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Steven Low
09-03-2008, 07:17 AM
Arien, Michael, etc.:

The problem is that if you don't understand the concepts well, you can't apply them to practical workout construction. The concept of all weightlifting programs is virtually what Rip discusses in PP. Adding more templates to the book is not going to help you program better. Furthermore, each cycle (microcycles, mesocycles, etc.) have their own unique purpose and more or less depend solely on the abilities of the participant; it's impossible to prescribe something that is universal to everyone. Thus, basically the only way to get better at programming is to understand the concepts then to directly apply them to your workouts pretty much daily. Being handed program after program is not going to improve your ability to program for yourself (or others).

Now, if you need practice at it then that's one thing that can be improved, and in fact I think it would be a good idea to have a forum on here totally dedicated to programming your own workouts. Subsequent comments/posts to them would be critique on the better/worse points and generally be focused on feedback. That would get everyone access to quality feedback on workout construction. But it's really up to YOU to determine how much or little you can handle based on your conditioning levels and ability to recovery from fatigue.

michael cooley
09-03-2008, 08:58 AM
You misunderstand me. I wasn't looking to be handed a fish (God, there are quite enough templates and excel spreadsheets in the world already). I'm talking about understanding better what to do with a rod and reel. I want to better understand the principles (through the observations of one who has spent more time than I studying them) in the specific context of olympic weightlifting, where squatting is a means to an end, and useful only to the extent that it pushes up your snatch and clean.

mpc

Steven Low
09-03-2008, 10:45 AM
Michael:

That can be done online. ;)

Look up some Westside templates with with work on assistance exercises (squats, OHS, etc. in this case) and how they integrate it with strength work (C&J, snatch). Similar concepts.

Steven Low
09-03-2008, 08:25 PM
Steven-

I don't think you intended to come across nearly so condescending as you actually did. That said...

Westside?!? How does Westside have any meaningful application to the question of how the principles of Practical Programming can be applied in the specific context of olympic weightlifting? That was my original question, by the way, and frankly it's a topic that's not much addressed either in Practical Programming or in this or other discussion boards. They are distinctly not similar concepts.

Frankly, the CA WOD comes as close as anything I've yet seen (or sketched out on my own) to implementing it. Kudos to Greg.

mpc

See, this is the problem in the first place.

1. You asked about how to integrate assistance exercises with a program.
2. I gave you a valid program such as Westside which extensively uses assistance exercises in it's program to progress on it's main lifts.

1. If you noticed Greg's PMenu/CA workouts are based on modified Bulgarian cycles and has elements of DE and ME programming.
2. Westside uses conjugate periodization that utilizes both DE and ME programming.

I am not suggesting you "use" Westside as a template to do Oly lifting. I am suggesting you use *learn* from Westside principles and apply them over to Oly. Take you what you need and discard the rest. Similarly, use PP how you need it to work Oly and discard the useless information that won't help you.

Not trying to be condescending or anything but if you can't see the application of ideas across different domains, you need to step back a bit and study different strength programs to learn from them. I think it's great you wanna specifically focus on Oly programming only; however, this approach gives a better overall understanding of most advanced-elite training programs that will directly translate to your ability to analyze why something works the way it does. As Greg said, the programming is probably beyond the scope of this book *because* it is too advanced for it.. so that's why I'm suggesting you learn the concepts here.. and not just from the modified Bulgarian cycle that is PMenu/CA WODs.

For example, if we use a Westside example again we can see how Oly uses explosive lifts as it's main lifts and uses max effort work such as back squats, OHS and other movements to help build those movements up. Westside uses different dynamic work as well as max effort work to generally build up strength and not explosive lifts such as DL, squat and bench. Very interesting parallel because the application is similar in some respects.

But it's your choice.. can't do the thinking or analyzing for you. Just don't expect to be spoon fed on why the PMenu/CA workouts work the way they do.

michael cooley
09-03-2008, 09:25 PM
See, this is the problem in the first place.

1. You asked about how to integrate assistance exercises with a program.
* * * * *
I am not suggesting you "use" Westside as a template to do Oly lifting. I am suggesting you use *learn* from Westside principles and apply them over to Oly. Take you what you need and discard the rest. Similarly, use PP how you need it to work Oly and discard the useless information that won't help you.

Not trying to be condescending or anything but if you can't see the application of ideas across different domains, you need to step back a bit and study different strength programs to learn from them. I think it's great you wanna specifically focus on Oly programming only
* * * * *
so that's why I'm suggesting you learn the concepts here.. and not just from the modified Bulgarian cycle that is PMenu/CA WODs.
* * * * *
But it's your choice.. can't do the thinking or analyzing for you. Just don't expect to be spoon fed on why the PMenu/CA workouts work the way they do.

Oh, for crying out loud...

I am trying to "learn the concepts here." You just keep misconstruing my original question and misjudging your audience.

I never asked about how to integrate assistance exercises with a program. I asked about the application of Practical Programming in the specific context of weightlifting. It's hardly a topic that has been exhaustively addressed anywhere, so it strikes me as a valid and productive topic of conversation. Here. On a discussion board. Devoted to weightlifting.

I certainly never asked to be spoon fed workouts (note the well-placed "teach a man to fish" metaphor, supra). Frankly, the very fact that no given "program" fits every lifter (as you correctly note) is precisely why such spoon-feeding is a waste of time. I've found the CA WOD to be a terrific resource, but -- if you're a 37 year old experienced weightlifter who can't train more than 3x a week, but is still actively competing -- it's going to require some tweaking. That's all I've been trying to accomplish here: start with a premise, then discuss. I'm just looking to further (and participate in) that discussion. Again, it's hardly a topic that has been exhaustively addressed anywhere, so it strikes me as a valid and productive topic of conversation. Here. On a discussion board. Devoted to weightlifting. Call me crazy.

I'm thrilled that you think it's great that I want to "specifically focus on Oly programming only." I've been focusing on it for the last 9 years, since I started training under Artie Dreschler in New York, and I have enough programs and templates to gag a mule. Practical Programming has started a new conversation about strength training, and I'm just trying to explore that conversation further in the specific context of olympic weightlifting.

I'm still looking forward to furthering and participating in that discussion, but it doesn't look like it's going to get off the ground tonight. I'm going to give it a rest for a bit. I'll try again later.

mpc

Steven Low
09-03-2008, 09:39 PM
If you want to discuss, why not bring up some specific quotes or points from PP and post them up for discussion?

Well, at least instead of talking generalities about knowing how PP can be used towards Oly. From what I've seen there's been nothing to discuss beyond asking Greg about it and him saying it should be a book all its own. If you want to discuss... ask away. Someone will provide input.


And yeah, you did "ask/talk" about integration of assistance exercises:

I want to better understand the principles (through the observations of one who has spent more time than I studying them) in the specific context of olympic weightlifting, where squatting is a means to an end, and useful only to the extent that it pushes up your snatch and clean.

Arien Malec
09-03-2008, 09:49 PM
If you want to discuss, why not bring up some specific quotes or points from PP and post them up for discussion?

Can I suggest we spawn a different thread for this?

I don't think the application of PP principles are as straightforwardly applied to weightlifting as Steven thinks but I don't want that mixed in with discussion of Greg's book.

Steven Low
09-03-2008, 10:16 PM
Can I suggest we spawn a different thread for this?

I don't think the application of PP principles are as straightforwardly applied to weightlifting as Steven thinks but I don't want that mixed in with discussion of Greg's book.
Say what? Michael said that not me.

Though.. one thing I've noticed is that programming remains nearly the same (in terms of how you build and structure exercises) across many domains.. bodyweight, barbell work, etc. Shrug. I wouldn't say it's straightfoward at all, but programming-wise there should be at least some overlap you can draw from. (Of course, then there's people who argue against my position and say bodyweight is nothing like barball and such but at least I program bodyweight/gymnastics work similar to barbell and it has worked fairly well for me I'd say).

But yeah, it's a good topic for another thread.

Allen Yeh
09-04-2008, 02:15 AM
I moved these posts today.

Dave Van Skike
09-04-2008, 12:53 PM
michael, have you had any luck looking for Pendlay's stuff? it's scattered around the web in various forum posts he he used to be an active poster. i know a lot of the basic template ideas behind the intermediate section of Practical Programming are influenced by Glenn's work, I would assume the advanced chapter is also, I recall a number of periodization schemes including the hormonal fluctuation model that seemed applicable to weightlifting.

Westside..that's funny. people using dumbed down Westside templates for stuff like Oly lifting......

reminds me of 1960's 70's Japanese cinema that heavily references American Gunfighter movies, culminating in the Seven Samurai which is then reborrowed whole cloth to make the Magnifient Seven...Films like the Lone Wolf and Cub series inspire filmwork in 70's Spagetti Westerns which then swap back to hyper focused action in Later 70's Japanese film....which then get re-stolen back and forth until you get the least original filmaker of all time Tarantino making Kill Bill...

short answer..if it works, steal it..

Yuen Sohn
09-04-2008, 01:12 PM
To piggyback off of Dave's recommendations, here's some of Glenn's thoughts that I found particularly enlightening:

http://glennpendlay.wordpress.com/2007/01/01/getting-out-of-the-hole-part-1/
http://glennpendlay.wordpress.com/2007/03/10/getting-out-of-the-hole-part-2/

Gregory L. Johnson
09-04-2008, 01:59 PM
Films like the Lone Wolf and Cub series inspire filmwork in 70's Spagetti Westerns


This is a hijacking...yes...I'm turning this into Kurosawa thread...the Spaghetti Westerns were inspired by Kurosawa...the director of Seven Samurai...he also directed a film called Yojimbo...Sergio Leon called his adaptation A Fistfull of Dollars...you may now return to your Practical Programming...

Neill Smith
09-04-2008, 03:28 PM
Here. On a discussion board. Devoted to weightlifting.

A gem of sarcasm...well played.

Dave Van Skike
09-04-2008, 04:29 PM
This is a hijacking...yes...I'm turning this into Kurosawa thread...the Spaghetti Westerns were inspired by Kurosawa...the director of Seven Samurai...he also directed a film called Yojimbo...Sergio Leon called his adaptation A Fistfull of Dollars...you may now return to your Practical Programming...

Kurosawa makes Yojimbo...which becomes Fistful of $ but what context does Kurosawa come out of?

never bought into the "great man" theory of history, and so I'm not so lineal in my assumptions. Kurosawa is just one element of a larger movement in Japanese film, albeit a big one.

Arien Malec
09-04-2008, 09:40 PM
OK, let me articulate what I think is one of the key issues that makes straightforward application of the principles of PP to weightlifting programming difficult. I would like to do so without:

1) Accusations that all I'm looking for are templates or sample programs
2) Condecending implications that I don't understand what PP is all about
3) Reference to templates for advanced/elite powerlifters as example templates for weightlifting

Further references to Japanese cinema masters or Italian classic spaghetti western masters is optional.

PP provides a framework for programming based on the two factor model, under which a stressor produces both an adaptation and fatigue, and a continuum model of athlete response to stressors based on how far the athlete is from his or her theoretical performance limit (the closer the athlete, the larger the stessor, the greater the fatigue, and the longer the adaptation).

The PP framework works well for strength training, and is generalizable to other domains (cardiovascular training, for example).

There are athletic endeavors where the PP dual factor framework does not apply. There is, for example, a skill based model or framework. If one is training for table tennis at an intermediate level, for example, one does not play a bunch of hard game, go rest, then play a few medium games, then play a really hard game. Instead, one plays a large number of games with skilled but not overmatched opponents, and practices key aspects of the game a lot. As the game improves, one needs even more skill development and practice against even more skilled opponents.

The analogue to weightlifting training would be to snatch and C&J a lot at weights between 70-90% of max. Looks like the Bulgarian or Joe Mills approach.

Another model that works for strength training in some cases is a CNS development model, where the goal is recruiting more muscle at a given strength base. An example of a programming template for such a model is the GTG template. The weightlifting approach here would be either the snatch, c&j and front squat Bulgarian model or alternatively one focused on lots of heavier pulls and power movements to develop explosiveness (power development requires both physiological adaptations and CNS development).

I'd argue that weightlifting programming requires all three models -- it is a sport of skill requiring strength and CNS development.

The programming problem that one then faces is that the programming approaches for strength development leads to a persistant level of fatigue that interfere with skill development, and that a focus on skill development may leave little room for strength development.

The CA WOD/Burgener template tries to solve this by alternating strength and CNS development cyles with skill development cycles (Bulgarian cycles). The Glenn Pendlay programming model referenced above focuses on strength development when the C&J approaches the max fs, and focuses on skill development at other times. The Joe Dube template tries to mix a primary focus on skill development with a secondary focus on strength training. The Bulgarian model focuses on skill with enough front squatting to develop strength -- there is a question as to whether that approach works in the absence of chemical aids to assist recovery.

The basic question is when should one apply each of those approaches, or use other approaches for situations such as the following:

1) Beginning weightlifter with a strong strength base
2) Beginning weightlifter with a weak strength base
3) Intermediate weightlifter who could be stronger and more skilled

And, as a bonus question, 38 year old beginning-intermediate weightlifter with a weak strength base and a terrible recovery capacity.

I prefer Ran -- that's Kurosawa at the top of his game.

Gant Grimes
09-05-2008, 07:46 AM
Michael, you're less than 2.5 hours away from Rip and Glenn. It might be time well spent.

Dave Van Skike
09-05-2008, 09:39 AM
OK, let me articulate what I think is one of the key issues that makes straightforward application of the principles of PP to weightlifting programming difficult. I would like to do so without:

1) Accusations that all I'm looking for are templates or sample programs
2) Condecending implications that I don't understand what PP is all about
3) Reference to templates for advanced/elite powerlifters as example templates for weightlifting

Further references to Japanese cinema masters or Italian classic spaghetti western masters is optional.

PP provides a framework for programming based on the two factor model, under which a stressor produces both an adaptation and fatigue, and a continuum model of athlete response to stressors based on how far the athlete is from his or her theoretical performance limit (the closer the athlete, the larger the stessor, the greater the fatigue, and the longer the adaptation).

The PP framework works well for strength training, and is generalizable to other domains (cardiovascular training, for example).

There are athletic endeavors where the PP dual factor framework does not apply. There is, for example, a skill based model or framework. If one is training for table tennis at an intermediate level, for example, one does not play a bunch of hard game, go rest, then play a few medium games, then play a really hard game. Instead, one plays a large number of games with skilled but not overmatched opponents, and practices key aspects of the game a lot. As the game improves, one needs even more skill development and practice against even more skilled opponents.

The analogue to weightlifting training would be to snatch and C&J a lot at weights between 70-90% of max. Looks like the Bulgarian or Joe Mills approach.

Another model that works for strength training in some cases is a CNS development model, where the goal is recruiting more muscle at a given strength base. An example of a programming template for such a model is the GTG template. The weightlifting approach here would be either the snatch, c&j and front squat Bulgarian model or alternatively one focused on lots of heavier pulls and power movements to develop explosiveness (power development requires both physiological adaptations and CNS development).

I'd argue that weightlifting programming requires all three models -- it is a sport of skill requiring strength and CNS development.

The programming problem that one then faces is that the programming approaches for strength development leads to a persistant level of fatigue that interfere with skill development, and that a focus on skill development may leave little room for strength development.

The CA WOD/Burgener template tries to solve this by alternating strength and CNS development cyles with skill development cycles (Bulgarian cycles). The Glenn Pendlay programming model referenced above focuses on strength development when the C&J approaches the max fs, and focuses on skill development at other times. The Joe Dube template tries to mix a primary focus on skill development with a secondary focus on strength training. The Bulgarian model focuses on skill with enough front squatting to develop strength -- there is a question as to whether that approach works in the absence of chemical aids to assist recovery.

The basic question is when should one apply each of those approaches, or use other approaches for situations such as the following:

1) Beginning weightlifter with a strong strength base
2) Beginning weightlifter with a weak strength base
3) Intermediate weightlifter who could be stronger and more skilled

And, as a bonus question, 38 year old beginning-intermediate weightlifter with a weak strength base and a terrible recovery capacity.

I prefer Ran -- that's Kurosawa at the top of his game.

Nicely played.

Allen Yeh
09-05-2008, 11:18 AM
Wow nice post Arien.

Greg Everett
09-07-2008, 08:48 PM
I've only skimmed this thread, but Arien makes some good points.

I don't believe PP applies well to weightlifting, although from the few brief discussions I've had with Rippetoe, I think he might disagree because he tends to place a much greater emphasis on strength development and less on loaded skill work.

The WSB stuff has never interested me, largely because I've always thought it to be taking very basic notions from the world of weightlifting and making them seem complex and revolutionary. As Arien said, the issue with weightlifting is the fact that the thing we're trying to improve is a fairly complex motor skill, but one that demands great power. So the trouble comes in trying to reconcile vastly disparate approaches to training these characteristics.

As an aside at this point, I'd like to state I have no idea what the original topic/question/point of this thread is.... So I may be contributing nothing of value.

In my opinion, the simple answer is that the weightlifter has to do it all. He has to rely on good ol' strength training basics like heavy squatting, DLing, pressing etc.; and he has to get in a lot of HEAVY snatching and clean & jerking - not just technique work. The differences between snatching 85% and 100% are HUGE. If you're not handling heavy, heavy weights in the classic lifts a good portion of your training career, you're simply not going to be as successful as you could be.

You can try to mix these things in a given cycle, but it doesn't work well. The WSB thing with max effort, dynamic, etc. is different - snatching a light weight super fast may be valuable in a lot of respects, but it will not produce the response you get from gnarly heavy singles. If you squat and DL heavy with any kind of volume, you can't snatch/CJ heavy, and vice versa.

The rationale of alternating strength emphasis cycles with heavy classic lift emphasis cycles is very simple - create a strength base, then apply that strength base to the snatch and CJ. Sticking with either for too long compromises the other, but not sticking with either long enough doesn't produce any measurable gains.

But of course, all that said, you stil have to consider the individual and adjust for his/her needs. No novice weightlifter needs to be doiing nothing but sn/CJ/FS at only 80%+ for weeks on end - it won't do them any good. But more advanced lifters do need to train that way some of the time to get that speed and accuracy with heavy weights.

There's no simple answer, and honestly, there's so much disagreement among the ranks that you'd think no one has ever been a successful lifter.

Arien Malec
09-08-2008, 05:33 PM
...

As an aside at this point, I'd like to state I have no idea what the original topic/question/point of this thread is.... So I may be contributing nothing of value.

No danger there -- really valuable information

...

There's no simple answer, and honestly, there's so much disagreement among the ranks that you'd think no one has ever been a successful lifter.

I guess what I'm searching for (and I know the history of fundamental disagreement about weightlifting training) is enough of a framework to be able to program for myself, and to judge what a particular program or template is doing and might be good for.

I think at least acknowledging the different and mutually interfering components of training required for weightlifting is a huge start, allowing one to look at a particular program and at least judge if the emphasis is on technique, skill in handling limit weights, basic strength, power, whatever. It allows us to understand why different systems may work equally well by making different trade offs, and even allows us to look at when and where one approach might be preferred over the other.

By the way, I'm thinking that the two factor model isn't even sufficient for powerlifting/basic strength training. You can't explain even something as simple as the Texas Method intermediate approach (3x weekly with volume [5x5], light [3x3] and heavy [1x3] days) just with two factor model -- you need to allow for skill and (especially) CNS training to explain why the basic model isn't one volume day a week.

Greg Everett
09-08-2008, 07:49 PM
I'm considering significantly expanding the programming section in the 2nd edition to do just that - take program design step by step from start to finish.

It's a very tough subject to write about. To be honest, much of it, at least for me, is more intuitive than anything else - I follow rules and steps, but not entirely consciously, and I think a lot coaches are the same way, so it's difficult to translate that into something totally clear and accessible to anyone. Most of the literature I've read on the topic is horribly disorganized, unclear, and far too concerned with obscure statistics rather than prescriptions and reason. I very much wanted to avoid doing that in my book, because the point was creating something very practical and concise. But that has been the one comment I've received consistently - people want more programming info.

Steven Low
09-08-2008, 08:10 PM
Good programming is due to experience and experience with various programs and knowing the factors of why they work why they do. I'm still not quite sure why everyone piled up on me for suggesting you can learn from other programs (no, I did not say use a WSBB template for oly nor did I suggest it's something that can relate specifically to oly -- only that you can learn from how they use dynamic and strength workouts in comparison with each other such as with loading vs. volume vs. assistance exercises vs. etc.). Conceptually, if you understand why things work and how various things related to each other it's that much easier to program.

Simply put I do think there is some value in understanding many various programs. It gives you a good idea of how they were put together. And once you understand the various underpinning of what you want to do with Oly and have a good coach like Greg to help you then you can program something to fit your needs to your hearts content. When I wrote (and still am modifying) "How to construct your own workout routine (http://www.powerathletesmag.com/wforum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1037)" as a basic template for any goals (however not specific to any sport) like Greg said there's basic rules you operate under BUT for the most part you generally cannot assuming SPECIFICS because those tend not to work for everyone. Thus, one of the reasons why I included various templates and examples is because things must be individualized moreso than working solely from someone else's prescription of what you should do.

Also, the Texas Method is a very simple periodized program you might have heard of before called daily undulated periodization (http://www.abcbodybuilding.com/periodization3.php). All periodized workouts operate under the two factor model whether they operate in microcycles of hypertrophy, strength, and power or if they are daily/weekly periodized in terms of alternating rep ranges or volume or the other various factors.

michael cooley
09-09-2008, 10:54 AM
I've given this a lot of thought, and gone through more than a few drafts. The result is certainly lengthy, generally coherent, and hopefully of some value to the ongoing discussion. If you find that I'm saying the same thing that's been said before (and probably better) by Greg, Arien and others, but it helps me sometimes to put things in my own words. If this reads like a re-hash of other people's observations, therefore, my apologies in advance.

If you find a kernel of original thought in the following, well, hey! ... even a blind squirrel finds a few acorns.

In my opinion, the simple answer is that the weightlifter has to do it all. He has to rely on good ol' strength training basics like heavy squatting, DLing, pressing etc.; and he has to get in a lot of HEAVY snatching and clean & jerking - not just technique work. The differences between snatching 85% and 100% are HUGE. If you're not handling heavy, heavy weights in the classic lifts a good portion of your training career, you're simply not going to be as successful as you could be.

Whether you intended it or not, Greg, I think you just articulated the olympic weightlifter’s version of Crossfit's “World Class Fitness in 100 Words.”

I suppose that really is the bottom line. The concepts underlying Practical Programming may not apply directly to weightlifting, but they definitely apply to the generation of the strength base necessary to pull, stand up with and support heavy weights. Joe Mills 20/20 drilling may not generate the excesses of absolute strength that PP does, but it provides the endless repetition with medium to heavy weights necessary to hone the lifts into the realm of the subconscious. A Bulgarian-like focus on a very few, very heavy singles won’t ingrain proper technique, but it quickly exposes fearlessness (and technical deficiencies) under the bar. Each is necessary; none is sufficient.

Therein lies the real challenge – like Greg notes, as weightlifters we have to strike that balance between each of the foregoing. We have to focus on each in its turn, but not to the exclusion of the others lest we completely lose what progress has been made in the past. (This is, of course, by way of confessional as much as observation. I've been very guilty of this in the past). Like the CA WOD, an athlete can focus on the strength base for 4 weeks while still maintaining technique through the light technique sessions and Saturday totals, then turn to the lifts for four weeks and handle some heavier weights in the snatch and clean while maintaining the strength gains from the prior cycle. In the past, focusing on four to six 20/20 workouts in the last few weeks leading up to a meet has been very effective for me in sharpening my technique and building some "meet endurance" to the point where the competition feels like only a fraction of the workload of grueling session of 20 snatches and 20 cleans.

One question I have, though, is about the notion of "cycles" of training in weightlifting -- at least, as they are traditionally thought of. Traditional programming starts from a high volume, low intensity base (sets of 10) and slowly increases intensity as the volume decreases over time. Great for powerlifting; totally impractical for competitive weightlifting (anybody who's completed Crossfit's Grace or Isabel will understand this for sure).

Practical Programming came at it from a different perspective. Start with a more functional level of volume (say, 5x5) and increase intensity. Rapidly. Weekly, if possible. Back off only if/when you stall. Great for strength training but, again, not terribly applicable directly to the snatch and clean. For me, perhaps the single most thought-provoking theme of Practical Programming is the fundamental concept of beginner/intermediate/advanced being defined as a function of recovery ability. Put another way, that training should never be more complicated than is absolutely necessary, and the athlete should always defer to the simplest, fastest method that produces gains. From that, for example, Rippetoe posits that if an athlete can add 2.5 kg to the bar every workout, the athlete should do it.

In the context of improving the snatch and clean, however, gains are much more so a dual function of improvements in either (i) strength, given sufficient technique, or (ii) technique, given sufficient strength.

So what's the fastest way for me to improve my snatch or clean? Unless you're a rank beginner or national caliber and above, I think the answer lies in the serial identification and elimination of weaknesses. Using myself as an example, my #1-current-most-consistent weakness is a failure to finish the second pull - especially in the snatch. From the perspective of pulling weight-to-height, I've got the pull for 100/130 or better, yet I'm currently at about 92/124. Why? At lighter weights, my technical flaw is masked by the fact that I can pull the weight sky-high, such that it still drops into the right position regardless. As I approach 1RM, however, the weight doesn't find the right "catch" position (although I still pull it plenty high enough) unless I finish that second pull. My second biggest weakness right now would be "stand up" strength -- I need more squatting, plain and simple (but then again, who doesn't?).

Given these weaknesses, right now pulls are waste of time for me. More pulling strength right now isn't going to improve my lifts, and it runs the risk that if they don't mirror the lifts exactly, I'll be ingraining bad technique. Same for power cleans and power snatches. NB: If I fix my second pull and my lifts start improving, I will need more pulling strength to turn 100/130 into 107/140, but first thing's first.

I could focus on lifts from the high or low hang, but those haven't proven especially effective for me either. Again, there's the challenge of ensuring that the bar path is matched precisely to that of the full lift. What works best for me right now is singles. Lots of them. With the sole mental cue of achieving "verticality" at the top of the second pull. Sound familar? It's 20/20 drilling.

Of course, doing a jillion perfect snatches and cleans isn't going to do much for my absolute squatting strength, so I need some squatting in there, too. Pick a set-rep scheme (5x5, 3x5, 3x10, 2x6, whatever), pick a starting weight, and add 2.5kg to the bar every time you think you can. If it's it's every squat workout, great. If it's every second or third, groovy. Sound familiar? It's Practical Programming - beginner or intermediate, just keep adding weight to the bar every chance you get.

Now, if I have to work late and my wife is pissed at me for not cleaning up the garage, maybe I only drill 15/15 that day, or I subtract 15kg from the squats and plan for a better workout next time. Sound familiar? It's the "Bulgarian" notion of a daily max -- the notion that you lift to your ability that day, and some days you'll lift better than others.

Now, eventually I'm (finally!) going to become master of the second pull. It might take 3 weeks, or it might take 13 (although I'm sincerely hoping for the former). At that point, with 100/130 squarely under my belt, more squatting and pulling strength will be in order to correct my new "weakness" -- insufficient pulling strength. So, I'll give my joints a much needed rest from the 20/20 drilling and put more of my energy into squats, deadlifts and pulls. Or perhaps I'll find that I can clean anything I look at, but can't jerk it to save my life. Taking a page from Coach Burgener's playbook, more rack jerks or behind-the-neck jerks may be in order.

From this perspective, isn't "cycling" really just changes in stimulus over time? High volume to low volume. Drilling singles to squatting 5x5. Strength phase to peaking phase. At the end of this rather lengthy detour of self-discovery, I guess my point is that cycling -- for weightlifters -- seems to be more about cycling through weaknesses. Over time, and as we (hopefully) improve, our weaknesses will change. By shifting focus from one weakness to the next, perhaps

In looking back through my logs, it seems that I've never progressed so much as when I took one thing -- one goal -- and kept to it long enough to make a difference. Adding a healthy dose of the intuitive sense that Greg alludes to above, I posit that the real "Theory of Everything", for you quantum physicists out there, is to identify your current weakness, find the 20% of effort that maintains 80% of your general ability <<insert obligatory nod to Pareto here>> and turn the remaining 80% of your training energy to eliminating that weakness.

It might not get me to the Olympics, but I'll betcha it gets me to that 100/130 by Christmas.

mpc

Steven Low
09-09-2008, 09:32 PM
One question I have, though, is about the notion of "cycles" of training in weightlifting -- at least, as they are traditionally thought of. Traditional programming starts from a high volume, low intensity base (sets of 10) and slowly increases intensity as the volume decreases over time. Great for powerlifting; totally impractical for competitive weightlifting (anybody who's completed Crossfit's Grace or Isabel will understand this for sure).

Traditional periodization is quite limiting because you detrain in certain aspects. The fact that you have to do the hypertrophy phase or another volume phase over again is essentially a waste of time when you can do skill work and heavy work concurrently. That's why people's forays into conjugate method, daily undulated periodization and other such methods of periodization are now pretty much common while traditional periodization has faded away (relic of like the 70s or 80s or whatver). It is still useful for understanding the principles of periodization though and subsequent modifications from its form into conjugate, daily undulated or others. Not particularly useful in maybe most respects, but good to know in terms the complexity of programming needed to elicit such adaptations. Although it may give you some ideas of how to build a strength micro/mesocycle.

Practical Programming came at it from a different perspective. Start with a more functional level of volume (say, 5x5) and increase intensity. Rapidly. Weekly, if possible. Back off only if/when you stall. Great for strength training but, again, not terribly applicable directly to the snatch and clean. For me, perhaps the single most thought-provoking theme of Practical Programming is the fundamental concept of beginner/intermediate/advanced being defined as a function of recovery ability. Put another way, that training should never be more complicated than is absolutely necessary, and the athlete should always defer to the simplest, fastest method that produces gains. From that, for example, Rippetoe posits that if an athlete can add 2.5 kg to the bar every workout, the athlete should do it.

Well, that's the goal of all [good] programs. Put weight on the bar the fastest. Only problem is when you read that advanced/elite level, it takes much more time and more complex programming to put the weight on the bar as you know.

In terms of training beginners/intermediates and advanced/elite there's going to be obvious differences in programming. For example, maxing out/going really heavy with elites is a good idea especially when working with Oly as Greg has said. This is not very useful with beginners and intermediates where technique needs to be more ingrained and form breaks down so bad at heavy lifts that it's not worth doing.

From this perspective, isn't "cycling" really just changes in stimulus over time? High volume to low volume. Drilling singles to squatting 5x5. Strength phase to peaking phase. At the end of this rather lengthy detour of self-discovery, I guess my point is that cycling -- for weightlifters -- seems to be more about cycling through weaknesses. Over time, and as we (hopefully) improve, our weaknesses will change. By shifting focus from one weakness to the next, perhaps

In looking back through my logs, it seems that I've never progressed so much as when I took one thing -- one goal -- and kept to it long enough to make a difference. Adding a healthy dose of the intuitive sense that Greg alludes to above, I posit that the real "Theory of Everything", for you quantum physicists out there, is to identify your current weakness, find the 20% of effort that maintains 80% of your general ability <<insert obligatory nod to Pareto here>> and turn the remaining 80% of your training energy to eliminating that weakness.

I agree, but it's better thought of in terms of the overall picture or goals. If your weakness is severely debilitating, yes you probably need that 80% into it and the 20% to maintain. It is possible to work multiple things at once although slightly bit harder because Oly is mainly composed of just two movements (although I suppose you can separate clean from the jerk, front squat from the clean, OHS from the snatch). So, for example, if your second pull is just bad on both clean and snatch you're gonna have to do that 80/20 work. Possibly still can work jerk, front squat and OHS strength as well. But.. if it's something smaller.. hey why not work your strength or explosive ability while you're fixing a small weakness.

Essentially, do as much as you can get away with without doing too much to where you're stagnating because you're trying to do too many things at once. Allocate to skill work what you need to fix the problem, and throw the rest into strength/explosive work cycles to get stronger. This may vary widely depending on what point in cycles you are.

Shrug, that's my take. Maybe Greg has a better one.

Arien Malec
09-09-2008, 09:56 PM
I posit that the real "Theory of Everything", for you quantum physicists out there, is to identify your current weakness, find the 20% of effort that maintains 80% of your general ability <<insert obligatory nod to Pareto here>> and turn the remaining 80% of your training energy to eliminating that weakness.

I think that's a very useful framework. It seems to me that an incredibly valuable contribution to the science and practice of weightlifting periodization would set out:

1) The types of training needs a weightlifter has (technique, skill at limit weights, strength, power, mass gain) and the hierarchy of those needs
2) The theory and practice of how to train for those particular needs
3) How training needs may and do conflict (that is, it's generally impossible to focus on strength and skill at limit weights at the same time)
4) How to identify the particular training needs of a weightlifter (i.e., how to identify the key weakness that is limiting the weightlifter from lifting heavier weights)
5) The type or types of programs that are generally useful for working on a training need and how to cycle amongst those programs (i.e., how to put (2) and (4) into practice)

That, plus some discussion of specialized needs (e.g., the absolute beginner, or the contest prep phase), would go a long way towards being a general theory of everything.