The Five Elements — Matching “Wiring” to Modality

So, how are you “wired”?  Here’s another aspect to consider when mapping a training plan.  As one becomes more adept at “reading” one’s own body — and now we’re digging down to some serious n=1 activity — is determining one’s physio-psychological make-up.  Charles Poliquin uses the analogy of the Five Elements, or the five physical types described in Chinese medicine.  I think this is a fine analogy, so long as we resist the urge to “categorize completely and wholly”.  As is the case with astrology — stick with me here, I’ve not completely stumbled away from my gourd! — purity of type (sign, element, ect.) simply does not exist.  People can be “heavy” in one aspect or another — predominantly influenced by this element or that — to be sure, though, the human personality is more an alloy than a pure element; the n=1 challenge being to tease-out that predominant element in one’s own (or your client’s own) make-up.  I think it’s also important to note as well, the fact that no one is absent any “element”.  Diminished or understated, yes; each aspect, though, is present in every trainee — the matter of degree is what we’re searching for.

Of course, if you’re put off by all of this “touchy-feely” stuff, we can just agree that people are wired differently and respond to a given protocol rather uniquely.  Many times “non-responders” or “hardgainers” simply have not coupled their “elemental make-up” with the right modality.  Remember, few things in physical culture can be taken as absolutes — other than that there are no absolutes.  By cultivating a healthy n=1, pioneering attitude though, (embracing the “wood” aspect), one will eventually lock-on to a modality that fits.

Tuesday’s training –
An evening session this go-around.  One advantage for working out in the evening is that my CNS is fully “awake”; no matter how much I warm up in the morning, my CNS is just not ready to fully blow-and-go.  Of course, working out first thing in the AM has multiple advantages in its own right — the biggest being that “life” is less likely to bump a workout.  There’s a give and take to everything in life, and each person’s “optimum workout window” is no different.

About a 20-minute fixie ride to warm-up — “warm-up” being the understatement of the day; damn, it’s friggin’ hot out lately.

Superset fashion with these two –
clean-grip low pulls: 225 x 3, 3; 245 x 3; 255 x 3; 265 x 3, 3, 3, 3
weighted dips: 45 x4; 80 x 3; 90 x 3; 95 x 3; 100 x 3, 3, 3, 3

Followed by another superset here –
barbell muscle-up: 135 x 4, 4, 4
straight bar muscle-up (the pull-up variety): bodyweight x 3, 2, 2

…and then, some Nautilus 4-way Neck work: front and each side – 50 lbs 10 each; rear – 60 lbs x 10

Finished-up with a nice fixie sprint home to some damn fine leftovers — grass-fed eye of chuck being the main player.  Meal porn to follow.

1/26/10, Two Exercises, and the Feathering of Two Distinct Waves

Farmer’s Walks again today to get things kicked-off and get the blood flowing; 105 lb DBs for 300 yds.  Ass-to-grass goblet squat/thrusters (x 5-ish) with a 105 lb DB, ballistic push-ups, ballistic pull-ups, DB pull-throughs (x 5-ish, 105 lb DB) interspersed throughout.  Hit some heavy dynamic stretching, especially of the hamstring and calf area.  Grip gave out in the final 50 or so yards, and so I had to resort to straps to finish up.  Nothing like heavy Farmer’s Walks done barefooted or in Vibrams; I’m actually thinking of doing all of my upcoming moving shod in my funky “foot gloves”.  Why not, right?

So what I did today was to feather two different exercises together, with each exercise done in a wave format.  Now your basic wave format is set up so as to positively manipulate the post-activation potentiation phenomena in one single exercise (i.e., no super-setting, as in what I did today), and is generally used in conjunction with a straight-up strength or power-oriented movement and modality. Charles Poliquin waxes poetic on the wave, here (via the T-Muscle site), and gives a couple of examples of a properly prescribed wave protocol for a single exercise:

(Note: though differences do exist, for our purposes, post-activation potentiation and post-tetanic facilitation can be thought of as the same thing).

“…[T]his system was shown to me by former Canadian national weightlifting coach Pierre Roy who was, undoubtedly, one of the brightest men I’ve met in the field of strength development. Wave loading is based on the principal of post-tetanic facilitation. Athletes will find that the hardest wave is the first one, while the succeeding ones are easier to perform.”

The following 3-2-1 wave-loading program (exceptional for athletes seeking greater relative strength) sample is for an individual who can do a 300-pound front squat:

Wave 1

1) Three reps at 270 pounds
2) Four-minute rest
3) Two reps at 285 pounds
4) Four-minute rest
5) One rep at 300 pounds

Wave 2

6) Four-minute rest
7) Three reps at 272.5 pounds
8) Four-minute rest
9) Two reps at 287.5 pounds
10) Four-minute rest
11) One rep at 302.5 pounds

If successful, proceed to the third wave.

Wave 3

12) Four-minute rest
13) Three reps at 275 pounds
14) Four-minute rest
15) Two reps at 290 pounds
16) Four-minute rest
17) One rep at 305 pounds

If successful, proceed to the fourth wave.

Wave 4

18) Four-minute rest
19) Three reps at 277.5 pounds
20) Four-minute rest
21) Two reps at 292.5 pounds
22) Four-minute rest
23) One rep at 307.5 pounds

Note: Most people will do two waves — maybe a third one on an exceptional day — but it takes athletes truly gifted for strength development four waves to reach their maximal load for the day.

The following 7-5-3 wave-loading program (suited for athletes in combative sports interested in moving up in weight class) sample is for an individual who can do a 350-pound incline press:

Wave 1

1) Seven reps at 280 pounds
2) Four-minute rest
3) Five reps at 295 pounds
4) Four-minute rest
5) Three reps at 315 pounds

Wave 2

6) Four-minute rest
7) Seven reps at 282.5 pounds
8) Four-minute rest
9) Five reps at 297.5 pounds
10) Four-minute rest
11) Three reps at 317.5 pounds

Note: Regardless of the strength profile of the athlete, two waves will suffice at this intensity zone.

So there are many ways to manipulate the post-activation potentiation (or post-tetanic facilitation) phenomena.  One could even alternate back and forth between an extremely heavy single (or even a static hold), and a set for reps (say, 3 to 7) for example.  5 rounds of something like that will dust you up pretty well.

Today I alternated between weighted dips and GHRs, with each exercise being loading in a wave format.  The rest was minimal between each exercise and between each round.  Here’s how it shook out:

Dips Glute-Ham Raise
Wave 1
Wave 2
Wave 1
Wave 2
45 x 5 90 x5 35 x 5 50 x 4
70 x 4 100 x 4 45 x 5 55 x 3
80 x 3 105 x 3 50 x 3 60 x 2
90 x 2 120 x 2 55 x 2 60 x 2
100 x 1 60 x 1

So this is yet another wrinkle to the old wave standby, another way to manipulate the PAP or (PST, if you prefer) phenomena.  Remember, there are no set rules to this game – there is only the best choice of among innumerable options given the trainee’s goals, circumstance, and available time.  This workout took approximately 30 minutes (post warm-up) to complete.  I squeezed a little more volume in today; I felt great this morning and I know I’ll be out of the gym for a good spell, so I decided to red-line things a bit.