Thursday, January 12, 2012

Easy Strength

Easy Strength Training For Athletes: 10 Rules of Thumb

1. Use a limited number of "big bang" exercises - for example, the deadlift and the floor press from Power To The People!
2. Lift two to three times a week.
3. Keep the volume around 10 reps per lift or 6 when using only singles - for example, 5 x 2, 2 x 5, 532, 3 x 3, 343, 424, 1234, 4321, 12321, 6 x 1, and so on. You may stay with the same weight or vary the weights from set to set.
4. Keep the reps in the 1-5 range, emphasizing doubles and triples
5. Rest about 5 minutes between sets. Practice Fast & Loose relaxation drills in between.
6. Train in the 80% to 95% 1 RM intensity zone. Always leave a rep or two in the bank.
7. Go for a PR, single or rep, when you are feeling exceptionally strong, but stop short of an all-out max. Set a "sort of max." Always back off after a PR.
8. Vary the intensity every workout, either through Power To The People! cycling or through less structured advances and retreats.
9. Don't stop strength training in season, but reduce the volume by two-thirds to one-half. For example, do 3 x 2 instead of 5 x 2 or 3 x 2 instead of 3 x 3.
10. Finish your workout feeling stronger than when you started. Stop the workout if your performance is less than perfect, and come back another day.

Easy Strength (pg. 86)

In 2009, I was assisting at an RKC instructor certification and wandered into the lunch hall, looking for someone to sit and eat with, and the first person I see, all by himself at a table, is Pavel Tsatsouline. Time to chat with Pavel? Fuggedaboutit! Later, we were joined by Dan John. I know - who gets that lucky? Me. It went down as one of the best lunches I've ever had, and I don't remember what we were eating at all. Our lunch conversation focused on books and a little strength and conditioning research. Talking weights and training casually and unrushed with two people who are so experienced, well-read, and in demand in the field almost never happens to most of us, even when we seek them out. Trust me, I realize how fortuitous that lunch was.

Naturally later, when I found out that the two were working on a book, I was excited. And then later, when I was given the opportunity to read and offer suggestions on a manuscript, I was ecstatic and tremendously honored. It was dynamite and most of the 4 pages of notes I sent to Dan and Pavel after reading the manuscript read like:

"Muscle Joy" - Awesome!  
"...most guys who train to look good naked nearly have to be naked before you can tell they even train" - Awesome!

The book's layout is as if Dan John and Pavel are having a free-flowing conversation. The topic is started, and Pavel injects research and anecdotes, and then Dan adds his own thoughts and experiences. It is the closest most of us will get to being a "fly on the wall" during a conversation between two master trainers talking shop in a focused stream-of-consciousness fashion.

There are too many gems, "Of course!" moments, and "a-ha" passages in the book to mention. Way too many.

What does it cover? Well, it covers just about all the programming knowledge that most of us need to get strong without breaking ourselves. A random sampling of topics include GSP, SPP, the application (mis-application, really) of plyometrics, Dan John's 1979 squat workout, ladder rep schemes, "the quadrants", Strength and Speed-Strength Complexes by Verhkhoshansky, the genesis of the "goblet squat", defining an "elite" athlete, many training cycles, workout set-up, the hip displacement continuum, routines, cycles, examples, and plenty of "do-this" lists and bulleted points.
For the self-coached strength athlete it is a must read.

For the trainer or coach that is trying to improve their athletes' strength it is a must have. 


John Roberts said...

It is genius. Thanks Boris for your contributions too!

Boris said...

Thank you John.