Sorry, kids. You only get one tonight, but it’s a big one. If I’m being honest I should probably expound on this A LOT more, but I wanted to get out what I could put together quickly as I have way too many notes on this. Hopefully it makes sense.
4) Limited Conjugate Method
When I began to delve into the sacred texts (sorry, I really love Louie) of Louie Simmons I began to realize that if programmed with intent, CrossFit could be directed in such a way that it would look very much like a high intensity version of the Conjugate Method. I’ll give you an example…
We run 4, 6, and 12 week cycles at my gym. We do these with our general population clients because it give us something to focus on and gives every new wave of clients a chance to learn the focus of the cycle when it comes around again. Mostly we focus the 6 weeks on a main lift (Clean and Jerk or Snatch), a main gymnastic (ring work, HS work, or bar work), and some sort of squat percentage wave. Then I program at least some of our met-cons to help develop any of the things we’re working on. If it’s a HS Walk cycle, I might program Shoulder Touches as part of a daily WOD, or if it’s a Snatch wave, I might program Muscle Snatches as part of the metcon or something along those lines. Anyway, back to the example…
Recently I programmed a Clean & Jerk cycle with a different goal in mind. We had a group of about 15 folks (anyone I’m talking about here is a general gym member – no competitive CFers) who started a 12 week Wendler cycle, and I decided I wanted to see how big of a difference a specific PL cycle vs. a specific “Limited Conjugate” cycle made. To throw even more excitement into the test, I decided to try something I’d been wanting to do for a while, which was program ZERO Deadlifts, only Power Cleans and Cleans for pulling off the floor and heavy Back Squats for skeletal loading. We did a ton of Hang Cleans – with a full stall – to get everyone stronger in spinal extension with weight hanging below the scapula and held pretty close to Prilepin’s Table for loading.
I’m sure you get where this is going. We tested 61 people at the end of the concurrent cycles. Of the 12 Wendlers that tested the average PR was just under 18# with – in my opinion – the numbers being skewed a bit by a couple 80+ pound PRs from two people who had rarely Deadlifted before the initial test (one of which who gained nearly 15# during the cycle). There were SIX of the 5/3/1 group who UN-PR’d, and a few others who tested the exact same. Of the “Limited Conjugate” group EVERY SINGLE PERSON PR’d by an average of 40# on the men’s side and 18# on the women’s side. The average male Deadlift, of the 33 men who tested from the LC group was 396 pounds… That’s the fucking AVERAGE. These are normal people. Not a single one of them was from our gym’s group of competitive CFers. We had FIVE dudes pull 500+. My gym is not huge and we didn’t have a bunch of ex-Division 1 athletes testing.
Just in case you’re wondering; I believe the LC group was more successful because the nature of the 5/3/1 program does not allow for any speed development to break the floor with the Deadlift. On the other side, if you look at barbell speed tests, the BB travels about 40% faster off the floor on a Power Clean than it does on a similarly weighted Deadlift (you can find the tests, we’ve tested also). Therefore, if the majority of your pulling off the floor is done as a Power Clean (or Clean), and it’s in the same percentage range as your Deadlift rep work would be (50-70), then you’re producing MORE FORCE every time you pull the barbell off the ground, which is the holy grail of Westside’s Dynamic Effort days. While the 5/3/1 group was pulling heavy reps, they were getting slower rep after rep, or at least they were not getting faster. The LC group, even when missing Cleans (this is sort of mind-blowing if you think about it), were getting faster off the ground and therefore, when testing a 1RM single, were able to have more productive application of force.
It is my strong belief that if pointed in the right direction a “Limited Conjugate” version of CrossFit is unparalleled in it’s ability to develop whatever the goals of the programmer and program are.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m calling it the “Limited” Conjugate Method. The main reason is the fact that generally, in CrossFit, we have a limited number of exercises. I am NOT going to program Board Presses or Tricep Extensions to help with Bench Press strength. I will program Bench Press to help with overall strength and lockout, but there is only so far, comfortably, that I can dive into the true Conjugate Method. I still like to program, as Coach would say, “mess you up” movements, and there is a limit to how far you can dive into a full Conjugate Method while sticking to this principle.
1) 12 minutes to establish a 2RM (T&G) Muscle-Snatch – Video Demo
2a) 5X3 Strict UB Weighted Pullups (overhand grip) – heaviest possible, rest 60 sec.
2b) 5X5 Behind the Neck Push Press (SN grip) – heaviest possible, rest 60 sec.
5 min. ME Shoulder Touches – Video Demo
-rest 2 minutes
10 min. Bar Muscle-Up Practice
Notes: Don’t go crazy here. This is not an AMRAP, it’s simply practice. No more than 30 reps.
2X1000m Row – rest 1:1
Notes: Concentrate on pacing, this should be between 90-95% effort, but not all out. There will be a 25 Burpee penalty if pace is off more than +/- 5 seconds.
The first lady: