T Nation

Road to the April 2011 Tactical Strength Challenge

The last time I did the Tactical Strength Challenge (April 2008) I kept a detailed training log, so I thought it would be a good idea to do the same thing the 2nd time around. I ruptured the patella tendon in my right knee in May of 2008 and broke the fibula in my left leg in September of 2009, so I have been spinning my wheels in regards to training the past few years. That in addition to committing more time to outdoor hobbies: hiking, backpacking, swimming, surfing, etc. means I am just trying to get back to where I was 3 years ago:

April 2008
Weight: 188
Deadlift: 445
Pull-ups: 11
Kettlebell snatches: 120

Where I am now:
Weight: 185
Deadlift: 345x3 ??? probably 385-405
Pull-ups: ??? probably 7
Kettlebell snatches: ??? no idea

Last time around I took a very specific approach in my preparation, concentrating the majority of my efforts on the competition lifts. I used platform deadlifts to strengthen my lift off the floor, and then utilized reverse band deadlifts during my 4 week taper before the competition to strengthen the lockout.

This time around I am going to take a more general approach. My lower back took a beating last time performing so much heavy loading with 2x week deadlifts and heavy volume with the 2x week kettlebell work. I can’t train deadlifts effectively at the YMCA either, so I am going to focus more on general strengthening utilizing snatches, cleans, squats and look at deadlifting more as technique work. I am going to use single leg lifts (squat, deadlift) to better strengthen my weaker right leg.

September to mid-October

PRIMARY WORKOUT
Kettlebell Double Clean: 5 sets
Kettlebell Double Front Squat: 5 sets

Mid-October to December

PROGRESS
Snatch: worked up to 145
Clean: worked up to 195
Front squat: 205 up to 250
Snatch grip deadlift: 225 up to 265
Single leg Romanian deadlift: 35 up to 60
Rear foot elevated split squats: 60 up to 100
Dumbbell floor press: 50’s up to 60’s
Barbell bench press: worked up to 210
Chin-ups: 7 up to 10
Eccentric-less one arm cable rows: 120 up to 160

TUESDAY
Power snatch: 3 sets of 3
Front Squat: 3-5 sets of 3
Horizontal press (either weighted push-ups, dumbbell floor press, or barbell bench press) superset with band rows:
Single Leg RDL: 3 sets of 5
Chin-ups: 3 sets

WEDNESDAY
Power snatch and/or clean: 6-8 sets
Pop-up push-ups: 3-4 sets of 3
Eccentric-less one arm cable rows: 3-4 sets of 4-6

FRIDAY
Power snatch: 3 sets of 3
Snatch grip deadlifts: 3-5 sets of 3
Horizontal press (either weighted push-ups, dumbbell floor press, or barbell bench press) superset with band rows:
Rear foot elevated split squats: 3 sets of 5
Chin-ups: 3 sets

SATURDAY
Power snatch and/or clean: 6-8 sets
Pop-up push-ups: 3-4 sets of 3
Eccentric-less one arm cable rows: 3-4 sets of 4-6

What I have been doing the past 6 weeks has been working great, so I plan on switching exercises up a little but keeping the same format for the next 8 weeks. February I am going to switch my focus from general strength to the kettlebell snatch lift. March I am going to taper off my kettlebell work and take a balanced approach leading up to the competition. The last 2 weeks before the competition I am going to focus on “grease the groove” for pull-ups, deadlift and snatch technique work with sub-max efforts while maintaining strength and explosiveness with the Olympic lifts and other eccentric-less training.

I decided to get in a little more volume for the lower body and decrease the intensity a little, switching from 3 repetition sets to 5 repetition sets. I will be switching from front squats to back squats and from snatch grip deadlifts to hex bar deadlifts. Going to stick with the barbell bench press as my horizontal pressing movement for another week or two before repeating the cycle and going back to weighted push-ups.

This week’s plan:

TUESDAY
Power snatch: 3 sets of 3 (135)
Back Squat: 3-5 sets of 5 (??? excited to see where I am at)
Barbell bench press: 5-8 sets of 3 (215-220)
Superset with band rows:
Single Leg RDL: 3 sets of 5 (65)
Chin-ups: 3 sets (10-11)

WEDNESDAY
Power snatch and/or clean: 6-10 sets (135; 185)
Pop-up push-ups: 3-5 sets of 3
Eccentric-less one arm cable rows: 3-5 sets of 4-6 (140)

FRIDAY
Power snatch: 3 sets of 3 (135; 185)
Hex bar deadlifts: 3-5 sets of 5 (??? excited to see where I am at)
Barbell bench press: 5-8 sets of 3 (220-225)
Superset with band rows:
Rear foot elevated split squats: 3 sets of 5 (110)
Chin-ups: 3 sets (10-11)

SATURDAY
Power snatch and/or clean: 6-10 sets (135)
Pop-up push-ups: 3-5 sets of 3
Eccentric-less one arm cable rows: 3-5 sets of 4-6 (140-150)

Good workout today. Got it in late after work, 8:30 PM. Condensed things a bit because I anticipated hitting a wall towards the end of the full thing. Intensity level was good.

Back squats: 135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 245x5, 265x5, 235x5
Bench press: 145x3, 165x3, 185x3, 205x3, 215x3, 200x3
Superset with band rows: purple + green
Single leg Romanian deadlifts: 45x5, 55x5, 65x5
Chin-ups: 3 sets (11 first set)

Another condensed high intensity workout today. Time to start increasing the volume of these eccentric less training days.

Snatch: 135x2, 3 sets
Superset with pop-up push-ups: 3 sets of 3

Clean: 165x5, 3 sets
Superset with eccentric less one arm cable rows: 140, 150, 160

Weighed in at 186.5 lbs today. Pointed up in the right direction. Up from a low of 173 lbs of weakness this summer. Not as lean as I was then, but the bulk of it is muscle.

Thinking about rearranging this week’s training. Quadriceps are still pretty sore from back squats on Tuesday. If I have the time later this afternoon, I am going to repeat yesterday’s workout with more volume and then plan on taking Friday off and doing deadlifts on Saturday.

They had one of these events at my gym last April (are they an annual thing?) but I missed it due to work.

That is a pretty hardcore split. Good luck with your training.

[quote]al1492 wrote:
They had one of these events at my gym last April (are they an annual thing?) but I missed it due to work.

That is a pretty hardcore split. Good luck with your training.[/quote]

Thanks all492. My training is cruising right now. Plan is to go as far as I can with the current split and then incorporate the kettlebell work back into things when my strengths starts to plateau.

The TSC is a biannual competition, late September early April. The website does not have the locations or the official date posted for the April competition yet, but it is usually around the first Saturday in April.

Hang snatch: 95x3, 105x3, 115x3, 125x3, 135x3
Superset with pop-up pushups: 5 sets of 3

Clean: 155x5, 175x5, 165x5, 185x5, 165x5
Superset with eccentric less one arm cable rows: 140, 150, 160, 140, 150

NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENTS

I thought it would be a good idea to make a quick log of my diet and supplements.

Breakfast: 16oz of whole milk unsweetened yogurt or 3-4 whole eggs
Work food: yogurt and/or peanut butter sandwich
Dunner: varies. 2-3 solid meals. 1500-2000 50-67% of daily calories

Animal Flex
Multivitamin
1800+ mg of Omega 3’a
2000-4000 IU Vitamin D
50mg zinc + 500mg magnesium

RIGHT HIP FLEXOR

My right hip flexor has been bugging me for a couple of weeks now, very mild up until now. I think I pushed the envolope a little bit and then overstretched it in Yoga. Going to skip lower body work today and just do upper body and work on my hip flexor with some foam rolling / self-massage this weekend. I planned on a light 2 weeks during the Holidays as it is, but I might have to re-work my plans a bit.

UPPER BODY WORKOUT

Bench press: 150x3, 170x3, 190x3, 200x3, 210x3, 220x3, 200x3, 210x3, 195x3, 205x3
Superset with band rows: purple + red

Eccentric less one arm cable rows: 5 sets @ 120
Superset with pop-up push-ups: 5 sets of 3

12-14-10

Good workout. Need to slowly buildup my windmill volume. Incredibly stiff in my sides which I had expected. Shoulder stability feels strong though. Single arm kettlebell push presses felt a lot stronger than I had anticipated. Once my core gets used to unilateral overhead loads again I’ll be cruising.

Bench press was great. Right hip flexor was cramping up a bit at 215 and 225. Now that I hit my goal of 225 it’s time to switch to dumbbell floor presses for a little while especially while my hip flexor recovers.

Windmills: 24kg x 5

Single arm kettlebell push press: 24kg x 8, 3 sets
Superset with chin-ups: 3 sets

Bench press: 135x3, 155x3, 175x3, 195x3, 215x3, 225x3, 195x3, 185x3, 205x3
Superset with band rows: purple + blue

One arm kettlebell swings: 24kg, 5 sets
Superset with explosive push-ups: 5 sets

Eccentric less one arm cable rows: 120, 100, 80

JANUARY PROGRAM PLAN

The plan for January is to use the Velocity Diet approach to drop weight fast for the pull-up event. Of the three events: deadlift, pull-ups, snatch, this is the one event I am confident I can improve upon my last performance. Deadlift and snatch I just want to get back near where I was.

Right now I am tipping the scales at 187. I would love to get down below 180, with 175 in mind.

Training goals for this period are to maintain strength and begin to knock the rust off of my deadlift and kettlebell technique.

VELOCITY DIET TRAINING PROGRAM

EVERYDAY: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Windmills: 1-5 sets of 5

Strength work: (front squats, one arm barbell snatch, or deadlifts)

Single arm push press: 3-5 sets
Superset with chin-ups: 3-5 sets

Bench press or dumbbell floor press: 5-8 sets of 3-5 or 3-5 sets of 5-8 repetitions
Superset with band rows:

One arm swings: 6-10 sets
Superset with explosive push-ups: 6-10 sets

Eccentric less one arm cable rows: 3-5 sets
Superset with Pallof presses: sets of 5

STRENGTH WORK

Tuesday
Front squats: 3-5 sets of 3

Thursday
Single arm barbell snatch: 3-5 sets of 3

Saturday
Deadlifts (sub-max technique work): 8-15 sets of 1

12-16-10

Awesome workout. Kettlebell swings and push presses felt so much smoother today. Time will tell, but so far it feels like I have a good setup going in to January with this program. Accomplishes some needed strength work early, to preserve muscle mass while on the Velocity diet, then ramps things up and finishes with some nice metabolic conditioning work the 2nd half of the workout.

Kettlebell windmills: 24kg x 5

Single arm kettlebell push press: 24kg x 10, 3 sets
Superset with chin-ups: 3 sets

Dumbbell floor press: 55x5, 60x5, 65x5
Superset with band rows: purple band, 3 sets

Single arm kettlebell swings: 24kg x 5 sets
Superset with explosive push-ups: 5 sets

Eccentric less one arm rows: 100, 3 sets
Superset with Pallof press: anti- lateral flexion, rotation, extension

12-18-10

Sloppy workout today, but got some good work done.

Kettlebell windmills: 24kg x 5

Kettlebell push presses: 24kg, 3 sets
Superset with chin-ups: 3 sets

Deadlift: 135, 185, 225, 275, 315, 335, 355, 315, 335, 355 x 1

Bench press: 135x3, 155x3, 175x3, 195x3, 215x3, 190x3, 210x3, 230x2(+1)
Superset with band rows: purple

Single arm kettlebell swings: 24kg, 5 sets
Superset with explosive push-ups: 5 sets

Decided to change the approach a little bit after last week’s trial run. More variation in pressing exercises and volume between the 3 training days.

Tuesday is higher volume pressing and swings to take advantage of the extended weekend recovery period.

Thursday is lower volume pressing and swings to facilitate recovery for Saturdays’ workout. Pulling volume is increased to take advantage.

Saturday is higher volume pressing, still lower volume swings as the deadlift is the session’s focus. Intensity is higher with deadlifts and safety pin presses.

VELOCITY DIET TRAINING PROGRAM

TUESDAY

Windmills: 1-3 sets of 5

Rear foot elevated split squats: 3-5 sets of 5-8

Single arm push press: 3 sets
Superset with chin-ups: 3 sets

Bench press: 5+ sets of 3
Superset with band rows:

One arm swings: 10 sets
Superset with explosive push-ups: 10 sets

Eccentric less one arm cable rows: 3 sets
Superset with Pallof presses: sets of 5

THURSDAY

Windmills: 1-3 sets of 5

Single arm barbell snatches: 3-5 sets of 3

Single arm push press: 5 sets
Superset with chin-ups: 5 sets

Dumbbell bench press: 3-5 sets of 5-8
Superset with band rows:

One arm swings: 4 sets of doubles
Superset with explosive push-ups: 4 sets

Eccentric less one arm cable rows: 5 sets
Superset with Pallof presses: sets of 5

SATURDAY

Windmills: 1-3 sets of 5

Deadlifts (sub-max technique work): 8-15 sets of 1

Single arm push press: 3 sets
Superset with chin-ups: 3 sets

Safety pin bench press: 5+ sets of 3
Superset with band rows:

One arm swings: 6 sets of doubles
Superset with explosive push-ups: 6 sets

Eccentric less one arm cable rows: 3 sets
Superset with Pallof presses: sets of 5

TUESDAY 12-28-10

Pretty good 1st workout back. Plane got in at 2 AM last night, and I could tell during the back half of some of the higher set exercises. Did barbell split squats for the first time and was happy with the performance. Balance got a little wobbly here and there, but overall good performance. Did a better job retracting my shoulder blades and pulling the bar apart during bench presses.

Windmills: 24kg x 5

Barbell split squats: 75x5, 85x5, 95x5, 65 to failure

Single arm kettlebell push presses: 24kg, 3 sets (14 first set)
Superset with band straight arm pull-downs: blue band, 3 sets
Superset chin-ups: 3 sets

Barbell bench press: 135x5, 155x5, 175x5, 195x5, 205x5, 195x5
Superset with band rows: purple

Single arm kettlebell swings: 6 sets
Superset with push-ups: 6 sets

Band tricep extensions: blue band, 3 sets
Eccentric less one arm rows: 3 sets

STARTING MEASUREMENTS

Feel fat, and it looks like I gained plenty of weight during the vacation week. Will take photos and post soon.

Body weight: 191 lbs
Body fat: 14%
Lean weight: 164 lbs
Fat weight: 27 lbs

Blood pressure 7 PM (3 hours post workout): 122/61
Heart rate: 63

CIRCUMFERENCES
Neck: 16
Chest: 41
Upper arm: 14
Forearm: 11.5
Waist: 34
Hip: 41
Quad: 19.5® 20.5(L)
Calf: 15® 15.25(L)

SKINFOLDS
Abdomen: 11
Ilium: 17
Tricep: 11
Thigh: 18
Chest: 14
Scapula: 12
Axilla: 17

THURSDAY 12-30-10

Weight is down to 183 today. Cleared out all of the Christmas cookies and am sure my glycogen stores are lower. Gives me a better number to track for the next 3 1/2 weeks. Hoping to get my weight down to 170 in a glycogen depleted, cleared GI tract state with my weight returning to 175-180 with normal eating habits.

Workout went great today. Chin-ups felt really strong. Added in some bicep work at the end to stimulate my biceps which are an admitted weak point.

Kettlebell windmills: 24kg x 5

Single arm barbell hang snatch: 45x3, 65x3, 75x3

Single arm kettlebell push press: 5 sets
Superset with chin-ups: 5 sets

Dumbbell floor press: 45x8, 50x8, 45x8
Superset with band rows: purple

Single arm kettlebell swings: 3 sets of double sets
Explosive push-ups: 3 sets

Straight arm band pull-downs: purple
Superset with band tricep extensions: purple
Superset with eccentric less one arm cable rows: 100
Superset with barbell + band curls: 45 + red
[3 sets]

FRIDAY 12-31-10

The gym is closed tomorrow, so I modified the training week and did deadlifts today. I am thinking of making the switch to sumo deadlifts. They used to bother my right knee but so far no problems. 355 was pretty heavy, might have had a chance at 365 or 375. I am going to try and hit 405 when I pull at competition. I ordered 3 sets of bands from EliteFTS, and the plan is to start incorporating reverse band deadlifts after the Velocity Diet is over at the end of January.

Sumo deadlifts: 135x5, 185x3, 225x3, 255x1, 285x1, 315x1, 335x1, 355x1, 315x1, 335x1

COMPETITION GOALS

They changed the way they run the Tactical Strength Challenge since I last competed.

Back in April of 2008, you received a point where you placed in each of the 3 events, and the lowest total score won.

Now they use reference scores for each of the 3 events:
DEADLIFT - 440 LBS
PULL-UPS - 20 REPETITIONS
KETTLEBELL SNATCH - 100 REPETITIONS

You results are divided by the reference score and then multiplied by 100. Your 3 scores are then added together and divided by 3 to take the average.

Based on my last performance of:
DEADLIFT - 445 LBS (101 points)
PULL-UPS - 11 REPETITIONS (55 points)
KETTLEBELL SNATCH - 120 REPETITIONS (120 points)
SCORE - 92

So there you have it, my goal is to beat my previous score of 92. Where I lose ground in the deadlift event I hope to make up in the other 2 events.

With a deadlift goal of 405 I figured out what I would need to do in the other events.

SCENARIO A:
DEADLIFT - 405 LBS (92 points)
PULL-UPS - 13 REPETITIONS (65 points)
KETTLEBELL SNATCH - 120 REPETITIONS (120 points)

SCENARIO B:
DEADLIFT - 405 LBS (92 points)
PULL-UPS - 11 REPETITIONS (55 points)
KETTLEBELL SNATCH - 130 REPETITIONS (130 points)

I have been working with some medial left elbow tendinitis which has been slowly getting better with stretching and self-massage work. Hopefully it holds up OK and I can train pull-ups hard because each repetition is worth 5 points. If I fail to improve upon my previous performance I am just going to have to bust my ass in the kettlebell snatch event to make up for it.