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When I ask you how strong you are, all I want to know is how much you can lift, and for how many repetitions you can lift it. When I talk about conditioning, I want to know how fast you can recover and repeat a particular task. When you combine these two aspects, you get:
- How much can you lift?
- How many time can you lift it?
- How much rest do you need in order to repeat the same performance.
- How many times can you keep going – perform, rest, perform, rest – until complete burnout.
That is Strength and Conditioning.
Choose three lifts and train three days a week. For each day, train just one lift. Your job is to find out how much you can lift for 5 repetitions. No more, no less. 5 repetitions. I don’t care how you accomplish this task. But find your five rep max.
After a thorough warm up, take your five rep maximum, and perform as many repetitions as you possibly can until your form deteriorates. Make sure you have a spotter or some sort of safety precaution. The reason this is important is that when most people try to find their five rep maximum, they go through a few sets first, which tires them out. This second week is to make sure that your five rep max is really,truly your five rep max. But, don’t stop at five. If you can do one more, two more, three more, then just keep going. Do your one set, record how many repetitions you were able to perform, then go home.
Lets assume that you were able to Push Press 165lbs for 8 reps. This week, you’re going to find out how much rest you need until you burn out completely. To figure this out, start off with a 3 minute rest period between each set, and keep going until you are unable to get in 8 repetitions with proper form. Lets assume that you were able to perform 4 sets at 165lbs for 8 reps. Good job, go home.
Weeks Four – Eight
Drop your time by thirty seconds and attempt to do 4 sets at 165lbs for 8 reps. If you hit the 4 sets, the go home and drop the rest period by another 30 seconds next week. If you were unable to get in 4 sets, then go home and stay at the same rest period.
Week Nine – Twelve
The final 4 weeks are devoted to maximum sets. Lets assume that on week eight you were able to perform 4 sets at 165lbs for 8 reps with 1 minute rest between each set. Now the goal is to keep the rest periods at 1 minute, and see how many times you can keep repeating the task. Keep performing 4 sets of 8 at the same weight until you are unable to perform a set 8 repetitions with proper form. Record your total number of sets and go home. Try to perform at least one more set each week.
Take this week off and contemplate the meaning of life.
Check your five rep max. How does it feel?