Programming Update: Mesocycle Overview, August/Sept. 2015
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 – August/September 2015
|OVERALL FOCUS:||Become more comfortable performing complex movements with a higher heart-rate.||GRADUALLY introduce training that increases athletes’ exposure to heavy work, complex movements, or simple movements performed very quickly, immediately after an exercise that elevates HR.||Re-visit key workouts that ‘test’ or ‘measure’ our performance in this area twice during this mesocycle.|
|STRENGTH:||Develop more absolute strength; use absolute strength in the context of a workout.||Prioritize lower volume (low-reps, higher weight) strength work. When doing volume work, do it while HR is already high.||Increases in 5RM and 10 RM efforts; faster ‘cycle-times’ in benchmark workouts.|
|GYMNASTICS:||Keep absolute strength work; introduce more hi-volume gymnastic work.||Continue with Strict work with each movement (HS, Pull-up, Push-Up, Dip, etc), but add more workouts that introduce kipping elements / higher volumes of movements.||Max-unbroken rep tests, max-unbroken rep workouts; benchmark workouts (Fran, anyone?)|
|SKILL:||No new skills; perfecting old one.||One WOD a week where everyone will practice a complex skill with a high HR, but then will have PLENTY of recovery time.||Not testing – just practicing.|
|METABOLIC:||Compliment aerobic power development workouts with barbells.||1 Lactate Threshold Workout / week (4:1 work/rest ratio); 1 aerobic power (R-Type, 1:1) Workout / week. Each also uses a hi-volume strength movement.||Stress Tests!! Yay!!!|
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.
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: increasing our absolute strength, and improving our ability to perform complex or challenging movements when our heart-rate is high, or when we’re tired.
What this means: Last cycle, everyone did a great job preparing themselves for the rigors of this cycle. Now it’s time to reap the dividends. Becuase we’ve prepared our tissues for additional stresses, we can now start to train our bodies for adaptations that we’re likely to see when we’re playing a sport, or when life calls for a physical activity. We’ll do this by:
- Transitioning to lifting heavier loads on our lifting priority days;
- Introducing harder barbell work immediately following hard aerobic work.
It’s important to note that ‘harder’ may not always mean ‘heavier’. In some cases, harder might mean that we’ll use movements that’re more complex. In others, it might mean doing simple movements at a faster pace. Example: We spent considerable time working on HSPU’s, pull-ups, and Overhead squats / Snatch last cycle. Now that we’re largely proficient with these movements, we can start to worry about doing them when we’re tired, trying to perform them faster, etc. The idea is to start to introduce the idea of performing some movements in environments that have more than one stimuli.
This is a change from the previous cycle, where we focused on these movements in isolation, and speed was less of a factor.
How we’ll be working towards this goal:
- We’ll have two days a week where we’ll focus on pure strength. Typically these days will be Monday and Tuesday. Although we’ll be spending less time on the barbell during these sessions, the weights will increase, and each lift will usually be followed immediately by another movement.
- We’ll also introduce two days a week where we use either lighter weights at high speeds, or sets of moderate weight for time.
What to expect as a result of these changes:
- On the absolute strength days, the prescribed loads won’t cause a metabolic response. IE, you won’t be breathing as hard as you were during German Volume Training. This is NORMAL. Don’t worry about whether you’re out of breath. Instead, turn your focus towards your form. The additional load will really require you to stay focused on your movements.
- On the speed days, the Loads will ABSOLUTELY elicit a metabolic response. Inititally, this response might catch folks off guard. It’s normal to be a little light-headed, woozy, or completely and totally out of breath. DON’T BE ALARMED. You’re not out of shape – you’re just adapting to the stimuli.
- On absolute strength days, we’ll be lowering the rep-counts to many of our lifts, but we’ll be increasing the loads we’ll be working with when we train. Accordingly, our lifting sessions may feel a bit shorter than usual. That’s OK. German Volume takes up a LOT of time – it’s normal to feel like the workout is flying by when you transition away from it. Don’t let this feeling trick you into rushing into your next set of work. Now that we’re working with heavier loads, our bodies will need extra time to recover from each set. Don’t rush to your next set until you’ve rested for at least 2:00.
- “RIPPED” factor. Anyone who experienced increases in muscle mass last cycle should be VERY, VERY excited about this upcoming training cycle. Why? It’s time to chisel those tissues!!! Because the time we’ll be spending under tension will be short relative to our last two cycles, and because we’ll be introducing work that has us working with loads at higher speeds, and with faster cycle-times, all athletes should start noticing that they’re becoming much more ‘toned’ this cycle. You should start to look and feel different (in a good way) this cycle. Get excited!!!
- The more diligent athletes are in recording their scores/numbers, the more success they’ll have with the program.
From a Metabolic Conditioning Perspective, we’ll be trying to achieve the following:
- Reduce the total number of long, slow training sessions to one session a week;
- Complimenting traditional ‘aerobic power’ work (running, rowing, etc.) with moderate barbell work performed quickly (think fast sets of 7 unbroken thrusters), or light barbell/bodyweight work done at a really high rate of speed (think 20 airsquats done as quickly as humanly possible). Rather than having you just run, just row, or just do combos of box-jumps, du’s, running and lunging on aerobic days, we’re now going to start using these types of movements to elicit the same type of response.
- Slowly (and we mean SLOWLY) begin following-up 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) with moderate-load barbell or strength work. Don’t expect this type of work until the 3rd, or even the 4th week of the cycle though. We want to see how folks respond to this stimulus before we jump-in head-first.
Here’s what you can expect from these changes:
- 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.
- Prescriptive loading and prescriptive scaling. It doesn’t make sense to worry about how quickly you can do a movement until you can first perform said movement with sound mechanics. In order to get the most out of this cycle, you’re still going to have to perform all of these movements PERFECTLY. This might mean that you have to scale your loads from what’s prescribed, or that you may even have to substitute more complex movements with those which you’re more comfortable with. If your coaches appear to be a bit more insistent with prescribing scales or modifications during this phase of training, it’s only because we want to ensure that you’re getting the most out of this mesocycle, and because we want to ensure that you’re safe.
From a SKILL Perspective, we’ll be trying to achieve the following:
- 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, during this cycle, we won’t be learning as many new skills as we did last cycle, but rather we’ll be trying to become more proficient with this skills we’ve developed thus far. Example: We may nt do as many pistols or lunges this cycle as we did last. Instead, we’ll do different types of squats – some at a heavy load slowly, some at a moderate load quickly, and some without any load at a speed that boggles the mind. All these variations will help improve your skills within each movement, rather than broaden the skills you have across multiple movements. Afraid that this means that you’ll regress with your pull-up progress? Don’t be. WE’ll still be doing a broad range of movements both in class, and during our S&S sessions.
What You Should Expect to Feel, and What to do About it:
- Working with loads at speed can be humbling. Often, you won’t feel anything until you stop moving…but once your brain catches up to you, you’ll be absolutely gassed. Literally, you’ll feel like a fish out of water. When this happens, RELAX. It’s normal to feel this way. Don’t get discouraged – just relax, and focus on your breathing. Over time, this response will start to become less pronounced.
- 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, glutes, 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.
- 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.
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