Ask Greg: Issue 107
Greg Everett

Joe Asks: I am new to training where my primary focus is Olympic Lifts. I have been doing crossfit for almost three news now. I'm am extremely excited to push my limits and see just how far I can go with Olympic Lifting being my primary focus. I'm actually getting ready to start your traditional 12 week cycle tomorrow. A guy by the name of Jeb Smith recommended that I start there, so I said hey why not.

Here is my question: For some reason unknown to myself I have been training like 7-8 days straight, with only one day of rest in between my splits. I don't know why I continue to do this but I've been doing it for the last three-four weeks and I just can't seem to keep myself out of the gym. My question - based on that ridiculous and somewhat dumb training split, do you think it is necessary to consume as much food as possible on that single rest day? I do that - consume as much food as I possibly can on that single rest day. The rest of the training days I'm fairly strict with my intake. I just wanted a professional opinion on it.

Thank you so much for your time and THANK YOU so much for putting training cycles for Oly's online like you have it. It helps so much when you have no idea where to go and how to start.

Greg Says: Before we tackle the food question, let’s talk about the training schedule. I’m the same way in that I could spend all day every day training, and only don’t because of silly things like work, family, being too old and an insomniac. That said, it’s important to stick to your training program, at least in spirit if not in letter always. I’ve written a number of times in the past in being somewhat flexible with programs when it comes to daily intensity and volume and being willing to adjust according to how you’re feeling, but doing so in a way that preserves the intent of the program. If you’re going to start one of my programs, follow it—that is, don’t take a 5-day/week program and train 7-8 days straight, because you’re not doing the program, and if you’re not doing the program, the program can’t work the way it’s intended to (9 times out of 10 when someone says they didn’t get good results from one of the programs on, a little investigating uncovers interesting facts like that they weren’t actually doing the program).

That said, even though there are rest days on Friday and Sunday, that doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the gym entirely. In fact, I like some active recovery on non-training days more than being totally sedentary. Ideally you can get in some contrast hydrotherapy, massage, or even easy swimming in a fairly cold pool to help improve your recovery for subsequent training day, but some other activity can be helpful also, as long as it’s done in a smart way. This means activity that doesn’t have a loaded eccentric component in particular, but really you want to stay away from any legimate loading. Stick to things like dynamic warm-up type activity, foam-rolling, low-intensity rowing, static stretching and the like. This is also a good time to do some very light technique work if you can’t stand not touching a barbell. When I say light, I mean empty barbell for the most part. Go through a complete foam-rolling and dynamic warm-up session, along with any needed spot work with a softball, then do a few sets of exercises that will get you moving and address technical problems you have without taxing your recovery capacity. Examples of this would be presses from the snatch position, Sots presses, drop snatches, dip snatches, tall snatches, tall cleans, hang muscle snatch or muscle clean, overhead squats, etc.

Regarding food intake, you make it sound like you’re restricting your food normally—that is, it sounds to me like you’re intentionally not eating enough during your training days and then trying to make up for it on your rare off days. I think people very often underestimate how taxing weightlifting training really is and consequently don’t understand how much food is necessary to support it. Restricting your food intake is restricting your progress. You can certainly experiment with food timing—for example, eating fairly light and low-carb before training and eating the bulk of your carbs and even calories after you train—but I wouldn’t get too restrictive overall on a daily basis.

Cheng Asks
: I have started doing your 3 week Bulgarian Peaking Cycle program in preparation for my first competition. Thus far, I've found the program to be extremely effective and virtually all of my lifts have increased. The only issue I started having once I started this cycle is that, while I was able to hit a PR of 125kg at BW 68.5kg on my front squats, I started to faint during my back off sets. That is to say, after I dropped the weight down to 80%, I would literally unrack the barbell, do 1 rep, black out on my second rep, drop the bar and wake up on the floor. This has happened to me 3 times now and has never happened to me before. I was wondering if you can shed some light on this. I figured it's because the bar was too far into my throat and cutting off my carotid arteries, but then again, this has never happened before I got on the peaking cycle. What am I doing differently? And how can I prevent this from happening in the future? Thank you and have a good day.

Greg Says: Lightheadedness and dizziness are unfortunately such vague symptoms and attached to so many things that it can be really difficult if not impossible to figure out exactly what the cause is. Normally I would suggest exactly what you mention, to check your rack position to make sure you’re not putting pressure on the carotid arteries, but since it’s only happening during this cycle, that explanation makes less sense. However, it still could be at least part of the problem if this cycle is significantly more difficult than previous cycles have been. Fatigue certainly contributes to lightheadedness, and it may be that you’re more fatigued overall from this training cycle, but also that your fatigure from all the heavy single work is hitting you by the time you reach the back-off sets of the squats so that your rack position is in fact sagging enough to cause a mechanical problem, or it may be that you’re becoming dehydrated or tired enough during these sessions that the lightheadedness occurs. I would suggest ensuring you’re drinking more water throughout the entire session, breathing more between reps of your back off squat sets, focusing on maintaining the proper rack position, and releasing some of your air as you recover from each squat to reduce the pressure and vagal stimulation. And most importantly, the moment you start feeling dizzy, drop the bar and sit down. Don’t try to finish a set or rep if you’re dizzy—you’re inviting injury. I would be irresponsible as well to not suggest you talk to a doctor about the problem.

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