The Easiest Strength Plan You’ve Ever Seen

Making decisions is exhausting.

What should I wear? What should I eat? Should I wear deodorant? So many questions to answer!

Decision fatigue is the idea that our ability to make good decisions decreases as we make more decisions. I use to think it wasn’t a thing. Being a parent and having a spouse that is much smarter than me has changed that. For me, there is a good correlation between the time of day, my access to coffee, and the quality of the decisions that I make. Trying to decide the font, transition, or script of a social media video is a lot easier in the morning when I’m energized and caffeinated. Deciding these things at the end of a day is more of a struggle.

By the end of the day, you don’t want to decide anything!

Runners are often apprehensive about entering the weight room. One of the biggest barriers to lifting is the sheer number of decisions you have to make regarding what equipment to use, what exercises to perform, and how much to do of said exercise. We can’t deny the benefits of runners doing some heavy lifting, but the implementation can be tricky.

Let’s take the decision-making off your plate.

I’ve written before about why the squat should be a key component of a runner’s strength program. I want to show you a really simple way to progress this lift while minimizing the need for you to make decisions.

Start Here: The Goblet Squat

Grab a weight that you feel like you can squat ten times and still have a little left in the tank. That tenth rep should feel like you are working hard, but your soul hasn’t been crushed. You should be able to complete two to three more repetitions at that weight before you’d have to throw in the towel. The number of reps you COULD still do is the Repetitions in Reserve (RIR).

RIR refers to how many more repetitions of an exercise you could complete before reaching failure. If I did 10 pushups but felt like I could do 13 pushups before I wouldn’t be able to complete more, the RIR would be 3. This is an easy way to gauge the intensity of an exercise.

Alright. Back to the weight you picked up.

Perform 3 sets of 10 squats at that weight.

Go home. Come back a week later. Add five pounds and repeat the 3 sets of ten.

A steady improvement of five pounds per week is a normal progression for a squat. At this point we progress to the front squat. Keep doing this weekly until the weight is too heavy to hoist up to the goblet position then move to the next version below

Go Here Next: The Back Squat

We will repeat the same test we did with the Goblet Squat. You are going to find a weight that you can squat 10 times with 2 RIR. Write that weight down.

Come back a week later. Add five pounds. Kinda redundant and boring huh?
It should be.

Do this until you are unable to add five pounds on and still complete those ten repetitions. If you started back squatting at 100# tomorrow, you could be squatting close to 175# in June. That’s awesome.

We often need consistency over complexity. We can make strength training too complicated at times. There is science and expertise needed to squeeze as much benefit out of lifting as possible. For seasoned athletes, the need for more specific programming is often necessary. For many, the biggest hurdle is just getting started. Try this out a few weeks before the start of your next training block. Be ready for some sore quads and let “FUTURE YOU” reap the benefits.

Got more questions about lifting for endurance athletes? Want a tailored plan specific for you?

Email and let’s get you set up for training and racing success.

Thanks for taking the time to read!

Nathan Carlson PT, DPT, USATF