1

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How to break a fixed workout cycle?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 11, 2010 at 8:57 PM

This dovetails slightly with one of my other questions regarding muscle glycogen, so apologies for any overlaps.

I'm a 21yr old, ex-competitive rugby player that has currently been on the Stronglifts 5x5 for close to 3 months. I'm getting bored, though. I've also started to hit plateaus, which I've self diagnosed as a by-product of going paleo and HIIT 3 time a week. So I want to start a new cycle - or better yet, break the cycle completely.

I like the idea of The Primal Blueprint's recommendations, but under the title "Lift heavy things" I'm a little hazy. For people not on a set plan, how do you dream up exactly what to do? Varying volume, weight, and functionality is what I want to do, but this is far too free-form for someone used to doing exactly as my coaches tell me to.

Thanks to the 5x5, I think I'm the strongest I've ever been in my life, and my idea of a good workout is puke-inducing, so suggestions for killer workouts should not be held back. Without having done Crossfit before, I think that I'd like something along that ideology given the constraint that I'm in Norway without access to a Crossfit gym. The aim is to get as close to "fighting fit" as I can - functional strength close to rugby or martial arts.

Thanks!

B1b9f0574aa9571f6aec6adb81d43190

(578)

on March 12, 2010
at 10:11 AM

Full gym, power rack, and rings. No sledgehammer, tires, or other typical crossfit stuff. I figured I can always do medicine ball slams to replace sledgehammers, so I think that I'm pretty much all good.

08f65e31fe63fa8c91edcdf8ece35607

(220)

on March 12, 2010
at 02:26 AM

What kind of gym/equipment do you have? There is a list of substitutions on the CrossFit main site: http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/faq.html#Substitutions0 If you are working out at home there is a CrossFit Journal article that has some good tips on what to get for a garage gym http://www.crossfit.com/journal/library/cfjissue1_Sep02.pdf There are lots of other resources out there to help you get the most bang for your buck. There is some degree of periodization on those sites so I would be careful mixing and matching the most difficult workouts - you might end up overtraining.

B1b9f0574aa9571f6aec6adb81d43190

(578)

on March 11, 2010
at 11:31 PM

Ok, I'm sold. However, there are equipment and gym placement limitations. It's quite hard to sprint outside, complete some weights, then continue for time. Ways to get around those? I'm thinking following different WODs, and choosing the hardest possible ones able to do?

08f65e31fe63fa8c91edcdf8ece35607

(220)

on March 11, 2010
at 11:10 PM

Typically CrossFit gyms will run on a 3-on, 1-off schedule or a 3-on, 1-off, 2-on, 1-off (to make it the same every week) So you'd be training 5-6x a week. This is going to be too much if you're doing any other kind of intense activity and for many people is too much even by itself. If you are going to do say 3x or 4x a week I'd start off running a week behind so you'll have a lot of workouts to choose from and then choose whichever one you least want to do - no cherry-picking :)

B1b9f0574aa9571f6aec6adb81d43190

(578)

on March 11, 2010
at 11:05 PM

Oh wow, both Crossfit Football and OPT look intense. Perfect. I have three set days for working out, and just do the WOD for that day or the day before?

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8 Answers

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2
08f65e31fe63fa8c91edcdf8ece35607

on March 11, 2010
at 10:20 PM

It sounds to me like you're trying to optimize your performance rather than focusing purely on health/longevity. Mark Sisson's exercise advice is more focused on the latter - emphasizing low intensity cardio with a little lifting and sprinting thrown in. However, while that style of training is probably optimal for health and longevity because you're using very little muscle glycogen it's not going to get you a 400lb back squat and make you a met-con superstar, which is what it sounds like you're after.

For my money the programming at CrossFit Football is excellent - much better than the CrossFit main site. I'd also look at OPT's programming which is a CrossFit gym that is very well regarded by many.

08f65e31fe63fa8c91edcdf8ece35607

(220)

on March 12, 2010
at 02:26 AM

What kind of gym/equipment do you have? There is a list of substitutions on the CrossFit main site: http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/faq.html#Substitutions0 If you are working out at home there is a CrossFit Journal article that has some good tips on what to get for a garage gym http://www.crossfit.com/journal/library/cfjissue1_Sep02.pdf There are lots of other resources out there to help you get the most bang for your buck. There is some degree of periodization on those sites so I would be careful mixing and matching the most difficult workouts - you might end up overtraining.

B1b9f0574aa9571f6aec6adb81d43190

(578)

on March 12, 2010
at 10:11 AM

Full gym, power rack, and rings. No sledgehammer, tires, or other typical crossfit stuff. I figured I can always do medicine ball slams to replace sledgehammers, so I think that I'm pretty much all good.

B1b9f0574aa9571f6aec6adb81d43190

(578)

on March 11, 2010
at 11:05 PM

Oh wow, both Crossfit Football and OPT look intense. Perfect. I have three set days for working out, and just do the WOD for that day or the day before?

B1b9f0574aa9571f6aec6adb81d43190

(578)

on March 11, 2010
at 11:31 PM

Ok, I'm sold. However, there are equipment and gym placement limitations. It's quite hard to sprint outside, complete some weights, then continue for time. Ways to get around those? I'm thinking following different WODs, and choosing the hardest possible ones able to do?

08f65e31fe63fa8c91edcdf8ece35607

(220)

on March 11, 2010
at 11:10 PM

Typically CrossFit gyms will run on a 3-on, 1-off schedule or a 3-on, 1-off, 2-on, 1-off (to make it the same every week) So you'd be training 5-6x a week. This is going to be too much if you're doing any other kind of intense activity and for many people is too much even by itself. If you are going to do say 3x or 4x a week I'd start off running a week behind so you'll have a lot of workouts to choose from and then choose whichever one you least want to do - no cherry-picking :)

2
5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

on March 11, 2010
at 10:49 PM

You might have a look at "Body by Science." One thing McGuff explains is that some athletes fail to advance because they work out too much, and don't allow enough recovery time. Less frequent, but more intense workouts are the solution.

In addition, you might try working out while you're still fasting (in the morning, before your first meal of the day). This seems to have a very positive impact on the effectiveness of the workout, as described by Kurt Harris (paleonu.com) and others.

2
8e606dbf570848c4bc95f98e974a42ca

(312)

on March 11, 2010
at 10:09 PM

If you are looking for ways to get into program development I would start here...

www.rosstraining.com

His books are information dense, include chapters on program creation and sample 50 day programs to get you started but are geared toward you designing your own program based on where you are currently and where you want to be. And they are most certainly "puke inducing" in nature if you so desire.

Depending on the amount of equipment you have I would start with "Infinite Intensity" and "Full Throttle Conditioning". If you little or no equipment them I would go with "Never Gymless" and "Full Throttle Conditioning".

There are lots of videos on his site for you to check out so you just don't have to take my word for it. I have all the books and like to mix and match depending on what I am working on.

As Rugby player I think this stuff would complement you greatly.

2
4c8a9bec5a27b66b28d3c5cddeb70e93

on March 11, 2010
at 10:03 PM

I think currently the best evolutionary/science-based approach(s) to heavy lifting will be a mix between Art De Vany's workout program (and set/rep range) and the Body By Science approach. Look into both of those and you should be on your way to being as fit as humanly possible.

2
0637289bb4a0ab314d80fa4de627d395

(1015)

on March 11, 2010
at 09:45 PM

I am a little hazy on the phrase ""Lift heavy things"" as well. I think Mark will clarify his meaning during Primal Con. I am sure a more exact definition will come out after then. From his writing, it seems he favors body weight exercises now. Why not just do the Crossfit main site WOD or the Crossfit football WOD?

1
0d821bf7d4028b84a6838062db0e9ce0

(754)

on March 12, 2010
at 01:45 AM

for a good place for a massive amount of chatter and knowledge on power and conditioning, you may want to check out the sherdog forums training section (since you mentioned martial arts), the Strength and power, Conditioning, and diet/supplements sections are all full of knowledge with a focus on what works for MMA/combat sports athletes. From hanging around there was where I got introduce to Paleo/primal and the blogs that led me here.

1
5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

on March 11, 2010
at 10:48 PM

Mark has a lot of posts with people swinging kettlebells on the beach and stuff like that but he's a self-confessed gym rat and "Lift heavy things" means pretty much going to the gym and lifting weights...

From Definitive Guide: The Primal Blueprint:

Go to the gym and lift weights for 30-45 minutes, 2-3 times a week. Focus on movements that involve the entire body and in wider ranges of motion ??? not just on isolating body parts. Emulate the movements of our ancestors: jumping, squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, twisting, etc. This will stimulate your genes to increase muscle strength and power, increase bone density, improve insulin sensitivity, stimulate growth hormone secretion, and consume stored body fat.

For my money, I think big compound lifts in a controlled gym environment should be the backbone of any fitness program but it's great to throw in plyometrics, calisthenics, etc. for functional strength.

For putting together a random cross-training workout, FitDeck is a pretty cool product. For example, with the bodyweight deck, you could shuffle it, grab a card, do the exercise on the card, then do a sprint, then do another card, then do a sprint, etc.. It's a nice free-form approach without the need for a CrossFit gym nearby. You could, of course, just scribble the names of a bunch of bodyweight exercises on pieces of paper and randomly draw them for the same effect.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 12, 2010
at 05:02 PM

I don't exactly fit here, because I don't know anything about gym workouts but wouldn't it make sense to switch exercise activities regularly and not get in a programmed rut? Like, do lifting heavy weights one day, intense short runs another, and switch muscles groups around regularly.

My form of weight lifting is to garden in a way most females don't. I have packed the wheelbarrow so full I once broke the hardwood handle on my favourite contractor-size wheelbarrow. That exercises both arms and legs at the same time.

By the way, you sound incredibly fit already!

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