We just finished up the last week of the 7-week cycle “Ashy to Classy,” which focused on multiple, intermediate duration work capacity with a secondary emphasis on strength development. Here are our notes:
The work capacity focus was based on two assessments - a 4 round, 60 sec. on, 60 sec rest max 25m shuttle during the first three weeks, which was assessed and then re-assessed.
The second three weeks of the cycle assessed a max effort Sandbag Get Up in 10 minutes - again assessed and re-assessed and the end of the cycle. This is a true grit test no matter what your level of fitness is.
In order to progress these movements, each work capacity training session included the movement that had been previously assessed. Instead of using a percentage based system to work only on sandbag get-ups, we embedded the exercise into the work capacity training sessions.
Below is an example of part of a training session:
A. 7 Rounds for time
30x Step Ups @ 15/20”
5x Lateral Burpees
3/5x Pull Ups
Rest 30 sec.
Rest 2-3 Minutes
B. 5 Rounds for time
10x Sandbag Get Up @ 40/60 lbs (Advanced athletes use 80 lbs.)
8x Russian KB Swing @ 53/70lbs.
The athletes would always use the same weight that was used during their assessment. They got reps at the exercise, which does have some technique to it despite its simplicity. This is an absolutely an indirect way of progressing for a work capacity assessment - in fact it’s not really a progression so much as it is accumulating reps for the given exercise.
The question is - did the athletes get “more fit”, or did they simply get better at the exercise? I have no real way of answering that question, but anecdotally I can tell you that a 10-minute sandbag gets up assessment has been, still is, and will forever be exceptionally challenging.
You can’t game it - you just have to grind through.
For the strength work, we utilized a linear, percentage based progression based on initial 3-Rep Max’s for the Power Clean + Push Press and the Deadlift. The strength progression was in density format - 3 reps every 60 seconds for 7-10 rounds (depending on where we were in the cycle) at 65-80% of their 3RM (again, depending on where we were in the cycle).
It’s a nice, simple design that also helps aids in the development of the work capacity conditioning. As the weight got heavier, we transitioned to using this format once a week with a second strength day that utilized other exercises to compliment our two assessed lifts.
Trunk Strength and Aerobic Work
The trunk strength circuits, based on MTI’s Chassis Integrity theory, are a great tool in developing the midsection for performance and injury prevention. Using all planes of motion from the standing or kneeling position (hardly ever do we do anything on our back for abdominal work) has tremendous carry over to real-world demands. The duration, 15-20 minutes of constant, steady work, develops muscular endurance and trains time under tension.
The aerobic work in this cycle was light. 20-30 minutes of slow-paced work, 2x a week. While high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in it’s many forms is great, it’s critical that it’s balanced with lower intensity aerobic work. This allows for the development of the cardiovascular system in ways that short duration, high-intensity work simply does not. The athletes here in Charleston did a gym based aerobic work, which generally included lots of step ups, running, and bodyweight movements. The athletes training with us via the online subscription were prescribed to go and get outside - run, hike, swim, bike, etc. Both work and are interchangeable as long as we maintain the appropriate low-moderate intensity assigned.
The rule of thumb - if you can’t speak a full sentence, you’re working too hard.
As you can see from the chart above, everyone showed improvements in the assessed work capacity and strength training. This style of programming is challenging to implement, as it’s based on athletes training 4-5x/week.
Obviously, this isn’t always possible - life gets in the way. The strength progressions are the real challenge - I need to track which progression each athlete has completed so that don’t skip ahead or regress to a previous progression. Maintaining the right balance of designed stress and recovery is the key to this whole fitness game - so maintaining the proper metrics and tracking will be the constant battle.
With that said, I’m very pleased with the athlete’s results. This was our first cycle since the gym opened, so you can see that the flow of new athlete’s signing up got in the way of completing all assessments. In addition, it’s getting to be summer time so several folks took off on vacations and missed the second half of the cycle. No big dead, we’ll get them on the next run.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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