5 Days What?

Read time: 73 minutes and several breaks to clear your head.

Hey guys, we’ve had a bunch of good questions about how to make the best of our 5 day programming.  We love that you are asking us for guidance here!  But before we get into that, it would be useful for us to go over our objective for programming in the first place so that we understand what we are aiming for before talking about how to hit the mark.

To borrow from descriptions put forth by a great many of our influences and touchstones (Starting Strength, CrossFit esp. its initial 2005-2008 programming, Practical Strength for Trainers, and Joel Jamieson’s conditioning work, to name a few), our goal is to provide class programming that builds then maintains or gently nudges forward a discernible base of strength, conditioning, and movement.  This base should function to make your physical (and often times mental) lives outside of the gym easier and better.  Note: this is a generalist’s prescription; specialized goals will almost always require specialized attention and effort.

With that in mind, here are a few bullet points and suggestions for getting stronger, faster, and moving better using a 5x/wk class schedule:

1) You can come 4-5x/wk!*  This programming is written to facilitate more frequent attendance.  As we accumulate training age, we can benefit from more frequent exposure to general movement and more varied exposure to specific movements.  Tuesdays and Thursdays will be comprised primarily of skill and assistance movements (in general higher repetition lower body assistance on Tue and upper body on Thu) and longer duration and/or multi-unit aerobic conditioning work–this is meant to aid with cardiovascular health, recovery between higher-threshold work (big lifts and harder conditioners) and to shore up that ineffable ‘work capacity.’  These are the workouts that highlight and address weak points, supporting musculature, and your engine as an athlete.  You should leave on Tuesday and Thursday feeling like you worked hard, got a great sweat in, and did some new stuff in appropriate rep ranges.  We are definitely having a blast on our new class days.  Grab a friend and try some new times!
*Asterisk–coming 4-5x/wk assumes you aren’t working through injuries, are eating and sleeping well, are in a good place schedule-wise to make it happen, and are taking coaching during class.

2) You can try two on, one off.*  One of my favorite training splits is to work out for two days in a row, then take a day off.  Alternately, you might try two on, one off, one on, one off.  Because we are branching our major movement categories out across five days (adding things like hip thrusts, squat cleans, Romanian Deadlifts, farmer’s bars, unilateral press work), you can be sure that you’re getting exposure to your squats, pushes, pulls, and hinges.  Weekend open gyms are a nice way to supplement a different training split.
*Help–one of my favorite things to do is work with folks on their training plans.  This includes looking at schedules and going over which days would be most helpful for your given situation.  Hit me up at and we can get you sorted.

3) Blasphemy.  You can come on Tuesday for that day’s work instead of Monday, or Thursday for that day’s work instead of Wednesday.  I know.  I know.  This is tilt the earth on its axis type stuff for us here at Woodshed.  But facts are facts and most of us have been at this a very long time.   Powerlifters, bodybuilders, kettlebell sport athletes, and CrossFitters all take periods of time to work on weak points, change up movement patterns and velocities, and just let bigger movers cool out.  Often times our periods of greatest success and forward movement come after changes in pace, or time away from routines.  If it’s fealty to performance on the big 3 lifts and shorter harder conditioners you’re thinking of, I can tell you from experience that I’ve added considerable weight to the bar and taken time off conditioners by going rogue and going long, respectively.  Building supportive musculature and aerobic capacity will only help here.  Again the offer of some logistical help stands–hit me up over email!

4) Substitutions.  Just as we’ve always been happy to work with you all on substitutions for MWF classes, we’ll be happy to help you out with subs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Don’t stay home because you see Clean on the board and your elbows get cranky when you clean–the clean is a rapid hip extension and a pulling movement; we can set you up on KB swings and rows in a similar rep scheme, for example.  You’re instream with class, you’re getting the accountability of a group setting, and you’re working hard.

Here, we ask two things:
1) If we are talking major overhauls (e,g,, sprained an ankle and need to modify EVERYTHING, am experiencing reduced range of motion in several different planes, am coming back from injury), we need to take some 1-1 time to address.  This is easily done in a 30 minute goal-setting session or chalk talk (guess how you schedule one?) so that you have a list of subs to come to class with.  We can make most anything work with enough time and space to prep and help you guys.  This is our job and we take a lot of pride in doing it well!

2) We also ask that you understand we aren’t able to make perfect, laboratory-design substitutions on the spur of the moment during a group class.  If you have a lot of stuff going on and need a bunch of subs, let’s get some 1-1 time booked to make that happen.  If we are giving you a single or double sub at the beginning of a class, we are going to go with our best judgement based on movement categories, prior history, and keeping you instream with the class.  We can’t promise that your workout will feel exactly the same as everyone else’s, but we will do our level best to keep you going and moving well.

I want to close with a moment from earlier today.  One of our mid-morning athletes, S, was talking about her clean.  “I saw it on the board and I wasn’t going to come in,” she told me.  “But I came anyways, it was a nice medium class, and the coaching and progressions really helped me get it with plenty of time to practice!”

The result: S’s clean is now pretty darned solid, which is going to make her EMOM cleans and the next time we do Grace that much better.   Plus she feels awesome about her progress.  Momentum and wins are wonderful things.

And we’re here to help!

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