Corrupted or evolved?


Although today has no tire flips, we just needed to give a shout out to Veronica!


Today’s Workout:

Snatch practice (admit, that makes you giggle too). 70-80% of max, 6 sets of 2

Front squats. 4 sets of 5.

Another installment of the Sick of High Rep Combo game: The reasoning behind this combo is explained below. Turkish Get Up/Swing/Sandbag carry. Make all of them HEAVY. Use KB (or DB, it doesn’t matter) that almost frightens you for TGU’s. Then either the same or even heavier for swings. Then load the bag with something worthwhile (we can’t fit more than 120 pounds into ours, which means we need a new bag). The protocol is as such: TGU: 1 per side. Swings: 6. Bag: 100 feet. Repeat as many times as possible in 10 minutes.


More trends that need questioning.

‘Snatches’ look like swings and ‘pullups’ look like spawning salmon, all in the name of workload, or what has been known as ‘strength-endurance.’ Apparently when the machines take over the planet (or zombies, or locusts or rednecks or Sigur Ros), the ability to do a whole bunch of something will be more vital for our survival than being able to do movements with either full range of motion, in different variations or super heavy.

10 minutes of swinging a kettlebell almost makes me yearn for the good ol’ boring days of running on a treadmill. I just don’t see the appeal. 10 minutes (or more) of intense work can be a drug of my choice, as I’ve proven many times in videos and posted workouts, but grabbing a moderate weight KB and swinging it over my head repeatedly using small hip thrusts might make me a unique brand of porn star, but even without diagnosed attention deficit, I’d lose interest after a couple of minutes.

Watch the body positions in this video (especially the side shot of everyone at about 2:21). With the of internal shoulder rotation and rounded scapula in our western culture, would this be a body position we’d want to get comfortable in? A case could be made that the extension at the top of the ‘jerk’ (more of a warped push press than anything else) might counter the catch and rack position, but for every 10th of a second any of those lifters are in the extension, they might spend three to 10 times as long in the rack position. Valery Fedorenko is no poster child for good posture, so where does the importance for reps end and the concern for postural dynamics begin?

Let’s ask that question on a bigger scale: when does the quest for reps end and ANY other factor begin? The modern quest for GPP (general physical preparedness) has turned workouts into redundant drills in counting. The Tabata overkill is a classic example. Doc Tabata meant for the protocol to be a brutal lesson intensity over duration, yet now folks are adding 3,4 or 5 ‘Tabata’s’ in a row for a workout, sort of ruining the original concept (I wrote an entire post about it here).

Mega-rep drills, although challenging on occasion, are about as motivating as spending time on an elliptical machine, which is about as fun as a root canal performed by a pissed off ex-wife with tools dipped in battery acid. Force development defines strength, therefore, as mentioned many times in so many of my posts and articles, load should be altered as much as rep scheme (or any of the other manipulatable variables: time, duration, distance and speed).


‘Conditioning’ has, once again, started to drift away from ‘strength training.’ In some circles they were married in a blissful union of hardcore tools, hardcore load and hardcore intensity, but now, even many of the ‘alternative’ training protocols are simply engaging in the mistaken belief that volume trumps intensity (or IS intensity, which is as big a fallacy).

So back to the machines-taking-over-the-world scenario. When my Casiotone decides to try to kill me in my sleep, moderate force development over a given period of time will only get me so far in my fight of life and death. As I’m sprinting from my Hoover, I might have to utilize different points along the Spectrum of Strength that include greater levels of force development when we engage in actual combat (ever fight a vacuum cleaner? No amount of repetitive KB swings will help you, I promise).


Hence today’s workout combo. If you can develop peaks of higher levels of force within an extended workload situation, you’ll be experiencing a bit more of what most athletic or apocalyptic scenarios would be like.

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17 Responses to Corrupted or evolved?

  1. camilo

    yes the balance between and using light, medium, and heavy loads depends on the previous training session, or the Chip Conrad protocol of “go heavy or go to Curves for some hardcore redundancy.” WE LIFT TO GAIN (STRENGTH) FIRST AND FOREMOST… NOT TO LOSE. Conditioning sessions should compliment all pure strength work. It’s always fun to showoff both ends of the spectrum. Remember Chip, the fun for us is to keep expanding or cracking open doors for a peek at the endless possibilities.

  2. Veronica

    Aww, I love that pic Chip. 🙂 And thanks for the shout out. BTW, I qualified for Nationals in the 53k class this weekend at the Norcal Open. Haven’t done that in about a dozen years! So, yeah, I feel like I look in that pic. Yay!

    Now as far as the high rep combos, anything is more better than running on a treadmill. I’m gonna have to copy and paste that double/double combo and this High Rep combo somewhere for future tortures.

  3. Dan

    If I was running from predators (Arnie) or building a house of bricks to shelter myself from predators I’d do over ten minutes of high rep work in the same movement.

    I did a flat out 2000m row once.

    I did a secret service snatch test once.

    I ran 16 miles once……isn’t that enough?

    Damn those predators.


  4. Zac

    In this and the last post and their commentary (in the criticisms of girevoy sport), I feel like there’s some sort of statement regarding the purpose of training that was left unsaid. Is there some statement to be made about the need for “functionality” in training? I’m not contesting such a sentiment, I’m just trying to figure out if it has overtly entered the discussion. That said, watching those girevoy sport videos, I can’t figure out why the hell *anyone* would want to do that (and prior to watching those videos, I’d never encountered a strength sport I didn’t like).

  5. Veronica

    I’d never ever consider doing a marathon, but there’s a bunch of folks who do. Guess it’s all about what challenges you want to subject your body to as to which end of the spectrum you train at.

  6. chip

    I will admit to taste playing the biggest role in choice. Workouts are like music genres. What’s your poison?

    I have a backlog of about 6 posts right now, so eventually I’ll finish them one at a time and address some more of these issues.

  7. Zac

    “Guess it’s all about what challenges you want to subject your body to as to which end of the spectrum you train at.”

    I value training across the spectrum, but I’d like to see more (in research, not just speculation) about the transferance of training “across the spectrum.” Yes, you have the specificity Nazis out there screaming that if you are interested in endurance you should drop ME work completely because you’re cultivating too much fast twitch fiber, and if your interested in strength, you should similarly drop endurance work. But in my experience, heavy lifting has pretty much cured me of any localized fatigue I used to feel on endurance-oriented outings (hiking, mountaineering) (generalized fatigue is a different story). And nothing has sped up my recoveries from muscle injuries like some low-intensity, sustained movement. Based on these experiences, I have to suspect that the transference is real. Is there research out there supporting this notion?

    Nevertheless, 10 min of KB “snatches” is just stoopid…

  8. chip

    I wrote an article for Performance Menu recently that will be published soon (see, I even write for CF-friendly journals, not just strength-sport websites) that discusses what i call the trickle-down strength concept. Unlike Reagan’s economic idea with a similar name, this one actually works.

    It boils down to this: max or near-max force development, done regularly, will get the central nervous system to fire motor units that don’t see much action during lower intensity work, since the body starts playing favorites after a while. Being able to turn on those slow-to-fire motor units will make them available during lower intensity work, thereby making lower intensity work (your average WOD, or high rep combo thingy) EASIER!

    It is much easier to train for lower intensity GPP/workload stuff coming from a background of high force development training than the opposite. In other words, an olympic lifter or powerlifter would adapt to workload training quicker than a GPP practitioner could learn to move substantial weight.

    Of course a nice balance would be the ultimate goal, but the trickle down theory finds high force development training having a greater effect on lower levels of force development than vice versa.

  9. Katie Mae

    Wowee! I did the “Sick of high rep combo” combo yesterday, and I worked, felt very challenged and had to be FOCUSED.
    For me with too much high rep work I (and many others, magazine on treadmill anyone?) can zone out and tend to not think about what I am actually doing. When I was getting that super heavy KB up my thoughts were purely with the movement.
    I did the combo four times in 9 1/2 minutes and am looking forward to imrpoving on that next week.
    Thanks Chip!

  10. camilo

    is it pec deck and bicep peak contraction season?

  11. Veronica

    Hey Chip, are there any studies showing that adaptations to gpp stuff is easier for a ME trained person than visa versa?

  12. chip

    Physiology research has shown the increase of motor unit recruitment through ME training (or simply high-force development training) lends to more motor units able to participate in lower force development activities (I believe Basmajian has work along those lines). Take a peek through NSCA journals or applied physiology journals.

  13. Brent

    I can’t believe you didn’t give the real name of the theory. It’s the Voodoo Strength Theory.

  14. jordan

    where does an ab lounge fit into the whole scheme of things? god do i love that thing! hmmmmmm sarcasm tastes good

  15. camilo

    who wants my 5lb kb’s

  16. Dan

    Thought I’d share something I did with clients this week, se if you dudes have either done it before or if not see if you like it.

    I wrote up on my whiteboard a semi horrific/yet suitable list of exercises with a number next to it. Included were some staples: Swings, woodchops, overheads, push ups, pull ups, lunges etc. Numbers were 40-100 (reps) based on how relatively hard the exercise was and weights were client suitable.

    I just informed the client that that is what they had to finish in the session, how they did it was entirely up to them. Good technique was of course the mainstay.

    What was hilarious and fascinating was how each client attacked the bulky load with there character and strategy. Very differing approaches. Could picture a group race…..who crosses the line first and how.

    Each client seemed to basically manage fatigue and motivation intrinsically very well.

    What ya reckon?


  17. chip

    Sounds like what Camilo does with his dry erase board.  It is extremely effective.  Here’s you goal, now get it done!  What path you take is up to you, just achieve it!

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