Earlier this spring I wrote a post about an experiment of combining Nemesis with 5/3/1 to increase my strength over the summer. That actually went pretty well and I have some observations and feedback to share.
Nemesis is a LOT of work
I'm not afraid of doing work. CrossFit gets people used to doing a lot of work and volume in a short amount of time. I’m not new to working hard in the gym, but following a Nemesis program was often very brutal. Putting just as much time into recovery (mobility, diet and sleep) is imperative to follow Nemesis.
Strength Gains Will Happen
I started my Nemesis experiment with shoulder press and 5/3/1 on the other lifts. I lifted 5-6 days a week, and I saw good progress. My shoulder press 1RM did go up but more noticeably were my muliti-rep maxes. Not only did I improve my overall strength but my muscular endurance improved quite a bit.
1 Month Isn’t Enough
I spent 1 month with each lift in a Nemesis style program. I made progress, I was extremely sore during the squat month, and it was awesome. But there is a downside. During each month I increased my volume so much that my body responded with increased strength/capacity to meet that volume, but as soon as the volume dropped off the strength dropped off as well.
More permeant progress would take 3-6 months of steady work. Our bodies are amazing things and can respond impressively to an increased stimulus, but keep the gains we have to make our bodies think it is going to be needed forever and just a few weeks. As this was an experiment I wasn’t going to change my plan part of the way through.
Don’t Kid Yourself
I thought I would be able to do some CrossFit and follow my experiment at the same time. This was not possible. Nemesis took way too much out of my and my body just couldn’t do it all. If you want to do a dedicated strength program then do that. If you want to do CrossFit then do that. Doing both well is not going to happen.
Although the 1RM of my major lifts went up and then back down over the summer I don’t count this as a failure. I learned a lot about how much work my body could withstand and I improved my squat technique a lot. I also have more knowledge and understanding of strength training to help my clients reach their goals.
Now go move better.