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Dave Van Skike
06-26-2007, 01:41 PM
Hokay...

This may seem a little remedial but here goes...I have always wondered if the 3 weeks of strength, then 3 weeks of MetCon approach works. I've seen it advocated but have never seen anyone actually do it. I've read plenty of folks with strength goals who switch to density work every so often to broaden their work capacity but haven't heard any ringing endorsements.

Robb, I had to dig for this one.


"So now most of our non-bariatric/weight loss clients...folks who are actually trying to get high level CF type performance...we have these folks start off with DL, a press and a pull...linear progression until we need to shift to block style periodized training. Then some kind of WOD, sprints or the like. It is very effective. I would not doubt that a Pavelesque approach of 2-3 weeks of strength work followed by 2-3 weeks of met-con might work even better but our clients are crack heads for the Met-cons."

How much disruption in a basic periodization program does this cause, it is person to person? Is the impact of switching mitigated by sticking with largely teh same movements~ squat for strength then squats in a MetCon format? It seems like switching protocol would take almost a week to acclimate to. Kind of a stepwise approach, two steps forward, one step back?

Nick Cummings
06-26-2007, 02:06 PM
Interesting topic. I do something like this in that I get bored of following the CF WoD and do 2-3 months of Starting Strength. I could be way off but I would think you would have more success giving yourself at least 4-6 weeks in each segment. One thing I did like about switching was that doing Starting Strength gave me 4 days a week off as compard to 2 off when doing Crossfit. I think my body responded well to the additional time off. I may try doing every other day in a format like: CF, off, ME, off, CF, off, ME, off, etc. I see this working really well when I am busier and not up on my sleeping and eating.

Dave Van Skike
06-26-2007, 02:41 PM
Interesting topic. I do something like this in that I get bored of following the CF WoD and do 2-3 months of Starting Strength. I could be way off but I would think you would have more success giving yourself at least 4-6 weeks in each segment. One thing I did like about switching was that doing Starting Strength gave me 4 days a week off as compard to 2 off when doing Crossfit. I think my body responded well to the additional time off. I may try doing every other day in a format like: CF, off, ME, off, CF, off, ME, off, etc. I see this working really well when I am busier and not up on my sleeping and eating.


I'm coming at this question from the opposite direction, I have been doing about 5 months straight of a strength work with almost no structured conditioning work other than cycling, the odd jump rope session and walking with a weighted vest. I have plenty of energy for fun stuff and I am loath to shift as I have been making consistent progress with 2-3 PR's per month.....

But, I am interested to see if I can add in different types of work without regressing and possibly advancing...

Dave Van Skike
06-26-2007, 07:58 PM
bump for a reasonable question.

Garrett Smith
06-27-2007, 05:55 AM
If it ain't broke...

Dave Van Skike
06-27-2007, 11:32 AM
It ain't broke....yet.
Just want to keep my brain from going stale, plus, I have some weaknesses that I will need to address at some point.

I have ridden this out with only minor tweaks for some time and a shift for several weeks might be healthy and ensure better progress overall.

I have seen this block style training advocated in many places by a lot of folks including Rob, I'm just curious if anyone with actual strength goals has implemented it succesfully... I want to know how it works adn for whom.

Robb Wolf
06-27-2007, 12:44 PM
Dave-
I think One can make some pretty good progress in the strength arena doing a fairly mixed approach. Rutman's ME-black box templates of max effort work mixed with met cons being one example. I think the key is to keep the programming smart...not too much volume in the metcons. Stuff like Diane, Fran etc.


What we do with our clients is blocks of varying intensity and volume in the strength work...5x5->8x3->10x2...some wave loading...80% of our clients are bariatric/rehabs situations so this is not something that is used extensively with our clients.

So...yea, I've not messed around much with 2 weeks of strength, 2 weeks of met-cons as per Pavels recommendations.

Interesting stuff.

Mark Fenner
06-28-2007, 07:55 AM
I'm not entirely convinced that met-con and density are interchangeable.

If you are sufficiently strong, weights that allow you to work met-con are going to be too small to be considered strength work. For example, what's Dan John's max front squat? 300+, right? And I think he works around 100 for Tabatas. For those of us who are mortal (like myself), we might not have such a big disparity. On the other side of the coin, you can do heavier density work that doesn't really stimulate met-con (but it will stimulate local muscular endurance and hypertrophy).

Another consideration when planning alternate, focused blocks is that strength lasts longer than muscular-endurance but they are relatively close in persistence. CV-endurance dissipates the fastest. What do you do with this? I'm not sure.

I don't remember the details of the Pavel strength/density block approach. Is this PttP?

Regards,
Mark

Robb Wolf
06-28-2007, 09:37 AM
Mark-
Pavel just recomended that folks alternate between strength (PTP) and metcon/endurance (KB work) instead of mixing the stimuli...in two week blocks if I recal.

Dave Van Skike
06-28-2007, 09:59 AM
I totally agree on met con vs. density.

No it's not PttP.

I'm quoting what I think is a bit of "conventional wisdom" on how to not confuse different protocols strength vs. strength endurance or power vs. GPP. (I'm simplifying whole swaths of concepts into neat packages for brevity) by alternating them in 2 to 3 week blocks of time~ specifically not a Tudor Bompa year long persiondization program built around a competitive season but a steady progression towards an overall mixed goal...say,

Deadlift X amount and a sub 3 minute Fran or some such strength endurance benchmark.

You are hitting on exactly my question though, has teh follwing protocol been used successfully? Alternate blocks of say 3-4 weeks strenght/metcon or strenght and conditioning towards a mixed set of goals such as above? or even a singel goal..such as strength.


Example 1. Lifter A has basic strength goal of increasing 1 RM in the 3 power lifts. As lifter rapildy progresses, handling the volume at higher percentages becomes increasingly difficult…Lifter needs to go back and improve conditioning to handle the now much higher workloads that are being used to stimulat eprogress.

Would a strategy of alternating between 3 to 4 weeks on a basic linear progression and 3-4 weeks of a density work be effective to raise the overall tolerance to workload? and overall conditioning as an aside?

Example 2 : Lifter B has overall strength and fitness goals of a high crossfit total but also want to address body comp issues and increase metabolic fitness. Would an effective approach be to alternate blocks of pure metcon work 3-4 weeks, with blocks of pure strength work 3-4 weeks? Is anyone using this approach effectively?

I suspect Example 1 would work, for intermediates and even moderately advanced lifters. I suspect Example 2, mixing strength and metcon, is not as effective as combining the two protocols within a given week for novice to intermediates.

Using what we know about how slowly limit strength erodes, it would seem this alternating approach could work…Teh problem is, I have read this suggested in several places, but, I haven't heard directly from anyone who has used it not any studies that bear the assumption out.

I may just have to try it to see.

Steve Shafley
06-28-2007, 10:16 AM
More and more I'm thinking what matters is the broad, encompassing fractal pattern to the stimulus.

Danny John and I had a chat about periodization:

"Steve. Periodization. It doesn't work."

"Uh, nope. I'm with you right there. Grab me a beer while you're there?"

This wasn't saying that peaking didn't work, it was more to the point that those long 20 week plans that Bomba and his ilk are so fond of aren't all that effective for the American athlete, many of which whom dominate their sports.

Example:

Basically, there are only TWO phases that matter: Pre-Comp and Comp. Just like there are only two real training phases that matter: GPP and SPP.

The fractal pattern thing is something that I woke up the other night and had a clear and complete understanding of, but now it's back down in my head somewhere.

However, it involves fitting patterns of high resistance work with metcon work on a daily basis and then fitting that pattern into a weekly basis, and that pattern into a monthly basis.

Maybe it was just a pipe dream, because I've woken up with a clear understanding of necromancy and it's practical applications in a modern society before, too.

Dave Van Skike
06-28-2007, 10:50 AM
You had me at fractals...lost by the time you got to necromancy......

I'm not sure I agree on peaking periodization, I don't know from strength but in bike race world it does "work". As in works like a Italian motorcycles works, only sometimes but gloriously on those rare occasions when it does.….

The problem is controlling all the factors, rest, recovery, nutrition, psychology training intensity focus……I think that is why there is a teeny-weeny bit of truth to the idea that "periodization" (on the grand Tudor Bompa-season peaks at event X) only works for athletes that are "controlling" their hormones. I don't think it's exclusive province of the assisted athlete, but the degree to which you can control ALL the variables is very influential.

So. Back to the point at hand…I don't know about the fractals but it seem like (we'll call it) block progressions CAN work, but does anyone do it? I know you mentioned doing a stint of 20/50 density work with deadlifts and saw no increase in your max effort, but IIRC you thought that it would have benefited you to immediately follow up of with a new pure strength progression to capitalize on the increased work capacity. Am I getting that right?

Mark Fenner
06-28-2007, 11:01 AM
As lifter rapildy progresses, handling the volume at higher percentages becomes increasingly difficult…Lifter needs to go back and improve conditioning to handle the now much higher workloads that are being used to stimulat eprogress.


This is great stuff and exactly the problem you face as a martial athlete ... I increase the force my lats, pecs, tris, and bis can produce by 50%. Now, when rolling on the mat, I get gassed in 1/2 the time (fill in more valid numbers, please). When you increase your limit, your work capacity at that limit will be less than your work capacity at your previous limit. Not to get into esoterics, but Inno-Sport (DB Hammer, etc.) talks some about this.


Would a strategy of alternating between 3 to 4 weeks on a basic linear progression and 3-4 weeks of a density work be effective to raise the overall tolerance to workload? and overall conditioning as an aside?


If you're insisting on met-cons for workload tolerance, I think your best bet would be:

Block 1: 3 Strength + 1 Met-Con a week
Block 2: 1 Strength + 3 Met-Con a week

i.e., a conjugated approach with alternating focus. I don't think ignoring either is going to be your best bet.


Example 2 : Lifter B has overall strength and fitness goals of a high crossfit total but also want to address body comp issues and increase metabolic fitness. Would an effective approach be to alternate blocks of pure metcon work 3-4 weeks, with blocks of pure strength work 3-4 weeks? Is anyone using this approach effectively?


Example 2 could probably just go to 3-4 Met-Cons a week for 4 weeks and blow us all away.


I suspect Example 1 would work, for intermediates and even moderately advanced lifters. I suspect Example 2, mixing strength and metcon, is not as effective as combining the two protocols within a given week for novice to intermediates.


A true novice just needs to get strong before they can display strength-endurance. Their "limit" strength is also not really limit because it is so highly variable.

I think truly alternating blocks is going to serve a stronger lifter better ... but I would still prefer conjugation (don't we all LOVE conjugation! *laugh*).


Basically, there are only TWO phases that matter: Pre-Comp and Comp. Just like there are only two real training phases that matter: GPP and SPP.

The fractal pattern thing is something that I woke up the other night and had a clear and complete understanding of, but now it's back down in my head somewhere.


I think the fractal idea also applies to the general/specific dichotomy.

To bring some fractal ideas back to the surface of your brain, the idea of fractal objects is that their macro-structure and their micro-structures are self-similar. A simple example (almost too simple), is a checker board. The macro-structure is a square. The micro-structure(s) are also squares. Mathematically interesting fractal patterns have this process repeating infinitely .... image a checkerboard whose small squares were also checkerboards whose small squares were also checkerboards whose small squares .... etc.

In classical periodization, this means that you have a similar structure (waves, blocks, sunflowers) in the nano-cycle, the micro-cycle, the meso-cycle, and any annual or higher cycles.

In terms of GPP/SPP:

Imagine an athlete who studies judo and tkd. Both sports require work capacity. You can participate in a judo match and participate in a tkd match. Doing so will raise your sport specific work capacity a bit. It will also transfer a little bit of work capacity to the other sport. In addition I can build up "general" work capacity: doing KB swings, complexes, etc. This will also transfer to my (err, the hypothetical person's) judo and tkd work capacity. The judo and tkd work capacity will also transfer to the "general" work capacity. I can also make the same sort of arguments for strength and flexibility (work capacity -> endurance).

I'm putting general in quotes b/c really, it's just specific work capacity of a different kind. However, that type of work capacity has been shown to transfer decently ... so, we call it "general".

So, how is this fractal? Well, if we take something that by concensus is general like the squat, we can look at what is specific for the squat (like good mornings). If I do something specific for the squat (good mornings), it is still general preparation for judo, tkd, etc. BUT it only applies in as much as it increases my ability to do the general activity: squatting.

If I end up doing to much specific work for the general movements and not enough specific work for my sports, all of a sudden, I'm better off participating in a different sport (powerlifting).


Maybe it was just a pipe dream, because I've woken up with a clear understanding of necromancy and it's practical applications in a modern society before, too.

Ha!

Regards,
Mark

Dave Van Skike
06-28-2007, 11:32 AM
One clarification, I'm not suggesting that for my goals (strength) met cons would be the best alternating block. I think density work might be a good approach as it get's a huge amount of quality repetitions at lower percentages than pure strength work~

the original example (Pttp/RKC) is about alternating dead lifts and presses with kettlebell work; thsi really is alternating between general strength and density work, at least my understanding of it....I've only ever used KB's in a density type format, not really a met-con (intervals with weights and gymansitical ala Xfit) type of format

The thing I'm actively wondering about is whether mixing protocols within a week is actually better than concentrating in 3 week blocks. I have added metcon work to a weekly strength progression and found it very disruptive, it really slowed progress in the strength work.

Another example I go back to is bicycling programming, where you start with "base conditioning" to prepare you to train, once you are fit enough to train, you work high intensity (analogous to high percentage strength work)…then you race….after a while, the stress of high intensity work and racing becomes too much to handle, so you have to go back to a base preparation in mid-season to bring your base level of conditioning up to so that you can handle even higher intensity training adn racing.

This second period of "base conditioning work" feels like a relief, it is certainly at lower levels of intensity relative to competition but because of the intense work that preceded it, you are able to put out an overall higher intesity work than the first base preparation.....

So, I know this works in and endurance sense and I also know that one of the key things you try to control is the urge to "throw in" some high intensity sprint days in te middle of the work.....This is why, I am dubious about the three days of this, two days of that approach…my experience is that it can get muddled….that doesn't mean it isn't the most effective way; it might just be the harder way.

Mark Fenner
06-28-2007, 11:50 AM
Dave,

I think you have to build your tolerance to weekly level capacity as well. Typically I lift heavy twice a week, lifter moderately 2x a week, do intense tkd work twice a week, intense judo 2-3x per week, easy tkd and easy judo 1x a week. I can't add much to that.

I don't think three sessions of weight training a week (regardless of focus) is an upper limit: but it may be that two heavy sessions a week (with some volume) IS an upper limit for heavy sessions, at least for non-powerlifters. You could also do "heavy and fresh" (3x3) for strength during met-con blocks.

I guess the end result, as so often, is: try it and get back to us.

Regards,
Mark

Robb Wolf
06-29-2007, 09:48 AM
Ross Enamait made a great point in Infinite Intensity:A concurrent approach, mixing max effort work, metcons and power development will only yield moderate levels of strength/power (according to Siff) but this is all we are likely get get and or need out of a combat athlete.

What would be considered a weak performance on the part of a strength athlete is quite impressive for the Judoka or Thai boxer...and driving the strength levels of the judoka higher may necessitate enough specialization to damage the judo performance (Mark, you said essentially this same thing above). Conversely, a PL'er might benefit enormously from GPP work on the heavy bag...but he or she will never be a Thai boxer using that approach. The ends can become means to other ends.

So...I'm guessing that the use of block training vs conjugate method vs concurrent training will be a function of goals and developmental status.

Dave Van Skike
06-29-2007, 11:38 AM
Ross Enamait made a great point in Infinite Intensity:A concurrent approach, mixing max effort work, metcons and power development will only yield moderate levels of strength/power (according to Siff) but this is all we are likely get get and or need out of a combat athlete.

What would be considered a weak performance on the part of a strength athlete is quite impressive for the Judoka or Thai boxer...and driving the strength levels of the judoka higher may necessitate enough specialization to damage the judo performance (Mark, you said essentially this same thing above). Conversely, a PL'er might benefit enormously from GPP work on the heavy bag...but he or she will never be a Thai boxer using that approach. The ends can become means to other ends.

So...I'm guessing that the use of block training vs conjugate method vs concurrent training will be a function of goals and developmental status.


Now we are getting somewhere. I had forgot that part of Inf. Int....good point.

Block training should works for the strenght athlete, maybe not most effective for the allrounder.

Alternating between 3-4 week blocks of GPP and SPP (in simple terms) might work for the intermediate "strength athlete" who needs to bring up both qualities somewhat concurrently because "strength" erodes slowly enough to not lose significant ground in this much time.

Increasing work capcaity shoudl allow greater amounts of work to be done once resuming pure "strength" training.

No really good testimonials coming to mind.

Better try it and see.

Mark Fenner
06-29-2007, 07:16 PM
driving the strength levels of the judoka higher may necessitate enough specialization to damage the judo performance (Mark, you said essentially this same thing above).

Definitely,

This can cause regression for two reasons:

(1) Inability to use the newly acquired strength due to altered technique (firing patterns, muscle balance, etc) or decreased work capacity with the new strength

(2) Loss of technique training time that WOULD HAVE been devoted to judo skill and has been devoted to powerlifting strength-skill.

Regards,
Mark

Mark Fenner
06-29-2007, 07:41 PM
Since I have Siff (Supertraing, 5th) out from the budding speed/strength discussion on the other thread, here's exactly what Siff says about concurrent versus sequential development of traits (pg 290) [it's important to note that Siff uses the terms concurrent (sequence) system and conjugate sequence system for parallel and sequential training, respectively. This is NOT the same use of conjugate as in the conjugate periodization of Westside fame ... confusion has ensued because the conjugate means "at the same time" in one place and "at different times" in the other ... stupid translations!! ]

Anyway, basically:

In elite athletes, parallel development [of several motor abilities, strength, speed, endurance] produces "only average results. To evoke a more powerful training effect in athletes who have already accomodated to high levels of stimulation, it becomes necessary to impose intense phases of uni-directional loading on the body. This is precisely the purpose of the conjugate sequence system."

Siff gives two sequences:

For speed-endurance: aerobic, mixed anaerobic, atp-cp, anaerobic glycolytic

For speed-strength and complex technique athletes: general development, concentrated strength, in-depth technique against background of delayed strength gains, further technique work in competition.


Siff then makes an odd statement (since conjugate and sequential systems are labelled "long term" organizing principles):

"Unidirectional emphasis on qualities such as strength or endurance may be used not only in individual workouts [!?!?!?], but also during each microcycle [ok, the second part makes sense]."

Also relevant (back on page 289):

"For instance, research by Verkhoshansky and colleagues has established that maximum strength training can impair speed-strength and technical skill in boxers. It can lead to a deterioration of several months' duration in the technique of weighlifters and javelin throwers. Other studies have shown that heavy training loads reduce one's ability to control movements, primarily of their most complex technical phases. The negative influence of heavy strength training on sports technique may be due substantially to deterioration of the speed-strength qualities of the neuromuscular system"

Anyway, food for thought. I'm really NOT THAT BIG on Siff as a reference, but it is certainly something to talk about.

Regards,
Mark

Mark Fenner
06-29-2007, 07:55 PM
Oh yeah, I think the take home message (from that part of Siff) is that you can use parallel (simultaneous) development of qualities as long as you are not "elite" ... so, unless you are an elite-level powerlifter and/or an elite level crossfitter, go ahead and do them both at the same time.

Of course, like the Bible, there is enough in Siff that you can probably find a quote to support the other point of view. And Siff isn't the be-all-and-end-all.

Regards,
Mark