Going forward my training logs will cover shorter periods of time, say a week or so, or maybe a couple of days, but for this initial entry I wanted to make more of a foundational post. Luckily for me I have kept some workout logs on the bodybuilding.com forums, so I am able to look back and copy from their. Just another reason why logs are important. You can’t improve upon what you don’t know needs improving. This includes workouts, food, and sleep.
Back in early February I attended a Crossfit Football seminar with John Welbourn and Raph Ruiz. I really took to their approach to things, focusing on ways to improve on the field. To paraphrase, if it’s not going to make you stronger, run faster, or jump higher, then it doesn’t go in the training. Depending on your goals, this philosophy may not work for you.
This brings me to my goals. When it comes to goal setting, I am a big believer in the SMART system. Making sure that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound will ensure that you have efficient goals in place that you can reach. I have one main current goal.
I want to perform a 2x bodyweight back squat by the end of 2011.
Does it meet the SMART criteria? It’s very specific. It’s 100% measurable. Is it attainable? That’s a good question. My current 1RM back squat is 305. So if I weighed 150 pounds, I’d be all set. The issue is that I weigh 185, so I am still a way off. There are only four months left in 2011 to add 65 pounds to my squat. That might be too much too soon, but there are two variables at play in this goal. My max squat and also my body weight. Any combination of weight and squat that equals 2x could work. Is the goal relevant? I want to get stronger, so using the squat as a proxy for overall strength, this seems highly relevant. Lastly, the goal is time-bound because I am trying to do this by the end of 2011.
The importance of a timeframe for your goals isn’t because it is a drop dead deadline, but rather to make sure you are making progress towards the goal. A goal might meet all the SMART criteria when it is created, but if you wait 6 months before you make any progress, it may no longer be attainable. If I don’t reach my goal by the end of the year, I will evaluate the goal, and set it again with an updated timeframe, so long as it remains relevant.
Back to the log
Following the CF Football seminar, I began following their programming. They have multiple tiers of programming and I chose the “amateur” level for a few reasons. 1) It was the simplest program to fit on a weekly schedule, 2) it offered the fastest gains so long as you didn’t plateau, 3) it is designed to feed into the “collegiate” level if and when you do plateau.
The programming is basically a 50/50 split between strength work and conditioning work. The strength work closely resembles Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program with all of the big lifts, 3 sets of 5 reps. The conditioning workouts are short and intense. Sprints, box jumps, kettle bell swings are frequently present. There is lots of focus on explosive hip drive.
I made great strength progress on the CFFB programming. I added 50 pounds to my 5RM back squat in one month. I had planned on continuing this programming, but I developed some shoulder impingement in both shoulders, although mostly in my right. I decided to ease up a bit on things as I was training about 6 days a week, and began some basic PT/rehab work on my shoulders.
I continued to squat multiple times per week during the spring and summer, and was able to hit a full depth 1RM of 305 pounds. I decided I wanted to really focus on squats for the rest of the year and it was around this time that I set my goal of the 2x bodyweight squat. This goal also ties back to the CFFB seminar, where John told us that a 2x bodyweight squat is the beginning of what he considers strong.
Sometime around the month of June I was put onto a squat routine known as Smolov. After reading about it for a few weeks, I felt like I was properly mentally prepared for it. Everything that I read was that it was the hardest program to get through. It will make you hate squatting. I got through the first week of the program when we got the news that it was time for Baby Addie to come into this world.
I don’t want to over simplify the program, but it’s a kind of ladder type program starting each week with 4 sets of 9, and sliding down towards 10 sets of 3 at the end of the week with stops of 5×7 and 7×5 along the way. Physically it’s a tough program, mentally it may be even harder, but i barely hit the tip of the iceberg since I only did a week of it.
After a few weeks off of training to spend time with Addie, I finally made my way back to the gym towards the end of August. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to jump back into Smolov because of my schedule with work and life, so I decided to go with an old reliable, Wendler’s 5/3/1. There are a few variations on Wendler’s and I chose to go with “boring but big” (BBB) program. The variations mostly differ by what they prescribe IN ADDITION to the core 5/3/1 exercises. You can see a few of the options here at this 5/3/1 program generator. In the BBB program, after you do your 5/3/1 work of the 4 major lifts, you do 5 sets of 10 at 50% of your 1RM. Then you do 5 sets of 10 of 1 specific assistance exercise such as chin ups, or dumbbell rows.
The nice thing about 5/3/1 programs is that if you entered your 1RM properly into your spreadsheet, you should never fail on any of your sets, and the only set you need to write down your results on is your plus set when you go until failure. So I can sum up three weeks of training in a nice little color coded box below.
You can see at a quick glance that the deadlift has cause for concern. The biggest issue I had during this training period was lack of grip strength. I was surprised how much it deteriorated during my time of non-training, and/or lack of chalk in the gym had on my deadlifts. In the meantime I ordered a captain crush grip trainer to work on this.
I think this update has gone long enough. Coming in the next update, a return to kettlebell training, and some nutrition updates as well. (hint: intermittent fasting)