Workout Plan

A "mid-winter" exercise program developed in the San Francisco bay area (which counts as late spring or early fall, anywhere else).

Eric Armstrong

I make up exercise programs all the time. I keep thinking, "when I get this one perfected, I'll publish it. But by the time I get it "perfected", I get burned out on it or the seasons change and I wind up with a different mix of activities. But some of the programs I've developed are pretty darn decent, and are worth revisiting. So I finally figured out that I should publish an outline of what I'm doing, as I'm doing it. Then I'll be able to come back to it whenever I want to. (And when I get around to publishing descriptions of the various exercises, I'll be able to make collections based on the outlines!)

So here is the program I'm using at the moment. I'll be modifying it as I go along, so the version you see in Jan/Feb 2008 will be a snapshot of what I'm currently doing. (By March, it should be stable, and I will probably be working on some other program.)

For an easier program to get started with, see the 2007 Workout Plan.


The general idea is to establish a sustainable level of activity--one that gets results and lets you know you're doing the someting, without leaving you so sore and tired that you can't keep doing it. So by all means customize what you see here to establish a minimum level of exercise that you can sustain.

The specific goals of the program are:

The general focus is on:

The program is designed for a man, so it incorporates a lot of strength work.


  1. Set a time limit.
    That's especially necessary for the morning strength workouts. Ten minutesin the morning is plenty to get the metabolism working and stimulate growth. (Twenty to forty minutes is great in the afternoon/evening.) It seems like it would be easy to keep to the limit in the morning, given the need to get on with your day. But as I get stronger, I find myself adding exercises. Pretty soon, I'm up to 20 or 30 minutes. A few weeks after that, I'm into overtraining--I feel listless, generally fatigued, and I'm not as productive. But it sneaks up so slowly I never see it coming. A time limit helps to prevent that. It can really be your friend.
  2. Vary the exercises and intensity.
    The time limit really helps there. Up the intensity by taking shorter rests and doing more exercises. Lower the intensity with longer rests. Save any exercises you don't do for the next time. When you're picking exercises, let your body be your guide. What feels like it hasn't been used in a while? Give it some attention. Use the exercises shown here as a very general guide.
  3. Stretch during or after every activity.
    Stretching promotes growth and improves recovery time.


  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Fitness & Stretch
(upper body)
(pick one)
Kick & Stretch
Fitness & Stretch
(lower body)
(pick one)
Kick & Stretch
Swing & Walk
(Drvng Rnge)
Run & Stretch
Martial Arts
&/or Dance
PowerWalk/ Run / Dance
Cycle & Short Game
Tai Chi 
Tai Chi
Tai Chi 


Morning Exercises

Fitness & Stretch Wgts-1 Kick & Stretch Wgts-2 (Dbells)

Upper Body

  • Push up / Bow
  • Pull up / Side Stretch
  • Crunch / Cobra
  • Hip Lift / Kneeling Lunge
  • Chin up / Palms behind
    (sitting on floor)


  • Clean & jerk
  • Side press
  • Snatch

Med. Clubbell

  • Mill
  • Rocket squats
  • Big circles
  • Iron Cross
  • Drum
  • Thor's hammer
  • Samuraii Sword
  • Joint Rotations
  • JSW Warmups
  • Leg Swings & Sweeps
  • Front kick
  • Side kick
  • Round house
  • Back kick
  • Hook kick
  • Spin roundhouse
  • Stretch
  • Meditate
  • Deadlift
  • Shrug
  • Squat Explosions
  • Side Hops
  • Punch Pull
  • Punch Press
  • Pec Flies
  • Ovhd Press
  • Trap Raise
  • Tricep Press
  • Curls
  • Back Flies
  • Front Delts
  • Side Delts

Lower Body

  • Squat Jump /
    Quad sit & Child
  • Calf bounce and hold /
    Calf stretch
  • Floor Twist / Sit Twist
  • Leg curls /
    Hamstring & Hangover

Lg. Club

  • Front to Back
  • Ovhd Sword

Sm Clubs

  • Mill w/ Flair
  • Figure 8's
  • Small circles
  • Joint Rotations
  • JSW Warmups
  • Shuffle & Shift
  • Hewson Triples
  • Jump Front
  • Jump/Push Side
  • Jump Round House
  • Jump Crescent
  • Jump Back
  • Jump Spin
  • Stretch
  • Meditate

Morning exercises are centered around strength training. Two days a week are for general fitness, focusing on abs and bodyweight exercises. Two days are devoted to weight training, focusing on the upper body using dumbbells, clubbells, indian clubs to focus on the upper body, plus a kettlebell for full-body muscle-synchronization and fat burning. The remaining two days are focused on kicking techniques, which works up a sweat while focusing on the abs, legs, and lower body.

Other Notes:

Afternoon and Evening Activities

Afternoon and evening activites focus on cardio work and skill drills. Mostly, they're outdoors--early afternoons on cold days, and early evening on warm ones. For running, it's nice to do several kinds of runs in a sequence--but most often I'll play it by ear:

Nighttime Yoga

If I have time and energy, I do full series in a style of Yoga I call Pulsing Yoga. If it's late and I'm tired, I'll do a shorter sequence with 30-second holds, and get to bed:

Mixing it Up

When you've been doing the exercises for 4 to 6 weeks, your body will begin to acclimate to the work load. That's also when things will tend to get a little boring. You can shake things up without changing the exercises by taking some days off.

You do the same exercises on the same days, you just don't work out every day. That varies the workload, gives your body more time to recover to prevent the fatigue that comes from overtraining, and lets you work even harder on the days that you do exercise.

Here's a good series of variations for the weeks following your 4-6 week acclimation period. Workout however you want on weekends. During the week, exercise on the days shown:

After that, you can get a pair of dice, and use one of them to randomly schedule your workouts:

For even more variety, you can roll two dice: one for your morning workouts (strength), and once for afternoon/evening workouts (cardio).

Finally, you come up with a system that weights the workouts, so you do some patterns more often than others:

With that weighting, o ut of 36 possible combinations of the 2 dice, you will tend to be totally off twice, do one workout 4 times, 2 workouts 6 times, 3 workouts 8 times, 4 workouts 10 times, and 5 workouts 6 times. (Vary the assignments to get any distribution you like.)

If you roll once for morning strength workouts, and once again for afternoon/evening cardio workouts, you get one heck of a lot of schedule variation, without changing the exercises.

Let Soreness be Your Guide

Another way to achieve variation--and prevent overtraining--is to listen to your body. The nice thing about having an exercise plan is that if you're sore after exercising, you can just skip a few sessions until you feel fully recovered. You can then return to the plan when you're ready to exercise again. (You'll know what that is--your body is just itching for some activity).

When you like as many different activities as I do, it's really nice to have a plan. Because instead of wondering "What should I do today?", you have a pre-set activity ready to select. (Or change! Be flexible.)

The other advantage to that system is that, over time, you will engage in the kind of exercise-variety that promotes general fitness and avoids repetetive-stress injuries. Even if you only exercise every third day, it's more than nothing. Over a six or eight period, you'll hit all of the activities. And as you grow stronger and recover faster, you'll wind up doing more, little by little, until you're exercising nearly every day. (But it's easy to get carried away, go into overtraining, and wind up giving up due to general fatigue and boredom. I know! It's practically a lifestyle with me. So take it easy on yourself!)




Copyright © 2008 by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
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