Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pace Ladders

"Ladders" are a way of organizing the reps of your work sets so that some sets are easy and others may be gut-wrenchingly hard. The reps will generally ramp up from a relatively easy effort, to a peak, and then start over again. So, for example, suppose you were doing bench press work sets with 225lbs, instead of doing five sets of five, you might do ladders and your rep scheme might be: x2, x4, x6, x2, x4, x6, etc. The number of "rungs" on the ladder, or how many trips up the ladder may vary. Pavel Tsatsouline's description of ladders can be found at Clarence Bass' site - Pavel's Ladder

I've been experimenting with the use of ladders within a girevoy sport timed-set protocol and I think it will be a good way to break up the mental monotony of long timed sets. I don't know if it is a new idea for GS, but the "pace ladders" I have been experimenting with are ladders of different rep tempos within a given set. So, for example, if you were doing a 5:00 set of jerks, you might start out at a slow pace, move to a medium pace, then a fast pace, and back to a slow pace and begin the process again - all without setting down the weight or switching hands.

Last night, I did a pace ladder with kettlebell snatches, changing rep tempo every 30 seconds. I used the following three-rung ladder:

:30 = 3 reps (first rung)
:30 = 6 reps (second rung)
:30 = 10 reps (third rung)
:30 = 3 reps
:30 = 6 reps
:30 = 9 reps
(switch hands and repeat)

In successive training sessions, the goal may be to gradually add ladders, add rungs (like 12 reps, for example), or add weight. You may decide to change the tempo scheme as well. For a change of pace (pun intended), give pace ladders a try.

Related Article: How To Make CMS Rank in the Long Cycle by David Whitley


Ron Ipock said...

Boris, the ladders looks fun but I do not think they will do much for GS because the ladders favor your strengths (strength) and sidesteps your weakness (being stubborn enough to go ten minutes). For example, I believe you could go three minutes with 40kg kettlebells but I do not think that is going to get you closer to a full ten minute set.

What I mean is this: all of us who have trained hardstyle have the strength and the wind to go the distance, but lack the mental toughness.

Speaking for myself, after three minutes, every rep feels like the last one but there is always another rep in me. My failure resides in listening to myself and succumbing to the suggestion to stop the pain.

In sum, I guess I am trying to say those ladders are great for what they are--and I do plan on incorporating them as supplementary training--but I think nothing can replace the value of psychologically torturing yourself with longer sets

Boris said...

I think you are missing the point - they are not to be a substitute for time with the bells, just a way to organize/allocate your effort within the given time.

I don't consider 'strength' to be a strength for me particularly. Holding onto the bells is a weakness however and pacing myself will help me hold onto the bells longer, so, as long as I am doing longer sets, it will be working my weakness.

If you opted for shorter intervals (time w. bells in hands), you would indeed be cheating yourself.

Unknown said...

Thought you should check this out. Bulk is not an excuse for poor squatting form. So unfair :-)

Ron Ipock said...

Thanks for clarifying my misunderstanding. For what it is worth, I do pace ladders all the time...just not on purpose. I am currently working on maxing out a ten minute set with 100 reps. I will start out at 8rpm but after a while I get slower and lose heart. Then I kick figuratively kick myself and kick it back up a notch. So I do oscillate my cadences...just never by design.

Boris said...

Sure thing Ron. Yes, everyone's pace ebbs and flows throughout a long set - this is just a way to regulate that and force yourself to slow down or speed up.

That guy's squat looked fairly solid to me.

Unknown said...

Yup, that is what I am so envious about.