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  • Jim Wendler 12:02 pm on August 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    S.V.R. II and Water Torture 

    One of the favorite 5/3/1 set/rep variations from the Beyond book was S.V.R.  I believe this new version greatly improves on the original S.V.R.  Like always, I experimented with a few different options and found that the new version is superior and I’m always looking for ways to make it better. One of the mistakes [...]
     
  • Jim Wendler 3:04 pm on August 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Advice to Football Players 

    This article originally appeared at EliteFTS: you can read it here. Note: I’ve updated a few things to fit my current mood of hate towards the misinformation being thrown at kids by ignorant adults. 1. Don’t worry about your bodyweight – too many kids want to gain too much weight too quickly. Just train, eat [...]
     
  • Jim Wendler 4:28 pm on August 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Different Loading, Same Principles 

    The best thing about having friends, at least in my circle, is constantly trying to outdo the other on the “ball busting” scale.  Pegg is, by far, the greatest though I have gotten the best of him at times.  Most notably at the Maryland Deathfest in which I had him believing the cops were after [...]
     
  • Nikki Shlosser 2:34 pm on June 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    [Seven] Basic Human Movements 

    By Delaine Ross, Senior SFG

     

     

    We are so often asked, “How do I put together a program at home?” or “How do you put your classes together?” The simple answer is we make sure to include both grinds and ballistics within the 7 basic human movement patterns.
     

    The Seven Movements

    GRINDS in kettlebell practice are the slow exercises – the ones you want to perform for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps, such as presses, deadlifts, squats and get-ups. BALLISTICS are the quick lifts — such as swings and snatches — that are to be performed for however many reps before form degrades from fatigue, or before power output diminishes. Typically, this falls between 10-20 reps.

    The 7 basic human movements are combined from Master SFGs Dan John and David Whitley. Dan’s 5 movements are:

    1. Push
    2. Pull
    3. Hinge
    4. Squat
    5. Loaded Carry

    After assisting a workshop with MSFG David Whitley, I added:

    1. Rotation
    2. Counter-rotation (fighting against rotation)

     

    Examples of Each

    When training for general physical preparedness (without any specific athletic goal in mind), you will want to start with some get-ups (which cover many categories) and then fill in the blanks. Plenty of exercises fall into two categories. And you can use one bell or two.

    By no means is this a comprehensive list, but here are some examples of each movement.

    Push: You can do any of the numerous press variations (military press, floor press, etc…)  You can even combine push and counter-rotation by doing a one-sided floor press. If you don’t want to use a bell, you can do pushups (of which there are numerous variations).

    Pull: Any of the row variations (rows, renegade rows, single-leg rows, batwings, etc..) or pull-ups fall into the pull category.

    Hinge: Deadlifts, swings, cleans, and snatches all are hinges.

    Squat: Goblet squats and front squats are the most common. The more practiced strength students can perform pistols (weighted or unweighted).

    Loaded Carry: According to Dan John, this one’s a game changer. Farmers carries, racked carries, waiter’s walk (overhead carries).

    Rotation: Russian twist, ribbons, overhead rotation (bell locked out overhead and rotate from your spine, not hips)

    Counter-rotation: One-sided suitcase deadlifts, one sided floor presses, renegade rows, one-arm swings, alternating swings.

     

    Sample Workout

    So here is an example for a basic kettlebell class or solo training at home:

    Joint Mobility:

    4 TGU’s each side
    2 laps farmers carries, 2 laps racked carries

    30 seconds work with 30 seconds rest for 3 rounds (:30/:30 x 3):

    Alternating Swings (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
    Military Press Left (grind, push)
    Military Press Right
    Row Left (grind, pull)
    Row Right
    Snatch Left (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
    Snatch Right
    Russian Twist (rotation)
    Goblet Squat (squat)

    That is the secret. Every class could be programmed this way: pretty much the same, but different. Same plan, different tactic. The specifics can change day to day without becoming “random acts of variety.” The seven basic human movements provides a template that we can follow to get maximal strength, mobility, stability, and fat loss results. Enjoy!
     
     

     
  • Nikki Shlosser 2:34 pm on June 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    [Seven] Basic Human Movements 

    By Delaine Ross, Senior SFG

     

     

    We are so often asked, “How do I put together a program at home?” or “How do you put your classes together?” The simple answer is we make sure to include both grinds and ballistics within the 7 basic human movement patterns.
     

    The Seven Movements

    GRINDS in kettlebell practice are the slow exercises – the ones you want to perform for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps, such as presses, deadlifts, squats and get-ups. BALLISTICS are the quick lifts — such as swings and snatches — that are to be performed for however many reps before form degrades from fatigue, or before power output diminishes. Typically, this falls between 10-20 reps.

    The 7 basic human movements are combined from Master SFGs Dan John and David Whitley. Dan’s 5 movements are:

    1. Push
    2. Pull
    3. Hinge
    4. Squat
    5. Loaded Carry

    After assisting a workshop with MSFG David Whitley, I added:

    1. Rotation
    2. Counter-rotation (fighting against rotation)

     

    Examples of Each

    When training for general physical preparedness (without any specific athletic goal in mind), you will want to start with some get-ups (which cover many categories) and then fill in the blanks. Plenty of exercises fall into two categories. And you can use one bell or two.

    By no means is this a comprehensive list, but here are some examples of each movement.

    Push: You can do any of the numerous press variations (military press, floor press, etc…)  You can even combine push and counter-rotation by doing a one-sided floor press. If you don’t want to use a bell, you can do pushups (of which there are numerous variations).

    Pull: Any of the row variations (rows, renegade rows, single-leg rows, batwings, etc..) or pull-ups fall into the pull category.

    Hinge: Deadlifts, swings, cleans, and snatches all are hinges.

    Squat: Goblet squats and front squats are the most common. The more practiced strength students can perform pistols (weighted or unweighted).

    Loaded Carry: According to Dan John, this one’s a game changer. Farmers carries, racked carries, waiter’s walk (overhead carries).

    Rotation: Russian twist, ribbons, overhead rotation (bell locked out overhead and rotate from your spine, not hips)

    Counter-rotation: One-sided suitcase deadlifts, one sided floor presses, renegade rows, one-arm swings, alternating swings.

     

    Sample Workout

    So here is an example for a basic kettlebell class or solo training at home:

    Joint Mobility:

    4 TGU’s each side
    2 laps farmers carries, 2 laps racked carries

    30 seconds work with 30 seconds rest for 3 rounds (:30/:30 x 3):

    Alternating Swings (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
    Military Press Left (grind, push)
    Military Press Right
    Row Left (grind, pull)
    Row Right
    Snatch Left (ballistic, hinge, counter-rotation)
    Snatch Right
    Russian Twist (rotation)
    Goblet Squat (squat)

    That is the secret. Every class could be programmed this way: pretty much the same, but different. Same plan, different tactic. The specifics can change day to day without becoming “random acts of variety.” The seven basic human movements provides a template that we can follow to get maximal strength, mobility, stability, and fat loss results. Enjoy!
     
     

     
  • Jim Wendler 3:36 pm on June 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Programming Assistance Work   This originally was going to be used for the 5/3/1 Rest Pause stuff but I was able to use it for just about every other program that I’ve written. Just to be very clear, assistance work is NOT supplemental work.  Assistance work consists of movements such as DB bench, rows, triceps [...]
     
  • Craig Marker 1:28 pm on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    What is “Work Capacity”? [Part II] 

    By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman

     

     

    The original Russian term, rabotosposobnost, literally translates into “work ability”. A better translation would be “potential productivity”.

    But someone creatively translated it into English as “work capacity”, which instantly changed its meaning. The word “capacity” implies the size of a tank, as in “alactic capacity” or “aerobic capacity”. The Russian term, while including capacity, means a lot more.

    Even in the USSR there was vagueness and many conflicting definitions of potential productivity. I will spare you the esoteric discussions and present you with a definition that many Russian experts would agree with—or at least could live with:

    Potential productivity is one’s ability to fulfill the given work with the lowest biological cost and the highest results. (1)

    “Potential productivity is a complex process which depends on integration and interaction of different systems and organs on different levels of organization: from biochemical to genetic to social.” (2) PP is determined by a host of physiological and psychological factors: genetics, gender, body mass, age, the state of health, energy systems’ power, capacity, and efficiency, the state of the neuromuscular apparatus, the psychological state, motivation, the climate, the season, work conditions, etc. (2)

    As you can see, the energy systems are only one of the many variables determining the PP.

    PP should be assessed according to the criteria of one’s job or sport. (3) Indirect criteria of PP include various biological markers such as the heart rate and the blood pressure that describe the organism’s reaction to the load and the cost it incurred doing the work. (3)

    PP has three phases: rising productivity, stable high productivity, and rising fatigue. The first phase can be thought of as a warm-up. Depending on the individual and the nature of the effort, it may last from several minutes to 90min. You are “cruising” in the second phase. As for the third phase, fatigue is the organism’s defense reaction that aims to lower various systems’ output to prevent negative consequences to one’s health.

    If you look at the productivity dynamics during the workday, you will see that after lunch the first phase is shorter than in the morning—but the second phase does not reach as high and does not last as long. The third phase is predictably more pronounced in the end of the day. This applies to both physical and mental work.
     

     

    Biorhythms affect the PP and should be considered in planning. (4) The highest productivity is exhibited when one’s work or training rhythm is in sync with his biological rhythms. 41% of people are most productive in the morning, 30% in the evening and even at night, and 29% are equally productive at any time when they are awake. (5) If you want to learn more, Dr. Craig Marker, SFG II recommends an interesting paper in English. (13)

     


     

    Here are most typical PP dynamics over a 24-hour period:
     


     

    Strength is down by 20-30% after sleep and it takes 3-5 hours to reach its peak. It decreases again by 1300. (6) A first peak is around 0900 (based on 0600 waking up), the second peak is reached around 1800. (7)

    Yet you can retrain yourself to have high potential productivity at unfavorable times. (8) “Maximal potential productivity is a dynamic stereotype and dynamic stereotypes can change if you make them. That means that if the most convenient time for your training falls outside [the optimal times of the day], the organism will gradually, say over a month, will move its potential productivity peak to that time. The most important thing is not to change that time too often, otherwise the dynamic stereotype will not be reinforced and you will be constantly feeling discomfort.” (9)

    Many cyclical phenomena are fractal, i.e. they repeat themselves at periods of time of different length, like Russian nesting dolls. When it comes to a weekly cycle, Soviet weightlifting experts figured out decades ago that the peak of work capacity falls not on Monday but on Wednesday. (10)

     

     

    Russians also distinguish between monthly, annual, and multiannual potential productivity.

    PP peaks in the end of summer-early fall and bottoms out in the winter. (11) Note the climate’s influence: in moderate—by Russian standards—climates the winter drop-off is 4-8%; in Siberia it is 17%. Soviet researchers established that a several weeks’ long vacation is a must once a year as nights and weekends off do not erase the cumulative fatigue from months of work. What you might see as European laziness is in fact a prerequisite for maximizing your work capacity throughout the year.

    Since PP is a lot more than the energy systems, you can and should do a lot more to improve yours. Russians undertake various measures for maintaining, increasing, and restoring PP: (3)

    • Pedagogical means encompass an intelligently designed training and recovery process: selecting the right loads and their variability, optimizing the work/rest schedule, intelligently combining general and specific training means, etc.
    • Psychological means include autogenic training, muscle relaxation and breathing exercises, increasing positive emotions and decreasing negative emotions in one’s life, organizing recreation, etc.
    • Medical means include pharmacy, physiotherapy, massage, etc.
    • The physiological category is further subdivided into two groups:
      1. The first group of means is meant to be used in an ongoing manner over the length of one’s professional or athletic career: balanced nutrition, nutritional supplementation, measures aimed at increase of the body’s non-specific resistance, GPP, sauna, etc. A key to developing stable PP is improving of the body’s non-specific resistance to stressors: various adaptations in the metabolism, immune system, endocrine system, especially the sympathetico-adrenal system and adrenal cortex, etc. (2)
      2. The second category is short term, for a quick pick-me-up before or during a competition and extra restoration immediately after. These means includes acupuncture and acupressure, hypobaric and hypoxic training, pharmacy, etc. E.g., cold shower and application of a cold compress to the stomach between sets improves results in weightlifting, especially for trained athletes. Rubbing one’s face with cold water during competition also helps because cold is a stressor that activates the cortico-adrenal system. (12) Of course, there is espresso and Iron Maiden…

    In summary, to maximize your potential productivity you need to, in addition to training right, do whatever it takes to become happy and healthy.

    • Train right.
    • Rest enough.
    • Eat well. Supplement right—or not at all.
    • Get your head in the right place.
    • Take up autogenic training or meditation.
    • Study your body’s natural rhythms and live and train in sync with them.
    • Engage in natural health practices: outdoor activities, tempering, sauna, massage, etc.
    • Learn moderation.

     

    References

    1. Shipilina & Samokhin (2004)
    2. Ushakov (2007)
    3. Solodkov et al. (2007)
    4. Agajanyan & Shabatura (1989)
    5. Doskin & Lavrentyeva
    6. Vasiliev (1953)
    7. Cited by Hettinger (1966)
    8. Smirnov (1955)
    9. Sheyko (2005)
    10. Rodionov (1967)
    11. Zagryadsky (1972)
    12. Vorobyev (1981)
    13. Kudielka et. al (2006)

    Get higher results for a lower biological cost.
    KETTLEBELL SIMPLE & SINISTER
     
  • Craig Marker 2:29 pm on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Training the Endurance Athlete 

    By Peter Park

     
    Peter Park has trained many professional athletes, most notably endurance athletes like Lance Armstrong. While many endurance athletes continue to be overly-concerned with more and more “endurance” training at the expense of strength training, Peter understands the importance of strengthening the endurance athlete. His strategy is explained below. 
     

    The strength techniques I use with my endurance athletes today have evolved 180 degrees from the way I trained myself as a professional triathlete thirty years ago. Back then, I would go into the gym 2-3 days per week, do 15-20 reps of squats, luges, box jumps, pushups, pull-ups etc. in circuit format as fast as possible. I was more concerned about keeping my heart rate and endorphins high than any real benefit to my racing. My training partners and I were the envy of the gym for how “fit” we were, but little did I realize, I was basically going in the gym and doing the exact same workout, and using the exact energy systems as I was when swimming, cycling and running.

    Today, I train athletes with a mixture of my own experimentation and experience, along with elements picked up from incredible mentors like Pavel, Phil Maffetone, Lance Armstrong, and many others. Although I train athletes in all sports, I am best known for my work with endurance athletes, such as cyclist Lance Armstrong and motocross legend Chad Reed.
     


     

    Most of my endurance athletes have very long competitive racing seasons. A typical race calendar for an Ironman triathlete, for example, will go from April to mid-October. There is no possible way an athlete can stay sharp or peaked for that long a period of time. Therefore, I set an athlete’s season to peak once in May and early June, then again in September and early October.
     

    The basic framework of a sample schedule for an Ironman triathlete:

    1. End of October and November: off-season
    2. December to end of March: base training, higher volume strength training.
    3. April to mid May: interval training, lower volume strength training.
    4. June to late July: peaking for early season Ironman, easy strength.
    5. Late July to End of August: base training, higher volume strength work.
    6. September to early October: peaking for seasons key race (Ironman Hawaii), lower volume, higher intensity strength work.

    Off-season is a time to shut the factory down, reflect, reorganize, and plan for the next season. I have found that 6 weeks is about the perfect amount of time for the off-season. My clients will stay active doing activities such as trail running and mountain biking etc., but nothing structured and only when they feel like it. I recommend most athletes stay out of the gym during this brief period — I want them to refresh the body and mind to be ready to get after it when the time comes.

    The base training period is the most important cycle of the season. If done correctly, it sets the framework and foundation for a successful race season. If done poorly, mediocre results and often frustrating injuries result.
     

    Nutrition

    Training and nutrition take on very symbiotic roles in this stage. The two programs are equally important and dependent on each other for success.

    Nutrition-wise, I have had the most success with clients following a low carbohydrate (for an endurance athlete), high fat and moderate protein diet during the base period. I recommend keeping the carbs to about 100 grams (give or take) for the entire base period. The purpose is to force the body to shift to using fat for its primary energy source instead of carbohydrates. With little glycogen available, the body is forced to get the fatty acids mobilized from fat stores to be used for energy. When I see a client at the end of this period eat a breakfast such as eggs, bacon and some avocado, do a 3-4 hour ride with only water, and have no blood sugar issues, I know they have become the fat-burning machine I want.
     

    Cardio

    All the cardio training during this period is performed at aerobic heart rate. The purpose is to get your aerobic system as efficient as possible. In a nutshell, you are looking to increase the production of mitochondria in muscle cells. Doing this longer, lower-level aerobic training builds more mitochondria and capillaries for better fat mobilization and oxygen transport to muscles.

    I still use Phil Maffetone’s 180-[age] to get the athlete’s max aerobic pace. For example, if you were 30 years old, your max aerobic rate would be 150 (180-30). All workouts stay in this heart rate range. I will still do various types of interval training in this period, but all under the prescribed heart rate.

    People are often very frustrated at first about how slow they have to go to stay under the required rate. It takes a lot of patience and willpower, but the results are remarkable. It is not uncommon to see a 3-mile running time trial be 5-7 minutes faster at the same heart rate at the end of a base-building period.
     

    Strength Training

    The base period is also the time where strength training can be maximized. With the cardio being done at a lower intensity, I ramp up the strength work during the base period. I will generally have clients strength train 3 days a week: Monday and Friday are the heavier, more intense days while Wednesday’s workouts are lower in intensity and may include single leg work, explosive work such as hill bounds, and kettlebell complexes. Reps are kept in 2-5 ranges on the main lifts, the 5-10 range with assistant work. Volume varies from week to week, but generally 10-12 working reps for my main lifts. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I will prescribe a short program of correctives and mobility to do on their own.
     


     

    I use a variable load schedule with both the cardio and the strength work. Some weeks, I will emphasize the mileage in the cardio, and cut back on the volume and  intensity on the strength side. Other weeks, I may reverse it, and up the intensity and volume in the strength, and cut back on the cardio training. I also make sure to demand a recovery period every 3-4 weeks, dropping volume considerably in both cardio and strength.

    Every athlete is different in how much volume and intensity they can handle. It is my job to make sure the athlete is progressing and absorbing the training. It is far better to be slightly undertrained, than overtrained.
     

    A typical example of a strength program during the base period:

    Warm up: 2 x

    1. Goblet squats
    2. Hip thrusts with barbell or dumbbell
    3. Halos
    4. Empty Olympic bar overhead squat to side lunges

    Circuit 1:  3 x 4 reps ( 75-80% effort or 4 with 2-3 left in tank): heavier deadlifts Monday and heavier squats Friday.

    1. Deadlifts
    2. One arm kettlebell press

    Circuit 2: 3 x 4 reps ( 75-80% effort or 5 with 2-3 left in tank)

    1. Zecher squats
    2. Pull-ups

    Circuit 3:  Quicker pace holding form: wear heart rate monitor and stay under prescribed rate.  2-3 x

    1. Pushups: as many as possible with perfect tight form
    2. Swings: 10-15 reps
    3. Renegade row: 7 per side
    4. Swings: 10-15 reps

    Core: 2 x

    1. Get-ups: 1-2 per arm
    2. Farmer walks
    3. Stir the pots

    On a side note, the program will vary depending on the type of endurance athlete I am working with. For example, triathletes and motocross athletes can afford and need to have some upper body strength, to compete in their respective sports. A Tour de France rider, like Lance, or an elite marathon runner, needs to be very careful about having too much weight upstairs. In fact, with Lance, our goal was achieving the core strength of a gymnast, the leg strength of a powerlifter, and the upper body size of a 12-year-old girl! Strength to weight ratio is huge in pro cycling and marathon running. Therefore, when designing an endurance athlete’s program, you need to be careful with your exercise selection.

    When April rolls around, my athletes are strong, fat burning machines, and more than ready to start some quality speed sessions. We will do some “training” races in May and early June, then a scheduled peak race in late June. It always surprises me how few speed workouts an athlete needs if the base training was done correctly. The aerobic system is so efficient, 3-5 key workouts or races are all that is needed to reach a peak.

    The higher intensity speed work will eat up glycogen levels. Therefore, I will advise my athletes to increase carbohydrate intake by 60-100 grams for every high intensity hour of training.

    During this period I cut the strength training to 2 days per week. Both the volume and intensity in this phase is decreased. It is very much like Pavel and Dan John’s Easy Strength philosophy of training in season. Get in some quality work, never train to failure, and finish completely unfatigued and able to attack any workout your sport requires. I try to schedule the strength workouts the evening after the cardio speed workouts. I prefer this method to give the athlete adequate recovery in between the high-end intense days. The strength workouts will continue until about 2 weeks before the peak race. At this point, the work is done and the goal is to do just enough work to stay sharp for race day.
     


     

    A typical strength workout in this peaking phase:

    Active warm-up: 10 min of goblet squats, bridges, leg swings etc.

    Short reactive work:

    1. Hill Bounds
    2. Eccentric swings or snatches

    Circuit 1:  2-3 sets

    1. Deadlifts:  3 sets of 2-3 reps 70-75% of max. moving bar quick
    2. Kettlebell Push Press:  3-5 reps explosive

    Circuit 2:

    1. Front squats (kettlebell or barbell): 2-3 reps 70-75% of max. explosive
    2. Pull-ups or medicine ball slams

    Core work:

    I will do a short circuit here that may consist of get-ups, farmer walks and various planking or rotational and anti-rotational work.

    Occasionally I will add in a few assistance exercises if no races are planned for the weekend. After the peak race, I will give the athlete a 6-week mini off-season to rejuvenate and recover. From here, it is back to base training and heavier strength work for 6 weeks or so to build to the next race.

    I hope this article gave the StrongFirst reader some insight on how an endurance athlete trains, and more specifically, how strength work is implemented in the overall program. I have always believed strength training to be a huge part of an endurance athlete’s program; not only for performance, but also for longevity and injury prevention. I will continue to fine-tune my methods, and look forward to sharing them here.
     
     

    About the Author

    Peter Park, Founder of the Platinum brand and co-owner of the Platinum Fitness Summerland facility in Santa Barbara County, CA, brings a past rich with his own professional athletic achievements to his 23 years of experience training elite athletes, big-screen celebrities, top touring musicians, and common citizens that are serious about their fitness, mobility, and longevity. As a culmination of his experience, Peter recently authored a book on Foundation training, which lengthens and strengthens the back body, equaling out one’s total body strength, posture, flexibility, and overall body awareness. Click here to learn more about the book on Amazon.com
     
     

     
  • Craig Marker 2:26 pm on February 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Build Your Slow Fibers, Part II 

    By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman

     

    Karen Smith, Master SFG demonstrating the diamond pushup


    This article continues the series started in Should You Build Your Slow Fibers? and continued in How to Build Your Slow Fibers, Part I.

    Today I will present you with a plan that will increase your pressing strength and endurance by building up slow muscle fibers in your triceps. The plan may be used in conjunction with any type of press—the kettlebell military press, the one-arm pushup, the barbell bench press, etc.

    • Carry on your regular press training—low reps and multiple sets aimed at neural adaptations and fast fiber hypertrophy.
    • The exercise is a diamond pushup done in a particular manner: thumbs and index fingers of both hands touching, hands under the sternum, slow constant tension movement in the middle 1/3 of the range of motion.
    • All sets must be done to failure, which must occur in 30-60sec—no more, no less. Raise your hands or feet if necessary to adjust the resistance accordingly.
    • Do not hold your breath; “breathe behind the shield”.
    • The first minute after each set shake the muscles you just worked—swing your arms, shadow box, massage your triceps, etc. to reduce the congestion as quickly as possible! It is essential for the program’s success.
    • A minimal rest between sets is 5min. This number is not negotiable and a longer rest of 10min is preferable. You may do other exercises during that time. Or you may choose the GTG tactic and spread your sets throughout the day. One can do pushups anywhere.
    • Do your slow pushups to failure twice a week, a high volume day and a low volume day. Perform the following number of sets:

     

     
    On the heavy pushup day you may train as usual—grinds and ballistics—except for presses.  Do no presses of any kinds, including get-ups.  You may train heavy presses the day after, but not hard.  Following is a sample weekly schedule fitting the Rite of Passage kettlebell press plan.  As an option, the light pushup session may be moved to Saturday.
     

     
    And here is a schedule for an athlete training the OAP in the GTG manner:
     

     
    Finally, a schedule for a lifter bench pressing twice a week:
     

     
    On week 7 or 8 test your press strength (the press of your choice).  10min later test your pushups reps.  You need a baseline of both coming into the program.

    Next time we will discuss the pros and cons of training both the FT and the ST fibers in all muscle groups along with the guidelines for doing it.  Until then, pressing power to you!
     
     

     
  • Craig Marker 1:51 pm on February 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Build Your Slow Fibers, Part I 

    By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman

     

    Great Soviet dancer Mahmoud Esambayev (center) with an army big wig and a cosmonaut in the Kremlin.

    You may have guessed that slow fibers take slow movements to train them.  To appreciate the challenge of super slow consider the “Golden God” dance by the famous Soviet Chechen dancer Mahmoud Esambayev.

    Born in a highlands village where every man and woman knew how to dance, Mahmoud started dancing at the age of seven and in his teens became a professional traveling with a troupe.  During World War II Esambayev was wounded in the leg.  The surgeon told him, “I have saved your leg but you will never be able to dance again.”  This did not stop the young man from becoming one of the most accomplished and beloved dancers in the Soviet Union.  Many of his dances could not be repeated by any other professional.  Esambayev became especially famous for his series “Dances of the Peoples of the World” in which he was able to outperform the natives.  Indian dance “Golden God” is relevant for this article.

    The dance started in a position known in ballet as a “full plié”—a rock bottom squat with the knees fully turned out, like a frog.  The dancer took a minute and a half to rise up, symbolizing the sunrise.  The dance demanded an extremely smooth ascent; little bells were attached to the dancer’s clothes and they were not supposed to ring.  Six minutes of dance followed and then the performer went back down to a full plié squat in a minute in a half—the sunset.  Indian consultants assured the Chechen that this dance demanded at least eight years of study.  Esambayev mastered it in less than three weeks! (Behold the power of having one’s foundation of basics down.)

    Before you make fun of Esambayev’s shiny clothes and make-up try taking 90sec to smoothly rise from this position.

    Fortunately for you, slow fiber hypertrophy training is less painful than that; a set should take only 30-60sec. Today I will outline one of slow fiber building protocols by Prof. Victor Selouyanov. As mentioned earlier, his methods have been used with great success by top Russian athletes from a variety of sports, from bicycle racing to judo; from soccer to full contact karate.

    • Style of performance: super slow, no acceleration.
    • Range of motion: partial that does not allow rest at any point.
    • Set duration: 30-60sec to failure (both heavy and light days).
    • Rest between sets of a given exercise: 5-10min, active (walk, “fast and loose”). Other exercises may be done during that window.
    • Resistance: 30-70% 1RM for the lower body and 10-40% 1RM for the upper body. No difference in resistance from heavy to light day.
    • Weekly schedule: bodybuilding style split training; a heavy day and a light day per muscle group.
    • Volume: 4-9 sets on heavy day; 1-3 sets on light day.

    The resistance is chosen to hit failure within the specified time frame. The difference in % 1RM between the lower and upper body exercises is explained by a higher concentration of ST fibers in the legs.

    The purpose of going to failure is dual. One, to create a particular metabolic environment. Two, to cause psychological stress that promotes release of anabolic hormones. Unlike with heavier lifting, it is OK to go to failure. Since the exercise feels so different from a heavy lift, neural adaptations—learning failure—are not a problem. Safety is not much of an issue either as the weights are very light. Besides, with the exception of the back squat, Prof. Selouyanov favors isolation bodybuilding exercises for ST hypertrophy. Among those he recommends to elite wrestlers are preacher curls and skull crushers! (See Easy Strength for explanations why these “sissy” moves are beneficial to experienced athletes but not beginners.)

    Selouyanov is a big fan of super slow partial back hypers. Reportedly, they were one of the key training secrets of Vasily Alexeev. The weightlifting great had back problems and was unable to do heavy clean pulls (deadlifts). So he would kick everyone out of the gym, lock the doors, and do slow partial back extensions over a pommel horse with a barbell weighing only 40-60kg. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Bodyweight and partner exercises are also frequently used by elite Russian wrestlers coached in Selouyanov’s method. His protocol is only for training the muscle, not the movement, and it does not matter what type of resistance you are using, as long as you burn out your guns in the specified manner.

    Contrary to what you might have read on the Internet, no one knows the exact mechanisms of turning on the muscle building machinery. Prof. Selouyanov developed the above protocol based on his own theory. In a nutshell, four conditions must be met for muscle hypertrophy:

    1. Presence of amino acids in the cell.
    2. An increased concentration of anabolic hormones in the blood as a result of psychological strain.
    3. An increased concentration of free creatine in the muscle fibers.
    4. An increased concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) in the muscle fibers.

    The first condition is obvious. The second supports training to failure and making the muscles burn miserably. The third and fourth take some explanation.

    Both free creatine and hydrogen ions unlock the muscle doors to anabolic hormones. The latter go in and turn on the genetic machinery responsible for protein synthesis.

    The 30-60sec window is defined by the goal of increasing these substances’ concentration. Free creatine is formed when muscle uses creatine phosphate as fuel and CP is usually used up in half a minute of hard work. Hydrogen ions are a byproduct of muscular contraction. Their concentration is maxed out at 60sec and at 30sec it reaches 65%. Now the set timing makes sense.

    A super slow non-lockout style of exercise performance is dictated by the slow fibers’ ability to use oxygen and to rapidly recover. The blood vessels’ occlusion produced by this traditional bodybuilding technique cancels this ability.

    You might ask, how does the Russian professor’s methodology differ from what bodybuilders have been doing for decades? Sure, he has precisely defined the loading parameters, but that is refinement, not innovation.

    It is the radical 5-10min rest period that gives Selouyanov’s method its unique edge. Bodybuilders, when doing constant tension, peak contraction, and super slow reps, always rush the rest periods, chasing max pump (pump is a manifestation of H+ accumulation, by the way). Selouyanov’s research has demonstrated that while hydrogen ions are needed for a short period of time to unlock the muscle cell to anabolic hormones, they destroy the muscle if allowed to stick around too long. If you remember your chemistry, you will realize that an ion is a charged particle, ready to reach and damage. Hence the extreme 5-10min rest that makes all the difference.

    Professor states that active rest—walking around, “fast and loose” drills—is far superior to passively sitting around. Movement allows H+ to circulate and get cleared more rapidly by multiple muscle groups.

    But scientific theories are dime a dozen if they are not backed by practice. Whether Selouyanov’s is correct or not, his protocols have been used with extraordinary success by many elite Russian athletes from a variety of sports, and that is all that matters.

    Stand by for a training plan.

     
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