Discussion in 'Bodyweight' started by Karen Smith, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Karen Smith

    Karen Smith More than 300 posts Master Certified Instructor Iron Maiden

    I often see forum post w/questions on programming, so I thought I would shed a little light on our methods.

    STRONGFIRST is a school of strength.
    We are a principle based system.
    Our principles are the same across all modalities (SFG/SFB/SFL)

    If your goal is to get STRONG..... using our programming principles will take your strength to the next level.

    StrongFirst programming complies with two key principles identified by Russian sports scientist.
    1. Continuity of Training -
    We treat our training as a practice but following a program is key. Running into a plateau does not justify switching to a totally different exercise, program or system.

    2. Waving the Load -
    The difficult of the "training load" be constantly varied. It is a myth that you should go all out all the time.
    "Training Load" = the following variables Intensity, Volume and Density.

    - Intensity = weight or progression
    - Density = same work in less time OR more work in same time (reflects your work : rest ratio)
    - Volume = total work in sets/reps OR total work in Tonnage

    GTG is one of the best methods for training bodyweight skills. Pavel recommends training no more that 2 GTG skills at one time for the best success.

    Program design can be as simple or as complex as you make it.

    If you are interested in diving deeper into the STRONGFIRST methods of program design I would recommend the following...
    1. attend one of our courses or certifications
    2. reach out to one of our certified instructors
    3. try some of the programs that we have shared in our articles
    and if you want to dive even deeper then I would recommend you attend either Pavel's Plan Strong or Strong Endurance.

    I hope to see you at one of our events in the future.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  2. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    Thank you for the explanation. A couple of simple questions came to mind:

    At what kind of a schedule should the load and the intensity be varied? At a daily, weekly or a monthly basis? How does the training frequency, as in training a single movement 1-7 times a week, affect the waving frequency?

    Also, is the density-variable used for absolute strength progression as well? For example with the SFL lifts.
  3. Karen Smith

    Karen Smith More than 300 posts Master Certified Instructor Iron Maiden

    I hate to say it really DEPENDS..
    what is the skill?
    what waving you are selecting and what order you set your light, medium, heavy?

    I find on average most people (not all) get the best strength gains when they do 3-4 sessions per week and each is waved. However it again will depend on the selected skill, where you put the load and how high of a % of load you select for heavy as well as your fitness/strength level for selected skill.

    example: I personally make my best gains when I stick to 3x week with a medium/light/heavy schedule. My Medium being Monday, Light being Wednesday and Heavy being Friday.
    I determined this by many years of programming and tracking my training sessions. I also at times add my GTG on my off days but when life/schedule is not optimal I will add the GTG on same days at my training but the volume will vary depending on what that training day looks like.

    I highly recommend setting a goal, following a program for a minimum of 4 weeks and tracking everything. This is the best way to learn what your body responds best to.
    I track...
    Food, sleep, training, other stress etc. and I use Baselines to confirm by body is good to go for that days program and if not modify accordingly.
    Understanding the Value of Baselines When It Comes to Making Gains

    This is also how I program and train my students.
    Peter Yeates, Shahaf Levin and Mike E like this.
  4. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Karen Smith, thank you for an _excellent_ post. I am bookmarking it in order to be able to refer others to it.

    Martin Joe and Karen Smith like this.
  5. Karen Smith

    Karen Smith More than 300 posts Master Certified Instructor Iron Maiden

  6. The Nail

    The Nail Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    A little light? It was more like the bat light, excellent post. Bookmarking.
    Michael Scott, Karen Smith and jca17 like this.
  7. Tobias Wissmueller

    Tobias Wissmueller Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Karen Smith Am having trouble understanding in how far the volume reflects ones work to rest ratio?

    Let's say I do a total volume of 100 reps in 20 minutes on one day and the other day I also do 100 reps in total but in 40 minutes because I rest longer between sets.

    As per my understanding so far, the volume of those two sessions is the same, what changes is the density. Anything that I am missing?
  8. Carl

    Carl Double-Digit Post Count

    Thanks @Karen Smith, awesome info in a compact post!

    Karen Smith likes this.
  9. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    Thank you for your advice.

    I take it that the three days in your example all include the same skill practice? And beside from daily, as in m/l/h waves, the load is waved weekly as well? I have trained in such a manner before and have also found it beneficial. But I wonder how this style of training and the included waviness is ideal for training around the year. The most obvious example for such a question would be a (strength) athlete, who needs to peak at certain times of the year. I would expect that also recreational trainers would benefit from the occasional peaking, and that the baselines established that way would help the future programming as well.

    Regarding my own training, I have recently began training with barbells. I still do some bodyweight and kettlebell movements, like the hanging leg raise, which I feel be both beneficial to my midsection and to my back after heavy barbell lifting. But I do not train the bodyweight or kettlebell skills as I find it better to concentrate my training in the gym at the moment. I do try to track my training and follow certain programs and set the training up in cycles. But I naturally wonder what I could do better.

    When it comes to powerlifting programming, there appear to be strong schools of thought that recommend only a single training session for a skill a week. This is usually accompanied with a simple linear progression, especially when it comes to peaking before a meet. Then we also have the classic Power to the People, where two skills are recommended to practice five times a week, wherein there are also plans for a pure linear progression. Interestingly enough, both of these methods, no matter how at odds they are regarding training frequency, seem to have a similar grasp of the cycle length in training sessions.

    I wonder how the recent research which culminates in Plan Strong has evolved from these plans of training, and to what degree the previous programming has become obsolete. Also, I wonder how the "density" part of the training load has been implemented when it comes to training absolute strength, as the previous recommendations have always been about long rest.
  10. Marc

    Marc Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Excellent! Thank you!
    Karen Smith likes this.
  11. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    Each of the different schools of thought can rightly claim success. What I call the American school, which is one heavy session per lift per week with a linear progression, has plenty of records to its credit. IMHO and I believe also in the opinion of others, part of its success lies in its ability to add muscle to a lifter. I also believe its success comes from being matched with the right kind of trainee, one who enjoys the challenge of marching up the ladder of heavier and heavier weights, culminating in a meet.

    Progress can also be made in the skill of the lift by practicing it more often, and this, too, has yielded excellent results when matched with a lifter who enjoys this kind of programming.

    The previous programming is absolutely not obsolete, the fact that PlanStrong's methodology has proven to be extremely effective not withstanding. If you haven't tried PlanStrong, I highly recommend that you do, particularly if you're someone with a long-standing "almost," e.g., you can press 44 kg but you've never gotten 48 kg, a PlanStrong program may very well be your ticket to the Beast. But if you look at the success of programs like Simple and Sinister (daily lifting), and the Rite of Passage (a simple Light/Medium/Heavy rotation), you must also realize that simple programming has its place, too - although it may not best route to breaking a plateau for an experienced lifter, simplicity has many virtues, too.

    JMO, YMMV.

  12. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Certified Instructor

    Karen Smith likes this.
  13. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    I agree, that different schools of thought have all worked and they have the records and the medals to show for it. All of the different schools suit different persons individually, and to live in the modern times when one can seek the optimal training for himself rather easily compared to the past decades is a great boon. That is, in essence, what sparked my questions.

    It is interesting that you bring up hypertrophy as one part of the success of the American school. I have not previously thought that their training would have been slanted towards it. I will have to keep it in mind the next time I delve into the subject. Taking skill as the other side of the equation is sensible. However, the importance of skill and repeated technical perfection has been considered to be of utmost importance in both schools.

    It is true that there are different methods of learning the skill and that in general I agree that frequent practice is better. Still, I think that skill is not only about a particular lift, but the conditions of the lift, which means that one must also train the lift at a correct intensity, if the goal is to increase the intensity and therefore absolute strength. And when the intensity becomes exhausting enough, it may be that the demands for recovery become so great that high frequency training is not feasible any more. This is a bit of a conclusion I have come to personally lately, but I am still highly uncertain of the principles and variables of the phenomenon. In any case, the frequency is not a black and white issue.

    I am happy to see the Strongfirst principles being explained a bit and that individual Plan Strong programs are being made available to the public. I am excited to see how the new programming improves on the old - for there must be improvement, or there would be no use for it. And to understand the programming more is what made me ask these questions. I think that the new programming and the principles of it should be opened up more.
    damogari and Tobias Wissmueller like this.
  14. Maine-ah KB

    Maine-ah KB Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    this is the most straightforward description of sf I've seen! Thank you so much!!!
    Karen Smith likes this.
  15. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Antti, the weekly heavy day is a solid formula for hypertrophy. Work hard, rest and eat well, and grow. Lifting everyday will lend itself to skill improvements but not size because there isn't enough rest for that.

    Carl and Antti like this.
  16. Shawn

    Shawn Triple-Digit Post Count

    Steve Freides and Karen Smith,

    What is the Plan Strong program? Also, correct me if I'm wrong, for bodyweight Strongfirst recommends, " Naked Warrior" right? What about someone like myself that has been diagnosed years ago with 3 herniated discs, 2 bulging and had a fractured vertabrae years ago.

    I walk around pain free right now but when I try one arm or one leg work I always seem to throw my back out. I know you recommend to see an instructor but finance and family wise I can't swing that. What would you recommend if I wanted to use bodyweight with Kettlebells?
    Karen Smith likes this.
  17. Karen Smith

    Karen Smith More than 300 posts Master Certified Instructor Iron Maiden

    Thank you so much for catching my typo. I got a call in the middle of my post and type (the work to rest) in the wrong spot :) Yes, that was for density. I went and read the post and noticed the typo. Again thank you or catching it. I will edit the post now so it doesn't get confusing.
    Tobias Wissmueller likes this.
  18. Karen Smith

    Karen Smith More than 300 posts Master Certified Instructor Iron Maiden

    I would proceed in a risk vs reward selection. Obviously the history you provided and the fact that you know the OA or OAOL throws your back out, I would say that should not be your selected BW skill of choice. I would be happy to set a time to discuss your situation and make some recommendations. Please email me at and we can set a time that will work for both of our schedules.
    Shawn likes this.
  19. Shawn

    Shawn Triple-Digit Post Count

    Thank You Karen! I sent You an email. @Karen Smith did you get my email?
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
  20. Strong Rick

    Strong Rick More than 2500 posts

    Hello Karen - thanks for posting this and all the articles you put up on the website for all of us to read!
    so informative and packed full of information. Thank you!

    I am curious about the StrongFirst body weight programming/ programs you mention in this post...
    I have read and tried to incorporate them into my training but unfortunately they are still a little to advanced for me.
    Does Strong First offer any 'beginner programs" for purchase or on the website?
    can the "anytime - anywhere" program be scaled down to someone like myself but maybe I fail to have the knowledge how to do this?
    Or - is this something i would have to program myself?

    I am most interested in the...
    push-up ( and its progressions)
    Pull-Up ( and its progressions)
    Dips ( and its progressions)
    Squats ( and its progressions)

    and how to program for a 3 times a week training template.
    if this is the wrong place for me to ask this question could you please point me in the direction please.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
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