How We Program Barbell Strength Training

I received a bunch of good feedback after Monday’s programming article, but the main theme of it was to expand upon how we pair the barbell lifts for each cycle.

Sure thing.

In every month, we select two main lifts where we apply concentrated focus. Here are the two primary considerations for how and why they are chosen:

Strength Speed Continuum (link)
Athletic movement and their performance skill exists across a continuum. On the far left of that continuum, is absolute strength (powerlifting: squat, bench, deadlift). Next, is strength-speed (weightlifting: clean and jerk, snatch), then speed-strength (sled sprint), then absolute speed (sprinting). For a complete breakdown, make sure to give the linked article a read.

The short of it is that we are not primarily concerned with anything after strength speed, because in Tier 1, these are lifts meant to develop strength and power. We get the rest of the continuum throughout various workouts and classes each week.

Strength is more or less how efficiently we can generate force against the object we are trying to move. Absolute strength will recruit a maximum amount of motor units, whereas strength-speed is focused more so on speed of force generation: how quickly we can recruit those motor units into action. This is why a 5R back squat will train strength in a much different manner than a 5R hang power clean. The former is slow and grinding, the latter is fast and explosive.

Absolute Strength Lifts

  • Squat
  • Bench
  • Deadlift

Strength-Speed Lifts

  • Clean and Jerk
  • Snatch

There is always (1) absolute strength lift and there is (1) strength-speed lift.

Result: The CNS is never overtaxed in a given week. Quite honestly, even if you overdo our training frequency prescription, it is very, very difficult to take your CNS to a level where it can’t recover. It’s our fail safe for you.

High vs. Low Eccentrics
There are three phases to movement. Eccentric (lowering the weight), concentric (lifting the weight) and isometric (holding the weight). From a strength building and muscle building (hypertrophy) perspective, there is no part of the movement more effective at driving adaptation than the eccentric component.

Eccentric activation is up to 40% greater, so the downside to it being hugely beneficial for performance and body comp changes is that is where most injuries occur, and it is what beats you up the most. You need lots of recovery following a grueling eccentric day. 

Absolute strength movements (powerlifting: squat, bench, deadlift), as well as lunges, have a very taxing eccentric component to them. Strength-speed movements (weightlifting: clean and jerk, snatch) have very little eccentrics to them. They do not beat you up in nearly the same capacity as the absolute strength focused powerlifts, so by pairing them, you can hit a hard squat day and 48 hours later hit a hard snatch day and be no worse for the wear.

Result: The CNS and muscles stay fresh, and allow you to get the most out of every workout.

Hope you have found this “Behind the Whiteboard” series helpful. For continued entries, submit your questions and topic requests to our Online Classroom.


Thursday, 10.17.18

In Teams of 5

A: Max Push Ups + 1 Heavy Fast Rope Pull
B: Max SB Squats
C: 400m Run
D: 3×8/5 Pull-Ups
E: 10 Ab Rollouts