Jan 7, 2013

Unfortunately I am writing this article out of pure personal experience. I recently was hit with some flu-like symptoms and have been out of commission for the last 3 days. I realize I won't be able to hit a good training session until I get better, so in this article I will outline my own plan of attack to get myself back to where I was before I got sick.

Where Have I Been?

For the last 12 weeks I've been hitting a variation of Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program. In the program I was training 3 days per week hitting a full body routine all 3 days. This was going really well as I was hitting rep PRs in all of my lifts (squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press).

The workload was light and it wasn't until the end of my 2nd cycle and into my 3rd cycle that it started getting pretty heavy (for me at least). I was back squatting 3 days per week in conjunction with whatever else I had to do on those days. Granted I wasn't going for an all-out effort in the squat but one day per week, having a heavy barbell on your back that often starts to wear you down a bit.

Anywho, that's where I was. I was 12 weeks into a solid program and I was ready to readjust my numbers and continue. There were going to be a few tweaks though ...

Where Was I Going?

Since I'm planning on doing a strongman competition at some point next fall, I wanted to really improve my overhead and deadlift strength (I'll deal with working on the actual events as I draw closer to the contest and implements become more readily available). In order to do this I picked up The Cube Method for Strongman by Josh Thigpen, which is based on Brandon Lilly's Cube Method but optimized for strongman training. I really like the idea of undulating efforts and only hitting a truly heavy lift one time per week as to not take away from event training (I will be writing an article on The Cube Method once I dive into it and have at least gone through a few cycles).

So, in a nutshell, I was going from training 3 days per week in a full body motif to training 4 days per week in an upper/lower style with one day dedicated solely to event training (using the strongman implements; logs, farmer's carries, stones, yoke, kegs, sandbags, tire flips, etc). I had my percentages set, my program mapped out, and I was ready to go. Then I got sick ...

How Will I Get Back On Track?

Being sick sucks and not for anything I have got to be the biggest baby in the world when I'm sick. It's probably because I get sick maybe once a year. I go through the entire year perfectly fine, training well, doing it up, then outta nowhere, BAM ... stuck in bed, arthritis-like aches, and a head feeling like an oversized watermelon. All that planning and programming for what? Nothing right? Wrong.

I can and will get back to that plan but I'm going to have to make a few adjustments before I get there.

First off is to rest, recover, and get over this bug. Whatever it is, I'm loaded up on antibiotics, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, drinking a buttload of water and herbal tea, and eating lots of fruits and veggies (and everything else I can get my hands on).

Next is to plan a light training week (or 2) to get back into the groove. This is exactly what I plan on doing as soon as I can get my butt back into the gym:

Week 1:
1A) Squat Jumps
1B) Mixed Grip Chinups
2A) Back Extensions
2B) Dips
3A) Reverse Plank
3B) Hollow Body Rocks

Week 2:


1A) Squat 3x10@50-60-
1A) OHP 3x10@50-60-
1) Deadlift 10x2@60%
1B) Squat Jump 3x3
1B) Chinups 3xAMAP
2) Front Squat 3x10@50-
2) Weighted Back XT 3x15
2A) CGBP 3x10@50-60-
3A) BW Back XT 3x20
3A) Walking Lunges 3x20
2B) Recline Rows 3x10
3B) Walking Lunges 3x20
3B) Weighted Abs 3x
3) Non-weighted Abs 3x
3C) Weighted Abs 3x

The purpose of starting off with all bodyweight (BW) exercises is to get my body primed to train again. The progression is as easy as it gets: same workout all 3 training days, add 1 set onto the 2nd day, and more reps/time onto the 3rd day. That's it.

The second week I want to start adding in the lifts I will be using during my next program. The only difference will be the percentages I'm using. I'm going to be lifting lighter weights with more volume to get my body accustomed to working with the lifts again and to wake up those neuromuscular pathways I haven't been using. All 3 days will look similar to the repetition effort day of The Cube Method with a few of my own tweaks of course.

After these 2 weeks have passed I will regroup and see how I'm feeling. If I'm feeling well and everything I did in the 2nd week was a breeze then I'll be on my way to starting the Cube. If everything didn't go as planned and I'm still feeling a little under the weather then I'll repeat the 2nd week and maybe take a little weight or a few repetitions off the top.

I'll basically just listen to my body and keep in mind that strength is a journey. Even if I miss a few days or weeks it won't distract me from my goal. In fact I will probably learn a few things that I will be able to implement in case this ever happens again.

One thing that does bare mentioning is if you're sick, i mean really sick, not "oh I woke up with a sniffle" or "I sneezed today" sick, like can't get outta bed because your joints and body ache like a 90 year old man with arthritis sick, don't go to the gym. You're body wants you to rest for a reason - it's fighting something. If you decide to stress your CNS by hitting a crazy training session in hopes of maintaining whatever gains you've made you're mistaken. This won't do anything but make things worse. Your body needs to focus it's attention on powering your immune system and fighting whatever it is that you have.

TRUST ME I feel your pain. That's where I am right now as I write this. I know for a fact I couldn't lift a weight right now (safely at least) but I definitely want to. I don't miss training sessions and being out of the gym for more than a couple of days makes me anxious. But, I know I need the rest and I will come back stronger than when I left.

Although the flu isn't something you can necessarily avoid, make sure you keep up with maintaining your immune system and keeping yourselves healthy. It pays huge dividends in the end.

Eat Healthy, Sleep Well, Train Hard, and Smash PRs!!

In Strength,
Franco Crincoli


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Franco Crincoli
I am a personal trainer, strength coach, and all around iron addict, with a philosophy deeply rooted in old school methods. My training has been influenced by strongmen, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and the Golden Era bodybuilders. I believe in reaping the greatest rewards the simplest (not easiest) way possible and having fun doing it.
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