Heavy set guy... building strength skills... trying to run as a sport...


Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Good day to everyone...

A bit of background, I am a heavy set guy (120kg / 260 lbs) and about 180cm (6ft) tall.
Mostly mid-section accumulation of fat ... about to turn 40 in 6 months

I've come down slowly from my high of 135kg over the last 4 years... some due to diet some due to more active lifestyle...

I am able to jog without knee / back pains, and I have run some 10K races in the past.

I can squat 225 lbs, deadlift 205 lbs (grip strength being limiter), and bench press 210 lbs.

Right now I am on PTTP at least 3x a week; DL and BP
Jog about 9-12km a week (3/4 times of 3 K each); I have a 1.5k loop near where I live.

Recently read Super Joints and working out how to get that in as well...

Goal is to get in general shape and assess if racing a 10K / Half Marathon in Nov 2020 is a good idea...

Trying to see if I should change things up a bit when I get to 1x BW for DL and BP
or wait until I progress a bit further (i.e. meet the SFL standards?!)

Already Read S&S and ETK; sounds like if I change things up should probably go S&S PM --> ETK ROP

The belly fat is preventing the extension on the downward part of my swing which a is a bit frustrating...

*Dreaming out-loud*
In my mind the strength part of the journey should be
PTTP to 1-1.5x BW
PTTP to 2x BW
RTK (i.e. go double KB)
PTTP 2.5x BW
S&S Sinister
Beast Tamer
*might be missing NW as I have done some reading on how Pistols can probably help my running...

The sport part of the journey...
I took the bait on the romanticize of the marathon distance...
But with a need for balance of Power and Endurance (did a DNAFit test), seems the Half Marathon is the more suitable goal...

I guess after I finished writing this seems more like a share than a question in specifics...


william bad butt

More than 300 posts

Congrats on all the great progress you've made over the last 4 years! It sounds like you are doing a lot: DL and BP 3 days/wk and running 4 days/wk. You have access to barbells and kettlebells. And your goal is to get strong, run marathons, and lose weight? You have made no mention of nutrition though. And you have a passion for running marathons.

Here is just 1 option... I'm not saying it's the only way, but this is how I would approach it if I were you (keeping in mind I know nothing about you, health, injuries, etc...). Hopefully this gives you some ideas.

(1) I would first prioritize strength. I would do a classic Western linear periodization barbell program. Something like 5x5 or Strong First Reload or Starting Strength, etc... Choose the 3 power lifts (or at least 1 of their derivatives). Spend 1 year and get STRONG! Meet a substantial strength goal like 1.5 to 2 times bodyweight. Achieve your beginner/novice strength gains. During this time I would minimise running (I know this is probably not what you want to hear). I would not run 48-72 hrs before a lifting day. The running will limit your strength gains (so running on HOLD, temporarily). I would walk a lot though. Also, I would focus on excellent nutrition and lots of sleep. A slight caloric restriction would be required, maybe subtract 500 calories per day at most, and aim for no more than 1 lb loss per week (0.5 lb would be my goal). A high protein diet with a proper balance of fats and carbs (but there are many ways: vegan, low carb, low fat, etc, it all can work, it seems like everybody eliminates something!). The important thing is the mass/energy balances (calorie counting) and high protein. If you do this, you can gain strength and lean out simultaneously. Leaning out will help you be healthier and achieve your relative strength goals and it should make you a better runner (less weight to carry). For example, let's say you end up at 220 lb (I am just picking this number). That is 40 less lbs you have to carry around during the future marathons. Also, your 2 time bodyweight deadlift goal is now only 440 lb instead of 520 lb. NOTE: I am a lifter, not a runner, so take my running advice with a grain of salt.

(2) After you are STRONG (maybe 1 year? Or whatever the time is, after your progress begins to asymptote) and a good body composition, transition to a minimalist, maintenance, strength training program (for example, lifting barbells maybe once per week, or even less). Start implementing kettlebells a few days per week (starting with S&S), and start adding in the running. You may start out doing more kettlebell workouts/week and less running/week. And over time, after you become proficient with the kettlebell, maybe your week is 1 day strength with barbell, 2 days S&S (or Q&D or A&A, etc), and 2-3 days running (if you are serious about running).

I am not a fitness professional. This is just how I would approach it. I hope this gives you ideas. Good luck and let us know how it goes




Triple-Digit Post Count
I would argue that in your case, the PTTP + Running, S&S + Running, ROP + Running combinations all work for you. You have some leeway to lose weight, and your strength ratios (for squat and deadlift at least) imply that you have plenty of room for improvement - basically I think you can fit it together because the weights aren't too taxing yet.

william bad butt has another suggestion which is to get StrongFirst milking linear progression etc - that is also workable and probably a better program for strength gains but if you want to RUN/RACE then it is not the right approach imho. Ultimately the program that you enjoy is the one you will stick with. Doing a theoretically more sound program that doesn't align as well to your likes and goals is probably not for most people!

Kalle Videnoja

Double-Digit Post Count

Congratulations of your progress!

Not wanting to disagree with william bad butt, but I would suggest you to stay with your plan. To me it sounds great. In making a lifestyle change, it is said that changes ought to be as gradual as possible in order to make them stick. So, if you're already doing some running and strength training (S&S?), I'd tell you to stick with those, as I've happened to have successfully used just the kind of plan you outlined above.

This is, of course, purely anecdotal, but I can relate to your journey quite a bit. I had a point in my early thirties when I was having a couple of years of pretty sedentary life. I was on a hiatus from martial arts training and all I did was some relatively easy BB strength training. As a result, I gained some 20 kg's of fat in a couple of years. Apparently, my appetite didn't shrink with my level of activity. After noticing that I got winded after climbing stairs it struck me that something had to change. I felt that getting rid of the belly fat end excess weight was the first priority. So, I started jogging a couple of times a week. I had my ACL operated in my twenties after a wrestling accident. Combining the old injury with my quite rapid weight gain, I was a bit worried about my knees. So, I took the jogging really easy. I started with 3K jogs and during a year the distance would grow into 5K for short runs and 8-15K for longer runs. Also, at that time I found kettlebell training (even though it was mostly GS style lifting, and my training was mostly HIIT sessions three days a week). All in all, I was able to drop off 20kg in a year (of which I , however, gained 5kg back later), and I was even able to increase my clean muscle mass a bit even though I lost a few kg's in my BP. If there was one thing I would to differently this time, it would be changing the HIIT kettlebell sessions to S&S, just as you have planned.

In my diet, I changed only one thing: I started eating 1 kg of uncooked veggies and fruits a day. Didn't count macros or the calorie intake. So, all in all, I would suggest you to keep up what you're doing, do a little tweak to your diet if you want to decrease your energy intake. Achieve S&S simple, and see if there's something you want to change then, e.g. start BB program such as 5x5, Strong First Reload or Starting Strength.

william bad butt

More than 300 posts
Doing a theoretically more sound program that doesn't align as well to your likes and goals is probably not for most people!
Yes, yes. There is more than 1 way to skin the cat. I was just listing the way I would approach it. Ultimately, one must choose the path that they enjoy and are going to stick with. I can only share the WAY I know. Not the WAY I dont know, if you know what I mean (even though that WAY may work as well, lol).

I do find chasing 1 goal works better than choosing 2 goals at a time. It is hard(er) to chase lifting goals, running goals, and body recomposition goals, simultaneously. I'm not saying it cant be done though.


Quadruple-Digit Post Count
To chuck something else in - if....if.....your goal is half marathon.

Lose the weight. That'll help more towards that goal. Yes, train strength and yes run.

With a focus on diet - fat loss - do S&S and keep the running miles low (due to weight), do walk/run and walk to build more leg time rather than run potentially badly with excess baggage.
Either S&S five times a week with supplementary aerobic activity.....and then overtime, as weight/fat drops, increase running miles. Then drop S&S to 3 days a week - or do ROP or something else - and pick up the miles a bit more. Then it is about balance - how you recover etc. You don't need to run half marathons in training, remember. So once you are lighter, better conditioned, 90 minutes easy run should be just that, easy. Do that, pick a reasonable goal time for your run and work a more dedicated run programme. Or if your goal is just to finish...then if you can run an easy 90 minutes you will easily finish a half marathon on the day.
If running is your goal, weight loss, for you, is the thing I'd argue. How you go about that is another can of worms but go about it you should.
OR...with weight loss still the main item, focus on strength, as others have said, absolutely. But you will need to get mobile for running too - swings and get ups. I have run distance, I now sprint....S&S is your ticket, honestly, for a one stop shop. Of course, everything has pros and cons except for S&S, there are no cons. All you need. Plus aerobic activity, appropriate for you and that is as solid a base as anything.
Swings, get ups, running/aerobic activity on a base of weight loss.
That's good for you. Good for many a strong, healthy population present here and good for elite level athletes too. S&S is an every(wo)man programme certainly but it is also a serious piece of athlete building


More than 2500 posts
I somewhat agree with @william bad butt . As the saying goes, if you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both. But of course, some manage to catch both, it's just a lot harder.

But I think the most important thing is to do something you will do, consistently. Maintain discipline and develop a passion. The results will follow.


I am a student of strength.
Certified Instructor
I mostly agree with @william bad butt with just a few differences in the details.

1. Prioritize strength. The stronger you are, the easier will the half-marathon (or even marathon) be.
You are already doing something and it seems to work: PTTP. 3 sessions/week is on the lower range for PTTP, but it is still ok. You may consider to change the rep scheme at some point.
Keep getting stronger.

2. As suggested, fat reduction is a huge help for any race, but the main benefit is better health. You already started and lost 15kg. Keep going. I would not go on a diet per se, but follow a Precision nutrition approach: one habit at a time.

3. You will need to run, if you want to achieve half-marathon or marathon, but not now. Running when you have extra weight may be hard for your knees, and you may also develop a bad pattern. Additionally, as mentioned by others, it will compete with your strength gains. Do not chase two rabbits, make strength THE priority (singular) for now.

4. Walk. A lot. It is the most accessible endurance activity you can do. Do not track it, just do it every time you can, for locomotion, instead of using a car/public transport. It is also a great recovery activity.
(I like this article by @Brett Jones : https://www.strongfirst.com/bitter-pills-and-being-sedentary/ You can be strong and "fit" but still sedentary).

A half-marathon in one year from now is more than achievable. Plenty of time. You can get stronger and lighter during 6 additional months, and then slowly introduce running (for the practice).

You can also read my own experience with my last year half-marathon here: Running Without Running: Training For A Half-Marathon When You Have A Full Schedule | StrongFirst
You will probably need more running than I did. The important part, however, are the principles.

Bro Mo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I am a bigger guy and also more on the endurance side of the spectrum. I used to race sprint triathlons in the clydesdale class because I have been over 200# almost always since about 10th grade.

If running is your sport, focus on running. Strength will no doubt help it but I wouldn't prioritize strength for a runner. Two days per week of strength work to support and enhance your running would be better than getting strong and not better at running. Reload has a 2 day per week option that I would combine with Jack Daniels Running Formula for all the other training days per week.

Alberto Salazar advocates strength training for endurance athletes as it is proven to make pretty much all things better. At the end of the day, if you're a runner, train like one - and elite ones strength train, just not as much.


More than 500 posts
If the half marathon is the main goal, then you need to run. There are plenty of run/walk programs out there, check out Jeff Galloway. He has gotten lots of novice runners to the marathon finish line safe and sound.

For strength, there are plenty of programs that can work concurrently. PTTP, S&S, Easy Strength, Tactical Barbell all allow time and energy for endurance work. Pick something and milk it for a few months before switching.

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
I do find chasing 1 goal works better than choosing 2 goals at a time.

My suggestion: Do S&S, mind your diet, and when you’re lighter and stronger, out the lifting on the back burner and try running. It is just so much easier on your joints when you’re lighter.



Still New to StrongFirst Forum
First of all thank you everyone for all the great feedback... need to do some serious processing!

Just to tie things off... few additional comments...

- Experienced knee pains 15 years ago when I first started to run and train for 10K race... combination of Pilates and Squats saved me... nothing serious since
- Got serious about strength gains 5 years ago and started with Stronglifts 5x5; when plateaued transferred to Wendler 531, but did not see much improvements without the assistance exercises
- Time limitation: have a young family and cannot spend a lot of time in the weight-room; hence running is easier to schedule and why I start looking into kettlebells to do at home
- Eating is my vice... need to dial in my nutrition
- Weather: I live in Hong Kong... so outdoor running is really only feasible Nov - Mar when it is cooler. Otherwise the humidity and heat kills...
- I guess to this point I should focus on running when the weather is allowable and then go back to the weightroom when it is blazingly hot...
- I do want to build and maintain some running skills and aerobic base; but I am intriguesd by the WTF effects like what Jean-Francois did in that article...


I am a student of strength.
Certified Instructor
With this new information, what I would do:
- walk a lot: health, weight control, easy endurance building, recovery;
- get a nutrition coach if you can, to help you build better habits, one at a time (you still can eat well and enjoy it, while controlling weight. I surely do, with my 68kg and my French appetite);
- S&S seems like a good fit: you do it at home, it does not take too much time, and you will build enough strength and power;
- slow running (skill and fundamental endurance), maybe once a week.
With one year to your target, that should get you the fundamental.

About two month before the event you can go to specific training (I never specifically trained more than eight weeks for marathon/half-marathon and it proved to be enough every time for a decent time).

Harald Motz

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
@GeoffWai something interesting for your case:
PT: The U.S. Air Force Fitness Assessment, Longevity & Quality of Life – Be Well and Strong

also I highly recommend Takana's 'slow jogging' (he wrote a book with this title):

my point of view would be: do your S&S and 'practice' jogging with 'minimal' flat soles with high stride cadence shooting for around 180 steps per minute. Use a hr monitor. Aim in 'the long run' to stay under 130bpm. Walk-jog-walk...

you want to minimize impact on every stride, and 'slow jogging' just does that. It might happen, that you jog slower than your walking pace...ignore this 'mental barrier' and keep practicing slow jogging with mid/forefoot stride. This is a process which takes time: think months and years. Additionally when your overall hr and intensity is low you will train your slow twitch fibers, using more fat for fuel and reduce carb craving after your jogging. That is aerobic base training.

do jogging as a practice you have to get comfortable with being 'to slow' and accumulate slowly some miles to adapt your soft tissue which takes relatively long time. You want to stay away from injury. In my opinion with the right attitude and approach running can be considered with apropriate dosing for heavier folks also.


Quadruple-Digit Post Count
+1 for @Harald Motz recommendation. As a fellow big guy / wanna-be runner, it has taken me a long time to learn this, but there is indeed a speed at which you can 'practice' running without it massively interfering with your strength building, but you have to be prepared to swallow your pride and really go slow. For me, currently, that speed isn't any faster than I could walk briskly, but I think there is still value in developing the skill of spending a lot of time in single leg support. Despite having run a number of 10k races in the past, I have been practicing this method for the last several months, and am only just now getting to the point where I can jog continuously for an hour and keep a low heart rate. But at my current pace, it doesn't get in the way of lifting heavy things (no achy joints), which is the higher priority.

Focus on getting strong, don't invest any pride in your running yet, but don't give up the practice.


Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Yes, don't worry about "slow'.
A while back on a slow easy run back to my house I met my wife walking the dog. She said she thought I was out running not walking! Yes, maybe the speed of a brisk walk. No need to feel pressured.
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