Let’s face it. Sometimes life gets in the way of training. You find yourself committed to long hours, late nights, and poor recovery practices outside of the gym. I affectionately call this “the grind.”
Since the release of the new CrossFitFootball.com in January, I’ve been in the grind; I’ve been operating in a world of wire frames, flow charts, spreadsheets, and use cases. Through that we have put together a project road map to deliver what we believe will be the best online experience in this industry. Since the soft launch of our membership subscriptions, the focus has been the organic growth and flow of traffic behind the “pay wall.” I seemingly plug into the proverbial “Matrix” and get lost, and forget to eat, sleep, and train. It’s a nightmare and I don’t do myself any favors to allow me to endure the rigors of programs like Field Strong, Fours, The Matrix, as well as the other training projects we are testing at PAHQ. But I apply 4 simple rules to my training when in the grind to minimize my detraining and enable myself to bounce back when things quiet down.
I’ve found that plowing through my day, and continuing the grind through my traditional training schema leaves me sick, tired, moody, and an unproductive twat. Because I know I am not alone, I am going to offer you a page from the programming I follow when life has me in the grind. If you’re like me, then you’re probably sleep deprived, malnourished, and jet lagged. Below I’ll explain my 4 rules of maximizing your training while surviving the grind.
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Watch the submaximal volume
Going light may seem like the way to go because it should be easier to recover from. But we are Power Athletes, to slow us down, or tame us, is like trying to tame a wild chimp. Sure, we may seem domesticated at times, but more often than not we’re ready to rip someones face off. To combat face removal, keep the loads relatively high, and the reps relatively low.
Minimize ballistic / maximal eccentric loading through compound movement patterns
Try to limit ballistic and maximal compound eccentric loading patterns. “GOING TO THE MAX!” (as Nate a.k.a. @TheClinic would call it) is something I avoid while in the grind. It trashes me, and I can’t recover. Let’s say I’m looking to squat on the grind. I’ll throw in front squats, split squats, or overhead squats. I can’t load my body as much as I can on the back squat, but I still get to squat. When your lifestyle outside of your training is dialed in, it’s absolutely essential to take this approach on RM days and testing days to maximize your training effect, but you just won’t be able to recover when life gets in the way. Always Leave a few gallons in the tank when you’re in the grind.
Focus on BAR SPEED!
So far I’ve said to keep the weight high, but don’t go to the max. What the FUCK is that supposed to mean? It means train hard, but keep the bar speed up. Leave some reps in the tank on your strength work. It’s not the best way to progress your biomarkers of performance, but it is better than nothing and will allow you to keep up a solid routine.
Don’t train to exhaustion
Everyone is a guilty of this concept: “I’ve only had a good day if you have to peel me off the floor.” Maximal effort is always assumed in training. But if you’re in the grind it’s probably an accurate statement that productivity outside the gym needs to remain maximal in order to get life out of the way. So avoid completely kicking yourself in the balls. Break a sweat, stress the system, and get out of the gym and handle your business.
With that said, here’s a little 5 day template you can stuff in your back pocket. Sure variance keeps things exciting, but sometimes routine can be comforting in the chaotic environment of the grind. If I am tied up for multiple weeks at a time, I simply rinse and repeat. Be sure to include a 10-15 minute warm up.
I’m not going for any records, but I want to squat. So I rack the bar up front so I know I won’t maximally load the movement pattern, and I go for a triple, five, or seven.
Front Squat 3-7RM
5 min AMRAP
Ball Slam – 5 – 10 reps
Russian twist with slam ball 10 – 20 reps each side
1000m row, shooting for a 2:10 500m split
Time for a horizontal push. I’ll pair it up with a horizontal pull. Desk jockeying doesn’t help my thoracic rotation one bit, so I try to include some rotation once a week.
Close Grip Bench Press 3 RM
3 x Max Rep dumbbell bent over row
Some sort of resisted rotational work for about 15 minutes, low heart rate
Rotation plyo ball work
Lunge twist to behind the neck overhead press
Time to get the heart rate up. I like the C2, Assault Bike, and Prowlers because there is no eccentric loading but it’s super easy to break a sweat and get the heart rate up. Don’t kill yourself, remember Rule #4. You want to be able to see straight after you’re done here so you can go tackle the grind.
15 Minutes of one of the following
Prowlers – rest as needed
Minute on / Minute off Row / Airdyne
Let’s push some weight overhead. Again, think of push:pull here. So let’s pay some mind to our vertical pulling.
Vertical Press 5RM (strict press or push press)
3 x Max varied grip vertical pulls (supine chin up, pronated pull up, alternating grip)
20 – 25 Kettle Bell Swing EOMOTM for 7 minutes
1000m row, again, shooting for a 2:10 500m split
It’s time to pull. I avoid dead lifting when in the grind. It’s too taxing for me. I like to pull the bar dynamically for a few heavy reps.
Work up to a heavy PC, shooting for 80 – 90%
2 – 3 Power Clean at above weight
5 – 10 dynamic horizontal press (plyo push ups, dynamic push ups, clapping push ups)
Rest until ready
I gave you a range of reps so you don’t over exert yourself. Fall somewhere within those ranges to be sure to get some work done.
Now if you can’t train consecutive days, don’t worry about it. At least get up and go for a 15 – 30 minute walk. If you’re dressed for it, drop every 5 minutes and get max rep push ups. If you have to do that 2 days in a row, then fine, do it. Just pick up where you left off on this little template as soon as you’re back in the gym, and move the dirt.
If you have some extra time after any of your training days, don’t be afraid of some to take a stroll on Jacked Street with some arm and trap work; supersets are not a thing of the past.
Remember, be smart, listen to your body, focus on getting life out of the way.[/s2If]
I am the COO of Power Athlete, co-host of Power Athlete Radio, and a Power Athlete Coach. I've been coaching athletes, training clients, and educating 1,000s of coaches around the globe since 2007. I'm a lifelong multisport athlete, but my focus was football up through college where a neck injury forced me to hang it up.
Now I'm a stickler for productivity, and have a burning desire to empower athletes, coaches, and every day people who are striving to be better versions of themselves.
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