We receive frequent inquiries about our programming. What is our training philosophy? What parameters do we monitor and manage? Do we have our athletes max out weekly, bro? Here are some answers:
“What is Your Training Philosophy?”
Our training philosophy is governed by several principles:
• Program design matters: We design our programs methodically, not haphazardly, to deliver long-term results. Our program design is influenced by the scientific literature, Russian weightlifting literature, input from international coaches, lessons learned as competitive lifters, and our experience programming for thousands of athletes over time. A haphazard approach to programming may feel exciting and deliver small, early benefits to new trainees, but it will limit your ability to progress.
• Balance matters: We program to achieve balance in our lifters. Balance, in our view, means a lifter’s technique and strength develop in tandem. One should not significantly outpace the other. We believe balance is one of the most important goals in lifter development.
Programs that don’t develop balance may result in long term, sometimes permanent, plateaus. If you’ve ever known lifters with a big squat but a low clean & jerk…or a big clean & jerk but a low snatch, these are folks whose development suffers from balance problems. We strive to program for balance.
• Quality over quantity: Our programming prioritizes quality of movement over weight on the bar. In our view, high quality movement consists of proper speed and precision. While we’re no strangers to heavy lifting, we believe you only earn the right to lift heavier once your movement quality is consistently high. After all, if you don’t prioritize precise movements daily, how do you expect to be precise when it counts?
• Sustainability is paramount: We program for sustainability because we believe it’s more important to train consistently with high-quality than to regularly blow your load and train at lower quality while you recover. Training sore is fine, even expected. But training (or skipping training) while incapacitated is not.
“What Parameters Do You Monitor and Manage?”
We prescribe and adjust training based on several factors. The main parameters we manipulate are:
1. Intensity: We measure and program training intensities based on percentage of your one rep max*. Our average target training intensity for most athletes is between 70% and 80%. While we regularly include sets between 80% and 100%, we spend the bulk of training at more moderate percentages.
We’ve found that excessive training at higher percentages takes a greater toll on you, especially your nervous system. It often requires extra recovery time during which it may be difficult to perform high-quality work. By training at more moderate percentages, you can train more consistently with a lower risk of injury and still get all the gains.
Since our training is customized for individuals and groups, intensity prescriptions may vary slightly based on your goal and purpose for training, your phase of training, as well as external factors like outside stress.
* If you don’t know your one rep max, you’ll proceed based on perceived effort on scale of 1-10.
2. Volume: We measure and program volume based on number of repetitions in a given session, week, and/or month. On average we target between 200-300 reps a week. That works out to approx 800-1,200 lifts per month and just over 9,500-14,000 reps per year.
Volume will vary slightly based on your goal and purpose for training, your phase of training, as well as external factors like outside stress.
3. Exercise selection/variety: We select exercises for your training based on the phase of training and the athletic qualities we seek to improve during each phase. Generally, early in the overall training cycle you’ll experience a wide variety of exercise selection. As training nears competition and/or progress testing, your exercise variety will decrease to focus more on the classic lifts.
As with intensity and volume, exercise selection/variety will vary based on your goal and purpose for training, your phase of training, and other factors.
“Do You Max Out Weekly, Bro?”
By now you probably realize that we don’t max out weekly. In our experience, it’s too hard on most athletes to be recoverable and sustainable without high risk of low quality training or injury (see also “Sustainability” and “Intensity” above). For these reasons, we won’t max out weekly. While some coaches or athletes have success programming/training to max weekly (or more), we believe it’s rare. If lifting to max every day or every week is your thing, we’re not the right fit for you.
Overall, we believe in methodical, balanced programming without extremes. We target high performance and longevity via training that is challenging and effective but not likely to break you. This is reflected in our strategic but moderate implementation of intensity, volume, and exercise selection/variety. If this approach appeals to you, come train with us.