5×5 Reloaded

So today after some padwork for warmup and specific training, Chris and I jumped into some more structured, more serious strength & conditioning program again.

After some hard thinking, we concluded that after all the instructor courses, seminars and workshops we attended, we still don’t know a better system than the 5×5 program I’ve written so much about on this site. Hence, we’ll do it again.

Anyhow, although they say you should „never change a running system“, we’ve decided to tweak some parameters to even further increase the program’s effectiveness. Let me recap the original program again

  • Monday, Thursday: „Pull“-type movements (horizontal pull, vertical pull) and hip-centered „Stand-Up“-type movements
  • Tuesday, Friday: „Push“-type movements(horizontal push, vertical push) and knee-centered „Stand-Up“-type movements
  • Sets/Reps: 5×5, with progressive load (e.g. 130 in the first set, 132.5 in the second, 140 in the fifth)
  • Rest 1-4 minutes between sets (1 minute between 1st and second, 4 minutes between 4th and 5th)
  • As soon as the 5th set can be completed with acceptable form, add a small plate next time.

As push/pull/standup movements, we chose

  • Deadlift … hip-centered stand-up
  • ATG Front squat … knee-centered stand-up (ATG = ass to the grass, aka a deep squat, in case you were wondering)
  • (tactical) Pull-Up … vertical pull
  • Supinated grip barbell rows … horizontal pull
  • Bench Press … horizontal push
  • Clean & Press … vertical push (+ some technique and explosive strength with the clean)

Basically, that’s what we’ll be doing for the next two months or so again. As mentioned before, however, we’ve decided to experiment with the details.

First off, as mentioned in my previous post „All the crazy stuff… (conditioning 2011-04-23)„, we’ve found some benefits in purely concentric exercise variations. Now obviously, in some cases, concentric only just isn’t practical, but we’ll do it for the deadlift. After each rep, the weight is put back on the mat with the descent being as fast as possible in a safe way. Here we go – today, I did sets from 110kg up to 130kg, with 5kg being added after each set. The technique is somewhat sloppy, but then I haven’t deadlifted heavy stuff for 9 months now, so it’ll get back to normal in no time:

(the first reps isn’t on the clip)

With the pullups and rows, there’s nothing new, so here’s the clips:

We did pullups with 0 to 10kg of additional weight and rows with 60kg-70kg.

A new thing is we added kettlebell swings to the workout. You see, we start the pulling days with deadlifts, so the glutes have approximately half an hour to recover during the pullups and rows. Therefore, we added some kb-swings at the end of the session, to further improve hip strength, this time with a different load and in a very explosive way. I’m pretty sure that little extra will help us with the deadlift quite a bit. As for the rep-range, we’re following Chad Waterbury on this one.

In his t-nation article „the 25 method“ and on many other occasions, Chad said to set a target rep count and work up to that point, regardless how many sets it takes you to go there. Each set is terminated when a rep get slower than the first of that set. Especially with the kettlebell swing, it’s easy to assess a rep’s explosiveness and call it when speed goes south.

Saturday, we’ll do our „crazy stuff“ day, next week we’ll start pushing. For the first sessions, there’s no point in training 4 times a week and burning out – if you’re in a hurry, walk slowly. Also, so as to incorporate our saturday sessions, we’re thinking about doing some A-B-A, B-A-B split (e.g. pulling twice and pushing once in the first week and pushing twice and pulling once in the next). The jury’s still out on that, anyhow, so I’ll give you an update as soon as things are decided.

So long,

take care.

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