Using the Biofeedback/Gym Movement Protocol Part II: Programming Workouts

by Chris on December 23, 2010

In Part I of this short series I gave you guys a basic introduction to biofeedback/gym movement. I also gave a quick idea on how to use it. In this segment, I want to talk about a couple of the different ways I have used biofeedback myself.

I started experimenting with the biofeedback protocol a while ago and at first I was really overwhelmed. I got the idea behind “testing” movements but as far as just applying it to a workout for some reason I had some confusion. What kind of movements should I test? When should I test them? How? And so on.

So I tried a few different methods. First off, I follow a fairly minimalistic training approach. I don’t use machines and I have a somewhat limited number of movements I perform. My own training methodology aside, here are two different ways that I used biofeedback to structure workouts.

One method I used was head into the gym and test each of the following: squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, pullup and row. Basically I just made sure I was getting one movement from each category (lower, upper push, upper pull). Simple enough. The one from each category that tested best I would perform in that workout.

A different way I tried (which I actually preferred) was actually start out with a plan for the day. For example, I would head in and test specific movements that I preplanned such as squat, bench and row. I would test each movement and if it didn’t test well, test a variation. From there I followed the steps laid out in part I of this series. After finding my movements for the day I would sometimes test my loads (honestly depended on how the weight felt and my mood). Whatever weight I selected I would perform reps until excessive tension, loss of speed or change in technique. I usually performed sets until either the movement stopped testing well with range of motion or when I felt like I was expending too much effort on the movement. Really. Simple.

To give you guys someone else’s perspective on how to apply biofeedback to your training, I asked Dave Dellanave to give me a brief description of how he uses it:

“I’ve been training using Gym Movement for all of 2010 and very little has changed about my day-day training. One of my primary goals is the deadlift. I don’t now why other than it produces a great physique and I seem to be fairly good at it.

The first thing I do in the gym is test my primary goal, the deadlift. Almost every day deadlifting tests well. So I will then test my load. This is almost completely arbitrary. I’ll look back at my logs and say “have I hit a 475 double yet? no? ok then let’s see if I can do that.” If a pull around 405 is easy and tests well, I’ll load up 475 and pull a double. If it’s easy and test well, I’ll do another. If so heavy doesn’t test well, I’ll drop into the 300′s and see what I can do there. One important thing: I NEVER miss lifts.

Next I’ll test secondary goals/movements. During the months before a TSC I will typically focus more on the snatch and pull-ups for the contest. Lately I have been doing a lot of push pressing, rows, dumbbell bench, chins and pull-ups. With those movements, I will typically work with the heaviest load that tests well. Sometimes that means one-arm rows with a 56kg for doubles, or it might mean sets of 20 with a 32kg bell.

A typical day is 30-50,000lbs of volume, and always under 1 hour working time.”

I asked Dave if that meant he deadlifted (or tried to) every time he went to the gym, and what he did if it did not test well:

“I can’t remember a time when deadlifting didn’t test well. The only times I can remember where heavy weight was a no-go is for about a week or two after a new 1RM.

In any case, if my goal movement doesn’t test well I just do something else. Secondary movements for me: snatching, long cycle, bottoms up pressing, lots of rowing movements, mace swings, heavy tire strikes, tall box jumps. The list goes on. When people get so worried about what to do if their goal movement doesn’t test well I get concerned for them. Are you really that limited in your imagination? You stop doing an exercise when you set a new PR or when it stops testing well. Last month I trained 22 days of the month and moved 1.06 million pounds of volume.

Prior to the TSC I was traveling a lot, I trained less than 10 times in the month before the competition and I still set new PRs and moved up the ranking pretty significantly.”

So what does this mean to you? First of all, test the lifts that are relevant to your goals. Of the two examples I gave of ways I used this method I feel the second was better. Starting with a plan allowed me to shoot for the movements I wanted, or needed, to train. The same goes for Dave’s example. Also, don’t forget to train antagonistic (opposite) movements. If you do a press, do a pull. This should be a rule no matter what kind of training method you use.

When I first started exploring the biofeedback method I wasn’t sure where/how to start and I was constantly looking for examples of the ways other people applied it. I hope this helps out anyone else who has had a similar problem.

In part 3 of this series, I will be addressing some of the criticisms that have been made about the biofeedback/gym movement protocol. If anyone has any questions/comments, leave them below!

In case you missed it:

Using the Biofeedback/Gym Movement Protocol Part I: The Basics

{ 1 comment }

wayne capone November 28, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I am looking at all these articles on Biofeedback training.
I was wondering if you are still using it?
Why or why not?

From a powerlifting perspective – you said option 2 you went in with a plan.
So if it was to squat and it tested well it sounds like you squatted. I presume
this means a competition style squat. I interpret this to main you did not try
other variations of the squat to see if they tested better – i.e. pause squat,
front squat, Anderson squat, box squat etc.

I would appreciate any feedback you might give. Thanks.

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