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Our brand new CrossFit ON RAMP classes start tonight at 8pm with Coach Shane!
2 steps forward, 1 step back…then 2 steps forward again
By Coach Fox
In the beginning, there was progress. Oh, sweet progress. You had just started working out and it seemed like for those first few months (or even years!) nothing could stop you. Each time you squatted, more weight went on the bar. Each time you power cleaned, it got faster and heavier. You started to see visible muscle through ever-diminishing fat stores and life was good. So what happened?
When a trainee is new to the iron game any stimulus will do wonders for strength gains and physique changes. Call it beginner’s luck if you want. Those of you who have been at it for some time now may have noticed a “plateau”. Well, OF COURSE! If linear progression (adding weight to the bar each time you revisit a lift) worked indefinitely we’d all have 1000+ squats by now. Every so often a few things are necessary to allow making more gains. Enter 2 steps forward, 1 step back.
– Make sure you have a de-load week programmed in (at CrossFit South Brooklyn call this Back-Off Week). Your body has been stressed for the last 4 weeks (good stress, but stress nonetheless) and it needs a break. Continuing to ask your body to work harder without rest is a recipe for a breakdown either now or down the road. It may be acute like a joint or soft tissue injury, or chronic and subtler like hormonal imbalances and fatigue. Any of these can hamper progress. You can’t be All Max Effort All The Time Gal/Guy and expect good things to keep coming. De-load weeks are smart.
– When the next Press/whatever cycle comes along, don’t think you should start off at the weight you finished the last cycle at. Say you finished at 100 x 5 x 5. If you start at 90 or even 85 and add 5 lbs to each of the next 3 exposures you’ll have added 5-10 lbs to your previous best. Some athletes would KILL for those 5-10 lbs!
– When you hit a wall you need to re-evaluate and re-set your numbers, same principle as above. You’re on target to squat 300x5x3 but fail at rep 3 in the 2nd set and rep 1 in the 3rd set. You say, “I didn’t get enough sleep last night (and quietly think to yourself about last night’s toga party…), I’ll hit it next time”. Well, next time you don’t make all your reps either. Don’t just keep banging your head against the same wall. Take 10 – 20% off of that number and MAKE all your reps. You’ll get a training effect because you will actually be SQUATTING, not just attempting to squat. Start building up again from your new number and see where it goes.
Don’t be afraid to back off, and don’t hold on so tightly to your ego’s idea of what weight should be on the bar that it prevents you from training intelligently. Working sub-maximally allows you to focus on QUALITY of movement as well (that’s another article in itself though). Not sure where/when to reset your numbers? Just ask. 3 Cheers to progress.