Friday, May 4, 2018

Waving the load

I've been reading a lot about programming, and one of the philosophies I like is often described as waving the load. That is rather than having a steady increasing load like a linear progression or a saw-tooth pattern like often shows up in the 5/3/1 style programming, you have a periodic increasing and decreasing of the weight. When working through the program it almost feels random, but when you look at the load over time, you see there is a bit of an underlying pattern.

In the picture above, I've plotted the relative loading for each of the four movements in our kettlebell program that's going on right now. Each color is one of the movements (clean, press, front squat, snatch) and the size of the bar is the load for each day. That's a very wavy load - good.

But what about the barbell segment the precedes the kettlebell work? I also have a pattern for that, it's almost squat/press/pull, but I have a little offset in there: the cycle is a 14-day cycle, which is one day less than 3-weeks. I do that so that the same movement never falls on the same day. I do that so that a WMF or a TTh member doesn't get stuck with the same movements every time they come in.

When I put the barbell movements together with the kettlebell program, I started out by trying to make sure that when it was front squat day for the barbell, I didn't load up the front squat for the kettlebell - and so on. But then it just got unwieldy and neither program looked right.

So I went back to the philosophy of waving the load, and thought I'd add my own spin on it: beat frequencies. The barbell work has a period of 14 days, the kettlebell work has a period of 6 days (4 kettlebell days plus two AGT days. Some days will line up to be really bad (constructive interference) - heavy barbell front squats with heavy kettlebell front squats, for example - and some days will line up to be really easy (destructive interference). I like to call this second-order waviness of the load, and I bet that it's going to turn out really well, because as we all know from my other rants, the world is non-linear. So we're going to take advantage of that with adding another vector of variability into the program.

I like that the simple solution actually turns out to be the better solution. Rather than agonizing over the details, I just let the math work itself out. #lazyprogramming

Today's Workout

with a barbell:

clean 5-3-2-5x1
5 heavy swings between sets


1-arm swings 10x10/0:30
TGU 10x1/1:00

footnote: I've gotten a lot of requests for what the actual barbell pattern is. Here you go, bookmark this page if you want to start predicting what's coming up next.

The movements in order are: squat, press, deadlift, front squat, bench press, clean, squat, press, deadlift, front squat, bench press, snatch, squat, clean.

If I count squats and front squats as a squatting movement (blue); press and bench press as pressing (red); and deadlift, clean, and snatch as pulling (orange), then you get a pattern that looks like this:
The reps scheme is on a 6-month repeat starting in December: 8, 5, 3, 5, 3, 2 (if you do the math, you'll see that next month we're back to 8's  I might go more wavy with the loading next year, but the mini saw tooth we're using here seems to work well and it's easy to keep track of the program.