Eileen Lui’s Awesome Fitness Program (Part 2): Training for Runners

by On Oct 31, 2016

Are you ready for more of Eileen’s fabulous tips on putting together your own personal plan for staying fit? Part 2 picks up the pace, but you can do it, right?

Eileen Lui’s Awesome Fitness Program (Part 2)

Eileen Lui doesn’t mess around when she sets a goal. That’s how she’s become a certified fitness trainer, Crossfit Level-1 trainer and need we repeat that she literally kicks serious butt when it comes to her passion for Burmese boxing?

In the second of our 3-part series, we take Eileen’s advice to heart when she laughs, “I don’t want to hear any whining about those air squats, push-ups and burpees I recommended last time around! I’m determined to get readers in shape no matter what it takes!” We believe her.

Want to know how tough this lithe fitness guru is? She recently flew to Yangon and was annoyed that a beefy flight attendant failed to offer his help with the heavy suitcase she brought as carry-on.

No Worries. Eileen single-handedly shoved it into the overhead bin in one move. She vows to elbow him on a future flight, but until then, she wants you to know that the exercises featured in part 2 are the reasons she doesn't need his help!

Week 5: Cycling

Type of move:

Cardiovascular, low-impact training that enhances strength and flexibility because all major muscle groups are engaged and one can move effortlessly from low-intensity to high-intensity pedaling.

How to perform it:

  • Start with 30-minutes of warmup on a regular or stationary bike to get your heart rate elevated
  • Undertake 8 sets of 20-second on/10-second off Tabata training within a recommended 32-minute time frame
  • If you’re new to Tabata, take it easy and slowly build your levels until you are able to do sets with ease
  • Add some variety to your cycling routine by choosing from these 6 change-ups:
    1. Speed up for 2 minutes
    2. Undertake 1 minute of knee pushups
    3. Add 2 minutes of medium cycling
    4. Do 1 minute of squats
    5. Change your pace to 2 minutes of low cycling
    6. Accomplish 1 minute of burpees

Eileen’s tips: Are you familiar with the acronym AMRAP? It stands for “as many reps as possible” and you’ll want to keep that in mind as you switch-up your cycling moves during week 5.

As a rule of thumb, use these gear guidelines: High gears (13 to 16) for interval training; maintain an RPM of between 100 and 110 for hill climbs (low gear range: 8 to 10) and for flat-out road work, up the RPM ante to from 120 to 135.

Respect your unique fitness level while engaging in these cycling moves because everyone’s different. You’ll know when to push and when to stop if you listen to your body!

Week 6: Dead Lifts

Type of move:

You’ll need a barbell to perform this functional movement designed to improve your body strength.

How to perform it:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, your mid foot under the bar and toes stationed at a 15-degree angle
  • Maintain a neutral spine that aligns your neck and back as you bend forward to grasp the bar with both hands
  • Bend your knees slightly
  • Maintaining your straight back, lift the barbell up along your shins, using your chest to power the move
  • Stand up straight with your arms extended
  • Using your chest muscles, bring the barbell down in one straight move that skims the shins
  • Each time you touch the floor with the weight, you have accomplished 1 rep.

A video posted by Eileen Lui (@eileenlui) on

Eileen’s tips: I've a confession to make. My relationship with weights started off on bad footing. Because I hated weights, I substituted running, swimming and cycling rather than making friends with these irreplaceable strength aids. Sure, those sports enhanced my endurance, but I repeatedly came up short on speed and power.

Then, I discovered Crossfit and everything changed. My new mindset? Dead lifts are nothing more than grasping the bar and hoisting it until it’s suspended in front of you, so don’t follow in my footsteps! Make friends with dead lifts now and you’ll be amazed how this training improves your athletic prowess and your ability to speed through ordinary tasks like lugging groceries and luggage without stopping to huff and puff.

Week 7: Shoulder Press

Type of move:

This is another important functional movement guaranteed to strengthen your upper body big time. It’s got another name, by the way: the overhead press. Like the dead lift, this requires your new BFF, weights.

How to perform it:

  • With palms facing forward (this is a pronated grip), grab your barbell loaded with appropriately-sized weights
  • Check to make sure you grip the bar so your arms are wider than shoulder width from each other
  • Feet should be positioned at shoulder-width distance as knees are slightly bent
  • Position the barbell at collarbone height
  • Maintain a straight, neutral neck and back as you lift the bar in a straight line above your head, locking your arms
  • You may have to move your head back a bit to avoid hitting your chin as you lift the barbell
  • To return the barbell to it’s starting place, lower it along the same straight line, stopping at the collarbone
  • This combination of moves completes one full rep.

A video posted by Eileen Lui (@eileenlui) on

Eileen’s tips: When I suggest using their children to do dead lifts and shoulder presses, clients and friends look at me like I’m crazy. But you would be surprised how effective kid-lifting can be, especially if you don’t happen to have a barbell at your disposal.

Once you’ve mastered the full rep, you can begin to move on to “The Big Fives,” a killer combo of dead lifts, shoulder presses, air squats and burpees in rounds of five at five reps each. Don’t have much time on your hands? Go for 3 sets instead. I can’t help you pick an optimal weight because only you know the measure of your strength, but once you’ve gotten down Big Fives smoothly, it’s time to increase that weight!

Week 8: Thrusters

Type of move:

This compound exercise requires the use of more than one joint and/or muscle. It's designed to build anaerobic endurance and enhance full-body movement. Thrusters are occasionally called "another type of burpees," but in fact, the term Thrusters was coined by Crossfit, so it's part of that movement's lingo.

You'll perform a combo of clean/front squat/bench press moves that enhance your core so it can transfer power to your upper body - power needed to lift the barbell aloft in one dynamic motion.

How to perform it:

  • Stand with feet at shoulder-width with your barbell positioned at your shoulders
  • Maintaining a neutral, straight spine, keep your chest up and push hips back to assume a squat
  • From the squat, “explode” your body back to its start position with as much energy as you can muster
  • The momentum you gain while undertaking this explosion will help you jerk the bar up and over your head
  • Maintain that stance and you have completed one full rep
  • Keep undertaking reps as one fluid movement until you have developed the proper form
  • Expand your workout with one of Eileen’s favourite challenges: a series of 15 thrusters plus 12 burpees and then undertake seven rounds of this circuit without stopping to rest!

A video posted by Eileen Lui (@eileenlui) on

Eileen’s tips: Not one to keep my personal opinions to myself, I must confess that I detest thrusters more than I hate burpees, but I do them anyway because they benefit my glutes, hamstrings and quads. Thrusters are powerful moves that deliver multiple benefits, which is why I tolerate them.

One of those benefits is improving my cardiovascular performance but it also puts demands on my metabolism. That stated, I invite you to join me in disliking them at #ihateThrustersEvenMore!

As a final note to conclude Part 2, I want to encourage you to respect your body enough not to abuse it. If you’re feeling too much pain, scale down by opting for lighter weights and fewer reps until you’re confident that you can increase your effort.

The secret behind the success of the moves introduced in this second part is take your time and repeatedly check your form. I also recommend a reward for each accomplishment — like a whole serving of fries if you do really well!

Have you managed to survive part 1 and part 2 of Eileen’s ambitious programme? If you’re nodding your head yes, can we count on you to stick around for the upcoming part 3?

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