The shortened and delayed ski season we experienced this year did much to create havoc for my fitness. A few months before the season started, I switched from a strength based 5×5 varient (Mad Cow) to one more oriented to endurance. The plan was quite simple. Build strength and mass during the off season, then get the muscles ready to spend 8 hours on skis during a weekend shift. It seemed like a good idea, but it didn’t work.
Going into the switch, I had the momentum in my favor. My body fat percentage was hovering around 15% and showed signs of dropping lower. My abs were starting to make an appearance and my waist looked to stay under 34 inches. My one rep max on dead lift of 250 became my 3 rep. My squat wanted to stay above body weight and even 225s were recorded. Only my bench suffered a bit due to my left shoulder weakness. Goals were reached. Looked good.
Pushing heavy weights around is very different from pushing snow for hours. Sure, strength does help, but so does balance and finesse. Mark Rippetoe speaks on how it is easier to build endurance from strength than it is the other way around. Looking at the calendar and the goals I had reached, I decided it was time to switch. Workouts became more 4x oriented. I knew some strength would drop, the amount was one I did not realize.
Normally by mid-December, the ski season is well underway. This year, December closed and being open was not near. The first week in January saw a hand-full of runs open, but nothing upon which we could train. Not until the latter half of January did the hill get opened and ski training could really start. By this time, it had been over 8 weeks since my last heavy sessions. During a busy ski season, this isn’t a problem as long hours in boots and on the hill have made up for it. Not this year. This year, my fitness started to drop far too much. Pants became tighter and the wrong kind of weight showed up.
After the season was over, I tried returning to the Mad Cow 5×5 program, but my heart was not in it. Looking for a change, I decided on some German Volume Training. The first two weeks were good, but as time went on, my ability to meet the required schedule for the training sessions to be of their greatest value waned. GVT without the volume is missing the key component. Though the workouts were good, my charts remained flat and my body fat percentage was still going the wrong way.
Time for a change.
Today I decided to return to the Mad Cow 5×5 with a reset to workout A. The gym was crowded, so I started on the leg press to get warmed up and stretched. Once the rack became available, I started in on the squats. I made my way up to 170 x 5 on the final set and things felt tough, but good. During the rest period between squats and bench press, I decided to make another change: make this an actual leg workout.
Ok, why the double change?
One nice thing about the German Volume training routines is they are not too long. I really want to be out of the gym within 45 minutes most days and want good effectiveness. There is far too much to be done to spend two hours per session. So an idea came across my mind. Five heavy sets of squats. Five heavy sets of leg presses. Then five sets of 12 rep walking lunges. Surely that will work.
Time will tell what the results will be. Here is the routine:
- Warm up and stretch
- Warm up: 3 x 5, increasing slightly each set, 30 seconds rest
- Medium heavy: 1 x 5, 85 seconds rest
- Work: 5×5, heavy on each set, same weight, 85 seconds rest
- 1 x 5, heavier than light, consider it a warm up, 75 seconds rest
- 1 x 5, medium heavy, 75 seconds rest
- 5 x 5, heavy on each set, same weight, 75 seconds rest
- Walking Lunge
- 5 x 12, as much as you can do, same weight every set, 65 seconds rest
Borrowing from the 5×5 and 4x ideals, do not neglect the negative, especially on the leg presses. Go for as much as 6 seconds on each rep. Do not increase the weight until all the sets can be performed with the same weight. Get your ego out of the way. Form counts.
Now to find companion routines for Wednesday and Friday. Time to break out of the rut. Time to break the frustration.
Extra twist: do the weight on the walking lunge unequal. Keeping your torso straight with unbalanced weight will also work your core.