I’ve mentioned in a few places that I’m pretty burned out on lifting at the moment. It’s all mental, meaning that I’m really feeling sick of being in the gym all the time and really have to talk myself into going.
It happens. Train long enough, and especially when you find yourself without any real pressing goals, and it’s unavoidable. The solution has always been to go on a bare-bones program, something that’s brief and to the point, at least a little productive, and not so focused on a specialized goal.
I figured I might as well go back to a more well-rounded kind of training, similar to what I was doing early last year (2009) with the hybrid strength and conditioning plan that worked so well — two weight days, two conditioning days that were streamlined “metcon” workouts and 20-30 minutes of tempo work on the cycle. It worked just fine, so I’m trying to angle back in that direction.
Diet right now is a pretty loose interpretation of intermittent fasting — I’m keeping the meal windows at a strict eight hours, with a pretty decent-sized meal at noon or so, mostly grazing throughout the afternoon, then another decent-sized mostly-protein meal before bed. One of those big meals winds up being the post-workout feed, and I get a shake with 100g of whey before and during the training session. Pretty basic stuff really; it works as long as I don’t go too crazy with the ice cream.
As far as the training, I’m doing a pretty minimal routine right now which is about as far from the Bulgarian/Broz routine as you can get without quoting late-stage Mike Mentzer. I wrote up a post on the forum just now which covers the strength training I’m doing and why. I’d been planning on doing this write-up anyway, so I’ll link it to save the typing.
If you want a simple minimal plan that’s got a little auto-regulating built into it, I’d first look at Martin Berkhan’s write up on what he calls reverse pyramid training. Then I’d go look at that article of mine on APRE training.
If you don’t see what I’m getting at, what I’m doing now is a two-day workout (which could be unfolded into four days pretty easily, I just don’t care to be in the gym more than twice a week right now) that’s got a little from Martin’s RPT, a little from 531, and a little from the APRE ideas. Since I’m kinda/sorta dieting at the moment, this is pretty low-volume minimalist stuff:
Day 1 (normally Tuesday)
Day 2 (normally Saturday)
Deadlift exercise is rotating in cycles, currently doing pulls with the plates on blocks, bar still below the knee. Everything else is as it says.
I do a few warmups, mainly singles or triples to get things going, then hit the peak set for the day. This is the test set, a best set of 5 reps, which I’m basing off both reps and RPE. I’m considering a set of 5 at an RPE of 8 or less to be the trigger to go up in weight. A set of 5 that’s in the 9ish range, pretty hard but not an all-out set, means repeat that weight next time. Any set which maxes out the squat, deadlift, or chins at a 10 means back off by 5-10% at the next session and adjust accordingly. Inclines and push press get a little more leeway to grind.
After that I’m doing 1-2 backoffs, kicking the weight back 10% as per Martin’s suggestion. Again you get a little space here to autoregulate it…if you’re early in a cycle and the back-off weights feel good you might rack out 2 sets of 6. If you’re having a bad day or getting a little stronger in the cycle you might do a second drop for the third set (i.e., top set, -10% weight, -20% weight, which is almost getting into Pavel’s Bear program for building size and could be an option as well), or you might not even bother with a third set.
There’s a lot of flexibility in judging the back-offs, and they are also another opportunity to test how things are going. If your top set is cruising and not really going up (say you’re dieting or just stuck at a plateau), you could start focusing on these down sets with a double progression (add reps before adding weight).
I’m doing this for everything except the deadlift exercise, which is going for triples instead of fives and there’s no variation in the reps — it’s triples for the top set and for the back-off sets, which is kinda John Kuc inspired.
Weighted chins get a top set of 5 and then back-offs at body weight (for obvious reasons).
If you wanted to make a training cycle out of this, you could start out with the SS 3×5 system, and then once that peaks (3×5 turns into grinders that are beating you to hell and you’re taking extreme rests to hit them) then focus on that first work set and use the last two as the back-offs. Once that peaks, use the troubleshooting methods to start auto-regulating it.
You could potentially do this on a three-day weekly schedule by alternating A-B-A, B-A-B or you could give each lift its own day as per 531. As I said, I’m only compressing it into two days out of convenience.
I need to start getting some cardio and conditioning work back in there, something along the lines of tempo cycling like I did before, or hill sprints and sled dragging as per Wendler, but that’s still tripping my don’t-want-to-exercise switch. Ideally I’d like to start putting an odd-lift/strongman type day on Thursday, since I’d like to play around more with the one-hand barbell press, the steel log, and some sled dragging, stuff like that — but again, without the desire to do it that’s not going far.