“WOD” are you doing and the Art and Science of Auto Regulation Training Part 2

As discussed in part 1 there is a way in which training can become a bit to helter skelter, and too much chaos. Sometimes you want to train a different style, sometimes you want to add some variation to training, sometimes you are fried and can’t train well, other times you have to work around an injury a sick kid or what life is throwing at you at the moment. All of these things can add to the variation or training and end up just becoming a spinning wheel where you are not making successful gains or progress and may end up going backwards if not provided the right stimulus.
In part one of this article I brought your attention to the much needed use of progressive overload as a principal when dealing with a Crossfit COs recommendations for a WOD. Today I want to address another training style that can posit similar spinning wheel problems. It is known as auto regulation which is basically training instinctively often a result of one of the above variables that dictate training time which can limit stimulus. Now I’m not saying that Auto Regulation is better than having a program, but in some case scenarios, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. So the question invariably is: “How do I make it work?” The main answers are follow:

1.) Prioritize the A set or Main Lifts
2.) Have a track record or Personal bests and total cumulative volume on key lifts
3.) Have a goal and a time line to achieve a goal compete in a competition or tell a friend your plans.
4.) Look in past journals to establish week’s volume in tonnage on certain lifts Bsquat/Deadlift/Fsquat/ Presses /Pulls or Rows
5.) The first lift is the main lift with the most bang for your buck. You don’t want to do pushups or pistols squats, but rather what will recruit and fatigue the greatest number of motor units in the least amount of time. So Squat variations/deadlift variations/and any press variations/or pull up variation will be best.
These are generic examples interpretation would be unrealistic when comparing ratios and deficits

Compound Lifting Groups

Tonnage @ 1-3 @6-8


Lift Rep maximums 1,3,5,7


Posterior Chain (Glutes Hams Erectors)

Deadlift (12000)

RDL Week (10000)

RDL Day (6000)

Deadlift 315X1

Deadlift 300X3

Romanian Deadlift 265X5

Anterior Chain (Quads)

Fsquat Day (4000)

Bsquat Weeks (8000)

Fsquat 265X1

Bsquat 305X1

Upper body Presses

(Chest Shoulders Tris)

Inc Bench (3000)

Bench  (4000)

Inc 245X1

Bench 265

Upper body Pulls

Chin up (4500)

Pullup (3500)

Chinup 75+BW X2

Pullup 50+BW X1


Inc DB Curl (1125)



CG Decline Bench



 By having your weeks tonnage as a lifter you can modify frequency to prioritize a lift and a specific volume. Understand that deadlift is back squat and back squat is not front squat when it comes to tonnage they can both play into tonnage/cumulative volume, but the greater tonnage with rom will likely carryover best to achieving progressive overload.

On a similar topic, this may be why when you train DB work in the place of barbell work it can be hard to achieve direct carry over unless specific tonnage/volume stimulus is met at least this is a theory of mine. The body may not respond to submaximal loads without increased volume of sets or reps.
An example would be:
Phase 1.) Incline Press 225 6X5 = 6750 (accumulation)
Phase 2.) Incline DB Press (95+95) 5×3 = 2850 (intensification)
Doing the math you can see about a 4 thousand pound deficit, so can the body hypertrophy? Yes, but it may not carry over as well to barbell press unless you increased sets at, or greater than the volume/tonnage seen with the barbell, or better still prioritize barbell on intensification, and dumbell on accumulation phases. From my vantage the above would create a type of peaking for DB work or detraining depending on your perspective. That being said you can and will get stronger on DB press when using progressive overload. This however is a theory of mine and is a point of contention between myself, and a colleague of the iron game. This is partially why I think Undulating periodization is better at producing hypertrophy than linear periodization.

That being said you can and will get stronger on DB press when using progressive overload, but it could but in my mind would be considered a misstep when approaching progression in the above fashion unless correct stimulus is created. I would suggest testing the theory out, also understandably DB and BB work are often complimentary to one another and would be best if were done together rather than separately.

In conclusion, I hope that this provides you the reader with a better understanding of progressive overload when trying to make gains and deal with what life throws at you.

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