Field Strong is not a beginner program. Don’t look at that as a knock. If you have not made your way through a linear progression via Bedrock, you are a beginner. Don’t make my mistake! Spend the 21 weeks it takes to hit three resets on Back Squat and Deadlift and add 100 or so pounds to your Back Squat on Bedrock, then come back to me here.
Before you start Field Strong, you probably have a lot of questions. What is the goal? How do I start? What makes it different from Bedrock? Well, don’t worry baby birds, Big Daddy Carl is gonna feed you.
Field Strong’s goal
In Bedrock the major objective was to establish a Base Level of Strength. Through doing this we increase an athlete’s biomechanical efficiency, neuromuscular efficiency, psychological factors, tensile strength, and trainability (1). By expanding those components in Field Strong, we push the athlete along their Athleticism Continuum. A continuum is a line that runs on for infinity. In this case, the line represents your development as an athlete. As an athlete where you start on this continuum is dependent on three things; genetics, geography, and opportunity. Bedrock set us up with a solid foundation to build on. However, nothing works forever, and in order to continue to move further down that Athleticism Continuum the programming needs to change.
Where do I begin on lifts?
For the last 21 weeks you have been living in the world of 3x5s. When you switch to Field Strong you are going to see sets such as 5x5 which you might not be familiar with. A good way to pick a weight is to look back to where you topped out your Back Squat 3x5. Say you topped out your 3x5 at 315 lbs. It’s safe to say you won’t likely be able to a 5x5 at that weight. Knock it back 20-30 lbs and give it a go. You will also see reps you are unfamiliar with such as a 5x2… or perhaps you are, and you don’t realize it yet. You’ve spent weeks on the linear progression, topping out your 5s on various lifts numerous times. Within these “failure” points you hit reps between 1-4. Use these as guidance. Leverage your experience on Bedrock.
Along with different rep schemes, there will be unfamiliar movements other than the core, I mean “trunk”, five you have been accustomed to. Think back to how you started on Bedrock with conservative weights and do the same here. Throughout the program you will have plenty of opportunities to increase those numbers and refine those movements.
Start on today’s training or beginning of the cycle?
The most common FAQ we receive is where to start on the Field Strong program. Wherever the cycle happens to be, start with that day’s workout. This is going to allow you to follow along and interact in real time with @John and the Field Strong community. Be sure to post questions, scores, and even filmed lifts for critique.
What is different from Bedrock?
The strength pieces are going to look different than Bedrock’s familiar 3x5s in a few different ways:
We are going to continue to build on the concept of CAT (Compensatory Acceleration Training). Remember: this is where we consciously move the bar as fast as we can throughout the concentric phase of the lift. The weight on the bar will dictate speed, but we are always trying to move the bar as fast as possible. However, there will be times where you see John dictate that he wants bar speed to be the determining factor, not the weight on the bar. CAT allows us to teach our bodies to recruit maximal motor units with minimal dose.
Sets & Rep Schemes
You are going to notice that reps and sets are different than the familiar 3x5s you’ve been seeing. There are two reasons this changes from Bedrock to Field Strong. The first is neurological. After developing a Base Level of Strength, the intensity of weight you can lift for 3 sets of 5 reps is not great enough to drive a Central Nervous System adaptation. Programming weights so heavy you can only lift them for 1 to 3 reps in a set accounts for this.
The second is structural. The volume of the 3x5s is not great enough to drive hypertrophic adaptation anymore either (think Jacked Street). You need more reps in order to keep your body fighting to build muscle which is where something like 5x5s come in. This is why Field Strong has to diverge from the 3x5s to continue to progress.
Primal Movement complexity
Another objective in Bedrock was to build Primal proficiency. This was accomplished by starting at conservative weights on your five base lifts as well as starting at bodyweight on lunges and step ups and only adding reps and weight once movements were mastered. In order to continue to improve primal proficiency we have to continue to stress to progress. This is accomplished through the addition of new movements like Front Squats, Push Press, Power Snatches, etc. as well as utilizing different implements, reps, and combinations of movement.
Instead of a basic lunge step, we might see the classic Primal Complex: Dumbbell Squats + Dumbbell Walking Lunges + Dumbbell Step Ups. We also need to expose these movements through the three planes of motion since sport is in infinite combination of primals through space. All of these will build on the proficiency that was developed in Bedrock. Ultimately, this allows you to move along the Athleticism Continuum.
There also will be the addition of Plyometrics to the program. A novice athlete’s first introduction to this actually happens during sprints. Through sprints we increase their reactive ability which is the ability to generate explosive force. This is about the ability to produce force after an intense muscular stretch (i.e rapid change from eccentric to concentric) (2). Plyometrics allow us to improve a number of different things: explosive strength, the ability to take on eccentric loading, as well as prepare connective tissue for those loads, and practice using the stretch shortening cycle.
All of these are things we want to work towards but can’t just jump into (@ingob write that down). If we do, we risk exposing our athletes to overload injuries which occur when they aren’t prepared to handle the imposed forces as well as overuse injuries which occur through too much volume.
We need more volume which takes more time. It is going to take more time to complete the work than what you were used to on Bedrock. You are looking at 60-90 minutes of training.
For the most part, you aren’t going to need any equipment that you didn’t have on Bedrock. However, there may be times when John wants to implement something that is out of the norm. Don’t fret. He will give you a heads up, and there will always be a way to mimic the demands of specialty equipment without having to go out and restock your gym. For example, the latest cycle - Potentiation - started incorporating trampoline sprints.
You are looking at four days of training with two optional/recovery days. This is gonna be the same amount of training days that you had on Bedrock. So nothing to worry about here.
earn the right to attack field Strong
Field Strong is a program that is designed to continue to enhance your athleticism by introducing new movements, varying volume and intensity, introducing plyometrics, and further developing Compensatory Acceleration Training. Take the solid foundation of strength Bedrock gives you and enhance your athletic traits of strength, power and speed with Field Strong.
What are you waiting for?
- Welbourn, J., Summers, L., & McQuilkin, C. (2017). Power Athlete Methodology: Level One Workbook. Austin. Power Athlete, Inc.
- Verkhoshansky, Yuri, and Mel Cunningham Siff. Supertraining. Verkhoshansky, 2009.
After an introduction to CrossFit in 2007, Carl became a certified coach in 2009 and co-owner of CrossFit South Bend in 2011. In addition to coaching CrossFit and CrossFit Football classes at the gym, Carl has been coaching high school rugby since 2009. He uses the CrossFit Football and Power Athlete concepts to help his young athletes identify their goals and provides pointed instruction to help achieve those goals.
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