A little different flavor of pull today, as I opted for a low pull in lieu of the more traditional deadlift that I performed in the workout on 12/29/09.  Much more bar speed in this movement than in the more traditional version; a little less weight on the bar, but the total time to completion was a lot less as well.  If I were one to split hairs, I’d probably label this more of a power-endurance vs a strength-endurance modality, but hey – we’re talking about a whole lot of overlap and gray area here.  It’d be nice to be able to precisely pigeon-hole modalities and workouts – a lot easier to explain, quantify and dose – in the end though, there’s much imprecision, gut feel, art and improvisation to this enterprise.  And thus, the allure; if you attack it right, and stay out of any self-imposed ruts, this “physical culture” thing never gets stale.

Warmed-up with plenty of dynamic stretching and ballistics of all manner, then:

  1. clean-grip low pulls (bar above navel on every rep): 135 x 5, 5; 225 x3,3; 275 x 21, rest-pause (groups of 3s across the board), 7 minutes.  Compare to 16 minutes and change on traditional deads last time out).  Straps on all reps.
  2. weighted dips: bw x 10, 10; 45 x 5, 5; 85 x 21, rest-pause (3s and 2s, singles for the last 3 reps).  3:25 time to completion.  Increased 5# and reduced time 20 seconds over previous outing.

Found myself with a little extra time following this – so did I hit the showers early and head on into work?  Hell no – I hit straight bar muscle-ups in a rest-pause fashion, sets of 2s for about 8 rounds.  Following the dips and low pulls, that was quite enough to polish me off.

By the way, if you haven’t checked this out yet, give it a read (hat tip to Brent Pottenger, aka the epistemocrat, for the find).  It’s classic Nassim Taleb, Black Swan material as related to the importance of variable stressors upon the health of an organism (that’s you and me, kids).  It’s a great read.  Remember, training for sport and training for health are not necessarily the same thing.


    • I haven’t maxed in quite a while, but I suspect from the speed and feel of today’s 275# low pulls, that I’m still in the 525 range, or 2.5 x bw (approx). Which brings up an interesting question: if I were still competing in a speed/power dominant sport (football, track/field, etc), would I be able to wring any more power out of my body from via an increase in DL strength? From self-analysis, at this point I think I’m more cns/rfd deficient for the strength that I do posses. Not much, but a little.

      If I had to guess, I’d say most of my speed-strength/strength-speed work is done between 45 and 70% of 1RM. This is coming at things from the back door for me, though, since I haven’t performed a 1RM in any movement in quite some time (I’m talking years). At this point in my own career, I just don’t see the need. This is the beauty of being “out to stud” 🙂

      Seriously, though – a competitive athlete needs to keep pretty close tabs on at least training 1RMs (competition 1RMs even better), so as to better pinpoint deficiencies, though I think that most athletes who’ve spent any appreciable time in the weight room are probably overstrong vis-a-vis their speed/rfd/cns capability. This is just what I’ve seen.

      • Out to stud…fantastic. I imagine that the strength levels placed in your last post and in Practical Programming for “advanced” are the limit for any athlete. I also suspect that most rfd-required athletes (outside of football) ever reach that level. I certainly know basketball players rarely touch that, though it’s changing.

        How are you judging your improvements as a reactive athlete? Kelly Baggett has a test to see if you’re strength dominant or reactive dominant but I’m unaware of any other tests for determining this.

        • KB’s test (if I remember correctly) compared a trainee’s normal, free-standing vert to a “rebound” vert from an (18″?) platform. If the rebound vert approximated or surpassed the free-standing vert, of course, the trainee would be more “reactive” dominant. Mostly, though, I think you can just observe a trainee’s sprint mechanics – “push” strides being a dead giveaway to a strength-dominant athlete. My empirical group though is decidedly skewed toward the football athlete – I have no reason to believe this is not the case, though, overall.

          Good question re: judging improvements to one’s reactivity, especially in one who leans toward being a reactive athlete to begin with. I don’t have a good answer for that, outside of a competitive environment. In other words, it’s relatively easy to judge one’s quickness/reaction (and improvements therein) on the field, taking proper account, of course, for intangibles like “game/technique maturity” and the like, but you get my drift. This is one reason why I find Marinovich’s ideas so provocative. Overall strength is the easiest modality to positively affect, with speed (in my opinion) a distant second. Reliable methods for improving rfd and cns optimization is the cutting edge, new frontier. We can make a fast athlete strong, and insofar as he/she was strength deficient to begin with (Allyson Felix), we can make that athlete faster and/or more powerful. Now, if we can take that now stronger/faster/more powerful athlete and positively tweak rfd/reaction/cns optimization – whoa

  1. Love your site! What do you recommend for drills/workout for a 15 year old middle linebacker. I weigh 200 (13% bodyfat )and currently bench 243 (1rM) squat 335 and power clean 210. 40 yard dash 5.1. Thanks

    • Speed work, speed work and more speed work. Assuming your weight room numbers here were accomplished with sufficient form and to sufficient depth (squat below parallel), I’d say you’re slow relative to your strength. If I had to guess, I’d say you’re probably “muscling up” your power clean vs. the preferred “popping & dropping” that we like to see in speed athletes. And make no mistake, Mike-backer is a speed position.

        • First off, how’s your stamina? Stamina is like strength, in that’s it (relatively) easy to procure – you want to have your bases (strength, adequate stamina) nailed-down though, or the “house” will crumble. How would you perform in the 15 x 100s in 15 minutes drill? Each 100 has to be less than 15 secs. Get that one nailed, then get back to me about some speed-specific stuff.

          • My advice in approaching this test is this: concentrate on getting every one of the 15 x 100s within the 15 sec/sprint requirement first, then work on whittling away at your between-sprint recovery time. In other words, it might initially take you 30 minutes to get 15 100s done sub 15 sec/sprint. That’s ok, just keep progressively cutting back on the recovery time. It’s not sexy, but it’s very effective.

          • Start off with each sprint at 15 (or less) seconds and 1:45 rest between sprints. Stretch the rest out if you have to as you get deeper into the rounds, just remember the eventual goal is to cut the rest down to the 45 sec range, with each “rep” being 1 minute in duration (sprint time + rest = 1 minute). And remember the primary goal is to get each sprint in at 15 secs or less. This is a speed-endurance drill – first we lock-in the speed aspect, then we’ll work on the endurance aspect.

          • Got the stomach flu so could do the sprints this weekend. Will do them this Sunday. I looking forward to doing this with my Dad. Thanks again for your suggesstions.

          • Bummer. Make sure you recover fully before you get back to hitting the gym/track hard – you don’t want to relapse.

          • ouch! Able to do 6 (45 second rest)and my time went up quite a bit. I am going to try again next weekend with 1.45 second rest. This week also do some springs. Thanks again for your suggestions.

          • You’ve got a god goal to shoot for, then. Remember, if it were easy, every one would do it. Keep at it, you’ll get there.


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