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

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Old 09-07-2011, 08:08 PM   #1
Daniel Frankel
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Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

I was having a discussion with my coach, and was asking him about a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout to use as the rep scheme for a heavy day. He was explaining to me that he wasn't sure exactly how beneficial it is compared to a 5-5-5, or 3-3-3-3-3 type rep scheme. His reasoning was two different points:

1. The heavier you go, the greater a margin for error you have in your form. Certain things like OHP you just wont be able to get overhead, and youll rerack it, but something like a deadlift where your back would likely round much more from a 1RM attempt than a 3RM attempt, would have a much greater risk for injury.

2. You will see better strength increases with 5's and 3's, but 1's are really more for ego. This one I would understand to be obvious, as someone doing only 5's will get much stronger than that guy who just does a couple heavy singles to hit a new 1RM every heavy session.

I was curious to hear peoples thoughts about what he told me, and what the benefit of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout would be.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:17 PM   #2
Milton Brisson
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

I've always looked at 1-1-1-1..... days as tests. You can get a really good sense of your absolute strength doing heavy singles.

For someone on a linear progression though, there is not as much to be gained by this, as every time you get under the bar you should be setting PRs anyway. 5x5, 5x3, 3x3 etc give you repetition at gradually increasing weight, more reps = better form.

If you are doing oly lifting training, then most days will be sets of multiple singles, because you need to reset to your proper tarting position.

Thats my two cents, I bet someone could explain it more clearly than me, though.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:21 PM   #3
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

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Originally Posted by Daniel Frankel View Post
I was having a discussion with my coach, and was asking him about a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout to use as the rep scheme for a heavy day. He was explaining to me that he wasn't sure exactly how beneficial it is compared to a 5-5-5, or 3-3-3-3-3 type rep scheme. His reasoning was two different points:

1. The heavier you go, the greater a margin for error you have in your form. Certain things like OHP you just wont be able to get overhead, and youll rerack it, but something like a deadlift where your back would likely round much more from a 1RM attempt than a 3RM attempt, would have a much greater risk for injury.

2. You will see better strength increases with 5's and 3's, but 1's are really more for ego. This one I would understand to be obvious, as someone doing only 5's will get much stronger than that guy who just does a couple heavy singles to hit a new 1RM every heavy session.

I was curious to hear peoples thoughts about what he told me, and what the benefit of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout would be.
Westside Barbell would disagree with you there.

3s and 5s are good from a volume standpoint, but there is plenty of value in doing 1RMs if you want to get stronger.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:27 PM   #4
Brian Strump
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

I would add that 1rm isn't necessarily more prone to injury. Most injuries occur from poor form done in repetitions, which is more likely to occur during sets of 3s, 5s.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:28 PM   #5
Chris Mason
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

If you want your absolute strength to go up without a large gain in mass then singles are the best way to do it. You certainly don't need to do that many singles. In addition, the thing about form really bothers me. That is a cop-out. I teach people to lift as heavy as possible WITHOUT breaking form. If you have to break form you went too heavy. Period. If you train like that injury is not an issue.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:44 PM   #6
Daniel Frankel
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

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Originally Posted by Chris Mason View Post
If you want your absolute strength to go up without a large gain in mass then singles are the best way to do it. You certainly don't need to do that many singles. In addition, the thing about form really bothers me. That is a cop-out. I teach people to lift as heavy as possible WITHOUT breaking form. If you have to break form you went too heavy. Period. If you train like that injury is not an issue.
Clearly I'm understanding wrong or am missing a link here. Are 1's more beneficial for strength than 5's or 3's? If so, why?
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:56 PM   #7
Boris Lau
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

In a sense you'll be more adept at lifting heavy. As many have said before, lifting heavy is a skill and lifting 1's will allow you to lift the heaviest weight. Training for your 1RM with 3's and 5's isn't ineffective, it's just not as suited to the purpose of achieving that goal.
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:32 PM   #8
Robert Fabsik
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

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Originally Posted by Daniel Frankel View Post
Clearly I'm understanding wrong or am missing a link here. Are 1's more beneficial for strength than 5's or 3's? If so, why?
As Chris mentioned the idea is that singles help built absolute/maximal strength. The heavier the weight you lift and the less reps you can do with it, the more muscle will be activiated to lift it. A lot of this will be neurological adaptation--training as many fibers to contract at once.

If you can only squat a weight for 1 rep, you used all the fiber you are neurologically able to activate. If you can squat a rep for 3 reps, on that first rep you used less muscle fibers than you would on a 1 rep max. After rep 1 some of the fibers fatigue, so you might use some that weren't used in the first rep, and then some others by the third rep as others fatigue--but usually not as much as an 1RM. A 1RM primarily increases neurological strenght. A 3RM will help with neuro strength but will also help build strength endurance--of course not as much as a 20 rep squat would.

This falls into the thinking that Grandma can lift a car off a child in an emergency. Normally, her neurological system prevents using a large percentage of her muscle fibers (to protect the body), but if the motivation is there she can use 100%. Of course when you use 100%, you get less endurance since all of your fibers were used at once and can't rotate to keep an activity going. By doing heavy singles you get closer to using 100% of your fibers at once (I think the best athletes get near 85-90% use).

So Westside uses Max Effort lifts to build your aboslute strength through neurological gains and some muscle gains. But, also uses the repetition method to build strength endurance and build muscle. And finally it uses the dynamic method to get muscles to produce force quickly.

Rippetoe makes a good argument for 5's, and if you were only going to work one rep range, it's a good choice. But if you are training a couple times a week, you are not forced into one rep range. 5's have a heavy load so they'll recruit a lot of fibers per rep (not as much per say as a single), but will also fatigue the muscle metabolically as well and neurologically--so you get a blend of neurological strenght gains and mass/muscle gains. I think 5's start to slow for more experienced lifters because 3 heavy sets of 5 (near 5RM) can be tougher on the system than 2-3 singles near 1RM.

So if a 1-1-1-1-1-1 was the only workout you'd do, my question is does it match your goals? If you want to get stronger but keep the same relative bodyweight and don't need strenght endurance, then you can base your program arounds 1-1-1-1-1-1 all the time--not too far off from the Bulgarians.

But, if you are like most of us on this board, we want strength, conditioning, leaner but bigger size and the ability to do metcons. So you probably need to train different ranges and energy systems. CF programming attacks this and so does Westside. Periodization programs address it in blocks. Wendler 5/3/1 does it by rotating rep schemes over weeks. GSLP does it by doing 5's', sets to failure and additional conditioning work.

Also, some argue that if you build your max strength it allows the rest of your strength to follow. If I train my body to activate more fibers then I might be able to use more fibers on 5RMs and 10RMs so I can handle heavier weights for those exercises.
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:37 PM   #9
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

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Originally Posted by Boris Lau View Post
In a sense you'll be more adept at lifting heavy. As many have said before, lifting heavy is a skill and lifting 1's will allow you to lift the heaviest weight. Training for your 1RM with 3's and 5's isn't ineffective, it's just not as suited to the purpose of achieving that goal.
The downside being that the heavier weight involved in lifting 1's is more taxing on the system, meaning that you won't be able to do as much volume or as often. The logic behind something like Wendler's 5/3/1 scheme is to do most of your training with submaximal weights.

What are your goals? What else are you doing?

Katherine
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:54 PM   #10
Chris Mason
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Re: Benefits of a 1-1-1-1-1-1 type workout?

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Originally Posted by Daniel Frankel View Post
Clearly I'm understanding wrong or am missing a link here. Are 1's more beneficial for strength than 5's or 3's? If so, why?
Yes, because they train your CNS to recruit more motor units and to optimize the firing patterns to a greater degree than higher rep counts. Training adaptation is VERY specific and if you want to increase your 1RM you should do singles.
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