Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Iron Resiliency, Session 6: Prioritization & Planning

A cleaner desk leads to better planning.
It was much worse a few days ago.

To recap the last five weeks,
Session 1: There is a cause for certain thoughts we have leading to how we feel.
Session 2: The thoughts can be formed in a way where we unjustly blame ourselves.
Session 3: Mistakes are exaggerated and we tend to focus on one detail or worry about things we cannot change as opposed to the ones we can change.
Session 4: How we handle dealing with people close to us.
Session 5: Learning effective communication is key in explaining your goals to others and closely examining them yourself.
In today's penultimate post of Iron Resiliency we'll be discussing prioritization.

What's more frustrating than doing work to gain nothing? The time used is long gone and could have been put towards something more productive or worthwhile. This brings up two questions.

Always ask, "where am I pouring your efforts?" and "am I setting myself up for success?"
  • Fat loss: Are you doing too much of the wrong kind of exercise? Running all the time? Or are you not tightening up your diet?
  • Hypertrophy: Are you incorporating enough compound movements? Is there adequate recovery and caloric intake?
  • Strength/Performance: Is your training designed to reflect your goal(s)? Emphasis on volume-based work can prove detrimental.
For any fitness-related goal, are you looking at the big picture outside of your workouts? Does your lifestyle reflect what you're aiming for? Is there some way you're keeping yourself accountable?
By developing a sound plan and adhering to it you'll be able to track your own progress.

Developing a rough general plan then proceeding to break it up into smaller parts gives you a better understanding of how to tailor it accordingly. In turn you can micromanage everything and step back to see how it affects the goal at hand.
1) State your goal and compare it to what you're currently doing.

2) Work backwards from your goal and plan accordingly. List your changes.

3) Have a clear picture of each step. Does it make sense?

4) Step back and look at what you've created.
To illustrate this method, I'll go through an example of my own I'm implementing. I have to drop a few pounds for an upcoming strongman competition because I'm too close for comfort to the next weight class up.
1) I need to lose fat while retaining muscle. Before deciding this, my diet was to gain weight.

2) Since fat loss is the plan I need to alter my meals. Before I was relying on nuts to bump up my shakes' calories, going large on portions, and eating more carbs than were needed - such as oatmeal for breakfast.

I'll reduce nuts in my shakes, add more protein & veggies to meals, eat until I'm content (not stuffed), and replace my breakfast with eggs, veggies, and green tea to burn more calories.

3) Reducing the items I used to gain weight would knock my calories down. Providing more protein and veggies will minimize muscle loss. Eliminating useless fillers - extra carbs - also will reduce my caloric intake. So far it makes sense.

4) By reducing calories in a few key areas I've made a caloric deficit in my diet to achieve fat loss.
Breaking apart a large plan into more manageable steps makes it easier to tackle.

Now, I mentioned in session one I'd create a month long program for the end of the series and I've done just that.

Here's a straightforward program anyone can follow - intermediate experience recommended - to really kick up their confidence in the gym.
Session 1
1) Trap bar or sumo stance deadlift
2) Barbell supinated (underhand) rows from floor*
3) Weighted dips
4) Front squat holds

Sets & reps
1) 6 x 2
2) 3 x 4
3) 3 x 4
4) 3 x 20s

*If using less than 135lbs. and no bumper plates are available, perform in the squat rack with the bar resting on the safeties in the first hole from the bottom.

Session 2
1) Any variation of the back squat that isn't the back squat [front, Zercher, overhead, box, pins, etc.]
2) Weighted neutral grip pull-ups (preferably shoulder-width)
3) Barbell front or behind the neck push press
4) Vertical Pallof press

Sets & reps
1) 6 x 2
2) 3 x 4
3) 3 x 4
4) 3 x 20s per side

Rest: 2 minutes between sets.

NOTE: For exercise #1 in either session, if you're familiar with ramping sets and prefer it then feel free to go that route.

Be sure to have at least two days of rest between each session. And to make it progressively more difficult I'll direct readers to the progression outlined here. (Or you can just add weight every week, taking the 4th week off as a deload.)
Why is it created like this? It's short, but full of big compound movements with a low-volume scheme allowing the trainee to work with very heavy weights. Additionally since the body is strong at most of these variations the movements will be particular easy if using only a moderate weight.

Take for instance the deadlift: With the exception of a rack pull, most people can pull more weight either using a trap bar or with a sumo stance.

In other cases, the movement is meant to take the trainee a bit out of their comfort zone (i.e., vertical Pallof press). Or it may be a combination of the two factors - weighted dips or front squat holds.

In any case, everyone in the gym will be staring at your beastliness. Near the end of this week I'll post a formal conclusion expressing my thoughts on the series and why I wrote it.

And with that, so comes an end to Iron Resiliency. I hope it was an enjoyable six weeks for those who stuck around. Thanks for reading.


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