Charts and Spreadsheets

As you progress on your journey to improve your fitness, it’s good to have and keep metrics. A rule of thumb from business school: if it can’t be measured, it can’t be improved.

training log

Gym Metrics

I like keeping metrics for a few reasons. First, certain metrics are a good indicator of how well I stack up against the competition and/or my peers. Second, having the right metrics lets me know if there’s a particular gap in my training. Finally, there are metrics that indicate whether I’m ready for more advanced training methods, or whether I should stick to the basics.

Here are a handful of charts and spreadsheets I keep handy:

Basic Strength StandardsRippetoe, et al.

This chart is great for keeping a handle on my overall strength progress, as well as identifying whether I have a strength imbalance. For example, if I’m near the Advanced level for all lifts except Power Cleans where I’m at a Novice level, I know there’s something about the Power Clean that needs attention.

Olympic Lifting Strength ChartGreg Everett of Catalyst Athletics.

This is similar to the Rippetoe chart, but has a focus on the olympic weightlifting movements.

Linear Progression Spreadsheet – Garage Gym Guy

LP Chart (pdf) LP Chart (xlsx)

I put this spreadsheet together to keep track of both progress, and to know when it was finally time to graduate from the LP. (The general consensus is that you stay with the LP until you stall on all major lifts at the same time. Individual stalls and resets do not indicate a need for more complex training.)

Rep Max Spreadsheet – Garage Gym Guy

RM Chart (pdf) RM Chart (xlsx)

I put this sheet together as a way to keep track of 1RM, 3RM, 5RM, etc. for the CrossFit Football Collegiate program. It’s faster than digging through my training log to find the right number for a given lift.

Percentage Chart – Garage Gym Guy

Percentage Chart (pdf) Percentage Chart (xlsx)

When your training progression requires it, I’ve also put together a spreadsheet for working with percentages.

CrossFit LevelsCrossFit Seattle

This is a handy chart to help track and monitor progress in the sport of fitness. Some of the biggest critiques of CrossFit relate to pushing too hard, too soon. Having charts like this to help tailor training to individuals can help limit the risks associated with pushing inexperienced athletes in over their heads.

If you found any of these materials to be helpful, please share them! Leave a message in the comments of head over to Garage Gym Guy on Facebook, and let us know what reference materials you keep with you in the gym!

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Gestalt

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

The Elements of a basic gym: barbell, plates, platform, rack, bench and chin up bar. A basic plan built on solid Principles: Adaptation by way of compound movements, an emphasis on building and maintaining strength with proper loading and rep ranges.

Garage Gym

Garage Gym Elements

It’s not complicated – and it doesn’t need to be. It’s just exercise.

In the last few posts I’ve given you the tools to select a solid program that fits your fitness goal. I’m going to take it one step further and flat-out hand you a few programs that have brought me great results, or that come strongly recommended by trusted sources.

Based on the Principles we covered, a good program will do two things. First, it will align with your training goals, and second, it will fall in line with the principles of adaptation from an anatomy/physiology perspective.

That means, if you’re a powerlifter, your program better make you stronger in the squat, bench and deadlift. If you’re a triathlete, the program needs to make you a faster swimmer, bicyclist and runner. If you’re a football player, your program needs to make you a better football player. Whatever your sport, your training program is a good one when it results in your improvement at your sport.

The second part is just as crucial – the program needs to fall in line with the general rules of anatomy and physiology. It must provide adequate stimulus for the desired response. It must provide adequate rest and recovery for consistent adaptation. And it must be safe for you, the trainee.

A program that doesn’t sufficiently challenge you, doesn’t allow you to rest enough, or puts you at risk of injury or overtraining is a bad program. Choose wisely!

If you are relatively new to the Iron Game, then it is my sincerest opinion that you should begin with a Linear Progression. You don’t have to stay there, but you need to start there. As your training age matures, you can move on to more complicated programs, but for the “young”, there’s no better place to start.

Starting Strength, Madcow/Bill Starr, Stronglifts, and Greyskull LP are all good choices here. I went with CrossFit Football’s Amateur program (also an LP), and was very happy with the results.

I have since moved on to CrossFit Football’s Collegiate program. This program utilizes a mix of rep max work with some percentage-based work. Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and Justin Lascek’s Texas Method Part 1 use similar percentage tools, and work well for intermediates. While the Texas Method is suited mainly to brute strength/powerlifting, Jim Wendler has spun off a number of variations to his 5/3/1 program to suit the needs of everyone from powerlifters to football players to CrossFitters.

Speaking of CrossFit, if you fancy yourself the next winner of the World Series of Exercise, Rudy Nielsen has a selection of programs to choose from, based on your level of experience and/or your area of weakness.

If you’re more inclined toward Olympic Lifting, Catalyst Athletics publishes both a beginner program and a running daily program.

For the fitness generalist who is interested in exercise simply for a healthy and fit lifestyle, Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness also runs a program. For Tactical Athletes (Military, Law Enforcement and First Responders), Military Athlete publishes a variety of programs for both Fitness Test preparation, and active duty applications.

Like we discussed last time, there are plenty of methods out there – these a just a few that I’ve had close contact with, and which fall in line with the Principles we discussed. What programs have you had success with? How well did the goals of the program align with your training goals and how much do you think it contributed to your overall goals? Let us know in the comments or over on Facebook!

Adaptation

The first principle is adaptation. We are trying to cause our body to adapt. Technically, we’re looking for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID).

In the first chapter of FIT, the authors describe Hans Seyle’s General Adaptation Syndrome. In his experiments, Seyle discovered that in response to a non-lethal stressor, the organism would get stronger. We all know this colloquially now as “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Stronger

Stronger

Following the general adaptation syndrome, we know that we want to impose stress on our physical capabilities, and in turn we will recover and get stronger. This brings up two important questions. First, how much stress? And second, how much recovery?

What we’re looking for in terms of stress is an effective dose. We’re not trying to push ourselves to the brink of death, rather, we’re trying to be efficient and leave ourselves a margin of error. Going too far leads to illness (rhabdo) and injury.

How much recovery depends on a number of factors such as age, hormone profile, sleep, and nutrition, along with lifestyle factors such as having a stressful job.

When you combine these three concepts – adaptation by way of stress and recovery, a cycle begins to appear. First, we impose stress – our capacity for physical activity decreases, then we rest – our body compensates for the stress, and bolsters it’s capacity in expectation of future stress. We call that second part supercompensation. This is what is going on behind the scenes in every successful training program.

Supercompensation

Supercompensation

At first, the body is not well adapted to our new stresses, and the super-compensation wave happens quickly. The continual process through wave after wave results in rapid adaptation. As the number of passes through that cycle increases, however, the rate of adaptation slows.

John Welbourn and the Power Athlete crew refer to this as “training age.” A person may not be young, but if they have not been exposed to that specific type of training, their training age is young. Strength programs such as Linear Progressions (LP) fit well with this “young” training age and the associated rapid adaptation. Similar programs exist on the endurance side, including Couch to 5K, which is where I started en route to winning a handful of 5K races and Pump n’ Runs. As training age matures, a more complex method of applying stress and recovery is required.

Instead of the cycle completing in a number of hours, the imposed stresses will take days and even weeks to recover form. Planning for this, in conjunction with individual attention to hypertrophy, strength, power and strength endurance, is called Periodization. Balancing stress and recovery over longer periods of time prevents problems such as over-reaching and over-training, which in time can lead to further obstacles like Adrenal Fatigue.

In the next post we’ll get into specific biomarkers and pairing your training with your performance goals. In the meantime, be sure to check out Garage Gym Guy on Facebook!