Tag Archives: strongfirst

StrongFirst.com Training program template

Craig Marker over at StrongFirst recently wrote a great article about training for their certifications, SFG1 and SFG2.  This group is very well researched and has had lots of success training individuals.  I listen to them and experiment.  As you may know, I enjoy Paval Tsatsouline’s work and StrongFirst has been his most recent project.  Anyway, the article describes cardio training methods for passing the snatch test for their certifications (100 snatches in 5 minutes with a certain bell) and a kettlebell pressing program which will allow you to press bigger bells.  It is based off of Russian training protocols that allowed strength to be gained and maintained for a long, long time.

This article is written with an eye towards kettlebell training but it can be used for any modality.  I have recently pursued strength training through the barbell after achieving 1/2 bodyweight kettlebell press on each side.  In January I am moving to a mixed training modality of kettlebells, barbell, running, and cycling.  I love simplicity and minimalism.  I prefer to minimize equipment use.Ie…I like the idea of a weight, you, the gound and effort. If you want to press something overhead, get it from the ground and put it overhead. Therefore I am going to be training the kb getup, overhead press with the kettlebell, the floor press with a barbell, the zercher squat (barbell), and of course the barbell deadlift.

Now to the point.  I have been using training cycles for beginners as described by Marty Gallagher, Pavel Tsatsouline, and Mark Rippetoe.  After running into this Craig Marker program I have decided to use it over the next year to improve my lifts further while not burning myself out.  In order to simplify the training I decided to create an excel spreadsheet so that I could simply add in my current max and the program would quickly calculate the percentages throughout the program.

Excel – Strongfirst Strength Template 45lb bar- Wave.xlsx

Excel – Strongfirst cardio.xlsx

Note that the cardio is suggested upwards of 30 minutes in the article, I kept it at six weeks so that the two programs would be of similar length.

I am thinking about adding two weeks prior to this cycle. They would be for speed work. I would increase from 40 percent to 60 percent over the two weeks period. This would also allow you to run this program 6 times a year with 4 weeks off for recovery, vacation or life in general. 

What are your thoughts on this?

These templates are based upon a 45 pound standard bar.  My wife and I are going to be training together.  Due to this I will be creating spreadsheets for barbells of other weights.  

I hope you all find StrongFirst, check them out, and enjoy these templates.

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32kg (70lb) kettlebell

Welcome to the family.
Time to get back to work.

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Big Push and a Big Pull: Fitness made simple

Fitness programs should be simple and goal oriented.  Even if the goal is general fitness.  My goal is heavy presses, heavy deadlift, heavy getup and a high level of cardio.  I will achieve this goal through a big push and a big pull day.

A big push and a big pull works the entire body.  Heavy presses, coupled with a heavy deadlift will work your body quickly and efficiently.  Add in some turkish getups as well as some swings and snatches and you can have an entire workout in short order.  Modern day fitness programs rely on constantly changing the workout.  Some modern day fitness instructors rely on the ignorance of their client in order to fleece their gold from their clients.  Our “modern” age would have us believe that we require an expert for everything.  Fitness is not this way.  

If you want to get stronger, lift heavier things more often.

If you want to lose fat, eat healthy and real food, less of it, once a day if possible, lift heavy and perform high intensity cardio…and prioritize sleep.

The human body moves in two major ways.  Through a big push and a big pull.  As individuals we either pick things up from the ground or put things overhead.  Two movements cover the basis of movement for human strength.  The deadlift works the entire posterior chain as well as the core in particular.  The press covers the rest of the body.  In addition to these two movements I suggest adding in swings/snatches for high rep high intensity cardio as well as the turkish getup as a great movement to teach the interconnectedness of the human body.

Due to the fact that individuals can only do a few things well at any given time, my workout program has been broken down into two routines covering only 4 days a week.  A big push and a big pull day.

Big Push Day

Kettlebell Turkish Getups x 3 minutes with a focus on irradiation, tension, and form.  More for tension practice and time under the bell.  Only three minutes in order to allow me the full use of my faculties while pressing.

After the getup my focus turns to ladders of kettlebell clean and presses.  Heavy ladders of kettlebell clean and presses in a heavy, light, medium format as described by Pavel Tsatsouline in ‘Enter the Kettlebell’.  Increasing the weight as you become comfortable with the full heavy day of presses.

It sounds simple but remaining focussed during the presses can be tough.  It is important to focus on the correct movement throughout.  

Odd as it may seem, the final presses that I do often feel like my strongest.  This is because the fatigue that begins to set in forces me to use my entire body to press the bell.  By using the entire body I mean that I tense my entire body more thoroughly.  Not kipping or cheating the bell up.

Big Pull Day

Big pull day starts with the deadlift.  There’s a multitude of ways to focus on the deadlift.  I perform sets of 5 in the standard prescribed by Pavel Tsatsouline in ‘Power to the People’.  I will have increase the weight with each workout while cycling the weight overall.  This will allow continuous progress.  Furthermore, I will have a heavy day and a lighter day.  The heavy deadlift day will start with the workout weight for 5.  drop 10% for another 5, then drop another 10% for the duration of sets of 5 until form breaks or most likely to a total of 5 sets.  The light day will consist of the same, but with the last sets not going over 4 sets.  The amount of reps/sets will decrease as the weight increases, peaking with a new PR of 1-3 reps.  At this time I will cycle the workout weights down and then increase once again to progressively heavier lifts.

After this is completed I perform swings or snatches to finish out the day.

The Goal

The goal of my program is to be able to deadlift 400 pounds, press the 106 pound kettlebell with each arm, do a getup with the 106 pound kettlebell, and snatch the 53 pound kettlebell 200 times in 10 minutes. I currently weigh 165 pounds at 5’10.

The Plan

For the next few months It is my intention to bring my deadlift up to a 300 pound range for sets of 5 as well as to become comfortable with the 70 pound kettlebell.  At that point I will increase the press to the 88 pound kettlebell and work on the 106 pound kettlebell until next December while bringing the deadlift to the 400 pound range.  

While I work on the 70 pound press and until I get the deadlift up to the 300 pound range I am going to have a 5 day workout program.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will be dedicated to pushes.  Tuesday and Thursday’s are dedicated to the pull.

My 4 day program is as follows.

Monday – getup and “heavy” presses (upward of 5 sets of russian ladders to 5, 75 total presses/side)

Tuesday – “light” deadlift and swings

Wednesday – off day

Thursday – getup and “medium or light” presses (5 sets of russian ladders to 3 or 4, 30 or 50 presses/side depending on how I feel)  Will lean towards medium presses.

Friday – “heavy” deadlift and snatches

It is my belief that this program will allow me to reach a high level of strength and general fitness over the next year by applying everything that I have learned in terms of fitness and nutrition.  

Check out the top of the page in order to find quick links to previous articles.  There is lots of information about cycling of your workout and nutrition.

The Beauty of Barefoot

Remember growing up barefoot.  The brilliance of running, jumping and playing sans shoes.  Hardly a care in the world was envisioned as a barefooted child. There was always something grounding to it.  You felt more alive.  Truth is there is something to that.  There is good evidence that going barefoot allows you to be grounded to the Earth which then allows free electron transmission from the Earth to your body.  These electrons act as a very powerful antioxidant which could reduce inflammation in the body.  As we know, inflammation is the base cause of many chronic disease.  There is actually a documentary called Grounded that you can watch for a short time on YouTube covering a lot of this information. On the flipside a well respected Doctor that I work with recently stated that skin is not a very good conductor and he thinks that it is highly unlikely.  Of course as a Paramedic it is clear that the skin is capable of conducting electricity as shown through the example of defibrillation of a patient.  Beyond this I tend to side with nature and the simple fact that our long lost ancestors did not wear shoes and we are not born with shoes.

Beyond these aspects it has been shown that running barefoot or with barefoot/minimalist shoes is a great way to prevent injury.  Injuries are prevented by the natural changes in your running style that allow your body to use your lower extremities as the shock absorbers that they are.  With the current running shoe fad the heel of the foot strikers first while running.  This is caused by the shock absorber in the shoe eliminating the pain that you would otherwise have with this type of rhythmic event.  However, running this way causes the body to have a shock from the heel to the hip joint.  After years of this people begin to notice pain the the knees and hip joint from the constant rhythmic pounding.  On the other hand, when you run barefoot your toes touch the ground first and your heel touches down much lighter.  This creates a spring like motion that reduces the impact of the running.  Therefore your joints remain safer.  You also run with a smoother quicker motion that is more under your body instead of in front of your body when you run barefoot.  This quick video demonstrates many of these points.

Beyond all of this there is also information that is available that shows that barefoot or minimalist lifting is good for the body as well.  Two of these reasons are given in “Power to the People” by Pavel Tsatsouline.  Loads of other fitness resources and equipment such as kettlebells can be found at dragondoor.com.  Dragon Door is a fantastic resource.

1. Padded shoes can displace the center of gravity of the lifter leading to unnatural body mechanics.

2. There are reflexes that the body has based upon pressure the body senses.

Because of these issues I have chosen to lift barefoot outside these days.  I also perform all of my kettlebell exercises barefoot as well.  If it is too cold I will wear wear Chuck Taylors which many regard as the best all around shoes for weight training due to their minimalist design and thin soles.  Say nay to the naysayers and refuse those that would force your feet into a struggled tight existence.  Free your feet as nature intended and enjoy the world as we were meant to.  It just makes sense if you were to think about it.

As with every change you want to start out lighter and with less intensity for your body to be able to compensate for the changes.  These techniques should allow the body to compensate for any aspects of poor mechanics.  Your body will become stronger in the areas that you are weak which will then allow you to perform heavier more intense exercise without injury due to that misbalance.  Always remember to lift intelligently and within your limits.  It is important to remain healthy while you are becoming stronger.  That should certainly not scare you off of attempting heavier weights though.  Form is the key to remaining healthy. Challenge yourself within the limits of proper form.  

On a side note I just ran across StrongFirst: The School of Strength and I have become quite intrigued.  It looks as though Pavel Tsatsouline is the Chairman of StrongFirst.  I must look into it more.

Enjoy training one and all.  Lets get stronger.