When we say strength, we mean Kettlebell. When we say Kettlebell, we mean strength... comrade.
Nothing will get you heart rate higher than a good CrossFit kettlebell race for the most reps in a timed interval. Unfortunately, there is a problem with this scheme. It doesn't seem to me that this scheme will do much to drastically improve your raw strength. As usual, this is not a one-stop solution. It is a big part of the solution, but not the whole solution.
Enter Jim Wendler and the 5/3/1 training system. Wendler's 5/3/1 system is the greatest system yet devised for increasing raw strength. I know. I've not yet finished two weeks of it, and my raw strength is returning by leaps and bounds. Nothing else I've tried has had this effect.
What is the Wendler 5/3/1 training system? What is this system all about? In the simplest form, the system consists of the following edicts:
- Do only the large compound body movements: Bench, Deadlift, Squat, Clean & Jerk, Snatch.
- Do an exploratory operation to discover you maximum one-rep weight in each lift. Prepare to be embarrassed.
- You perform 5 reps with 70% of your max weight
- You then perform 3 reps with 80% of your max weight
- You then perform 1 rep with 90% of your max weight
There is much more too it than that. I won't spoil his book by representing his 4 week scaling system. This is the easiest and simplest teaser I can give you. Buy the book.
How well is the teaser working for me? Well, let me tell you about it.
Despite my recent shoulder injury, I cleaned and jerked a 100 pound barbell this evening for a single rep. That was after doing one jerk and 5 presses with 80, and another jerk and 3 presses with 90. This effort wasn't particularly hard either. Next time, 110 is the single-rep target.
I was surprised. Two weeks ago, I couldn't raise my right hand above my shoulder... at all... with an empty hand. One week ago, I couldn't put 40 over my head.
This isn't just recovery from injury either. The same effect is being documented in my dead-lift. Two weeks ago, 135 pounds put a little too much strain on my lower back and midsection for a single rep. Today, I pulled 185 for a single rep. I should have pulled it three times. It was too easy. Next time, 215 is my single-rep target. I can tell that the bar is going to get real heavy real quick.
My strength is returning. Right now I am pretty excited. This is far and away the most exciting development since my weight loss terminated some 6 or 7 weeks ago.
Incidentally, my weight seems to be holding steady at 185.6 right now. Ergo, a heavy-cream Mac-N-Cheese isn't hurting me much. If anything I look a little too tallow and frail right now. None of my new acquaintances can believe I was ever a fat guy. They just don't see me that way. They think I am kinda skinny.
I need to transition completely to a strength/muscle building program, complete with higher caloric intake. You must eat, or you will become skinny and have no respect.