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Thread: Bang for the Buck

  1. #1
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    Default Bang for the Buck

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    I've been reading "Science and Practice of Sport Training" by Zatsiorsky and "Special Strength Training" by Verkhoshansky this week and thinking about how I can develop my strength program on purpose.

    For the last two years I have simple adopted cookie cutter programs. Starting Strength/Advance Novice, DC, and now 5/3/1 with varying degrees of success.

    As I am NOT an athlete programming for events and sporting seasons isn't what drives me. I've got this generic objective of bigger, stronger, harder to kill in no particular order.

    I've gotten much bigger and stronger but I'd be pretty easy to kill.

    What I find myself wondering is whether it might not be most beneficial to program for the most reward for the least effort in any one macro-cycle while attempting to simply maintain the other general strength characteristics.

    For example my limit strength is very slow to move as I've got it solidly into the intermediate range. My conditioning however sucks donkey dick and I am winded very easily. I'm also slow. While I can move fairly heavy weight my ability to explode is genuinely poor. And not terribly surprisingly my endurance is weak.

    Similarily the effort of losing 20 pounds of fat would be about the same effort as putting on 2 pounds of muscle but the effect of losing 20 pounds of fat would generally be better.

    Is there a reason that we don't program to reduce weaknesses rather than develop strengths? It seems like return on effort might be significantly higher if one maintained at least an intermediate level of General Strength characteristics rather than attempting to achieve advanced/elite special strength skills without a baseline of the other strength characterics.

    Crossfit seems to think randomness is the way to achieve an appropriate level of general physical preparedness. To me this seems upside down.

    Not sure if I'm raving or thinking clearly at the moment.

  2. #2
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    Whatever the question, CrossFit is not the answer.

    I think what you need to do is find a way to make your goal more specific. What do you want your end state to look like, and what do you have to be able to do at that end state? Get from "harder to kill" and "better conditioning" to something a little more specific. Finding a sport to compete in is an easy shorthand way of acquiring a bunch of goals that might line up with the notional goals you have, but that's not really necessary. I think people do work on attacking weaknesses and maintaining strength rather than merely getting stronger at the time, but it's a matter of what your goals are. For a powerlifter, there's no point in doing that: all you care about is your total. For a football player, if you have a 600# deadlift, the effort it takes to get to 650# (if you ever get there) is probably better spent on something else if you have to make the choice. At the end of the day, though, even weakly formulated goals like yours can be attacked with vigor. Your concern, "I want to stay strong, but I want to improve conditioning and lose some fat and be able to do something besides just waddle to the squat rack," sounds a lot like what Wendler was going through when he started up 5/3/1. So, I think Wendler is the luminary to follow at this point.

  3. #3
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    Maybe you're just overthinking it a bit?

    If your conditioning sucks, then do some conditioning. Conditioning is far simpler than getting strong-- its just a matter of putting in some hard work a couple times a week. Back off of your squats and deadlifts a bit while your legs adjust to the workload and throw in some hill sprints, prowler pushes or anything relatively short (under 15 or so minutes) but at a high intenisty and your conditioning will quickly improve.

    Getting strong requires good programming, but getting in shape just requires you to get out there and do something.

  4. #4
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    You're raving LOL.

    You sound a bit like me - you like lifting weights but have a job/girlfriend/family/social life/study to tend with as well.

    I think 5/3/1 is really good for people like you and me - we need something short, not overly complicated but is going to produce consistent results over a long period of time. 5/3/1 and westside (a bit advanced for us) are good in that you can do them for a long time - 5-10 years without having to rotate routines like those on bb.com do 'did hst, gonna go max-ot...'

    If I were you I'd do 5/3/1 with some kind of conditioning to lose the love handles you've got - even something simple like sprintbacks 1-2 a week would do it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarverM View Post
    Getting strong requires good programming, but getting in shape just requires you to get out there and do something.
    Not EXACTLY true... getting out there and doing something can negatively affect your getting strong. I gave up hill sprints when I started moving weight that seemed tough. Recovery is very important.

    The good news is that the effort required to stop totally sucking at something is generally pretty small. Do a Couch-To-5k program (google it) if you want that kind of endurance (5k isn't exactly long distance running and should be done in less than 30 minutes). Find a steep hill and do some short sprint programming if that's the sort of cardio ability you'd like. Switch from strength training to a Oly program - those are usually gassers from what I have seen. Give it a shot, it won't kill you

  6. #6
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    I've moved the laptop to the treadmill. Developing intermediate special strengths requires as much or more effort than limit strength. Limit strength is one of the easiest characteristics to develop and provides a HUGE bang for the buck in the first few years but I can say with pretty strong certainty that the year it will take to move my deadlift from 455 to 500 and bit will not provide me with the same bang for the buck that moving it from 135 to 300 did in the first year. Diminishing returns.

    Sled dragging/Prowler pushing/Sprint Training might very well have more value than 45 pounds on my deadlift in the same year. Recovery is a limited asset so you do have to choose how you spend it.
    Last edited by RobertFontaine; 07-26-2010 at 09:48 AM.

  7. #7
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    What are your lifts currently, and what do you believe your limitations or shortcomings are?

    The great thing about a sport is it provides built-in goals and a built-in timetable. Both of which you seem to lack.

    Even if you take your statement about "program[ming] for the most reward for the least effort in any one macro-cycle while attempting to simply maintain the other general strength characteristics." you still have to define what you mean by "most reward" and "maintain strength."

    For example, a 300 pound squat will likely be easier to maintain while doing other stuff than a 700 pound squat.

    And do you mean "most reward" in terms of body comp, increased strength, increased conditioning? Decide what kind of reward you seek, put some numbers on it, and we can probably make better suggestions.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertFontaine View Post
    Sled dragging/Prowler pushing/Sprint Training might very well have more value than 45 pounds on my deadlift in the same year. Recovery is a limited asset so you do have to choose how you spend it.
    FWIW, I consider work with the sled and prowler as part of my recovery. I usually feel better physically after a short dragging session. Talk about bang for your buck.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddmr View Post
    What are your lifts currently, and what do you believe your limitations or shortcomings are?

    The great thing about a sport is it provides built-in goals and a built-in timetable. Both of which you seem to lack.

    Even if you take your statement about "program[ming] for the most reward for the least effort in any one macro-cycle while attempting to simply maintain the other general strength characteristics." you still have to define what you mean by "most reward" and "maintain strength."

    For example, a 300 pound squat will likely be easier to maintain while doing other stuff than a 700 pound squat.

    And do you mean "most reward" in terms of body comp, increased strength, increased conditioning? Decide what kind of reward you seek, put some numbers on it, and we can probably make better suggestions.
    Exactly

  10. #10
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    Dec 2009
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    Long island, NY
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    starting strength coach development program
    ok simple fix.

    you lift get bigger , get stronger no problem. if i'm reading this right you plod along like an elephant but now want the reflexes of a tiger? thus the harder to kill part?

    ok.

    get a car /truck tire and modify it so u can add plates . either go to a field or a beach and briskly pull it.

    get a heavy bag and beat the hell out of it----learn to jump rope


    take up martial arts or a kick boxing course

    and by all means keep lifting.

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