In many ways, this has been an incredibly successful cycle of training. We’ve seen a huge number of PBs and amazing progress all round. You should all be very proud of the diligence and consistency you’ve demonstrated!
However, over the last few weeks we have noticed a number of things we would like to address in the next phase of programming. Many of you are now at an inflection point in your training. You’ve reaped the rewards of novice gains and now progress is beginning to slow. To go further forward, we’re going to need to take a step back.
As we see it your main limitations are movement quality, positional strength and positional awareness. You are now lifting as much as you will ever safely lift with your current levels of technique. As we’ve pushed a little harder and a little heavier we have seen deterioration in movement quality.
We want to be clear: this stops now. Our ambition is to cultivate a team of athletes whose elegance and efficiency of movement belie the weight lifted or the complexity of the exercise performed; a group of individuals who care more about the quality of their practice than the weight on the bar or the time on the clock. We’d rather you snatched 20kg with precision and poise than throw 100kg over your head by sheer force of will. We’d rather see 1 perfect gymnastic push up than 100 incline-bench-press, overextended, make-me-want-to-quit-my-job handstand push ups.
And this isn’t just because we’re movement zealots. It’s because we care about your health. We care about your active longevity and we care about broad measures of your fitness. None of these goals are achieved through poor movement. We want training to augment your quality of life outside the gym, not leave you injured and in pain.
So we’re instituting a new rule. We are now going to shut you down when you’re movement deteriorates. I don’t care if you’re seconds away from PBing on a benchmark metcon, if you’re form breaks down past an acceptable limit, we will tell you to stop. Even if it means the most you snatch for weeks is the PVC pipe. This is non-negotiable. If you want to add weight to the bar, if you want to go faster during WODs, you have no option but to do it the right way. When we say “stop”, you stop, no questions asked.
No more banana deadlifts. No more reverse curl cleans. No more back extension snatches.
I don’t want to make it sound like we think you move poorly most of the time. That’s not the case at all and we wouldn’t be very good at our jobs if it was! But we will now be holding you to an even higher standard. And, more importantly, we are going to expect you to hold yourselves to a higher standard.
I want you guys to be excited about this too. As of tomorrow, you will all be one step closer to becoming true athletes.
The New Programming Cycle
With the above in mind, here is what you can expect from the next block of programming.
The central focus will be positional. The goal will be to develop the strength and skill to maintain mechanically advantageous positions and to understand where these are. This means having the capacity to hinge at the hip properly, to stay over the bar during a pull, to find the power position before extension, to maintain external rotation of the shoulder while pressing etc.
In order to achieve this expect lots of pause and tempo work. We will be working a lot from the hang with olympic lifts and we will be pausing in the catch positions too. With strength elements, we are going to be slowing the pace down and developing capacity in the positions of greatest tension (the bottom of the squat, the top of the press etc.). We are also going to be targeting slightly higher volume in order to accelerate strength gains.
As far as conditioning goes, there will be two points of emphasis. Firstly, we will be looking to develop short duration, lactic capacity. This means lots of short, brutally intense workouts. Secondly, we want to look at the opposite end of the spectrum and start to teach you guys how to pace longer efforts, to understand your anaerobic threshold and how to operate just below it. For this, expect lots of longer workouts with prescribed effort levels. We want you to dial down the intensity a bit for these.
This next week will be a transitional week. The intensity will be lower to allow you all to recover from a challenging testing week.
I’m excited to see what this next block brings!