The Running Bear, a twist on the Program Maximum

Recently on Breaking Muscle I shared one of my favourite goal plans, the Program Maximum. I say goal plan because I’ve yet to meet anyone who can actually do it. Here’s how the plan looks on its final step:

20 minutes of get ups, doing a get up per minute, alternating hands every minute. So 10 get ups on each hand.

20 minutes of one hand swings, doing 10 reps on the minute, changing hands every minute. So 200 one hand swings.

For those who don’t think that sounds so bad, remember that this is all done with the Beast, the 48kg bell.

So that’s a pretty hard challenge and one that could take you a year or more to build up to. Let me know if anyone gets to it as I’d love to see the results and how it translates to improvements in other areas. I think, for Spartan Racers it may be the ticket to race success when paired with a few heavy pull up or rope climbing sessions each week and running.

One of the things I most enjoy about the mental aspect of my job is creating programs that really cause a big effect. One of my other favourite programs is the Russian Bear program from Power to the People. The basic plan entails working up to twenty sets of five in both the deadlift and bench press two days per week. It’s not a fast workout, even though you obviously use comparatively light weight – the full twenty sets of each, even when super setted can take almost two hours when you start really finding your limits. I’ve used a variation of the same plan to get ready for RKCII, combining a pull and a press for a volume day each week working up to twenty sets of five in both single arm presses and pull ups. (For the record I worked up to 20 x 5 @32kg pressing and 20 x 5 @ 20kg for pull ups).

As someone who actually responds very well to volume, and not so well to intensity, plans like this work very well for me. In fact, I can actually add some training days to this and still make progress. But let’s swap it around a bit to include elements of the Program Maximum and the Bear so that it fits my end goal of zombie war fitness. I want strength, yes, but I want cardio too, so I am always looking for ways to get stronger and keep my body weight down. Here’s the plan:

Two days per week –

Build up to 20 x 5 DLs. Super set the DLs with a heavy get up each side. So you’ll get 100 DLs and 20 get ups per session.

Two other day per week –

Pull ups. Have one workout as a low rep/ heavy day, perhaps something like 5-8 x 2-3 reps, and the other day 10 sets of AMRAP with body weight.

Here’s the real kicker – cardio daily. I would set this up so that I did the DL/ Get Up days on Mon/ Thurs with the Pull Ups days Tues/ Fri. My cardio then would be a second session daily, with Wednesday being a double cardio day (I’d suggest swim/ run). So it might look like this –

Monday – DL + Get Up, Swim

Tuesday – Pull Ups, Bike

Wednesday – Swim, Run

Thursday – DL + Get Up, Swim

Friday – Pull Ups, Bike

Saturday – Long run

Sunday – Long bike, short run.

Yeah, it’s a lot of volume and certainly isn’t a beginner plan. But if you’re looking to really get in shape I guarantee this will get you there. Nothing complicated, nothing too fancy – but it doesn’t need to be. Try the Running Bear and see how fit you get after two months.