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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 11-15-2010, 04:55 PM   #1
Colin McLafferty
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The importance of 3 in 3x5

Hey all,

I do CFFB Amateur program and I've noticed that I can increase weight on my lift each week, but that I can't hit it for all three sets. Clearly, if someone can hit 3x5 at a certain weight s/he is stronger than someone who can hit that weight 1x5. However, for training adaptations, when you hit a PR in a strength program, exactly how important is it that you do 3x5 as opposed to just getting a 5RM PR for one set?

For example today I PRed on my 5RM for bench and I did 2x5 and 1x3 since I failed on the fourth rep of the last set.

My goal is to get stronger. More specifically, I want a double BW deadlift. Here are my stats and lifts:

22 yo male, 6'0 tall, 176#.
Squat: 270x5
Press: 135x5
Deadlift: 325x5
Bench: 200x5 (possibly 205 but for one set only)
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Old 11-15-2010, 05:54 PM   #2
Brad Rasmussen
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just repeat that same weight next week and you'll get your 3x5. I follow the CFSB template for the most part and the same thing happens to me once in a while. For example, last week I was supposed to hit a 3x3 shoulder press @130lbs. I couldn't get the third rep of the first set, so I just kept with the same weight and went with 5x2 instead of decreasing the weight and sticking with 3x3. Now next week when I shoulder press again, I will go with the 3x3 @130 and I'll have the confidence to get it. Or you could go 5 lbs lighter and hit a 5x5, then the next week jump up 5 lbs and go for the 3x5. I've come to the realization that every single week might not be a pr, but as long as most of em are, and I'm hitting my 1rm every six weeks, then I'm happy.
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Old 11-15-2010, 07:44 PM   #3
Colin McLafferty
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

Good point. I think the 6 week mark of 1RM becoming 5RM is a good benchmark. But how about physical adaptation? Does it make my workout useless if I fail on those later sets, or do I get part of the adaptation that is ntended?
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:15 PM   #4
Tyler Schaeffer
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

Scientifically speaking I have no idea....but I do know that if the numbers are going up then you're doing something right

I know that I am doing working sets at 3 x 5 and for instance for back squat today I hit 285/275/275...now during my Friday squat session I hit 275 across, so did I go up across the board, no, but I do feel like I did get a little stronger, sure did.
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:25 PM   #5
Albert Chang
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

Also doing CFFB amateur. Depending on why I failed, I may cut it by 10% and rework my way up. So far I've only failed at a deadlift, so I can only give that example.

My first deadlift fail came at 385lb. It failed because it was 30lbs lighter than my PR, and I'm not ashamed to say I just couldn't lift it. This was the time I cut it by 10% and reworked my way up.

However, not too long ago, I failed at 365lbs. I know I can do 365lbs, I've done it plenty of times. The difference was I didn't have chalk and the bar was really slippery. Next time, I repeated the weight. Went up like cake ...or pie.

If you failed at a weight, but think you can lift it next time, by all means lift it. If there's a real legitimate reason you couldn't lift it, then you may want to consider cutting 10% and rework your way up. I don't have regrets with cutting my deadlift by 30lbs and reworking my way back up.

I wouldn't consider a 1x3 useless. Not the same as a 1x5, but you should still gain something from it.
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:23 PM   #6
Brad Rasmussen
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

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Originally Posted by Colin McLafferty View Post
Good point. I think the 6 week mark of 1RM becoming 5RM is a good benchmark. But how about physical adaptation? Does it make my workout useless if I fail on those later sets, or do I get part of the adaptation that is ntended?
For me the physical adaptation is great. When I miss the last rep of my first 3x3, and switch to a 5x2, I still feel like I'm gaining strength. You're still doing about the same number of reps with the same weight, so in my opinion the workout isn't useless. And the following week when I hit the 3x3 with that same weight, it feels kind of easy, so I know I'm getting the adaptation that's intended, it just took a little longer.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:17 PM   #7
Damon Stewart
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

A lot of Crossfitters miss reps because they go too fast on their heavy sets. Try taking 2 breaths between every rep. Or 3. Experiment. You may find that slowing it down a little allows you to make all your sets.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:39 AM   #8
Ryan Earle
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

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Originally Posted by Damon Stewart View Post
A lot of Crossfitters miss reps because they go too fast on their heavy sets. Try taking 2 breaths between every rep. Or 3. Experiment. You may find that slowing it down a little allows you to make all your sets.
And during the strength phase of the workout, you can take more than 1 minute rest between sets. As your weights become harder you will need additional rest between sets if you really want to give 100%

This is strength training -- not body building, so you don't need to stick to 45 seconds or 1 minute rest between sets (not saying that is what you guys are doing, but I see it often).
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Old 11-16-2010, 08:50 AM   #9
Jason Halm
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

3x5>1x5>0x5
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:50 AM   #10
Justin McGinley
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Re: The importance of 3 in 3x5

Don't rush into increasing the weights. Eventually 5lb jumps will be impossible. If you only go up 5lbs a month, it is still a 60lb increase in a year.

The way I look at it is that I "earned" the right to increase the weight on the bar by not missing the lighter weights.
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