Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Pushup Experiment

I've started an experiment due to some changes in my training schedule. I can't get in multiple lifting sessions each week; nor can I easily get in extra MMA sessions. So I decided to put in some high-frequency training.

Each day, I do as many sets of 20 pushups as I can while recovering easily. It started with a single set the first two days just to see how it would feel.

Since then I've done between 3 and 8 sets of pushups each day. I do one as soon as I get up each morning, and try to get in one set right before each meal, plus extras as I get a chance. The mean is 5 sets a day, although that's starting to edge up to 6.

I'm prioritizing good form and recovery, so if I'm not sure I am ready for it I skip the set.

One day a week - I chose Sunday - I don't do any pushups at all.

Why pushups?

Because I can do them almost anywhere, and they're easy enough for me that I can do them with no warmup and no risk of problems.

Why 20?

Besides the whole "drop and give me 20" thing, it's also a good number for me. It's more than I can do without effort, but much less than the maximum I could do in a single set.

In addition, 20 reps is fast. I can do that in well under 45 seconds even with a measured pace and a slight pause at the bottom. I don't need any time to do it, so it's never an issue to get them done.

What's the goal?

Just to see what getting 80-120 pushups a day, or more, each day, will get me in terms of musculature, efficiency at pushups, and upper body endurance.

Any other modifications

I dropped all pushing exercises out of my workout, because they'd be overkill. I've also added in some extra external rotation exercises and pulling exercises to balance it out.

My main concerns at this point are:

- wear on my shoulders. Is this too much?

- how do I progress? Currently it's adding sets, because 20 reps is fast but if I do 30s or 40s it will take much longer and risk failure if I'm tired.

We will see how it works out!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Training Terminology: High Frequency Training

What is High Frequency Training?

What High Frequency Training (HFT) boils down to is:

- exercise often. Multiple times per day.

- moderate load. Nothing too straining, but not too easy, either.

- frequent rests. Never do so much work at once it overwhelms (or even impacts) your ability to recover.

Basically, do a moderate amount very often, but not too much.

If that sounds a lot like Greasing the Groove, it should. GTG is really a form of High Frequency Training. Do a lot of easy sets to practice the movement. If you push up the reps a bit so it's a little more work, and do a few more reps - but no more than you can easily recover from by the next morning, you can progress.

What do you get out of it?

In a phrase - "manual labor strength." Done right, you can get that go all day, grip like steel strength possessed by people who do steady, not too heavy, but very high frequency and high rep manual work.

This can get you:

- strength-endurance.

- hypertrophy. You can get muscle size out of this.

- strength. You will get stronger - although not necessarily in terms of 1-rep max - with enough load and enough rest.

- skill improvement. Like GTG, you will get better at the movements you do often.

How can I do it?

As a suggestion, I'd suggest picking one or two exercises, such as the 50 pullups/100 pushups workout.
You can even pick one and really master it, like the 100 pushups guy. Or do squats.

It's easiest if you pick something you can do almost anywhere (such as pushups and squats) or where you can engineer a way to do it (pullups, with a doorway pullup bar).

I'd also suggest going by feel. Pick a number that's about 60% of your one-set max and do that 2-3 times a day. Work up until you're doing 3-5 sets a day and they're starting to get easier. Then add more reps or more weight (if using a weight.)

The idea is just to do enough to force adaptation but not enough to cause any real strain on your system so you'd impair your recovery.
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