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Old 09-08-2008, 08:49 PM   #21
Greg Everett
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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.
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Old 09-08-2008, 09:10 PM   #22
Steven Low
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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" 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. 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.
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Old 09-09-2008, 11:54 AM   #23
michael cooley
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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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Everett View Post
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
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:32 PM   #24
Steven Low
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Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:56 PM   #25
Arien Malec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michael cooley View Post
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.
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