As with most things in life, it’s often easier to perform exceptionally difficult tasks when you have some context for WHY you’re doing them. That’s why we try to give everyone a sense as to what our training objectives are during each training mesocycle. Although it’s not required reading, the context can help you prepare for each day’s WOD, and may even help you schedule/plan your workouts.

Still curious as to what the heck a mesocycle is? Click here. Otherwise, read below for a snapshots and detailed explanations of what our training will have us doing, the days we’ll be doing it each week, and how the training should make you feel as it’s being done.

Programming Objectives – June / July 2015

Snapshot:

GOAL: HOW: MEASUREMENT:
OVERALL FOCUS: Prepare our bodies for the harder, more strenuous workouts we’ll see during the 3rd mesocyle. Increase strength through higher rep counts rather that high time-under-tension; fewer longer, slower workouts, more lactate-threshold work. Set baseline measurements in the transition week prior to the beginning of the cycle. Re-test at midpoints, at the end of the cycle.
STRENGTH: Condition/equip tissue to handle greater loads, and/or higher volumes of unbroken work. Prioritize higher volume (total number of reps at a lower weight) strength work. Eliminating any and all bad habits with technical lifts. Increases in 1RM, 2RM, and 10 RM efforts; faster ‘cycle-times’ in a squatting benchmark workout.
GYMNASTICS: Transition from HSPU, Pull-Up, Dip position/stability work to more rigourous strength work. Fewer isometric holds, tempo prescriptions; More actual sets of work throughout the full range of motion. Max-unbroken rep tests, max-unbroken rep workouts.
SKILL: Introduce fun new strength toys! Introduce elements like ropes, tires, yokes, and atlas stones into more workouts. Not testing – just introducing.
METABOLIC: Build off of the aerobic base developed last cycle w/ more aerobic power workouts. Fewer, long-slow grinder workouts (from 1/week to 1/8-10 days); increased frequency of lactate threshold work @ 3:1, 4:1 work:rest ratios. Lactate threshold stress tests.

Schedule:

For more information on the SPECIFIC TYPES of work you can expect to see on SPECIFIC DAYS, click here. If you’d like more visibility into the specifics of what we’ll be doing, read on below.

Overview:

It’s easiest to break down our objectives for this cycle of training into three categories: Strength, Skill, and Metabolic Conditioning.

From a Strength perspective, we’ll be trying to achieve the following:

  • GOAL: conditioning muscle tissue to be able to handle higher total volumes / peak loads of stress.

What this means: Before you can start to lift heavy, or try to set pr’s in your workouts, you have to prepare your tissues for the accumulated stress that you’ll experience in a cycle where you’ll regularly encounter hard training days. This is what we’re trying to do with our strength work this cycle. Rather than focusing on a lot of heavy lifts, we’ll instead focus on preparing our tissues to handle a lot of stress/volume at a cellular level.

This is a change from the previous cycle, where our goals were to:

  • Instruct our bodies / tissues how to move properly;
  • Strengthen relatively weak areas that were prohibiting us from doing movements properly;
  • Establish a base of strength that would enable us to stress our tissues in different ways in the future.

How we’ll be working towards this goal:

  1. Volume. We’ll be introducing higher rep-counts to our lifts. Often, the prescribed loads will feel light, especially for the first few reps/sets. This is NORMAL. THe ‘burn’ or ‘pump’ will occur because of the number of reps, rather than the time under tensions (last cycle), or the absolute load on the barbell (next cycle).

What this will mean for our training:

  1. Expect the lifts within our workouts to feel a bit longer. The strength that we typically do at the front of each workout will take more time than what we’re used to. We’ll still have PLENTY of time for the other elements, but on strength-biased days, this work will take up a solid 20-30 minutes of class time.
  2. The more diligent athletes are in recording their scores/numbers, the more success they’ll have with the program.
  3. “SWOL” factor. Some athletes notice a change in body composition during this phase of training. They don’t get ‘bulky’, but they become very defined, very toned, and a sense that their muscles are growing. Why? This type of training can increase muscle-mass. It should be noted, however, that this IS NOT THE PRIMARY GOAL OF THIS CYCLE OF TRAINING. If all we wanted was to get folks huge, we’d follow a body-building program. We don’t want people big. We want people functional. The goal of this training is to help folks become so, period. That’s where this type of training can be so effective. In addition to developing strength, this training also stands to DRAMATICALLY increase your metabolism, and help facilitate capillary development in muscle tissues, which will mean that you’ll be able to run/swim/bike/play longer without feeling as gassed when doing so.

From a Metabolic Conditioning Perspective, we’ll be trying to achieve the following:

  1. Reduce the total number of long, slow training sessions by about 20-30%;
  2. Replace these workouts with lactate-threshold efforts (at red-line, but not above) during the first half of the cycle;
  3. Slowly (and we mean SLOWLY) introduce R-pace efforts (short, 2-3 minute efforts at a higher intensity/load, followed by a rest that equals or exceeds the total time worked) over the latter-half of the cycle.  Don’t expect r-type workouts until the 3rd, or even the 4th week of the cycle though. If we introduce them too soon, people will be SMOKED from the combination of the lifting volume and high-HR work.

Here’s how we’ll be working towards this goal:

  1. Specific intensities. We’ll be more prescriptive in our longer workouts. Well ask folks to pay careful attention to their breathing, and to not over-extend themselves early, particularly during longer workouts.
  2. More mid-range workouts. Expect to see a lot of 7-10 minute WODs early in this cycle, and at least 1 long (20 min +) wod per week.

From a SKILL Perspective, we’ll be trying to achieve the following: 

  1. More applied skill work within workouts. What the hell does this mean? Look – we’re always trying to get better with our skills. That said, durin gthis cycle, we won’t have as many workouts on a day-in, day-out basis where we’ll have a TON of time within the workout dedicated to skill work. Will we still do so? For sure. But it won’t be as much as we had during the last cycle. Also, because we’ll be doing less tempo work, our lifting sessions won’t also double as skill work as they did last cycle. To account for this, folks should pick loads/scales that make sense for their current skill level. Additionally, folks should try to hit up S&S classes to further their skills.

What You Should Expect to Feel, and What to do About it:

  1. TIRED. During the first few times you do higher volume strength training, it’s perfectly normally to feel TOTALLY spent. This is ENTIRELY normal, and it does subside somewhat after 3-4 weeks as your body starts to adjust. Until it does, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you’re craving a rest day, TAKE ONE!!! 1 missed day of training because you’re pooped is always WAY better than 3-5 missed days or weeks of training because you’re sick or injured.
  2. SORE. For the first few sessions (particularly with the legs), you’re going to be VERY sore. It’s critical that after each session, you take some time either at home or at the gym to roll out and to stretch you quads, flutes, and IT bands. If you don’t, you’re going to be incredibly darn sore. We’re not talking mild-aches-and-pains sore, mind-you, but rather the kind of sore that has you searching out the bathroom stalls with the convenient handles that help you lower yourself to the seat, or that has you going up stairs backwards. Do yourself a favor. Perform daily maintenance on your body. You’ll thank us later.
  3. AWESOME. After 2-3 weeks of this program, you should start to look and feel awesome not only in class when doing movements, but also outside of class as you recreate. common tasks should feel easier, you should feel like you have more energy, and your runs and rides should feel pretty darn good. You should also notice favorable changes in the mirror as well.