Strength Before Cardio: It’s Not a Universal Law

The Best Way To Run After Squats And Deadlifts?

By Mark Sisson

I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now, so I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel here. What follows are some general guidelines that have worked well for me. If you’re looking for specific advice on how to run after your lifts, then read up on it elsewhere (and if you really want specific advice, ask me).

First, make sure you’re properly warmed up. Warm up with light weights for 5 minutes before your lift. You don’t need to do anything fancy, just a few sets of light weight at first until you feel ready.

Then add in some speed work or some other form of resistance training afterwards. Don’t forget to stretch out afterward!

Next, take a look around and see what kind of terrain you’ll be working on today.

A hill? A trail? An indoor track?

Whatever you like. Just make sure there’s something to run on!

Finally, get into position. Get yourself in a comfortable stance and put your feet shoulder width apart. Make sure your shoulders are back and neck relaxed – no strain in the upper back or neck from holding a barbell overhead.

Your arms should be straight but not locked at all; they shouldn’t even move during the movement!

Make sure you have a good grip on the bar. Not so tight that your hands go white, of course, but you don’t want your hands and forearms going flying during a heavy lift!

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Also, be prepared for the fact that this is going to take quite a while. You may need to make adjustments; just make sure you keep track of what you’re doing and why.

All right, now get set and lift the bar off the rack. Take a deep breath and hold it in as you bend your knees and lift the bar off the rack. Don’t just drop down and heave the thing up!

You’re not ready for that yet!

There’s no hurry, remember?

You’re only going to be doing this once a week for several months at least. Take your time and do it right!

Now take a few steps back so that the bar rests in your fingers and your arms are straight but not locked. Make sure you don’t take too wide of a step or you’ll have to turn around, and you’re just getting started. Lifting that barbell is going to be hard enough, you don’t want to add unnecessary movements right now.

Now hold the bar in place and take a couple more deep breaths. Check your grip, make sure everything is tight, and keep the bar in place.

All right, now you’re really ready to begin!

Bend those knees and lift the bar off the floor. As you lift it, make sure to keep your arms straight but not locked. You don’t want to tire out your arm before your legs even get involved!

Keep the bar close to your body as you lift it off the floor and continue to stand up straight. As you lift the bar up, shift it around to your fingers. You should be holding the bar with your knuckles facing the ceiling and your fingers wrapped around the bar.

Make sure those knees of yours are still bent! You don’t want to strain anything yet by locking those joints completely.

Now take a few practice steps with the bar. Don’t sprint or try anything fancy, just go from point A to B. Don’t start by running a few miles!

You want to save your energy for the important stuff later.

After you’ve walked several steps with that barbell, you’re ready to try a few runs! Pick a safe spot to set it down and walk back and forth a few times before picking it up again and trying out some running. This will help you get loosened up a bit and make sure your form stays tight when running.

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Don’t start too fast or too soon. You don’t want to burn out or get ahead of yourself. Start with a nice, steady pace that you know you can maintain.

Once you’re warmed up and ready to go, give it everything you’ve got!

Now you just need to set the bar back in the rack. I know, I know, it sounds easy but it’s not. Make sure you have a clear shot at the rack and know exactly where you’re going to set it down.

Then bend your knees and keep that back straight. Don’t bend your arms or twist as you lift the weight off of your body.

Slowly turn yourself around and take a couple of steps so you can set the bar in the rack. As with picking up the weight, make sure your grip is secure but not so much that you tire out before you even start pushing.

Now you get to do it all over again!

Sounds fun, eh?

Just wait until it really starts to hurt!

As you work out, your muscles are going to start craving rest. They’ll hurt and you’ll have trouble sleeping, but don’t give in! You need to push through the pain and break down those muscles so they can grow stronger!

If you have to, take a break every now and then but keep at it as much as you can.

Don’t worry about calories. You aren’t building this body for looks, you’re building it for performance! If anything, you should probably be eating more to give your body the fuel it needs to perform at its best.

Just try not to go overboard and stuff your face with junk food. Keep the calories clean and focus on proteins and complex carbs. Think eggs, tuna, whole grains, fruits and vegetables… that kind of thing.

And there you have it! Now get to work and start building that body!

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Tips

If you don’t have a barbell handy, you can perform these same exercises with cans of food, water bottles or even soup cans! You’ll be surprised at how heavy those things can get after a few reps.

Nutrition (What to eat!)

While you’re working out and building muscle, your body is going to need some nutrition. Lucky for you, there are a ton of foods that will help you reach your goals. Just remember, this is for building muscle.

If you’re trying to lose weight, then all of this still applies, but you’ll want to avoid the “fattening” foods that you should already know about.

Carbs

There are good carbs and bad carbs. You want to fill your body with good carbs so it has the energy it needs to perform at the highest level. Foods like oats, wheat, pasta and bananas are all foods that you want to eat.

Proteins

There are good proteins and bad proteins. You want to fill your body with good proteins so it has the materials it needs to build and maintain muscle. Lean meats like turkey and chicken are good for you as well as certain fish like tuna and salmon.

Fats

There are good fats and bad fats. You want to fill your body with good fats to provide the materials it needs to build and maintain muscle. Foods like nuts, peanut butter, Olive Oil and certain fish like tuna and salmon have the fats that you need.

Supplements

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While most foods have what the body needs to grow stronger and better, there are times when our diets just don’t cut it. In those instances, supplements come in handy. They’re packed with all of the nutrients your body needs to maximize its growth.

Before you go spending your money on supplements, you should know that most of them are a waste. The industry is unregulated and, as such, it’s very common for companies to cut corners and add all sorts of strange things into their products. It’s not worth the risk and you’re much better off eating right and eating well.

If, however, you’re still interested in pursuing supplements, there are a few that are well known to work and won’t kill you. Just remember, if you’re going to take them, you should talk to your doctor first or at least a knowledgable expert that can guide you.

Creatine – One of the most researched and proven supplements out there. It’s safe and it works really well for adding strength and size. It’s even found naturally in foods like duck and salmon.

BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) – Amino acids are what protein is made up of and BCAAs are one of the essential ones that help with building muscle. Supplementing with them has been known to increase performance and muscle gains. It should be noted, however, that they do not help people who don’t work out and if you’re eating enough protein already.

Glutamine – Another amino acid, Glutamine is the most abundant in the body and aids in muscle repair as well as helping to prevent muscle soreness.

ZMA (Zinc, Maganese and Vitamin B) – This trio has been proven time and time again to increase the testosterone levels in men. This, in turn, leads to greater muscle gain and higher performance in general.

While you won’t use these supplements as your primary focus, adding a few of them into your diet shouldn’t hurt you at all and could very well help you out.

Those are the basics to making sure that your body is getting what it needs to reach its full potential. Your next concern is making sure your mind is just as prepared.

People tend to underestimate the role that your mind plays in how well (or poorly) you perform. It doesn’t matter how strong or fast you are or how much you can eat, if your mind isn’t in the game, everything else is pointless. That’s why even the greatest of athletes have failed when it mattered most due to a poor mental approach.

It’s very important that you keep yourself in a positive frame of mind. If you’re constantly worrying about things or letting yourself get too far down because of a loss then you’re mentally weak and your performance will show it. No matter how strong you are or how much food you can eat, if your mind isn’t right then it doesn’t matter.

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The way to keep your mind in tip top shape is very simple – stay positive. You should never allow yourself to get too down on yourself and most importantly, you must stay confident.

Confidence is key in everything that you do. You should always believe that you’re the best at what you do. Even if you’re not, pretending will make you the best in your mind and that’s what matters most.

Now I’m not saying to go around being arrogant or obnoxious to others, but rather be confident in your own abilities. Know that you’re going to win every fight that you’re in. Know that no matter what happens you’ll be able to overcome the odds and make it out alive.

Know that no matter what situation you find yourself in, you’ll be able to get yourself out of it.

Confidence is not easily broken so as long as you keep this frame of mind for the most part, there’s no real way for anyone else to convince you that you aren’t. Of course, there’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance. It’s up to you to determine what others think of you based on what you say and do.

It would be in your best interest to stay away from being labeled as the “typical meathead”. Most tend not to like those types anyway. The last thing you’d want is to be attacked by a group of your classmates for example because they didn’t like the way you were behaving towards them.

More than anything though, you want to avoid the stupid mistakes that some tend to make when they’re overconfident. Charging into a group of ten goblins by yourself when you’re only level two isn’t exactly the brightest idea. Even if you are successful, you’re going to take a lot of damage and end up having to waste time healing which takes away from your training time.

When you’re surrounded by ten goblins, running away might not be a bad idea…but only as a last resort!

As part of your daily training, I want you to spar with other classmates that are close to your level. This will not only give you real life experience and allow you to gain more real world knowledge, but it’ll also let you see how well you fare against other talented individuals. Other wise known as – leveling up in the real world!

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You’ll be able to see who you’re more successful against and who you’re not. Maybe you’re an expert at keeping your distance and firing arrows from a far, or maybe you charge right into the thick of battle drawing attention to yourself so your allies can pick off the remaining survivors.

Of course during your time spent with your fellow adventurers, I also want you to make sure that you’re keeping up on your studies of magic as well. Whether you’ve decided to specialize in Spirit, Mind, or Body magic, you’ll be able to learn more as you go on and there will be a lot for you to learn.

I’m also going to give you an additional book to read over during your down time. It’s called the “Spirit Weapon”. Apparently it’s rare item that the Kor have only allowed a few of their members of the ruling class to read.

It isn’t exactly a how to guide on the creation of such items, but more of an explanation of their history and importance. Your sword is apparently only one of five that still exist today. I want you to keep it with you at all times just in case you need it.

That’s it for now, I have to go meet your mother for our weekly dinner. I’m glad that she’s come around and accepted me as part of your life.

I’ll see you in a week, try not to get into too much trouble okay?

Love, Dad

P.S. I’m serious about that sword, don’t lose it or get it stolen.

I’m still paying off the guy I stole it off of!

You finish reading the letter and put it in your backpack, you think about mentioning it to your party but decide against it, they probably already know about it after all. You’re about to tell Elam when he comes back over with a small vial of glowing red liquid.

“Here we are, one dose of Liquid Fire! Just don’t drink it!” Elam puts the vial away in a pouch on your belt.

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“I’ll try to remember that.” You say.

Elam leaves you to get ready for the mission and you begin to put on the rest of your gear. When you finally stand up again and look in the mirror you can hardly believe it’s you. A red hooded robe covers black chainmail and all your vital spots are protected by steel plates.

Your sword is sheathed at your side and a crossbow with silver bolts sits in a holster at your hip. A brightly glowing vial of Liquid Fire is tucked away in a pouch at your side and you couldn’t feel more ready. You leave the changing room and are escorted by one of the professors outside to where the caravan is waiting for you.

There are twenty carriages in all, each pulled by two powerful looking warhorses. You and your three other classmates (A tall elven girl, a shorter human boy, and a very large and tall orc) that are assigned to the mission as well as Elam and Klemto are loaded into an Oldsmobile looking thing that glides on a cushion of air held five feet off the ground.

“Adventuring without horses, how novel!” One of the drivers says to your professors. “

I trust you have no objections to our vehicle?”

“Not at all, go right ahead.” Klemto says.

“Well alright then, I’m sure we’ll get along splendidly.” The driver says as he hops into his seat and gets the vehicle moving.

The trip is mostly silent until you reach the city gates where you are stopped by the Zalan army.

Where are you folks headed?”

The young soldier asks.

“We’re heading to the Tulan border, just for some routine maintenance of the road and bridges, you know how it is.” Klemto said.

“I see.

Do you mind if I check inside your carriages?”

“Oh no. Not at all. You go right ahead.”

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The soldier seems a little puzzled by Klemto’s friendly nature, but he gets off his horse and walks to the front carriage where another soldier is examining something. They begin to whisper and point at your carriage. You shrug your shoulders and sit back as the driver continues to talk with Klemto.

So are all of you maintenance people for the roads?”

He asks.

“Just me, I used to be a soldier and saw lots of combat, bless my soul. I miss it so. But I’m a little too old for that sort of thing now.

I just like to take jobs like this to keep myself busy and away from my wife, haha!” Klemto laughs.

This guy is certainly a better liar than you and seems to be putting a good word on all of you by discussing how stressful his marriage is. The soldiers soon get off the carriage and wave you through.

“Have a good trip!”

You soon learn that Klemto wasn’t lying about his marriage, as within an hour of leaving the city he starts going on about how much he loves his wife and how you don’t understand love until you have a wife of your own and then goes on to talk about how men and women are meant to be together, and not just physically.

About halfway through the trip, you get tired of hearing about this stuff and hop out of the carriage and grab a horse, riding it for the rest of the day until you make camp. You have to admit, as boring as travel on foot can be, it’s a lot better than listening to Klemto.

Eventually, you reach the city of Coda, which lies right beside the Tulan Border and the Capital City of Zal. You’ve never been here before, but it’s a very large city with lots of people and activity. One thing you notice is that a lot of the people have a militaristic look about them.

Many are walking around in armor and carrying weapons. When you get to the caravan station you see an oversized ogre of a man talking to Klemto and Elam. He’s obviously a warrior type.

So you’re sure you don’t want an extra guard with you?”

The man asks.

“Not at all sure. It’s just a routine maintenance trip, Rolomag.” Klemto says, pronouncing the name oddly.

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Besides, if anything happens, weren’t there supposed to be soldiers stationed at the border?

I thought I heard that the Tulan border towns were abundantly supplied with them.”

“Yeah, you’re right. We did that a year ago after we found out that the Ebony Claws were planning on invading. Those bastards have been really getting out of hand lately.

I wish we’d done it sooner. The problem is that we just don’t have the man power. We’re trying to keep the Orcs in check on our side of the border, too. Those greenskinned bastards have been getting increasingly more aggressive in recent years. I swear their wombats would all growl at us, if they weren’t all eaten by the time we got to them!”

How is Wessel doing? He still ranking commander over the Green Torcs?”

Klemto asks.

“Last I heard. I think he’s got a bigger stick up his arse than ever now. Getting assigned to that fort in the middle of nowhere had to be the best thing that could’ve happened to him.

Let’s just say he wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around prior to that.”

The man known as Rolomag begins to walk off, but then turns around.

“Oh, I almost forgot. Klemto, your wife was looking for you. She was here earlier asking about you.

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I think she was planning on coming here, but wasn’t sure if you were going to be returning today or not.”

“Thanks Rolomag. If you see her, tell her I’ll be home sometime tomorrow.”

“Sure thing. See you then.”

Rolomag walks off and gets on a horse, riding off to wherever it is he’s going.

“That’s my uncle. He’s a pretty famous mercenary. He’s got a few titles, but I think Crushing Bone ever suites him the best.” Vaughn says.

“Never thought I’d ever be working alongside one.” Klemto says, turning away from the crowd. “And certainly not one that was related to me.”

“Well, I’m glad you were able to patch things up with your family.” Elam says.

“Yeah, me too. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m glad it happened. Well, I have to get going.

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It was good seeing you again, Elam. See you soon, Vaughn. And thanks again.”

You all say your goodbyes and you head directly home. You travel in silence, thinking about all the things you learned today. Eventually you arrive.

As usual, you enter through the front door. Alison is there to greet you.

“Hey, honey.

How was your trip?”

she asks.

“It was…interesting.”

You reply, “Is Jacob in his room?”

“Yeah, he’s been in his room for a few days now. I don’t think he’s feeling well.”

“I’ll go talk to him.”

You head upstairs and knock on Jacob’s door, but there is no answer. You open the door and find that he isn’t in his bed or in the room at all. You find Alison in the living room.

Honey, have you seen Jacob?

He’s not in his room.”

No, I haven’t, but isn’t he with some friends?

I thought he was spending a lot of time with Vaughn.” Alison asks.

“Yeah, maybe he’s with Vaughn.”

You head outside and call for Jacob, but again there is no answer. After a few minutes of calling out for him, you head back inside.

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“I can’t find Jacob or Vaughn, I’ll have to go look for them.

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