WHY DO WE DO STRENGTH CYCLES?
Our training plan at WVP is built out in a macro cycle covering an entire year from the time the CrossFit Games season ends and the next one begins with the Open. The macro cycle consists of a handful of training blocks (4-8 weeks) where the program is biased slightly toward one area of fitness. We always start the training year with a pure strength cycle. The reason for this is that building a solid strength base lays a foundation to build in other areas of fitness as it allows us to perform other movements that we see in CrossFit safer and more easily. Strength typically takes a bit longer to build so these cycles tend to be a little longer in duration than others. Strength cycles are also FUN! When the Open is over and we’re all tired of doing tons of conditioning, what could be better than rolling up the doors, blasting some music, and lifting some heavy shit with friends?
WHAT WILL THE STRENGTH CYCLE CONSIST OF?
This year’s strength cycle begins on Monday, March 28th. It’ll will be 12-week cycle focusing on the three main lifts, back squat, bench press, and deadlift. The cycle will begin with a testing week and conclude with a re-test week with Monday, Wednesday, and Friday being our main lifting days.Monday: back squat + pull strengthWednesday: bench press + single-leg strengthFriday: deadlift + vertical pressingThese strength days will also include some shorter, high intensity conditioning pieces at the end. The rest of the week will be filled in with a balanced program consisting of structure work, gymnastics skill, barbell skill, and aerobic training.When it comes to testing for this cycle, we will have a variety of options based on level of experience to make sure we’re getting the most accurate testing. Unlike most other strength cycles that only go off 1-rep maxes, we’ll have the option to choose between a 1-rep max, a 3-rep max, or a 5-rep max. The biggest question will be which one should you choose?1-rep max: experienced lifter (12+ months)3-rep max: intermediate lifter (6-12 months)5-rep max: beginner (0-6 months)One main difference between an experienced lifter and a beginner is more neurological than physiological. A beginner who has never lifted heavy before will not have the same ability to recruit motor units for muscle contractions as someone with several months or years of lifting experience. Their nervous system simply hasn’t been exposed to this. Therefore, testing and retesting a 1-rep max may not be the best representation of their true strength. What we’ll typically see is a huge increase in the amount of weight they’re able to lift but several other factors will play into their results aside from actual strength gains like confidence with the lift, lifting technique, and of course the development of neuromuscular efficiency. With a 3-rep or even a 5-rep max, the lifter doesn’t need to generate nearly as much force as they would for a 1-rep and the 3-5 rep range is more aligned with their ability from a neuromuscular standpoint.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL
As with everything we try to improve on, consistency is key here. If getting strong is a priority for you, staying on track with this cycle will be beneficial in HUGE way. Lifting based off feel rather than ego will also go a long way. If one day you’re just not feeling strong and everything feels crazy heavy, pull the weight back a little bit. Don’t feel obligated to stick strictly the given percentages for that day. It’ll be more effective to get good, successful lifts in than it would be to go too heavy and throw off technique or fail reps. Rely heavily on your coaches! That’s what we’re here for. Also, ensuring that you're fueling your body properly and eating and sleeping enough will be a big factor in how the lifts feel and your ability to recover so make sure you're taking care of those things! The most important part is to have a good time with it and enjoy the process!