Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making Off Season Strength Gains

This CF games off-season I've been very intentional about gaining overall strength. In recent weeks, there have been a ton of interviews and articles with CF games athletes who say they've also been working towards making strength gains in the off-season. In a November video of a conversation on the topic of making off-season strength gains between CFHQ coaches, Nadia Shatlia and Dave Lipson, there are some great points made- many of which I've noticed in my training over the last month:

1. In order to gain strength, you must be willing to gain some mass. If you place more emphasis on hitting the primary lifts using heavier loads, yet continue to repeatedly crush yourself in 15 to 30+ minute conditioning efforts, you'll likely diminish the effect of your strength returns. You've gotta pick your battles in the box. For me, this has meant to hit at least 4 or 5 strength biased workouts per week while only performing one or two 3-10 minute met-cons and 1 chipper style WOD per week.
2. Milk does a body good. Unless you're a strict Paleo person, are lactose intolerant (in which case I'd recommend Lactaid), or can't handle farting all day like a CHAMP (and, boy, does my wife know I can handle it), milk is one of the best ways to help you not only recover- but also to gain mass.
3. Eat lots and eat clean. On the first part- EAT LOTS: You need the calories to build back up that which your training has destoyed. On the second- EAT CLEAN: Keep it simple; avoid processed foodstuffs and sugars and stick to lean meats, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and little starch. Glassman said it best: "You won't perform like a high-powered machine if you're always pissing in your gas tank." Even doing this MOST of the time will result in improved overall athletic performance.
4. Determine if your lack of strength is due to neuromuscular insufficiency (technique, proprioception, mechanics, etc), the fact that you've tapped out your contractile potential i.e. you need to gain mass, or perhaps a bit of both. Over the past month, as I've PR'd on many of my primary lifts, I realized that for me, it was both. In many cases, I may have already had the strength to move the weight but what was lacking was the "learned" aspect of actually executing or successfully completing the lift. Bottomline: Slow down. Practice. Go through appropriate progressions. Warm up properly. Allow for gradual accommodation to larger loads. It'll all pay off.

Anyway, that's about enough of my musings for one night...Here's what my past couple of days of training have been like: After hitting yesterday's CFS strength piece of Thruster 4-4-4-4-4 (I reached 230lb x 4 and 235lb x 3), Andy Koch and I did the conditioning WOD of 16 minutes of Wallballs (20lb) for max reps. One person works at a time. Our strategy was to perform sets of 35reps for as log as possible. We made it through 5 full rounds each (Actually 6 for Andy) until at rep number 26 I finally hit the wall and dropped the ball. At this point there was about 3 minutes remaining and it became more of an all out gut-check- at least for me. Andy caught what he called a "second wind" and continued to forge through sets of 20-35 and I managed to trudge through smaller sets of 15-25 all the way to the finish. In 16 minutes the medball touched the ground only twice. Our transitions were always seamless. We switched out by passing off the ball mid-air to the next person who would slide in and continue working. Our grand total was 522 reps of 20lb Wallballs in 16 minutes. Needless to say, today I'm wrecked.

With this in mind, for my training today I decided to go for 30 Muscle Ups for time. My hope was to beat my previous best time of 4:56. As always, I flew through the first 20 and then slugged through the last 10. However, today I slugged 11 seconds faster and PR'd with a time of 4:45. Here's the video of my effort:

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