Ladders Reloaded

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Pete S

Level 6 Valued Member
In the June 2015 issue of MILO, Pavel published Ladders Reloaded that gave strength parameters for volume, frequency, repetitions, and load based on Soviet research. A pull up program that a 240-lb military special operator with a 1 RM of 32 kg used to add 8 kg in 4 weeks was given as an illustrative example. Having just completed 2 iterations of this plan, I would like to share my results.

In recent years pull ups have been hard on my elbows, leading me to replace them with chin ups. Nevertheless, too much intensity frequently caused golfer's and/or tennis elbow, resulting in long lay offs. In the past year I did manage 46 sessions of chin ups that were never more often than twice a week, used ladders that never exceeded 3 rep rungs, averaged 11 reps per session, and only 8 times used either 8 kg or 12 kg singles. My starting point was at a body weight of 162 lbs with a 12 kg 1 RM as well as claiming 8 strict total reps done 2 years prior.

Preparation included rereading Naked Warrior multiple times to incorporate irradiation by contracting forearms, abs, and glutes; breathing behind the shield; and the hollow position. To counteract elbow issues Iron Mind's Expand Your Hands bands were used after every rung for 10 reps using an easier band size after body weight chins and the next size up after weighted reps. Fast and Loose techniques consisting of shaking hands, arms, and shoulders were added after the bands.

Results: After the first 4-week program, 12 kg was added to my strict chin up for a 1 RM of 24 kg, followed the next day by 11 strict repetition chin ups. The program worked so well that I stopped doing it -- thank you, Dan John. So, after a 3-week hiatus I did it again and hoped to add 8kg. Unfortunately, I was 2" short on my attempt with 32kg and had to settle for a 4 kg increase with a 28 kg chin, followed 10 minutes later with 13 strict repetition chins. Still not a bad way to celebrate my 73rd birthday. BTW, no elbow pain at all during or after the program.

What is remarkable about this methodology is that the 240-lb military special operator used body weight and 16 kg as his primary tools. Only 10 of 382 total reps were above 16 kg. I used 10 lbs the first time through and 8 kg the second go round as my principal additional weight.

While Pavel acknowledges that this was an illustrative "plan designed for a preparatory period, with no intention of peaking," it would be nice to see an optimal program for peaking laid out using the Ladder Reloaded guidance.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Pete,

That's a great success story at any age and made all the more remarkable by you being 73 years old - congratulations!!

-S-
 

Harald Motz

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Hello Pete,
Did you train all your life? Which tools did/do you use?
And by the way I would assume you are 73 years young.
Great story indeed.
 

Pete S

Level 6 Valued Member
Harald,

Thank you for your interest and kind words. I am former Army Special Forces retired after 30 years service. Kept active with BB and KB until age 62 when I got too busy with work and too lazy after a second retirement. At age 69 I realized that I could not keep up with my toddler grandkids and had trouble getting up from the floor. Consequently, I re-engaged with KB by starting ROP, changed to PM, and switched to S&S when that program came out. Also, have been inspired by Strong First Forum from its inception. Practiced Original Strength almost daily for past 2 and 1/2 years.

While it is difficult to start (again) an active exercise program of 5-7 days a week, applying patience and perseverance will eventually pay off. Long ignored/suppressed injuries often resurface and must be worked through. Prior to the chin ups described above, I experienced 3 months of excruciating pain and minimal workouts due to 2 herniated disks with concomitant sciatica which necessitated a period of rehabilitation. After restarting Kbs again, an old rotator cuff injury recurred necessitating further rehab. I then returned to Kbs with a couple of months of Dan Johns' Combos (Intervention), chin ups as already described, and OS almost daily. Just prior to starting the Ladders Reloaded chins, I completed one month of doing OS Performance loaded crawls daily that resulted in a 17 and 1/2 minute continuous spiderman crawl while dragging 48 kg and a 10 and 1/2 minute backwards spiderman crawl while dragging 24 kg. OSP really built me up and got me ready for the ladders.

Don't misunderstand. I am neither complaining nor bragging. The point is that you can always come back to fitness through patience and perseverance despite age. My perspective has changed from seeking more reps and more weight when younger to now doing things correctly and in a disciplined manner.

Am getting ready to do a short ROP cycle before returning to S&S. I still intend to complete a chin up with an additional 36 kg in the near future.

Pete
 

Jim Lauerman

Level 6 Valued Member
Pete,

As a 66 year-old KB guy myself, I thank you for sharing what you did. Unlike yourself, I have never been in really great shape. I've always been weak and fat, except during and right after boot camp in the Navy many years ago. Right now I am considerably stronger and less fat, although both qualities still need a lot of work.

Also like yourself, I found that the OS resets gave me back much of my mobility and dramatically reduced my chronic pain. OS and S&S seem to be a good combination for us geezers.

My challenge is always to be patient and let the strength and conditioning come naturally. Instead my motto has seemed to be "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing". Your story helps me to remain patient in the quest to fight off the ravages of aging.

It strikes me that not many trainers have a lot of experience with older athletes like us. I guess we'll have to figure it out on our own, following the principles esposed here. Any SFG's out there specializing in the over 60 demographic?

Jim
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sola, I have some experience with people this age, in part because I am this age - I'm 60. :)

While I have nothing but praise for Original Strength, I want to mention that performing the joint health and flexibility exercises in Pavel's "Super Joints" and "Relax Into Stretch" have done marvels for me. I do suspended side splits, and I usually pass for a lot younger than I am. While not without my aches and pains, I must say that the things I practice, which I learned before much of the great, new material we have from OS came out, did well for me. And they still do well for me because I still practice them.

Lest there be any doubt, I think Original Strength is great, I think Geoff is great for that and for all the other programming he's given us, I think Tim is great - he moves beautifully and you won't find a nicer person on the face of this earth - and I think everyone of us can benefit from learning from them and their program.

-S-
 

Harald Motz

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Impressive attitude. It is great to hear from experienced people to get a pearl of wisdom.
 

Pete S

Level 6 Valued Member
Sola,

I understand your impatience as for many years I would skim through the first part of any of Pavel's books to get to the exercises, reps, and sets. Now I realize that without using the principles described in the front of the book, the implementation is insipid. Brett Jones, Gray Cook, and Mark Cheng broke down the TGU in great detail that opened my eyes to doing things precisely. Pavel's discussions of irradiation, breathing, etc. have even more value than the exercises. An old martial arts master talked about "investing in failure," getting knocked about in fighting until you were adept enough to win. Just refocus on what you are doing, use a lighter weight, and add in a part at a time. You will get there.

After reading so many posts on this forum of members in their late 30's or early 40's decrying themselves as "old," I hesitate to identify myself as "old" lest some octogenarian or nonagenarian member jump all over me as being a snot-nosed kid still wet behind the ears.
 

Karen Smith

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Iron Maiden
Wow - what an impressive story, I LOVE hearing about amazing results!!
 

Jim Lauerman

Level 6 Valued Member
Steve,

I suspectd you might remind me of your approach to 60 years young. Interesting that you mention "Super Joints" I have both the book and DVD but haven't visited them for awhile.

Pete, I totally agree. My impatience has cost me dearly over the years. Now, as the years remaining are fewer (true of us all) I am finally learning the patience. As the old saying goes, "We get old too soon and wise too late".

Jim
 

Pavel

Founder and Chairman
Master Certified Instructor
Well done, Pete!

Peaking is done by lowering the volume and the intensity (average weight) over a period of several weeks.

When calculating the training percentages, one needs to add the KB weight to the bodyweight, so 16kg should not be surprising given the guy's size.
 

Pete S

Level 6 Valued Member
Pavel,

Thank you for your response. I am not sure that I fully comprehend how to peak to achieve my goal of an 8kg increase in a weighted chin up. I understand that I should probably lower volume from the current 97 reps a week, but it would seem that I should use some heavier weights than I have been using to build up strength. If I use higher weights and less volume, this would then increase intensity (average weight). Do I do this for a while and then begin lowering volume and intensity for several weeks prior to testing? Thanks.

BTW, great article. It would be helpful to many of the forum members to see a version of the Ladders Reloaded In the Read section on this site.

Pete
 

Pavel

Founder and Chairman
Master Certified Instructor
Pete, in a nutshell, in the "competition" month reduce the volume by 20-30% from the previous [preparatory] month. Then taper it. E.g., your prep month had 400 reps. Do 300 in your comp month and organize them from week to week according to these percentages: 35-28-22-15% (105 reps... 45 reps.)

Sorry, we it would not be appropriate to reprint the article. Those who are interested in reading it should buy a back issue of MILO.
 

Pete S

Level 6 Valued Member
UPDATE:
  • Just completed the Competition Taper suggested by Pavel. Easily set a PR with 32 kg but could not make the 36 kg.
  • However, a WTH effect was that I effortlessly jumped up into a front body lever that I held for 3-5 seconds. Pavel had once remarked that doing a 1/2 bodyweight pull up was a way to accomplish this. Also dropped 6 pounds of body weight that was probably more due to diet than exercise.
LESSONS LEARNED:
  • Must do the math. The first two iterations of Ladders Reloaded (LR) I adapted the illustrative plan to my numbers. I later did the numbers (see attachments) when I had to do all the math for the Competition Taper. This was a valuable learning experience.
  • Using chins or pull-ups for LR you may be forced to work at a higher relative intensity than recommended or desired due to bodyweight and lack of strength. Percentages are based on bodyweight plus 1RM. My first iteration that meant 164 + 26 = 190, therefore a bodyweight rep was 86% relative intensity. This meant that all sessions were at least that intensity or higher if weight were added. As strength increased this number fell to 76%, then 73%, and even better now with the PR and weight loss, 69%. Now I can effectively train in more optimal rep ranges and intensities that Pavel identified.
  • While Pavel said that a class of exercises should be trained 4 or more times a week, I opted for 3 times a week due to overuse injury concerns and that the example program was 3 x week. Spreading this out to 4 or more days would be better as volume and intensity for fewer sessions can be hard. During CT I programmed medium, light, and heavy days in each week which helped recovery immensely.
  • My long standing issues with golf/tennis elbow did not recur due to religious use of the Iron Mind Expand Your Hands Bands and Fast and Loose after each rung. I believe that these elbow problems may be due to muscle imbalance in the forearms. We do a lot of gripping (flexing) but normally not much extending. In a similar vein, I did the C & P of ROP on alternate days from chins; my shoulders have never felt better.
  • The devil is in the details. While Pavel provides volume, intensity, rep ranges, and planning guidance, you still have to figure out how to plan the ladders and rungs. As I am not a programmer, I did not feel overly competent in figuring out which is better long ladders with less weight vice shorter ladders repeated vice etc.
GOALS:
  • While I still am looking to do a 1/2 body weight (36 kg) chin, I don't need right now. I am willing to accomplish this goal at a more leisurely pace.
  • Work in pull-ups and neutral grip pull-ups to the mix.
  • Restart S&S or ROP
REQUEST:
  • For all the smart guys out there: What would be the best way to program ladders for chins/pull-ups based on the MILO Ladders Reloaded article? (For the really smart guys, loading equations into the attached spreadsheets would make "what if scenarios" easier).
GRATITUDE:
Thank you Pavel for once again doing the hard work to come up with an excellent improvement to ladders. It is great to see the research behind a methodology. I also appreciate the Competition Taper as well as this incredible forum. You never fail to produce.

BTW:
For those of you based outside the U.S., the MILO article is available through Iron Mind as a downloadable E-Magazine issue as well as a hard copy.
 

Attachments

Pavel

Founder and Chairman
Master Certified Instructor
Good job, Pete!

If you want to get serious about this, the next step is Plan Strong. Since we do not have one planned at the time, consider hiring one of the SFG instructors who got a solid grasp of PS. Someone like Fabio Zonin, Jeremy Layport, or Hector Gutierrez to help you.
 

Pete S

Level 6 Valued Member
Thanks, Pavel. Will consider a PS SFG and look forward to when another PS will be offered.
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Pete, congratulations on those numbers! It is absolutely inspiring. I work in the health and exercise field at a gym where the majority of members are older adults and into their retired years. If only I could get them all to read this! I try to relay my love of movement and strength and why it is so important as individuals age, and I love hearing stories like this. Absolutely remarkable what you've accomplished, congrats again!
 
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