Movement Patterns and Cycles

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by HarryF, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. HarryF

    HarryF Malued Vember

    1) In my mind, quality is more important than quantity which is more important than load
    2) do fewer exercises. Do one exercise per 'fundamental movement pattern'*
    3) do fewer 'work' reps. Shoot for maybe 10-15, so 6x1, 5x2, 3x3, 5x3, 3x5. The longer the set, the more likely it is you'll do more reps of lower quality (see point #1)
    4) warm up to your 'work' reps by using steps of lighter weight (e.g. if you are looking to squat 100kg for 5 sets of 2 reps, you might do 8 reps with 40kg, 5 reps with 60kg, 3 reps with 80 kg, 1 rep with 90kg, then your 5 work sets of 2 reps with 100kg)
    5) drop the "train to failure" attitude with compound movements. Train to win, don't train to lose. Training to failure increases the likelihood of training more reps with poor form or improper range of motion, see point #1. If you feel like you are close to failure, stop and call it a day, congratulate yourself on your 100% success rate of high quality reps.
    6) track the weights used (whether you do that here or somewhere else doesn't matter), so you make sure you are improving. Provided that you are keeping your reps perfect (quality), then being able to do perfect sets of 3 with something you were previously doing perfect sets of 2 counts as an improvement (quantity), then when it feels light, add a bit more weight (load), provided you don't sacrifice quality.

    * fundamental movement patterns =
    1) squat
    2) hinge (at the hips)
    3) push
    4) pull
    5) "other"/gait/put it all together

    push and pull can be horizontal or vertical, so maybe there are 7 categories...

    Category 5 is all of the 'other' planes of motion, so something like the Turkish Getup might fall in to 'other', or perhaps a one-armed overhead split squat, or Martial Arts, or Ballet...

    Looking at your last workout and grouping them by movement pattern, you have:

    Front squat (1)
    back squat (1)
    barbell thrusters (1 and 3)
    kettle bell swings (2)
    deadlifts (2 and 4)
    barbell rows (4)
    pullups (4)
    sumo deadlift (2 and 4)
    Romanian deadlift (2 and 4)
    flat bench press (3)
    incline/decline bench press (3)
    Push press (3)
    power cleans (2 and 4)
    hang cleans (2 and 4)

    Lots of overlap, and although it's fun to do lots of different exercises, you may find it more resourceful to specialise in one for each movement pattern. To me, this is the difference between 'exercise' and 'training'. Anyone can get 'tired', not everyone gets 'better'.

    So, pick one exercise for each movement pattern and get really good at that one before changing.

    Some exercises cover multiple patterns, but you might not be able to load them optimally for both patterns, so might not be appropriate. Deadlifts are great for covering hinge (2), and also cover pull (4) but do so with straight arms and quite a short range of motion. Thrusters cover squat (1) and push (3), but the load is likely to be limited by your push strength rather than your squat strength.

    Let's see if you can get great results from the fewest exercises and the least work. How about you go with (from your list):

    Deadlifts, front squats, push press and pull ups.

    Get really skilled at doing high quality reps of these exercises, increase the reps gradually, increase the weight gradually, make sure quality is maintained, become more awesome.

    You may consider doing something like this: pick a weight you know you can do for 5 reps, 100kg for example, then:

    workout 1 (week 1, Mon) - warm up (see recommendation above), then 6x1 @100kg
    workout 2 (week 1, Weds) - warm up, then 5x2 @100kg
    workout 3 (week 1, Fri) - warm up, then 3x3 @100kg
    - add 5%, drop back down the rep range, carry on
    workout 4 (week 2, Mon) - warm up, then 6x1 @105kg
    workout 5 (week 2, Weds) - warm up, then 5x2 @105kg
    workout 6 (week 2, Fri) - warm up, then 3x3 @105kg
    - add 5%, drop back down the rep range
    workout 7 (week 3, Mon) - warm up, then 6x1 @110kg

    and so on, provided every rep is 100% quality

    If it feels too easy, brilliant, concentrate on quality, maybe add some weight. If it feels too hard, take some weight off and concentrate on quality. If it's a challenge but you can do it, great, do it and concentrate on quality.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2015
  2. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    Personally I would include 2 more loadable movement patterns (activities you can add weights/difficulty to):
    - Carry
    - Sprint/Jump

    Carries include things like putting a heavy backpack on and going for a walk or holding heavy stuff in your hands.

    Sprints and jumps are loadable in terms of height, incline or distance (or even sets) and I think are good for training the quick changes from flexion to extension and back.

    Good info Harry - Stickied
  3. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    it's all goal dependent though. optimal technique is determined by your goals and the method by which you try to achieve them. certain things change between beginners, intermediates and advanced/elite trainees. technique can also be trained to absurd levels of consistency even at the point of muscular failure. i would therefore disagree on points 2 and 3. more is more, to a point; see my recent wanton surfing of the supercompensation curve, doing about 9 main lifts and 9 accessory lifts, part of them 2x/week for a total of 12 main lifts and 12 accesory, averaging about 5 days a week for 5 weeks. it wasn't indefinitely sustainable, but it wasn't supposed to be, and it certainly isn't something a beginner should do. however, context is key, as for beginners i remember more experienced people stating that higher volume and frequency doesn't accomplish that much more, whereas the poundages handled by elite lifters will sometimes make it impossible to do it on main lifts due to the need to recover from them (hence things like the conjugate method or the russian and chinese weightlifting schools of thought, where many different exercises are used). regarding point 3, entirely goal dependent. rep ranges depend on energy systems, and you need to increase density and volume to hit the longer term energy systems. this is much more efficiently and efectively done with higher rep ranges at moderate weights, both for endurance and for hypertrophy purposes.
  4. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    For example, one would pick the front squat (from the choices of FS, BS and barbell thrusters) continue with this till...a short-term goal (strength or form) is reached before moving on to the back squat?

    Should one go ahead and determine their 1 rep maximum for each exercise within the fund mov pattern from the outset? Maybe increasing that by some factor could be the short term goal?
  5. HarryF

    HarryF Malued Vember

    Thanks chaps, this is an unexpected honour. I think it's important to know the context of the original post too, it is a suggestion specific to someone early in their lifting career who was previously doing a programme handed out by the coach at their gym that was along the lines of an isolation focussed, body part split with 3 exercises per body part, each of which had 3 sets of 8 or to failure. They also recently were deadlifting with less than 1x bodyweight (although I don't know for how many reps) which resulted in a "back tweak" type injury/malaise.

    My rationale for suggesting the focus/reps/progression that I did is that it is 'opposite' to what they were previously doing, and, in my mind, for a beginner it is really important to learn the movements properly before overloading them with higher rep sets or heavier weight than can be done perfectly.

    The list of exercises was taken from that individual's last workout, and so (correctly or otherwise) I assumed they were movements the individual is comfortable with so did not (yet) take the liberty of suggesting others...

    Anyway, none of this is original (copywrite HarryF ;)) material, I'm only repeating what I have learnt from being here (Fishy, Mascarenhas, Simon, Frodo, Steve, Sokklab, PrincessHaru, Icefield, many others), reading T-Nation (Christian Thibaudeau and Dan John for the win!), Chaos and Pain, Rippetoe, Dan John, Pavel, Wendler, Nuckols and a healthy dose of Elliott Hulse... Then distilling the suggestions that have worked for me so far and seem to make sense, and I'm still learning. :)

    I'm also a big fan of the "here are some ideas, work it out for yourself" approach...

    This, of course, brings up the important question: Does individuality mean that 'bro science' ain't all that bad?

    Yes and yes to both of those. In fact, if I am at a loss as to what to do in the gym, I'll go for deads, front squat, chins, dips and farmers walk, then interval sprint/walk home... Maybe I should do that more often...

    I absolutely agree, and it is not only goal dependent, but existing ability dependent too - the answer to "what route should I take?" is irrelevant if you don't yet know where you are (existing ability) or where you want to be (goal).

    The advice of low reps and perfect quality over quantity and load is context dependent and based on an understanding that, for the individual,
    a) motor patterns may not be good enough yet (e.g. deadlifts result in low back injury), low reps allow for a consistent setup and a bit of thinking time between each one
    b) the goal is to 'get stronger for [insert physical activities]', therefore concentrating on a small number of exercises allows a more focussed (and hopefully prenounced) progression using some of the more 'generalised' movement patterns. The specificity comes from the physical activity, and the weight room is utilised in a more general manner.

    There is also the idea of "get good at what you're bad at", so for me this has been higher rep work (done 20 rep squats, it was hard. I'm currently using 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps in my assistance movements) and 'beach muscle' work. It makes for a decent variety even if it's purely the psychological effect of something 'new'.

    Anyway Fishy, we all know you're "special" :banana:
  6. HarryF

    HarryF Malued Vember

    Yes, essentially, but I'd keep the goal of 'perfect form' at the top of the list. I think of 'form' in two parts: 'neutral alignment' and 'range of motion'.

    For me, neutral alignment means maintaining excellent posture throughout the movement (like with the pull up progression thing I waffled on about a little while ago), and this, in theory, puts your joints in the best positions for good range of motion, whilst lowering injury risk, it also has the bonus of giving you practice at standing tall which makes everything better.

    Range of motion is exactly what it sounds like, although for me it's 'as far as you can move without sacrificing neutral alignment'.

    Take the front squat for example, put the bar just on your front delts ("create a shoudler shelf"), grip the bar however you can (clean grip, fingertips only, straps. I don't like the 'bodybuilder' crossed arms - not enough external rotation/thoracic extension for me), stand upright with your neck packed, your chest up, hips level, legs straight, elbows pointing forward. This is my 'checklist' for neutral alignment.
    My aim is to sit straight down between my feet, necessitating the bending of ankles, knees and hips, as deeply as possible while maintaining the same neutral alignment from my pelvis upwards.
    If limited mobility in any of the joints that are bending (ankles, knees, hips) limit the depth to which I/you can go without compromising neutral alignment, then don't go any deeper than that! It may be that going to that depth with weight on a regular basis improves the mobility 'bottleneck', or it maybe that I/you need to work on mobility as a separate activity.
    Yes, when it comes to non-competitive squatting, deeper is more desirable, but don't let extra depth compromise neutral alignment.

    Wow, I rambled about form for too long. Yes, you can set form as a goal - neutral alignment first, then range of motion.

    Then yes, see what load you can do now (it might be the empty bar, but that's OK), set a goal, doesn't matter how small it might seem, reach it convincingly and set a new one (10kg jumps, or proportions of your own bodyweight, or, if you're feeling brave, your Better Half's bodyweight...)

    You can get stronger in any rep range: if what you can lift for 12 reps today is more than what you could lift for 12 reps last month then you are stronger.
    If anything, 1 rep maximum can be quite variable, depending on mood, energy levels, and the alignment of Jupiter with Uranus. What you could do is determine a 3 rep maximum, then use a repmax calculator to work out the theoretical 1rm from that.

    I use: repmax = weight x (1 + (reps / 30)).

    So, say you did 100kg for 3 reps. Divide the reps by 30 (3 / 30 = 0.1), then add one (1.1), then times by the weight lifted (100 x 1.1 = 110), so the theoretical max is 110kg.

    Maybe then if you're going to embark on the rep range/progression in my OP, you could take 70% of your (actual or theoretical) 1rm and start the programme . Then if you're taking 5% steps each week, after 6 weeks you'd be doing your 1rm for 3 sets of 3.

    If this rate of increase proves to be too challenging for 'neutral alignment', then you could take 2.5% jumps each week and make it 12 weeks...

    So, you could have a 3 rep max goal, as well as a 1 rep max goal...

    And for bodyweight exercises (chins, dips etc), then make your sets really high quality (2-3 reps short of form breakdown), and do lots of sets.

    For example, if you can do 5 reps but the last one involves your shoulders and ears meeting, perhaps do 5 sets of 3. Next time, do 1 set of 4 and 4 sets of 3, then 2 sets of 4 and 3 of 3, then 3 sets of 4 and 2 of 3, and so on, adding 1 rep per session until you can do 5 sets of 5 without the shoulder/ear interface.

    Simples? :)
  7. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    thing is perfect form doesn't really exist in the way most people inagine it. the same thing ends up happening as with martial arts, where people look at where the parts of the body are and where they end up, but not on how they're going there. in the case of lifting, the latter has to do with bar-foot alignment, force transmission and lever lengths, conditioned by individual anatomy, whereas people get hung up on the spatial relationship between bodyparts (exact angles of the back, where the feet are and where they point, whether you look up or down, etc, rather than on how those bodyparts interact (do you have a stable base from which to push? is your back firing to try to extend regardless of its actual angle? are you positioned so that you can reduce the moment arm between bar and hips? are you coordinating the flexion and extension of your joints correctly? so on and so forth). barring things like bench presing and oly lifts which have their own peculiarities, no one with a sub bodyweight compound lift should really be paying much attention to form on said lift beyond "back straight, up and down", because the weight itself will fix most errors you have (if not, you'll often simply fail the lift), and will inherently modify your form when it gets heavy enough, by significantly shifting your center of gravity, anchoring you, and defeating the passive resistance from various body parts (prime examples, ankles in any squat, back setup in pulls from the floor, and wrists on anything from the clean rack).
  8. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Obviously the need for mirrors is paramount for a beginner who's doing it on their own...even then...I'm not altogether certain if I'd be within neutral alignment on all fronts.

    Ja, I war gonna ask about starting with an empty bar till one has the neutral alignment/form thing down.

    What's a decent-but-realistic rest period between sets?
  9. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    2 minutes between sets.

    dont use a mirror, get someone to train with or video yourself and get people to analyse it
  10. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    and contrary to harry'f advice - i think you should do a load of lower and upper back exercises before your first squat or deadlift session.

    when your muscles are sore you'll be able to feel when you're in neutral alignment or not and be able to feel your muscles when you tense then..
  11. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    i would take the middle ground and just do very low intensity high volume for a single set of back extensions or whatever. the pump will serve the same purpose with minimal fatigue and thus minimal risk.
  12. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    also timing rest periods is teh suck unless you're really concerned about getting a lot of density. i used to time mine at 1-2 minutes (theoretically all you need for low-moderate rep protocols), but now i just wing it as it lets me make sure my head is in the right place, which is a very important factor not taken into account by pure biomechanics and pop exercise physiology. experience may have to do with this thogh, as it'll also let younjudge when you are actually ready to lift again (and that confidence boost can be a great help, as the way younapproach the bar affects how you do the set, such as in my case tending towards better results when highly agitated. whereas others lift near flawlessly when they are in a state of zenlike calm)
  13. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    yeah. it really depends on the activity. i sometimes get bored and cold waiting for a timer for the next set or lose my hype.

    some of the folks ive trained with (usually avid runners) find it impossible to get a lower back pump on their first session. it's all that running me thinks, builds up a decent tolerance on the lower back.
  14. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    not even with high ROM sldls or good mornings?
  15. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Such as...
  16. HarryF

    HarryF Malued Vember

    Essentially: "what they said" about rest periods. I go for enough so I'm 'ready' but no so much I get cold or my mind starts wandering.
    This usually ends up being between 30s and 2 minutes, but it's sometimes less and sometimes more...
  17. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    but then you have to teach them to deadlift before you teach them to deadlift :p

    The point in them getting a pump before hey deadlift is so they can feel the muscles in there back and have better kinaesthetic awareness when they learn to deadlift or squat and therefore maintain a neutral spine.

    personally i'd have them do a few high rep sets of back extensions or planks.
  18. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    ^ [​IMG]

    Then warm up further with low weight squats and deadlifts? Albeit low weight, the reps should stay low as well

    ( from Harry:

    or should the reps be higher in order to get the muscles pumped/primed for the higher loads? (assuming reasonable alignment/form is being maintained)

    Hope the question(s) not too convoluted.

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