A Lesson On Programming And Training

Some of you may have noticed we tested a couple of lifts we have been working on the past couple of weeks leading up to the open season (very good results by the way!). It is not uncommon to get questions from our members like, “Why are we back squatting again?” Well here at Canyon, we put all of you through a weightlifting strength program. Our strength program is a program that is geared towards athletes, ages 2 through 85, of all experience levels. Whether you are a beginner or a professional lifter, this strength program is designed to make you more explosive, stronger, faster, flexible, awesome, confident, and as an aesthetic byproduct, it makes you look really really good!

Own your own workout.

It has come to my attention that there are a few of you that still don’t “Own your own workout.” What do I mean by “Own your own workout?” Well, there are days when everything is running smooth at the gym, and there are days when it can be chaos and confusing. Everyone was a weightlifter-beginner at some point of their journey here at Canyon. But let’s say after a year, it should be expected that you know at least your weightlifting numbers (or a ballpark number).

Coach: “What is your 1RM Front Squat?”

Athlete: “Oh I don’t know, I just look at WODIFY.”

It is important that you guys take responsibility of your own training and let your coaches coach. It is not our job to explain to you every detail on what we are doing today like it’s day one again at the gym. And if you are that weightlifter-beginner, it doesn’t necessarily mean that will have the same lifting session as everyone else. We have all gone through the journey as a beginner, it is imperative that you learn all of the fundamental weightlifting movements first. So today, let’s go over a couple of things about programming and training:

Find a training max.

If you want success in your training, and if you want to see real results, then you should work on being self-disciplined. A training max is the prescribed “1RM” of a particular lift in a cycle. You’ll eventually come to a point where you can’t make any more progress on a lift. You won’t be able to hit the sets and reps you’re supposed to hit, and the weights will start to get too heavy. When this happens, I simply take 90% of my max (1RM or a rep max) and start all over again. Training maxes can vary. For example:

  • Traning Max @ 70–80% of 1RM is used for reformation. Whether you are very ill, or are currently injured and you’re on the road to recovery, or even if you are pregnant, training maxes this low will guarantee no risks on your lifts. There will be a heavy focus on technique development. Also, weightlifting can trigger a hormonal response that is important to help you heal properly when recovering from an injury.
  • Training Max @ 85%-95% of 1RM is used for progression. Once you start stalling on your lifts, fall back and use a training max at these percentages.

How do you find your training max? My current training max for the Back Squat is at 427.5lbs. I have been slowly increasing this training max for over a year.

1RM Back Squat = 450lbs

Training Max set @ 95% = .95 x (450) = 427.5 lbs

Don’t take lighter sets for granted. Training Maxes will set you up for improving your lifts. If these lifts become light and explosive, you will feel more confident and strong when testing your new 1RM. Training maxes are also useful if you have been more active. We encourage everyone to “go outside and play.” That can be picking up running, or training for a marathon (tough mudder, tennis, swimming, spin, etc.). When this happens, it is strongly suggested to lower your training max so you don’t feel so burnt out!

You or your coach may prescribe an increase in your training max week by week. Which leads me to the next topic:

Our program is for everybody with individual adjustments.

My belief is that every coach running a session should have the flexibility to change the workout however they see fit to each individual athlete. Nothing on WODIFY is set to stone. If you are considering on skipping a workout based on what you see on WODIFY because you have a minor injury, we encourage you to still come in! Please notify your coach, we will make the necessary adjustments. With that being said, we have a lot of weightlifter-beginners. If you have no numbers on WODIFY yet, guess what? You are a weightlifter-beginner! Let your coach explain to you what you will be doing today. Don’t expect to be pushing heavy sets!

A weightlifter-beginner’s approach to this sample workout:

Every 2 minutes, for 12 minutes (6 sets):
Back Squat
*Set 1–5 reps @ 75%
*Set 2–3 reps @ 85%
*Set 3–1 rep @ 90%
*Set 4–5 reps @ 85%
*Set 5–3 reps @ 90%
*Set 6–1 rep @ 95%
Rest 2 minutes between sets.

I think we all agree that 95% is a heavy set. And it it isn’t expected for a weightlifter-beginner to push that heavy so early in their fitness journey. We have to make sure that all of the fundamentals are there on the back squat before we push any kind of a load. Your coach may instruct a revised version of the workout which may look like this:

Every 2 minutes, for 12 minutes (6 sets):
Back Squat x 5 reps

That’s it. Just 5 reps per set. Expect to hear verbal cues from your coach. You might also be instructed to do box squats or squat to a touch point. Everyone is going to be at a different level, and that is ok! Make sure you submit your results on WODIFY, week by week. Your strength numbers will start to show. That’s how you improve and eventually you will get to lift and follow the program appropriately.

One final topic to discuss, and I think it is a VERY important one. I owe all of my success to following this simple rule:

ALWAYS ROUND DOWN!

Too many times I see athletes get over their heads when it comes to weightlifting. It is important to be consistent when following percentages on a programmed cycle. It is also important that each set leading up to your final set is increasing equally in weight. One mistake by rounding up can lead to failure on your lifts! That is why I stay consistent on rounding down to the nearest 5lbs on every given set. For example:

Every 2 minutes, for 12 minutes (6 sets):
Back Squat
*Set 1–5 reps @ 75%
*Set 2–3 reps @ 85%
*Set 3–1 rep @ 90%
*Set 4–5 reps @ 85%
*Set 5–3 reps @ 90%
*Set 6–1 rep @ 95%
Rest 2 minutes between sets.

I am going to show you what weight I would use for each of the 6 sets from this workout with a training max at 450lbs:

  • Set 1: 5 reps @ 335lbs (Not 340)
  • Set 2: 3 reps @ 380lbs
  • Set 3: 1 rep @ 405lbs
  • Set 4: 5 reps @ 380lbs
  • Set 5: 3 reps @ 405lbs
  • Set 6: 1 rep @ 425 lbs (not 430)

We have to be disciplined and simply round down. Even if you are feeling really good that day. You will have your chance to set PRs. There is a time for training and there is a time for testing. We don’t want to test all of the time, and I feel like that is what a lot of you do. You are doing more harm than good. By rounding down, you will be lifting with good mechanics. You will ensure that you are squatting low enough, you will build your confidence up!

Ihope this helps clarify what is expected on weightlifting days. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me! Or ask me in person! I would love to hear your feedback. andrew@canyoncrossfit.com

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