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Thread: New to the program and I have a press question

  1. #1
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    Default New to the program and I have a press question

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    Hi Everyone,
    I'm new to the SS program but not to lifting. I have been a CrossFit Coach for 10+ years, but at 54 I am ready to not be beaten to crap every week.
    I'm 3 weeks in and my press last week I managed 2 sets of 5, 1 set of 3. I decided to only jump 2.5 pounds for my Press work yesterday. I managed 3 sets across at 120.5. The last rep was a grind it went up incredibly slow. My question is do I jump 2.5 pounds still for pressing on Friday or do 80% of yesterday for sets of 5?


    54 years old
    6'.0"
    227 pounds
    Squat 220 5x3
    Bench 160 5x3
    Press 120.5 5x3
    Deadlift 290 5x3

  2. #2
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    The last rep of the 3rd set of 5 will usually be a grind of some sort. But the weight is heavier. This is normal.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twig View Post
    Deadlift 290 5x3
    are you doing 3 sets of Deadlifts? You should only do 1 set of 5 reps

  4. #4
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    I ask this with all sincerity: where did you get the idea that you should press 80% of your weights at any point during the novice linear progression?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maybach View Post
    I ask this with all sincerity: where did you get the idea that you should press 80% of your weights at any point during the novice linear progression?
    I am asking because I want to learn about the SS model, and in the programming book when a lift stalls, there are suggestions to do a heavy day (adding weight) and then a volume day at 80% of what the heavy day was.

    Quote Originally Posted by pd_oldguy View Post
    are you doing 3 sets of Deadlifts? You should only do 1 set of 5 reps
    That was a mistake I am doing 1 set of 5

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twig View Post
    I am asking because I want to learn about the SS model, and in the programming book when a lift stalls, there are suggestions to do a heavy day (adding weight) and then a volume day at 80% of what the heavy day was.
    This is for the squat and it’s a “light” day, less stress, not a “volume day.” It’s also done before you stall.

    The press and bench press programming are adjusted differently. See Nick Delgadillo’s article on intermediate press programming and the several podcasts he’s done with Ray Gillenwater.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2021
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    Hi Twig, which program specifically are you doing? The Novice Linear Progression (NLP)? If so, you should generally be able to progress (ie add 5lbs a workout) for several months before needing to tweak anything.

    If you're not doing the NLP, it's generally recommended that you start with that program, and you should be able to run that program by the book without any modifications for a good 3 months at least.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twig View Post
    I am asking because I want to learn about the SS model, and in the programming book when a lift stalls, there are suggestions to do a heavy day (adding weight) and then a volume day at 80% of what the heavy day was.
    I commend your desire to understand the model. With that in mind, you have misapprehended some of the programming principles in the book.

    You are conflating terminology from two intermediate programming models: the Texas method, which utilizes a slightly lower intensity "volume" day, and a very low volume, high intensity "intensity" day, at a conservative offset (i.e., volume day should be no lighter than 90% of the intensity weights. The Texas method has been copy pasted often so that some people will come to it with figures like 80% for volume day, but this is absolutely not heavy enough for the majority of people. It seems to me this comes from people looking at the volume day weights and trying to make them easier for themselves or their trainees. Very strong or athletic trainees might be able to go as low as 85%, but that's the exception). These days can be separated with a "light day", at 80% of the intensity (or, 90% of volume). That's a key point: 80% is *light weight,* for almost everyone. It is a "break," which someone with a 120 pound press does not need to be taking.

    The "heavy" day comes from the Starr model, more popularly called the heavy-light-medium program, in which a substantial volume of sets at or close to 5RM are performed at the "heavy" weight, and a moderate volume of lighter sets (between 80 and 90% of the heavy weight) is performed on a medium day. People often get confused when comparing these two programs: the intensity day of the Texas method is not a heavy day. The volume day is the heavy day, as anyone who has properly run the Texas method can attest. However, it involves proportionally more work at lighter weights. A Texas method program for a 350 pound squatter might have 315x5x5 on the volume day, 285x5x2 on light day, and 350x5 on the intensity day, whereas an HLM program for the same lifter would entail 350x5x3-5 on heavy day, 285x5x2 on light day, and 315x5x3 on medium day.

    Moreover, these principles only work as described within the framework of the families of lifts, not necessarily each individual lift. The pressing movements in particular occupy the same position in the program, and on a HLM program, you are pressing and benching heavy every week: there is no point at which you "back off" your pressing. The lighter weight of the press means it works as the bench's light day. In the Texas method programming, light days alternate between bench and press as each lift is progressed on alternate weeks, but it is understood that this weight is merely to maintain familiarity with the movement: the 80% press on bench weeks will not drive progress on next week's heavy presses. It is effectively a day, or week, "off." This is not in the book, but many people find the low volume of pressing on the Texas method as proscribed to be unproductive, and elect to press and bench for two days of volume work every week.

    Secondary to all of this: neither of these programs are suitable for anyone who is a novice. Reread the section on "The Advanced Novice": backoffs and light days are indeed included, and the transition to intermediate from late stage novice might see one slowly arrive at either the Texas method or an HLM program, but not until many earlier adjustments are made, which also differ quite significantly among the lifts. For example, a "light day" is only proscribed for the squat. The presses already have a built in "light day" in the alternation of bench and press: pretty much no one ever misses a rep on the press because the press two workouts ago was "too heavy", and so backing off on that lift alone would be foolish. Moreover, any backoff is done extremely conservatively: no more than a 10% offset, and usually often included with a 100% 5 rep PR as a topset. An 80% offset is far too aggressive, especially for the novice. The book understates this, but the presses tend to respond quite well to a reduction to triples: hitting the same weight for 5x3 instead of 3x5. This is likely due to the fact that the presses are inherently, the least efficient lift, utilizing the lowest amount of muscle mass. This goes double for older or female trainees, who will have to make that adjustment sooner. All the proscribed adjustments remain much closer to the structure of novice programming, in which a PR is expected every time the lift is performed. It is only after all these adjustments are made that a heavy/light or volume/intensity split is even considered, and usually by that time the programming structure resembles these models very closely.

    Finally, and almost certainly most importantly, you are not stuck. A "grindy" final rep is not even close to the same thing as a missed rep. You have not missed a single rep. And even missing one rep for two workouts does not firmly categorize you as in need of programming changes. Missing a rep for a single workout is not a plateau, it is at worst a minor speed bump. Failure is something that is addressed when it happens, not something to be planned for. No changes to your programming are needed.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2023
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    starting strength coach development program
    Thank you Maybach.
    I am reading the Advanced Novice section again. The information you provided was very helpful.

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