Now that we have seen the different types of training, it is time for you to decide what you want to achieve. With this fitness programme, the sky is the limit, but you must have a realistic goal for the training you have selected. There is no point doing endurance marches if you want to get fit for competitive rugby.
Assessing Your Own Fitness
When blood is pumped out of the heart, a pressure wave shoots along the arteries at ten times the speed of the blood flow. This is the pulse, and it can be felt anywhere that an artery comes close to the surface. The pulse is an easy way of measuring how fast your heart is beating, and the resting heart beat is an indication of overall cardio-vascular fitness. The pulse can be felt on the wrist (below the thumb), at the temple and on the neck (either side of the windpipe).
Sit down and rest for ten minutes. Measure your pulse rate over the course of one minute. Record the rate for future reference. The resting pulse rate tends to increase with age but, excluding heart and vascular disease, it can be correlated with overall fitness.
Pulse RateFitness 50very fit 70fit 80normal 100unfit
A much better indication of cardio-vascular fitness is the recovery time or the time it takes your heart to return to a normal rate after exercise. We can assess this with the Step Test.
Stand in front of a gym bench. Record your resting pulse rate. Start your stop-watch and step up onto the bench and back down onto the floor. Continue this exercise at a regular pace for three minutes. Now, rest for one minute then measure your pulse rate.
Pulse RateFitness 70excellent 80good 90average 100poor
People over the age of 40 will find that they have a slightly higher resting pulse rate (5-10 beats/min higher than that listed above). Continue checking your pulse and note the time at which it returns to the resting rate. This time interval should shorten as you become fitter. The safe work-out should raise your pulse rate to around 140 beats/min.
Selecting the Programme
Your overall level of fitness, the amount of time you wish to spend on any one exercise session and the number of sessions you can manage each week, will help you determine which programme to follow. We start at the lowest level with the Recruit Programme and end with the Professional SAS Programme. In between, we have intermediate and advanced routines.
The Recruit Programme
If you are over-weight, troubled with minor injuries or your overall fitness is low, this is the schedule for you.
WEEK ONE: Aim to exercise for around 40 minutes on alternate days.
Day One: We start with a road walk and run. Jog until you feel uncomfortable and then change to a brisk walk. Open your stride and breathe deeply until your breathing returns to a more moderate rate. When you feel ready, start jogging again. Choose a route or circuit that takes you approximately 40 minutes to complete.
Day Two: This is a rest day, but try some stretching exercises. You may be stiff after your road walk and run, and some gentle stretching will help ease tired muscles.
Day Three: Complete Fitness Programme One . Do not forget your warm-up, but you can omit the shuttle runs. Programme One is about anaerobic exercises and of course we do not forget those abdominal muscles! Do all the stretching exercises; aim to gain flexibility without straining ligaments and muscles. Try to do five repetitions of every exercise. Take short breaks in between repetitions and three-minute recovery periods between sets of exercises. Do not forget your warm-down exercises. Do them to the best of your ability. Each time you do these exercises, you should notice an improvement. It is worth doing the workout just to have that shower! You are getting the same enjoyment from the simple pleasures in life as any millionaire. After you have washed, gradually reduce the shower temperature until it is cold. By doing this, in winter the cold air outside the gym will be less of a shock to your system. Wrap up well for the journey home.
Day Four: Although this is a rest day, it gives us a chance to do some more of those abdominal exercises. Do five repetitions of bent knee sit-ups, leg raises, sit-ups and crunches.
Day Five: After warming up and stretching, complete the novice weight training programme. Work the muscles in the following order: shoulders, chest, back, legs, arms and legs. Because the legs have some of the largest muscles in the body, we exercise them twice. Start with comfortable weights enabling you to carry out the full range of movements. Warm down and then wipe away the sweat before showering. Day Six: Rest day.
DayProgramme 8Abdominals – 5 reps in the morning; 5 before retiring. 9Programme One . 10Abdominals – 2 sets. 11Road walk and run. 12Abdominals. Increase to 10 reps twice-daily. 13Novice weights . 14Abdominals – twice daily.
Day Seven: This is the day for our fun swim. Complete as many lengths in 30 minutes as possible. At the end of each length, change to another stroke until you have practised both breast stroke and front crawl. Swimming is a wonderful, relaxing exercise and we have included it at the end of the week to help you recover!
The first week is always the hardest and soon you will find the training much easier. In subsequent weeks, we shall develop our fitness by increasing the tempo of the exercises.
During these three weeks of training, try to eat regular, healthy meals. Also, aim to get to bed early and have a good night’s sleep. Try to cut out alcohol and cigarettes.
DayProgramme 15Run for the full 40 minutes. 16Abdominals and press-ups.
When doing abdominals, do 5 normal press-ups, 5 finger-tip press-ups and 5 wide arm press-ups. 17Programme One . 18Abdominals and press-ups. 19Novice Weights . 20Abdominals and press-ups. 21Swim.
WEEK FOUR: We are going to train every day and increase our exercise sessions to one hour. Start each morning with ten repetitions of the exercises to work your abdominal muscles. Finish with ten push-ups to exercise the arm muscles!
Run on day 22, complete the novice weight training programme on day 23, follow Programme One on day 24, then repeat this same pattern of programmes on days 25-27. Pay special attention to your warm-up, stretching and warm-down periods. These should have become second nature by now. After the first month, you can extend the basic programme by making the swimming and runs longer, increasing the number of repetitions and sets for the fitness exercises, and either increasing the weights or number of repetitions for the weight-training exercises. Otherwise, move on to the intermediate programme.
The programme starts every morning when you get out of bed. Spend three minutes on breathing exercises. While you are breathing, focus your mind on what you are going to achieve today! Get down on the floor and complete
DayProgramme iRun 5 km (3 miles).
Stretch. Programme Two . 2Rest. 3Intermediate Weights . 4Rest. 5Cycling Stage One . Stretch.
Programme Two – increase reps to 10. 6Rest. 7Intermediate Weights.
DayProgramme 8Timed swim. Today should be a rest day but a swim will help you unwind. 9Run 5 km (3 miles).
Stretch. 10Rest. 11Intermediate Weights. 12Rest. 13Cycle. Stretch. Programme
Two. 14Timed swim. 10 repetitions of each of the following, to be executed in the order given: press-ups, crunches, finger-tip press-ups, bent-knee sit-ups, wide arm press-ups, hand slides, press-ups, leg raises, finger-tip press-ups, sit-ups and wide arm press-ups.
Together with the breathing exercises, these should take no longer than six minutes to complete. The intermediate programme starts with 60-minute sessions, building up to 90-minute sessions by the fourth week.
DayProgramme 15Programme Two. 16Rest. 17Intermediate Weights. 18Rest. 19Cycle Stage One.
Programme Two. 20Rest. 21Intermediate Weights.
DayProgramme 22Swim. 23Run. Programme Two. 24Intermediate Weights. 25Cycle. Programme Two. 26Intermediate Weights. 27Run. Programme Two. 28Swim.
This demanding training programme and early morning exercises may force you to restructure your social life. But stick with it! I did not say it was going to be easy. Start including complex, carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta in your daily diet.
Once you have completed the first two weeks of this programme, you should be starting to enjoy the benefits. All the exercises should have become very familiar and you should be able to move from one set of exercises to another without taking rests in-between. However, do take your three-minute rests between sets. Make a note of how long it takes you to complete the whole training session. As your best personal time becomes shorter, maintain the challenge by adding repetitions to each of the exercises and by increasing the training weights.
In the fourth week, we are going to extend each session to 90 minutes and start to work out every day. We will increase the number of sets and, of course, make the weight training a little more challenging. Continue with the intermediate programme until you feel ready for the advanced programme.
The Advanced Programme
This is our advanced programme and it really is punishing. I strongly advise all readers to master the intermediate programme first.
Start each day with your breathing exercises, abdominal muscle exercises and push-ups. Do five repetitions of each of the following exercises: crunches, finger-tip press-ups, bent knee sit-ups, wide arm press-ups, hand slides, normal press-ups, leg raises, sit-ups, finger-tip press-ups and finally more wide arm press-ups. This is one set of exercises. Do three sets in total. The aim is to build stamina. We will have fewer rest days and build up to a climax in the third week when we will complete a 40-km (25-mile) bicycle ride on a hard circuit.
All athletes maintain their fitness by training hard, but the timing of their peak fitness is what really separates the winners from the losers in competitive sports and athletics. The trick is to ensure that you peak on the day of the competition and not in the gym several days earlier. This programme aims to bring you to peak fitness on Day 18 and will help you learn to manage and monitor your own peak fitness.
The next part of the programme will test your recovery times and whet your appetite for further advanced training. On week four, we work every day and we really put in the miles! If, at any time during the training, you feel
DayProgramme 1Run 8 km (5 miles).
Programme Three (p 42). 2Rest. 3Advanced Weights . 4Timed Swim Routine . 5Cycling Stage Two . Advanced
Weights – 1 set. 6Rest. 7Fast run. Programme Three.
DayProgramme 8Fun swim. 9Advanced Weights. 10Rest. 11Cycling Stage Two.
Advanced Weights – 2 reps. 12Rest. 13Advanced Weights. 14Run 8 km (5 miles).
Programme Three. that you still have energy to spare, add some additional repetitions to the exercises in Programme Three and the weight machine exercises in the advanced weight training programme. Although this programme is very demanding, you should not allow it to take over your life. Your increased fitness should give you more energy and you should take advantage of this to play with your children, spend time with your partner or take up a sport. The trick comes in organising your life so that you make the best use of your
DayProgramme 15Timed swim. 16Advanced Weights. 17Rest. 18Cycling Stage Two.
Programme Three. 19Rest. 20Advanced Weights. 21Rest.
DayProgramme 22Programme Three. 23Run 8 km (5 miles). 24Advanced Weights. 25Cycling Stage Two. 26Programme Three. 27Advanced Weights. 28Run 8 km (5 miles). spare time and really learn to enjoy it. Also, make sure that you do not become stale and bored with your programme.
If you miss a session, work twice as hard on the next one. If you suffer an injury, rest up until you have fully recovered and then continue the programme from where you left off. Your muscles will start to take on more definition and your confidence should also increase. You can be justly proud of what you have achieved!
Split and Double Split Routines
The weight training sessions are staggered to allow you recovery time. It is possible to weight-train every day if we split the body’s muscles into three groups and work on one of these each day
When we progress to the professional SAS training programme, we will start to do three sessions every day. It should be possible to weight-train twice a day using double split routines where you train hard for short periods, enabling you to get the most from these intensive training sessions.
MonShoulders and back.
WedArms and chest.
FriShoulders and back.
SatArms and chest.
Double Split Routine
DaySession 1Session 2
SetProgramme i1 5 reps light weight. 210 reps 2.2 kg (5 lb) increase. 38 reps 2.2 kg (5 lb) increase. 46 reps 2.2 kg (5 lb) increase. 53 reps maximum.
As you gain more strength and you want to progress further, you can try a schedule of ‘super sets’.
At the end of the week, decrease by half the weights in the routines that you are doing and do just one set of exercises with 30 repetitions each. At the end of the fourth week, increase the number of repetitions to 40 and the next week increase them to 50 repetitions. Once you have achieved this, add 2.2 kg (5 lb) to all the weights and drop back to 30 repetitions. In each subsequent week, start adding 10 repetitions to each exercise again.
The Professional SAS Programme
The Army training programme is tough but only the best get to wear the sand-coloured beret and the winged sword. ‘Who dares wins’. Do you dare to win? Do you dare to take on this fitness programme?! We train three times daily, every day. The rationale is to build up stamina without sacrificing strength or speed. Each session is approximately one hour in duration and can be done before work, during the lunch break and in the evening. At weekends, we spend a full day on the hills and swim on Sunday. The rest of Sunday is free time. Although we train with weights every day, we use a split routine. It is time to monitor your progress and assess what you have achieved. How is the training going? You are now covering a lot of miles and your body should be responding. For variety in your endurance runs, choose different circuits or run the course in the opposite direction on alternate days. Tired muscles? There is nothing like a massage to help aching muscles and help the body relax. Go to a professional masseur or masseuse initially, but you might consider learning this technique, teaching your partner and then asking them to do it. A hot bath is another answer for tired muscles. Add some essential oils. By now, you will know your favourite exercises. We always prefer those things at which we excel. Put more effort into those exercises you hate. You will find some days easier than others; that is the whole idea of this routine. After an endurance exercise we move to a speed session to avoid getting sluggish.
Weeks One – Four
DaySession 1Session 2Session 3 1Fun run.Programme Three plus extra exercises .Advanced Weights (split). 2Fast run.CQB2 .Weights – legs. 3Endurance run.Programme Three.Weights – back, chest. 4Fun run.Assault course – 3 laps.weights – 5 super sets. 5Cycle endurance.CQB2.Weights – 30 reps. 6Bergen march – 18kg (40 lb). 7Endurance swim. 8Fast run.CQB2.Weights – shoulders, arms. 9Cycle endurance.Programme Three.Weights – legs. 10Fun run.Assault course – 5 laps.Weights – back, chest. 11Endurance run.CQB 2.Weights – 5 super sets. 12Cycling 24 km (15 miles).Programme Three.Weights – 40 reps. 13Bergen march – 20kg (45 lb). 14Endurance swim. 15Fun run.CQB 2.Weights – shoulders, arms. 16Fast run.Programme Three.Weights – legs. 17Endurance run.Assault course.Weights – back, chest. 18Fun run.CQB 2.Super sets. 19Cycle endurance.Programme Three.Weights – 50 reps. 20Bergen march – 22kg (50 lb). 21Endurance swim. 22Fast run.CQB 2.Weights – shoulders, arms. 23Cycle 24 km (15 mles). Programme Three.Weights – legs. 24Endurance run.Assault course.Weights – back, chest. 25Fun run.CQB 2.Super sets. 26Endurance cycling.Programme Three.Weights 30 reps plus 22.2 kg (55 lb). 27Bergen march – 25kg (55 lb). 28Endurance swim.
WEEK FIVE: In the fifth week, we change the routine to one session per day as we build up for the Bergen March on day 6. This is equivalent to the military endurance march. We start this at 1600 hours on Saturday, carrying 25 kg (55 lb), and march through the night to finish on Sunday.
On Monday, do the advanced weights programme, Tuesday is a rest day, Wednesday: endurance run, Thursday: rest, Friday: cycle endurance, then the march on Saturday. Rest again on Sunday. You should record your best times for the running and cycling sessions. Try to keep to these times in the coming weeks.
WEEK SIX: To prevent ourselves from becoming bored and to keep alive our spirit of adventure, try to spend this week following an outdoor pursuit. Aim to achieve a life-long ambition such as free-fall parachuting, canoeing or rock climbing. Your new-found confidence and strength can be put to the test. Only do light runs and work-outs this week. Leave the weight training alone. This will give you a much needed rest and allow your body to recover and revitalise. Take up a sport or start training for the local half or full marathons. Put your name down for a raft race team.
WEEK SEVEN: On week seven, we return to the hard work of three sessions per day. The break in week six will encourage you to scale new heights and achieve better personal times. Your performance always increases after a rest. The programme is the same as week one but you can add repetitions to the physical training sessions and increase the weights during weight training. Try to improve your times for running and cycling. Add distance to maintain the challenge of the programme!