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Reaching the pinnacle

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:18 am
by Bri3626
Hello everyone,

I thought it might be interesting to clarify/expound on some information regarding the Simplefit workout. I've noticed that a lot of folks ask questions regarding whether Simplefit is enough or should they add more to the program. So here is my 2 cents and hopefully we can get a good discussion going.

As in all things most of us are lucky enough that we have a choice to be able to choose what we want to do and how to do it. Simplefit is not unique in that regard. However, I would like to state emphatically that this program is unique in that it covers three primary exercises that develop strength and endurance across a wide range of motion and is really a good starting point to your fitness future. It often strikes me as odd how so many people will start a program like this and feel like they aren't getting enough "fitness". Really? For those of you that are thinking this way I want you to take an objective look at your reasons why this is so.

First I would ask, "How fit are you?" How many pullups can you do? How many pushups? How many squats? If you are telling me that you can't do pullups or can only do a few at a time, or are telling me that you can only do less than a few pushups at a time, or the goal of 100 squats in L8D1 seems impossible then I would say that you have work to do. Sounds harsh I know but bear with me on this.

In the Crossfit seminar training guide they set a benchmark for these very exercises and it should be your goal as well. Why? Because these are standards of fitness that have been proven over time to meet or exceed the athletic level of sport. And why would you want to do that? Well, why are you exercising at all if not to achieve something? You need specific, defined, hard to achieve, but not impossible goals that allow your competitive side to come out in whatever way you can bring it out. These are the things that bring forth the athlete in all of us. You have the ability to make this happen and the Simplefit program allows you to start going down that road.

Here are the benchmarks:

Pullups 20, 25, and 30
Pushups 50, 75, and 100
Dips 20, 30, 40, and 50

These benchmarks are the standards by which you should initially set your goals to achieve. Of course there are others and of course we don't do dips in Simplefit but if you are a newbie or haven't worked out in a long time, Simplefit will get you there. You can certainly do other work i.e. Crossfit to help you achieve your goals but I will state emphatically that this program works and it can and will allow you to achieve the benchmarks listed above if you let it.

These are the rules you must follow:

1. Find your starting point- Find out what level you can workout comfortably and not be extremely fatigued or fail. If you can't do pullups and/or pushups sub them (jumping pullups, knee pushups) but you should attempt a real pullup and/or pushup every workout until you are doing them. I strongly recommend if you are new to fitness or haven’t ever done this type of exercise start at Level 1 Day 1 or L1D1.
2. Do the exercises just until the point of failure- This means that when you start, do the exercises continuously just until you are sure you will get stuck because the muscle is too weak to complete. Rest until you are sure you can do more then continue. You want to do this till your time is up no matter what the day.
3. RECORD YOUR WORKOUT!!!- I can’t emphasize this enough. Why? So you can beat the previous week’s workout. For example, lets say I started L1D1 and completed 12 rounds in 20 minutes. The next L1D1 I want to complete a minimum of 13 rounds or at the very least 12 rounds +1 pullup. Nothing else matters. This will soon bring your fitness levels up.

4. Attempt to complete Day 3 as prescribed- Do not break up the exercises. Complete the pull-ups, then do push-ups, and finally the squats in that order. Attempt to do 10 pullups without falling off the bar, then 21 pushups etc. Even if you don’t do the exercises in a row but get under 5 minutes you move on to level 2. (Edited per request :-} 6/21/12)

Ultimately your goal should be to complete L8D3 as prescribed and that means 50 pullups nonstop, 100 pushups nonstop, and 100 squats nonstop. Everyone questions if you can do that in under 5 minutes and I don’t really know but if you can do all three of those exercises as Rx’d does it matter?

Want to add situps, lifts, running? Why are you doing that? If you are working hard and pushing to your limits you really shouldn’t be able to do much more (I’m speaking about the day you workout, not your off days). If you are getting done with your workout and feel like you need to do more then guess what? You were not working hard enough! Rule #2 exists for the sole purpose to bring the beginner up to speed and set achievable, sustainable goals period. If you find you are getting stagnant at Level whatever and you are adding other exercises then you should rethink your program. Are you doing full regular pull-ups, pushups, and squats? Are you doing them as prescribed and pushing your limits? Are you attempting to complete Day 3 by doing each exercise non-stop? Think about it like this… If you were in a situation that your life depended on you completing L1D3 how much harder would you be working? Would you give an all out effort or do pull-ups until you feel winded and take a break? Ultimately it comes down to brass tacks and you have to push harder than you ever have every time and that is the one goal you can’t allow yourself to forget. Don’t get sidetracked and don’t lose that goal.

There are ten components to fitness that Crossfit demands you develop. Simplefit starts you on that road if that is your ultimate goal and certainly doesn’t cover all ten but it’s a damn good start. Don’t change your programming because you wandered off the road. Get back on it and look forward to L8D3. See you there!

Ok that was a quick down and dirty. I’ll add/correct things as needed and as you guys point them out to me. Thanks for reading.

Re: Reaching the pinnacle

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:37 am
by dolem
Thanks, those are some good points. I'll try to focus on the goal and give 100% towards it. I've been adding some cardio because I'm trying to lose weight, but I'll continue to make sure to only do it on off days.

4. Attempt to complete Day 3 as prescribed- Do not break it up and do the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats in order.

I think you could word that sentence a little better. I get what you mean, but I had to read it a few times to make sure of what you were saying. At first glance it sounds like you don't want people to do the pull-ups, push-ups and squats in order.

Re: Reaching the pinnacle

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:59 pm
by KTG
Hey, this is terrific! Thanks for putting it together. Ironically, I had just asked you to address this kind of question in the workout logs before I saw this here.

I do have some minor philosophical differences at a few places, but don't have any basis to assert that my philosophy is any better. For the sake of discussion, though, here are a few of them:

1. I think the number one issue is not so much effort as motivation. Going all out every time is a great goal, and may work very well for some. But the really critical thing is staying at it. My concern is that for some people going to the edge every time may make it harder to get psyched up to do it. If the body sees it as too much exertion it will start to look for excuses not to do it. In the long run, it may be better to do it in a little more relaxed manner, but to just keep doing it. Different people will be motivated by different things. Whatever works for you to keep you going at it is the right way to do it. Giving less than 100 % will make it take longer to move through the levels, or may lead you to plateau; but doing it at any level is better than falling off the wagon. Of course, Simplefit has a built-in mechanism for pushing the effort since the clock is always there smirking at you and urging you to work harder.

2. I'm not so adverse to other activities, even on the Simplefit days. I feel like I am giving it pretty close to 100 percent, but by the end of the day I've got some gas back in the tank. Maybe this means I'm not really redlining it. Could be. But in my experience I've improved a little faster when I do a little more throughout the day and week. Also for me running is really important, so I may be willing to trade off a little of my Simplefit progress for keeping my running going.

3. Related to these things, I might focus a little less on the pinnacle than on enjoying the climb and appreciating the view from even the lower levels. The fact is the vast majority of people could not do a single pull-up even if their life depended on it. My guess is that the fraction of of people who could even manage L1D3's 10 pull-ups, 21 push-ups and 21 squats in under five minutes is exceedingly small (especially as you start moving up the age brackets). But certainly, as you note, reaching that pinnacle would be absolutely huge. I agree that time no longer matters if you can do 50 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, and 100 squats in straight sets. I bow before you. Nonetheless, I remain curious whether anyone has ever done it in under five minutes.

4. Figuring out how to program the sets on D3 is a really interesting issue. Your recommendation of going to near-failure is a good one. My problem with that is that I then end up pretty quickly in the world of a bunch of very small rep-sets. Admittedly that would probably be OK if I had more integrity, but I usually find myself jumping a little on the first pull-up, so there is a huge difference between a set of 1 or 2 and a set of 3 or 4. Anyway, my preference has been to shoot for a goal set-plan. So, for example, my current L6D3 pull-up goal (alternating chins and pulls) is 8-6-5-4-5-4. I'm pretty close to failure on each of the last four sets. The trick is figuring out the minimum rest required to just get you through the next set.

That's my two-cents worth. Thanks for starting this thread!

Re: Reaching the pinnacle

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:05 pm
by KTG
Oh, also I fear you are out of the frying pan into the fire on your D3 description:

Even if you don’t do the exercises in a row but get under 5 minutes you move on to level 2. (Edited per request :-} 6/21/12)

I'm concerned that this could give rise to the dreaded confusion about doing D3 straight through v. doing it in supersets (not doing the exercises in a row). How about:
"Even if you have to break the exercises into smaller sets, if you can do all three of the D3 exercises in order in under 5 minutes (including the rest times) you move on to the next level."

Re: Reaching the pinnacle

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:48 am
by Bri3626
You are absolutely correct (at least I believe so) that motivation is the #1 issue here. Anyone can look at the number of logs that have been put up on this site and see that, as well as most other fitness logging websites. Of course they could all just not be motivated to do the logs and still be doing the workout heh. When I was referencing going all out I guess it was somewhat misleading. As you know one of the issues that make this workout a little different from others is that you don't do the workout to failure because of the very things you address. It's hard to stay motivated for a multitude of reasons which my logs can attest to as I dropped off for almost 2 years I think. But I believe that if you can provide, in a workout session, small measurable goals that are achieved consistently the individual will be much more motivated to continue. Now here is the thing that I think can get sticky and also cause the person to become demotivated. The dreaded plateau. At some point it occurs to us all and that is the killer because you stop improving. In Simplefit and Crossfit both I think plateaus can occur but less so in Crossfit because of the sustained variability. In Simplfit, day in and day out we do three exercises with some variability. So here is the thing. I noticed that as I went through the program and in order to get more sets and/or less time in I would break up how many reps I did until the goal was accomplished but as the reps increased it got harder to achieve the goals by continuing the same habits. Ultimately I need to be able to stay on the bar, improve my speed, and do it without cheating. These are all the additional goals, the tweaks that are needed as we move up the ladder. Personally I think once you hit L5 you should be consistently working towards completely finishing your set of reps then resting as you need to in order to continue. When I say that Im being somewhat hypocritical because I didn't really do that even when I hit L7. But what I've found is that, if I add these smaller goals in addition to beating the goals for the Simplefit workout my times improve. Pullups have been the best example. Previously what I liked to do was change my hand position every time I completed a set. Partly because it helped me keep count and partly to allow rest. So I would do four rounds, rest, four rounds, rest etc. As time went by I found I was hopping off the bar a lot during the four rounds as I fatigued essentially losing time. I was in a rut but it improved once I set myself up to try to achieve more reps without falling off the bar. And of course that strategy is not supposed to apply to day 3 buts thats what ended up happening. Essentially I would do 4 pullups, quick rest, switch hand position, 4 pullups, quick rest etc. By the time I did that ten times I found a fair portion of my 5 minutes was getting ate up and I still had the pushups and squats to do. Initially your times should increase because you are fatiguing the muscle early in the game thus causing you to rest more. But as time goes by and if you improve by a pullup, body row, or pushup etc each workout eventually what you see is a huge drop in your time which those breaks just eat up.

As you have no doubt noticed and probably questioned yourself is the ability for someone to do L8D3 in less than five minutes. I have as well. That is 250 repetitions in 300 seconds and that means to achieve this goal you have to move through every movement non-stop and at record breaking pace, essentially 1.2 seconds per repetition. This program is designed to get you there by slowly moving up the ladder of success in repetitions but ultimately it comes down to the math. You will have to do the repetitions faster and with less rest. Doable? Not sure but I would love to be able to do this. Interestingly as a benchmark Crossfit says that doing "Angie" which is 100 repetitions of pullups, pushups, situps, then squats is roughly a 20 minute exercise which means about 3 seconds per rep.
At the start of this program I think ones only goal should be to pick a starting point and every week try to beat the previous week's accomplishment with proper form. Just doing that alone puts an individual in the mindset to actually seek out improvement. However, there comes a point where hitting the plateau is likely, boredom occurs, or whatever it is that causes demotivation. Seeking new challenges further on is important but should not apply to the person just starting. Heck the first rule should be to just do the program for a year and then see where you’re at. And that should apply most specifically to the individual who goes from program to program but never really sticks with it. Again I’m being somewhat hypocritical here because I’ve flitted around some myself but Simplefit put me on the road to consistency and is ultimately my base that I come back to.

So let me pose a question. Just glancing at your logs how many pull-ups would you say you can do without falling off the bar? For now lets say its eight before you have to rest. What if every time you did L6D3 you added a pullup to the starter so that it looked like this:

Week 1 8-6-5-4-5-4
Week 2 9-6-5-4-5-3
Week 3 10-6-5-4-5-2 or even 10-5-5-4-5-3
Week 4 11-6-5-4-5-1 or even 11-5-4-4-5-3

Would it make it harder in the long run or improve your time? In the short run I could see that it might be harder but the benefits will outweigh that very quickly. I would submit that by adding that one goal with all your exercises that you would blast through L6D3 soon and in the long run develop a solid base for continuous pull-ups, pushups, and squats. Now that’s not meant to be critical in a bad way because you deserve all the kudos for reaching this level but I think if you expand that a bit you will make much higher gains long term. And the nice thing is it still follows the Simplefit rule of beating what you did the week before.