Sunday afternoon, in the driveway at “Arch Cape Strength and Conditioning,” I completed the following workout. It made me feel fat and sluggish and weak, but I did it. Almost a week had elapsed since my last barbell workout. Too much time. This workout had slightly more total volume than the last, but other than that, doesn’t have much to recommend it.
1000 meter run
20 jumping jacks
10 push ups
10 x 45 hang power snatch
10 x 45 ohs
10 x 45 back squat
10 x 45 deadlift
5 x 135
3 x 205
1 x 225
3 x 5 x 225
These felt totally doable.
1 x 135
5 x 135
3 x 170
1 x 180
3 x 5 x 180
These felt ridiculously hard. Not fun at all. Especially since they are at only 76% of my 1 RM.
Press and BO Row Supersets
3 x 5 @ 85, 90, 95
I am surprised at how great the shoulder presses are feeling lately! And I am loving bent over rows. Shoulder pain in the left has become almost a non issue. On the right, I’m at about 90%, ironically.
FYI: I did about 10 x 80 yards of light jogging between sets of all the above, a form of active recovery. These just kept my heart rate up just a little bit, and provided a sense of rhythm to the workout, preventing me from standing around daydreaming between sets.
1 x 140, x 160, x 170, x 180, f x 185 goddamnit!!!
This short sequence was a bit disappointing. My form is totally screwed up. On the 185 I clarked the bar; I didn’t even get a proper second pull. On all of the reps the bar is probably way too far out in front, away from my body. But at least I cleaned 180 again as I did last Monday.
Hang Power Clean
10 x 135
I threw these in just out of sheer frustration, and to re-emphasize to myself how important it is to pull close to the body and to get those elbows around fast.
Next workout: focusing on the cleans (Tuesday).
Another great workout in our driveway (aka “Arch Cape Strength and Conditioning”) here this afternoon.
800 meter run
50 jumping Jacks
20 double unders (sucked so bad)
Hip and leg mobility
10 x 45 x each back squat, front squat, overhead squat
10 push ups
10 sit ups
5 x 95, 5 x 135, 3 x 185
8 x 3 x 205 (87% of 1 RM) volume: 5,880
1 rep at 135… But no good way to do these since I have to catch the iron coming down from overhead, and can’t bail.
Shoulder Presses followed immediately by Bent Over Rows:
5 x 70, 5 x 75, 5 x 80
5 rounds of:
Power clean and jerk, 6 x 135
200 meter run
Rest 1 minute
No idea of my total time, but I really wasn’t too lazy. I pushed through it — great little workout, kind of like Grace broken up into a Litinov. I call it ‘Grace 1000′
Beautiful day. Got a workout in in the driveway during the afternoon.
my beach weightlifting shoes are my jungle boots, and my platform is a dirt, sand and gravel drivewaythese wooden squat racks are unstable and crazy, and the iron plates and bar from play it again sports are merely functional, but this is beachfront Arch Cape, so there is a certain ambiance
Warm up: jump rope a few minutes and 2 x 30 meter ‘suicides’ (180 meters total on these… 10, 10, 20, 20, 30, 10, 10, 20, 20, 30)
Basic Strength with light conditioning: work sets — Deadlift 3 x 5 x 215 (alternating sets and active rest movement of one suicide per round); Back squat 3 x 5 x 170 (alternating sets and active rest movement of one suicide per round). I believe I did a total of 8 suicides including the warm-up, at a mellow, ‘active rest’ pace. It kept me producing a nice sweat and elevated heart rate.
Strength/Auxiliary: Front squat 3 x 155 / 1 x 170 / 5 x 180 (PR). Quick and dirty! Super low volume. Shoulder press 5 x 65, 70, 75. Still babying my left shoulder here. Bent over row 5 x 65, 70, 75. I’m convinced that doing these will be good for me.
Finisher: 20 double unders (these sucked!)
It was nice to get a PR wearing my beach weightlifting shoes. And to use the iron down here again.
I got up so early, so very very early, hoping to have enough time to execute an ambitious workout plan at Asheville Strength and Conditioning, but for some reason, I just didn’t have time. I did, however, attain another sick PR, redeeming the entire week, and earning me some chocolate milk even in the midst of plan warpath.
So, 5:30 am at ASC:
Warm-Up: 400 meter run. 20 double unders (1 every 4-6 singles). Mobility. A couple of shoulder, upper body, and squat calisthenics… nothing major.
Deadlift: 10 x 45 / 5 x 135 / 3 x 5 x 210. Volume: 3,150.
Squat: 5 x 135 / 3 x 5 x 165. Volume: 2,445.
Overhead Squat: 5 x 120 / 3 x 135 (PR) / 1 x 145 / f x 155 / 3 x 155 (PR). Volume: 1,615. This was intended to be a new 1 RM PR at 155, but obviously, I exceeded my own expectations. Once I’d done it once, why stop?? I was so elated after this I just felt like drinking a quart of chocolate milk.
Snatch: 1 x 95 / 1 x 105 / f x 115 / f x 115 / power snatch x 115 / 1 x 115 (PR tie) … and that was all I had time for! This snatch session totally sucked. SUCKED.
Press: 4 x 45 / 5 x 65.
I was forced by lack of time to skip the conditioning work I had planned. Oh well! Tomorrow am!
Mid day training session at ASC yielded awesome results, namely, a bunch of PRs!
Afternoon Training at ASC:
Warm Up: 500 meter row (1:41). Besides that it was a freaking super hot day. Mobility. Light db shoulder press reps (2 x 10 x 20 lb dbs)
Deadlift: 10 x 45 / 5 x 135 / 3 x 5 x 205. Volume: 3,075.
Back Squat: 10 x 45 / 3 x 5 x 160. High Bar. Volume: 2,400.
Overhead Squat: 5 x 65 / 3 x 95 / 3 x 115 / 1 x 135 / 2 x 145 (PR). Yeah, two reps. I liked the first one so much I did a second one too! Volume: 1,120.
A full Monday. I was stoked to see this morning’s workout at CrossFit Asheville. Back to a more simple and direct program? Maybe so. In the meantime, I’ll take today.
CFA WOD: Hang Cleans, Double Unders, and 8 min AMRAP of burpees and running
Hang Cleans: 5 x 45 / 5 x 75 / 5 x 95 / 5 x 115 / 5 x 135 (PR) / 5 x 145 (PR). A 25 lb. PR.
Push Jerk: 5 x 135. (After finishing the Hang Cleans at 135, I decided to do a set of split jerks at 135, because I could. It was fun).
Double Unders: 4 x 1 minute Max Reps w/ 1 min rests. Amazingly, I was able to string together some DUs today. Maximum number in a row: 8. I’ll take it!
AMRAP: 8 minutes of 200 meter run and 12 burpees. Result: 3 full rounds and 1 run. I went a few seconds long. I was SLOW. SLOW. Feeling totally deconditioned. Did I mention I was moving like molasses in the fridge? Plus, I was hacking up goo balls from my lungs. I am totally NOT well yet. It’s been almost 2 weeks with a nasty respiratory/sinus bug. I hope this clears up soon.
Lifting at Asheville Strength and Conditioning
After breakfast, and working on my stuff for a few hours, and lunch, and more work, I made it over to ASC to get some work on the gym done, hoping also to get in a quick session of squats and shoulder press. I assembled the squat racks and weight stands, sweating in the growing heat. Then did some quick squats. I only did one set of shoulder press.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 20 lbs DBs x 10.
Squats: 10 x 45 / 5 x 135 / 3 x 185 / 3 x 195 / 3 x 200 / 3 x 205. Volume: 3,480.
Analysis: these squats felt like shit. I did the 135 and the 185 as High Bar squats. But overall, I was feeling pretty weak here. On paper, my 5 rep max for squats is 210. But it felt impossible to imagine that today. I didn’t even feel like doing an additional set of 3, at 210 or any other weight. Volume wise this session was about 500 lbs less than the total of my last serious squat session (a week ago Friday). This calculation seems consistent with my gut impression that I wasn’t able to accomplish as much work today as I was this past Friday. It’s high time I charted out the curve of squat volume again as I did a few weeks ago, and considered more carefully the frequency of my training here.
A word or two about the term “volume” as used in this blog
In this blog I somewhat idiosyncratically use the term “volume” as a shorthand for what other weightlifting writers would call “work” or “volume of load.” I hope that this doesn’t confuse anyone. I track my workout volume out of curiosity, as a way of roughly comparing the “intensity” of various lifting sessions I accomplish, knowing that most of these sessions take place within reasonably comparable time frames, and that almost all of them reflect some variation of the low-rep scheme training methods that are more popular in powerlifting or olympic lifting as opposed to bodybuilding or weight training.
In most American weightlifting literature, the term “volume” is used only as a means of quantifying the amount of exercises that are done; when others write about “volume” it doesn’t reflect the weights that are used. Sometimes no number is given for volume at all, as in the use of relative or qualitative terms like, “high volume” or “low volume”; but if there is a number it is denominated in “reps.” Workouts are said to be “high volume” if they have a comparatively high number of reps. “Low volume” workouts have fewer reps. Thus, the term “volume” comes into play, for example, when comparing weight training methods of powerlifters as differentiated from the methods of bodybuilders. In conventional terms the former use “low volume” training sessions and the latter use “high volume” training sessions.
When I do much lower rep workouts (what other writers call low volume workouts) I do expect to see the volume of load number be lower than when I do much higher rep workouts. And thus, it is the case that volume of load (or what I call “volume”) does tend to track volume in the conventional sense of the term.
But again, I don’t find the conventional use of the term very helpful.
If I tell you I did 15 reps of the back squat, you’re going to ask me what weight I used. Why is that? If it wasn’t a relatively heavy weight you’ll call me a pussy, that’s why. On the other hand, if I tell you I did 250 back squats, you’re going to assume I must mean air squats, or used a kid’s bar (and you’ll probably be right). Because nobody (or at least, nobody who looks like me) can do 250 heavy back squats in one session. On the one hand, you could say that this just proves that there’s a rough, theoretical expectation that what is traditionally called “volume” tracks with “volume of load.” Or, you could point out that for anyone to make sense of what you really mean when you say “low volume” or “high volume,” you have to do more than quantify this in terms of reps.
This conventional system of terminology never made much sense to me, because, for instance, it doesn’t really let me compare the relative training value of two of my own “low volume” workouts. So this is one of the main reasons I always report “volume” not as reps (implying some rep scheme or another) but as volume of load, i.e. reps x weight.
Now, none of what I’ve written here so far takes account of the idea of “power.” Greg Glassman of CrossFit makes a big deal about what he calls both “intensity” and “power,” which is volume of load, or work, divided by time. If a CrossFitter does 36 back squats at 95 in 3:00 minutes flat, he or she is said to have produced more power and to have worked out much more intensely than a powerlifter who does 9 squats at 380, but over the course of 20 minutes. The absurdity of this comparison should be immediately apparent to all. Once again, we return to the observation that the two different workouts offer completely different neuromuscular stimuli. A high power workout is a good way to elicit conditioning, weight-loss, puking, and/or a rush of happy neurotranmitters. But power and intensity, as CrossFit defines them, are completely different animals than strength. The fact that many male CrossFitters could easily accomplish 36 squat reps at 95 does not at all let us know how many of these skinny boys could squat even one rep at 380, let alone 9. Power is clearly not everything. Being metabolically well conditioned but comparatively weak may be sexy, but it will not help you lift a volkswagon beetle off of an old lady after a traffic accident.
Of course, in principle it does make sense to differentiate between different training styles, especially between those that use low rep schemes versus those that use high rep schemes. This is because we know that there are far different neuromuscular effects elicited by 36 back squats done at 95 lbs, versus 18 squats done at 190, versus 9 squats done at 380. And yet, these all have the same “volume of load,” i.e. the same amount of work has been done, the same amount of weight has been moved. So a critic might point out to me that volume really isn’t that reliable or useful a number.
There may be truth in that. But one of the uses of this number that I have discovered for myself is in predicting my needs for recovery. In general, I find that my “volume” calculations are pretty good predictors of the difficulty of the recovery I will face (i.e. the amount of DOMS, the amount of rest needed, the amount of food I’ll want to eat). Training methods being kept more or less constant, when I significantly increase my volume of load above whatever “curve” my linear or sine-like progressions have been following, I’ll be more sore and stiff than usual over the next few days.
And so, my own preference is to compare my lifting sessions using the term “volume” in reference to the total volume of load lifted in any given movement, in any one training session (or measured over any arbitrary period of time). Since my training methods do not wildly vary, this provides an interesting way for tracking my progress, planning my workouts, and looking at potential neuromuscular effects. I am not under the mistaken impression that any two different workouts using the same movement that happen to have identical volume of load will produce comparable neuromuscular effects. I just wanted to make this clear in case any snarky reader comes along some day and says, hey, you’re an idiot for computing your so-called “volume” after squatting.
Well, whatever dude. I may be an idiot but this particular issue is the least of my worries.
Blistering hot day (90+ degrees), open gym session, mid-day at CFA, working on Overhead Squat and Snatch, ended up with new PRs in OHS and Snatch Balance.
My day was full to the brim with work, with parenting, with shopping, with obtaining materials for the new Asheville Strength and Conditioning space, and of course, with training. Besides what’s listed below, I loaded and unloaded 10 3/4″ sheets of plywood at Home Depot. That extra volume is nothing to sneeze at.
This session was meant to be a simple, not too intense lifting day. But it turned out to be a relatively constant effort, which, combined with the humidity and heat, left me drenched with sweat. Also, it’s worth adding that even though this was a midday session, it was done in a fasted state. I ended up with about 19 hours of fasting today. A bit too much, but I’ll handle it.
I planned out the session exactly, and hardly deviated from what I planned beforehand. Here’s what I did do.
Warm-Up: Double Unders x 10 / 200 meter run / Double Unders x 10 / 200 meter run. Mobility. GHD Hip Extensions. Lightweight shoulder work.
Deadlift: 5 x 135 / 3 x 5 x 200. Got a few tips from Corey here; one of which is definitely worth attending to: remaining fully engaged at the top of the lift, from buttocks through the whole chain.
Back Squat: 10 x 45 / 3 x 5 x 160. These felt really solid. I was pretty amazed.
I was determined, after this warm-up, to get another OHS PR, to follow the new PR of wednesday 2 weeks ago. It went smooth as silk!
Overhead Squat: 5 x 45 / 3 x 95 / 3 x 115 / 1 x 130 / 1 x 140 (PR)
From there, into training the snatch.
Snatch Balance: 5 x 45 / 5 x 75 / 5 x 95 (PR)
Snatch: 5 x 3 x 95 (5 second pause between lifts to reset; 3 minute rest between sets).
I started at about 11:15 am and finished right on schedule at 12:45 pm. Great fun. This is living.
I was so glad I didn’t do Jackie today! Having completed this training session, now I can’t believe I earlier felt any CrossFit guilt about skipping that WOD. Ha!
Analysis of what went on here today. For that, maybe compare: 2/19/2011 and 5/18/2011
6:00 am workout at CrossFit Asheville. More than three hours of hardcore lumberjacking. Then squats, with a new 1 RM PR (235) at Brian’s house. What a day!
Stayed up so late, being bad, on Thursday, that I missed my customary 6:00 am CFA workout. Instead I did several short workouts over the course of the day.
Am warm-up: one mile run 80% RPE
Later at the YMCA: 500 meter row (8 resistance, 26 spm, 1:56 time)
Pushups, 2 sets (10, 10)
Seated Behind The Neck Press 20lb bar, x10
Shoulder rotations, 5 lb db , x12 e.a.
45 degree hand position db shoulder press w/ 15 lb DBS x 12
T3 deltoid raises, 10 lb db x 12 e.a.
High pull 42 lb fat grip bar x 12
Deadlift 5 x 135 / 3 x 5 x 225; volume: 4,050. Yes I was very careful about neck position. No I didn’t worry too much about tempo. I went down in a slow and controlled manner, and up as fast as I could, with an overhand grip, and really good set and position.
Back Squat 5 x 45 / 5 x 135 / 3 x 5 x 180; volume: 3,600. These were not as strong as I would have liked. I did do them closer to high bar style, ftr.
Later, back at home: Weighted Dead Hang C2B Pull-Ups (1, 1 x +5). Weighted Ring Dips (1, 1 x +5)