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

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Old 08-21-2010, 03:19 PM   #1
Jared Ashley
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Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

Background: 28/M/5'7"/135, crossfitting for 3 years, mostly using strength-biased programming.

Goals: Get my CFT back above 700, maintain metcon, but more interested in metcon endurance and strenth endurance than getting a 3-minute fran or hitting all WOD's "as Rx'd". I would like a 6:00 mile. General fitness for hiking and backpacking with large elevation changes. Run a marathon by the end of 2011 at 10:00 pace or better. I am ok with gaining strength very slowly.

Plan: 5/3/1 + metcon usually 3 days a week. I am happy at my bodyweight so am not eating to gain mass.

5/3/1 sets are as prescribed. The last set in the beginning was always to true failure (I set safety bars in the squat rack for squat and bench). Move squat and dead up 10 lbs per cycle, bench and press up 5 lbs per cycle.

Accessory work I just do the same movement for 3 sets of 10. Started at 50% of max, move up very slowly (2.5 lbs per week or less).

After the lifts I do a main-page WOD. I write down a month of them and just go through the metcons in order, skipping the strength workouts. I'm not doing "heavy" metcons, as I'm more interested in endurance/strength endurance. I know this will slow strength gains, and am ok with that. Rx'd weights are usually too much at 135 lb BW so I generally use 75% of what's posted, and keep everything else as prescribed.

I treat the de-load week as a 1/2 intensity week. No accessory work, and WOD's are 1/2 volume, 50% of posted weight, and done at a more moderate intensity.

After the de-load week I do a CFT. I know Wendler says this isn't necessary, but I want to track 1RM's. Main-page usually has a CFT every month or two anyway.

Results:

Bench:
Cycle 1: 135x7, 140x5, 150x3, tested 1RM: 160
Cycle 2: 140x7, 145x6, 155x1, tested 1RM: 165 (tied PR)

Squat:
Cycle 1: 200x10, 215x7, 225x6, tested 1RM: 260
Cycle 2: 210x11, 225x7, 235x4, tested 1RM: 270 (tied PR)

Press:
Cycle 1: 92.5x8, 97.5x5, 102.5x4, tested 1RM: 115
Cycle 2: 97.5x7, 102.5x5, 107.5x3, tested 1RM: 117.5

Dead:

Cycle 1: 245x9, 260x6, 275x4, tested 1RM: 280
Cycle 2: 255x5, 270x3, 285x1, tested 1RM: 295

CFT went from 655 to 682.5... back above 5x BW (PR 705)

Thoughts:

Overall I like it. I like setting rep records every workout and I like the slower ramping vs. CFSB and most strength-bias programs. I feel 5/3/1 is more compatable with doing longer metcons. I don't seem to run into the problems that CFSB has where for example if it's "press" day then you need to adjust the WOD to avoid pressing. I'm less sore.

I really like doing the last set to true failure, with the exception of deadlifts. After the 1st cycle I decided I will NOT do deadlifts to failure, but rather just do the 5, 3, or 1 rep... going to failure felt horrible and invited poor form and injury.

I like that if I miss a workout it's not really a big deal, I just start where I left off. Most programs are week-based and if you miss one it feels like you're behind.

The results seem appropriate... I'm setting rep records every workout and 1RM increased the way I expected. We'll see how this pans out over more cycles. Metcon-wise, I feel I'm holding steady. I've set a few PR's, and come up short of PR's other times. I like being back to longer metcons. Short metcons are nice sometimes but I recover better from longer ones.

I believe 5/3/1 + metcons would work very well for a lot of different goals. If you do short, heavy metcons and eat for mass gain I think you'd make HUGE strength gains over time and drastically increase your metcon capacity. Linear progression will obviously provide faster gains, but it gets hard to recover from when you get heavy. For those like me who are very busy (full time work + full time school), this recovery is key, since the typical advice of "eat more and cleaner, get more sleep, ect" isn't always realistic. 12-hour shifts where you walk 10+ miles/shift plus 20 hours of school & clinicals plus homework/studying is not condusive to recovery.

I will continue through the 3rd cycle and post again. For those considering 5/3/1 hybrids, it is absolutley critical that you commit to several cycles... doing 1 or 2 cycles and moving on won't get you anywhere. If you want to make massive strength gains in a short period and keep a little metcon, do something like SS + 1 metcon a week, drink your milk, and eat a freaking ton of food. this is for the long haul.
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Old 08-21-2010, 05:45 PM   #2
Chris Mason
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

How long are these cycles?
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:46 PM   #3
John Stone
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

Yeah I really like 5/3/1 + MetCons for the same reasons. I also will not do Dead Lifts to failure -- actually I try to stop every "max effort" lift 1-2 reps before failure (I've gotten OK at figuring out my body to the point where I know when I'm about to fail). With upper-body work I'll sometimes go until true failure, but any lift where my back is in danger of being hurt by poor form -- well I just don't like missing work (and I really don't like a hurt back, either).

To Chris re: how long is each cycle -- a "cycle" is set up as 4 lifts (Squat, Bench, Dead Lift, Press) with 4 lifting days, done 3 days per week. So 16 lifts / 3 days per week = 5 weeks + 1 day, per cycle.

So the first week you'd do (a)Squat, (a)Bench, (a)Dead Lift. The second week you'd do (a)Press, (b)Squat, (b)Bench. Et cetera.
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:56 AM   #4
Jared Ashley
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

Yes, about 5 weeks, as was the original intent.
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:19 AM   #5
Kevin Shaughnessy
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

The length of a cycle actually depends on how many days you train on. You can also do 4 days a week and have a cycle last exactly 4 weeks. Or 2 days and have it last 8 weeks.
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:54 AM   #6
Jay Adams
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

I did a cycle of 5-3-1 with some conditiong and had so/so results. I decided to go 8 weeks with Texas and only one day of conditiong and my gains were monster. Deads went from 405x1 to 440x5 and squats 260x1 to 320x5. Bench, press and power cleans all went up and up. After 2 months my met-cons were not that far off and my run and row times were the same or better. Takeing some conditioning away allowed me to get real strong and by adding some shorter met-cons when I backed off the Texas program I think I am way fitter than if I had stayed with 5-3-1 and kept met cons. Try 5-3-1 with less conditioning and eat allot more!
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:44 AM   #7
John Stone
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Shaughnessy View Post
The length of a cycle actually depends on how many days you train on. You can also do 4 days a week and have a cycle last exactly 4 weeks. Or 2 days and have it last 8 weeks.
That is not the program.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Adams View Post
I did a cycle of 5-3-1 with some conditiong and had so/so results.
5 weeks of anything won't get you monster gains unless you are getting a "beginner's" effect (like I am/did with 5/3/1, gaining nearly 85 pounds on my bench press in a few weeks).

Last edited by John Stone : 08-22-2010 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:51 PM   #8
Kevin Shaughnessy
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

My 5/3/1 ebook says:

You will train 3-4 days per week (this will be up to you).

Each training cycle lasts 4 weeks.

On page 10. Still got something to say, buddy? lol, jk.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:24 PM   #9
John Stone
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaughnessy View Post
My 5/3/1 ebook says:

You will train 3-4 days per week (this will be up to you).

Each training cycle lasts 4 weeks.

On page 10. Still got something to say, buddy? lol, jk.
Heh.

You said 2 days per week for 8 weeks, that's the part where I said "That's not the program." Unless the program has been updated or something, and no one told me.
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:21 AM   #10
Ivan Wolfe
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Re: Thoughts after 2 cycles of 5/3/1

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Originally Posted by John Stone View Post
Heh.

You said 2 days per week for 8 weeks, that's the part where I said "That's not the program." Unless the program has been updated or something, and no one told me.
In the e-book, he actually has two templates for training two days a week (page 62 & 63 in my copy). He doesn't explicitly say a cycle would be 8 weeks, but the second variation on 2 day a week training would seem to require an 8 week cycle.
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