Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Girevik shall train according to Wendler's 5/3/1 system

The term Girevik is Russian for "Kettlebell-man" or a guy who trains with Kettlebells.  As I have so often mentioned in recent days, I am totally in love with Kettlebell training right now.  My hand is so numb I can hardly feel it, but I am getting used to it.

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:

  1. Do only the large compound body movements: Bench, Deadlift, Squat, Clean & Jerk, Snatch.
  2. Do an exploratory operation to discover you maximum one-rep weight in each lift.  Prepare to be embarrassed.
  3. You perform 5 reps with 70% of your max weight
  4. You then perform 3 reps with 80% of your max weight
  5. 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.