The Laboratory of Strength

 I never got to play with lasers but the rest of my lab did.

I never got to play with lasers but the rest of my lab did.

I've always been a little jealous of the Strong First folks for getting to the tag line "The School of Strength" first. I've always wanted to be the school of strength, but the more I think about it, the more I'm realizing that we are really "The Laboratory of Strength."

I never really liked school. One thing that really bothered me was that in school, you're just told what to know and to follow instructions and pass tests.

In a laboratory you just have a general direction set and it's up to you to experiment and learn and create knowledge, rather than just digest it.

The fitness industry is full of books and websites and podcasts all designed to tell you the one true way to do things. There are thousands of certs and workshops where people tell you their way. I'd rather all of us experiment and learn and add to the knowledge base in the strength community. Right now the industry is saturated with in HIIT classes and gimmicks (various colors of theories and effects...). Rather than following that path, we should be trail-blazing and building on the smart things that are out there - and then contributing it back to the community.

This summer, I had a group of folks experimenting on a test program. We didn't know how it would turn out. We liked it, and I learned something from it on how to inform programming in the future. But more importantly, the folks testing it learned about their own body and how to read their response to training. We had a bunch of individual mini-experiments and we contributed those results back to the Strong First community.

Today we start a new short transition cycle. I've never done this program myself, so there's a bit of experimenting about load, volume, time (will it fit into an hour?). I also require you to do some personal experimenting.

You'll have some fixed rest time where you'll have to complete work. You'll need to be smart about the weights you choose and be sure to get your sets done in the rest time. Pay attention to your body for feedback and use that to inform your future choices.

Give me feedback on how the program worked for you. Without feedback, we can't learn.

We just finished a long term strength cycle - 6 weeks of heavy kettlebell work followed by 7 weeks of heavy barbell work and a 1 week test week. We need a little break. We're going to take 4 weeks to do some heavy A+A work to prime the pump for our run-up to the TSC at the end of October. 

When given the option, prioritize the swings over heavier weights in the barbell work.

How this will work:

Do a quick warm-up on your own so that you're ready for the first set of swings*.  
Start a timer (or really, just look at the clock).
At T=0:00 perform 25 of the heaviest swings you can in 1 unbroken set.
After you're done with the swings, there will be some prescribed barbell work, pick the weights intelligently because you need to be done by T=10:00
At T=10:00 perform 25 of the heaviest swings you can in 1 unbroken set.
After you're done with the swings, you'll have some other work to complete before T=20:00
At T=20:00 perform 25 of the heaviest swings you can in 1 unbroken set.
After you're done with the swings, you'll have some other work to complete before T=30:00
At T=30:00 perform 25 of the heaviest swings you can in 1 unbroken set.
After you're done with the swings, you'll have some other work to complete before T=40:00
At T=40:00 perform 10 light TGUs as active recovery.

There should be lots of down time in this program - I don't want you rushing or being in a panic to get ready for the next set.

We always have questions about my notation, so here's what today's program actually means. Most days will follow this template except for our traditional every-third-day AGT work which will be a heavy barbell lift followed by some fun relaxing AGT work - you already know the drill on those days.

T=0:00 25 swings then
barbell press 2 reps
barbell press 3 reps
barbell press 5 reps
barbell press 2 reps
barbell press 3 reps
barbell press 5 reps
T=10:00 25 swings then
2 pull-ups
2 goblet squats
3 pull-ups
3 goblet squats
5 pull-ups
5 goblet squts
T=20:00 25 swings then
2 pull-ups
2 goblet squats
3 pull-ups
3 goblet squats
5 pull-ups
5 goblet squts
T=30:00 25 swings then
2 pull-ups
2 goblet squats
3 pull-ups
3 goblet squats
5 pull-ups
5 goblet squts
T=40:00 10 TGUs - light

*Here's an great warm-up that I discovered this summer. It's an easy way to get your body warm and ready for work. I was able to move directly from this warmup into A+A work, glycolytic days, and even heavy days:

Grab a rower, and row for 500m at a pace that you only need to breath through your nose. Let that constraint keep you nice and slow.
At the 500m mark, do 10 really hard strokes (no longer nose-breathing)
After the 10 strokes, paddle gently until you can go back to nose-breathing
Once you're back to nose-only breathing, row easily for another 100m.

For me that's about 4 minutes and 850m of work. You'll be warm and primed for work without lots of wasted time.

Michael Deskevich