Hybrid Performance Method – Push Only Program

I tweaked my back pretty bad during the CrossFit Open this year. It seemed a good opportunity to lay off the squats and deadlifts to ease up on my back. I found what looked like a good upper body focused lifting program from Hybrid Performance Method, which they call their Push Only program. The main focus was on bench press, but there was also a fair amount of overhead pressing, pull-ups, and accessory work as well. I started it on 4/4/2017.

The program was structured to be 4 workouts a week for the first 10 weeks, a 3 workout deload week, and then 3 days of testing max lifts in the 12th and final week. Since I still wanted to attend a couple of CrossFit classes a week and not lose too much conditioning, I planned from the start to stretch out the program. It usually took me 8-9 days to complete a full week of the programming. Today, 109 days (15 weeks + 4 days) after starting, I finished.

Before following this Push Only program, the longest special program I’ve followed is my Thruster Attack, which takes 10 weeks, but is only two workouts a week that take 20 minutes or less. This program was a total of 46 workout days and I did 44 of them. I skipped two of the pull-up focused days in the last four weeks and I think I skipped some accessory stuff on two of the lifting days. Well, I skipped a lot of the accessory stuff in the final week, which was all about hitting maxes. At that point I was ready for the program to be over and change my focus.

Overall I really enjoyed the program. For the first 7-8 weeks, each workout was taking me about an hour to complete. Once the weights got heavier, the time commitment increased. All of the upper body accessory work was perhaps the best part of the program. My shoulders have never felt this good for so long.

If I had to go back and change something, I wish I had increased some of the weights 10# instead of 5# from week to week, because it seemed like I wasn’t lifting anything heavy for the 3 main lifts until the 8th or 9th week. That very well could be by design though. I can’t help but wonder if stretching the program out over 15+ weeks affected my results in a positive or negative way? I’ll never know.

I saw improvements across the board (all weights are in pounds)…

  • Push Press: 245 -> 260 (video)
  • Bench Press: 275 -> 290 (video)
  • Shoulder Press: 180 -> 185 (video)
  • MAX Strict HSPU: 11 -> 17
  • MAX Kipping HSPU: 14 -> 23 (video)
  • 100x Bench Press @ 135#: 9:37 -> 8:43 (video)

I highly recommend checking out any of the Hybrid programs, which only cost about $35/month.

Thruster Attack Revisited

I just finished my second go-round of the Thruster Attack program I created almost 2 years ago. I didn’t remember it hurting so much. I started on November 12th and had to stretch out this final week so today actually marks 71 days.

img_8758Basically you do thruster intervals twice a week. The days start on opposite ends of the energy pathway spectrum, aerobic and anaerobic, and meet in the middle during week 10. For specifics, read the original post (linked above). I’m really happy with how well the program holds up. I’ve seen solid improvements in my fitness both times I’ve done it and several friends who just finished or are in various weeks of the program are also seeing fitness gains.

Many of us who enjoy fitness say we’d pick a heavy squat if we could only do one movement for the rest of our life, but a thruster might be the better choice.

While I think the program as originally written is solid, I tried out some changes on myself this time:

  • During the first 3 weeks, I did 2 extra sets on the heavy days.
  • For the first 3 weeks of Tabata work I kept the rep count at 8 for every set.
  • In weeks 4-5 I started to increase the reps during later Tabata rounds.
  • For weeks 6-10 I did 9 reps for every set of Tabata work.
  • After the first week or two, I rarely did any other exercising on thruster days.
  • Until the last few weeks, I was only doing CrossFit 1-2 other days per week.

All of those changes worked well for me, but may not work for others. The rep counts were low enough in those initial weeks where I could recover fast enough to add in the extra sets on heavy days. During weeks 4-5 the heavy days were the worst and I had to break up some sets. When I originally wrote this program and was testing it out, I’m pretty sure I skipped one of those weeks due to a work trip. In week 4 I had to do the last set of 10 as sets of 6 and 4. Then in week 5 I had to go 6-4 and 4-3-3 on the final two sets. While some of the Tabata work gets boring and turns into a grind, I was never in danger of failing any reps.

How about some numbers? Over the course of 20 sessions, I completed 2,309 thrusters and moved 146,890 pounds! Warm-ups would push those over 2,400 and 150k.

thruster-attack-btwb-chart.png
Thruster movement chart from Beyond the Whiteboard

Is it overkill doing so many thrusters? Maybe. Did I want to quit? Almost every workout. Does it work? Definitely.