by Tyler Quinn
After only a few days, 365 Challengers have made it clear they’re ready to dig in. One of the best ways for us to gauge the collective interest is by monitoring activity within the group – Facebook posts, direct emails to coaches, attendance at lectures etc. And of all the great questions that have already come in, a large number of them have pertained to a common goal among 365 Challengers regarding how to get stronger.
Fortunately, Alchemy has a class designed to help with just that, without forcing athletes to make lifting weights their singular priority. If you don’t already know, AStrong is a 30-minute class, which features two movements on any given day – a primary movement, and a secondary, more supplemental movement. Like our other classes, programming changes daily and in cycles designed to help participants get the most out of their training. It’s a great class. For those of you who take it regularly, or for you Challengers out there considering trying it out in an effort to gain some strength this month, here are three tips to help you maximize your time in AStrong.
1) It’s not a warm-up for A10/A20.
As amazing as the combination of AStrong and A10/A20 is, you have to stop thinking of your AStrong time as just a prelude to the “real workout”. AStrong is a stand-alone class, and I tell you from experience that if it is taken seriously enough, and if enough intensity and effort is put into it, it’s an incredibly taxing thirty minutes. Five sets of heavy back squats, alone, is enough to crush me. Add in a super-set of five sets of chin-ups, all in a small window of time and I’m going to be beat. Unless, of course, I’m just checking the box, going through the motions, and using the class as a warm-up. Folks, AStrong is designed to work by itself. Treat it as such and you’ll understand what I mean. There’s absolutely no problem with doubling up, but just make sure you’re not taking it easy in AStrong for the sake of the other.
2) It’s strength training, not aerobic conditioning.
You need to rest between sets. And not just because I said so, but because that’s what the science tells us. You’ve only got so much ATP, or energy, in your system. When you lift heavy, you tend to go through it extremely quickly. In order for you to get back under the load and put in the effort successfully, you need to allow that energy to restore as much as possible. If you’re finding that you’re breathing really hard during AStrong, you need to slow down. If you’re finding that you’re done in twenty minutes and not using all the allotted time, you need to slow down. In a way, you should consider each individual set as its own mini workout. Each set, is an opportunity to take a step in a stronger direction.
3) Don’t guess about your weights.
One of the coolest things about A10/A20 and APulse, is the idea that you go as hard as you can on that day, and you leave feeling better. Period. There’s no looming expectation that you lift more, or jump higher or complete more pull-ups. Yes, of course those are positives, and yes, of course we hope to achieve those things, but we don’t make them the central priority in our training. This allows athletes to have good days and bad days and feel good about it all the same. It’s one of the things that makes Alchemy what it is. On the other hand, the only way for us to be sure we’re making progress in our strength training is to measure that progress. Instead of guessing about what’s working and what isn’t, instead of guessing about how much weight you should use today, consider investing in a small journal and jotting down your weights and the movements each time you take AStrong. That way, the next time the same, or a similar movement pattern is programmed, you and your coach can make smart decisions about how best to expand your threshold and get the most out of your training. Some days, you’ll think you don’t have it in the tank, only to shock yourself with a back squat PR you never saw coming. Take the guessing out – grab a small journal and keep track of those gains.
There you have it.
We created the AStrong format because we absolutely had to be a complete fitness program. Helping athletes condition themselves is just one part of the equation. We know AStrong might not be the most popular of our classes, but I might argue it’s the most important. Our average member starts Alchemy with a decent aerobic base, but our average member arrives at Alchemy far weaker than they should be. So take the plunge if you haven’t yet. Start adding AStrong to your cycle, follow the suggestions above, and enjoy being a stronger you.
Tyler Quinn is a coach and founder of Alchemy and Union Fitness. In his spare time he enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time up North.