Top Five Misconceptions About Solace Strong: Part 1March 8, 2017
#1: Taking CrossFit During Solace Strong.
Welcome to our five-part series on Solace Strong, clarifying the most common misconceptions about our in-house strength cycle. The first article in the series will attempt to explain why we do not allow any CrossFit while enrolled in Solace Strong. This rule creates the most common question for the program:
“Why can’t I CrossFit while taking Solace Strong?”
This rule is probably the most contentious for a program housed within, and hosted by, a CrossFit gym, so I really look forward to clearing it up.
The real answer is that you CAN, in fact, do some CrossFit or conditioning while taking Solace Strong. Really, I promise. Just not during your first one or two times through the cycle. Not because those other activities – CrossFit, Gymnastics, Body, your 5 mile run, etc. aren’t good, but because I understand and deeply respect how challenging they are. Surprised? Let me explain…
Since the first Solace Strong cycle began back in October, 2014, it has had the same clear mission: establish good technique, then get all participants as strong as possible, as quickly as possible. That mission drives the entire structure of Solace Strong, from the programming to the managing of recovery. It’s that latter category, the managing of recovery, that is the main subject of confusion.
Solace Strong operates under the assumption, which has been true 100% of the time to date (through 11 cycles and approximately 175 unique lifters), that until proven otherwise, you are a Novice. This may sound insulting at first, but keep in mind that we have had lifters who have squatted 400+lbs before ever stepping foot into Solace. How could they possibly be Novices? Are you off your rocker Wolf?!?
The answer is that the categories Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced are not determined by how long ago you started training or even by how much weight you lift, but by how quickly you can do a workout, adapt to and recover from that workout, and add more weight to the bar in that same lift. A Novice can do this every 2-4 days, an Intermediate every 7-14 days, and an Advanced lifter takes several weeks to months to go through that process.
This means we can have a 500lb squatter who is a Novice and a 200lb squatter who is an Advanced lifter. How? A 330lb offensive lineman at Ohio State can squat 500 on Monday, and by Thursday or so, be adapted to and recovered from that work; he’s ready to squat 505 by Thursday. He is a Novice even though he is squatting 500+. Whereas a 115 lb woman who is 58, and started training at 53 with a 15kg empty bar, might very well need a month or two between squatting 200 and being ready to do 205, with a series of lighter workouts in between. She is an Advanced lifter.
Knowing that, which would you rather be: a Novice or an Advanced lifter? Unless you’re an idiot, you’d rather be a Novice! Far from being an insult, it is EXACTLY where you want to be, because you can make progress very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that for your first cycles or two, you can make progress in every lift, every single time you do it, which is every couple of days!
In Solace Strong, that’s exactly what we do. This style of programming is called a Linear Progression, and has been made famous by the book Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark RIppetoe, upon which the cycle’s methods are based.
As already mentioned, everyone taking Solace Strong is assumed to be a Novice until proven otherwise. After 28 months and 11 cycles, exactly 0 people have thus far proven otherwise. So the Linear Progression is our programming of choice for people taking the cycle for the first time.
So how does this relate to why you can’t do CrossFit during your first 1-2 cycles? Remember that the ability to make rapid progress as a Novice depends on recovering from the workout you did only two or three days before. That can and will only happen in the absence of competition for your limited resources of recovery. Only if you dedicate all your recovery resources to this pursuit, can you experience the magic of the rapid Novice gains. This is how we’ve put 50-100lbs on many of our men’s squat in only 8 weeks, and 35-60lbs on many of our women’s. This is what allows us to stay true to our mission of getting people as strong as possible, as quickly as possible.
One of the reasons CrossFit works well and revolutionized the fitness world is because it is legitimately hard. Doing high volume, hard work is in direct opposition to using your recovery resources to make the magical “Novice Gains” that allow you to add weight to the bar every few days, and accumulate huge amounts of poundage over the two months.
With that said, once you’ve taken one or two cycles, that magic has run its course. You are likely no longer a Novice and you won’t be adding weight to the bar as rapidly. Hence, Solace Strong also won’t be placing as much demand on your limited recovery resources. It is at this time that adding a limited amount of other fitness activities becomes acceptable.
Not to be misunderstood: Solace Strong is still a strength program and the goal is to get stronger, even beyond the Novice phase. So you can’t do CrossFit or Body classes 17 times per week, along with your 3x weekly strength program, and expect to make good strength gains. But 1-2 sessions per week of either personalized mono-structural conditioning, metabolic conditioning or CrossFit/Barbell/Body class can be added without compromising the positive effects of the strength cycle (depending on the individual).
I hope this article helps to clear up what is a commonly misunderstood rule of the Solace Strong cycle! If you have any further questions please feel free to stop by the gym to ask and keep an eye out for the next article: No.2: Does getting strong require me to get fat?