Images by Joe (instagram @morxphoto)

Images by Joe (instagram @morxphoto)

A great advantage of Beyond the Whiteboard (which unfortunately we no longer have) was that it allowed me to track what you guys were doing in the gym (for those that used and logged your workouts). 

I was able to see how you was tackling the WODs and what you was lifting on your strength days.

And what I saw for some people was that you wasn't building enough volume in your training.

So let me clear something up...

With the strength training my programming has been pretty simply, we cycle through weeks of working sets of 5's, 3's and then 1's, with the expectation that as the reps reduced, you would lift more weight the following week.

The key word here is "working sets". 

If you see "5-5-5-5-5" written on the white board, my expectation from you is to hit 5 HEAVY sets of 5. Not 3 warm up sets and 1 heavyish set and then a heavy set to finish of with.

Some numbers i've seen on beyond the whiteboard recently looked something like this: 45kg - 55kg - 65kg - 75kg - 85kg, for example (here you can see the first "working" set was 40kg(!!) less than the last)

Based on this example being 5 reps per set, the total volume of weight lifted in that session was 1,625kg.

If 85kg is your back squat 5rm, you would be better of building up a lot of volume around that number and I would expect to see working sets to be around your 80-90% value of your max. i.e. 70kg - 72.5kg - 77.5kg - 82.5kg - 85kg

Based on this example, using 5 reps per set again, the total volume of weight lifted in this session would be  1,937.5kg.

The difference being over 300kg lifted in one 20 minute workout. Which is great, but whats more important is how this looks over weeks, months and years of training. Thousands and Thousands of extra kilo's being lifted. And that is what is going to get you strong. 

The Bigger Picture

In a recent interview with the current fittest man in the world, Ben Smith, when asked, he said the one thing he would change about his training from when he first started would be to stop lifting so many 1 rep maxes and to train around the 80-90% range. 

Why? Because it builds the volume and gets you stronger. 

Hitting 1RMs are great and all, but constantly training 1RMs aren't going to get you stronger.

Being able to lift 150kg once may look awesome for the day, but the dude next to you who squatted 125kg 3 times (375kg in total) is the dude thats going to get stronger in the long run. 

Record your Numbers

As i've said so many times before, its important to record your numbers. 

What I was able to see from Beyond The Whiteboard was those members that were consistently training at around their 80-90% with volume and not just 1 or 2 sets, are the guys and girls that are getting stronger in the gym and hitting PBs.

My first response to anyone that approaches me and tells me that they don't think they are getting stronger is always "let me see your log book", as it gives me an insight in to how you are training and will allow me to help you. Or it will allow me to show you, which is often the case, that you actually have got stronger as you look back over your numbers for the past year or so. Or it will show me that we have no idea if you are improving because you have no idea what you've previously lifted, as you don't record it :(


Build volume - use your working sets as WORKING sets and not warm up sets. Each set should be a challenge and should take the full time allocated to complete.

Worry less about 1RMs - If using Open Gym or in class, worry less about how much you lift in a day and think more about how much you are lifting in a month - a year. Work around the 80-90% mark of your 1RMs and build up the reps.

Even on the 1-1-1-1-1 days, hitting a PB doesnt have to be the goal. If your previous 1RM for a lift is 100kg, completing 5 singles between 90-100kg is going to be great for your gainz. You dont have to worry about hitting a 102.5kg if it meant you was holding back on your other 4 working sets.

Record your workouts - Track what you are lifting. You can then map your journey and plan much better how you are going to attack the next session.