I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend with lots of good food and not too much familial conflict! It’s been 2 weeks since we have been on a tightly structured training plan, so it’s time to get back into it. We are entering the home-stretch of the year’s end, and because of the Christmas and New Years’ holidays disrupting everyone’s schedules a bit, I have made this program 5 weeks long. Hopefully that way even if you miss a week for travel you can still reap the benefits of the training focus.
Speaking of which, the focus of this program is Power Endurance which is the ability to perform explosive movements well for an extended period of time. So for upper levels that will mean developing proficiency in the Power Clean (lower levels will be working on kettlebell and bodyweight movements that elicit the same general training effect without some of the technical challenges presented by training with the barbell). We will be utilizing the plyometric capacity and timing that we built over the last 10 weeks, now in the context of one specific lift. The Clean, whether with a barbell or kettlebells requires strength, explosive power, and coordination–you can’t fake it. The key to a solid clean is drilling the component movement patterns with focus and intention until they are second nature (I could say that about any exercise, but it is even MORE true of the explosive lifts because there is no way to slow them down to practice). To this end, make sure you don’t rush through the Clean Progression. Each drill is there for a reason–spend time mastering these basics and the more complex movement will come almost naturally.
Level 1 members are expected to OWN the double kettlebell swing clean by the end of this cycle (that means NO BASHING YOUR WRISTS). You need a perfect single arm swing to have a good clean. And you need a perfect two hand swing to have a good single arm swing. See where this is going? Drill the fundamentals. Control the kettlebell. Move the bell with you hips, not your arm. Other than the swing, understanding the rack position is essential to a clean. Many of you don’t hold the bell in the proper rack–the bell resting in the crook of your bicep and forearm, elbow on your ribs, palm facing the midline of your body, wrist COMPLETELY NEUTRAL WITH NO EXTENSION WHATSOEVER. And for the record I see many higher level people neglect these basic points of performance as well. New MVMNT level standards are coming in 2020–prepare to eat humble pie if your kettlebell skills are not up to StrongFirst guidelines.
You will notice that on lifting days, there is no “Conditioning” segment to the workout, just “Accessory” work. People who take training seriously and want to make improvements over their lifetime while reducing risk of injury and burnout do NOT randomly perform “high intensity” garbage workouts every time they go to the gym. They work on building strength: approach the lifts as if they are skilled movement patterns that require practice and intention, spend extra time working on their limitations in mobility. They do accessory work to round out their training, to balance the amount of pushing/pulling or hip/knee dominant patterns, and incorporate lateral and rotational elements into their program. When they want cardio, they sprint. So, to encourage all of you to take the program seriously (since that’s how you will get results) I’m not programming mixed modal conditioning on lifting days in this cycle. However if you just really want to “feel the burn” or “get in the zone” or whatever just treat the accessory work as an AMRAP and have at it. You’ll notice the people who are getting stronger, leaner, more powerful, and more capable won’t be opting for that approach.
Here’s how the training week shakes out:
Monday – Clean and RDL
Wednesday – Press and Push Press
Friday – Front Squat and Back Squat
Tuesday/Thursday – primal/bodyweight/gymnastics focused
Saturday – partner/team
0:00 – 10:00
Instructor Jump Rope 5 Minutes
10:00 – 45:00
Barbell Clean Progression
Work through the entire progression at least 2x (as indicated below for your level)
Standing with your feet directly under your hips, hold the barbell with a clean hook grip.
From Tall Position/High Hang:
Dip + Shrug
Dip + High Pull
Dip + High Pull + Footwork transition (quick jump from pulling stance to squat stance)
Muscle Clean (shrug, elbows go out wide then come forward as the bar rolls onto the delts)
Tall Position/High Hang Power Clean
Above the Knee Power Clean
Below the Knee Power Clean
Power Clean (from the Floor)
L3/4 – once through with empty bar, then add some weight and do the entire progression again
(like a partner complex with the emphasis on QUALITY)
L2 – start with pvc, then move to empty bar
3 Below the Knee Hang Power Cleans
Increase weight each set if possible.
“If possible” doesn’t mean that you merely get the weight up on your shoulders, it means you do it with proper technique (i.e., not a cheat curl); your goal should be to perform movement to the standard. You will not improve this lift without putting a LOT of effort into nailing the finer points–the timing of the second pull, the transition from pull to catch, the establishment of a solid receiving position/rack.
8 Romanian Deadlifts
All three sets at the same weight. Should be heavier than your last set of cleans by a good margin.
Keep your heels CLOSE together on this lift (no more than the width of one fist apart). Start at the top, lower the bar down by unlocking your knees and shoving your hips back. The barbell should remain just about in contact with your body the whole time, and the plates should NOT touch the floor. Your hips will stay high, but your shoulders shouldn’t come down below the hips–you need to bend your knees a little more to get the bar closer to the floor.
5 Cleans (right side)
20 yd Rack Walk
5 Cleans (left side)
20 yd Rack Walk
rest 30-60 seconds
5 Double Kettlebell Cleans
Rest 2 minutes
8 Double Kettlebell Romanian Deadlifts
Rest 2 minutes
45:00 – 55:00
Single Kettlebell Rows R/L
Strict Push-up Burpees
L3/4 – 10 reps on each side, 10 burpees, 24/18k or heavier
L2 – 8 reps RL, 8 burpees
L1 – 5 reps RL, 5 burpees
55:00 – 60:00
Hip Flexor Stretch, Police Search Stretch or Down Dog