planning vs programming
Dave, as you requested, i started up a new thread on what we were just discussing. You said that you don't so much program as you do plan. I was wondering if you would expound on that and how you seek and find progress with your training.
Also, (as if that wasn't enough of a scope for one thread) I'm feeling defeated with my own training. About two and a half months ago, I was making stellar progress. I was hitting a new PR about every four weeks, i was feeling strong and eager to push forward. I took a week off of training to deload and I literally did nothing. When I got back in the gym, both of my lifts seemed not only foreign, but also, heavier than ever. For about two months, i've just been trudging along, but not getting anywhere to the extent that I haven't even been in the ballpark of the PR I set for myself just a short time ago. I was busting my ass on technique, trying to keep the bar close to the body, and now I feel like I need to start over from square one. Lately, as I talked about in my last thread, I've been doing the classic lifts cycle from the book. Today was day one of week five. I hate to even admit it, but when i got in the gym today I couldn't lift what I lifted the last week (which was supposed to have been another deload week at 10% less than week three). Needless to say, I feel like I'm on some sort of downward spiral. I ask myself what my ultimate goal is and that is to get stronger at these lifts--I'd like to actually compete, but I've got a long way to go. I think i can go in either of two directions: continue with this cycle, have me ego suck it up and base my efforts not off my last PR but probably 90% of it, or i could toss in the towel and start the strength cycle which I've been eyeing up for some time. I hate the idea of quitting, but I'm pretty down on myself and want a change of pace.
Further more, as was sort of the discussion in another thread, I desperately want my squat over 300lbs (high-bar and I want that form to be rock solid). Right now, high-bar for me is probably 245-250--I'm terrible at keeping the upright torso. With that goal in mind, I look at Greg's squat volume cycle which I would also like to do, but I don't know what else I could incorporate into my training with regard to o-lifts.
This thread became much more than I intended, but I'm being pulled in different directions and you guys have been awesome so far with your honest feedback and I just wanted to divulge and see if anything comes back.
As always, thanks again for looking at this and giving your time to help people like me.
I'm not a fan of taking time off completely for exactly the reasons you're talking about. Lifting is a skill that needs to be practiced. You just need to modulate the volume and intensity.
I think also you're just experiencing a normal part of lifting/training. There will be times when your training goes to absolute shit and you're convinced it's all over for you. I have to talk lifters off the edge fairly regularly. But things always turn around, and eventually they don't even remember how depressed and frustrated they were because they're back to making progress and feeling good.
Consider everything that's going on outside the gym when you're trying to figure out what's happening as well. Work, family, other stresses can all have huge influence on your training. Also remember that the longer you train, the less frequent the PRs. You can't expect to continue making PRs at the same rate indefinitely.
Have you run that cycle before? It's a tough one. It may simply be too much total volume for you at this point. It also sounds like mentally you're burned out. That cycle is pretty repetitive. Look at the total weekly volume of the last cycles that you found effective for you and compare that to the current one. If it's considerably lower, try cutting back on the classic cycle to get it in range.
Also it's important to keep in mind that with technical lifts, your proficiency is going to be inconsistent at this stage. I kind of think of it like a kid learning his language - kids go through a stage when they start using the wrong past tense variations (like "cutted" instead of "cut") when they used to use the correct ones. As I understand it, this is because formerly they were speaking based on imitation, and now they're learning the actual structural rules, but haven't yet learned all the exceptions, etc. IN other words, as they learn more, sometimes it seems like they're regressing, when really it';s just a natural stage in the overall process.
The cycle you're on is largely about improving technique, and it does so in a way that's very demanding of focus and consequently very draining mentally and physically.
So my point is, Olympic lifts are like this - at your stage, you will go through periods of time when you feel like you;ve never done the lifts before and you're incredibly frustrated and convinced you'll never get better. You have to do your best to stay on track, try to stay positive and ride it out, because it will get better.
This is the summary of all useful knowledge re: planning/programming. All successful training comes down to managing the relationship between intensity, volume (and recovery) so that you can perform the movement, heavier, faster longer... (strength, power, endurance)
All training is learning. All movements are skills, the skill is takes to power clean 100 kilos is minutely different from the skill it takes to powerclean 105k. It may seem nearly the same but your body knows the difference. Yes there are a whole slew of physiological changes that happen in relation to strength/power/endurance training. These are not effects. These are side effects. The goal of training is to DO X better...
Move More Weight.
If you keep your eyes on the goal, everything becomes much much easier.
You with me so far?
Now the main thing I think that I have working for me is that I've had at least two good coaches and I've done a lot of stupid shit. Do enough stupid shit with enthusiasm and you can't help but learn what works. But the key again is have a limited discreet goal.
Having more than one goal = harder.
Having three goals = failure.
It's not that you can't develop several qualities at once, it's that for the most part, you need to do them in a sequence. Training is like building a house. Grading, foundation, framing, sheathing, roof, windows door, interior...etc...
The foundation comes first. The foundation/ BASE is the thing that is most essential to your sport. The foundation is the often the hardest thing to develop, it's going to take the longest amount of time as well. So you start there. Ergo: if you are a thrower, you need to learn to throw first, you do not need to get strong as much as you need to get Good at throwing. You need to be strong enough to hit your positions, that's it. Then you can add strength.
SO...your plan should identify what is the biggest hurdle in front of you NOW. The plan is your strategy for overcoming those hurdles in sequence. By way of example, For Strongman, the biggest hurdle for most lightweights is Strength, .not event proficiency, not strength endurance. Strength Period. Event specific training plays a big role but much more important at the beginning I realized I was nowhere near strong enough...so I worked on that first. I'm still working it as my main focus. Strength exercises are real simple to understand; squatting, pressing pulling and carrying heavy ass weight. Those are the tools used to meet the goal.
For you it may be something different. So..what is the ONE BIG THING..you need to develop to meet your goal? identify that and you can begin to work on a plan.
First, I just want to thank both of you for talking with me on this. I think I'm off the ledge right now (its my off day so when i get back in the gym tomorrow I'll know for sure, but either way I'll be more prepared to deal with the frustration). By the way, does anyone else think the snatch is the weightlifting equivalent to the golf swing? No matter how strong you are, you wont make the lift unless you hit your marks.
Second, I'm going to continue with the cycle and cut back on the other things I'm doing. I was following juggernaut programming for back squat, dead lift, front squat and push press, then doing 5/3/1 for press and barbell rows. the volume is way to high. I think Dave is right and I recently heard someone say, when you have more than 3 priorities, you don't have any priorities. I'm gonna set one goal now: body weight snatch. That's 185 pounds and 20lbs higher than my personal best. If I could set a second it would be 300 lb high-bar squat. I'm going to stay focused on these.
Greg- is there a way to incorporate your squat volume cycle with what I'm currently doing or should I set it aside for now.
Thank you both very much. I'm going to try and stay positive and keep it simple.
So, not to put you on the spot but...what's the goal and what is your plan?
Yikes.... Tht you're stalling and regressing even is not surprising now that you've explained what you're actually doing. Pick a program and follow it. Make modifications if needed, but don't try to combine multiple programs. That's a virtual guarantee for failure.
The classic/position cycle has more than enough work in it. I think the squats end up at 6 or 8 sets of 4 at its peak volume. You definitely dont need to add strength work.
Like Dave asked, what is your goal? If its making big gains in the Olympic lifts through not just refining technique but building strength in the proper positions and movements, then that cycle is a good one... If you actually do it, which means doing it and only it. If you just want to build more general pushing, pulling and squatting strength, it's not the best choice.
Sorry for typos etc - on my phone
Goal: 185 lb (body weight snatch)
The one big thing getting in the way of reaching that goal: consistency in the lift
Plan: build a solid foundation around the technique and capacity of the lift by doing the following
1. Eliminate training distracting me from this goal, i.e. no more 5/3/1 and no more juggernaut method work. (if I feel the need to do more than what the program requires of me it will be abdominal work only)
2. Focus more mental energy on the technical aspects of the lifts. (in another thread I was talking about Tommy Kono and how not to hit your shins. When Greg confirmed and said wait before opening the hips, a light turned on. I've read in the book and heard in this forum a ton of times to wait to open the hips, yet it never really clicked until that thread. All of a sudden the idea of drifting back and extending your legs in the first pull made sense. I don't know why I had to hear it so many times to actually "hear" it. This made me think of the other aspects of the lift I haven't truly begun to understand. by focusing more mental energy on the different aspects of the lifts and bringing them to my workouts, I'll have small victories along the way. Even if I don't make the lift, I can still see progress by making more consistent 1st pulls, etc. I think that progress will help my confidence and keep me a little further from losing my cool in the gym.)
3. Finish out my current cycle. I'm half way through the classic/position cycle (week 5, day 2 is tomorrow). With 6 weeks to go, I think I might be able to salvage something. Not to mention if I went back to day 1 week 1 without first finishing the cycle, I might just go crazy! If the cycle is over before I feel technical consistency, I'm going to have to either repeat or find another cycle that focuses on the same goal but changes things up just a bit like new scenery.
4. Begin Strength and power development phase/transition/strength and power specification phase. By then it'll either be valentine's day or easter and if I haven't reached my goal by then I'll probably self implode.
5. I am going to try to see an olympic lifting coach at least once every other month and I will try to post videos here to share. In addition, I want to continue participating in this forum; I'm continually learning new things and appreciating new ideas--that's really helping me stay positive.
That's all I got. It's a plan and the ultimate goal has been trimmed down to just one: body weight snatch. It'll be a good day when it comes along. Now that you see the plan I've set up here, on the spot, if you have any suggestions I'm all for it.
Thanks again for everything guys,
In short, Simplify the plan. The goal is a BW Snatch, the Weakness is technique, the plan is to make your old weakness your new strength. So you're going to do X....The doing is the key (best bet is to get some eyes on your lifts from a competent coach, this will likely shave about 1-6 months off the process.)
If the plan doesn't fit on a 3x5 card, it's probably not a plan, it's a prescription/program.
Programs can be fine things if you:
A) believe in it,
B) follow it to the best of your ability
C) cut yourself some slack when it doesn't work.
I'm going to work technique and train technique/classic cycles until it is no longer the issue preventing my progress, at which point I'll address strength.
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