the spaz of fitness has arrived

Practical Programming and Progress

In Training on August 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm

It’s been a long week of many goodbyes. I miscounted in my last post… apparently, by the end of this week, I will have bid farewell to six friends who are permanently leaving this city. There are small things about State College that irk me– its isolation, the expense of housing, the long winters and the lack of sun…– but really, this city would be livable if it weren’t for the transience of it. I’ve only been here for two years, but I’m already tired of watching people leave. So many times now, I’ve witnessed the beginnings of a promising friendship, but seen it stretched too thin over great distances and snapped… Anyway, that’s irrelevant to most of you, but it’s my excuse for the lack of updates lately. The lifts are still progressing, albeit slower now. I can only add about 2.5lbs to my squat per week and my press has stalled yet again. My deadlift increased according to plan, but my form is decaying, so I’m sticking with this weight (195 x 5) for at least another week.

I’ve also finished reading Practical Programming, which was an enlightening experience. Though the book starts slowly, the latter half is rather useful. It’s divided usefully into programming techniques for “novice,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” athletes. It’s also helped me understand a bit about the current training stage I’m in. As these weights get heavier, I’m noticing that the lifts are also becoming a bit more taxing– nothing serious. I still don’t feel debilitatingly sore the next day, or exhausted… but I’ve noticed I can screw around less after my lifting. Before, despite all the coach’s warnings against overtraining, I felt all right messing around the gym after lifting because I didn’t feel much impact from the strength work… but now, after only 5 deadlifts, I can sense a bit of energy drainage. I find this encouraging… at least, what I’ve gathered from Practical Programming, it means I’m finally working a bit closer to my genetic potential… whereas before, I was so entrenched in the “novice” stage that most of what I could do just wasn’t as physically exhaustive.

What was heartening for me is that Rippetoe provides a chart at the end of Practical Programming detailing the lift statistics for a “novice,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” athlete. According to my internet research (Google wisdom, if you will), I believe that Rippetoe removed these charts from the second edition of Practical Programming because they were often misapplied. They were meant as general guidelines and not necessarily in direct correspondence to the training phases that he describes in the book. Nevertheless, keeping in mind that these are very rough standards, I’m happy to see that all my lifts are firmly beyond the “intermediate” minimum– creeping towards “advanced.” Technically, my deadlift is well within the “advanced” range, and my max bench should be close, but I haven’t tested a 1rm in a long time.*

[*I’ve included a copy of Rippetoe’s charts at the end of this post in case you’d like to look up your own lifts]

This is my roundabout way of circling back to the topic that I feel I need to switch up my programming soon. My squat progress is slowing, my cleans have slowed to moving up 2.5lbs every three weeks or so, etc… I think instead of doing two heavy back squat days a week, I may change to either one back squat and one front squat day, or one heavy day and one light day for speed work. That’s another observation I’ve made– I definitely lack in just power production. I move everything slowly– or at least it feels that way. I don’t “explode” when I lift… or when I run, or kettlebell swing, etc. It’s why I’ve felt like I never quite tapped into my potential… I need to practice tapping into that explosive force more– which is why speed work appeals to me. But front squats may help my clean, so those are also tempting.

The lifting protocol detailed by CrossFit strength bias incorporates the basic lifts, giving you room to play with 3×5 or 5×3 as needed, as well as work with lighter loads and higher reps for explosiveness and endurance. I like that it works both the back and the front squat, but am perplexed that they neglect the bench. It makes sense, though, as CrossFit workouts rarely include the bench press… I may review the CF Journal article on its programming again (here for those of you with CF Journal subscriptions) and report back. Also, their metcon lengths are 20 minutes or less as opposed to my current program’s (70’s Big S&C) 15 minutes or less. I won’t switch over until I’m confident that I’ve exhausted my linear progression… Another thing I have to keep in mind: I want to participate in the Iron Lion Open– Penn State’s annual powerlifting competition– later this fall, and hope to train partially with the powerlifting team in preparation for that… so who knows how my training will shift to accommodate that. I’m pretty sure that, surrounded by actual powerlifters, I have a solid chance of coming in deead last… but the experience will be good for me– even just the few months of training with athletes seriously committed to getting stronger.

Anyway, happy Friday. Hope you all have lovely weekend plans 🙂

Rippetoe’s Practical Programming Novice/Intermediate/Advanced Standards (remember, these are very rough guidelines)


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