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Hub and spoke programming is a way to focus on one movement while maintaining a handful of other areas. Perhaps you’ve just learned the value of the kettlebell swing and want to get in quality swing practice without losing ground on your other key exercises. Or maybe you need to devote a lot of specific work to improve your pull ups. Whatever skill you’re trying to develop, the hub and spoke method will allow you to do just that, without losing ground on everything else in the process. 
 
The concept is that one lift becomes the "hub," and 3-5 other exercises become the "spokes." The hub can be an exercise you're trying to improve or an exercise designed to target a lagging muscle group. The spokes are exercises that target different muscle groups so as to minimize redundancy between the hub exercise and the spoke exercises.
 
ring push ups
If a particular muscle group or movement is giving you trouble, the hub and spoke concept will provide the needed focus. 
 

What It Looks Like

For the following example, the goblet squat is the “hub” exercise. Pull ups, push ups, and swings make up the “spoke” exercises. The workout starts at the hub, and then alternates between a spoke exercise and the hub until you’ve rotated through all of your spoke movements. One round of this method looks like this: 
 
  • Set 1: Goblet squat
  • Set 2: Pull ups
  • Set 3: Goblet squat
  • Set 4: Push ups
  • Set 5: Goblet squat
  • Set 6: Swings
 
To determine the number of rounds you should do, think about how many sets were performed in the first round. In the example above, 3 rounds amounts to 18 work sets. Assuming 3 minutes of rest between each set and 30 seconds for each set itself, this is a 63-minute workout after warm ups.
 

What About Sets and Reps?

Assign rep brackets according to the training target. To determine your rep ranges, consider what you’re trying to accomplish with each exercise in the workout. What is the purpose for the exercise? Strength? Hypertrophy? Work capacity?
 
This principle applies equally to hub and spoke exercises. If push ups or pull ups are your hub exercise because you struggle with them, reps will be low by necessity. Conversely, if you’re using standing calf raises as a spoke, reps will likely be in the 8-12 range for hypertrophy.
 
It’s generally best to use the same repetition ranges and level of intensity for each exercise in a workout, and for each workout in a training phase. But sometimes there are exceptions to the rule, and that’s exactly what the hub and spoke method is designed to address. Since you’re addressing a weakness with an unusual amount of work, it may not always be practical to use the same narrow rep bracket for all exercises in the hub and spoke workout.
 

Another Arrow in your Programming Quiver

There are no hard and fast rules about how to integrate the hub and spoke model into your training program. It is just another arrow to keep in your quiver when considering how to achieve your fitness goals. Use it for each workout, or for only one session. No matter your training goal, preferred exercises, or training experience, the hub and spoke method is an effective way to organize your workouts.
 
Below is a narrative slideshow about the hub and spoke method. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below. 
 

 

This Week’s Training:

Volume: 80,850lb (Last Week: 49,930lb)
 
Significant Lifts:
  • Low bar squat: 260lb × 7
  • Deadlift: 405lb × 7
  • Flat dumbbell bench: 180lb × 10
 
It certainly feels good to work with heavier weights and lower reps again. I’m happy with my work on the three powerlifts this week, given that I haven’t been doing them for quite some time. I was concerned about low bar squats, but they felt comfortable, and I’ll be working my way up to more respectable weights over the coming weeks.
 
Many long-time readers might wonder what’s up with my previously mentioned goals of doing more mobility work and endurance training. The long and short of it is that my eyes are often bigger than my stomach when it comes to training goals. I often just don’t have the time and energy to do everything that I’d like to do, or think I should be doing. Add in the fact that lifting is what gets my juices going in the gym, and the endurance and mobility work fall by the wayside.
 
However, I continue to believe that I’d be better served by a more generalized training approach, and I’m continuously thinking about how I might successfully do just that. The take-home here is that we all struggle with balancing the things we love to do with the things we ought to do. I’m no exception.

Monday, May 2, 2016

 
Bodyweight: 198.2lb
Volume: 23,530lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 10lb × 10
  • Set 2: 35lb × 10
  • Set 3: 35lb × 10
 
Low Bar Squat
  • Set 1: 45lb × 5
  • Set 2: 45lb × 5
  • Set 3: 95lb × 5
  • Set 4: 135lb × 5
  • Set 5: 185lb × 5
  • Set 6: 225lb × 5
  • Set 7: 260lb × 5
  • Set 8: 260lb × 5
  • Set 9: 260lb × 7
 
Hack Squat
  • Set 1: 90lb × 8
  • Set 2: 140lb × 6
  • Set 3: 180lb × 5
  • Set 4: 205lb × 5
  • Set 5: 205lb × 5
 
Deadlift
  • Set 1: 135lb × 5
  • Set 2: 185lb × 5
  • Set 3: 225lb × 5
  • Set 4: 275lb × 3
  • Set 5: 300lb × 3
  • Set 6: 300lb × 3
 
Standing Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 200lb × 8
  • Set 2: 200lb × 8
  • Set 3: 200lb × 8
 
Toes To Bar
  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: 5 reps
 
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 198lb
Volume: 14,251lb
 
Paused Competition Bench Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 8
  • Set 3: 135lb × 6
  • Set 4: 185lb × 2
  • Set 5: 205lb × 5
  • Set 6: 205lb × 5
  • Set 7: 205lb × 5
 
Military Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 65lb × 8
  • Set 3: 85lb × 6
  • Set 4: 100lb × 6
  • Set 5: 100lb × 6
 
Pull Up
  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: +10lb × 6
  • Set 3: +10lb × 6
 
Lateral Raise
  • Set 1: 40lb × 6
  • Set 2: 50lb × 6
  • Set 3: 50lb × 6
 
EZ Bar Curl
  • Set 1: 45lb × 8
  • Set 2: 65lb × 8
  • Set 3: 75lb × 6
  • Set 4: 75lb × 6
 
Thursday, May 5, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 198.4lb
Volume: 25,229lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 10lb × 10
  • Set 2: 10lb × 10
  • Set 3: 10lb × 10
 
Deadlift
  • Set 1: 135lb × 5
  • Set 2: 185lb × 5
  • Set 3: 225lb × 5
  • Set 4: 275lb × 5
  • Set 5: 315lb × 5
  • Set 6: 365lb × 3
  • Set 7: 405lb × 7 (Video Below)
  • Set 8: 405lb × 5
  • Set 9: 135lb × 5

 

 
High Bar Squat
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 8
  • Set 3: 135lb × 6
  • Set 4: 185lb × 4
  • Set 5: 225lb × 2
  • Set 6: 240lb × 5
  • Set 7: 240lb × 5
 
45° Back Extension
  • Set 1: +140lb × 8
  • Set 2: +140lb × 8
 
Seated Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 100lb × 8
  • Set 2: 100lb × 8
 
Friday, May 6, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 196.6lb
Volume: 17,840lb
 
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
  • Set 1: 100lb × 10
  • Set 2: 150lb × 8
  • Set 3: 180lb × 9
  • Set 4: 180lb × 10 (Video Below)
 

 

Close Grip Bench Press (Pinkies On Rings)
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 8
  • Set 3: 135lb × 6
  • Set 4: 165lb × 8
  • Set 5: 165lb × 8
 
Seated Row
  • Set 1: 135lb × 8
  • Set 2: 165lb × 8
  • Set 3: 165lb × 8
 
Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension
  • Set 1: 60lb × 8
  • Set 2: 70lb × 8
  • Set 3: 70lb × 8
 
Dual Cable Low Cable Curl
  • Set 1: 80lb × 8
  • Set 2: 100lb × 8
  • Set 3: 100lb × 8
 
More Programming Concepts and Tips:
 
Photo courtesy of Jeff Nguyen / CrossFit Empirical.
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