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Old 01-05-2015, 07:19 PM   #1
Peter G Hoffman
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Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

Hey all,

So I'm taking this new year to try to focus on getting my strength numbers up to something respectable, but I'm struggling a little bit on how to go about this.
I've just moved to a new area and am using a regular gym for the time being. I was at a great box for over 2 years but I can't afford it for now, so I'm going to focus on the basics - squat, dead, bench, press, mostly because I think this is where I need to put in more time. My squat and deadlift need the most work I think.

I'm inclined to use the Wendler 5-3-1 but even that I have some questions on.
Thing is, I don't have high 1 RM's but I just tried Wendler this week and I'm getting between 8-12 reps on the last set at 85%. I think this is my time in Crossfit where I can't lift a lot but I can lift a medium amount more times because I've been trained that way. So if so how would I adjust the numbers? Because if I up the weights I am definitely on higher percentages than Wendler recommends. The other thing about Wendler is that it just doesn't seem like enough, even with the assistance work.

I'd also like to stay away from any iso assistance work. I don't care to gain any size (if it happens, fine but I'm not focusing on that), just functional strength. I still feel like I need a 7-15 min wod type workout each day that I'm at the gym (and not running the trail). Since I'm not at a box now I'm a little more limited with what I can do and basically have to WOD without barbells (they have to stay in an area where you really can only use them for strength work). Do I just need to chill out and not do the WOD and live with it?

Just looking for overall feedback on what the best route for me to go might be - specifically if Wendler is a good idea and how I can maybe add to it without compromising the core of it, and if busting out a metcon afterwords is problematic. Anyone else been in a similar boat? Thanks for any feedback any of you might have.


A little more info about my strong points/weak points and where I want to be.

Right now I can clock a 5:10 mile and 18:20 5k, but I'd like to get it back closer to what I had 2 years ago which was a 4:54 mile and a 17:30 5k. I've got somewhere between a 24 and 25 round Cindy, 7:40 Helen and 4:50 Grace (see the weights slow me down a lot). Can't remember the rest - I think Fran is around 5-6 min because the thrusters start to just kill me - I suck at front squats. Point is I want to stay as efficient as possible on body weight stuff, I enjoy running and all of the body weight work really helps keep my cardio up and keeps me a stronger runner. That said, if I had to have a 'goal' it would: I want to be as strong as I can while keeping close to my running times. I usually am in the gym 4x/ week and running the trails 2x/week and find this about enough to decently keep up my running times. In the summer I might go to 3/3 to try to get a little faster.

Some numbers:
I'm 30 yrs old, 5'8" 151 lbs.

1 rms:
Bench: 215 (This is the only lift I have that I feel okay about)
Deadlift: 320
Strict Press: 155 - I think, it's been awhile
Back Squat: 215 (really needs work)
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Old 01-05-2015, 09:35 PM   #2
Robert Fabsik
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

Wendler is great. Just follow it as prescribed. As you go longer and longer on it the reps will naturally come down. Wendler is all about "slow and steady wins the race."

Looking at your strength numbers, you might process a little faster on a basic Starting Strength program then transition to 5/3/1. The only drawback is Starting Strength isn't geared as much to have met cons along side it.
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Old 01-06-2015, 07:17 AM   #3
Brendan McNamar
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

If you are getting 8-12 reps on the 5+ set, first 4 week cycle then that is just right.

I expect you will be able to run lower body gains for a long time based on your upper body numbers.

Depending on how much time you have to work out you may want to focus more on lower body and put the bench press & press in maintenance mode.

I too workout in a globo gym right now. 4 days a week. After Wendler day 1 & 3 I do 20 minutes on the treadmill either hill or interval, quick pace. After day 2 & 4 I do short simple couplets. Yesterday was box jumps and kettle bell swings. Just enough to have some conditioning and keep the soreness to a minimum when I get back into full CrossFit.

http://www.strstd.com/ (WFS) this is a good Wendler calculator with a body weight accessory work option that can work well for Crossfitters.
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Old 01-06-2015, 12:16 PM   #4
Jordan Derksen
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

Wendler is awesome. Would highly recommend it.

I'm on month 3 now and have gotten derailed by getting really sick but every month my + sets have been growing even with increasing weight. My body has responded very well to the program and I seem to be getting stronger faster than the program increases which is a good problem to have. Lots of solid gains to be had yet.

I'm currently doing boring but big with the lifts on opposite days. On bench day I press and do rows for pulling balance and pressing days I do bench with pullups. Squat and deadlift days I just do the opposite lift with no extra work. I'm experimenting with only 3x10 for deadlift assistance though because 5 sets felt like way overkill.
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Old 01-06-2015, 02:10 PM   #5
Peter G Hoffman
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

Thanks for the feedback so far guys. Brendan that's great to hear that the last set reps are in a good range. I'll stick with the plan as structured then. Thanks for that link as well, that's great. Are you doing any work on the days you're not in the gym?

So the question then becomes, what's the best way to supplement Wendler to try to keep my running and bodyweight movement efficiency where it's at. I'm reluctant to get on the Boring but Big regiment because of this. I am more interested in the long term - no need to get quick gains if I can keep my cardio up. I do want progress, but I can accept that it might be a little slower because of my enjoyment of running.

I never feel good, on any day, unless I break a sweat. Rest days are tough for me, I usually do an active rest and don't really take many days off completely unless life really gets in the way. Can I do running / shorter (10-15 min metcon) 6 days a week and not counteract my work with Wendler?
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:03 AM   #6
Gary Moody
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

We are finishing up the third cycle this week of 5/3/1. Everybody in the box is making good progress. We have been doing a 3-12 minute MetCon on the days of heavy lifting and longer ones on the off days. I seemed to get gassed a little quicker now on the MetCons, but it should come back when we turn to focus more to that area.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:03 AM   #7
Brian Smith brianisrighthere
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

I'm just two weeks in to my first cycle of 5/3/1 (So I'm no expert) - But I am in about the same position as you; went to a CrossFit box for just over two years, now working out in my garage and just started 5/3/1 two weeks ago. The last set is quite light for me as well. But after 4 weeks, I'll be retesting my maxes and recalibrating for the next cycle. If I have even a 5lb gain over my previous maxes, that's a win.

Also, I'm taking liberties with the accessory work. Opting to do roughly 10 minute metcons. Since you want to improve your mi time, do some sprint work instead of big but boring, or focus on whatever you did to get it down to 4:54 initially.

Good luck! Your thrusters will be feeling light in no time.
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:59 AM   #8
Peter G Hoffman
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

Thanks Brian and Gary,
The extra feedback is helpful.

I won't worry too much about continuing to do metcons and running for the time being then and see how it pans out - I'll plan to do 3 cycles for now and see how it's going in March/April and make any necessary adjustments.

Have to say it's so damn cold in Chicago right now that my will for running outside is being put to the test though...
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:09 AM   #9
Drew Cloutier
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

your strength numbers arent bad, especially upper body

stick to linear progression
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:38 PM   #10
Chris Mason
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Re: Strength Work for a faster/smaller guy who doesn't want to slow down?

I, of course, would also recommend a Westside style template.
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