“True happiness is … to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.” – Seneca
This workout offered a great example of how I use a particular tool (in this case, the ARXFit biofeedback readout) to autoregulate the entirety of a session. Here’s what went down:
A1) overhead push press: w/u to 145/5
A2) body weight chins: x 7 (trapeze bar)
B1) ARX OHP single
B2) BB BTN push press at 185/3
B3) ARX chin single
side-to-side skater reach off of a high block, 5 each side, all (6) rounds
First off, let’s break this workout down to it’s main emphasis: max effort overhead pressing. The behind-the-neck push pressing is here primarily as a “primer”, i.e., CNS stimulus for the max effort work to come. I’m not going to autoregulate the push press; I could maintain sufficient speed in this movement at that weight for *many* sets. In fact, I’ve chosen this weight particularly because it’s a sufficient stimulus for the purpose at hand, without being so much so as be a threat to induce too much fatigue.
The chins (and ARXFit chin singles) are put in (a) for increased work volume, and (b) as a counter/enhanced recovery tool vis-a-vis the overhead work. Remember, I’m still an extremely busy guy who has to figure out ways to increase work volume while not sacrificing quality of the main-focus movement. For the theory behind this methodology, see The Five Ts. In essence, this is simply a return-on-time-investment balancing act maneuver.
The side-to-side “skater reaches” allow me to get a little additional, low-intensity, unilateral volume in the mix while recovering fully for the next round. Think of skater reaches as an inverse cossack squat, performed off of an 18-inch block. I put markers on the ground and attempt to maximize lateral reach, every rep of every set.
So let’s return to that readout above. The blue trace you see is the “in-the-moment” set (vertical axis = force; horizontal = time). The grey trace was set #2. You can see I’m well off the mark in this last set. And if I were to compare this to set #1 (which I can, but just didn’t show here), you’d see I was substantially off.
Okay, but so fuckin’ what? What can I do with this info? In an autoregulation sense, why did I even perform set #3? And why not an additional set? Or even another 5?
Well, I wish I could give you an exact answer, but I can’t; nobody can. This is where art comes in. But it’s an informed art; not the off-the-cuff mayhem-and-woo that science geeks love to poke fun at. It’s the same kind of art that makes the best thoroughbred trainers masters at their craft. Can science quantify what’s going on there? Hell no. Too many variables at play (and let’s not even begin to get into the psychological particularities of the individual horse); reductionist mechanisms just won’t produce anything meaningful, here. Again, I hate to beat a dead horse (and wear-out a perfectly good metaphor in the process), but this leads us right back to the idea that:
Five Ts > Principles > Methods > Programs
And er’body wants plug & play programs, of course — as if that’s the end of the line. Programs, folks, are simply what learning the alphabet is to overall effective communication. That is to say, you can be an illiterate sum’bitch and still recite the Goddamn alphabet. You can even stand on one foot, recite it backwards and pass a roadside sobriety test (at least here in Texas). Do the equivalent with a barbell and I’ll guarantee stagnation, frustration and, well… an eventual quitting of the game altogether. If you’re gonna be in this game for longer than a fartin’ spell, you better get beyond mere programs and methods.
Okay, so let’s get back to autoregulation: essentially, what I’ve done over time is correlate the amount of drop-off required to (a) produce a response, while (b) allowing for sufficient recovery prior to another intense bout of exercise. In this case, it was an easy call. Both max eccentric force and overall intensity (power) dropped well below the “pull-the-plug” level I was looking for. If you look at the 2nd vs the first set for 8/29 (right hand column), you see that although max eccentric peak slid a bit, the intensity produced was actually higher; I’m still in the game at this point. I stepped off the cliff in set 3, and not only did I feel it, but it was captured via the feedback.
So, no wasted effort here. I got the work I needed to do done, without overdoing it. I was able to fully recover and hit it again (lower body emphasis, with hill sprints) the following day.
And here’s what instantaneous biofeedback looks like in real time, with ARXFit equipment:
In health, fitness and ancestral wellness –