There is not a truth existing which I fear… or would wish unknown to the whole world. – Thomas Jefferson
Back on June 20th, 2011, I performed an autoregulated dip session in which I hit 6 reps at 90 lbs.
On Wednesday, November 21, 2012, I again performed an autoregulated dip session, but this time I hit 9 reps with the same 90 lbs. Then, in the following set, I hit 7 reps with 100 lbs. Both were PRs at their respective weights/rep zones. Here was how the most recent workout played out:
(A1) power cleans: 205 x 3s, 5 sets
(A2) dips (Autoreg): bw x 12; 45 x 6; 70 x 6; 90 x 9(PR); 100 x 7(PR)
There is a clip of the previous workout at the linked post above.
Yeah, so that’s a pretty damn big jump for an advanced trainee. So the obvious question is, “what changed?”. And my answer is, I’m not exactly sure. It’s not like I targeted dip strength in any concerted way. But here’s a few guesses:
(1) I always seem to be my strongest in the fall of the year. This is also the time that my work capacity is at its peak, as I’ve been accumulating some serious volume — especially outside sprinting, bar work and such — since the early spring. Can work capacity influence strength? Oh hell yes it can. And this is the Yin Yang nature of training that many trainees — even fairly advanced trainees — fail to grasp. Work capacity plays a huge role, even in pure strength sports, and even in bodybuilding.
(2) For a long period of time leading up to December, 2011, I had essentially been engaging in (unintentionally, due to my schedule) a daily extended fast. Call it the Warrior diet, or what have you, but my daily eating pattern amounted to this: a 16 – 20 hour fast, followed by a condensed eating window. Since late December 2011, following my bloodwork and consultation with the Merritt Wellness Center’s Holly L’Italien, I have returned to eating a hearty breakfast (consisting of protein and fat) most every morning. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but my performance was suffering as a consequence of chronically eating in a compressed feeding window pattern. The key word here, of course, is “chronically”. I still fast occasionally when the situation calls for it (traveling, for instance), but it’s not my norm. I think this single, simple change has helped bolster not only my strength, but my body composition as well. I don’t have a current DEXA to compare to last December’s to prove it, but I’m sure I’ve put on a bit more muscle and dropped some additional body fat in the last year as well. At least the fit of my clothes and people comments as of late indicate as much. I also feel much stronger, which is a hell of a factor (whether it’s true or not), in actual performance.
(3) In the last year, I’ve also been hitting the pure strength portion of the force-velocity curve much more intensely and more frequently than before. And here’s were work capacity comes back into play: more stamina equates to more high quality, productive reps at an ever greater loading (or time under load, if you like). Also, I’m able to pull this off while still maintaining my high volume of work in those attributes that happen to fall square within my wheelhouse (power production and speed). And what has helped support this heightened work capacity? Consistently shoveling down breakfast.
So there you have it; a little something extra to chew on this Thanksgiving day. Also, stay tuned next week as I’ll be taking Efficient Exercise trainer Lesley O’Neal through and autoreulated trap bar deadlift and dip session. This will be one of our weekly Efficient Exercise “training the trainers” gatherings, and we’ll make sure to capture that on tape. I think the more that folks see autoregulation in action, the more it (and its utility) begins to make sense. Especially when you’re able to compare and contrast sessions.
And last (but certainly not least), I want to give a huge shout-out to Paleo f(x) 2013 speaker Josh Whiton, specifically, and to the Paleo community in general. This post of Josh’s epitomizes what I’ve come to love about this community: using the Paleo model as a template from which to ask questions of the status quo. Helping not just one’s self become healthier, but friends, family, neighbors…anyone! “Paleo-ing it forward”, as it were. Right on.
In health, fitness, and ancestral wellness –