Early Morning (Insanity?) Training

By Jim  Duggan

Posted on NaturalStrength.com on December 16, 2004

    In the Fall of 2003, I had the good (?) fortune of being detailed to the FDNY Training Academy to be an instructor for a period of about one year.  Probationary Firefighter School needed Lieutenants to teach the next generation of firefighters, and my number was up.  Although the experience was a rewarding one, I had some concern about whether I would be able to find time to train. 

About a month into my "sentence," I was at the gym discussing the difficulty in finding time to train with a friend of mine, when she suggested that I come to the gym before it "officially" opens.  I have been training at Iron Island Gym, in Oceanside, New York, since it opened in 1992, and it always opened at 5:00 A.M.- too late for my new schedule.  However, the gym's owner, Ralph Raiola, had graciously allowed members to come in earlier than that to train.  That sounded like a good idea to me.  On the morning of my first early workout, I awoke at 3:30 A.M.( you read it right-oh-dark-thirty-for you military types.)  I had expected the place to be empty, but there were actually about eight or so other people training by the time I got there at 4:15.  You've probably heard the expression "Misery loves company"- well, truer words were never spoken.  It didn't take long to adapt to the new schedule I was being forced to follow.  I have followed this routine for the past year or so.  I train six days per week.  I lift weights on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I do cardio work- namely, thirty minutes on the Stairmaster Gauntlet machine.  My Strength Training routine looks like this:


     Squat-4-5 Sets of 12,8,6,3,3 reps.  Performed in a  power rack, with the pins set at parallel-two second pause between each rep. I start with 350 lbs., and finish with a triple with about 430-440 lbs.
     Seated DB Press-3 Sets of 10,6,3 reps.  I start with 85 lb. dumbbells for a set of ten, and finish with a pair of 100-105 lbs. for a triple.  My goal is to do ten reps with 100 lbs.
     Bent-over Barbell Row-3 Sets of 10,6,3 reps.  I start with 245 lbs., and finish with 305-315 lbs. for a triple.
     Sit-ups- 3-4 Sets of 50 reps.


     Incline Press- 3 Sets of 10,6,3 reps.  Performed in a power rack, starting at the bottom position, a la Brooks Kubik.  I start with 235 lbs., and finish with a triple with 275 lbs.  My goal is to triple 315 lbs.
     Weighted Chin-ups- 3 Sets of maximum reps.
     Seated Calf- 3 Sets of 15-20 reps.
     Sit-ups-same as Monday.


     Deadlift (conventional, trap-bar, snatch-grip) 3 Sets of 6,3,3, reps.  I usually finish with a triple with 525-535 lbs.
     Seated DB Press- 3 Sets of 10-12 reps ( lighter weight, more reps than Monday)
     Dumbbell Row-3 Sets of 10-12 reps.  I recently started doing these-I start with 120 lbs., and finish with 140 lbs.
     Sit-ups- same as Monday.

My workouts generally last about an hour and fifteen minutes or so.  My detail to the Fire Academy will be ending shortly. and I will be returning to my unit (Ladder Company 165, in St. Albans, Queens), however, I will continue to train early in the morning-just not THAT early.  Afterall, training does not always have to be crazy.   

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