Saturday, July 31, 2010

Check It Out: Power to the People

Pavel Tsatsouline is nothing if not prolific. Over the past few months, I've already read a couple of his books (Enter the Kettlebell and The Naked Warrior), but a quick glance at his online store makes clear that there's no end in sight to his "Evil Russian"-style brand of training advice. 

I'm now making my way through Tsatsouline's "Power to the People," a book focused on building raw strength through daily practice of just two exercises: deadlifts and presses.

The "Russian strength secret" that Tsatsouline teaches in "Power to the People" can be summarized in one sentence: "Train heavy, but keep the volume, or the total number of reps per workout, low." Why? So we can "minimize the amount of 'torn down' muscle -- and the reconstruction that follows." 

This approach won't turn anyone into a bodybuilder because the point isn't to grow big-ass muscles. Rather, the focus is on gaining "wiry strength" such that "[m]ost likely your measurements will not increase, while your weight will go up a few pounds. the packing density of your muscles' contractile proteins has increased, the first thing to happen when 'real' muscle growth takes place." By periodizing and increasing the amount of weight that's being lifted but without going to exhaustion, Tsatsouline says, you can steadily enhance your full-body strength without constantly destroying and rebuilding the muscles in your body

Sounds good to me. My health and fitness goals don't include bulking up or becoming a bodybuilder. I do, however, want to get stronger, and I definitely want to improve my deadlift. So this program sounds like it's worth a shot.

Whole9 modified/customized Tsatsouline's "Power to the People" program by adding some warm-ups and metcons to the deadlifts and presses. It's simple and easy to follow, which is a big part of why I've decided to try it starting today. On the days I don't head to my CrossFit class, I'm going to follow the Whole9 program and see where it can take me in 2-3 months' time.

Hence, my workout today was cribbed directly from Whole9:


Buy-in: 3 rounds of 0:20 handstand hold + 15 KB swings (Russian) + 10 plyo box jumps

Deadlift: Warm up with some DLs at lighter weight

  • Set 1: 60% of 1RM, 3-5 reps
  • Set 2: 90% of Set 1, 3-5 reps

Press: Warm up with some presses at lighter weight

  • Set 1: 60% of 1RM, 3-5 reps
  • Set 2: 90% of Set 1, 3-5 reps

Cash out: 3 rounds for time of 30 Double-Unders + 15 Hanging Knees-to-Elbows

I followed Whole9's directions carefully and used weights that felt too light for me. I'm sure it'll get harder as the program progresses, but right now, I can't see how this is going to get me that much stronger.

Still, the full workout wiped me out completely. I'm nodding off while typing this. Time for bed.