This program provides you the opportunity to select your main training lifts. That’s rad. Most programs don’t do that. But you must feel aptly prepared to choose wisely for yourself. This lesson is dedicated to giving you the ability to select the right movement.
We’ll discuss a few factors:
The power and strength lifts, as well as conditioning options, are scaled by difficulty—from beginning lifter to advanced weight aficionado. Success depends on selecting the movement that’s in your training age and training level sweet spot. Remember Goldilocks? She fucked up like three times before she got her shit together. You’re not Goldilocks—you’re going to hit the ground running, hopefully not from bears.
Determine your training age and training level by asking yourself a few simple questions:
Have I been strength training consistently for a year or more?
Did I train a lot in the past, but have since taken a break? (More on this later)
Do I have a confident grasp on the barbell lifts?
Can I bench press my bodyweight, and squat and deadlift at least 1.5x my bodyweight?
Have I been conditioning consistently for the past year or more?
If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, you have a higher training age and training level. You’ll likely be able to choose the exercises at the advanced end, or bottom, of the list on your program—depending on mobility constraints.
If you’ve sprinkled a couple of no’s in there, choose one of the middle two options.
If you answered no to three or more of the questions, stick to the beginner end, or top, of the exercise options.
*The one caveat is power training. The beginner movement on the lower-body day is the seated vertical jump…at the bottom of the list. On the upper-body day the beginner movement is the chest pass medicine ball throw. If you don’t have medicine balls, you’ll have to do clap push-ups.
Has your training been consistent for a long time with no breaks in the action? Or have you taken a long spell off?
If you’ve consistently strength trained for the past six months or so, you’re what we like to call “trained.” Your body has adapted to the training information you’ve given it and you’ve developed an appreciable level o’ fitness.
If you’ve taken a long break from training—a few months or more—or have trained sporadically for the last six months, or longer, you’re not currently trained. This is true even for the former weight-room dominators and college athletes that have since moved on to regular life. Life gets in the way, we get it. But you’re here now to get better. And so you shall.
Fall into the trained category? Pick movements at the advanced end of the spectrum.
De-trained? Pick movements at the beginner end of the spectrum.
If you were once highly trained and have since fallen off the wagon, starting with the beginner exercises isn’t a slight. It’s just right for you right now. Hard work and consistency puts you back at the advanced level. Whoop ass and get back there, one workout at a time.
Have you found yourself in the hips group? Perhaps you’re a member of the shoulder mobility mafia? These are categorical denotations worth minding.
Knowing that your hips are stiff, selecting the most advanced strength lift is a bad idea. The same goes for shoulders. Pick exercises in the middle strength category and down.
If you had a choice because you could have landed in both groups, be judicious. Picking movements beyond your mobility ability will only cement poor movement that potentially leads to injury. Pick from the middle down in all strength categories and focus on moving with good form.
Equally as important—if you’re aware of shoulder issues, please don’t rack a barbell on your back and back squat. Negative impact will land upon your body like the thunderous Hammer of Thor.
Remember that show the Dog Whisperer? The dude intuitively reads animals to better train them so their owners can interact with them. You’re about to be come your own Lift Whisperer. You’re going to listen to your body and pick the lift that fits it.
Do you feel wrecked immediately after performing a set of an exercise?
Let’s say you chose back squat as your lower-body strength move. But you do a set and you feel completely zapped of energy and you have asymmetrical aches throughout your body. Something’s fucked up. It’s time to pick a different move.
It’s D-Day + 1: you sumo rack pulled yesterday. Today your body is one big bundle of hell in a handcart. You’re asymmetrically sore throughout your body. You feel like you met Adrian Peterson in the hole and he salsa danced across your chest. Chances are, you shouldn’t have sumo rack pulled.
There are a couple of potential issues.
Maybe you picked an exercise that’s beyond your current skill and fitness level. This would certainly wreck you.
Maybe you loaded too heavily. But if you followed the loading guide, this is a non-issue.
Maybe you don’t have the bodily proportions to sumo rack pull well and the movement stressed your body more than necessary.
Sumo rack pull is, of course, just an example. Extrapolate these explanations to all of your strength selections.
If you’re asymmetrically sore, and it takes days to recover from a movement, it’s probably the wrong move for you.
Do you have deadlift command? Do you know that your squat is a bad mamma jamma? Keep this stuff in mind when selecting.
It’s common to be better in one lifting arena than in another. Bodily proportions also lend us to certain movements.
If you have better hinging skill than squatting skill, keep the deadlifting movements advanced and choose middle of the road squat movements. If your bodily proportions lend you to squat (long torso, short limbs), stay in your wheelhouse. Same goes for deadlifting (long limbs, short torso).
Self-honesty before a conditioning session is the best policy.
Conditioning brings out our inner warrior—we tear in, head first, spear in hand. But what’s motivating isn’t always advantageous. If it’s been a while, choose the bodyweight conditioning options.
But if you’re a hardened conditioner, and have all the necessary tools at your disposal (kettlebells, rower, assault bike), have a blast. Find out what brings the warrior to the surface and let him slay a dragon.
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