Friday, May 31, 2013

Why Do The Progression Standards You Lay Out All Require Such High (Often 20+) Reps? I Thought Low Reps Were Better For Strength?

In...bodyweight programs, it’s typical to use target reps that are in the higher range; at  least ten, often up to twenty or beyond. The reason why has to do with the logic of bodyweight training. Often, the move from one bodyweight exercise to the next, tougher step, represents quite a hike in strength. The jump from half one-arm pullups (step 8) to assisted one-arm pullups (step 9) is a good example. Working with triple reps might be theoretically “better for strength”, but if  you can only barely do three reps on the half one-arm pullup, your chances of being able to move on to the assisted pullup next time is zero!

With bodyweight progressions, the best chance of moving on forwards is to gain as much  strength possible from the exercise you are working on, before attempting something significantly more difficult. One of the best ways to really master an exercise is through high reps. In this sense, higher reps can be used by bodyweight athletes as a strength tool. (Who is stronger at one-leg squats? An athlete who can only do two reps, or an athlete who can do twenty?)
In contrast, lower reps are fine if you are training with weights. Let’s say you can curl 100 pounds for three reps. If three reps is your progression goal, you can add 5 pounds to the bar and try again. That only increases the output of the set by 5%. With bodyweight training, it’s much more difficult to add progress in such small, measurable increments. The most reliable way is by focusing on higher reps. Low reps sets make progress harder. If you can do four pushups, adding one rep makes for an output increase of 25%. But if you can do 20 pushups, adding one rep is an increase of just 5%. This is why higher rep sets are much more manageable and make progress smoother over time.

Paul Coach Wade
Convict Conditioning Super FAQ

Comments: This is very similar in the progression method in Kettlebell Sport where micro increases in the weight is not available. Commercially kettlebells have increments of 4kg. How to progress up the weights? By utilizing very high reps in the lighter weights before moving up.

30 May 2013 - Moderate: Convict Conditioning

Pull Up
Vertical Row: 20
Vertical Row Leg Forward: 15
Horizontal Bent Leg Row: 50, 34

Normal: 17
Closed: 15
Offset: 50/50, 50/50

Pull Up Scapular Circle (Jacknife): 50 Backward, 50 Forward

Floor YTWL 2x1.5kg: Bent Arm 8, 8, Straight Arm 8, 8

RPE: 6

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Many Percent of BW is Supported by the Hands in a Plank Position?

Today i did some measurements to find out how many percent of MY bodyweight is supported on my hands in a plank position of various heights.

Using standard height plyometric boxes of heights 30 inch, 24 inch, 18 inch, 12 inch and the floor.
BW = 65.6 kg
Height = 170 cm


30 inch box - 16.9kg = 25.8%
24 inch box - 27.6kg = 42.1%
18 inch box - 38.1kg = 58.1%
12 inch box - 40.7kg = 62.0%
Kneeling Plank on floor - 40.7kg = 62.0%
Pull Plank on floor - 46.0kg = 70%


Good reference for your push up progressions.

A 6 inch difference makes a big difference at the higher heights. If you need more micro adjustments, you can consider using barbel plates of various thicknesses to use intermediate height adjustments.

28 May 2013 - Moderate: Convict Conditioning

Push Up
2nd Highest Box: 20
3rd Highest Box: 15
Knee: 50, 50

Leg Raise
Flat Bent: 20, 20, 50, 50

Push Up Scapular Circle
Backward: 31
Forward: 27
Backward: 36

Row Scapular Circle
Backward: 45
Forward: 26

RPE: 5

Comment: 2 main exercises is about right. :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Training Schedule Plan

The stock Good Behavior schedule from Convict Conditioning:

Workout 1
Push Up
Leg Raise

Workout 2
Pull Up

Workout 3
Handstand Push Up

What is lacking here is a Hip Hinge movement and a Row movement (not necessary in the early steps of Pull Ups).

I'll plan to do this for a"Home" workout, ie have access to equipment:

Home Variation 1

Workout 1
Push Up
Leg Raise

Workout 2
Pull Up

Workout 3
Handstand Push Up

Workout 4

Home Variation 2

Workout 1
Handstand Push Up

Workout 2
Pull Up

Workout 3
Push Up

Workout 4
Leg Raise

The exercise combination are not set in stone. Different combinations would be tested according to how well each match the other.

When i have no access to equipment (away), the stock Good Behavior schedule would be used.

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to do a Push Up: Proper Elbow Position

24 May 2013 - Moderate: Convict Conditioning

Pull Up
Bent Leg Row: 9, 18, 28, 50

Offset: 8/8, 15/15, 23/23, 50/50

Push Up
Knee: 10, 20, 30, 50

Row Scapular Circle: 38 Forward, 23 Backward

Push Up Scapular Circle: 34 Backward, 28 Forward

RPE: 6

Comments: 1) Even though the RPE is moderate, but after the Squats i was very fatigued. Took almost 40 minutes to complete the 3 main exercises. At 50/50 reps sets, it should take up to 6 minutes or more. The feeling was kind of like doing Kettlebell Sport.

Next time would only do 2 exercises each workout.

2) 3 work sets feels a lot of volume, especially for the high rep sets (Squats). I'll drop it to 2 work sets (as recommended in the manual, which i just read :P):

Warm Up Set 1 (minus 2 steps): 20 reps
Warm Up Set 2 (minus 1 step): 15 reps
Working Set 1: 50%RM (not in manual)
Working Set 2: as many reps as possible, which becomes the new RM

That is until it stops working.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

LYTP Shoulder Exercise - 3 Best Ways

Random Notes from Overcoming Gravity

1. Upper body strength is best worked with bw. Lower body strength is best worked with weights.

2. Work handstand holds.

3. Work handstand and manna together.

4. Work straight arm handstand press.

5. Work 2 pushing and 2 pulling exercises for upper body and 2 for legs for beginners, then 3 each after you get some experience.

6. 5 types of goals:

Skill goals: eg handstand
Pushing goals: planche
Pulling goals: front lever
Mobility/flexibility goals: flat shinbox, side splits
Rehab/prehab goals: half bodyweight cuban rotation

7. For dynamic movements, optimally train in the 3 sets x 3-8 reps range. 5 reps is best.

8. For isometric holds, optimally train 4-5 sets x 60-70% max hold time for a total of 45-60 sec.

Best is 13-18 sec max hold time and 9-12 sec per set.

9. Superset opposite muscles to shorten time, eg planche and front lever.

10. For routines you can do 5-6 skills 5-6 times.

11. Do "compressions" for core

12. For dynamic movements, generally you are ready to go up a progression if you can do 8-10 or more reps.

For isometric movements, generally you are ready to go up a progression if you can hold for 25-30 sec.

13. 50% time should be spent on skill work, 50% on strength and conditioning. Eg:

Skill + Strength

14. Aerobic base can be used to improve performance in intervals of longer than 30 sec, eg gymnastics.

15. The Chinese require that their gymnasts squat at least 2x bodyweight.

16. Hips prehab:

Pike Stretch
Front Split
Side Split
Pike Compressions
Straddle Compressions
Kneeling Lunge Stretch

17. Back prehab:

Seal, Side to Side Seal

18. Shoulder isolation exercises:

Scapular Push Up
Scapular Wall Slides
Band Dislocates
German Hang
Undergrip Hang Stretch

19. Wrist exercises:

Wrist Push Up
Rice Bucket Circles
Wrist Roller
Sitting Wrist Drill Bit

20. "Gaining weight is simple. Eat a lot."

21. "For eliminating colds and upper respiratory infections such as the flu - 10,000-30,000IU for Vitamin D. Vitamin C DOES NOT HELP."

22. 3 main skills work:

L-sit progressions
One- and two-arm lever

23. Handstands are fundamental to gymnastics as squats are to human movement. Practice it everyday.

24. The best gymnasts have the best handstands.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Too Many Progressions?

When i show guys on the outside how to train calves with bodyweight, many of 'em ask: Why do i need a lotta slightly different calf exercises? Why don't i just jump to the hardest one?

This is the wrong attitude. It's a big mistake to rush to the hardest exercises you can handle. Your goal is not to finish with an exercise as fast as you can -- just the opposite. Your goal should be to stay with an exercise for as long as you can possibly get conditioning gains from it... If you are going to be training...alone...for three years, why would you want to skip to the hardest exercise there is? There's nowhere to go from there.

This is not just a bodyweight-style training approach, either. Virtually all champion bodybuilders train this way. They don't train with limit weights from workout to workout. They train hard, but they use a "working weight" lighter than their max, and find ways to make that weight seem heavier. They milk each weight increase for all it's worth. You should do the same.

A...athlete is not a gymnast or dancer. You don't get judged on the difficulty of your movements -- just your results. In old school calisthenics, difficult movements aren't the goal. They are just tools to help you achieve your goals (strength and muscle). You are using these exercises to develop solid muscle and tendon, to put strength in the bank. This takes time. Please don't rush ahead of your body's own ability to adapt. RememberL you are using these exercises to build strength -- not to demonstrate it.

Paul Coach Wade
Convict Conditioning 2

21 May 2013 - Moderate: Convict Conditioning

Handstand Push Up
Frog Stand: 13 sec, 49 sec
Wall Handstand: 37 sec, 56 sec, 1 min 37 sec

Table Lift: 5, 10, 10, 50
Rear Plank Lift: 15

Leg Raise
Flat Straight: 5, 10, 10, 22

Rocca Scapular Circle
Backward: 50
Forward: 50

Cuban Rotation 2x5kg: 12, 12, 8

RPE: 5


1. Handstand hold would be worked up to 3 minutes and beyond. Build a wider base to go higher.

2. My strategy to tackle the high number of reps without taking too much recovery time would be:
Warm up set: 25%RM
Working set #1: 50%RM
Working set #2: 75%RM
Working set #3: as many as possible minus 1-2 reps (becomes the new RM for next session)

3. But if it is a new progression, i'll attempt 5 reps for warm up and 10 reps for sets #1 and #2.

4. Got too enthusiastic for the Cuban Rotation. Huge increase in strength from 8 (previous session) to 12 reps. But next time it would also follow the protocol for the main exercises.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

18 May 2013 - Moderate: Convict Conditioning

Push Up
Knee: 28, 39, 40

Pull Up
Bent Leg Row: 37, 34, 32

Cuban Rotations 2x5kg: 8, 8, 8

Rocca Scapular Circles
Plank Scapular Circles
Crab Scapular Circles

RPE: 6

Comments: The two main exercises of Push Up and Pull Up took up almost 30 minutes including rest times. With the scapular prehab, it took almost 50 minutes including rest times. Gotta strategize how to reduce the total workout time taken.

17 May 2013 - Moderate: Convict Conditioning

Handstand Push Up:
Headstand Hold: 28 sec (uncushioned head, pain), 67 sec (cushioned)
Frog: 28 sec
Wall Handstand: 1 minute 14 sec

Leg Raise:
Flat Straight Leg: 15, 15, 15

Closed: 50
Offset: 30/30, 25/25

Cuban Rotations 2x5kg: 8, 8, 8

Floor YTWL 2x1.5kg: 5, 5, 5

RPE: 6

14 May 2013 - Moderate: 5/3/1 Squat Pre-Test

5/3/1 Squat Pre-Test
20kg x 5
40kg x 5
50kg x 5
60kg x 3
70kg x 2

4 minutes each
Pull Up
Rings Skinner Tuck
Rocca Press

Estimated 1RM Squat = 74.7kg
Estimated 90% Squat = 67.2kg

RPE: 6

Post-5/3/1-pretest comments: I don't like Press and Bench. Very closed chain for the upper body. Deadlift and Squat i like better, more joints to move between the bar and the ground.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How long until i can move to the next step?

How long until i can move to the next step?

Nine out of ten of the dudes I’ve trained all seem to ask the wrong question: how long until I can move to the next step? Avoid this attitude. Try to be that one, rare trainee who asks the right question: how much longer can I keep working on the step I’m already doing, and keep gaining something from it?

Remember: moving up a step doesn’t build strength. It demonstrates strength—the strength you actually built by knuckling down and working hard on earlier steps!

A point I always try to drill into newbies is that the earlier exercises are the key to success in the later steps. They are not the enemy—not something to rush. Take your time on each step. Don’t be in a hurry. Slow down, and get everything you can from your exercises. Enjoy them. Master them, inside and out. When you can say to yourself that you’ve honestly done this, and providing you can meet the progression standard for each exercise, using textbook form, then it’s probably time to move on up to the next step.
This focus on slow, methodical progress is particularly important as you approach harder Master Steps like prison pushups and one-arm handstand pushups. I’ve known some highly advanced, terrifyingly powerful bodyweight men who will spend maybe two months just working on improving a small nuance of a bodyweight exercise; hand position, speed, leverage. They might
do this several times before they are able to move up a “step”!

When you’re getting more involved in bodyweight training, it’s very easy to start thinking in numbers. You become single-minded about hitting the progression standard, to move up to another step. But your body doesn’t understand numbers. It doesn’t care if you move up a step. All it understands is effort. If—by focusing on tempo, control, and cadence—you can make an earlier step seem harder, that’s exactly what you should do. Those later steps aren’t going anywhere, and the more growth and strength you can eke out of the earlier steps, the easier the later steps will be. This is what I mean when I talk about “putting strength in the bank”.

Paul Coach Wade
Convict Conditioning Super FAQ

Saturday, May 11, 2013

11 May 2013 - High: 90/30 x 5 x 2

Tacfit Firefighter Combat Challenge 90/30 x 5 x 2
SB Front Lunge
KB Plank Row 2x24kg
MB Floor Shot
KB Clean Squat Throw 16kg
KB 2H Swing 24kg

RPE: 9

10 May 2013 - Moderate: 5/3/1 Bench Pre-test

Bench Pre-test
20kg x 5
30kg x 5
40kg x 5
50kg x 4
55kg x 3
58kg x 2

4/1 x 3
KB 1L Deadlift 16kg
KB Plank Row 2x16kg
1L Squat

Estimated 1RM Bench = 61.9kg
Estimated 90% Bench = 55.7kg

RPE: 6

Comments: I don't like bench. I don't like how it pins my shoulders to the bench. I like closed chain movements but this is too closed chain. However the plus side is that it is much less metabolic than anything i have done.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

7 May 2013 - Moderate: 5/3/1 Deadlift Pre-Test

Deadlift pre-test for 5/3/1
40kg x 5
60kg x 5
70kg x 5
80kg x 5
90kg x 3

4/1 x 3
Rocca Press
L-Sit Tuck
Pull Up

Estimated 1RM Deadlift = 99.0kg
Estimated 90% Deadlift = 89.1kg

RPE: 6.5

Saturday, May 4, 2013

4 May 2013 - High: AMRAP

KB 1H Swing 24kg 5/5
SB Shoulder to Shoulder Push Press 5/5
CB 2H Alternating Shield Cast 35lb 5/5
BB Full Contact Twist 5/5

RPE: 9

Friday, May 3, 2013

2 May 2013 - Moderate: 5/3/1 Press Pre-Test

5/3/1 Pre-test for estimated 1RM Press
20kg x 5
30kg x 5
40kg x 4
43kg x 3

4/1 x 3
KB Swing 16kg
Chin Up

Estimated 1RM Press = 47.3kg
Estimated 90% Press = 42.6kg

RPE: 6

5/3/1 First Impressions


The last time i did regular barbell work was back in 2008 when i worked in a country club gym. Since then, i only touched the barbell on and off, mostly off.

There are many barbell based programs and systems out there. And i got interested again in barbell training quite some time ago in the PIT.

I downloaded Stronglifts 5x5 (SL) which is free and quite well known in the strength training world. However i did not actually get to do it because it is meant to be done exclusively, three barbell lifts a day, three times a week and no conditioning. This does not fit into CST 4x7 protocol so it remains undone.

Other programs/systems that i have heard and are quite well known include Starting Strength (SS) and 5/3/1 and Westside Barbell.
I took interest in 5/3/1 when i read the fine print "the simplest and most effective strength training system for raw strength". After reading some reviews online i took even greater interest.

Pull Factors

5/3/1 can be done 4x/week, 3x/week, 2x/week or even 1x/week.

Only one main lift per day. No squatting three times a week (SL and SS). No deadlifts after squats (though you can choose to do it if you like).

Assistance exercises are entirely up to you. You can even do none. This leaves you a lot of room for unconventional exercises a la CST.

Only three work sets. This keeps the volume minimal and leaves you more time and energy for other things. The low volume is particularly attractive to me because i know very well that volume can cause a lot of DOMS, which i hate (try TACFIT India from TACFIT 26 if you don't know what i mean).

Slow progression of the weights. No "add 5lbs to the bar every workout" (SL). Though "squatting 225lb after 12 weeks" (SL) is very attractive, yet the stress it places on the body would be very great.

Conditioning is encouraged and can be done on any day (same days or separate days). To be more specific, 2 to 3 days of conditioning are to be done.

Plugging 5/3/1 into 7x4

Taking the 2x/week protocol, this is what i came up with:

Week 1:
Day 1: No
Day 2: Low
Day 3: Mod: 5/3/1 Press
Day 4: No
Day 5: Low
Day 6: Mod: 5/3/1 Deadlift
Day 7: High: Conditioning

Week 2:

Day 8: No
Day 9: Low
Day 10: Mod: 5/3/1 Bench
Day 11: No
Day 12: Low
Day 13: Mod: 5/3/1 Squat
Day 14: High: Conditioning

Plugging 5/3/1 into 4x7

Modified from the 2x/week protocol, i got this:

Cycle 1:
Day 1: No
Day 2: Low
Day 3: Mod: 5/3/1 Press
Day 4: High: Conditioning

Cycle 2:
Day 5: No
Day 6: Low
Day 7: Mod: 5/3/1 Deadlift
Day 8: High: Conditioning

Cycle 3:
Day 9: No
Day 10: Low
Day 11: Mod: 5/3/1 Bench
Day 12: High: Conditioning

Cycle 4:
Day 13: No
Day 14: Low
Day 15: Mod: 5/3/1 Squat
Day 16: High: Conditioning