Friday, December 11, 2015

It's all about progression.


I know I've talked about this before, but it's worth repeating: it's all about progression. Just like learning to play a musical instrument or learning a language, you start with the basics and build up from there. I was reminded of that today when I was listening to another S&C-related podcast.

They were discussing the pros and cons of using barbells, in particular, the technical movements like the Olympic lifts, for aerobic work. As you know from reading my previous posts, I don't like mixing technical movements with fatigue because everything starts to fall apart and you learn poor movement patterns. The coaches in the podcast agreed, but they gave a really good explanation for how you progress from being a beginner all the way to being able to use the technical barbell movements for aerobic work:

1 - Movement Patterns. Before you use the barbell for anything, you must have good movement patterns. I've also been talking about this with another member who's currently reading The Talent Code, which talks about the same thing. It makes no sense to practice a movement wrong because your brain will learn the bad pattern. No matter how slow or how light you have to go, the proper pattern is the #1 goal.

2 - Strength. I'm sure you're tired of my "Strength is the most important" rant. But it's true. Everyone can benefit from getting stronger than they are right now. It's so important, I force you to participate in strength work in every workout. However, you shouldn't really try to get stronger until you've started learning how to move correctly (that's why the strength progression starts out ridiculously light!). We keep the weights light when learning the movements, but as soon as we get the patterns wired, we need to keep putting weight on the bar.

3 - Muscle Endurance. Once you've started getting strong, you need to get the muscles to be able to do the same movement over-and-over again. This is you muscle endurance - repeating a movement pattern continuously.

4 - Strength Endurance. Basically this is a continuation of muscle endurance but at higher weights - weights closer to your max. This is where you start to really get serious training stimulus. You can go heavy enough and do enough reps that you need to start thinking about smart recovery.

5 - Aerobic Work. This is the result after years of training. You have the movement patterns, the endurance, and the strength all in place and now you can go hard enough that you actually get an aerobic workout with the barbell. By the time you get here, 30 clean and jerks for time is not a dumb workout. You can move well enough and you are strong enough that you can go hard enough with good form to actually benefit from the workout.

Note, this is almost the exact opposite of the typical experience. Most people want to go in a "crush that WOD" every day and get hot, sweaty, and tired. Then if they don't get injured or burnt out, they spend years unlearning the bad movements patterns and try to get strong.

This is why I'm so cranky about getting in the reps and slowly adding weight. I want you to have perfect practice and learn how to move, then get strong, then worry about everything else. If you start out by throwing a ton of weight on the bar, you'll just be spinning your wheels (at best), or doing a lot of bad movement which will set you back.

Look at yesterday's workout through this lens: We had a 3x10 6-move complex. That's 180 reps for the day. That's a crazy amount of volume. But I had everyone, even the really experienced lifters, use very light weights. The goal of yesterday's workout was movement patterns - and it worked: everyone who did that workout had much better movement on the last set than the first. By the time you were finished, you had really reinforced those movement patterns. Next time those movements show up, you'll be more prepared to push the weight.

Updates and Reminders:

Tomorrow at 6:00 we'll be meeting at Blooming Beets for a holiday celebration dinner. Hope to see you there.

Generally, I'm pretty lenient about when you can come in to workout. I usually don't mind if individual programming or weightlifting practice overlaps with our S&C class. You guys are all very considerate and don't get in each other's way.  However, starting next week through February, we are going to have a private class at 4:15-5:15 on Wednesdays, and we need to have the whole gym reserved for this group. So on Wednesday, if you're in for the individual programming hours, you need to be done and cleaned up by 4:00; if you're coming for the S&C class, you won't get to start any warm-ups until after 5:15. If you want to get to the gym early, that's fine, but you can't get started until the class is done.  
Workout
squat 3x5 - add weight from last time (more info)

then

6 rounds for time:
10 KB snatch, ea (AHAP, unbroken)
10 wall ball