In for results

We’ve inadvertently started coaching a number of Crossfit athletes – causing a bit of a rumble in our client community discussion group, the ‘inner circle’, with much talk of wall-balls and ‘AMRAPS’.
Not our thing, but there’s a lot we admire about Crossfit. The mentality is to keep you on your toes, both literally and in adaptation. In theory, Crossfit is about pursuing as many opposing attributes of performance as possible. In reality, the workouts can be deliberately hellish, chasing difficulty and vomit over results. Stereotypically it is also dangerously coached, without any semblance of progressive overload.
No hate intended. If Crossfit is coached intelligently with some big-picture oversight it can be a potent form of conditioning. Crossfit athletes have built up an incredible work ethic too – they make excellent clients. Throw any program at them and they’ll eat it up.
Unlike Crossfit, here at Propane we’re not interested in tiring people out. We’re in it for the results: and a particular one at that. I’m not being facetious when I say this – many forms of exercise are specifically designed to feel like you’ve trained, rather than being intended to elicit a specific adaptation.
(A mechanistic perspective of most sports makes them seen insane – for example, I’m a big fan of yoga. We could look at yoga and say that it’s shit for hypertrophy.. but of course it is. That’s not the point. And don’t get me started on all those guys kicking a ball along the grass. Would be so much easier if they didn’t have that guy standing in the way of the net..).
Anyway, remember Colin?
He’s an engineer, 50, shredded, with holy quads, built after ACL reconstruction. Colin has a reactionary approach to AMRAP, which he calls ‘AFRAN’.


As few reps as needed

Colin has a single goal in mind: To look good naked. Luckily, training to look good naked often precipitates the health benefits too: 2 birds KOed, 1 stone.
Colin gets it. He’s focused on the average of his efforts, rather than decimating himself. As a result, he has nothing to prove by lifting big weights or testing his body’s limits, especially after his knee surgery.
Instead he measures a few key performance indicators, doesn’t stress about his weight fluctuations and looks at the minimum effective dose to elicit his desired response.
Of course, there are unhinged bodybuilders and powerlifters that live their lives gung-ho-YOLO-balls-out, who probably use the sport as a channel for their mental illness. But the world class guys are extremely calculated, both with their programming and scheduled offseasons
More isn’t necessarily better – you’re a human with limited recovery capacity, and at risk of injury if you’re constantly pushing the limits.
Paul carter from Lift-run-bang:
The people who oppose doing the minimal amount to reach a desired result might throw out words like “lazy” or draw some kind of unsubstantiated parallel like “great workers don’t show up for a job and just do the minimal amount.  They go above and beyond.
The problem there is that going above and beyond at Office Max doesn’t have physiological factors that are part of the training equation.
You don’t extra points for suffering. #beastmode is redundant – there is such a thing as doing too much.
Paul goes on to caveat that the ‘minimum effective dose’ may actually end up being quite a lot of work. But it’s still the minimum to get the job done.
‘Minimum effective dose’ doesn’t mean lazy either. If you’re not doing ‘enough’, you won’t see progress. Keep doing more until your progress no longer accelerates. If you’re doing more than you recover from, you won’t see progress. Scale it back until your progress no longer accelerates. As a drug-free lifter you can’t just always throw more volume at the problem.

Here’s a super complicated flow chat I made for you:


The art is in knowing:
– What constitutes too much or too little volume
– Monitoring sleep and recovery
– How you define progress.
That’s where we monitor the key performance indicators:
The steps:
– Know what you want to achieve
– Find the minimum effective dose to achieve it
– Track the key inputs
– Track the key outputs

What rate of progress are you willing to accept?

There’s a sliding scale of costs and sacrifices for different rates of progress: if you come to me wanting to lose 2kg per week, we can do that if you stop eating. But it won’t be pretty.
If you’re in some kind of rush to add 40kg to your squat, feel free to jump on to the Smolov squat program, but I won’t be joining you.
This is why we sound like broken records when we talk about IIFYL , and why we think low-carb diets are a bad idea: . The best diet is the one you stick to – and if that means exchanging a little speed of progress for a huge amount of suffering, that’s a solid deal.
Start looking for the minimum effective doses in your life: how much coffee do you really need to get you through the day ? Could you try scaling back, restoring your sensitivity to it and get more out of less?
Losing fat? How high can you squeeze your calories while still progressing within your target weight loss range?

Still got the munchies during a diet? How far can you shave calories out of your snack (replacing with more volume) and still remain feeling satisfied?


Have a play around with the concept. Until next time.

The Next Step

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