If you are like me, 8 years ago I was searching for a program that would help improve my athleticism, and that is when I found @John Welbourn. Fast-forward to today, Bedrock and Field Strong are Empowering Performance for athletes across the globe.
If you approached these programs correctly (which I didn’t my first time around) you started either by putting yourself or your athletes on Bedrock, a program designed to attack the limiting factors of a novice athlete through accelerated adaptation. It also serves as the launching pad upon which all future athletic traits will be developed. Bedrock achieves this through the concept of overload which is done through constant incremental increases in the weight to a set volume.
However, good things can’t last forever; at some point there will come a day when load or volume are too much and you or your athletes reach a point of “failure” aka overload. One FAQ coming across the Bedrock Comment Feed, "What do I do when I fail at the prescribed number of reps?"One fail doesn't mean jump the ship for Field Strong, it means your journey training has just begun (don’t worry @jwatson530, It’s Not Your Fault).
What is your plan of attack when this occurs? Do you even have one, or have you lost the forest for the trees? At the time I was going through Bedrock I didn’t understand the physiology behind the program. However, I still needed a plan of how to approach this, and you do too.
Having a systematic approach to implement when the inevitable failures occur to make the most out of the program is crucial. That’s what I am here for. Here is your systematic approach to addressing failures on Bedrock.
When do I reset a lift?
Between weeks 8-12 expect to see failure for one of your athletes or yourself on the 3x5s. The reps may look like this: 5. 4. 4. For the first time all 15 reps were not completed. When the total reps across all sets equal either 13 or 14 on training days when hitting Squat, Press, Bench Press, and Power Clean, you have earned a Reload. This is a chance to give that weight one more shot the next time that lift comes up. When an athlete fails in this rep range it is likely a lifestyle factor. This is the perfect opportunity to have a conversation with your athletes or examine your own nutrition, sleep, and cooldown habits. If your total reps are 12 or below you will perform a reset. For the Deadlift there are no Reloads; it is all 5 or nothing.
If you earned the right to a Reload, and you come in on that proceeding workout and hit anything other than 15 total reps you will perform a reset. Hit your 15 reps the second time around? Move on up to the next weight in the progression.
Here at Power Athlete we aren’t just about the sets, reps, and weight on the bar. The weight room is a means to the end, not the end. Our standard is that posture and position of the movement MUST be maintained. If you find that the weight is negatively affecting the athlete's or your ability to maintain posture and position, that is also deserving of a reset. To quote @mcquilkin: “push your athletes to the boiling point, not the breaking point.” This can be a hard pill to swallow -I know it was for me when I was going through it - but this is an opportunity to educate.
How much do I reset by?
If any of the reset criteria is met you are going to press the rewind button and drop the weight back to what you were doing 3 weeks ago from your last successful 3x5, 1x5, or 5x3. We know that percentages don’t work with novice athletes - that’s why we drop back 3 weeks and not a set percentage.
- Squats = 10lbs per week x 3 weeks = 30lbs. (Example: failed 315lbs. Last successful attempt was 310lbs. 310lbs - 30lbs = 280lbs)
- Press, Bench Press, Power Clean = 2.5lbs per week x 3 weeks = 7.5lbs
- Deadlift = 10lbs per week x 3 weeks = 30lbs
- If you are making smaller jumps,the same concept still applies
!IMPORTANT! When you reset a lift , ONLY reset the failed lift. All of the other lifts will still continue along their set progression.
Why do we perform a reset?
Until this point the progressive overload of continuing to add intensity (weight) that Bedrock calls for has produced a eustress or beneficial stress. However if this could go on forever world records would broken everyday, but a tree can’t grow to the sky. Eventually the slope flattens out or declines because distress incurred from adding intensity. To avoid a long term distress, we drop the intensity through resets which allows the athlete a chance to recover and push pass where they got stuck.
This is also a where we introduce the athlete to the concept of general speed aka CAT. At this point the athlete has gone through the phases of developing the necessary intra/inter-muscular coordination to introduce this concept. They have also added more muscle mass. Now is the chance for the new muscle mass to be coordinated to recruit new motor units to produce force and to find the optimal pattern. The resets aren’t only about allowing the athlete a chance to recover and advance passed where they stalled, but it also increases the rate of force development and power.
Addressing the mind set
In my experience, both going through and coaching athletes through this program, this can also be a great mental reset too. Those who have seen this program all the way through will agree when I say it is one of the hardest programs I have ever done. Day-in and day-out you know the bar is just getting heavier. It’s a grind. The little bit of reprieve that a reset gives allows for the athlete to recompose themselves and build momentum to push pass the reset weight.
As well as, up until this point the athlete has been riding high. Everyday they come into the weight room, add more weight, and crush PRs. This is the first time they have experienced failure. Now is your opportunity as a coach to step in and develop the athlete as well as yourself.
When is it time to leave the party?
As I have already alluded to, this can’t go on forever. At some point stagnation sets in, and Bedrock is no longer driving accelerated adaptation for that athlete. This is a result of either neuromuscular or muscle growth factors. It is time to move onto Field Strong. But how do you know when that point has been reached? The simple rule is when an athlete has accrued 3 resets in both the Squat and Deadlift, it is time to move on. It is important to note that during the life cycle of Bedrock you will have accrued at least 3 rests or more on all of your other lifts, but the Squat and the Deadlift are our “canary in the coal mine.”
When training novice athletes on the Bedrock program, it's vital to have a plan of attack, and part of that plan should include what to do for those days when things just don't go how you expect them to. Through reloads and resets, athletes are able to continue to drive accelerated adaption needed to be successful in the weight room, and then transfer of training to their field of play. When things get tough, remind your athletes (and yourself) to be patient and stay the course.
Carl Case has been an athlete his whole life, playing both football and rugby in high school. After high school, he directed his focus to rugby where he went on to become a collegiate Midwest All Star. Carl continues to play rugby on a mens team near South Bend, and was part of a National Runner Up team. He found CrossFit and then Power Athlete as a way to fuel his rugby performance. He has been following the Power Athlete methodology since it’s launch in 2009 and attended his first CrossFit Football seminar in August of 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 Power Athlete inspired 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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