As coaches, we can see our athletes making progress. For some students it is a change in the way they look. For others, it is improvement in their performance. One thing is for certain, our program works.
We have spent the last 8 weeks working on front squats, push presses, and dead hang pull-ups. This week marks the conclusion of that strength cycle and gives us an opportunity to celebrate our improvements together as a group. As your coach, I can honestly say that all of your are stronger and more fit than you were 8 weeks ago. Be proud of the work you have done and the progress you have made. Be a Turtle, not a Hare and you will all be ELITE.
Are You a Turtle or a Hare?
By Eric Stone
Powerlifters do well when they heed the old saying, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” The question is, what exactly is the best planning strategy? Some lifters may train “off the seat of their pants” while others set their training for meets months in advance. Either way, lifters usually have a goal for their meet. If lifters expect to meet their goal, however, they must have a way to reach it. The question is whether lifters should just go as high as they can dream or should simply plan for a small increase in each of their lifts. Conventional wisdom would be to set goals as high as possible. As another saying goes, “Reach for the sky, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” The saying is cute, but could not be further from a powerlifter’s ideal goal-setting strategy.
Many lifters go into a peaking cycle, hoping for the highest possible gains. They push harder and harder every week, hoping for a huge, unknown gain come meet time. Other lifters simply set their goals extremely high, expecting a 50-pound gain on their lift in only a few months. Some lifting programs even claim to be able to add 50 pounds to your lift in a mere two months or less. Similarly, many training programs use percentages in telling how much weight is to be used in the cycle and what percentage increase should be achieved on each lift as a result of the program. Most of these programs are only two to three months long (8-12 weeks) but still expect a 5 percent increase on all lifts.
What would happen, however, if the programs actually worked, and added 50 lbs to each lift, or added 5 percent to each lift, in on a few months? Take a program that aims to add 50 pounds onto your squat in two months, or 8 weeks. A lifter with a 300-pound squat on January 1 uses the program in the 8 weeks leading up to the March 1 meet, and, at the meet, squats 350 pounds. Now, obviously the lifter, after competing will not start the cycle up right away, so we will say the lifter takes two months for some lighter, maintaining lifting. So, on May 1, the lifter starts the program again, and at a July 1 meet, squats 400. The lifter takes another two months off, starts another cycle on September 1, and adds 50 pounds again, squatting 450 on November 1. After such a successful year of squatting, having added 150 pounds to the squat, the lifter decides to do it all over again the next year. If the program follows suit, his squat increases to 600. In only two years, the lifter has doubled his squat. But, the lifter is not done, he continues to train for another two years, squatting 900 pounds! The lifter becomes a 900-pound squatter after only four years of training. Quite impressive, right? Seem a bit lofty? Perhaps adding 50 pounds in eight weeks is just as lofty.
Now consider the program that aims to add 5 percent to your lift in 8 weeks. The problem with percentages is that it makes the poundage increase in each cycle more as the weight goes up. For example, a 5 percent increase on a 300-pound squat would be 15 pounds, up to a 315-pound squat. A 5 percent increase on a 600-pound squat would be 30 pounds, up to a 630-pound squat. A 5 percent increase on a 1000-pound squat would be 50 pounds, up to a 1050-pound squat. If the formula held true every time, Brent Mikesell would have increased his squat to 1125 pounds already, and Ryan Kennelly would have increased his bench to 840—all in 8 weeks no less! Percentages make the gains higher and higher as your weight is higher and higher. Common sense and experience from high poundage lifters says the gains become less and less as the weight goes higher.
Goals do have to be set, but they must be set reasonably, and with a long-term, not short-term plan in mind. The above demonstrates that setting these high short-term goals are simply unreasonable in the long term. Sure, adding 50 pounds to your squat in an 8-week cycle sounds good, maybe even reasonable, but does adding 600 pounds in 4 years sound reasonable? A 5 percent increase on your 300-pound squat is only 15 pounds, probably reasonable, but what about adding 50 pounds onto your 1075 pound squat? Therefore, short-term goals must reflect a reasonable long-term goal. A plan must be set with the distance future, not just the immediate future in mind.
As the experience of the older powerlifters dictate, the gains will be harder to come by as the weight goes up and the years go by. In economics, the “law of diminishing returns” is used to describe how a product’s worth to a consumer becomes less as the consumer buys more. While the first two Big Macs may taste pretty good, the third one is not quite as good, the fourth one is not nearly as good, and fifth one is worth almost nothing to the consumer because he simply cannot eat any more! The same law of diminishing returns can by applied to powerlifting, to a degree. A beginning powerlifter can usually expect large gains because he or she simply has never lifted before. After the beginning “boom” is over, the gains become harder to come by. When the lifter really gets into the high weights, gains are very difficult to come by, the lifter may even lose some. While a 20-pound increase is somewhat minimal to a beginning 100-pound bencher, the same increase to a 780-pound bencher would be huge!
Many lifters see their lifts shoot through the roof in the beginning, and expect the lifts to just keep on moving up, up, up. The law of diminishing returns tells us those beginning gains will give way to moderate gains and, later, minimal gains. The problems that arise as a result of, or that run concurrently with the law of diminishing returns are a loss of motivation, and injury. Everyone likes to be successful. Training is much more fun if the weight keeps going up. The beginning lifter has the large “boom” gains, thus motivating them to train even harder to get even higher gains. While this line of thinking may work initially for a beginner, they will eventually fall victim to the “law.” The young lifter becomes upset that the gains are less, and becomes discouraged about his lifting. He loses his motivation to train, and the gains are even less, starting a vicious cycle of disappointment and discouragement.
The other possibility is that the beginning lifter continues to expect, and even plan for larger and larger gains. After pushing themselves and pushing themselves, they overtrain and get injured. That is not to say that pushing yourself is wrong, simply that expecting to keep putting on more and more weight when your body cannot handle it is asking for an injury. Planning goals too high can lead to disappointment and injury. Now, motivation can be maintained even after fewer gains, and injuries can be avoided. But should we just go along, letting the “law” determine our lifting? The answer is no. Proper long-term planning could beat the system and make the gains steady.
Can you beat the system without this crazy long-term thinking? You can, but the higher gains would have to come from either better gear (i.e. tighter, better material, more layers), from gaining body weight. Even so, the “law” will eventually catch up to you with better gear and gaining weight. Gear can only get so tight, and only so much gear can be added before you are at the limit of what it can add to your lifts. The same goes for body weight. You can only gain so much body weight before it stops adding to your lifts.
Remember the story of the turtle and the hare? The story goes that the hare, being much faster than the turtle, runs way ahead, but takes a nap, and ends up losing to the slow but steady turtle. A “turtle” plans for small gains on every training cycle, planning for a long-term goal of a much higher weight. The “hare” runs headfirst into training, looking for the highest gain possible. The problem is that while the hare may appear to be a more dedicated, hard-working lifter in the short term. In the long term, however, the hare may lose his motivation, get hurt, or simply fall victim to the law of diminishing returns. The turtle, on the other hand, plugs along, on his way to continual improvement and success in powerlifting.
So are you a turtle or hare? Do you plan for the short term, or plan for the long term? I will be honest. I was a hare. As a beginning powerlifter, I saw success. I was naturally strong and saw my lifts shoot up when I first started competing. I was training for the 2000 WPC Worlds in Las Vegas, pushing myself harder than ever. I was hoping for a 550+ pound squat to break a WPC record for my age and weight at the time. I was overtraining so badly that I tried to pull up a deadlift one morning, and seriously injured my lower back so seriously that I could not attend the WPC Worlds or lift for more than a year. I ran, like the hare, full speed ahead into something I was simply not prepared for, and set my sight too high, too fast. I was not thinking about my squat in 3 or 4 years, I was just thinking about it in 3 or 4 months. I did not think long term at all. Alas, I have slowed down a bit, taking more the trail of the turtle, trying to make slow and steady gains. Most powerlifters peak in their 30s or 40s, depending on when they started lifting. Some lifters continue to improve into the 50s and 60s. Many of us have many possible years of lifting ahead of us. If we take the way of the turtle, we won’t have to reach for the stars, we’ll “crawl” right up to them.
Author’s Note: A big thanks goes to Rickey Dale Crain whose ideas and expertise inspired this article.
Push Press 7x1 (find a new 1 RM!)
WOD (courtesy of August Schmidt @ East Valley CrossFit)
1 Mile Run
20 Handstand push-ups
40 Kettlebell swings, 53/35
--the scale for this WOD will be to do half of each exercise so don't let it scare you away!--
* Post time to Beyond the Whiteboard *
Front Squat 7x1 (find a new 1 RM)
(alternate: 30 HSPU)
Complete 6 Rounds:
1 minute - 10 Hang Cleans
1 minute - Row max distance
--Alternate 1 minute bouts of Hang Cleans and max distance rowing.
--You have 1 minute to get 10 cleans, the next minute row for max distance. Alternate this 6 times for a total of 12 minutes.
* post meters for each round and total meters to Beyond the Whiteboard *
Push Press 7x3
Seven rounds for time of:
15 Kettlebell swing (53/35#)
15 Power clean (95/65#)
15 Box jumps (24"/20")
* Post total time to Beyond the Whiteboard *
U.S. Army Sergeant Jeremiah Wittman, 26, of Darby, MT, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based out of Fort Carson, CO, was killed on February 13, 2010 , when insurgents attacked his unit with a roadside bomb in Zhari province, Afghanistan.
He is survived by his daughters Miah and Ariauna, wife Karyn, siblings Robert H., Charity, Jenell, and Natasha, father Robert, and mother Cynthia Church.
First posted February 10, 2011
We would like to wish all of our Magna athletes good luck tomorrow! If you are not competing please try to make it to Lift It/ Love It to cheer on your fellow athletes. Competition will begin promptly at 8am. Alexa and Ilana will be in heat 2, Jenn competes in heat 3 and Will makes his appearance in heat 6.
CrossFit Magna athletes will be wearing "11th Skill" shirts at Lift It/Love It on Saturday in honor of our friend Lauriel Luther. CrossFit is based on the development of 10 skills (see "What is Fitness" ). Lauriel always says that the the 11th skill is just as important as CrossFit's recognized 10. The 11th skill is looking good while CrossFitting. Lauriel Luther without question sets the standard for the 11th skill. In honor of her we will be working to achieve Lauriel's level of greatness in style on Saturday.
Join CrossFit Magna at Lift It/Love It, a benefit for our friend Lauriel Luther, on Saturday 8/13 at 8am. There will be no classes Saturday morning at CrossFit Magna so that we can cheer on our athletes particpating: Alexa, Ilana, Jenn, Crystal, Will and JP.
There will be open gym on Sunday 8/14 from 8-10am.
Beginning next Monday August 15th, Magna will be offering three olympic lifting classes.
Monday @ 6:00 a.m.
Monday @ 7:00 p.m.
Thursday @ 5:30 p.m.
The 5:30 - 6 pm slot on Thursdays will become Olympic Lifting I and Olympic Lifting II will now be offerend on Mondays from 7-8pm. Olympic Lifting II requires male athletes to be able to clean 135# and snatch 115#. Female athletes must be able to clean 95# and snatch 83#. (Athletes who are able to lift these weights are asked not to attend Olympic Lifting I.)
A 30 minute WOD only class will still be offered on Thursdays from 6-6:30pm and a new 30 minute WOD only class will be added on Monday's from 6:30-7pm. If you have any questions about attending any of our classes please see a coach.
WOD - 2k row
Today was a great day at CrossFit Magna. After 4 weeks of rowing, our athletes had the opportunity to re-test their max effort 2k rows. Just like the athletes at the CrossFit Games, our athletes showed up and competed with the hearts of champions. There was coffee, paleo muffins, lots of sweat, more than a few PR's, and in the end 2 winners. Congratulations to Will "the Crazy Canadian" Donaldson and Maria "follow me to the leaderboard" Peck. Winners received $20 gift cards to Whole Foods. All atheletes earned something more valuable - PRIDE.
Push Press 7x3
Four 3 minute Rounds:
Hang Clean (AMRAP in the time remaining)
--rest 1 minute--
Front Squat (AMRAP in the time remaining)
--rest 1 minute--
Push Press (AMRAP in the time remaining)
--rest 1 minute--
Thruster (AMRAP in the time remaining)
* Post reps for each round to Beyond the Whiteboard *