Edit Content
Exercise and Fitness

Workout Log: A Week With Exercise Specialist Raymond

Raymond Chow | Exercise Specialist
/ October 14, 2022
weights of different sizes

Disclaimer: This workout log is not intended to serve as advice. Goals, individual experience, training age, chronological age, and medical history vary between individuals. Consult with your doctor, followed by an Exercise Specialist prior to exercise.


My current goals are to build 1lb of muscle since my previous body composition and improve my 1 mile running time trial. Normally, these two don’t mix together well in training because the adaptations to both types of exercise are on opposite ends, but I went for a run for the first time in a very long time and I felt awful because an overwhelming majority of my exercise recently has been resistance training. The body is very good at adapting to the activities we participate in, which for me did not require much from the cardiovascular system. My original goal was to build 1lb of muscle by the end of October and my new goal on top of that is to decrease the time at which it takes me to run a mile by 1 minute before the start of the rainy season.


The weekend begins my workout week, which either falls on a Saturday or Sunday, but usually on Sunday. These are the days my body is at its strongest because it’s had the most chance to recover from the week prior. To take advantage of this, the first day is dedicated to doing my heaviest lift, which is the deadlift. To prepare, I begin with a warm up that focuses on my core muscles that support my lumbar spine and stability muscles that support my hips. This is important because these smaller muscles are the weakest link. If my core muscles can’t keep up with the larger muscle groups during a heavy lift, my technique will fall apart.

Next, I need to warm up the larger muscles. It can be thought of as warming up a car. If the engine is cold, it can still fire up, but there is risk of damaging the parts going rapidly from cold to hot. The muscles are similar. They are the engines that drive our movement, but a proper warm up goes a long way. Keeping in mind that my main lift is the deadlift, I combine a high intensity, low volume set using barbell glute bridge with a low intensity, high volume set of Romanian deadlifts (RDLs). 

Dynamic Warm-Up vs Stretching

When lifting weights, a dynamic warm up is better than stretching in most cases. For those that are performing exercises at their maximal ranges of motion, stretching prior to exercise is absolutely necessary. For my selection of exercises, it’s not necessary unless I am feeling particularly tight. Muscles have a passive amount of elasticity that provides assistance towards exercises. Stretching decreases this elasticity that our muscles take advantage of and can make the completion of the set more difficult. I want to warm up the muscle dynamically because muscles at a warmer temperature are more pliable. Though dynamic warm ups and external heat applications give different results, they are similar in a sense that our bodies feel looser after exercise or coming out of a sauna.

Priming Nervous System

Now that the larger muscles are warmed up, I move onto priming my nervous system. Priming the nervous system is important because the brain sends signals to the muscle fibers to contract and the amount of force I can produce relies heavily on this line of communication. The goal of the following exercises are to prime the nerves to contract as many relevant muscle fibers and as quickly as possible. I perform 3 sets of vertical plyometric exercises with several variations. The first is a depth jump, where I start on a block of 18”, step off, land, quickly transition into the up phase, and jump as high as possible. The second exercise is a weighted vertical jump, where I am holding onto a medicine ball and jump consecutively as high as possible, while focusing on making the transition from the down to the up phase as fast as possible. The final set of plyometrics are the banded vertical jump. In this exercise, I do a vertical jump using the band as resistance. The goal here is the same, spending as little time on the ground as possible and transitioning quickly from landing to being airborne.

Begin Resistance Training

With my muscles and nervous system ready to go, I begin my deadlift session with a progressive warm up with the barbell that increases in intensity with each set. As I make my way up to my target intensity, I keep in mind what I am feeling mentally and physically. There are good days in lifting and bad days. When it’s a good day I always take advantage of it because there are also bad days where I’m not as mentally focused or my muscles are just not feeling up for the job – it happens. Interestingly enough, I’ve experienced several days at which I’ve felt completely unmotivated and fatigued, decided to push through it, and it ended up being one of my better lifting days. The human body can be surprising sometimes, as long as we give it the opportunity to perform.

I was feeling pretty good leading into my main set. I was doing 5 sets total. The first 3 sets are programmed with a weight appropriate for 10 reps and the final two I leave up to my body to decide. If I don’t feel great, I stick to the same weight and rep count to complete the 5 sets. If I am feeling good, I take advantage of it by increasing the weight and decreasing the reps appropriately. After having completed 3 sets, I went up in weight for the 4th and decreased the reps. I still felt like I could do more, so I went up again in weight and decreased the rep count once again. My rep count was down to 5, which means the weight is relatively heavy at this point. I still felt pretty good and felt like I could go at it again, so I decided to do a 6th set. This time, the weight and rep count remained the same, but about half way into the 6th set my grip strength gave out and I didn’t feel like using my straps, which are used to eliminate the need for grip strength. I called it here and moved on.

My main exercise was done, but I still had my secondary and accessory exercises to complete. Since I am currently in training to improve my 1 mile time trial, I need to make sure my hamstrings are capable of accepting eccentric load, which the traditional deadlift does not train the muscles to do and therefore is not directly transferable to sport. An eccentric load means to load the muscles in a way that they are contracting, while elongating. Think of holding a coffee cup and lowering it to the desk – the biceps are eccentrically loaded because they are elongating while still contracting. For this reason, I practice doing the nordic hamstring curl (Figure 1). This is an exercise where I begin on my knees with my ankles strapped down and lower my body to the ground. Following this, I move onto doing my lunges and single leg bridge variations before calling it a day.

Nordic hamstring curls, from Workout Log: A Week With Exercise Specialist Raymond
Figure 1. Nordic hamstring curls


To conclude my workout, I stretch to elongate the muscles while they are still pliable, which will keep them from stiffening up when I return to my activities of daily living. I stretch my low back, hamstrings, and calves. Most importantly, I stretch my wrists and fingers. The muscles used to grip the barbell almost always feel like jello after my deadlift days and I still need my hands to work. Stretching them immediately after I’ve finished my workout is really important.


Monday I have school in the afternoon into the evening, so I reserve my exercise time for the evening. The one exception is doing a single set of squats, pull ups, and push ups before heading to work. I do this every morning. After class, I head to the track to practice my running. I do a dynamic warmup and do some very light stretching on the hip flexors. Hip flexor flexibility is really important for sprinting because a larger range of motion is required compared to jogging. Sitting at a desk is not helpful. 

My goal for today is to increase my lactate threshold. Lactate is produced as a byproduct of exercise, specifically anaerobic glycolysis. Lactate is cleared at a specific rate from the muscles or recycled to be used again as energy; however, the body can only clear so much lactate at once. During a single bout of exercise, especially with increasing intensities, the body will eventually become overwhelmed with lactate and there is a sudden increase in the blood lactate levels – the lactate threshold. With specific training, the lactate threshold will increase because my body will have adapted to my exercise programming by becoming more efficient at clearing lactate. It is a good measure of fitness because my body will be able to withstand higher intensities for longer periods of time.


I have a set of exercises and stretches I do for my warm up, but I usually stop when I start to break a small sweat or when I can feel that I have blood in my hands and feet. Daily temperature swings can make sweating vary. On the other hand, the body is great at shunting blood to where it needs to go via vasoconstriction and vasodilation. After eating, the blood goes to the stomach and intestines to absorb nutrients and supply oxygen to the smooth muscle that aids in digestion. During exercise, blood is directed towards the extremities.

Interval Training

My main set today is to progressively increase my running duration and intensity on the track for a set amount of time. I start by running sets of 50 meters at a moderate pace with an interval that allows for a moderate amount of rest. I use these first few sets to acclimate my body to the activity I’m about to do. After completing 10-15 sets of 50 meters, I do 8 x 100 meter runs at a submaximal pace, with the objective to go faster with each consecutive set. In theory it sounds great, but in reality my theory is more ambitious than my abilities. I got into the 4th set with heavy doubts. Going into sets 5-8, I ended up pacing myself, knowing what is coming up next. Considering that my goal is to improve my lactate threshold, pacing myself did me no good, but the fatigue got to my head and I let it get the best of me.

After doing 8 sets, I transitioned to doing 2 x 100 meter runs at a maximal effort with 3-5 minutes of rest in between. I don’t use an interval for these last two sets because my goal in these final sets is to focus on my running form during a sprint and providing myself enough rest time to perform a maximal sprint. During the first sprint, I got lost in my head and zoned out. I didn’t focus on my technique, didn’t pay attention to what my body was feeling, nor did I recite cues in my head. I reflected on that for the next 5 minutes leading into the final sprint. “Take your time getting into full speed, shift into a higher gear even when you think you’re going all out, knee drive, arm speed dictates leg speed, push the floor back, breathe.” After my final sprint, I make mental notes of what my body feels after back to back sprints with pre-fatigued muscles and a cardiovascular system under stress. My dorsiflexors are weak, my hip flexors need more endurance, and I need more flexibility in my chest and ribs so I can breathe more easily. I finish by walking around the track backwards until I’ve cooled off and retire for the day.


It’s squat day! Squats are fun for me because it provides feedback on what I need to work on to improve. I do my usual morning set of exercises, but I skip the squats. Tuesdays I finish work late, but I go straight to my workout after work. I perform a dynamic warm up that warms up my core muscles and my hips. Different from the exercises used to warm up the hips in my deadlift, I perform exercises to warm up the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, adductors, and hip flexors. I prime my leg muscles in a similar fashion as the deadlift, but I replace the RDLs with some knee extensions to get the quadriceps firing. My posterior chain, which are the muscles in the back of my body, are very dominant; therefore, it takes mental cues, technique changes, and pre-fatiguing of the quadriceps in order for me to get the most out of my squats.

Again, my programming for my squats is quite similar to my deadlift program, except I do much more volume. After completing my 5 sets, I drop the weight back down quite significantly for another 2-3 sets. I swap out the barbell for some dumbbells and proceed to do some squat variations at a significantly lower weight for high volume. To finish the day, I add in 3×10 vertical jumps, weighted heel raises, and weighted step ups to make sure my legs have had their fill.


I start the day with the same squat, pull up, and pushup set, but today is another school night where I end up at the track. My only objective for this day is to run 1 mile as fast as I possibly can. I perform my usual dynamic warm ups and light stretches. It was a bit colder tonight so I didn’t really feel myself sweating, but I could feel the warmth in my hands and feet. I did a few mock runs at about 70% of my max speed to get a feel for how my hips were feeling and they could use some more stretching. I spent a little bit more time stretching the hips, while being careful not to overstretch before the sprint. I recheck my hips in a few more mock sprints and they feel better. I walk around for 2-3 minutes hyping myself up, going through cues, and selecting mental imagery that gives me the arousal and focus I need for this run. I hit the button on my watch to record and the sprint has begun.

Cardio Workout

The first lap always feels fantastic. I tend to head out the gate too fast, which causes fatigue to settle in too quickly. As a result, I’ve learned to begin at a slower pace. I’m full of energy, my cardiovascular system doesn’t know what’s coming, and my muscles have no sense of fatigue. I look down at my watch to keep an eye on my pace to make sure that I’m not burning out my gas tank in the first lap of four. During this first lap, my focus is finding the correct pace that feels good for this specific moment and to make sure my form is top notch. “Is my stride length appropriate? Am I engaging the right muscles? Are my arms moving enough? Are my breaths good? Where’s the wind coming from? Is my gait pattern correct? Am I relaxed? Come on, Raymond!” I make adjustments for the duration of the first lap and the second begins. 

I push the pace slightly to test the waters of how my body reacts. On a bad day, fatigue settles the moment I push the pace or I lose focus in my breaths, which can throw off the next 20 or so steps. On a good day, I nod my head, “You got it.” Today was a good day. This wasn’t the fastest 2nd lap I’ve run, but I didn’t have the confidence to push my luck because, around the corner, there was a lot of head wind. I turned the corner and moved onto the 3rd lap. I took advantage of the tail wind by increasing my stride length, gliding further, pushing the ground behind me further, pumping my arms to get my legs to move faster, and using every bit of my legs down to the calves. I turned the corner and met the headwind again. I deliberately slowed down upon impact to give my cardiovascular system a chance to catch up. I paced myself to rest before the final lap and spent the time hype myself up for it.

Approaching the straightaway that begins my final lap, I lower my chin, and keep my eyes dead ahead. I raise my chest, pull my shoulder blades down and back, and begin pumping my arms. I pick up speed right out of the gate using the tail wind to my advantage for a quick acceleration boost, I hold back from reaching my top speed, and hold pace just a touch slower coming out of the first turn. Now faced with headwinds, my form is good and all I need to do is focus on getting past the wind. I use some imagery to bulk up my legs and use some mental muscle to hold pace against the wind. This mental imagery of having larger muscles stops my mind from thinking about fatigue. About 50 meters from the turn, I lower my chin again and exaggerate my arm movements. I shift myself into my highest gear and make a gnarly facial expression. My legs can’t move any faster and I have to force myself not to breathe too frequently to avoid getting nauseous. Hyperventilation increases carbon dioxide build-up, which is acidic. From every step here on out, all I think about is eliminating my physical ceiling and shifting into higher and higher gears. I don’t stop until my watch buzzes me for 1 mile.

I stop my watch from recording, put my hands over my head, and walk backwards to cool off. One of the most exciting things for me in training is reviewing my performance, making adjustments based on my review, and seeing how my body adapts. My watch vibrates again telling me that my stats have been updated and I go straight to my phone to review them. It shows my pace per lap, my heart rate and stride length. Every run is slightly different because I make adjustments every week to the resistance exercise programming I use to supplement my running and I also make adjustments to what I think about. I practice using different types of imagery to fine tune what works best and during what section of my run. Adjustments don’t always work, but I log my exercise and my techniques so I can keep a record of what works and what doesn’t for my body and mind. This concludes running for the day. I head home and do my upper body exercises.

I don’t spend too much on my upper body at the moment because I am focusing on my running for the next 1-3 months depending on the rain. I do a simple horizontal push and pull series just to keep my back and chest muscles from atrophy. This includes variations of chest presses and rows. It takes me about 40 minutes to complete.


It’s past mid-week and my goals for the next 2-3 days are to let my body rest. I start the day with my usual 3 exercises and head to work. I finish work late on Thursdays and I need to practice vertical pushes and pulls, but I keep them to a minimum as these exercises are just for maintenance. It takes me roughly 30 minutes to complete. If I feel like it, I’ll do some bicep and tricep work, but I didn’t feel like it today. I did some foam rolling and stretching throughout the rest of the night.


Fridays are more or less my last dedicated workout day. I start the day with my usual 3 and head to work. This is the only day I have an afternoon to myself during the workweek. Fridays are leg days, but I don’t focus narrowly on squats like I do on Tuesdays. I focus more on adjustments I need to make, such as core or exercises I need to do to strengthen the hip stabilizers. My hip flexors need more endurance, my dorsiflexors aren’t strong enough, my back is my weakest link of my squat so I need to work on that, and I need to do some sport specific exercises in preparation for next week’s runs.

I do a majority of the harder things like my squat and lunge variations, followed by my sport specific training for running first to get them out of the way. Since I have the whole afternoon and evening to myself, I take my time and do little bits of exercise here and there, while doing other things around the house.


It’s Saturday, my only non-work day of the week! The only planned exercise I have for this day is going for a morning walk. I like to spend the rest of the day at home and I’ll pick up my dumbbells every once in a while to do some random exercise just to move. I tend to get headaches when I’m sedentary, so it’s really important for me to get up and move around every hour.

Final Thoughts

My weekly programming goes from hardest to easiest. Performing maximal sprints, two days apart is not ideal, but Mondays and Wednesdays are the only days I’m available to go to the track to train. Optimal programming is rarely always possible because everyone has a different lifestyle. I’m not a full-time athlete, nor am I training for an event. For many of us, life is the only sport we participate in. In the end, exercise forces me to respect my body because it will only perform when I take care of it. We have to make the best of what we have and give ourselves as many opportunities to perform as possible. 

Weekly Summary

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Resistance Training Interval Training Resistance Training Sprint Training Resistance Training Sport Specific Training Active Rest
      Resistance Training   Resistance Training  
Skip to content