Sunday, November 21, 2010
Lately, it seems as though common sense has evaded a larger percentage of strength and conditioning professionals out there. Is it just me, or are there too many guys out there telling athletes to use 91.46% of their 1RM training load for 6X2 on “heavy days,” but to use 75.76% of that load on for 5X5 on“light days”, and oh yeah, don’t perform two CNS intensive days back to back, so I guess you should skip your skill development workout today, because we are going heavy tomorrow! Huh? Why does training need to be so complicated? One thing I know, if your athletes have to do math, your program sucks. Get stronger, recover, get better at the skills of your sport, sprint, do it again. Yes, it is that simple. Among many other issues, I have always found it to be very puzzling that rep ranges are assigned to training goals; I am sure you have heard them all. Training in the 1-5 rep range is for “strength”, the 6-12 rep range is for “size”, and anything over 12 reps is for “endurance.” Seems nice and neat on a piece of paper, but are these parameters practical? While I do think that training in every rep range has its place in an annual training cycle, for our intents and purposes I am going to discuss how one can “transcend” rep ranges to achieve desired training results, and maximize the safety and well being of the athlete in the process.
"Let's see, what will my working set be tomorrow?"
If an athlete is tested in the back squat at 295x6, and then trains his butt off for 12 weeks, comes back, and performs 315x11 when retested, what happened? Even though he did not necessarily perform reps in the “strength” zone on these tests, would it be safe to say that his maximal strength level improved? I would have to think so! How about his endurance? He didn’t perform more than 12 reps with 295, but if he is doing 315x11, one would have to think that he would be practically jumping with 295 for at least 15 reps, and it would appear that his muscular endurance has improved as well. Even though it was not measured, I would even be willing to bet that the musculature of his quads, glutes, and hams increased in cross sectional area as well!
Training heavy (1-5RM…I don’t like percentages, I find them far too arbitrary) is fun, and exciting, no doubt about it. However, unless you are dealing with power lifters (and even then caution should be exercised), EXTREME care should be taken when training with 1-5RMs (Rep Maxes). With SOME of our athletes, we like to take ONE month in the middle of the summer, and build up to some heavy records with our college football players, but we certainly don’t train this way year round! It is fun for the kids, and we are very safe about it, but if we were to train this way year round, an injury would be inevitable. Keep in mind these kids are in COLLEGE. Were they older, or professional athletes, we would probably eliminate training below 5RM’s altogether, in order to protect the joints. As we have seen from the above example, it IS possible to get “stronger” without training in a “heavy” rep range.
Remember, strength training is a journey with many dips and bumps in the road, and suffering an injury along the road is kind of like getting a flat tire; it is going to get you nowhere! Be safe, and smart about your training, have fun being a “meathead” every once in a while and move some heavy weights, but be sure to monitor the frequency of these meathead indulgences; your elbows, knees, and shoulders will thank you. Spend time training in all rep ranges, but focus on getting stronger in indicator lifts of your choice in the (6-12 rep range), and you will be well on your way to your achieving your training goals and maximizing your potential.
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