With the “Cindy” Challenge in full swing, many of us are doing homework to improve our score. We’ve been discussing it (both in person and on the “Cindy” Challenge Facebook page), but there are still questions about the best approach.
The first step is to determine your weakness. Think back to the baseline and consider what caused you to take the most breaks. Pullups, pushups, or squats? A few people had problems with pullups and this was usually due to technique. If this was you, contact us to schedule a skill session on kipping as soon as possible. If you took a lot of breaks during squats, it’s probably time for some tough love: suck it up and don’t stop just because it hurts. There are a lot of big muscles involved in the squat and you can usually keep moving through fatigue and muscle burn. With the right mindset and a few squat workouts in the meantime, you should be able to move through the squats at the finals. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask.
This leaves pushups, the limiter for most people. To make significant improvements, some homework will be required. In the remainder of this post, I’ll point out a couple approaches. Before I get any further though, I’d like to offer some overall advice: resist the urge to apply these approaches to 2 or 3 movements simultaneously. You might be able to successfully apply the following to pushups and squats together. If you also try to add pullups into the mix, you’re unlikely to make progress on any of the movements.
Greasing the Groove
We wrote a post about greasing the groove a long time ago. The is a proven method to increase your pullup and pushup numbers. The only modification I will suggest is not to do sets of 75% of your max – this is probably too many pushups. Try 4-5 sets each day of around 50% of your max pushups and pay close attention to how your shoulders and chest are feeling. If they get sore for several days in a row or pushups seem harder for a few days, take a couple days off and start again with smaller sets.
A “Cindy”-Specific Idea
Instead of training to broadly increase your pushups, why not take an approach that is more specific to “Cindy”? The following idea has only been loosely tested and not by me, but it’s the approach I’ll be using and have already started.
First, determine your goal for the “Cindy” finals. Let’s say you scored 12 rounds on the baseline and would like 15 rounds at the finals. Now calculate your pace. There are 1200 seconds in “Cindy”, so divide that by your goal. For 15 rounds, your target pace is 1200/15 = 80 seconds. In other words, you’ll need to complete one round every 80 seconds to score 15 rounds on “Cindy”.
This approach involves doing sets of pushups at your target “Cindy” pace for 20 minutes. At the “Cindy” finals, we’ll have to complete 10 pushups per round at our target pace. To improve our pushups over the next several weeks though, we’ll want to work up to that. If you’ve set a reasonable goal based on your baseline goal, you can probably start at 7 pushups per round. In our 15 round example, that means: perform 7 pushups every 80 seconds for 15 rounds (20 minutes). Try it today. 3-4 days later, try 8 pushups per round for the first half and 7 per round for the second half. In another 3-4 days, go 8 pushups for per round. Continue until you’ve reached 10 pushups per round for the full 20 minutes.
As with greasing the groove, the idea is not to max out, so don’t do 7 pushups straight if you won’t be able to keep it up for all 20 minutes. If your goal for “Cindy” is fewer than 20 rounds, you’ll have time to rest during the pushups each round. Do the same here. For 7 pushups per round, do 4 pushups, rest 10-20 seconds, then 3 pushups.
Improving your weaknesses usually takes some extra work. Whether by greasing the groove or using a more specific approach, if you put in a bit of extra work, you’re sure to PR at the finals!