Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thursday 080904: Ring Technique, Ring Strength, MetCon

Swing practice
Dismounts: 10x1
Muscle-up, roll backwards to back lever, inverted hang, front lever, inverted hang: 5x1
Backwards roll to support: 10x1
Maltese hold with harness: 5x1
L-sit, press to handstand, inverted cross with harness: 5x1 (30 sec. rest)

7 minutes AMRAP:
5 Box Jumps (36” box)
5 Straddle L-Sits on Parallel bars
5 Pullups

Ex ante comments: I'm noticing some moderate soreness today, which is more than I've experienced for quite some time on the Crossfit WODs. It's mostly in the upper back and shoulders, although a little in the chest and neck. I'm not planning on omitting anything from today's WO, but it's hard to predict how the tendons are going to feel today. These things take time to adapt, and I certainly don't want to to any damage that will set me back. We'll take things one set at a time.

Also, to quote Gant Grimes, from whom I'm taking a great deal of my training philosophy (via the Crossfit Message Boards), "Everything you do on this program packs a substantial neuroendocrine wallop. . . . You should be shaving twice a day on this program." Well, I used to be able to go three days without shaving before anyone would notice. I shaved yesterday morning, but missed today. I look like the Wolfman. Based on that, I know that at least something is happening. If all else fails, I can promote my blog as a facial hair growth program.

Ex post comments: Had to scale it back from what was planned due to time constraints. The dismounts into the pit took well over half an hour.

Wednesday 080903: Ring Technique, Ring Strength, MetCon

Muscle-up to L-Sit: 7x1
Cross holds with band (4 sec. count): 5x1
Press to shoulder-stand: 20x1
Pendlay rows (thanks braindx): 3-3-3-3-3
Bulgarian dips: 5x8
Ring rows: 3x10

3 Rounds for Time:
With a partner, alternate between the two stations:
Row 250 meters
Hold pushup position on floor-level rings

Ex post comments: The owner of the gym wasn't too keen on the presses so those had to be omitted (Wednesdays are at a more traditional facility for the next few weeks rather than at a gymnastics gym). I wasn't able to keep my back straight with much over 95lbs on the rows, so I went ahead and upped those to sets of 5. The ring rows were omitted in the interest of time.

Tuesday 080902: Ring Technique, Ring Strength

All exercises on rings with 3 sec. hold for strength elements unless otherwise noted:

Handstand practice on floor
Swing (x3) to inverted hang to back lever to inverted hang: 5x2
Backwards roll to support: 20x1
Muscle-up to L-sit: 5x1
Inverted hang to front lever: 7x1
Cross pullouts with harness: 7x4
Dislocate practice drills: 20x1
Maltese to inverted cross with harness: 5x1
Weighted muscle-ups: 3x1

Note: MetCon will be moved from today to Wednesday this week due to gym constraints. Long story.

Ex post comments: Made the weighted muscle-ups with 14lbs for the first and 16lbs for the second and third attempts. The biggest problem was getting used to using ring grips, but I'm starting to get the feel for them. With grips, the false grip as we know it is dead. The cross pullouts went very well; much better than expected. 20 reps for the back roll to support was a little excessive; for the last five reps or so I was not anywhere near proper technique. The whole circuit took a good 1:45, but at times I was sharing equipment with other gymnasts. Soreness has yet to set in, but something tells me it's coming.

That said, I am currently extremely glad that I worked out all summer doing the Crossfit WODs at the Black Box ( Without having done much rings work over the summer, I can safely say that I have retained what I had. In fact, I do not think I could have made it though this workout nearly as well as I could have four months ago.

No real idea how the body is going to react to all of this, but I'll keep you informed. All I really know is that I'm currently very hungry and am satisfying that with a massive plate of chicken and green beans.

Monday 080901: Rest

Rest day.

Found a nice article at American Gymnast regarding maltese training progression ( There were four exercises: maltese dumbbell press, maltese pushup, spotted jump to maltese on rings, and block maltese.

I'm a big fan of this last one and will be working it into the training. The idea is to set two platforms apart from each other so that the shoulders and arms rest on the boxes in the maltese position with the rest of the body mid-air, then (spotted, if needed) pull up to a shoulder-stand position.

Finished the day with a solid 30-40 minute stretching session.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sunday 080831: Lifting

Deadlift: 1-1-1-1-1-1-1

Ex post comments: Started with a set of 5x2 front squats to warm up at 135lbs, then started the deadlifts at 255 and went up to 305. Handled the weight through the 5th lift without rounding the back, then had to seriously fight it once the weight exceeded 275lbs. Finished the day with a long stretching session.

Saturday 080830: Ring Strength, MetCon

Muscle-Ups: 5x3
Shoulder Press:
65lbs x 7
65lbs x 5
65lbs x 3
95lbs x 1
Iron Cross with Assist Band, 3-Second Hold: 3x1
Hang on Rings to Inverted Hang (Slow Descent): 3x3

MetCon: Tabata Rows on C2 (8 Rounds of 20 Seconds On, 10 Off)

Ex post comments: The presses were a bit of a challenge with the shoulder problems (slowly recovering winging scapula) but went better than the last time I did them. That said, the Cross holds and subsequent pullouts did not seem to bother it at all. Averaged 8.5 calories per round on the rows with a total of 68 calories. Also, ring grips might help in the long run, but they're not making life very fun right now.


The current goal is to put together a competition-ready rings routine for club-level competition. There are a number of meets in the first few months of 2009 where this will be possible.

I am developing my own programming, but am actively seeking out assistance with this. I have drawn guidance from Crossfit, Performance Menu, Gym Jones, postings on various message boards, and numerous other fitness blogs. My thanks for making their information public, I hope to continue in this same spirit with my own experiment.

Note that I will be changing this plan as time goes by and I get advice from the many people who have offered their help with this process. I will be making notes for changes in italic font; anyone using this blog in the future will be able to gather more information by looking at the process of what I've learned and changed than by just observing the finished product.

The plan is for a 2/1/3/1 schedule. The reason for this is that the gymnastics gym is going to only be available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The equipment available there is far superior to that available elsewhere, both for skills and strength work.

Here’s the main idea of the programming:

Saturday: Ring Strength, MetCon
Sunday: Lifting
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength, MetCon
Wednesday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength
Thursday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength, MetCon
Friday: Rest


Once a week perform Olympic lifts and their component parts, as well as other activities using the big muscle groups. Go heavy on these days, but also use the time to make sure that technical proficiency on these lifts does not backslide during this period of stepping out of normal programming.


Two or three times per week, perform a short, intense workout, generally a combination of multiple exercises. The workout should last between three and ten minutes, and should be done at a very high level of intensity. Combinations of different movements, not necessarily all ring-focused are favored.

Ring Strength

This is the main portion of the programming geared exclusively to reach the goal of building and perfecting a routine. Inspired by Catalyst Athletics / The Performance Menu, the idea here is going to be to program in 4-week intervals.

Strength elements will generally be trained at relatively low volume and near-maximum capacity.

The odd-numbered four week cycles focus on building strength for the individual components of the routine while improving technical proficiency throughout. For elements already learned, this means repeating them, sometimes with weight added, with an emphasis on holding correct form. For elements which have yet to be learned, this cycle will focus on developing the correct form and technique, which means more assistance and repetition, and repeating the same exercises more often through the week. Expect a great deal of work with elastic bands and harnesses as well as work with weights and other exercises off the rings.

The even-numbered four week cycles focus on developing the entire routine, connecting elements together, and increasing the ability to train elements at or near maximum exertion on a frequent basis. For elements already learned, this will mean connecting all of them together in a single effort to practice execution of a competition-length routine. For elements which have yet to be learned, training will be low in quantity but performed at a maximum level of execution, preferably with a spotter rather than bands or a harness.

Ring Technique

Practice the more technical elements of the rings routine in large quantity. Focus on swinging, balance, and dismount elements, repeating them at great quantity, limited generally by fatigue preventing proper execution technique.

These will require strength but also focus on form and will generally be done when fresh.

Other Elements of Programming

In addition to this schedule, at least twice a week, do other activities such as swimming, running, or playing any sort of other sport. Keep lose and keep sane. Make sure that at least one of these activities is some sort of outlet in which performance is not tightly tracked and measured and is instead done just for the fun of it. For me, that’s playing volleyball or going hiking. The concept is to retain sanity and prevent burnout; although that does not mean that this part is less important than any other component of the programming.

Additionally, and somewhat conversely, do a mental workout once every few weeks. These are workouts that, while not necessarily physically draining, they are mentally demanding. Examples serve more for definition than anything else: 10x25 meter underwater swim on 1:00 intervals; muddy trail run during a rain storm with belly-crawl component; or a mile sand bag carry.

The idea is to push yourself toward a goal that you know you can physically do, but may or may not be able to push through mentally. You have to keep your mind sharp and will yourself to finish the workout. Once you’ve gone through this type of thing to reach your goal, you will be less likely to drop out of the program. You’re quite literally hazing yourself.


That is the programming schedule in a nutshell. I am very much open to feedback on this: it’s the primary reason I started this blog in the first place.