Simplicity, Complexity & Chaos

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Simplicity, Complexity & ChaosRandom Ideas to Start the New Year

By Ashley Jones

As the old year closes and 2008 begins I find it is an opportune time to analyse my training and ideas and decide what to discard and what to keep for the year ahead. I remember I had an opportunity a few years ago at this holiday time to trial a program, I was 40 at the time and thought, why not see what can happen.

It was an old style Bulgarian lifting approach to training, I tested myself on the Squat Clean and Front Squat exercises on a Saturday afternoon, then on the following Monday started the Front Squat only workout. That is correct I trained only the Front Squat for 1 week, I trained it three times a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, twice a day on Tuesday and Thursday and once on Saturday, that is a total of 14 sessions in one week. I rested on the Sunday, go figure, and then tested the same exercises I had tested just the week previously, my Front Squat had gone up by 11% whilst my Squat Clean had gone up by 7%.

Simplicity to the maximum, just one exercise trained hard, produced some amazing results. Obviously, that style of training although extremely good for producing results is not realistic for the majority of trainees, but it just goes to show what the body can do if given the stimulus and a chance to recover.

As some of you may know I was fortunate to be back stage at the 1980 Mr. Olympia contest in Sydney, Australia, held at the iconic Sydney Opera House. The entire cast of Pumping Iron strolled past me, I was in awe, Arnold, Franco, Casey Viator, Mike Mentzner, amazing. But, it was not this that set me on my current life’s journey but the purchasing of a book at the small trade show attached to the contest that changed my life forever. That book was Bill Starr’s, “The Strongest Shall Survive”, the 5 x 5 system applied to the Big Three of Power Clean, Squat and Bench, stared me on this road, I was 19 years old.

The 5 x 5 became my workout of choice, I taught myself to Power Clean, what I am sure initially looked like an attempt at suicide by power clean became with the passage of time a passable rendition of what the Olympic lifters perform. Today after almost 30 years it is still a very good program which if applied will reap excellent results, it is a program I based the Rule of 24 on with its sets and rep permutations close to the magical 5 x 5, it is the balance point of the system with three permutation above and below this point. As Coach Poliquin has often said “there is an inverse relationship between both sets and reps” so if you are using a low number of reps, then you should use a high number of sets. These ideas combined with the wisdom of Louie Simmons and the 80/20 principle gave me a wonderful grounding upon which to play with structures to assist in strength/power and size development.

I love the two quotes of Louie Simmons:

“Strength training is the overcoming of weaknesses” and;

“Strength training is simply maths and physics”

I love simplicity in training, I still believe that the majority of trainees can achieve what they want to achieve by utilizing just three exercises, three days a week. By selecting from three categories, all the major muscles of the body are trained and then by alternating the Rule of 24 parameters over a three week training block you can provide a wide range of stimuli for training.

These categories are, Pull, Push and Squat, I prefer to use an Olympic pull but you can substitute an upper body pull in here if you wish. Each exercise on each training day is trained using a different set/rep scheme which is alternated through a three week period. The system would look like this, feel free to substitute whichever exercises you feel are most appropriate for yourself or the people you train:

Weeks/DaysMondayWednesdayFriday
1Split Snatch from Floor 12 x 2Squat Clean8 x 3Power Snatch from Blocks (knee height)6 x 4
Push Press8 x 3Military Press6 x 4Rack Split Jerks12 x 2
Front Squat6 x 4Over Head Squat12 x 2Back Squat8 x 3
2Split Snatch from Floor 8 x 3Squat Clean6 x 4Power Snatch from Blocks (knee height)12 x 2
Push Press6 x 4Military Press12 x 2Rack Split Jerks8 x 3
Front Squat12 x 2Over Head Squat8 x 3Back Squat6 x 4
3Split Snatch from Floor 6 x 4Squat Clean12 x 2Power Snatch from Blocks (knee height)8 x 3
Push Press12 x 2Military Press8 x 3Rack Split Jerks6 x 4
Front Squat8 x 3Over Head Squat6 x 4Back Squat12 x 2

 This is the simple version of the plan where you have a limited time to train but you still want a result producing program. I would warm up each session by using one of the couplets I have outlines in a previous article. I would do the following one for each training day. Monday – Cosner Step Up, hang power snatch followed by a step up and down on one leg then a second hang power snatch and a step up and down on the other leg; Wednesday – Sots Press, starting in a military press position push the bar up as you squat under the bar, finish position is in a full squat with the bar overhead, return to standing with bar over head then lower bar to shoulders and repeat; Friday – Snatch Squat Press, similar to the Sots press but standing with the bar on the shoulders hands gripping the bar in a snatch grip press behind neck position, slowly push the bar up as you squat under the bar, bottom position in the receiving position for the squat snatch, then lower the bar to behind the neck stay in the squat position whilst you perform a snatch grip press behind neck and then return to standing whilst keeping the bar extended over head.

I sincerely hope that 2008 will bring you much peace and happiness in all aspects of your lives, best wishes, Ashley Jones

Ashley Jones

Ashley Jones specialist in the physical preparation of rugby athletes. He has worked with professional sports teams that include Sydney Kings, Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eels, Northern Eagles, Crusaders, New Zealand All Blacks, and Australian Wallabies. Irish by Ancestry, Australian by Birth, Japanese by Accident and a Kiwi by Choice.

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