Some time ago I came across some interesting thoughts in my mind. You can already find one of them in an older post called “What Is ‘Heavy’?” In couple of words it is about the meaning of word ‘heavy’ in training. Read it to understand the whole thought. After that my train of thought arrived to different station. If there is ‘too heavy’ and ‘just enough heavy’ then there should be difference in how we train. Even further. Training for strength and demonstration of strength actually should differ a lot in most training approaches. Got interested? Then read on.
What Is ‘Demonstration of Strength’?
At first let me explain to you what I mean under ‘demonstration of strength’. Demonstration of strength is any heavy strength performance where you work at the limit of your abilities. It could be actually anything involving strength. Clean and Press, Deadlift, Squat, One-Arm Pull-Up, One-Arm Push-Up etc. Any exercise hard enough for you to work at your limit. For example, powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting competitions. People strive to show their maximum there. They get faint, get injuries etc. It’s all because they work at their limits to show the best they can. This, in my opinion, is demonstration of strength. Heck, even going for PR while maxing out at your training is demonstration of strength. For example, testing your true 3 rep maximum.
What’s the Problem?
Demonstration of strength burns you out in no time. Even faster. Let me explain you on my own example. Some time ago I was training heavy in sandbag deadlift. At first I used 8 sets of 3 reps protocol. Everything went fine but I was pushing the weight up. Then I switched to 10 sets of singles. It wasn’t enough for me. So I started to cut sets and added weight. In the end I maxed out at 2 singles with 197 kg. The next training session I couldn’t pull 197 kg even inch of the floor. I understood that I burned out and I needed to rest. That was demonstration of strength not training.
The difference between training and demonstration of strength is that you cannot train by demonstration. Quite reverse. You need to train for demonstration. It could be powerlifting meet or some extraordinary situation in your life. But you will burn out if you will train at your limit all the time. Take it slower and you will get further.
But What about Training Approaches that Require Working at Limit?
My advice: don’t use them. Or use them once or twice per year. Training at your limit will get you old really fast. How about increased risk of injuries, wear’n’tear, tendonitis and other quite unpleasant stuff? Forget about training to failure. Train for success. When you train at your limit you need to rest more. This means less training sessions which means less results. Remember. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t train once a week and recover the whole week and expect noticeable results. You need to find ‘sweet spot’ in training by adjusting such variables as volume, intensity and frequency. It was stated million times before. But once more: “Train as frequently as possible while being as fresh as possible”. That’s the road to success.
So what are the take home points?
- Training at your limit will burn you out in no time;
- There’s a difference between training and demonstration of strength;
- You train for demonstration, not reverse;
- You need to find ‘sweet spot’ in training by adjusting such variables as volume, intensity and frequency.
Stay tuned for more on rough training.