This FAQ section is a repository of accumulated questions, answers, instructions, and clarifications for the RX Athlete program. If nothing in here answers your questions, please contact me and I’ll get you squared away.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THERE IS WORKOUT A, WORKOUT B, OR WORKOUT C?
All this means is that you will rotate through those workouts. For example, you’ll notice on all the Pull-Up pages there will be multiple workouts. Let’s say that your weekly template calls for Pull-Ups twice a week and you’re on Level 1 (Which has a Workout A, B, and C). In your first week, you’ll do Workout A on the first pull-up day and Workout B and the second pull-up day. The following week your first pull-up workout will be Workout C. After workout C you would then rotate back to workout A.
WHAT IS THE SUGGESTED SCALE DURING WOD’S?
Let’s say you’re doing your Cross-Training WOD that calls for pull-ups but currently you can’t do them or wouldn’t be able to do all of the pull-ups the workout calls for. The suggested scale movement is the movement I suggest you use in its place during the WOD. For gymnastics movements, I’ll generally have a suggestion. For weightlifting movements, you’ll do the same lift but just lighter weight.
WHAT IS A REP TEMPO?
A rep tempo signifies the cadence of a movement from start to finish. For every movement, you will have an exact pace I want you to move at. This extra control I have allows me to utilize the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC) of your muscular contractions to get you stronger faster and ultimately graduate from this program with more haste than if I didn’t have these controls. For the sake of your athletic development, I implore you to take the rep tempo suggestions seriously.
Here is how to read a rep tempo:
For example, for a bench press or squat, you may see the rep tempo 30×0. This means from the top of the movement, you should take 3 seconds (1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, etc.) to reach the endpoint of the exercise (bar to the chest in the bench press or full depth for the squat). So, the first number signifies the lowering portion of ANY exercise. The second number signifies if there is any PAUSE in the bottom position. Because this example says 0, it means that it is simply 3 seconds down, 0 pause, and then back up. If the tempo was 31X0, then you would have to pause for 1 second at the bottom of the movement. If it was 32X0, then you would have to pause for 2 seconds, and so on. The third number signifies the time in which to raise the load. When it says “X” as the third number, it means to accelerate the load as fast as possible – regardless of how fast the weight is actually moving; the intention to accelerate is most important. The last number, as you may have guessed, signifies any pause at the top of the movement. If it says 30X1 for a weighted chin-up (or pull-up, same thing), then you have to hold your chin over the bar for one second before lowering for 3 seconds to full arm extension. In summary, it will look like this: Lowering (eccentric): End Range of movement: Rising (concentric): Back to the start of a movement. Here are some examples:
- Pull-Up at 3×11. Since a pull-up does not start with the eccentric motion of a movement it is a little different than most. For pull-ups, you start on the third number in the tempo sequence. So in this example (3×11), it would take you 1 second on the way up, 1-second hold with chin over the bar, 3 seconds controlled on the way down, and 0 seconds at the bottom.
- Push-Up at 41×1. In this example it is 4 seconds on the way down, 1-second pause with chest touching the ground, as fast as you can on the way up, and a 1-second pause at the top.
- Muscle Up at x18x. This is a more advanced tempo found in level 4 and level 5 for muscle-ups. In this sequence, you would get up as fast as possible, hold for 1 second at the top, lower yourself for 8 seconds (!!), and then no pause at the bottom.
WHEN TO PROGRESS TO A NEW LEVEL FOR A SPECIFIC BARBELL MOVEMENT?
Open up the weightlifting spreadsheet that you originally downloaded in the Program Design lesson and make sure your current stats are inputted for this movement. Take a look a the 1RM Weight Ranges table and find this movement and movement level. You’ll see a numerical range. You will progress to the next level once your 1RM surpasses the upper end of the range. For example, let’s assume a 135lb female athlete named Rachel is in the beginner bench press level with a 3×5 at 90lb bench press. The upper end of her range is 116. So she will progress to Elementary bench press once her estimated 1RM is 116 or slightly over. Now, noticed I said estimated 1RM so there is no need to actually test your 1RM. The way you can get your 1RM from your 3×5 is to multiply by 1.15. Rachels estimated 1RM is 103.5 given her 3×5 is 90 ( 90 * 1.15 = 103.5 ). This means she is not ready to move onto Elementary. She will be ready to move onto Elementary once she can do a 3×5 bench press at 102.5 lb which will give her an estimated 1RM at 117.
REVERSE PYRAMID TRAINING (RPT) OVERVIEW
The RPT rep scheme will be used in the Barbell portion of the program after one stops making progress on a 3×5 or 5×5. This style of training has it so that the first set is the heaviest with the least amount of reps and the last set is the lightest with the most amount of reps. Unlike the 3×5 and 5×5 rep scheme that a trainee may be accustomed to where there are a set amount of reps, the RPT method is designed so that you perform as many reps as possible (AMRAP). This AMRAP approach equates to a higher level of intensity. With the RPT method, the intensity is not an option for progress but rather a pre-requisite. In order to keep progressing, you’ll need to start getting accustomed to pushing your reps with the RPT protocol, especially on the top set.
In this program, RPT will only be used for certain strength-based compound movements. The movements that you may use RPT for are deadlift, back squat, front squat, push press, and push jerk.
With RPT, there are two scenarios we need to go through to get you set up with having RPT being implemented in your program. The first scenario is transitioning from 3×5 or 5×5.
Transition from 3×5 or 5×5
Let’s use an example of a male athlete who is stalling in either the pre-intermediate or intermediate deadlift. In his last two deadlift workouts, he was unable to complete a 3×5 at 270 lb with good form. He was able to get all the reps but his lower back was rounding on many of the reps and he feels like he is getting close to stalling or injuring himself. This would be a good time for him to transition into the RPT.
The first thing to determine is what weight should the top set be. This can be done in your spreadsheet in the section called “Transitioning from 3×5 or 5×5 to RPT”. Simply enter the weight lifted for the 3×5 or 5×5 and the reps completed (which should be 5). This will automatically calculate the ranges for the top set (and also the 2nd and 3rd set). It will be your choice to pick the weight in the range. As a default, I suggest that you start at the lower end of the range so that it gives your body enough time to acclimate to the new intensity and it will eventually allow for greater strength progress by practicing temperance with initial weight choices.
The second option for finding your top set is to do the calculation manually:
PROGRESSING WITH RPT
Continuing from the example earlier, we have a 160 lb male who has a top set prescription of a 265 lb deadlift. His first deadlift RPT workout will look like this:
1. Warm-up sets.
2. Set 1: 3-5 reps at 265 lb.
3. Rest 3 minutes.
4. Set 2: 6-8 reps at 10-15% of 265 lb (i.e. anything from 230 lb to 243 lb).
The way you progress with RPT is each workout you go up on either weight or reps. If you reach the end or exceed the rep range for that set then on the next workout you’ll increase weight. The weight increases will range from 2.5 lb to 15 lb depending on what movement it is and how far along you are with your progressions. For example, you’ll have bigger increases with squats and deadlifts compared to a push press. If you do not reach the end of the rep range for a set then the next workout you’ll stay at the same weight and try to increase reps.
In the first 1-3 months you’ll likely be increasing reps or weight on every set of RPT for a movement. The farther along you progress you’ll start getting to the point where you’ll only progress with one or two of the sets. When that happens it’s nothing to worry about – it’s expected. The goal is of RPT is to increase at least one set on weight OR reps each workout. As long as you’re doing that you’re making progress.
Acronyms and Clarification
- PC = Power Clean
- PS = Power Snatch
- BS = Back Squat
- BP = Bench Press
- OHP = Overhead Press
- DL = Deadlift
- PP = Push Press
- HSPU = Handstand Push Up
- MU = Muscle Up
- ME = Max Effort – When this comes up in the programming it means to do as many reps as possible with acceptable form.
- 3×5 = This means 3 sets of 5 reps.
- Tabata = 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds rest.