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Blog 32 – SCIENCE!

Blog 32 – SCIENCE! 

A member asked me the other day, “How do you workout, Dylan?” (… but it sounded an awful lot like, “Do you even lift, bro?”)  I gave a long-winded answer – per usual – about using COVID to play around with and test a 12-week program based on the conjugate method; a method made popular by at Westside Barbell in Columbus, OH (for those of you who have heard of them… No, I am not on nor do I support the use of steroids.).  It’s not really as fancy as it sounds. Foundationally, it isn’t that much different than any other strength program by breaking up movement patterns and intensities over the course of the week. The main components that define the conjugate method though are:

  • 2 maximum effort days and 2 dynamic effort days/week 
  • A focus on lift variations (ex. squat = box squat or deadlift = rack pull, etc.)
  • A focus on accessory work 

It’s one of the first sport specific methods that prioritized general physical preparedness, or GPP as it’s popularly called these days (machines like the reverse hyper and the belt squat, light sled drags/pulls for distance or time, and the use of bands/chains for accommodating resistance were popularized by Westside Barbell). Anyway, I’m probably missing something, but that’s the basics. What’s really important here is why I chose to utilize this method rather than, say, a methodology like CrossFit, Easy Strength, Starting Strength, the Coan Method, Wendler, the Bulgarian Method, etc. The bottom line being, I like steroids. ( that’s a joke) In reality, the method prioritizes the use of variation and accessory, which ultimately decreases the range of motion and use compound/multiple joint exercises (reducing wear and tear), while at the same time increasing loading capacity and the ability to more specifically target weaker parts of the body (producing GAINZ). All things that benefit a person with a fused spine, arthritis, decreased muscle structure/function, and a locked ankle.  

But the point of this blog isn’t to get lost in my affinity for the conjugate method (as Dr. Paul likes to state, “Methods are many, principles are few.” A lot of people have gotten REALLY strong, fit, buff, toned, HUGE!, whatever doing a lot of different things.) The point of those blog is to give you a better idea of why we chose to give you a certain number of reps at a certain percentage or loading variation, and better empower you to choose your own loading during our Group Strength and Conditioning or Strength Tribe classes. Enter Prilepin’s Chart, or as I stated in the title, “SCIENCE!” (Caveat to all my scientist readers… this chart was developed through the observation of high level training athletes in Russia – I know more steroids. – and NOT through a quantative scientific method. We’ll call it qualitative science so you don’t troll me in the comments… or maybe just “Bro” science.) Prilepin’s Chart looks like this:

Chart screenshot taken from Conjugate Strength and Conditioning by Jason Brown, MS, CSCS of BP Training Systems.  

Its basic claim is that any weight relative to a person’s maximal capacity can be utilized as a ticket to board the GAINZ Train. The Chart goes one step farther than a traditional percentage/rep max calculator chart by also prescribing an optimal rep range. (There’s also an intensity/intent component to the chart that is not included for the sake of simplicity here… Did someone just say foreshadowing?) Now certainly, the chart is not perfect. There are many anomalies or circumstances that work outside of the chart. For example, my central nervous system does not work well enough for me to lift above 90% for 4-10 reps, so I spend a bulk of my strength work between 80 and 90 (something a program like Easy Strength promotes). But, and keeping our sciency theme, almost all of us will fit within 1 standard deviation from the mean of this chart. In bro terms, the vast majority of this chart applies to the vast majority of people. And in reality, you’ve already experienced this at play in class. 

Every strength session (5×5 @ 75%, 7×1 @ 92%+, EMOM 10 2 Snatches @ 65%, etc.) that we do has bits and pieces of this loading framework, but it also appears in our WOD training sessions, like when we do ‘30 Clean and Jerks For Time’ you’re probably working at a weight that is around 50-60% of your loading capacity. OR if you were to take a ‘21-15-9’ we’re looking at 45 total reps, which this chart would say we’re working at about 40% of total capacity. There are certainly limits on this as well, like the consideration that many of us don’t have a true/tested 1RM, which would make the loading prescription calculation lower than “optimal.” We may have never thought about our workouts this way, but again “methods are many, principles are few.” *reader squints eyes and nods head in intellectual approval*

So as we look at workouts moving forward, whether in GSC or Strength Tribe or even Bootcamp, know that regardless of the work out that is written you have the ability to change the weight and reps (up AND down) to fit more optimally to your body and goals. And when all else fails… STER… NO! Ask your coach.


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We are still here!

We all know that PDXstrength exists to provide fun and friendly functional movement in an open and accepting environment. We obviously have never had to face such a difficult obstacle such as COVID and navigating through these unchartered territories has been scary, frustrating, and at times demoralizing. We did our best to buck up, zoom the shit out of classes and keep our community tight and strong. Each member has been designated a coach and we even had teams participating in light hearted challenges to keep us going. Then we got the “ok” to open our doors back up and start back with classes at the gym. To be honest, this was something I really wasn’t comfortable with and I didn’t want to jump the gun. Instead of indoor classes, we started back slowly with outdoor classes using minimal equipment, with creative programming and spirited coaching to keep the spark alive. Now we are supplementing  small indoor classes, requiring masks and not programming cardio indoors so we aren’t huffing and puffing. We  have had wait lists for these classes and we are doing our best to add more… but we are honestly at a stand still right now. The fitness industry is obviously struggling… and PDXstrength has been hit hard. The future is so uncertain and I’ve been battling burnout, but our amazing coaches have been the reason PDXstrength has not sunk yet. Every single coach stepped up to the challenge and has gone ABOVE AND BEYOND any expectations. I’m so grateful and thankful… I can’t even put it in words how they have surpassed my wildest expectations. It’s because of their determination and grit, that I have not given up on PDXstrength. I’ve come to realize that is might be something we have to battle for many months, and I’m ready to come back out of hiding and saddle up. 

I also have all of YOU to thank! Those that have stuck with us, those that have had our backs, those of you that are still keeping our PDXstrength spirit alive!

COVID would have sucked 1 million times more if we didn’t all show up for one another on the zooms. Our community flourished, and that’s on you.  You responded to our follow up emails with nothing but love. You provided valuable feedback so that we could make our offerings fit our members needs. 

Together, we proved that PDXstrength doesn’t need a physical space to provide excellent functional workouts and the connection we need to get through these tough times.

If you have any free time please consider rating us on Google or Yelp…. tell your friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers to try out a class. We are not done yet… and hope to see you outside, inside or on zoom soon!

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Blog 19 – Week 10!

Blog 19 – Week 10!

Holy cow, Week 10. Blog 19… We chatted a little bit about this during our Happy Hour (or Two and a Half Hour), but I certainly did not think I would be on the tenth week (with subsequent weeks to follow) of blog writing when I started Week 1, Blog 1, and I would imagine many of you can relate to the well-I-guess-this-is-a-new-thing thoughts over the course of the shutdown. Without judgment, I will remind you that this is short-term. Yes, maybe it’s been far longer than we would have liked, but in the grand scheme of things we have time to change the habits we don’t like and keep the ones we do. I, for one, have enjoyed the writing process. It’s been my connection to all of you while the other coaches have crushed it on Zoom and The ‘Gram, amongst other things. Will I keep up the 2x/week pace that I’ve currently set? Probably not, but don’t be surprised if it becomes a more regular thing as we phase back in to reality. I’ve also enjoyed some of our other community touch-points that we’ve created, and hope that we can get in to a routine that includes things like dance breaks/warm-ups and happy hours (5:30 stretch series and beers, anyone?). Will this be an everyday thing or as regular as it is now? Probably not, but you can bet that we’ll ways to keep what we (and you) like, and ditch what we don’t.

And on to the challenge, we are going to move away from the team challenge for this week and give an additional individual point instead. *Cues lasers (pew pew), spotlights (bonggg), fireworks(BOOM BANG), and chorus singing “Individual Points”(AAAhhhaaaHHH)* So for 1 individual point, we are requesting that you take the time to leave a review on any of the social platforms (google, FB, etc.). It may seem like a small thing, but it does help raise our awareness in the community. We like many other small businesses have seen better days (PS you should totally give your other favorite places reviews too). And while we aren’t on a mission to take over all of Portland (or St Johns for that matter), we do want to grow our reach, bring folks in (or back in) to our community, and do our part to support our little corner of the world. 

That’s probably it for me on this blog. Shorter than usual by about 100 words… Maybe I just keep typing to fill space… like I used to do in school… Nope. Nevermind. I’m done. Kind of. Maybe I go back and take out all the contractions… (Totally snuck over 450 words. BOOM!) Ok bye-bye, 


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Thanks for the kind Words xoxo

Hello Coaches,

I just wanted to reach out and express my gratitude to each and every one of you. I have always said that PDXStrength has been a home for me. I was introduced to the gym in 2013 and have watched it grow…I have grown. Through life’s ups and downs, PDXStrength has been a constant for me. A place that when I walk through the door I feel welcome, like I belong. There has NEVER been a workout that I have regretted. Now, maybe there were days when I looked at the white board and saw that what was posted on FB was only a glimpse of the programming for the day and I wanted to go to my car for my jump rope and not look back, but every time I showed up, put in the work and did my best (for that day) I always left proud. This gym has seen my blood, sweat and I unabashedly admit, my tears. I have seen coaches come and go and I have truly enjoyed them all. I have seen members come and go and while I was happy to see some move on Emoji I have also formed many friendships. This is truly a community that I cherish.

In those beginning days of uncertainty, before PDXStrength temporarily closed its doors, it was still a place of solace for me. I showed up to the outdoor classes, quickly adapted to touching less equipment, being more vigilant about cleaning and washing. I held on because that is what you do when you love something. I didn’t know what was next, I didn’t know if each time I left if it would be the last time for a while. Meanwhile, an amazing thing was happening. You, the coaches, were working together to make sure we all still had what we needed to be a community and to work and be healthy and be safe. You NEVER let us down. I have found that PDXStrength is not a person, a building or a location; it is a pulsing thing that is alive. They say home is where the heart is, and I can feel every one of your hearts here in my home as I have transitioned to Zoom and Instagram workouts, supplemental programming, happy hours, blogs and personal attention through CHOMA-19. Thank you for being my rock. Thank you for being my constant. Thank you for being my home.

Nigel, your thoughtful programming and coaches notes make me smile. I can hear every WOD read in your voice and I always want to make you proud. You are the professor who everyone loves and turns to.

Laura, your energy is just as strong through streaming. You have busted your ass to make sure people have equipment, swag, modifications and a place to have fun. I hope that dance parties continue to be a part of warm-ups even when we have bikes and rowers available to all. Nigel, get ready.

Christie, I am stoked to be a part of CHOMA-19. I would have been pleased with any one of our awesome coaches as a captain, but this fit just seems right. I feel like you are my coach, cheerleader, friend and therapist at times! #chomingtogetya

Courtney, the home workouts have been great! There are days where I can’t motivate myself to do a Zoom class or it just doesn’t work for me. There were a few days where I wasn’t ready to adapt and needed familiar movements. I can always turn to you and Steve for simple and accessible alternatives when I need it.

Dylan, one of your recent blogs said something to me that I couldn’t previously put into words. Or maybe I thought I was crazy for the feeling I had. You said you are able to pretend like you are talking to each of us individually. Sir, I want you to know, that is EXACTLY how I feel when I read your words. Like you are talking to me. Like you have something to say that you know I need to hear. Keep it up!

Jessica, you have helped me turn off my brain when I can’t. You have brought peace that I cannot always summon on my own. In these crazy times, we need that more than ever. While my favorite part of your yoga classes in person was the oils and the human connection at the end, the light in me still sees and feels the light in you virtually. Namaste.

Jocelyn. Emoji Oh, Jossy. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. You have shown your fierce ability to adapt and persevere. You are a great leader who is also very human and relatable. We may say #notaweirdgym but we all know we are and that is what sets us a part and why we love it. Thank you for having this dream and creating this community.

Thank you all. I love you all. And I miss you all.

Kate Nolan

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