currently reading: the Plan Strong manual...of course
Scottsdale, AZ: over one hundred bright minds gathered this weekend to learn what of the Soviet weightlifting system could be extrapolated into a suitable template for designing programs for use with barbells, kettlebells, and bodyweight for "the rest of us."
Saturday, not more than one hour into the Plan Strong seminar given by Pavel, I had already assessed the presentation as invaluable. It was affirming to learn that this would not be a repackaging of old material, but rather a further, clearer distillation of his previous material. I was skeptical: how could studying elite programs calculably translate for a novice lifter like myself? I posited that common denominators underlying growth in novice, intermediate, and elite practitioners must be organismic or biological in nature, rather than procedural or technical. The underlined theme of the weekend was ebb and flow. In purposeful training, one must accommodate both stimulus and the response to it.
A distinction was made between measuring the subjective part of a training load [internal]--that which technology is great at doing [HRV apps, and the n=1 measurements like perceived effort]--and external: that which we can manipulate outside the organism seeking the adaptation, like weight.
The subjective report in training contains dirty words like “feeling” or “hard,” so we mostly abandoned that discussion except for an aside about technological assists. They might give us input as to when the best day to lift “heavy” is. What would happen internally if I only ever trained heavy on the “best” day to train hardest? Pavel’s open ended question reveals what I guess to be his penchant for keeping it simple and keeping it “old school,” rather than getting mired in minutia.
Meat & Potatoes or Brains & Brawn
What’s a steak without the fat? What’s strength without the smarts to recreate it for a student? It’s clear Pavel lives and breathes lifters’ numbers. Seeing him work out his thought and mathematical support on the board was how I imagine a sailor teaching celestial navigation. Yes, there are many stars but which ones will best guide you based on your location? Use these numbers to give your training life. The supplied manual is a ridiculous compilation replete with “these” numbers.
With a basic template revealed, I recalled a book I read a long time ago, Consistent Winning, that described naturally occurring patterns through Fibonacci numbers. The argument for athletic peaking, stock market trends, and intrinsically beautiful architecture all sharing these ratios appealed to me then. Moreover, the fractal nature of these ratios, scaling from DNA to galaxy spirals made the programming section of the seminar seem like another body of work adhering to a “natural code.”
Big takeaways for me:
- for what lifts we have a lot of data
- minimum, optimal, and maximum rep schemes
- where experienced and beginner lifters’ programs need to be different
- most important variable with which to play [for most people and me]
- most fundamental unit of time in programming
- accommodating for competition