cheapo’s progress

Forums Fitness Goals cheapo’s progress

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  • #105811
  • male

    38 years old

    waist: 35″

    approx. 210 lbs.

  • My goal:

  • male

    27 years old

    waist: 32-33″

    175-180 lbs (my weight at 27)

    increased strength, health, speed, power

  • I asked my wife to join me and we started last Wednesday, on L1D2. (I asked her to sign up here too. We’ll see.)

    L1 was rather easy for me, so on D3, I did L2.

    Last night was D1 however, and for that I dropped back down to L1. 20 minutes at L2 seemed too much. As it was, I did 36 sets. Too many?

    I should note that my wife boosted me on the pullups after about 10 sets.

    I am certain that at L2 I would have had truly rubbery arms, but I would have been taking BIG breaks between sets as well. I am not sure what level I should be at.


Last night was D2.

I did it at L3.

I am quite certain I could not do D1 at L3, but I was fairly confident I could manage D2 at that level. Time was 4:19. As that is less than five minutes, I should go to L4 next time around, right? I have my doubts about being able to manage that.

I am only into my 2nd cycle of SF, but I am wondering if I am doing it right. Should all days be done at the same level? I know I could not complete a L2D1 at this point.


I’m not saying doing different levels is wrong but I personally didn’t do it and wouldn’t recommend it. I’ll try to explain why I believe this.

Each of the 3 weekly workouts focuses on a different aspect of fitness, strength, endurance, speed, etc. When you start on level one, you may already have a good deal of strength but your endurance is lacking so you go up a level to match your strength limits but stay down a level to match you endurance limits. Sounds like it makes sense but for some reason I think it may result in you putting too much into your strength and robbing yourself of the ability to increase your endurance. You want to equal them out and then build them concurrently. At least, I do.

Another thing, I don’t understand how you “could not do D1 at L3, but I was fairly confident I could manage D2 at that level”

There is no set number of rounds for D1 so if you can do 5 rounds of 3, 10, 16 on L3D2, why couldn’t you do 7 rounds of 2, 3, 5 on L3D1? Do you think that your not doing enough rounds on D1? That should be your goal, increase the number of rounds you do each D1 workout at a certain level.

You’re only in the first couple of weeks, right? Trust the program. It takes time. Do it as prescribed and work to increase your score each week. Once you can accomplish each level without assistance and can do D3 below 5 minutes, move up a level.

And can the assistance on the pull-ups. If you do 10 sets with real pull-ups, then that’s your starting point. I doubt doing 26 more sets of assisted pull-ups is going to help you much at all and may hurt you. Strive to do 11 sets the next time, then 12. If you have to wait 3-4 minutes before you can do that extra set, then so be it. Or try jumping pull-ups in the later rounds, at least you’re generating your own assistance, better workout.

So in summation, stay at one level until you can do each of the workouts without assistance and the D3 in less than 5 minutes. I think flip-flopping between the levels may make it less likely to measure progress and lead you to quit. Being able to say you conquered a level and move up is very satisfying.

Note that my advice might be different if you couldn’t do a pull-up but apparently you can do several of them.


Thanks for the reply.

You are starting to answer another question I had, but didn’t ask.

D1 says go for 20 minutes. That’s why I had assistance. Without assistance, I would have been done in 10 sets or about 6 or 7 minutes. Is that what I should be doing?

If I can’t do anymore pullups, do I keep doing sets with pushups & squats only? Or dead hangs + pushups + squats?

I would think that having some assistance will help me, so that next time I’ll do 11 or 12 sets unassisted.


Ok, so you’re saying you can do 10 sets of D1 in 6-7 minutes but after that your pull-ups fail. How long are you waiting before trying to do pull-ups again. Would you fail after a 2 minute rest? 3 minute rest? Using a 3 minute rest between your last rounds you could probably bang our 3-4 more rounds.

If you need to rest more than 3 minutes between rounds, then I’d try the jumping pull-ups. They’re more difficult than straight assistance and maybe you’d only need to rest 1 minute between rounds for the remainder of the 20 minutes which would enable you to complete around 18 rounds. Or maybe switch to chin-ups, most people can do more chin-ups than pull-ups.

I understand the desire to progress and all but many times restraint and the “one-step back two steps forward” approach is what ultimately leads us to our goals.

It seems odd to me that after 10 sets of pull-ups you’d be in muscle failure for the next 13-14 minutes. I’d work on identifying how much rest time I need before I can do the 11th set, then work on lowering that time, then work towards a 12th set and so on.

EDIT: If you wanted to do more leg and push-up work AFTER the 20 minutes were up. I think that would be better. Like add in tabatas for the push-ups and squats. But focus on making that 20 minutes be about increasing the number of rounds using real pull-ups, push-ups, and squats.


I have only done D1 once, so everything I say comes out of having tried D1 one way, one time.

Given that D1 is the endurance day, I thought keeping moving (with assistance) was better than resting between unassisted sets.


Do it as prescribed and work to increase your score each week. Once you can accomplish each level without assistance and can do D3 below 5 minutes, move up a level.

How do you know when you have accomplished a level? For D2 & D3, we have the less than 5 minutes, more than 30 minutes rule. But what about D1? I would have thought accomplishing D1 meant going at a steady pace without breaks for 20 minutes. If that’s the case I feel quite strongly that I’ll be stagnating on the other 2 days. On the other hand, the instructions on the home page just say “max rounds in 20 min” which, if you take it literally, just says “however many you can do in 20 minutes” which would mean that D1 does not count in figuring out whether you have accomplished a level. Is that right?


Your D3 time is the benchmark you should be using as to whether you move up or down a level, D1 rounds and D2 time are measured simply to track progress.

Regarding D1, yes, its meant to be as many as you can do in 20 minutes. It sounds to me like you might be going a little too hard out of the gate with this one. Try pacing yourself a bit, after each round rest for 10-20 seconds or whatever you feel you need, although it may sound a bit counterintuitive you should be able to get more work done in the 20 minute window that way.

And I agree with splint regarding the pullups, try to go without the assistance as much as possible. There’s no better way to train your pullups once you have at least a few under your belt.


Thanks fellas.

Darrel wrote:

It sounds to me like you might be going a little too hard out of the gate with this one.

I thought the idea was go steadily for 20 minutes. I don’t know where I got that idea, but I just tried to work at the fastest pace I could manage while keeping good form.


Right-o, you got it now. Max rounds in 20 minutes is just that. Keep trying to increase the number of rounds you can do in 20 minutes. When you first start off you’ll need to rest a lot more between the exercises and rounds, leading to lower # of rounds, as your endurance builds your number of rounds will naturally increase.

And yes, D3 time indicates when you should move up a level.


My 2nd D1. Things are making a bit more sense…but I am still not quite in the groove.

My prevsious D1 was at L1, but I have been doing the other days at L2 or L3, so I did last night at L2. No assistance this time. I tried to keep going steadily until I had to rest a bit between sets, then I rested as necessary. I completed 24 rounds. That’s down from 36 last week at L1 with assistance…but this is really my first D1, right?

However, reviewing my log just now, I see that I did D3 at L3 in 4’52” which means a move to L4 is in order? (Note: the 16 pullups were not done in one set.) Should I stay at L3 until I can do the 16 in one set?

A question re form:

When it becomes impossible to do another rep with perfect form (body motionless, chest to the bar, no chicken-necking) what is the next step down on the ladder?

Last night I was not kipping, but I was “crunching”, pulling my legs up and curling my pelvis upwards.


It depends on what your goals are. The main thing is to be consistent in order to measure progress. For me, I usually do strict dead-hang pull-ups (sometimes with extra weight) on Day 2’s. All my other pull-ups are kipping. I can’t imagine ever being able to do Day 3 Level 5, 6, 7 in under 5 minutes without kipping pull-ups. Just doing 32 dead-hang pull-ups in under 5 minutes would be an accomplishment.

Basically, it’s up to you how you approach it but I look at the days like so:

Day 1: My goal is to do as much work in 20 minutes as possible. Kipping pull-ups allow me to do more “work” than dead-hang pull-ups, so that’s what I do. Dead hang is more difficult but strictly speaking, getting my 180 pounds over the bar 30 times kipping is more work than 15 times dead hang. Plus, more and faster pull-ups is more push-ups and squats as well.

Day 2: Focus on strength and form. Strict form on all movements, dead hang pull-ups. I’ll often strap 10 extra pounds on myself for all exercises on this day. Time is secondary to me on this day although I found it often gives me a good idea of my D3 times.

Day 3: Speed. I want to see how fast I can do the workout with quality form. Anything that slows me down is out today, that means no dead-hang pull-ups and no extra-weight.

This is my general philosophy but I also change it up sometimes depending on how I feel.

It sounds like you can go up to Level 4 but you should feel free to to do Level 3 again if you’d like.


Based on my sub-5 minute time on last weeks D2L3, I went up to L4 last night and eked out a 4’58”

I would have been faster, but the dowel I have been using as a pull-up bar has started cracking so I had to apply very controlled, smooth motion. That said, using a smooth, controlled motion is a good thing, right?

I’ll do 2 weeks at L4 and see how things go. D1 will be very challenging for me.


The move up to level 4 was a major step up. I think it took me 5 or 6 minutes just to get through the pull-ups! I started with a set of 6, then a set of 2 or 3, followed by a blur of sets of 1 or 2 reps. It was tough. And after all that, the push-ups weren’t easy. I managed a set of 20, then 10, then 5 & 5. (With a lot of grunting.) Squats were no big deal.

Time: 9’04”

Oh, and I finally got my hands on a scale. Weight: 218 lbs. I didn’t know I was still that heavy! (I think 222 was my all-time high, several years back.)


Admin wrote:

Day 3 (judgement) – “for time:”

10 pull-ups

21 push-ups

21 squats

Do 10 pull-ups, then 21 push-ups, then 21 squats as quickly as you can counting any rest time taken. Stay 1-2 repititions below failure, and do not train to failure.

Those are instructions on the “Explanation of Workouts” page (my italics).

So, not being able to complete the prescribed reps…does that equate to training to failure? Does that mean that D3 must be done at a level where I can do the prescribed reps in one set?


It just means don’t crap out on the reps. For example, you have to do 10 pull-ups before you move onto push-ups. So you can’t do 10 in a row. But maybe if you tried your hardest you could go 6, and you try to do the seventh one and you got nothing and only get halfway up. That’s training to failure, your muscles failed. Instead of training to failure, do sets 1-2 reps below your failure point, like do 5 and 5, or more likely 5, 3, 2. Or 6 and 4, or hell, 2-2-2-2-2. Whatever 1-2 reps below failure is for you.

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