New 'STRENGTH' Phase - Programming Cycle Update

Sunday, September 6, 2020 - 13:05

As we wrap up our current training cycle this week, we wanted to take a look ahead at what is coming up next. Directors of Programming, Coach Mike and Coach Caleb, have put together an overview of what to expect in the coming 6 weeks. 

In the following paragraphs Coach Mike has presented a detailed overview of our Strength Phase. While this info may be a bit dry for some of you, it's definitely worth the read if you seek to understand more of the "why" behind what we do. 

What is Strength?

Within the fitness world, the word strength is commonly used with many varying applications all of which have their place. If you were to look in an Anatomy and Physiology textbook maximal/absolute strength would be defined as the maximal amount of force produced during a single voluntary contraction.

For our purposes we will define it as the amount of weight moved or lifted during a compound (multi joint) movement such as a squat, deadlift, or press. The rep ranges for testing strength will generally fall between 1-5, once we start going over 5 reps within a given set it becomes more a test of strength endurance opposed to absolute strength.

For this upcoming phase our primary focus will be to train and test the back squat. This leads to the next question, why is the back squat so important?

Dynamic correspondence - a.k.a. The reason we squat so much

Dynamic correspondence refers to the amount of transferability a particular exercise has to a separate activity. 

An example of this would be the relationship between push-ups and ring dips. If you spend time training push-ups and increase your capacity in doing that exercise it is very reasonable to assume that you will also increase your capacity on ring dips even if you have not trained them as frequently. This is due to the fact that they are similar movements that use the same main muscle groups.

Our goal at Lead Fitness is to put together a program that creates the most well rounded and capable athletes possible. Because of this we use exercises that have the most transferability to other things in the gym and life in general. This brings us back to the back squat and why it is a pillar of our training program.

It is our belief that no other exercise in the gym builds total body strength and muscle mass like the squat. Build up your back squat and all your other lifts will follow. 

Maxing out - You can't always get what you want (Yes, that is a Rolling Stones reference)

Everyone has heard the same speech from just about every coach about being patient, and not being too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned. So instead of repeating the same thing we’ve all heard before I’m gonna tell the story of when I competed at the IPL (International Powerlifting League) World Championships and things went completely wrong. 

In the summer of 2017 I qualified for Worlds which were to be held later that year in Las Vegas. Leading up to the meet, everything went exactly to plan, I made all my training lifts and hit gym PRs on all lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) prior to tapering for the meet. At international competitions you generally weigh in 24 hours prior to when your session starts, I lifted Saturday morning which meant my weigh-ins were on Friday at 8am. Similar to boxing or wrestling, powerlifters will often cut weight for major competitions.

The most common way this is done is by cutting water the day prior to weighing in. This means that after you weigh in you will spend the rest of the day eating and rehydrating to get back to your normal training weight. I had cut about 10lbs of water weight for this meet which meant I had to regain all 10lbs on Friday prior to lifting on Saturday. It is at this point of the story that things started to go south.

Directly after weighing in on Friday I had my wallet stolen out of my shorts pocket while walking through a crowd in the hotel lobby. My wallet contained cash, credit cards, my ID, room key etc. . . All things that were really important. Long story short it took about 8 hours to figure the situation out, all of that time I didn’t have access to my room which had all my supplies and no way to buy food or drinks.

I did my best Friday night once I got back into my room but I was only able to regain about 3lbs, opposed to the 10lbs that was planned. Meet day came around and I tried to put the prior day's disaster behind me. Squats are the first lift tested, despite being massively dehydrated and under fed I was able to hit a meet PR and take first in my class. Bench was up next and by this point the initial adrenaline was starting to wear off.

Regardless I was able to hit a small meet PR and take third place in the bench press. In powerlifting meets they take your best lift from each exercise and combine it for your total, whoever has the highest total wins. After squat and bench I was sitting in first place in my class by a small margin, all I had to do was perform a decent deadlift and I would take first place in my weight class. It was at this point that the wheels came completely off.

As soon as I started warming up on deadlift I could tell I was having a major blood sugar crash. After barely making my last warm up lift I ate some honey and sour patch kids hoped for the best. I went up for my first attempt, the bar moved well but right before lockout I started to blackout which caused me to drop the bar prematurely which meant the lift didn’t count. My second attempt was essentially a reenactment of the first.

For my third and final attempt we called for a weight that would give me the overall victory in my class. The weight was 556lbs, for reference I had hit 555lbs for a triple just 3 weeks prior. Going up for my third and final attempt I decided that black out or not I wasn’t going to drop the bar. I went through my prelift ritual, got tight, and then pulled as hard as I could. The next thing I remember was waking up backstage in the ready room asking what happened.

My team then told me that I got the bar to my knees before completely passing out, dropping the bar, and falling flat on my back. Without having completed a deadlift I went from first place in my class, to dead last. Not the outcome I was hoping for at a globally steamed international competition. 

The moral of the story is that sometimes things happen that are out of your control and even the best laid plans can get derailed. The take away from all this as a reader is that sometimes things don’t go your way, especially in regards to physical performance.

Don’t try to force certain numbers, take what’s given each day and let the PRs come to you. Once you stop trying to force things you’ll end up taking the pressure off yourself, which will lead to more enjoyment of the process and in most cases better performance. Focus on giving great effort and having fun, the PRs will take care of themselves.


Monday - LIFT, primary squat, strength building conditioning
Tuesday - ENDURE-Aerobic Workouts, Core/Abs
Wednesday - ACCELERATE, short/intense intervals
Thursday - LIFT, secondary squat, oly lift biased conditioning 
Friday - Level Method, Classic CrossFit-Short/Med Duration
Saturday - Hero & Named CrossFit Workouts


Our last training cycle, the Power Phase, went extraordinarily well! There were numerous personal records set and more Level Ups on the Level Method system than we can count! Keep up the great work and remember to talk to your coaches if you feel stuck, confused, or discouraged by your (lack of) progress. 

Coach Caleb

P.S. If you have any feedback, questions, comments, or concerns, then please reach out to me at We're always trying to improve!