Progress? Progress!

A client asked me recently how she would know that she’s making adequate “progress”, with the context, of course, being fitness-related, and more specifically, strength biased.  And I wish I had a ready answer for her; the truth of the matter though, is that “progress” is a tough thing to define, and even tougher to measure — it’s a little like herding cats.  Sure we can say, for instance, that one’s squat has increased 30 lbs over a certain time frame — but what if in gaining that increased squat poundage, we had to sacrifice a tenth of a second off of a 40 time; 20 seconds off of a 5 k?  The fact of the matter is that “progress” can only be measured relative to — and, in fact can only be defined by — our stated goals.  As Dan John is fond of saying, the “goal is to keep the goal, the goal…”  Now, this might sound a bit flippant at first blush, but I can tell you from first-hand experience just how difficult this is in practice.  Dan also likes to base weight room progress on the movements: a deadlift max, maximum number of dead-hang pull-ups and the standing triple jump; you’d be hard-pressed to argue for better weightroom yardsticks and yet, what about the more nebulous indicators —   blood work, say?  Bodyfat levels…overall exuberance for life?  Ever been around a bodybuilder in the final week (or hell, final month) of contest prep?  Exuberance is not exactly a word that comes to mind.  What if we’re looking to be strong, yes — but not at the expense of chipping away at our overall health (this happens to be my goal, by the way)?  In that case, I think Art DeVany’s “metabolic headroom” is a great place to start.  In other words, what’s the separation between your metabolic “idle” and metabolic “redline”?  I’ll have to come up with a working definition here that doesn’t leave my intended audience with their eyes rolling back in their heads.  Any help and/or thoughts on getting this point across to those not geeked-out on diet and fitness is greatly appreciated.

The week’s training — a mixed bag…and I like it like that!

It’s not often that I rumble through three training sessions in a row, but that’s just the way things shook-out this week.  So in true power-law, random-loving fashion, I rolled right on along with life as it hit me.

Tuesday: a quick-hitter supper-set with these two –

barbell muscle-ups (from the high hang): 115 x 8; 135 x 6; 145 x 5, 5, 5

Efficient Exercise exclusive hip press: 400 x 12; 500 x 6; 545 x 4, 4, 4


Best in the business; the Pendulum Hip Press


I like this pairing for a quick, total body workout.  If I had a bit more time, I would have tossed weighted pull-ups into the mix, and I’ll add those in next time I do this little number.  Also, I’ve got some good 4-6 rep range numbers to work with now so as to employ Autoregulation principles to the exercise loading next time out.

Wednesday: making the most out of ready access to Nautilus equipment –

Nautilus pec dec: 110 x 11 (41×1 tempo), then immediately to

weighted dips: 70#  x 6, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2 rest-pause extended set

and to round things out…

Nautilus pull-over: 230 x 9+ (not quite 10), 50×0 tempo

The extended rest-pause set: think of this as a hybrid between a DeVany-esq Hierarchical set, and the standby classic rest-pause method.  The pec dec serves as a good pre-exhaust movement, here; big rep drop-off between the first and second “set” of dips.  Without the pre-exhaust, we’re looking at an initial rep range of 10 to 12 or so, and an increased loading prior to the initiation of each and every “set” until we reach (about) the 2-rep threshold.  From this point, we’ll bust-out doubles until failure.

Thursday: holy friggin’ HIT, Batman!  Check-out the clip below –

If you weren’t keeping score, here’s what Skyler put me through:

Romanian Deadlift: 5 rest-pause style dynamic/hyper reps (about 5 seconds rest between reps; max effort each rep)
Dip: 5 rest-pause style dynamic/hyper reps (again about 5 seconds rest between reps; max effort each rep)
Pull Down: 5 negative-only reps
Military Press: 5 negative-only reps
Squat: 5 rest-pause style dynamic/hyper reps (same drill, about 5 seconds rest between reps; max effort each rep)
Hey, what is that, a friggin’ mouthpiece shoved in your pie-hole?  Yeah it is, I’m a teeth-gnasher on the “long”, grind-it-out lifts.  I’ve actually bitten clean through a few of these bad boys.  I’d like to keep my teeth around for rippin’ through grass-fed animal protein, thanks, so I’ll keep sportin’ the old mouth vinyl.
So this CZT equipment is, well…it just has to be tested to be appreciated; the intensity that can be generated here is simply phenomenal.  If you’re in the Austin area and you want to take this equipment for a spin, give Skyler or myself a holler; we’d be happy to take you through a round.  Anthony Johnson, of the 21-Convention, did just that when he came through “the ATX” recently.  I gave Anthony a dose of hierarchical rest-pause on the Pendulum Hip Press on one day, then a few days later he followed my own CZT workout with one of his own.  Again, the master of ceremonies here is none other than Dr. HIT-dose himself, Skyler Tanner; check it out:
And checkout Anthony’s notes on his Efficient Exercise and CZT experience, here.