December/January Programming Update

December/January Programming Update
by Erik Castiglione

Greetings Relentless Family!

We just finished our last cycle which we’ve been following since October. For lower body, we focused on wide stance box squats and sumo deadlifts. Why? By training in a wider stance, we developed muscles in the hips that don’t get targeted as much in the conventional variations of our lifts. I’m sure you’ve heard coaches tell you to “drive your knees out” during a squat or pull, and sometimes it may even feel like you are, but your knees still cave in. Developing our hip and glute musculature can help us fix this.

For our upper body lifts, we focused on Z-press and floor press. The Z-press forces you to maintain a tight core and prevents any backwards lean (or you fall over!) and pays big dividends when you switch back to the standing shoulder press. The floor press helps us develop our triceps and work through the “sticking point” (i.e. where people get stuck and fail) of the bench press. As we switch back to bench press, you should see some great carryover there as well.

For our next cycle, we’re changing things up. Instead of cycling through 2 upper and 2 lower body lifts, we’re increasing the number to 3. Additionally, the rep scheme and focus for each one will be different. We’re going to have volume days, speed days, and heavy days. Volume days will help build muscular endurance. Force = mass x acceleration, so on speed days, we’ll be using light weights and training your ability to move weights quickly – the acceleration piece. Heavy days will help you learn to fire all the muscles in your body to move heavy weights. The lift breakdown for this cycle is as follows:

Lower body volume: low bar back squat
Lower body speed: conventional deadlift
Lower body heavy: front squat
Upper body volume: shoulder press
Upper body speed: bench press
Upper body heavy: push press

This rotation of lifts will allow us to train more lifts more frequently, so you don’t go months at a time without seeing your favorites. Furthermore, it has a greater variation in percentages used. Rather than having a 2-week period where everything is at 90% or heavier, you’ll have more days where we lower percentages. This will help you recover better, so you’re fresher for heavier days. It also eliminates the need for deload weeks. And finally, it allows us to train more components of strength than we have been.

For our Olympic weightlifting, we just finished with our complexes which were designed to help us hit our positions during the pull and keep the bar tight to our bodies during the pull and turnover. We’re now progressing to the full versions of the lifts, but with pauses at the hang. It’s the same goal as the complexes but allows us to get a little heavier and keep the volume a little lower. From there, we’ll be progressing to the full lifts done without pauses, and then we’ll test. I’m very excited for this next cycle, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s progress.

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