Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday 080930: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Handstand hold: 60sec.

For 40 minutes, do any desired mix of:
Swings (get big!) and dismounts (even bigger!)
Any other swinging and flipping moves

3x1 of Practice Routine #1:
Tuck planche
Front lever
Back lever
Roll to hang
Muscle up

Rest minimum of 5 minutes between attempts, use spotter for crosses.

Handstand hold: 60sec.

Ex post comments: For the practice routine, suffice it to say, "like getting ran over in succession by a car, a truck, and then a train."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday 080929: Rest Day

Sunday 080928: Lifting

Travelling, once again.

Pistol: 5x6 (for a total of 15 each leg)
Weighted pushup: 3x3
GF Squat: 5x3
Handstand hold: 60secs.

For the GF squat, have your girlfriend jump on your back and hang on like you're going to carry her piggy back style. Then squat; whatever happens, don't lose your balance!

Saturday 080927: MetCon

Travelling, so the workout is a little skewed:

21-15-9 rounds, for time, of:

Candlestick: from a standing position, roll backwards onto the ground and lift legs until in a shoulder stand, then push the legs down quickly to return to a standing position and jump.

Ex post comments: Finished in around 8:30, did the workout in a hotel's "fitness center" which was basically a tiny room with a treadmill (used that to warm up), a stationary bike, and an elliptical. I thought about deadlifting the machines but figured that I didn't want to break anything.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Friday 080926: Rest Day

Thursday 080925: Rings Strength, Rings Technique, MetCon

Note: This is the last workout in the first strength cycle.

Swings/dismounts/felges: 20mins.
Maltese and invert work with harness: 20mins.
Cross pullout: 6x1
Front lever: 6x1

For time:
25 squats
25 pullups
25 situps
1 muscle up
25 situps
25 pullups
25 squats

Ex post comments: Managed to get a good chunk of the pit foam in the left eye while working on dismounts. On the plus side I am getting higher on the release and will start working on getting more laid-out soon. I'm pretty sore now, and will likely be taking this weekend pretty easy. Finished "151" in 5:48.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday 080924: Rings Strength

Back lever, front lever: 5x1
Muscle-up: 5x2
Cross pullouts: 5x3
Maltese dumbbell press: 4x4
Horizontal row: 3-3-3-3-3
10sec. tuck plance hold: 6x1
10sec. L-sit hold (p-bars): 6x1

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tuesday 080923: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Swings and dismounts: 20 minutes
Backwards roll to support: 6x1
Strict muscle up to L-sit: 5x1
Jump to maltese: 6x1
Straight body raise: 3x3
Cross pullout: 7x2
Back lever: 4x2
Tucked front lever pullups: 4x4
Tuck planche hold: 60 seconds

Ex post comments: That was one heck of a workout. Only did four of the back rolls to support but they are coming along nicely. The maltese position seems like it's more of a balance issue than anything else -- that's not fun but it beats having more strength issues. Coach Bruce says that my swing and dismount are good but to just start working on getting higher. Ended up doing spotted front lever pullups instead of the tucked ones and changed the sets to 3x8.

Monday 080922: Rest Day

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday 080921: Lifting

Note: This weekend starts the fourth week of the strength cycle.

Warm up: cleans, squats
Deadlift: 1-1-1-1-1
DB One arm snatch: 1-1-1-1-1-1

Ex post comments: Deadlifts were 325-345-345-365(f)-345. I was able to keep from rounding the back for the most part. But, the attempt at 365 got about an inch off the ground and my back felt like it was already as round as a bowling ball, so I dropped it and went back down to where I could keep at least a semblance of good form. The DB snatches were good for the rehabbing shoulder, I was able to stabilize 70lbs overhead with the right arm, got up to 90 with the left. Worked some horizontal pulls after the workout, then did about 25 minutes of stretching.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday 080920: MetCon

Working out today with a bunch of people in Charlottesville.

20 minutes for maximum rounds
5 pullups
10 pushups
15 squats

Ex post comments: Made 14 rounds and some change. Pullups were chest to bar, alternating grip. Classic workout.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friday 080919: Rest Day

Thursday 080918: Rings Strength, Rings Technique, MetCon

Rings Technique
Backwards roll to support: 6x1
Swings and dismounts: 15 minutes
Cross pullout (with harness): 4x4

Rings Strength
Inverted cross press to handstand: 5x1
Back lever: 5x1
Front lever: 5x1

Handstand hold on floor: 30sec.

Ex ante comments: Gymnastics practice will finish earlier than usual tonight so workout is shorter than usual. Feeling somewhat sore from the last two days, but nothing serious. Shoulders and back are pretty tight, but joint pain is not present.

Ex post comments: Things went well tonight, the backwards rolls to support are improving; it would see that it's more of a muscle-memory thing than anything else. Left forearm started to bother me during practice, nothing major, but it wasn't the good kind of pain. Hopefully a nice rest day will bring improvement. Finished the day with a long stretching session.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday 080917: Rings Strength

"Reverse Cranks" (basket tuck, back lever, inverted hang): 6x2
Muscle-up: 4x4 on 4min. intervals
Spotted cross pullouts: 5x1 (6sec. hold)
Horizontal rows: 3-3-3-3-3
Push press: 1-1-1-1-1

Four rounds (not for time) of:
5 Maltese dumbbell press
5 Maltese pushup

Hollow rock (x3) to arch rock (x3): 15 on 30sec. intervals

Ex post comments: Push presses were 120-130-140-145-145; horizontal rows were done with 140. Dumbbell presses were 25lbs each. Added a V-up after each round of the hollow rock to arch rocks. Finished the day up with a few overhead squats with the bar, mostly to keep form nice and cool down a little bit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday 080916: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Another day at the gymnastics facility:

Rings Technique
Backwards roll to support: 5x1
Swings and dismounts: 20 minutes

Rings Strength
Cross pullout (spotted): 5x3 (4 minute intervals)
Tucked front lever pullup: 5x4 (keep hips level to shoulders!)*
Single leg tucked back lever: 60 sec. hold (as many attempts as necessary)
L-sit: 60 sec. hold (id.)
Spotted handstand: 60 sec. hold (id.)

Group Conditioning
With a partner, alternate going through the following (i.e., rest while your partner completes the exercises), doing as many rounds as possible in 8 minutes.
Go down and back the length of the floor while doing each of
~Handstand walk/forward roll
~Wheelbarrow walk
~Punch jumps
~With your partner's bodyweight (drag or carry)

*The Front Lever Progressions by Christopher Sommer at http://gymnasticbodies.com/articles1.html.

Ex post comments: Did not get to the handstand holds due to time constraints, also had to cut out some work on the harness. However, the cross pullouts were done with a spotter and they went very well. I'm starting to feel the correct shoulder position from time to time. Tucked front lever pullups were a nice challenge and felt good. The group workout didn't go exactly as planned but everyone (7 people) seemed to have a good time and get a nice bit of conditioning in. Ripped the right had a little bit in the palm under the pointer finger; it is not too bad though, and should have no impact on training this week.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Monday 080915: Rest Day

Sunday 080914: Strength, MetCon

As many attempts as needed to hold each of the following on the floor for a total of 60 seconds:

~Handstand hold
~Top of maltese pushup
~Top of superman pushup
~Top of pushup
~Handstand hold

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday 080913: Lifting

Front Squat: 3-3-3
Deadlift: 1-1-1-1-1
Front Squat: 3-3-3

Note: This is the start of week 3 of the first strength cycle.



Friday 080912: Rest Day

Rest day. Driving to Philadelphia to visit and (work out with!) the girlfriend.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday 080911: Rings Technique, Rings Strength, MetCon

Swings and dismounts into pit: 30 minutes
Dislocates: 10 minutes
Swing, backwards roll to support: 5 attempts
Jump to spotted maltese: 5x1
Inverted cross presses (harness with weight vest): 5x1
Cross pullouts (harness with weight vest): 5x3

As many attempts as needed to hold each of the following on rings for a total of 60 seconds:
~Handstand hold
~Tuck planche or frog stand
~Tuck front lever hold
~Handstand hold

Short group conditioning workout.

Thanks for ideas for the holds in this workout go to http://www.gymnasticbodies.com/articles1.html

Ex post comments: Did not make it to any of the holds due to time constraints.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday 080910: Ring Strength, MetCon

L-Sit (5sec. hold): 5x1
Hang, inverted hang, spotted back lever, inverted hang: 5x2
Hang, inverted hang, spotted front lever, inverted hang: 5x2
Handstand pushups: 5x1
Dumbbell rows, alternating arms: 10-10-10-10-10-10 (rehab for winging scapula)
Maltese dumbbell press: 4-4-4-4

For Time
9-6-3 of:
Power clean (135lbs.)
Parallel bar pushup

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday 080909: Rings Technique, Rings Strength

Swings and dismounts into pit: 30-40 minutes
Dislocate on low rings: 7x1
Cross pullouts with elastic band: 3-3-3-3-3
L-sit, press to handstand, inverted cross, press to handstand: 7x1
Front lever pullups: 5x2
Maltese presses on springboards: 5x2
30sec. handstand hold on rings: 3x1

Ex ante comments: Well rested, well fed, and given time to recover from last week's sessions, I am looking forward to a solid training session tonight. Plus I've got a steak ready to grill up when I get home.

Ex post comments: The workout went very well. Had to switch the dislocates and the cross pullouts as a matter of sharing equipment, but was able to to the cross pullouts with a spotter instead of the band. The front lever pullups were also done with a spotter.

Dismounts overall went well, with the exception of the time my left hand slipped off the ring on the way up for a flyaway. No harm was done, but suffice it to say that one-armed dismounts are not a good idea.

Handstands are going to need a lot more work, as the right shoulder is still somewhat unstable, likely a result of the winging scapula not being 100% healed.

Oh, and the steak, served with green beans, nuts, and a huge serving of milk, was delicious.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Monday 080908: Rest

Today's a rest day. The heat is not off though; a day of hard training or a day resting brings us 24 hours closer to competition. Recovery needs to be taken seriously; additionally, rest day means gym time which means more stretch time.

I'm going to be asking for some feedback on this post on a few forums so, before going into the plans for the next week, I'll give just a little run-down of how things have gone so far.

This past week was the first one at full scale. I'm sore but nothing unexpected. I've been drinking about 1/3 to 1/2 of a gallon of milk a day, eating lots of meat, fruits and vegetables, as well as olive oil, nuts, and avocados.

Below is my plan for the next three days which will wrap up my second strength week (weeks start on Saturdays and are 2 on 1 off 3 on 1 off). I'm generally trying to follow the philosophy at Performance Menu/Catalyst Athletics regarding doing a high volume of exercises to strengthen the body to begin to perform these movements when connected together (more on that, infra).

Tuesday, the workout will be at a gymnastics facility, and I can plan on having approximately 1:45 to complete the following:
~30 minutes of swings and dismounts into pit
~Cross pullouts with elastic band support: 3-3-3-3-3
~L-sit, press to handstand, inverted cross, press back to handstand with counterweighted harness rig (effectively halves user's bodyweight): 7x1
~Spotted 30sec. handstand hold on rings: 3x1

Wednesday, the workout will be at a local gym (Rocky Top Rec. Center in Charlottesville). There is a set of rings with long straps, and places to mount lower rings. The owner has asked that only non-technical, strength-based moves be practiced there. Any major swinging or handstand elements are out. Here's the plan:
~On low rings, L-sit (5 sec. hold): 5x1
~Hang, inverted hang, spotted back lever, inverted hang: 5x2
~Bulgarian dips: 3x8
~Hang, inverted hang, spotted front lever, inverted hang: 5x2
~Dumbbell rows (rehab program for winging scapula): 3x10
~Maltese postition dumbbell presses: 4-4-4-4
~Short metcon (under 10 minutes)

Thursday, the workout moves back to the gymnastics gym:
~30 minutes of swings and dismounts into pit (again)
~Dislocates practice drill: 15x1
~Backwards roll to support: 5x1
~Muscle-up to L-sit: 4x3
~Spotted jump-to-maltese hold: 5x1
~Maltese to iron cross with counterweight harness: 5x1
~Short metcon (under 10 minutes)

Friday is a rest day. One of the weekend days, I'm going to try to get on rings but facilities may be extremely limited (travelling to Philadelphia); the other day I'll be doing deadlifts or other heavy weight training, most likely a 1-1-1-1-1-1-1.


The other aspect to this training to which I am soliciting feedback is the macro plan. As is described at the very bottom of the page, I've been inspired by the Performance Menu / Catalyst Athletics program of a 4 week strength and then 4 week Bulgarian style training program, and am attempting to adapt this to my training.

The way that works is that the first and third 4 weeks are focused mainly on developing raw strength, getting the body used to the many positions and holds that will be required by my final competition rings routine. I'll be doing a lot of volume with crosses, presses, and levers. I'll also be specifically working on some of the more difficult connecting moves. I'll be working on swings and dismounts as well, generally 30-40 minutes per day when in the gym.

In the second and forth 4 weeks, I'll be doing considerably less volume in terms of raw strength, but will be doing a lot more of the "putting it all together" work. During these weeks, Here, I will put the competition routine together and go through it with a spotter a few times per practice session with a long rest period between efforts. When not working with a spotter, or when at a gym restrictive of certain elements, I'll be putting together routines with allowed moves which are approximately the same length as the competition routine. Because these workouts will be shorter, I'll be also able to focus more on working technique moves, spending even more time developing my swing, dismount, and other technical parts of the routine.


So, that's the plan in general. I would very, very much appreciate any sort of feedback on this concept, either from the micro or macro side.

My main question in terms of the macro programming is whether a 4 week/4 week schedule would be best, or if changes to that might be better. For example, starting with 4/2 right now to build strength, then do 4/3, 4/4, 3/4, 2/4 as competition approaches (plan on February or March 2009) and time becomes better used perfecting elements rather than building them. I realize that we're probably into theoretical/experimental ground here, but even some discussion and dialogue would be extremely helpful.

Sunday 080907: Strength, MetCon

Helped with the group workout with the Charlottesville crew; did some running and pushups, 18 muscle-ups, and a 3/4 cross on rings with short straps. Followed that up with about a half hour of various medicine ball and tractor tire activities.

Ex post comments: Hardly a day that can realistically be filed under "Ring Strength." However, many muscles and some tendons remain rather sore, so I suppose that, if I'm going to miss a day of putting on the grips and chalk, today was probably a good choice.

Saturday 080906: Olympic Lifting

Note: Because I'm in Philadelphia and it is raining cats and dogs, lifting is going to be today instead of tomorrow.

Clean 1-1-1-1-1
Jerk 15x1
Clean Drills
Light One Arm Snatches

The clean singles make up the lifting portion of the workout; everything else is light weight to help continue to rehab the shoulder or improve the cleans.

Ex post comments: Still stuck at 215 on the cleans. Tried 225 three times but couldn't quite get it. I am pretty certain that this is the limit of my clean without getting lower under the bar, so the technique drills were light weight but with an emphasis on getting my body lower, rather than getting the bar higher.

The jerks felt pretty stable; much more so than they did a month or so ago, but I only went up to 145lbs today. Additionally, I was able to do one-arm barbell snatches with both arms with no problem. The right (injured) one seemed to hold up just fine.

Friday 080905: Rest

Rest day.


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.