How to make every workout work for you.
Scaling and modifying what is programmed to meet your specific needs is often presented as a simple equation. Like a formula you enter in Excel: if this, then that. If you can’t do pull-ups, do ring rows or jumping pull-ups no matter what the intended stimulus, time domain or format. It does provide something for you to do, but it’s not the most effective.
Similarly when it comes to strength and olympic lifting, things seemed to programmed “in the middle”. Meaning not for beginners, but also not for advanced. I understand the concept of trying to reach what you feel is the majority, but that often times leads the others to miss the desired outcome of training.
Let’s look at three examples:
- Skill Work: Pull-ups and Handstand Push-ups in a skill building format
- Strength: Work to rest ratios
- Olympic Lifting: Different protocols
Skill Build: Strength Endurnace
Alternating Every Minute on the Minute for 12 minutes (6 sets each):
Pull-ups x 5
Handstand Push-ups x 5
*complete the pull-ups then rest for the remainder of the minute, complete the handstand push-ups then rest for the remainder of the minute, continue this pattern for all sets
Question #1: Only 5 reps…how do I make this more challenging for me?
Answer: Utilize various versions of the movement. Progress to the most difficult just like progressing in weight for a prescribed rep scheme.
Pull-ups: (hardest to easiest)
Weighted Strict Pull-ups @AHAP (As Heavy As Possible with full range of motion)
Butterfly or Kipping Chest to Bar Pull-ups
Butterfly or Kipping Chin over Bar Pull-ups
Pull-up negatives (VIDEO)
Handstand Push-ups: (hardest to easiest)
Weighted Vest Strict Deficit Handstand Push-ups @4/2"
Strict Deficit Handstand Push-ups @4/2"
Strict Handstand Push-ups
Kipping Deficit Handstand Push-ups @4/2"
Kipping Handstand Push-ups
Handstand Push-up negatives (VIDEO)
Question #2: I can’t do pull-ups and/or handstand push-ups, what should I do?
Answer: Utilize strength markers to see where you are in relation to having the strength to do the skill.
Scaling for Pull-ups: Snatch Grip Bent Over Rows x 5 @AHAP (As Heavy As Possible with good technique)
*Snatch Grip Bent Over Rows are the strength marker for Pull-ups, when you can do approx. 75% of your body weight for one rep you should have the strength for pull-ups (use the formula in the picture below to estimate your max, once you get this number divide it by your body weight to see how close you are to 75%)
Scaling Handstand Push-ups: Barbell Push Press x 5 @AHAP (As Heavy As Possible with good technique)
*Barbell Push Press is the strength marker for kipping Handstand Push-ups, when you can do approx. 75% of your body weight for one rep you should have the strength for kipping Handstand push-ups (use the formula in the picture below to estimate your max, once you get this number divide it by your body weight to see how close you are to 75%)
Skills are one of the most difficult things to progressively program in a class or group setting because of the varying levels of ability. Not only do you have to consider those who can or cannot do the movement, but also how many unbroken reps they have the ability to do. When looking at what is programmed, make sure you understand what the stimulus is intended to be (strength, building reps, etc.) and utilize the methods above to make it fit your skill set or…let us do that for you.
"Sin City": 6 sets of 6
Sets 1-2: 70+%
Sets 3-4: 75+%
Sets 5-6: 80+%
Question #1: How much rest should I take in between sets?
Answer: Use your strength to body weight ratio to determine what rest would be best.
If your max is below your body weight, 90 seconds between sets
If your max is above your body weight, 2 minutes between sets
If your max is above 1.5 x your body weight, 3 minutes between sets
Question #2: What if I don’t know my max for this lift?
Answer: Build to the heaviest weight you can with full range of motion and solid technique, then estimate your max.
How to properly build:
- Option #1: It is worth noting that if your mobility does not allow for full range of motion and/or will cause dangerous form to occur then you should modify to a version of this lift that allows you to complete the movement safely. For this example of a front squat, modifying to a DB or KB Goblet squat would be best. This allows the weight to still be front loaded and to build strength.
- Option #2: Start with a weight that you are 100% confident that you can complete all reps safely and efficiently then slowly add weight over the 6 sets. Use the estimated max formula in the picture above.
When you first begin consistent strength training you can’t yet lift heavy enough to necessitate the appropriate amount of rest between sets. As you gain more strength relative to your body weight, specific amounts of rest are needed in order to perform the prescribed intensity. Similarly, until you have a true 1-rep max the prescribed percentages do not get you to the intended intensity of the lift.
Use these suggested methods to help you dial in the stimulus to your strength levels or…let us do that for you.
15 minute time block:
Work to heavy 2-rep Power Clean
Question: How many sets within the 15 minutes?
Answer: Utilize your strength to body weight ratio to determine the sets, rest and format.
Find the option for you:
- Option #1: If your max on this lift is below 75% of your body weight, your mobility limits you and/or your technique is very limiting. Perform this as an EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute…15 sets) and the 2 reps are single reps, NOT touch n’ go. This allows you to start very light, have time to get feedback with each set and have more total reps to help learn the movement. Early on you need more repetitions to start to understand how it should feel, the bar path, getting your elbows through, dropping under the weight, etc. You also can’t yet lift heavy enough to necessitate more rest.
- Option #2: If your max is at or slightly above your body weight and/or you struggle staying technically sound when stringing reps together. Perform an EMOM for 6 minutes of Power Clean + Hang Pause TNG Power Clean (VIDEO). Start around 50% of your max and slowly build to a moderate weight. This allows you to practice control when performing touch n’ go reps. Then go every 90 seconds for 9 minutes (6 sets) of two power cleans that are touch n’ go.
- Option #3: If your max is above 1.25 x your body weight. Every 3 minutes for 15 minutes (5 sets). Solid warm-up to around 75% before the time frame begins, then build to a 2-rep max with touch n’ go reps.
OLYMPIC LIFTING SUMMARY:
Until you can effectively and efficiently do single reps on these lifts, trying to do heavy or high rep touch n’ go reps can be very detrimental to your overall progress. Even in the MetCon or WOD, you can keep a good pace with steady, consistent singles that will also keep your technique in a much better position while under fatigue. Train harder smarter.
Use these suggested methods to help you dial in the stimulus to your technical levels or…let us do that for you.
There is so much more to the sets, reps, time domains, weights and formats that can take your training and progress to a whole new level. We have some pretty epic things coming soon that you don’t want to miss. Click below to sign up for updates.
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