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Coach Sommer

Maximal Strength is Not a Panacea

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Coach Sommer

Maximal%20Strength%20is%20Not%20a%20Panacea.jpg

Proposition:

An over-emphasis on maximal strength will ultimately lead to decreased reaction times and agility; resulting in the inability to express that maximal strength quickly.

Maximal strength in relation to a high degree of relative strength is of supreme importance; up to a certain point and within certain parameters. Once you have developed an optimal surplus of maximal strength, continuing to train for maximal strength as the primary focus begins to have a deleterious effect on gymnastics performance. In my opinion, the correct approach is that, having achieved an optimal surplus, the primary focus now shifts to being able to express that strength explosively. Maximal strength training will continue; but in a greatly reduced role and as a secondary focus.

Discussion.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Guest Valentin

Hi

I support your proposition. Personally i have always believe that this was common knowledge given that in gymnastics maximal strength is not primary goal, but power is. Given the relationship between force and power in the production of work, its clear that strength (in this case force) is simply not enough.

This can also be argued from a point of time invested in exchange for performance improvement. Surplus maximal strength beyond a point begins to take a LOT of time, especially as these athletes are reaching their potential genetic ceiling (however this being said this point is open to discussion as i don't think to date there is any data to detail exactly to what degree an Elite male or Female gymnast is on in comparison to the genetic ceiling). So it makes sense that in order to improve its important to develop the ability to exert maximal force over there shortest period of time.

Given that gymnastics is a dynamic sport, not a static one, Rings being the only partial exemption, it further make sense to work on the dynamic component.

In short, sign me up haha.

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Gregor

I have read, if remeber corectly, it's good for reaction time of maximum force development a maximum weight hold. So to hold element with maximum load for 5-6 seconds. Usualy for normal people is a maxim force develop in a 0,8 seconds and in a advence athletes is a 0,4 to 0,3 seconds.

And I agree it's diffrent for rings and for other aparatus, where it more or lese differse from static hold (rings) and slow push (rings) and other apparatus where you need more explosive movement.

As valentin said, we are opend to discusion.

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Coach Sommer

This proposition is not meant to apply to gymnastics only; but to all sports outside of Power Lifting and other similar sports where the only variable involved is maximal strength (no agility, sudden changes of direction, acceleration/deceleration etc). Depending on your individual sport, as what point is enough maximal strength enough? For example, Dan John once noted that when he built his back squat up to 400lbs, his measured distance in discuss throwing went down. When he reduced his back squat to 225lbs (approx. bodyweight), it went back up again.

The Chinese National Team has a basic requirement/team preference of double bodyweight in a full ROM back squat. The athletes involved are of course quite light (approx 55-60kg on average), but interestingly once again we are in the neighborhood of 225lbs.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Chris H Laing

Are there any kind of guidelines for when maximal strength should no longer be the main focus?

I would assume it would come after having a solid hold in all of the basic static positions, but then when you think about all of the more advanced positions on rings, like cross, maltese, invert cross, it seems like gymnasts will always have to train for maximal strength, unless they're olympic level.

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Gregor
By defenition,explosive strength is the ability to exert maximal forces in inimal time.

Let+s compare two athletes, A and B, with diffrent force-time histories. If the time of motion is short (i.e., in the time-deficit zone), then A is stronger than B. The situation is exactly opposite if the time of the movement is long enough to develop maximal muscular force. Training of maximal strength cannot help athlete b improve performance if the motion is the time-deficit zone.

When sport performance improves, the time of motion turns out to be shorte. The better an athlete's qualifications, the grater the role of the rate of force development in the achievement of high-level performance.

Several indices are used to estimate explosive strength and the rate of force development.

DEFINING A TRAINING TARGET: STRENGTH ORRATE OF FORCE DEVELOPMENT?

A young athlete began to exercise with free weights, performing squats with a heawy barbell. At first he was able to squat a barbel wqual to his body weight (BW). His performance in a standing vertical jump was 40 cm. After two years his achievement in the barbel squat was 2 BW, and vertical jum increased to 60 cm. He continued to train in the same manner and after 2 more years was able to squat a 3-BW barbell. Howewer, his jump performance was not improved because the short takeoff time (the rate of force development) rather than maximal absolute force became the limiting factor.

Many coaches and athletes make a similar mistake. They continue to train maximal muscular strength when the real need is develop rate of force.

"This from the book Science and practice of strength training by Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky and William J. Kraemer (Second edition 2006)"

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Gregor
Are there any kind of guidelines for when maximal strength should no longer be the main focus?

I would assume it would come after having a solid hold in all of the basic static positions, but then when you think about all of the more advanced positions on rings, like cross, maltese, invert cross, it seems like gymnasts will always have to train for maximal strength, unless they're olympic level.

Usualy is bigger problem then maximal stregth a neurocoordination when U are at 90-95% :arrow:"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for menkind" :arrow: small step, but big at the same time, do you understand?

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John Filippini

Coach mentioned the transferability of powerlifting to general sport having limits, and it sounds like this logic imply that olympic lifting achievement would have a better transferability than powerlifting because of its emphasis on ballistic power application rather than simple maximal strength application. Personally I believe this to be true, but just thought that it was an interesting observation to see being made in a completely different sport.

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Charles

I would go to agree with this statement from very recent personal experience. I am a former martial artist who, since August, has switched to power lifting and has packed on about 22lbs lean mass since.

My legs have remained very explosive through the transition specifically due to the importance I place on Power Cleans, snatches, jerks, and box jumps. My upperbody is another story altogether however.

Two years ago, when I was in the military, I was able to bust out close to 90 push ups in 2 minutes (an endurance feat to be sure) but specifically reminds me of how fast I could knock out a simple push up, regardless of the numbers. Traveling from a 95# bench press to a 210# bench has definitely had an effect I have only recently noted. Push ups are obnoxiously slow! And although I try my damnedest to explode out of them, they just simply do not get done.

Since this realization, I have stopped my progression and began emphasizing quick eccentric/concentric transitions with much less weight and have been getting slightly better results. I agree that there is a point of diminishing returns and after I finished my starting strength adventure, I switched my routine to one more based on explosive movements (with the exception of bench press). The change has been small, and obviously my 1.4xBW Bench is not extreme, but since dropping weight and emphasizing explosiveness I have seen my power slowly creep back to my upperbody.

I think the increase in numbers becomes alluring to some, but also can become a detrimental distraction that needs to be addressed, as shown.

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Chris H Laing

Usualy is bigger problem then maximal stregth a neurocoordination when U are at 90-95% :arrow:"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for menkind" :arrow: small step, but big at the same time, do you understand?

Not really :oops: Can you explain a little bit more?

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Alexander Kornishev

Just a side note... same concept is very much applicable even to power lifting in a way that they are not training for maximum strength only. A good example would be success of Westside Barbell approach. Main idea is the same that in order to lift more both max. strength and explosiveness have to be improved. There are Maximum effort days and Dynamic Effort days (50/50). During Dynamic effort days exercises are done with 50-60% of 1RM but weights are moving with maximum speed. Exercises used on that day are also supposed to maximize speed and power. Athletes outside of PL are using Westside principals successfully for their sport, especially throwers...

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braindx

You guys might find this thread (and article on dragondoor) quite interesting with regards to maximal strength work as it applies to sprinting.

Specifically, look for around page 2 when Barry Ross (author of the article) comes in and starts some discussion.

http://www.performancemenu.com/forum/sh ... .php?t=106

------------------------------------------

As far as strength goes for gymnastics... I think most of us if we are aiming for maltese, inverted, etc. still have our work cut out for us trying to get anywhere near that level of strength unfortunately. It's a long road. :(

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Guest gdmvproxy

Makes sense to me as far as gymnastics goes, but in other ventures, upping maximal strength is always key.

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Chris H Laing

As far as strength goes for gymnastics... I think most of us if we are aiming for maltese, inverted, etc. still have our work cut out for us trying to get anywhere near that level of strength unfortunately. It's a long road. :(

So, steven, in your opinion should you work towards all your strength goals, maltese, inverted cross, etc. before focusing on dynamic strength?

And on that note, coach, how many of your athletes have reached a level of maximum strength where you have switched the focused of their training from max strength to dynamic strength.

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Gregor

Usualy is bigger problem then maximal stregth a neurocoordination when U are at 90-95% :arrow:"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for menkind" :arrow: small step, but big at the same time, do you understand?

Not really :oops: Can you explain a little bit more?

that 5% (strength-coordination) is harder to achieve then all the 95%!!!! So you can easly achive an iron cross with 90-95% necessary stregth, but that last 10-5% is the smallest amount of strength to get it, but with the same time the hardest to get.

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braindx

As far as strength goes for gymnastics... I think most of us if we are aiming for maltese, inverted, etc. still have our work cut out for us trying to get anywhere near that level of strength unfortunately. It's a long road. :(

So, steven, in your opinion should you work towards all your strength goals, maltese, inverted cross, etc. before focusing on dynamic strength?

And on that note, coach, how many of your athletes have reached a level of maximum strength where you have switched the focused of their training from max strength to dynamic strength.

Uh, dynamic strength is a component of working maximal strength...

If you're talking about power with maximal strength well that's debatable. I wouldn't say no, but I wouldn't say definitely either especially with the studies that intent to move the weight fast is the same as moving a lighter weight/more advantageous lever fast.

I guess it boils down to what your goals are.

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kintelary
Depending on your individual sport, as [at] what point is enough maximal strength enough?

Your examples of discuss throwing and light Chinese gymnasts are good.

There is a lot of talk about maximal strength as related to how much someone can lift (Dead Lift, Bench, Squat).

What makes lifting weights a marker of maximal strength, versus being able to repeat a task indefinately without wearing out??

If I can lift 4x my body weight, but only once, does that mean I can lift my body weight an indefinate number of times??

If I can lift my body weight an indefinate number of times, would that mean I could lift 4x BW if I chose to??

Would we call one maximal strength and the other maximal endurance??

Would being able to do the task an indefinate number of times mean I have the maximal strength I need for the task??

Wimbledon has athletes playing for a long period of time, but what good is more strength?

Basketball players have to add muscle mass to improve their game in the NBA. Yet, they have to remain fast and able to run.

Football (Soccar) players are very strong runners, but would having higher strength help them perform better?

I think that it is mainly the fitness enthustiast at the gym that worries about an ellusive abstract "maximal strength" and I think that is because there is no athletic goal in mind.

My three cents (probably worth that) :wink:

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Scott Malin

The thrower example is particularly good. I happen to be working with one right now (shotput and weight), and as I've watched her and the other throwers of both genders in the last few meets, it's obvious that there is a disproportionate emphasis on maximal strength. This is most exaggerated in the guys (and to single out ASU's team, it was absurd). I'm familiar with both the lifting program at my own university and ASU's and even though there is a heavy focus on O-lifting, it's interesting how it still seems to suffer many of the same limitations as the panacea-tic pursuit of maximal strength. Not only that, but as the optimal surplus is passed, injuries seem to be more and more frequent in these throwers. What I'm getting at, is that I think we need to first disassociate training for explosiveness and power as == Olifting. From what I observe in local collegiate athletics, that's a rather large shift (but a needed one). So let's take in the whole picture and not a single pixel as we discuss this proposition.

One thing I'd like to explore is the concept of dimension in explosive expression of strength, i.e. using all three planes in great variety. This is one key that I firmly believes creates success in the GB program. Further thoughts?

The second is tension-relaxation patterns. As I understand it (my own personal experience in it being limited), in martial arts, the ability to relax directly dictates the power and effect of your kicks, punches, and ability to stay balanced. I think there's more than a bit of this same component in the dynamic strength training I've seen thus far in GB. Perhaps someone with more personal experience can talk more about this in relation to their martial arts training?

I'm also going to take up this proposition as a challenge with my thrower. As it is now, we're working on some simple PMR techniques (psychology) and correcting pervious and current injuries+imbalances, but she's already achieved an optimal surplus of strength. Heck, her body fat levels are excellent and she looks like she could lift a semi with one pinky (she's even more impressive in the WR). In her current performance, she throws weight at an average of four feet more than the next closest throw. Championships are in late March, so I'll get some nominative data going on her case.

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shiftedShapes
Maximal%20Strength%20is%20Not%20a%20Panacea.jpg

Proposition:

An over-emphasis on maximal strength will ultimately lead to decreased reaction times and agility; resulting in the inability to express that maximal strength quickly.

Maximal strength in relation to a high degree of relative strength is of supreme importance; up to a certain point and within certain parameters. Once you have developed an optimal surplus of maximal strength, continuing to train for maximal strength as the primary focus begins to have a deleterious effect on gymnastics performance. In my opinion, the correct approach is that, having achieved an optimal surplus, the primary focus now shifts to being able to express that strength explosively. Maximal strength training will continue; but in a greatly reduced role and as a secondary focus.

Discussion.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

I think that an athlete who just focuses on maximal strength will improve his power but not as fast as an athlete who spends some time training power as well. I find it very hard to believe that all else being equal an increase in maximal strength will decrease power. Important caveats being that one does not pack on fat in the pursuit of higher max numbers (which is definitely one easy way of achieving them), and that one does not become stiff (so stretching is a must).

Maximal strength training will not decrease reaction times. From your question though it seems like you are asking whether one will have faster reaction times if one splits focus to some extent between maximal strength and explosive or more sport specific training. The answer to that question is an obvious yes. All training is specific to some extent and if you don't train agility you will not gain it as fast as you would if you did train it.

For me this is not an issue, I'm interested in gymnastics to the extent that it helps me train my maximum strength and non-ballistic body control, it is a means to an end. I don't really care to be a well rounded gymnast that can tumble and etc. Sure it would be nice, but at 30 I don't have the time or the tolerance for injuries to train all of these aspects of the sport.

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Guest Valentin

Hi

I think that the discussing might have veered of to a couple directions.

coreathlete said "Maximal strength training will not decrease reaction times", this is true (as far as i am aware..i will be honest i haven't read to much about reaction time training), but it won't improve it either because reaction time is dependent on more than one factor. www.brianmac.co.uk has a good post on reaction training (http://www.brianmac.co.uk/reaction.htm).

At the end of the day really if we consider the post proposition "Maximal Strength is Not a Panacea", i think that the answer is clearly obvious. For a gymnast it definitely isn't, for a strongest man it could be argued, but i going to say that its not, for a power lifter its clearly is. Does that help anyone? Not really cause of the context.

It really depends from which sport you examine the statement. There is little point in comparing powerlifting to gymnastics (and vice versa). The two sports do not offer much training transfer benefits. However if we are talking about a sprinter and a gymnast, than yeah there is similarities that could be of interest. Example, a sprinter (100m) does a HUGE deal of power training, ac but still very dependent on absolute cs sprinting is 98% plyometric, aside from from the first step of the block (or even standing) its purely concentric. What am i getting at here...is that sprint training develops low ground contact times, similar to tumbling. reaction times of 0.2s. In tumbling a reaction time of 0.2s is vital in the performance of very high level of performance of high level tumbling (eg.. double double, miller, triple back etc..). So clearly sprint training as form of strength training and power training has major cross training benefits (this has been shown indirectly in studies) (on thing to keep in mind is that in tumbling GRF are about 5-7 times body weight, in sprinting its more like 4-5, i dont think its the same from mental recall i will have to look it up, i know i have read it, which proposed limitation to the training benefits).

"continuing to train for maximal strength as the primary focus begins to have a deleterious effect on gymnastics performance". I dont think that it will have deleterious effects, but it won't be as effective in improving performance up until the point of that arbitrary surplus point. As you suggested moving onto power training following a period of pure strength training is most ideal for performance improvement (given that you are aim is to improve performance in multiplane, dynamic activity). This has been know for years, and its basis for periodization training (on which note some are starting to question its effectiveness and are proposing a that individualized training is the best. which is a whole another thread).

Studies clearly show that power training with strength training is more effective than strength training alone for certain things (and it assumed as a general rule). Personally i don't see what the discussion really is about..maybe i am lost.

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Walt Peacock

forgive me for being so ignorant, but how do you train for maximal strength. I am still under the impression that if I don't train to failure then I am not working hard enough. I usually follow the GB WOD and add to it. I split my days between pushing movements and pulling movements. Any help you can give me would be great thanks!

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braindx
forgive me for being so ignorant, but how do you train for maximal strength. I am still under the impression that if I don't train to failure then I am not working hard enough. I usually follow the GB WOD and add to it. I split my days between pushing movements and pulling movements. Any help you can give me would be great thanks!

Generally, (1) high frequency, (2) not to failure, (3) low reps with heavy weight. (4) Overall volume depends on the type of training, what movements, and frequency.

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Coach Sommer

To my mind, the question is not whether or not maximal strength training will always remain a training component; but at what point will it no longer constitute the bulk of the conditioning. The key is knowing when to switch it from being the primary focus to the secondary focus.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Chris H Laing
The key is knowing when to switch it from being the primary focus to the secondary focus.

Are there any guidelines that can help those of us without a coach guiding our training to know when to emphasis should be switched from max strength to dynamic?

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shiftedShapes
To my mind, the question is not whether or not maximal strength training will always remain a training component; but at what point will it no longer constitute the bulk of the conditioning. The key is knowing when to switch it from being the primary focus to the secondary focus.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Is this the case even for a ring specialist? It seems to me that as long as there are strength elements that one cannot complete that reduced focus on strength would increase the time it would take to acquire new strength skills.

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