That week went by pretty quickly. Almost too quickly, seeing how classes start next Wednesday, and I have plans Monday night and all day Tuesday. I guess it’s Fall Semester already!
Today was the last ‘workout’ of my deload week. I may do something on Saturday or Sunday to move around a bit, but as far as I’m concerned the ‘real’ exercise begins on Monday. I’m excited about it, because I spent this past week considering what I did wrong over the summer, and/or what I could be doing better. I’ve discovered a few things that are important, and should be considered in your own exercise programming. Some tweaks are minor, others are pretty important. Before we get to that however, let me just share the workout I used today.
After a pretty long (20-25 minute) warm up, I decided upon the following circuit to complete. I completed it three times, and took approximately 2 minutes rest between sets. I purposely used a different workout than Monday and Wednesday, as I wanted to push my creativity and think of ideas to use during the fall, mostly for conditioning work. Today, I did the following
Kettlebell Long Cycle Clean and Jerk – Decreasing Pyramid from 5 Reps. (Basically, what I did here was perform sets of 5-4-3-2-1, on each arm, with a one-handed swing in between to keep it all going. To perform 5 reps right-handed, 5 reps left-handed, 4 reps right, 4 reps left, 3 reps…etc. Took 2:15, and took my heart rate the highest it’s been in a very long time. I’ll definitely be including this in my conditioning work, and I’d suggest using that style of contra-lateral super sets when performing strength OR conditioning work; you’ll create a cardiovascular effect either way, and more work will be done in a shorter period of time.
1 Minute of Rope Jumping – This shouldn’t really need an explanation, but after I finished the last Clean I grabbed the closest jump rope and jumped for a minute. May this breaks my rule of only kettlebell and TRX for the week, but it was great ‘recovery’ cardio after the Clean superset, so it worked.
10 Pushups – 10 slow pushups, with as much emphasis on perfect form as possible, followed by 15 TRX Rows. Want to see a perfect form pushup? Here ya go!
Now, my analysis of my summer workouts. This is going to be a list of what I did wrong, and before Monday I’ll share how I’m changing things up. Hopefully this shares some incite into what to consider when you (hopefully) critique what you’re doing on your own!
My biggest mistake, without a doubt, is that it was too stressful for my Central Nervous System. I was essentially trying to hit a personal record in every workout, 4 times a week. While it rotated between Pulling, Squatting, Pressing, and Deadlifting workouts, it was far too CNS-intensive, and it burned me out over the course of the summer. My first fix will be to plan CNS intensive days (my Max Effort days) and less intensive days. This way, I’ll cycle between days, and should only have 2 ‘heavy’ days and two ‘speed’ days. While I still need to plug these in to my weekly schedule, it’ll be less difficult for me to mentally recover from workouts. That will be perfect for my busy schedule.
Following CNS activity, I’d like to set aside a day for conditioning. Woah woah, before we get carried away with words that leave a bad taste in my mouth like ‘aerobic steady state’, that’s not what I mean. I’ll spend the day doing conditioning intervals; the metabolic conditioning which I love so dearly. While I won’t be hooking myself to any machines to verify, I’ll do all of my work above 100% of VO2 Max. Obviously that work isn’t sustainable, so this will be interval training; conditioning, if you will. I’ve always wanted to include a ‘Sprint’ day in my workouts, and I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to get this accomplished, along with some other metabolic conditioning work. It’ll be nice to spend an entire day doing mobility work, sprints, and some kettlebell conditioning. (At this point, I’m definitely going to include the kettlebell in most of my conditioning, it’s an amazing tool). This Conditioning day will allow me to move more, and it’ll be a mentally rejuvenating day. Maybe I’m a little crazy, but I find the power and conditioning exercises to be mentally relaxing. There is an absolute strength/absolute speed continuum; to maximize athleticism, you need to train across the continuum. I’ll be using one day a week to train absolute speed (sprinting) and do conditioning work. Ideally, I’ll be able to hit the driving range on this day of the week as well, which will keep my quickest movements all on the same day. That could lead to the most controlled schedule of all time, I’m not sure if it’s possible.
My next issue with my own programming is rotating main lifts. It was something that I was cognizant of this summer, but I didn’t rotate frequently enough; I’d like to rotate my main lifts and supplemental lifts each week, to add variety. It’ll allow me to target more ‘weak’ spots without using an archaic, inefficient body building style body-part split. Gross. By rotating lifts, I’ll make more incremental increases in the big lifts; the over all goal for my programming. An example of this would be rotating my squats on my weekly ‘heavy’ squat day. One day may be a Good Morning, the next week I’ll Box Squat, the next I may pull Deadlifts from the floor. This brings me to an aside: I pulled deadlift maxes every Friday. While deadlifting with submaximal weights is definitely a great idea, I wouldn’t recommend pulling that frequently; it seriously burned me out. The rotating of main lifts will not only keep things interesting, as my workouts will have much greater variety, but they’ll also prevent the neural fatigue that I dealt with this summer. Win, Win.
Thoracic mobility. When using the joint-by-joint approach, the thoracic spine is a mobile segment; and most people have locked up thoracic spines. It can lead to a host of problems; I dealt with some lower back pain from mid-July until mid-August when I finally spent some time working on my thoracic extension. Boom; pain gone. It can be taken care of with foam rolling, self mobilizations, and attention to posture. Not the most difficult things to do, but extremely important when it comes to quality of life; who wants to be in pain? Nobody raises their hands for that question.
The last flaw that I’ve found with my programming relates to the rotation of main lifts, but I’m not thinking of rotating things based on strength development. For variety, I’d like to include more knee- and hip dominant lower body work (i.e. Front Squatting and Romanian Deadlifting) just to open my body up to more movements. Variety is the spice of life, right? As far as upper body lifts go, I’ll use more variety with my pressing as far as grip width goes, and with my pulling, in regards to both grip width and hand position (supinated/neutral/pronated). While I’ll stick with core movements for my big strength lifts, everything else will be rotated.
My last thought is in reference to two-a-days. I have two activities classes a day, and I’m hoping that they don’t have a negative impact on my lifts. If they do, I’ll try a two-a-day format; I’ll perform just my ME (Max Effort) work in the morning before class, then my supplemental work after class. This way I’ll have all of my energy for the CNS intensive heavy lifting, and then for the more muscular related supplemental work, I won’t have to worry about the fatigue or running around for 3 hours. This may be time restrictive, but it’s possible. Stay tuned!
So you just read a few issues that I had with my summer workouts. There was too much Max Effort work, not enough speed work, not enough variety on all lifts, regardless of type of training, and I could use some more mobility work. Over the weekend, I’ll piece together a weekly schedule, then put up the microcycle (weekly) format for what I’ll be doing. I’m not going to publish my daily workout, because that’ll get boring for those of you who aren’t doing what I’m doing, but I’ll share what’s going on from time to time and demonstrate how it’s applicable to what you are doing. And now I’m going to bed.