Sunday, 26 July 2009
A Rest Day post by Dallas
In keeping with the sentiment of June 22nd’s “We All Want To Be Stronger” post, we’re starting a deadlift and press cycle tomorrow. Yes, I know that CrossFit’s program is constantly varied. But it’s my contention that some physical characteristics have more impact on general physical preparedness (GPP) than others. And I believe that strength is a gateway to improving GPP faster than focusing on, say, balance or coordination. I’m not proposing a comprehensive hierarchy of importance, but for the 603, strength matters.
For the next few weeks, we’ll be performing a 603-modified progressive wave cycle. We start at an arbitrary (easy) weight, then add weight for a few workouts, then drop a little weight for a workout or two, then add again… so the overall trend, of course, is more weight. I originally encountered this program in Pavel Tsatsouline’s Power To The People (PTP), but have seen various iterations of it elsewhere over the years. From here on, I’ll simply refer to it as the 603’s PTP Program.
Here’s how it goes: we are going to deadlift and press 4 times per week. No, that’s not a typo. This is not an intensity-driven program. It is a frequency-driven program. In fact, I do not want you going anywhere near failure. Your body adapts and gets stronger when you stress it and then let it recover. How quickly you make progress on any individual aspect of fitness is limited by how often you can stress that system and still recover between workouts. This is, in some senses, the opposite of CrossFit’s maximal-intensity approach. It’s a maximal-frequency program, but at an intensity and volume low enough that you are always able to recover sufficiently. You with me so far? Good. Let’s look at a hypothetical program.
Since we recently did a 1RM for both the deadlift and press, it’ll be easy to get a rough estimate of where you should start. We’re going to do two (and ONLY two) work sets of 3-5 reps. Do your two deadlifts sets first, then your two press sets. Start with 3-5 reps at 60% of your 1RM, and then do a second set of 3-5 reps at 90% of the weight you used for the first set. You’ll add 2-5 pounds with the same rep/set scheme for most workouts, gradually building strength and familiarity with complex movements.
603’s Sample PTP Program – Deadlifts
Deadlift 1RM: 200 (I like easy math. So should you. Round to the nearest… whatever. Don’t get too carried away with fractional plates or tiny percentages. Remember, this is a quality-over-quantity program.)
Workout 1 – 120# x 5 – 110# x 5
Workout 2 – 125# x 5 – 115# x 5
Workout 3 – 130# x 5 – 120# x 5
Workout 4 – 125# x 5 – 115# x 5
Workout 5 – 130# x 5 – 120# x 5
Workout 6 – 135# x 5 – 125# x 5
Workout 7 – 130# x 5 – 120# x 5
Workout 8 – 135# x 4 – 125# x 5
Workout 9 – 140# x 4 – 130# x 5
Workout 10 – 135# x 5 – 125# x 5
Workout 11 – 140# x 4 – 130# x 5
Workout 12 – 145# x 3 – 130# x 5
This takes us through roughly 3 weeks. Basically, it’s a 2-steps-up, 1-step-down pattern. This pattern is highly flexible based on how you’re feeling, and will require a little more input from you as far as when you go up, and when you go back down. I’ll give general guidelines on up/down, but I’m not going to tell you how much or by what percentages. Start with that 60% of your 1RM, and go from there. If you get to the 4th workout, and the weight was effortless on the 3rd workout, go up instead of down. But… I want all the reps of all the workouts to be gorgeous and easy. In that same vein, if you stayed up late and missed a meal or two the previous day, drop down a few pounds, and don’t beat yourself up for it.
You should not be sore from these workouts. In fact, the first few workouts will be strangely… easy. It does get harder, though. Don’t discount the frequency at which you are performing these movements. Four to five times a week is a LOT. I’ll continue to program buy-ins, cash-outs, Olympic lifts, gymnastics, and some tasty met-cons, but the primary thrust of the next 4+ weeks is: get stronger. A LOT stronger. Don’t overreach, get greedy, or lose patience. This is a slow progression, but very effective in building strength. With a stronger pull and press, you’ll find other previously-challenging activities somewhat… easier. Huh.
Feel free to post questions, but I’d also encourage you to do a little research of your own on linear or progressive wave strength cycles. You might not want to actually do what you find, but it’s good to learn about other (non-CrossFit) training options.
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I’m jumping on this opportunity. I really need to work on my strength but needed something to compliment my affiliate wods but still avoid overtraining. I think this may fit the bill perfectly.
I’ll follow this program to the extent my schedule allows, but put me down as skeptical. In the example above, by the end of the third week, the person is doing weights and reps that should be easy, even if they were to do them the first workout. Can you try to explain how that routine will make us stronger than heavy lifting will?
Jimi, I’ve used this program in the past to use a higher training frequency to get past some sticking points in some of my lifts without having to quit doing everything else in order to recover adequately between workouts. So, yeah, it seems to fit the bill. I’ll reiterate the importance of not going to failure on any of the reps. It’s the frequency and quality of the stimulus, not the intensity, that makes PTP work. Luck.
Tony, good question. (And, I welcome your skepticism.) This program is not one that excludes lifting heavy. It builds a really sound neurological foundation for perfect form when the weight really does get heavy, which it will. With compound (multi-joint) movements like the DL and press, the contractile potential of your muscles is only half the story. The other half is your brain’s ability to coordiate, control and apply that contractile potential in the way that produces the most force on the bar. So… this is brain work as much as it is muscle work. I’ll also reiterate the point that it IS progressive – the weights keep going up. Most athletes who use a PTP program find that the big gains taper off after 8-12 weeks, so then it’s time to attack it from a different angle. The first few weeks are foundational, but we’ll get to the heavy stuff. The other really key difference is that, in order to adequately receover between 4-day-a-week DL/press workouts, you have to limit your intensity so that you do not even approach failure. It’s very un-CrossFit, sure. In this case, harder is not better. So, I wish you luck, and feel free to post or email again with questions/concerns. Oh, one more comment: if your schedule is a challenge, this might not be the best program for you, since it depends on a (relatively) high frequency for success. Hope you can find time to get stronger with the 603 crew :)
Im in although I will be a day behind. With any luck the Dr will give me the thumbs up tomorrow to get back at the weights after hernia surgery 6 weeks ago.
I’m thinking this may be a good way to get back into the CF mode as everything I have been doing for the last 2 weeks has been Cardio only. With that said I guess I am going to have to find a new 1RM as I am realistic that my pre-op 1RM is probably going to get me hurt again.
Besides I am unbelievably itchy to see how my newfound Paleo epiphany is going to effect my WODS.
Love what you guys are doing at the 603.
Jeff, glad to hear you’re soon to be back on the 603 train. If you have any questions regarding recovery from your hernia repair and how it relates to some of the exercises we do, feel free to post or email me directly (email@example.com). I’ve had a bunch
of post-hernia repair patients over the years. Cheers,
Thanks. I think you’re right about the schedule. I’m about to be traveling for a couple of weeks, so it may not work out.
Dallas- Thanks man. I think my biggest questions right now are;
Which particular movements should I be cautious about?
What movements will make the area stronger, if possible?
If it helps it was an inguanal hernia that was repaired laproscopically.
I did not get this injury from CF so I am a little timid I guess about jumping into some of the movements. I am aware of what causes a hernia and I think what bothers or concerns me is the mix of movements in any given WOD and how that may effect the injured area.
I am realistic in the sense that I am going to have to take it easy for a while and start really really light no matter what I do but other than that I feel as though I will be essentially feeling my way along, which I am not crazy about.
I am tempted to create some WODs for myself which may lightly work the area, for lack of a better phrase, for a few weeks to see how it responds. Problem with that is for fear of reinjuring it I am more than likely going to baby it. Then when I decide to jump into the regular 603 WODs I am going to find that I wasted time doing so.
I apologize for the random thoughts but after 6 weeks off I am absolutely desperate to get back into CF full swing. Every time I get in the gym I have to force myself to not throw a bunch a weight on a bar and start squatting, DL’ ing, etc etc. In the meantime if you have any thoughts, ideas etc I am completely open to suggestions.
I also have an appt with Melissa on the 15th of August and I was planning on picking her brain during that time.
Thanks in advance for any help.
Jason M Struck says
PTTP took me from 65lbs to 275lbs (at a bodyweight of about 145lbs) in about 18 months.
I have returned to it once or twice since, and it’s the primary recommendation I make to those serious about GPP and more specifically relative strength.
I now DL about 2.6x BW and I swear by PTTP. If you can deadlift a sh*tload, all the sudden power cleans and snatches and box jumps get easier. I totally agree with Dallas, and I now Melissa and I discussed on more than one occasion: Strength is the basal motor ability of just about every other motor ability. All thing being equal, the fastest way to improve an athlete is make him stronger. And there’s no better developer of straight strength than the deadlift.
Power to You, 603!
Struck, thanks for dropping in! It’s been a while… but glad you’re still kickin’. Speaking of DL, I’m chasing 5 bills these days, but that’s nowhere near 2.6xBW for me (I’m too tall to be any lighter without compromising absolute and relative strength). I pulled 2.35xBW (475#) last week, which I LOVE. How’s training going for you? Closing in on any big goals?
Jason M Struck says
I am just a few pounds away from 4 bills.
The main thing is usually the circus tricks and the snatch:
I have been a little caught up with this 30 muscle ups for time idea too…
Is this something similar to the MEBB program? I’ve been thinking about doing lifts like this prior to (or instead of) some metcon days because I can’t do (for practical reasons) a 3/1 or even a 3/1; 2/1 like you guys, a lot of the time (my work hours suck)…I also want strength as the main component for my fitness (but not totally eclipsing all other skill sets).
Jason M Struck says
PTTP is intended to be 2 sets of 5 in the DL, typically between 65-80% of 1RM, with the first set being heavy, but likely a 6RM or lighter. The second set is performed at 90% of the first.
This workout is repeated at least 3-5 times per week, and as frequently as 6.
Side press or other press motion is optional. That is the ENTIRE protocol. The MEBB is something quite different. Though they have similar goals, the MEBB appears to lose some focus to gain some breadth, both of movements and of adaptations.
It looks like Dallas and I often end up programming something that looks very similar MEBB by coincidence for our affiliates, as each of us recognizes that relative strength tends to be the biggest factor in WOD times. If you want to do something heavy almost every day, but also want to include a ‘met-con’ component, where do you end up? Something like MEBB, or Gant’s Hybrid or Catalyst Athletics or some number of other ‘protocols’.
I had to come back to this post as i was beginning to get a little impatient with the WODs. now it all makes sense. Looking forward to seeing how much stronger I will be at the end of this PTP.