Wes Kitts and the California Strength team embarked on the world renowned Jacked & Tan mesocycle as the first training cycle back from competing at the American Open. Known for it's hypertrophy and strength building qualities, Jacked & Tan has been a staple of the California Strength annual plan. American Record holder Wes Kitts breaks down the Jacked & Tan cycle, from his perspective and details the ups and downs that culminated with a 260kg Pause Back Squat, a 240kg Front Squat and a 215kg Clean & Jerk in the final weeks of training.
End of Deload Week (Cycle Weeks 1 - 4)
So far this strength cycle has been pretty chill. The weights aren't too heavy, but the reps are high. The squats aren't even what makes this cycle so tough. Really, it's the volume on the lifts that beat me up. Obviously there are a few squat workouts that aren't great for me (4 x 6 @ 200-215kg), but the 3 Cleans + 1 Jerk are much tougher.
There are also a few Snatch complexes in the mix that can get a little nasty. It seems like most of the full Snatch work is just heavy enough to miss every set. Somehow I've been able to make the majority of these Snatches, but it's taken a ton of focus. Executing good technique has been a huge challenge under the load of the program and I have a feeling when we lose some of the load the Snatches will only get heavier and more crisp. We plan to keep the pedal on the gas with the volume work for a while since I'm not competing until summer, but I'll be eagerly awaiting the sessions with big weights. At the end of week 3 this cycle, I made 5 sets of Snatches at 150kg and took 200kg on Clean and Jerk. This honestly felt incredible. I hadn't done a Clean & Jerk that heavy in a little while and I was definitely feeling the fatigue.
During the deload week, we didn't work to such heavy weights on Friday in hopes that the body would be ready for 205kg in week 5 and something really big the last week! We're also planning a front squat PR if the body is up for it so stay tuned!
Post Deload Week (Cycle Weeks 5 - 6)
Coming off the deload week I wasn't doing so great. I had started to tighten up and was definitely dragging. The deload didn't leave me feeling fresh in the least. Despite feeling like sh*t I continued grinding through the programs, hitting the numbers as prescribed, where I was doing just fine until Wednesday morning. We had a heavy single on front squats and the linear progression called for an additional 10kg each week. This meant I was going to do 240kg (529#), which would tie my current PR. The only difference is that this time I was incredibly sore, tired, tight, and a little achey. I was nervous about it all practice. We started our warm up sets for the squats and I was feeling strong. The top of my warmup sets were 180, 200, 220 and I pretty much crushed them. Loaded 240kg confidently, attacked the lift, and crushed it. Everything was cool, felt awesome, and then every hour after I got a little tighter and felt more aches. By evening practice I was basically useless! I did the cleans (barely), skipped the squats, and skipped the pulls. Not a good night by my standards. Skipping pieces of my program while my friends train is actually the worst. I can't stand it, but I didn't really have a choice. Friday was equally disappointing. Despite constant mobility work and treatment, I still was not able to perform at the level I wanted to. I did make a pretty decent Snatch and then cut the Clean and Jerk at 180kg.
By Saturday I was feeling a lot better. Still had some pain to work through, but I could do power variations basically pain free. I did some powers, squatted a little, and stretched a lot. Sunday I continued treatment and stretching. Monday the 13th started the last week of the cycle. Traditionally, during the last week of our training cycles we will cut back some volume and put our adaptations to the test. Structure is kept to a minimum as we all pick our best lifts prescribed in the program to hit somewhat of a max on. I stuck to the sets on the first couple days, but I did push it on the Clean + Hang Clean and the Clean Triple + Jerk. Also I pretty much skipped the Wednesday morning front squat since it crushed my soul the week before. Turned out to be a good move!
Made it to Friday feeling perfect. By perfect I mean pretty sore, feeling strong, no pain, hungry for weights. I knew Snatches wouldn't go great because during our strength cycles the technical stuff tends to go on the back burner. I ended up working up to 170kg but only after missing 165kg and taking the jump anyways. I would've probably retaken 165kg, but Dave told me just to put it on. I also walked out 140kg, which is equally disappointing to the miss. 170kg is still pretty good all the things considered!
Finally it was time to Clean and Jerk. I didn't know why, but I had been excited about maxing them all week. Also a pretty big number had been sitting in the back of my mind since Cleaning 200kg easily off the blocks on Wednesday night. For whatever reason I felt like I wanted 215kg on the bar. My best Clean and Jerk was 210kg, but I had made some big strides since and was confident that I could make it. While working up I was doing my best to make each lift with authority. I wanted well timed Cleans and solid Jerks the whole way up. Reps were taken at 100-120-150-175-195-205 to work up. After 205kg I wasn't sure Dave would let me take 215. I had mentioned to him and he said, "We'll see." As I was sitting after everyone else had finished lifting, the team was egging it on. This is a regular occurrence and doesn't usually carry much weight. Dave walks over to me and says one thing... "215." I nodded and went to a bench to sit alone and prepare for the lift. I was still out of breath from 205 at the time and I was going to need to calm down if I was going to hit that lift. Dave and the guys comp loaded the bar, while I visualized the attempt. When I was ready I had McKellar throw one of my favorite songs on the radio while I belted and chalked up. I stepped to the bar and was confident I had it. I don't really understand how, but I crushed it. Didn't look or really even feel that hard. Technique was pretty great. Especially for me. I was absolutely ecstatic!
Jacked and Tan Cycle was on point this year! I got stronger and more confident without really even taking any huge weight attempts. Just doing a ton of volume with good concentration was more than enough to prepare me and allowed me to exceed all expectations. Coming out of a strength cycle able to execute enough technique to Snatch 170kg and crush my Clean and Jerk PR is incredible. THIS STUFF WORKS. On top of that you add a few complex PR's, a 260kg pause Back Squat, and a tied front squat PR with some room for more and you have the recipe for an amazing training cycle with incredible results. I honestly couldn't be any happier with the progress! I love CS. I love training. I love my coach. I LOVE WEIGHTLIFTING!
Now is your chance...
Run the world famous Jacked & Tan cycle by California Strength!
Wes Kitts and the California Strength Team ran the 9 session / week program, listed below as Jacked & Tanner. Both options are built with the same principles and exercise selection, but we have included two versions to account for your preferred training schedule.