Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Training With Freedom
I've been in a training "rut" recently and after reading several blogs of other fitness folks, it seems to be going around. For the past 4 months I have been following the Conjugate/Westside system, check out a sample here. Basically 2, max effort days (Upper/Lower) and 2 dynamic days (Upper/Lower).
While I was experiencing solid strength gains and performing new movements with bands and chains, my body started to fall apart the last few weeks. More importantly my mind was bringing me down.
When I went to the gym it felt more like a chore, the passion and drive I had during January and February were gone. When the mind isn't connecting with the body the intensity of a training session is pretty mundane.
I was training to get stronger, not for powerlifting, just for my personal pride.
I was doing movements specifically to increase my bench, squat, and deadlift. From an outsiders view my training sessions appeared to be focused on an up coming powerlifting meet. However, there was no meet.
Max Effort Board presses, Max Effort Good Mornings, and 8 sets of 3 dynamic bench w/bands were getting me stronger and I was winning the competition against my only opponent, myself. Then the gains and progress slowly started evaporating.
The final straw was when I got "planted" on a Max Effort Box Squat that wasn't even that heavy, I said "screw this" and decided that at my age (36) I should focus on a style of lifting that makes me feel younger. Not being able to get my ass off that box made me feel like a old, tired slug.
I read a blog from Bret Contreras regarding "abandoning your strength goals" and that seem to be the turning point.
I needed to make lifting fun again. I needed to do something that made me "fired up" when I thought about the gym.
After reading articles on various websites and looking at some training logs of some off my "peers", I put some exercises and set/rep schemes in a blender and came up with my tentative plan.
Strength is still my main focus, but not at the expense of feeling beat up and run down. I'm not going to be that guy deadlifting 225 for 5 and calling it a day, but I certinley won't be going for a max effort lift each week.
Increasing mobility/flexibility and improving body composition are some things that I hope to achieve with my break from a "structured routine". Olympic lifting movements with the addition of sprinting and plyometric training sessions can achieve better mobility and also improve work capacity.
Conor Nordengren had a great article about why trainers shouldn't write their own training programs, and I wholeheartedly agree, most of the time. However, at this point in time100% "instinctive training" seems the approach that will light a fire under my ass when I walk into the gym.
While I still am in the works of getting my actual "plan" dialed in, I have some guidelines that need to be incorporated:
-I will enter the gym with all out "intensity" every training session.
-I will be lifting 4 days a week, Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday
-I will perform Olympic Lifts 2x a week (Snatch, Clean with variations)
-I will squat 3x a week (Heavy, Light/Rep Work, Dynamic or Front)
-I will deadlift once a week (Following Wendler's 5/3/1)
-Friday is "Pump, Bodybuilding, Meathead" day (Don't judge me....)
-Prowler, Sled Work or Hill sprints must be done 2x a week.
-Steady state cardio will be done for at least 20 min 3x a week.
-Training 2 times a day is okay if programmed correctly.
-Leg Extensions, cable crossovers, and tricep kickbacks are still LAME!
Over the next 4 weeks I'm going to keep track of my "unconventional" plan and see where it takes me. Then it's time to retest my lifts and go back to one of the best programs ever, 5/3/1.
While I'm following my "Freedom Routine", I'll be taking some notes and keeping track or exercise selection, sets, and reps. I'll evaluate progress or if things don't go so well, I'll chalk my little experiment as a learning experience.
If going to the gym seems like a "task" instead of an "event", maybe it's time you train with a little freedom and be a little unconventional, it might be just what your body and mind need.