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Beast Mode + Workout Notes

The workout on Friday was probably the first time in a while that I felt like I really messed up at the sessions; we needed to do the back squats from the racks so we could go heavier. But this really got me thinking a lot about barbell strength and lifting heavy weights. This is a topic that I ponder and has been covered on this site a handful of times - most famously in the editorial What is Strength? from the glory days of 2015. This topic also popped up in my head while watching college football over the weekend and seeing players continuously tap their helmet to ask for a sub, and also at our basketball open gym while noticing how much more our kids complained about getting fouled when they were tired. And also watching Planet Earth II.

I really, really think CrossFit hit the nail on the head with how they approach building strength. If you can do a 400-lb. deadlift then big ups to you. If you can do a 300-lb. deadlift in the middle of a brutal workout with running and pull-ups mixed in, then you are a different breed of beast.

Strength, in real life, is very, very rarely expressed at full rest. The ability to be strong, - in as many varieties as possible, while being tired is something that I need, you need, my grandma needs, baby Josh needs, and Shea Patterson needs. (Chase Winovich seems to have that covered.) A lot of attention was given last year to Saquon Barkley cleaning 400-lbs.

This is absurd. I would also love to see what his capacity would be doing Elizabeth (even if he needed to up the weight to 155 or 185 pounds). I think most coaches and programs will be blending strength with conditioning sometime in the future - probably when the younger coaches move up in the ranks - but until then it's mostly theoretical, though backed with some good anecdotes.

As far as our gym goes, it's tough to judge purely by numbers because of the variety of athletes. Alexis Anthes is a high school sophomore with 3 months of CrossFit experience and an average strength base coming from Coach T. NuNu is an 8th grader who's feet might well have never both been off the ground at the same time before joining in May. Jay is Jay. Mrs. Pip is Mrs. Pip. Saporito, Elizabeth, and Cecilia are all back in college. I would say Katie Shakes has a perfect capacity of being strong while tired, but then I'll watch her do a push-up in Cindy and reconsider.

Mostly, I judge things based on my gut feeling. We had to get our technique on point at the end of the spring/start of Summer, then we needed to build some stamina in the legs and feet. Now I really think it will help us to feel some heavier weight in the workouts. I don't like it. And Murley/Shannon might not come back until we're through this phase, but I think it's a big part of getting a great effect from workouts like Friday or today. I don't really want any 500-lb. deadlifters, or 300-lb. cleaners, but I would like to see what kind of capacity we can develop with heavier weights within the confines of a workout.

What does this look like? Well as luck would have it, our 8:30 am session did a nice job of showing us this morning.

Normally, Mrs. Pip would have been at 65 lbs., Schornack at 25 or 35 lbs., and Mrs. Kroll at 35 lbs.; here they were at 85, 45, and 55 respectively. Not huge increases, not a weight that would be a big sick of injury, just a little extra something that might require them to slow down a bit and really zone in on the lift. I thought the technique was really good considering it was the third round. Yes, it was technically supposed to be a power clean, but as long as the squat position looked good I wasn't going to mention anything; they already had enough on their mind. Either way, all three were able to keep their positions pretty well with a weight heavier than usual.

More to come!

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Reader Comments (12)

Barbell strength is almost never overrated. If you are training sans barbell - I'm looking at you Insanity and P90X - you're missing a critical aspect of fitness. Period.

October 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMel

Definitely. Most of basketball-specific trainers I know avoid barbell work in favor of like med ball twists and weird accessory drills with bands or something. Same with runners.

October 8, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

yeah i know basketball coaches have been downright stoopid about lifting - the prevailing thought...from like the 70s...was that it ruins your jump shot. the truth is lifting doesn't bother your shot so long as you keep doing shooting drills.

i also remember being the lone track athlete who was in the weight room doing power cleans - confession: i probably geek out a bit on power clean, has always been my favorite lift - but i know having that additional power was helpful

October 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMel

Amen on the first point. I messed that up after my freshman season. I really got into CrossFit training more than ever (as in going rx'd and shooting for prs every time) and didn't keep up with shooting on my own like I needed to. I did get a lit stronger, but it took me a bit to find my touch again.

October 8, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

Why do you like power cleans so much?

October 9, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

Why do you like power cleans so much?

October 9, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

Incorporate more floor press into workouts. It’s the true lift of premier athletes everywhere.

October 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Evan Pugh on the website? I'm impressed. Would you compromise and take reverse bicep curls instead?

October 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChris Sinagoga

Probably b/c I'm good at them. Even in h.s. they sorta just clicked - atlhough I totally starfished, my FB coaches didn't know enough to correct it. My bench was weak and my squat was average, but I was near the top for my weight on power cleans.

Sad but true, my 1RM power clean is only 5# less than my 1RM squat clean.

October 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMel

Power cleans are the sh*t! My squats suck so any time I can do a power clean (or snatch) I"m happy. Like Mel, my power clean 1RM is pretty close to my full clean max.

October 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterWendy (BMW)

Not that uncommon. There's a few people in here (Jennifer and Erica who come to mind) that can power clean more than squat clean. Just something else to work on!

October 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChris Sinagoga

Reverse bicep curls are acceptable. I also recommend using protein powder as a primary source of nutrients.

October 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

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