Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Next Cycle of Strongman Off-Season Done Right

If you want to be the best, you have to pay the cost to be the boss

I thought I'd lay out everything you need to know about the next 12 weeks of our off season.

First off, it's 12 weeks long. There are three important components: The deadlift progression, and how to manage your squat/press training routine volume and intensity changes over time.

Deadlift:  the Coan-Phillippi deadlift cycle is exactly 10 weeks long (sorta). 
Week one, we do no deadlifting.
Week two we start.
Week 11 we finish.
Week 12 we retest our max.
I recommend you start the program with a 'current max' about 5-10% less than where you really are, and set the target to at least 5% over where you are, but no higher than 10% greater than your all time best. 

Squats and Presses: Unless you know something I don't know, we're doing back squats and strict presses. There are two phases to this: A volume accumulation, and an intensity accumulation.

Our traditional protocol is the following:
Monday = Volume = 5x5 at 80% of 5RM
Wednesday = De-load = 2x5 at 80% of volume load (or 64% of 5RM)
Friday = Intensity = 5RM training (increasing over time hopefully)

The first 4-6 weeks of this off-season will be "Volume Accumulation" (VA). VA will look like this: 

Monday = Volume = 5x5 at ~ 75% of 5RM
Wednesday = De-load = 3x5 at 75% of Volume
Friday = Intensive Volume = 3x5 at ~85% of 5RM

The reason the intensity says "~" is because I think it's better to assign your starting loads based on not on an exact percentage, but rather where you left off with your best 5RM performance in our first 12 weeks of offseason, and where you want to get to in your 3x5 fridays before you switch over to your 1x5 fridays. Basically, if you are going to have 5 weeks of VA, you want the last one to be 5-10# less than your best ever 1x5 (approximately; I was so bad at strict presses that I worked up to 5# more than my best 5RM ever for 3 sets before I even switched to 1x5s), which you would go for in the following week as you switch to Intensity Accumulation (IA). 

Intensity Accumulation (IA):
Example: I pressed 75x5 and squatted 200x5 on my last run up, where do I start, what do I plan to do? 
Well, if I have 5 weeks to go up to about 70 for 3x5, or maybe even 73/75, then I want to start about 4-5 steps back from there. If I am making 2-3lb jumps, or using kg weights, I would start with something like 63 for 3x5, and each week go up, so 65, 68, 70, 73 for 3x5 would be my fifth and final week. Week six, I would attempt 75x5, and the following weeks I would do 78, 80, 83, 85 etc. 
The same ideas would apply to the back squat: I want to get to 190/195 for 3x5, so I set up my first week about 5 steps back, ie 175. Then I do 180, 185, 190, and 195 on week five. The following 5 weeks I would go up from 200, 205, 210, 215 and finally 220 for 1x5. 
The template for the weeks looks like this:
Monday = Volume = 5x5 at 80% of friday target
Wednesday = de load = 80% of Monday for 2x5
Friday = Intensity = 1x5 at 5RM

A suggestion: each 1-2 weeks, drop a set from volume day, ie week 1 do 5 sets, 2-3 do only 4 sets, and weeks 4-6 only 3 sets on Monday. IA should be about getting the weights up, not the tonnage. It should feel like a peak on a pyramid, the base of which was all those sets you did in the first 6 weeks of VA. 

A final note: choose no more than 2 assistance exercises per day. I think that 3-4 for the week is fine, and I think it's possible to choose only one or two that are really important to you and repeat them. Make sure they are relatively simple, single joint, bodybuilding type exercises mostly, with relatively light loads most of the time. They should not be taxing, simply helpful to bringing up your weakest points. If you are training longer than 75 minutes with any regularity, you are doing it wrong, and I want to help you fix it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Overview of Program leading to Regionals




Off-season: The main goals will be to increase 1RM on big lifts (C&J, Snatch, squats, presses, deadlift) as well as to increase cardiovascular fitness generally. Bring up weakpoints. 

10 weeks of GPP (through July 7th)
10 weeks of Crossfit Specific GPP (through September 15th)

Pre-season: 16 weeks, transitioning towards increasing 1RM in O lifts only, increasing volume in Crossfit training, then intensity>density in Crossfit training

Competition: February 10th or so, 2015 Open

Offseason Specifics

Weak points? 
Longer duration, lower intensity cardio. Deadlifts at higher weights/frequencies.

Unpracticed skills:
Burpees, double unders, wall balls, T2B, chest to bar, handstand walk, kipping dips, rope climbs, bar muscle ups, pistols

Weeks 1-10 (til July 7th)
Do the gymnast at least 3 days per week, include as many under practiced skills above as possible
Do the endurance class every week
complete the two cardio workouts each week
Do barbell AS RX'd, including Saturday

Weeks 11-20 (July 14th through September 15th)
Do barbell 4 days per week, all am sessions
Augment barbell as follows: weeks 11-15, do 4 sets of squats, one extra set of primary lifts
weeks 16-20 do 3 sets on volume, do 2-3 extra sets on primary
Do endurance class on Tuesday night
Weeks 11-15 add Level 2 WODs on Wednesday night and Saturday mornings
Weeks 16-20 add Friday night Level 2 as well

During the strength portion of Level 2 classes you will practice a 'pet lift' or the gymnast. You will typically rotate two pet lifts. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Energy System Development

Starting this week, we will begin to implement supplemental work to develop mostly aerobic performance. The assumption is that it's been a long time since most of you did this, so there is an initial period of building up volume before moving on to speed and density. 

Along with the assumption that it's been a long time since you did any serious cardio training goes the assumption that you may have poor running technique/economy, and that you may be vulnerable to injury if you try to do what I believe will be required to accumulate the stress required to adapt to this training. Essentially, you can't start running ten miles if you don't know how to run. To this end, it's my earnest belief that you need to get in to Matt's endurance class immediately, and you need to make it a part of your weekly routine, until you feel that you run perfectly (ie you will never quit). 

There will be one running based workout, utilizing your 3 mile run time, and one rowing based workout, from your 2000m test, that you will perform each week. Again, I want you to do Matt's endurance class, I want you to do one rowing workout, and I want you to one running workout per week. To condense this schedule, I strongly encourage you to do your rowing workout within the latter half of endurance class. He already knows you have additional ESD programming, and will allow you to do that instead of what he has planned for the rest of the group. That would make Tuesday night "cardio night" and you could complete your running workout on Friday after barbell or on Saturday or Sunday. 

One final thought: I am not nearly as experienced in designing ESD work as I am at designing strength programs, and as such I am not 100% confident that this program is designed as effectively as it could be. Because of this, I want to observe AT LEAST your first session. Come to the gym to perform these workouts, and record splits based on watts or times according to the workout being performed so that you can tell me or show me exactly how you performed THROUGHOUT the session.

Do Matt's endurance class every week
Do rowing on Tuesday night (during endurance class), or Wednesday (after barbell)
Do running workout Friday (after barbell) or Saturday
Do the first week or two at the gym, under mine or Matt's supervision

Thursday, February 27, 2014

General Plan for Competitive Exercisers

Team Members:

This is a new endeavor for Full Circle. Never before have we had clients/members who wished to dedicate their energy completely to competing in Crossfit.

That being said, this is now and shall remain (probably forever) an experimental  process. Crossfit has evolved a lot in the last few years, and I am sure will continue to do so. Likewise, you will evolve and what you are capable of doing and what you require to be successful will also change.

So, I say this to let you know: I don't have all the answers. We'll figure some of it how together. I definitely lack certain skills (double unders), but that doesn't mean I don't understand the training process nor does it imply that I don't have a plan to offer. 

When Drew and JT began the affiliate league, they were both coming straight out of barbell. Their 'cardio' was, relatively speaking, at an all time low. They hadn't done much in the way of wall balls or kipping pull ups in some time. And they placed modestly at best in the first few weeks. Yet, week after week they got better, and eventually they completed Jackie in 7+ and 6+ minutes respectively, giving them a title shot. That title shot entailed hitting a god awful number of reps at 70-90% of all the contestants 1RMs in a number of related lifts (deadlift, squat clean, lunge). I believe this contest clearly illustrated the difference between Drew and JT's well developed, disciplined approached to basic strength movements. Though all the contestants could hit the numbers once, only Drew and JT could keep doing it over and over again. That's what it takes: CONSISTENCY and EFFICIENCY. 

Consistency, Power, Efficiency and Capacity. 

The only environment that will ensure your consistency and power is Barbell. Only there will you complete a clean, jerk, squat and press all three days with heavy loads, week in and week out. Hence, the backbone of our school of competition is BARBELL. 

Level II is where I want you to learn efficiency: get good at repeating reps with little wasted time or effort. Develop additional techniques, and begin to accumulate volume. This is where capacity is developed. 

Here's the plan: Get back in to barbell. If you are doing only barbell, I don't care if it's AM or PM. But eventually the plan is barbell + L2 WODs, so eventually it will have to be Barbell at 6:00am, then WODs in the evening. I want to you to attend nothing but barbell until you regain your old 5RMs, probably 3-5 weeks. After that point, we will begin to tweak the barbell template to make it less fatiguing and you will begin to add WODs to your week. Start with Saturdays, then Tuesday nights. Monday Nights, then Tuesday mornings. Possibly Thursday mornings, we'll try it out, but I think we should save Thursday for rest, and Sunday too. Saturday we'll go two a days eventually as well. I will work with all of you to develop competition specific practices that you can do instead of power cleans and push press and squats at the beginning of regular L2 classes. I will also work with you on additional capacity work with the prowler and the Concept 2 ergometer. 

I know you have a lot of questions. We'll keep the conversation going in our Facebook group. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

I Been Playing This Tune For Some Time Now

I like Ronda Rousey. 

Secret's out. 

These are from about 6 years ago when she was working her way up to the 2008 Olympics, in which she won bronze. She won Silver in the World's in 2007, and several medals of varying colors at Junior Worlds prior to that. 

She had the distinction of being the youngest judoka in her first (of two) Olympic appearances, at the tender age of 17. 

People who say she is a bad person know about 10 weeks of her life. People who think she didn't earn a shot at Strikeforce know less than 10 months of her life. 

People who have actually studied Judo and BJJ for more than 5 years seem to mostly know her history and respect her abilities. Those with higher level athletic experience have a much more realistic interpretation of what others view as her 'personality'. 

If you think that Rousey lacks 'class' and is 'too confident/cocky' I think you should make sure you just don't think women should be strong or assertive first before you make a specific claim about one whose shoes you have not (and sorry, but could not have) walked in.

The reality is that she competed at the highest level of women's fight sport: Olympic Judo. In 2004, there's wasn't anything with more women from more countries competing harder. Wrestling and boxing are close, but not as big as Judo (FOR WOMEN). There are countries like Russia, France and Japan that can field 6 women, any of whom could slam you on your head, crush you to death just long enough for you to beg them to armbar you, and Ronda beat most if not all of them pretty handily. Strikeforce in 2012 had like 10 women, many of whom took up MMA as a hobby in adulthood. Ronda's fiercest competitor to date has been Miesha Tate, who's greatest accomplishment seems to be to have prolonged her beating for about 11 minutes longer than anyone else has. Ronda will be on top for a while, because no other woman in MMA has gone through the crucible that she has to arrive here.

For those of you who think she's a bad role model, just think of this: Your daughter may one day grow up, and she may want to pick a career path, and you may likely NOT wish that it were MMA. However, she could have a viable career in MMA, making a comfortable living. She can thank Ronda for that. Before Ronda, all the nice girls of Strikeforce were going to wait nicely until they were blue in the face, or more realistically 35 years old and out to pasture, before they ever (IF) got a shot in the UFC. Less than a year before Dana gave Ronda a belt, he stated publicly that UFC/Zuffa wasn't interested nor was the viewing public.