Winter programming goals advice needed

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
As a college instructor, I am fried with work during December finals but have a significant amount of time Jan and Feb where I develop classes and elearning etc. to prepare for the term in March.

The campus has a gym with pairs of KB up to 20KG. There is a lack of space to deadlift and it takes a while to set up in a busy gym with the flood of people who sign up in the winter and then disappear in Feb.

I did the power to the people program last year. It was effective but I am 5 kg short of my bodyweight bench at 75 KG. I carefully followed the program and was set to retest my PR in the DL on my last gym day when I had sudden family commitments, so I don't know my current max. I never trained barbell bench before and lack a workout partner. Almost everyone at the gym is literally 25 or more years younger.

My goals are as follows but I don't know how to put them together or prioritize.

1. Gain some muscle with double KB squat and press. I built a base of goblet squats this past few months and the benefits are declining. I really like the double KB movement. It is very challenging without the need for barbell equipment.

2. Maintain my deadlift double bodyweight.

3. Get my bodyweight bench.

4. Dial in my swings, learn to snatch. They have lighter bells than my standard press bell at home if I need them to learn.

Tentative plan

- Bench two sets of five, 2-3 days a week like PTTP.
- Deadlift heavy once a week on Friday when the gym is less busy. I was unable to do this as planned this term in the free gym at school. I don't have space to deadlift at home.
- A light KB swing day each gym visit maybe four-five times a week. A few minutes of snatch each gym visit as pure practice of technique, swing, high pull, snatch combinations and regressions. They only have hardwood dance floors and yoga mats in the area that is not crowded with weights. Not optimal for getups. I want to do the TSC next year in the novice master's category.
- As much double KB work as I can tolerate two days a week after the bench.
- Hanging leg raises, pullup singles practice, face pulls, triceps and bicep work to finish. They have a nice cable station.

I normally do Muay Thai for fitness spring and fall, I only have uneven bells at home that are a bit too demanding for double KB work. This is my only window and access to equipment for hard work. I am 50 and work on the computer most of the day when I am not teaching.

How would you program or if necessary prioritize these goals? I like to have a focus, double KB; a learning goal, snatch; and a maintenance goal, deadlift/bench.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
A few thoughts, as I read what you wrote

- Bench two sets of five, 2-3 days a week like PTTP.
I would say do 3 sets of 5 of only 2-3 days/week. (2 sets of 5 if, like PTTP, 5 days a week). 2 sets of 5 twice a week might maintain, but it's unlikely to drive any strength gains.

Deadlift heavy once a week on Friday when the gym is less busy. I was unable to do this as planned this term in the free gym at school. I don't have space to deadlift at home.
This could work, but would work even better if you can do another deadlift variation one other day per week. Halting, deficit, snatch grip, rack pull... all but the last one would be at a lesser weight than your regular deadlifts. If you can't do deadlifts more than once a week, then your swings and/or snatches may suffice.

- A light KB swing day each gym visit maybe four-five times a week. A few minutes of snatch each gym visit as pure practice of technique, swing, high pull, snatch combinations and regressions. They only have hardwood dance floors and yoga mats in the area that is not crowded with weights. Not optimal for getups. I want to do the TSC next year in the novice master's category.
Once you get the snatch technique down, just snatch. Don't worry about the combos and high pulls. Swings also is a good idea, but swing heavier than your snatch weight, if so.

- As much double KB work as I can tolerate two days a week after the bench.
I would select an amount for a targeted adaptation and skills practice... i.e. challenging 5 sets of 5 cleans, or squats, or a combo of these. Don't keep going until you're worn out.

- Hanging leg raises, pullup singles practice, face pulls, triceps and bicep work to finish. They have a nice cable station.
That could work, but you might want to prioritize the pull-ups more. Depends where you are with these relative to where you want to be for the TSC.

I am 50 and work on the computer most of the day
Me too, except will be 52 this month. Computer ALL day long at work. Stand-up desk, walking breaks, and occasional GTG exercises help a lot!

What days are you likely to go to the gym? M-Tu-W-Th-Fri? Rest on the weekends?
 

Kate Hardy

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I would second everything @AnnaC said, especially because I don't have any experience with barbell or TSC. However, I can speak to your kettlebell training.

Swings: I would focus on 1-arm swings with a heavier bell (the power will translate to your snatches). Depending on how much time you have, get in 10 swings (on one arm) either EMOM or top of the 30s. Alternate arms each set.

Snatches: You mentioned wanting to get these in every workout and I agree (again) with @AnnaC that once you get your technique down, don't worry about the regressions. My two favorite snatch drills are:
- 15 sec snatches on one side, 15 sec rest, 15 sec snatches on other side - repeat for a total of 5 min (10 sets total)
- 1 snatch at the top of 30s (or 1 min), hold in overhead press for remainder of time; re-rack bell before switching sides - repeat for a total of 3-5x on each side

Doubles: A couple of ideas on these workouts (building in rest where you need it and not working to exhaustion).
- 3-5 double cleans, 3-5 double front squats, 3-5 double presses; for 3-5 sets
- 1 double clean, 1 double front squat, 1 right-arm press, 1 double front squat, 1 left-arm press, 1 double front squat, 1 double press; 3-5 sets
- or just stick to one drill at a time: 3-5 double cleans for 3-5 sets, 3-5 double front squats for 3-5 sets, 3-5 double presses for 3-5 sets

You didn't mention where you're at as far as pull-ups go but I've had good results with the Fighter Pull Up Program, if you're looking to increase volume.

I'm a fan of multitasking and might combine my work into one drill like this:
- 3-5 pull ups
- 5 double cleans
- 10 1H swings (alt arms) EMOM for 10 min
*Repeat the drill but replace the double cleans with double front squats, then replace them with double presses on the 3rd round

Super curious to see what others suggest and how you decide to plan your training.

K
 

Bunn

Level 5 Valued Member
Just an observation, have you considered the possibility that you have too many goals for such a short period of time? You may want to consider dropping down to just one or two and making as much progress in that area as you can, vice spreading yourself all over the place.

In my line of work we like to say that "if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority".
 

Bauer

Level 6 Valued Member
If I were you I would probably try something like this:

Fighter or Operator template from Tactical Barbell (2-3x per week, similar to PTTP, ) with Zercher Squat, Bench Press and some Pullup Work. One session per week skip the pullups and do 1-3 sets of Deadlifts.

On inbetween days practice some snatches and swings. Maybe some light extra practice as a warmup before your strength work.

Maybe a ruck/run on the weekend.

Warmup: Probably Goblet Squats, maybe TGU.

Please note that I have never done any BB work and this is just a setup that I have saved for the future. I also like the weekly templates from Tactical Barbell Conditioning, except for the sample workouts. I think any conditioning plan from SF would be better (especially A+A, QnD or S&S).

Here are two articles that might also be of interest to you, at least for ideas of how to structure your training week.
Total Package Weekly Kettlebell Training Template | StrongFirst

No Distractions: The Occam's Razor Training Plan | StrongFirst

And for exercise selection:
The Best Squat Exercise | StrongFirst
The Best Press Exercise | StrongFirst
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
Just an observation, have you considered the possibility that you have too many goals for such a short period of time? You may want to consider dropping down to just one or two and making as much progress in that area as you can, vice spreading yourself all over the place.

In my line of work we like to say that "if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority".
Yes, prioritzing is part of my request. Keep in mind that pullups and making progress in deadlift etc. are not the focus. I can focus on those in the spring. I have a window of free time to recover and equipment options only in the winter.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
@guardian7, get some instruction on your bench press.

-S-
I took the SFG barbell course and read Starting Strength, PTTP and Reload. I think it is just that I haven't trained it except for last winter. I forgot to mention that I didn't test 1RM max. I am thinking of sets of five as my goal. Training would help of course but this lift is not my priority. I don't have a spotter. I just ask kids in the gym after observing their bench. Disposable income and weekends are spend on my child's extracurricular activities these days. Otherwise, I would be at a SF gym across town on the weekend.
 
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guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
If I were you I would probably try something like this:

Fighter or Operator template from Tactical Barbell (2-3x per week, similar to PTTP, ) with Zercher Squat, Bench Press and some Pullup Work. One session per week skip the pullups and do 1-3 sets of Deadlifts.

On inbetween days practice some snatches and swings. Maybe some light extra practice as a warmup before your strength work.

Maybe a ruck/run on the weekend.

Warmup: Probably Goblet Squats, maybe TGU.

Please note that I have never done any BB work and this is just a setup that I have saved for the future. I also like the weekly templates from Tactical Barbell Conditioning, except for the sample workouts. I think any conditioning plan from SF would be better (especially A+A, QnD or S&S).

Here are two articles that might also be of interest to you, at least for ideas of how to structure your training week.
Total Package Weekly Kettlebell Training Template | StrongFirst

No Distractions: The Occam's Razor Training Plan | StrongFirst

And for exercise selection:
The Best Squat Exercise | StrongFirst
The Best Press Exercise | StrongFirst
I would second everything @AnnaC said, especially because I don't have any experience with barbell or TSC. However, I can speak to your kettlebell training.

Swings: I would focus on 1-arm swings with a heavier bell (the power will translate to your snatches). Depending on how much time you have, get in 10 swings (on one arm) either EMOM or top of the 30s. Alternate arms each set.

Snatches: You mentioned wanting to get these in every workout and I agree (again) with @AnnaC that once you get your technique down, don't worry about the regressions. My two favorite snatch drills are:
- 15 sec snatches on one side, 15 sec rest, 15 sec snatches on other side - repeat for a total of 5 min (10 sets total)
- 1 snatch at the top of 30s (or 1 min), hold in overhead press for remainder of time; re-rack bell before switching sides - repeat for a total of 3-5x on each side

Doubles: A couple of ideas on these workouts (building in rest where you need it and not working to exhaustion).
- 3-5 double cleans, 3-5 double front squats, 3-5 double presses; for 3-5 sets
- 1 double clean, 1 double front squat, 1 right-arm press, 1 double front squat, 1 left-arm press, 1 double front squat, 1 double press; 3-5 sets
- or just stick to one drill at a time: 3-5 double cleans for 3-5 sets, 3-5 double front squats for 3-5 sets, 3-5 double presses for 3-5 sets

You didn't mention where you're at as far as pull-ups go but I've had good results with the Fighter Pull Up Program, if you're looking to increase volume.

I'm a fan of multitasking and might combine my work into one drill like this:
- 3-5 pull ups
- 5 double cleans
- 10 1H swings (alt arms) EMOM for 10 min
*Repeat the drill but replace the double cleans with double front squats, then replace them with double presses on the 3rd round

Super curious to see what others suggest and how you decide to plan your training.

K
Pullups PR is ten
TSC standard probably 7 as PR
Now, probably only five. The university is rebuilding the stadium so my outdoor pullup station where I used to GTG my pullups on the way to class is gone this term.
Fighter pullup would probably be too difficult for me. I have bookmarked it. GTG pushups and pullups seemed to work for me.

I can focus on them in the Spring when I can get outdoor pullup stations easily. I already have too many goals so it is more something like strict, explosive TSC standard singles I am thinking about.

Developing a circuit with the KB seems like a great idea.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
A few thoughts, as I read what you wrote



I would say do 3 sets of 5 of only 2-3 days/week. (2 sets of 5 if, like PTTP, 5 days a week). 2 sets of 5 twice a week might maintain, but it's unlikely to drive any strength gains.

Yes, 3 * 5 makes more sense thanks.

This could work, but would work even better if you can do another deadlift variation one other day per week. Halting, deficit, snatch grip, rack pull... all but the last one would be at a lesser weight than your regular deadlifts. If you can't do deadlifts more than once a week, then your swings and/or snatches may suffice.

Not can't but there are already too many goals. My priority is gaining muscle. I am reading Return? of the KB right now. The double KB one.

Once you get the snatch technique down, just snatch. Don't worry about the combos and high pulls. Swings also is a good idea, but swing heavier than your snatch weight, if so.

Yes, still learning. Lack of access to anything more than 20KG at the gym though. Plenty challenging for my snatch but light for two handed swings. OK for one handed, especially left.

I would select an amount for a targeted adaptation and skills practice... i.e. challenging 5 sets of 5 cleans, or squats, or a combo of these. Don't keep going until you're worn out.

I meant ability to recover. I don't trash myself in workouts. I usually do a 50 percent max repeat sets like PlanStrong guidelines.

That could work, but you might want to prioritize the pull-ups more. Depends where you are with these relative to where you want to be for the TSC.

I can focus on them in the spring. I need to practice the TSC standard and will video myself.

Me too, except will be 52 this month. Computer ALL day long at work. Stand-up desk, walking breaks, and occasional GTG exercises help a lot!

I have been doing goblet squats sets and GTG pushups and BU KB holds in my office with good results. Every hour on the hour type work. A bit erratic I admit at times but very helpful.

What days are you likely to go to the gym? M-Tu-W-Th-Fri? Rest on the weekends?

I will base it on the number of weekdays I can recover from. Most likely four days a week. A fifth day of only snatch practice or mobility work. It is not hard to go to the campus gym and there is a laundry service!

Thanks for the detailed feedback.

No need to reply but if you are the Anna C who won the master's TSC then congratulations.

Click on quote to expand. This could be an easier format for people to reply to posts.
 
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Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Click on quote to expand. This could be an easier format for people to reply to posts.
I see the replies but the method doesn't work as well with the forum functions...

Yeah if 20kg is your only available kettlebell you can really work that for snatches.

I like the idea of BU KB holds in the office! I need to bring in a bell...

Laundry service? Sweet!

Yes, that's me, TSC Masters. Thanks!

So, let us know what your daily/weekly plan looks like based on the feedback so far and we could have another look at it...
 

Kate Hardy

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Fighter pullup would probably be too difficult for me. I have bookmarked it. GTG pushups and pullups seemed to work for me.
Just wanted to address this really quickly... not too difficult at all if you're starting at 5. I started at 3 a few months ago... repeated a couple of weeks here and there and just finished a week with 7 as my max. I approach the pull ups one of two ways:
1. Spread them out over the course of the day.
2. Build them into one workout. Typically I will start a "circuit" with the number of pull ups I need and then continue on with bodyweight and/or kettlebell work as I have it planned. It gives me enough of a rest between each round of pull ups and allows me to get them all in one workout. And honestly how long to a few pull ups take anyway? ;)
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
I see the replies but the method doesn't work as well with the forum functions...

Yeah if 20kg is your only available kettlebell you can really work that for snatches.

I like the idea of BU KB holds in the office! I need to bring in a bell...

Laundry service? Sweet!

Yes, that's me, TSC Masters. Thanks!

So, let us know what your daily/weekly plan looks like based on the feedback so far and we could have another look at it...
Just found out that the bodyweight SFG course will be coming Jan. 12. I will reread the Naked Warrior and do GTG bodyweight for the rest of Dec. and then decide what to do in Jan. Thanks.
 

Bauer

Level 6 Valued Member
Btw: I just wanted to make it clear that with "Fighter Template" I did not mean the Fighter Pullup Plan, but the Fighter Template from Tactical Barbell. This is a 6 week barbell plan with 2 waves (both going from, I think, 70-90%1RM), with 2 sessions per week. 3-5 reps in 3-5 sets, if memory serves. 2-4 exercises.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
Btw: I just wanted to make it clear that with "Fighter Template" I did not mean the Fighter Pullup Plan, but the Fighter Template from Tactical Barbell. This is a 6 week barbell plan with 2 waves (both going from, I think, 70-90%1RM), with 2 sessions per week. 3-5 reps in 3-5 sets, if memory serves. 2-4 exercises.
Yes, I was confused. I think PTTP is good enough for my level. As Dan John said, The program was working so well, I decided to change it!
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
I see the replies but the method doesn't work as well with the forum functions...

Yeah if 20kg is your only available kettlebell you can really work that for snatches.

I like the idea of BU KB holds in the office! I need to bring in a bell...

Laundry service? Sweet!

Yes, that's me, TSC Masters. Thanks!

So, let us know what your daily/weekly plan looks like based on the feedback so far and we could have another look at it...
I had a cold and also switched focus to preparing for the bodyweight course.

I registered for two months at the gym this weekend and will do the following.

Rerun PTTP bench/deadlift but increase sets to three as suggested if my frequency falls off. I will use more "steps" repeating at the same weight. It won't be as linear as last year when I benched regularly literally for the first time. I have regressed too much on barbell, so it needs the focus. Do some light swings and snatch practice almost daily warmup and finishing. Pure practice approach. 2 min of passive bar hanging and ten minutes of crawling a day. Both are rehabilitative while strengthening my shoulders/grip. GTG pistol progression and band pullaparts, shoulder stretching, OS head nods, and unloaded single leg deadlift while working, not much volume.

I will leave the double kettlebell hypertrophy work for another time as I can do that without a gym and I got a big work project this winter, so it is not going to be the relaxing winter I thought it would.
 
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Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I took the SFG barbell course and read Starting Strength, PTTP and Reload. I think it is just that I haven't trained it except for last winter. I forgot to mention that I didn't test 1RM max. I am thinking of sets of five as my goal. Training would help of course but this lift is not my priority. I don't have a spotter. I just ask kids in the gym after observing their bench. Disposable income and weekends are spend on my child's extracurricular activities these days. Otherwise, I would be at a SF gym across town on the weekend.
This thread keeps returning to programming, and I would like to return to technique. I'll explain, if you'll forgive a rambling post - there is a point to all this, at least in my admittedly feeble mind.

Taking a StrongFirst course isn't a guarantee that your technique is good. You mention being a teacher; I am, too. Some very bright, talented, motivated students still don't get what they're supposed to get even after repeated exposures. Part of what I love about teaching privately is that I get to repeat the same message, over and over and over and over and over, to the student who needs to hear it. That just doesn't happen in a classroom setting for some students.

And I relate to this as a student now, too, because I just started studying a new instrument - my teacher is very aware of the many things I do well but equally aware of what I don't, and he doesn't let me off the hook. In my case, the instrument is the cello, the good thing is my left hand and the bad thing my right. He interrupts me often to work on my right hand, and he tells me he has no worries about my left. And he keeps at it, coming over to me and repositioning my hand on the bow, guiding my hand/arm/shoulder through the path they should be taking, and I do get it right once in a while, maybe for 5 minutes out of my 1 hour lesson - but that kind of one-on-one, hands-on instruction is what I needed, what I still need, and what I'm going to need for a while longer.

Now back to the BP.

Yesterday I was, at their request, coaching my younger son and his friend who is also his training partner in our basement gym, on the bench press. When I put my son on a program based on the PTTP Bear protocol, he prospered - gained muscle and added weight on the bar. But his friend was another story - his friend didn't understand why his bench press would go only so far - so I watched.

It turns out his friend would lower the back rather passively, and for the last inch to his chest, give up tension completely and bounce the bar - and there was his problem. It wasn't completely fixable in yesterday's session, but we made some progress. He now has an idea of what he needs to do differently, and I'm going to spend the next few weeks watching all of his bench sessions. He asked about programming but I wouldn't answer except to say, "Let's get your technique dialed in by just doing a few reps with a moderately heavy weight, 70-80% or so, and then we'll talk programming. For now, just bench a little, with a focus on technique, 3 times a week."

And - this is what in your post made me reply at length - I read that you were 5 kg short of a bw BP at 75 kg. I am the world's worst bench presser. I don't practice it for months and years at a time. Why? Arching my old, stiff back is so ill-suited to me that, when I get up from the bench I couldn't untie my shoes if my life depended on it until I've had a few minutes to let me back loosen up. I'm built about as poorly as one could be - thin, long arms. I get dizzy from laying down and getting up again. (I have vertigo, a result, the doctors tells me, of my childhood illnesses.) But I took a single rep, to demonstrate, with just over my bodyweight on the bar, used a competition form including a pause on the chest, and I got my rep. No warmup.

It is my recommendation to you, just based on a hunch and nothing else, that you have technical flaws in your BP technique that you'll need to work with an instructor to fix, and that when you fix them, you'll have your bw BP - and more. And that you shouldn't worry about programming until you are sure you have technique that will allow you to respond to progressively heavier weights.

-S-
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
This thread keeps returning to programming, and I would like to return to technique. I'll explain, if you'll forgive a rambling post - there is a point to all this, at least in my admittedly feeble mind.

Taking a StrongFirst course isn't a guarantee that your technique is good. You mention being a teacher; I am, too. Some very bright, talented, motivated students still don't get what they're supposed to get even after repeated exposures. Part of what I love about teaching privately is that I get to repeat the same message, over and over and over and over and over, to the student who needs to hear it. That just doesn't happen in a classroom setting for some students.

And I relate to this as a student now, too, because I just started studying a new instrument - my teacher is very aware of the many things I do well but equally aware of what I don't, and he doesn't let me off the hook. In my case, the instrument is the cello, the good thing is my left hand and the bad thing my right. He interrupts me often to work on my right hand, and he tells me he has no worries about my left. And he keeps at it, coming over to me and repositioning my hand on the bow, guiding my hand/arm/shoulder through the path they should be taking, and I do get it right once in a while, maybe for 5 minutes out of my 1 hour lesson - but that kind of one-on-one, hands-on instruction is what I needed, what I still need, and what I'm going to need for a while longer.

Now back to the BP.

Yesterday I was, at their request, coaching my younger son and his friend who is also his training partner in our basement gym, on the bench press. When I put my son on a program based on the PTTP Bear protocol, he prospered - gained muscle and added weight on the bar. But his friend was another story - his friend didn't understand why his bench press would go only so far - so I watched.

It turns out his friend would lower the back rather passively, and for the last inch to his chest, give up tension completely and bounce the bar - and there was his problem. It wasn't completely fixable in yesterday's session, but we made some progress. He now has an idea of what he needs to do differently, and I'm going to spend the next few weeks watching all of his bench sessions. He asked about programming but I wouldn't answer except to say, "Let's get your technique dialed in by just doing a few reps with a moderately heavy weight, 70-80% or so, and then we'll talk programming. For now, just bench a little, with a focus on technique, 3 times a week."

And - this is what in your post made me reply at length - I read that you were 5 kg short of a bw BP at 75 kg. I am the world's worst bench presser. I don't practice it for months and years at a time. Why? Arching my old, stiff back is so ill-suited to me that, when I get up from the bench I couldn't untie my shoes if my life depended on it until I've had a few minutes to let me back loosen up. I'm built about as poorly as one could be - thin, long arms. I get dizzy from laying down and getting up again. (I have vertigo, a result, the doctors tells me, of my childhood illnesses.) But I took a single rep, to demonstrate, with just over my bodyweight on the bar, used a competition form including a pause on the chest, and I got my rep. No warmup.

It is my recommendation to you, just based on a hunch and nothing else, that you have technical flaws in your BP technique that you'll need to work with an instructor to fix, and that when you fix them, you'll have your bw BP - and more. And that you shouldn't worry about programming until you are sure you have technique that will allow you to respond to progressively heavier weights.

-S-
Thanks Steve, your main point is well taken. I am sure there are things to improve. Even I can see all kinds of problems in others in the gym, racking with bent elbows, bar path too near the neck, incomplete ROM, head too far above the bar, etc. For clarification, I stopped the PTTP cycle I did last year 5kg short of bodyweight for my 2*5 sets as the time I had allotted ran out. I was still making linear-step gains. It was the first time to train the bench in a program. I haven't tested my 1 RM. Your main point stands, however. If my progress stalls this time around, I will reevaluate.
 
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