A Letter From Leon About Programming

Greetings Tacoma Strength Stalwarts,

I would like to announce that we are going to be changing up our programming style. Dr. Jared Williamson DPT has been writing excellent programming for us for the past three years and we all have stronger glutes and cores to show for it. Jared is currently working hard on a PhD in between changing people’s lives over at the Hangar Clinic in Gig Harbor. After much thought, we’ve decided to shake things up a bit (in several ways, but we’ll just talk programming for now). I think you are all going to enjoy this, but it may take a few months to get a sense of the rhythm, so please give yourselves time to adjust. If you are someone who is interested in the particulars of how the program works or if you are prone to leaving anonymous comments about the programming without attempting to understand the reasoning, then please keep reading.

A fellow member of a business group that I am a part of, specializes in writing programming for gyms. He and I have talked and I have discovered that our philosophies are very much aligned when it comes to training and programming for general physical preparedness in a group setting. So, I’ve decided to get us on board with his programming through his company Thrivestry (a mix of thrive and mastery). We start on Monday the 31st of October.

The new programming has a few characteristics that I want you to understand. First, the six week strength cycles. Every six weeks there will be a new exercise or lift that will be repeated. You’ll do it once or twice per week for six weeks.

During the first couple of weeks we’ll be getting the feel for the exercise or lift, so the loads and volumes will be conservative. The conditioning modules will be a little longer and harder during this time. Then, as the load and volume of the lift increases, we’ll taper the conditioning modules to allow for your bodies to recover properly. In our current and previous programming we accomplished this with our 4 week accumulation and 3 week restitution phases. During accumulation we had more load and volume of lifting and less of conditioning. During restitution it was the opposite.

Another thing to understand is the daily training context. 60% of the time we’ll be approaching the day’s training with a “practice” mindset. This means we’re learning, making adjustments, and mastering the movements. Quality and ease of movement are the primary goals.

30% of the time we’ll be in “competition” mode. This means we’ll be working on gaming the workout a bit to squeeze out the best possible performance. This is game day. This is where you showcase your skills to the best of your ability that day. In this context you’ll only choose movements that you can do very competently. The movements that you can just barely do when you are fresh will quickly turn to garbage when you get fatigued, so you’ll opt for a less complex version that you can perform flawlessly. In my opinion, it is a mistake to approach training as competition every day, even though that’s how CrossFit is often approached. This leads to injury, burnout, and less progress.

10% of the time we’ll be working on “mental toughness”. Often our bodies are capable of so much more than our minds will agree to. On these days, we want you to expand your boundaries a little. When you really want to quit, don’t. Not yet. Again, this doesn’t mean that unsafe movement is acceptable. Part of mental toughness is developing some control over your physiology during a stressful situation. Controlling your breathing and posture, etc. This isn’t a healthy way to train all the time, that’s why it only comes up 10% of the time. Your coaches will be reminding you of the context of each day’s training, so you have an idea about how to approach the session.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the three different scaling options that will be offered for most workouts. There is a “performance”, “Athletic” and “Health” option. These are meant to help you choose a load based on what you want to get out of your training.

Many of you are training to move better and be healthy, so going heavy and trying to set some sort of speed record really isn’t in line with your goals. That’s what the “health” option is aimed at.

“Athletic” is a little heavier. This will double as the women’s performance prescribed weights.

“Performance” is the same as the typical men’s prescribed weights and should only be used if you are competent in the particular movement in question and if it makes sense for your training goals.

You may choose a different scaling option depending on how you are feeling on that day. If you normally choose “Performance,” but you didn’t sleep well the night before, or are feeling less than awesome for whatever reason, the smart thing to do would be to choose one of the lighter options.

If you have questions, please come talk to me or send them my way and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Happy training,


By Leon on Sunday, October, 30, 2016