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Tribesports User of the Week: Russell G


Posted by Russell G under Weight Training (Strength Training), Running, Rowing on 15 May 2013 at 11:00 PM

Russell G profileWhat has been your toughest Tribesports Challenge and which are you most proud of?

Running 5k in under 30 minutes.  This may seem like a basic challenge to most people, but for me it was a big deal.  As a child, teenager and young adult I was asthmatic and could never run.  I’ve gone through most of my adult life believing that I was unable to run for any length of distance.  Last year my rowing machine broke and in order to get in some cardio I started jogging.  I was incredibly slow and not very good at it, but gradually the fitness started to come and the distances lengthened.

 One day I was running round my neighbourhood and I had upped the pace a little and noticed half way round that it was within my grasp to go sub 30.  So, I went for it and it happened.  I was delighted.  It was without a doubt the most rewarding challenge to date.  The next big one for me is under an hour for 10k.

You say in your bio that you've been weight training for over 20 years - which programs or exercises have worked best for you?

When I started out in the mid 80s I had bought myself a copy of Arnie’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding and I threw myself into his routines with gusto.  However, Arnold’s view of training volume is at the very high end of high volume and I soon found myself as a beginner burning out.  A little later I was very taken with Dorian Yates’s philosophies of High Intensity, but I really wasn’t advanced enough or strong enough to get the benefits of his one or two sets an exercise methodology.  I read once that the best routine is the one that you aren’t currently doing.  I’ve been a great reader of training and bodybuilding knowledge and in the last 10 years have shifted between full body functional training to 2, 3 and 4-splits with a mid-range volume of work.  

Russell G's home gymMy back has always been my best bodypart and that’s probably a mix of genetics and because I have always given great emphasis to it, training it in the four planes of motion – vertical pulls, such as pull ups and pull downs; horizontal pulls, such as bent over rows; upwards pulls such as shrugs and deadlifts for the traps; spinal erector exercises such as deadlifts and straight-leg deadlifts.  You so often see men with great front physiques, but when they turn round their backs are pitiful.  I always wanted to avoid that.  I also emphasised compound exercises, but if anything that has given me an asymmetry where my torso is much better than my arms.

My most productive exercises have been: 1-Arm Dumbbell Rows; Low incline dumbbell chest press; Seated dumbbell press; Seated overhead triceps extension; Alternate curls; Decline sit ups; Straight leg Deadlifts; Back Squats.

Let's talk stats: what are your One Max Reps in the Big 3?

I’m not the strongest of guys, and generally don’t go for 1RMs.  Best lifts have been Bench – 100kg for 4 reps; Squats – 125kg for 6 reps; Deadlift – 135kg for 8 reps.   I think that equates to 110kg – 145kg – 170kg, or something like that.

Rowing a marathon is an insane achievement - what's the story?

Around 2005 I discovered indoor rowing, became involved with the online indoor rowing community and bought myself a Concept 2 rowing machine.  At the time I completely stopped weight training and carried out between 6 and 8 rowing sessions a week.  I had tried out a marathon within a few months of beginning training, more as a test of my own endurance, but it was very slow.  After this I followed something called the Wolverine Plan.  A good number of the sessions each week had a prescribed pace for rate based on your best time over 2,000 metres.  Just to explain what I meant, this means that you would do sessions ramping between 18, 20 and 22 strokes per minute at set paces, such as 2:08, 2:04 and 1:59 (500m pacing).  This teaches you to achieve a strong, but consistent stroke at slower training stroke rates.  You build your base rowing fitness at those levels and also develop strength of stroke that you can use when increasing the stroke rate for a 2,000 metre race.  After some months of this training, including training sessions of half-marathon length, I figured that I had the right stroke strength to try a sub-3 hour marathon.  

I set up the Concept 2 on my patio one Sunday afternoon and just went for it.  As I grew tired, so the stroke rate increased to compensate, but I kept the pace right on target until the end.  My biggest tip is to sit on a folded towel - unless you want to take the skin off your butt!  Rowing a marathon isn’t something I plan on doing again.

How's your running coming along?

Running is great thanks.  My wife bought us a new running machine after the old one died a death.  It’s a Reebok Z8 and I’m very happy with it.  Trouble is, that I just can’t tempt myself off it to run outside at the moment!  At present the schedule is 3 days of resistance training and 3 days of running a week.  Day 1 running = 6 miles plus of slow and steady.  Day 2 running = 3 to 4 miles of easy running.  Day 3 = 5k tempo run or intervals at 3k or 5k Pace.

What's your big goal for 2013?

Russell in his running gearMy biggest goal is stabilising my health; I was recently diagnosed with essential hypertension.   It was frustrating for me, especially as I was already doing everything on the lifestyle chart, so clearly the blood pressure was resistant to lifestyle changes. It also means I can’t push my training as hard as I would like.  Perhaps the biggest change has been moving away from weight training.  I have been advised to not do big heavy movements such as deadlifts, squats or overhead squats.  Resistance training has now become callisthenics.  Thankfully I have a pull ups/dips station in my garage - I’ve always been relatively poor at chins/pull ups, but yesterday I hit a new personal best for me of 10 unassisted chins.  Woo hoo!.

 Beyond that the big goal is upping the pace and endurance of my running to be able to run 10k in less than an hour.  Also improving my strength in calisthenics exercises.  Oh, and trimming that layer of mid-section fat so that my abs are visible.  To be 50 years of age, be muscular and have a visible six pack would be a cool achievement!

Which Tribesports user makes your day?

There are so many great users on Tribesports, many of whom I find inspirational.  My favourite for some while has been Samarath A.  He and I have had great fun trading Haikus in the Poetry Tribe.

What's your favourite quote?

“We have such sights to show you”.  Spoken by Pinhead in Hellraiser.  Doug Bradley, who plays Pinhead, shares my birthday – 7th September.

There are also many, many great quotes from Bad Boy Bubby, another of my favourite films.  My budgerigar is named Bubby after the lead character of the film.