The following reviews a training protocol that has been effective for several of our athletes. This initially arose as one of Zack’s class WODs, and I modified it to be more demanding. I tested it on myself (an advanced athlete) and then on some intermediate athletes. I have not tested it on beginners, and I would discourage use of this protocol for inexperienced athletes. However, the athletes on whom we’ve tested it have shown significant improvement in almost every performance benchmark. Individual athletes are all a little different, due to diversity among their athletic backgrounds, as well as predisposition to certain tasks. So when we find something that works for almost everyone, we take note. The protocol is this:
Create a 3-task EMOM, with a different task for minute 1, minute 2 and minute 3
Task 1: Should last for 45 seconds
Task 2: Should last for 30 seconds
Task 3: Should last for 15 seconds
At the end of the EMOM, row 100 cals at max effort.
A quick (but necessary) note: this is not intended to be “a really hard workout that crushes everyone.” This is designed to produce a stimulus which triggers adaptions. Any jackass can program 100 thrusters for time at 155/105 because “bro we go so hard”. The following is an example of an implementation of this protocol:
Minute 1: Row 21 calories
Minute 2: 15 kettlebell swings (88lb)
Minute 3: 9 chest to bar pull-ups
Some suggested implementation guidelines:
The athlete should be able to complete at least 5 rounds of the EMOM, or 15 minutes. If the athlete can complete 10 rounds, they are either exceptionally fit or the tasks need to be more challenging. Do not exceed 10 rounds. When optimally constructed, the athlete will probably start to falter between rounds 6 and 9.
Begin each task promptly at the start of the minute, or the session ends. At the end of the session, whenever it happens, the athlete should rest 60 seconds and then complete 100 rowing calories for time.
The tasks should involve continuous motion during the working period. In the example above, the kettlebell swings must be done 15 unbroken, beginning promptly at the start of the minute. So if you program “clean and jerks” as one of your tasks, instruct your athlete to perform the reps touch and go. All of the rest in this training session should come between completion of the task and the start of the next minute. No breaking.
Although this is a time (:45/:30/:15) protocol, we use task completion rather than instructing our athletes to “work for 45 seconds”. We’ve found (over and over) that athletes will trade off intensity for more volume. An athlete who can row 23 calories in 45 seconds in the first round will row 17 calories in round 6 just to complete the round. An athlete who can do 8 squat cleans in 30 seconds during round two will do 5 squat cleans in round five. A performance goal removes the incentive to decrease intensity during training. During a recent test, one athlete finished rowing in round 5 around :53, leaving 7 seconds to get off the rower and grab the heavy kettlebell, or not. We believe there is great value in presenting athletes with that decision.
Remember that this task ends with a max effort 100 cal row. This row begins 60 seconds after the athlete is unable to continue or complete a task (or one minute after the completion of round 10). This is not a recovery row or a cool down. The athlete will be rowing hard, while tired. We believe that these conditions are ideal for conditioning gains. Omitting the row, though tempting, will reduce profoundly the efficacy of the training session. Attacking a goal in a state of substantial fatigue is where the conditioning magic happens. In fact, we’ve made the “fatigued 100cal row” a benchmark for our athletes. Our athletes report that the row closely approximates the feeling experienced during a competition workout. What more could we ask for, from our training?
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