What's your test of progress?

What test do you train for to stay on course and measure progress?

  • Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC)

    Votes: 1 3.6%
  • PFT (Military, LE, employer, etc)

    Votes: 2 7.1%
  • Powerlifting/Weightlifting Max/Total

    Votes: 8 28.6%
  • 5k, Marathon, Triathlon, Other Endurance Event

    Votes: 3 10.7%
  • Simple & Sinister (S&S)

    Votes: 5 17.9%
  • Beast Tamer

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Right of Passage (RoP)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Named Crossfit WOD (i.e., Fran, Murph, etc.)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Tracking a benchmark performance measure is dumb and holds me too accountable

    Votes: 2 7.1%
  • Other

    Votes: 7 25.0%

  • Total voters
    28
I believe I was on a similar plan for a long time to my demise. Without a goal, is it still training or does it become something else?
I think you have to look at where you are. If you are reasonably satisfied with current performance levels, then simply maintaining certainly counts as training.

I think anytime you have a short list of metrics (even as with TSC), then what becomes of the stuff you haven't included in your goal. You could use any basic foundational movements as a performance goal.

I've often thought about creating a battery of tests composed of lifts, movements, activities I never train and see how I do over time, but I'm really not sure where to begin. Maybe carry 100lbs of sand under my arm headlock style, hop on one leg around my house, haul the same bag from the ground through a 2nd story window with a rope, using only one arm. IDK...goofy stuff, but at the same time testing against what you train only shows that you got better at what you were doing (and for sure you will stall at some point anyway), not necessarily "better" in a more generally useful sense. You're trusting the test selection to be an accurate stand-in for...the unexpected?

I do a bit of variety and apply progressive overload. If my weights go up I'm improving. If my RPE goes down at the same time, I'm definitely improving. I'm not exactly satisfied with where I am, but I'm not dissatisfied either.
 

Bro Mo

> 1k Posts
If you are reasonably satisfied with current performance levels, then simply maintaining certainly counts as training.
Is it still training if there isn't anything defined to maintain?

You're trusting the test selection to be an accurate stand-in for...the unexpected?
Hopefully not. Hopefully the test reflects the expected need. If the need is the unexpected, can performance even be good or bad?
 
Is it still training if there isn't anything defined to maintain?
Ahh, good point. But if you're already doing something, you've got that much at least. Say you work up a 2.5x BW DL, 25 chinups, snatch test with 28kg, and maintain that. I'd say you're training, and that would be true of PBs for any battery of lifts you care to use realistically.

Hopefully not. Hopefully the test reflects the expected need. If the need is the unexpected, can performance even be good or bad?
Well, there is failure or success when faced with the unexpected, and varying levels of each. For the unexpected all you can do is improve across a range of activities relative to what you were capable of. Other than that, you're training for the test. Given the high level of specificity inherent with a lot of exercise movements, this is better that nothing only so far as it comes close to the expected demands.

Look at virtually every program commonly used - they help you improve at what you train, not what you don't. Carry-over is elusive, it really helps to ID as specifically as possible the activities you want to improve rather than exercises, and let that be the guide. Rob Shaul over at MTI has written quite a bit about this dynamic. Lacking that, it becomes very subjective, which is (I think) what is behind most of the responses of those not training for a specific sport.
 

Alan Mackey

More than 300 posts
I like that approach. Curious, if you find that you can't do one of these, do you adjust the emphasis of your training to try to get it back up to par?
Whenever I find myself unable to complete any of the aforementioned tests, I’ll give it another try in the following days. If I fail again, I’ll take a whole week off and start a new training cycle very, very, very conservatively.
 

Alan Mackey

More than 300 posts
I believe I was on a similar plan for a long time to my demise. Without a goal, is it still training or does it become something else?
You are exactly right!

Training, by definition, is a task you must do over and over again with a clear goal in mind. So, yes, I do not train anymore, I practice.

I just try do have fun doing physical things, no matter what the outcome.

A little example will suffice to illustrate my point: whenever I’m sparring, I always try to use the least amount of strength and speed I can. This way I do have to rely on timing and technique alone to survive a match against a VERY resisting opponent.

It goes without saying I end up tapping out A LOT. But, once or twice every blue moon, I do the right things at the right moment, and I somehow manage to defeat my training partner with almost no effort.

After that, if I decide to change gears and engage in a more physical game... Well, let’s just say it’s the others who do the tapping more often than not.
 
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Alan Mackey

More than 300 posts
I always wondered if the snatch test, being so short, is representative of cardio endurance.
I always thought TSC was lacking two fundamental tests:

- A 5K run.

- A long distance loaded carry for time.

All the above would fit into any military training regime, so it can’t get more “tactical” than that.
 

Anna C

> 6k Posts
Elite Certified Instructor
If I fail again, I’ll take a whole week off and start a new training cycle very, very, very conservatively.
Would you plan your training cycle to train the weakness? For example, if your run was good but your lifting didn't meet the challenge, you'd lift more in your training? Or if your lifting was good but your run was slow, you'd run more?
 

Alan Mackey

More than 300 posts
Would you plan your training cycle to train the weakness? For example, if your run was good but your lifting didn't meet the challenge, you'd lift more in your training? Or if your lifting was good but your run was slow, you'd run more?
Even if my running has not (yet) experienced a performance decrease, I find it easier to recover my strength levels by dialing down significantly all my hard training modalities (running, lifting and sparring mostly) and focusing on the soft ones (OS resets, crawling, Yoga, hiking...).

So, let’s say I’ve been running three times a week (30, 60 and 90 minutes), following a PttP template plus pull ups (four steps forward, three steps back) and sparring hard three times a week. And then, my front squat takes a hit. Repeatedly.

This is what I’d do:

- Two easy runs a week (maybe 20 and 45 minutes) and a long hike during the weekend.

- Start a new PttP (plus pull ups) cycle, following a wider wave cycle (maybe twelve steps forward and eleven steps back) and (this is the important part) using 80-85% of my last successful cycle as a goal (this is on purpose, so I can spend a few weeks doing basically warm-ups instead of pushing the envelope).

- I would spar with lower level belts, so I could keep it playful at all times.

Anyway, keep in mind this is what I’ve found that works *for me*. Other people might respond better to higher volume at lower intensities, or maybe lower frequency and higher intensity.
 

Anna C

> 6k Posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Interesting... thanks @Alan Mackey

What would the PttP cycle consist of? I assume it would be two lifts... but wondering what specifically would be driving the front squat back up.

Sorry for all the questions, it's just an interesting line of thought. I'm interested in the balance between training (pushing for improvements) and maintenance, or Park Bench approach, for someone who is pretty much where they want to be and just wants to stay at the same physical capabilities and focus on practice.
 

Alan Mackey

More than 300 posts
Interesting... thanks @Alan Mackey

What would the PttP cycle consist of? I assume it would be two lifts... but wondering what specifically would be driving the front squat back up.

Sorry for all the questions, it's just an interesting line of thought. I'm interested in the balance between training (pushing for improvements) and maintenance, or Park Bench approach, for someone who is pretty much where they want to be and just wants to stay at the same physical capabilities and focus on practice.
It all depends on the root cause of the failing result.

Whenever I’ve ended up failing to meet my front squat requirements, my upper back was always the limiting factor. So, in this case, switching to a back squat probably wouldn’t work.

My PttP cycle of choice to fix that would be front squats and incline rows (plus dips). But I remember this one time, when I was stuck badly, and I took a totally different approach: snatch grip deadlifts (which works the upper back like crazy) and incline presses (plus pull ups).
 

Anna C

> 6k Posts
Elite Certified Instructor
It all depends on the root cause of the failing result.

Whenever I’ve ended up failing to meet my front squat requirements, my upper back was always the limiting factor. So, in this case, switching to a back squat probably wouldn’t work.

My PttP cycle of choice to fix that would be front squats and incline rows (plus dips). But I remember this one time, when I was stuck badly, and I took a totally different approach: snatch grip deadlifts (which works the upper back like crazy) and incline presses (plus pull ups).
That makes sense. So you're using the information as not just "I didn't meet my minimum for X fitness attribute, therefore I need to do more X"... but instead, "I didn't meet my minimum for X, because of Y, therefore I need to train Y in my next cycle." Sounds pretty smart.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I always wondered if the snatch test, being so short, is representative of cardio endurance.
That's a good question but not an easy thing to parse.

Whenever I have had kettlebell snatches in my program and was also doing endurance things (swim and/or bike and/or run), my swim/bike/run always felt like it improved. I don't think it especially worked in the other direction but I couldn't say for sure.

I think the lesson here might be also found in the example of @Al Ciampa, @Harald Motz, @Anna C and others - the combination of strength-endurance training, e.g., for the snatch test, and easy long distance is, accordingly to our best knowledge at the moment, a good formula for health. And as a general guideline, the harder thing you do is more likely to make the easier thing easier, since it raises your "ceiling" and makes the endurance activity a lower percentage of your maximum capabilities, than the other way around, but there's this whole base-of-pyramid, peak-of-pyramid thing to consider - the wider the base, the higher the peak can be, so there's probably some of the easy endurance work contributing to the work capacity as expressed in the harder stuff.

No scientists were harmed in the preparation of this forum message (but neither were any consulted).

:)

-S-
 

Al Ciampa

> 2k Posts
Certified Instructor
That's a good question but not an easy thing to parse.

Whenever I have had kettlebell snatches in my program and was also doing endurance things (swim and/or bike and/or run), my swim/bike/run always felt like it improved. I don't think it especially worked in the other direction but I couldn't say for sure.

I think the lesson here might be also found in the example of @Al Ciampa, @Harald Motz, @Anna C and others - the combination of strength-endurance training, e.g., for the snatch test, and easy long distance is, accordingly to our best knowledge at the moment, a good formula for health. And as a general guideline, the harder thing you do is more likely to make the easier thing easier, since it raises your "ceiling" and makes the endurance activity a lower percentage of your maximum capabilities, than the other way around, but there's this whole base-of-pyramid, peak-of-pyramid thing to consider - the wider the base, the higher the peak can be, so there's probably some of the easy endurance work contributing to the work capacity as expressed in the harder stuff.

No scientists were harmed in the preparation of this forum message (but neither were any consulted).

:)

-S-
It does in fact work in both directions, Steve. Snatches and other strength work improves body weight movement. With the load being constant, easy endurance work improves a work capacity event such as the snatch test. Easy endurance also improves recovery between heavier sets of grinds and in general.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Ya know, @Al Ciampa, I tried to cover that possibility, too. :)

but there's this whole base-of-pyramid, peak-of-pyramid thing to consider - the wider the base, the higher the peak can be, so there's probably some of the easy endurance work contributing to the work capacity as expressed in the harder stuff.
I am looking forward to the weather warming up so I can spend some more time outside - it's gotten a little warmer here and it's great. I gave up on what little running I was doing when the weather got really cold.

Sending you a PM, Al.

-S-
 

Denny Phillips

Triple-Digit Post Count
but there's this whole base-of-pyramid, peak-of-pyramid thing to consider - the wider the base, the higher the peak can be, so there's probably some of the easy endurance work contributing to the work capacity as expressed in the harder stuff.
Somewhat OT, but...

During my competitive athlete days in the late 60's through the late 70's (football, basketball, track) I was trained in the model of generating a hefty base for the very reason Steve mentions, the bigger the base the higher the peak. I took that philosophy with me into my coaching career. It has been attacked and disregarded at different times by people that have greater credentials than I and also have access to cutting-edge research, yet, it has a way of cycling back. One my loves is the sprint hurdles and I have many examples of athletes that I have trained that simply increased their base in the off-season and wound up posting dramatic improvements. A high school athlete with a best of 39.7 in the 300m hurdles participated in cross country his senior year and, along with sensible strength training, went on to run 38.4 that year. While one could rightly argue that there was more than one variable at play, I maintain that the crucial factor was the base.
 

Oscar

> 1k Posts
Thanks @Steve Freides and @Al Ciampa. Maybe the snatch test reflects aerobic capacity not only by the test itself, but showing all the aerobic recovery that was required during the preaparation for that snatch test.

Several scientists were harmed by reading this message.
 

Anna C

> 6k Posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Maybe the snatch test reflects aerobic capacity not only by the test itself, but showing all the aerobic recovery that was required during the preaparation for that snatch test.
Quite possible, and I would add that recovery FROM the snatch test is much less eventful (i.e. sucks a lot less) with good aerobic fitness. When the aerobic system is not up to fueling part of the effort, or aiding in the buffering of byproducts of glycolysis during/after the effort, you feel like crap for a while afterwards and sometimes the rest of the day. With a good aerobic base, you're fine a couple of minutes later.
 

Harald Motz

> 2k Posts
Certified Instructor
For the past few years my training has been pretty consistent, so I don't really need tests to see if I'm making progress or not. Either it gradually gets easier to do the work or it doesn't. If things aren't progressing, or are regressing, it's likely a recovery issue. I know the process works, so really all I have to keep tabs on are the things that could potentially interfere with the process.
+1

My way of training and to think about it is grounded in the A+A philosophy and the method of repeat training. I am grounded in it as made pretty good experience with it over the past years. I don't need to test progress than letting it rather manifest. There are some things I can currently do on a regular basis. I can use 48kg and do snatch repeats with it, I can put 2x48kg from the ground over my head at least once repeatedly. I can row 10km without music in my ears at low heart rates every day and may also go for run for an hour if I want to. I am confident enough that I woud be abe to pull a 2,5 bw deadlift without training it. The snatch test with a 24kg I am not afraid of. I am just building a base and I am just glad that it takes years otherwise I may stop doing it altogether.

the combination of strength-endurance training, e.g., for the snatch test, and easy long distance is, accordingly to our best knowledge at the moment, a good formula for health.
I use easy aerobics as a recovery tool and nudging endurance adaptation gently. Strength is a cup, the bigger the cup, the more you can fill in. Endurance is a cup, the bigger it is the more you can fill in. Misconceptions: endurance training makes weak. Endurance is the easiest quality to obtain.

I always wondered if the snatch test, being so short, is representative of cardio endurance.
It makes sense to look at different "endurance" events in regards to predominant energy systems used.
What is "Work Capacity"? [Part I] | StrongFirst
What is "Work Capacity"? [Part II] | StrongFirst

Well... there's endurance and then there's endurance...
...goals
 

Bro Mo

> 1k Posts
A high school athlete with a best of 39.7 in the 300m hurdles participated in cross country his senior year and, along with sensible strength training, went on to run 38.4 that year.
Denny, what do you estimate is the amount of benefit gained from XC season that is then lost during the winter season before track? (i.e., 5% gain during XC followed by 3% decline during winter?)
Quite possible, and I would add that recovery FROM the snatch test is much less eventful (i.e. sucks a lot less) with good aerobic fitness.
It's settled...the new TSC is going to be 2x full TSCs with 30min rest between.
I am just building a base and I am just glad that it takes years otherwise I may stop doing it altogether.
Great point! Just knowing the patience it takes and having the confidence that time will heal all wounds of weakness is motivating.
 
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