minute of running followed by two minutes of walking; don't worry about your pace. Do this on four days, and reserve two other days for 30-minute vigorous walks. As the weeks roll by, add more continuous running while shortening the walk breaks, so that at the end of one month you're running for eight or more minutes at a stretch while walking for one minute in between running bouts. By the end of eight weeks, you should be able to run for 30 minutes at a time.

Specific Upper-Body Exercises
If you go to a gym or have your own weights, three times a week, do two sets of 12 repetitions of the following exercises: bent-over dumbbell rows pushups and planks. Take 30 to 60 seconds between sets. If you prefer to work your upper body without using weights, you can do rotational circles, doorway pushes and around-the-worlds for your shoulders, pushups for your chest and dips for your triceps. A physical therapist can provide you with a length of rubber tubing you can use to do shoulder resistance exercises such as internal rotations, abductions, extensions and stretches. You can even install your own pullup bar above a doorway; visit a sporting-goods specialty store to find one.