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Coach Sommer

Maximal Strength is Not a Panacea

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kintelary
...at what point will it no longer constitute the bulk of the conditioning.

Ahh, there's the rub.

As your book is meant to be Basic Strength... I can deduce that there is a certain ammount of strength that is measured by basic strength abilities and that level is good enough. When the next book is published, it will take us farther toward the goal of Dynamic Strength, which in and of itself is a way of realizing the "maximal strength" that we tried to lay as a foundation in the first phase. This becomes a cyclical journey that begins to see narrower progression due to a level reached that is the potential of our genetics.

Am I close? 8)

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Scott Malin
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?

Look at it this way: there are many facets to athletic performance and maximal strength is only one of them. If you are say, a 9 out of 10 for what your sport needs (or end-goals for the fitness enthusiast), and only a 3 of 10 on your ability to express that dynamically, you will get much more positive results working on that 3/10 than trying to get that extra 1/10 on maximal strength. As for how to determine that individually, it's a lot more dependent on your own goals--Gregor's would be significantly different than someone just wanting to tone up (both equally good imo). In my experience, most people are far from their maximal strength potential; however, that does not preclude the development of basic dynamic strength alongside it. So to directly answer your question, ask yourself "Do I need much more strength to achieve my goals of [x,y,z]?" If not, it's probably time to focus on some other areas while shifting maximal strength off the main focus.

Does that help some?

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Blairbob

Kintelary, what you call " maximal endurance " would probably be better called " work capacity. "

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kintelary

Blairbob,

It seems like you are saying that one is defined as strength and one is defined as work capacity.

So, is "maximal strength" just a way of saying "potential work capacity"??

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Coach Sommer
So, is "maximal strength" just a way of saying "potential work capacity"??

Yes, that is essentially true.

Maximal strength is "the peak force developed during a single maximal voluntary contraction". Work capacity is simply a term for attempting to measure the strength endurance being exhibited. The higher one's maximal strength, the greater the potential for demonstrating superior work capacity once the body has adapted to the higher volumes of work output involved. This period of adaptation for increasing work capacity is usually measured in months as opposed to the years required to develop optimum maximal strength.

Maximal strength development should always be the first priority for beginners. As noted above, strength endurance is far easier to develop than maximal strength and its ultimate development will be restricted by the degree of maximal strength which the trainee possesses.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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kintelary
Work capacity is simply a term for attempting to measure the strength endurance being exhibited.

Okay, that puts it into context for me :)

This period of adaptation for increasing work capacity is usually measured in months as opposed to the years required to develop optimum maximal strength.

If WC/STR

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

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

Should the continuum look like this?

Stated this way: building strength takes years and building work capacity (within a range of strength) takes months.

Would we train both along the way to maintain a level of WC near the level of STR we possess?

But,

If...

WC/STR are equal:

-------

-------

then... if we continue working on increasing work capacity alone will it become

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

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

or

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

----

Will strength deteriorate?

if...

----

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

then... will the strength alone drag the work capacity along with it so that it becomes

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

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

I hope the visual works.

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Coach Sommer

This does not apply only to gymnastics but to all athletic endeavors. For example, Dan John has noted that he also followed the maxim that more maximal strength is better and built his back squat up to 400lbs only to find that his performance in the discuss had deteriorated. He dropped his back squats down to 225lbs and his throws improved once more.

Dan Marinovich (former NFL player and strength coach) has also noted that the best athletes were never the strongest ones. In his own words, Dan himself was one of the strongest in the Raider's weight room and yet was not even close to being the best on the field.

Josh Everett, a very good collegiate level S&C coach, has also stated that he was not excellent as an athlete, but was, and continues to be, outstanding in the weight room.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Chris H Laing

ask yourself "Do I need much more strength to achieve my goals of [x,y,z]?" If not, it's probably time to focus on some other areas while shifting maximal strength off the main focus.

Does that help some?

That does help a lot! Thats pretty much the answer I was looking for.

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Dillon Castro

so if say someone is attempting to learn to perform the fsp's the focus is obviously for maximal strength. my questions are, once the ability to perform the desired fsp's is fulfilled is that then the time to focus on power/reaction training and have maximal strength become a secondary until it is needed to perform another static position? also in trying to aquire power/speed in movements what set+reps scheme, volume and intensity will be optimal?

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Siamang

This thread is an interesting read.

Personally, I used to perform lightly loaded squats and became really good at banging out lots of full-speed, full-range-of-motion reps, and it felt great to do so as long as I didn't go overboard with the volume. At the same time I was doing heavy deadlifts and developing more strength in the same general muscle groups. When I purchased a squat rack and started doing heavy squats, I was able to move up quite quickly to using much heavier loads, but I still find that the repetitions lose their grace and become much slower and increasingly ugly once I get to 60-70% of my max, or somewhere around 225lbs in fact.

I don't even know what purpose I train for. I just like to do heroic-seeming things that make me feel good, and things feel better when you're able to perform them powerfully and efficiently.

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kintelary
I don't even know what purpose I train for. I just like to do heroic-seeming things that make me feel good, and things feel better when you're able to perform them powerfully and efficiently.

Being able to perform powerfully and efficiently is, I think, the main goal of anything we do. Efficiency is not wasting energy when moving and Power is the effect of bursts of energy. If we can have bursts of energy multiple times with efficiency, then we have a maximal condition. If we choose to move beyond that level, we are starting toward a new level of strength, power, and have to work toward efficiency again. Just a thought.

If you enjoy what you are doing, you will do it :)

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JL
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

Most of this information was taken from Zatsiorsky's book.

I think the oversimplified answer is that it depends on where the goal movement is along the force velocity curve. The closer it is to maximal velocity, the sooner you start working at a faster velocity.

It would be very hard to measure force and velocity in the range of a gymnastic movement. I think a good guideline would be based around the fact that it generally takes about 0.4 sec. to create maximum force, if a movement (to perform properly) takes longer than 0.4 seconds, then just keep working at developing maximum force. If it is less, like in tumbling, then start working more toward explosive strength, stretch reflex type stuff. Shot put, jumping, and sprinting are all under 0.2 seconds in total time.

As for the Chinese requirement of a 2X bodyweight squat, I think it is simply based on the fact that maximum power is generated with 50% of maximum force. That would imply that those athletes could create max power at bodyweight in a jump. Kind of a nice guideline, I guess, since max power training causes an increase in the velocity at a given force, or the force at a given velocity. I don't really think there is a universal point of diminishing returns with maximum strength, because it depends on the athletes rate of force development, or explosive strength deficiet in a given movement.

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Coach Sommer

Actually it was not taken from Zatorisky's book as I have never read his material. This knowledge is the result of over 30 years in the gym spent training high level athletes.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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JL
Actually it was not taken from Zatorisky's book as I have never read his material. This knowledge is the result of over 30 years in the gym spent training high level athletes.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

I referring to the content of my response.

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gymrob

Coach,

Do you think that a large influence could be the nervous system? It is said that the nervous system is highly adaptive and I remember reading Coach Charles Poliquin stating his athletes and many people will adapt to a certain program in around 6 workouts of the same kind (the nervous system that is). Do you think that as the nervous systems activation etc begins to peak, continuing maximal strength may become less effective and even almost pointless?

Just an idea....not sure if this is 100% physiologically right at all. Trying to add to the discussion :) .

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Coach Sommer
Do you think that as the nervous systems activation etc begins to peak, continuing maximal strength may become less effective and even almost pointless?

No, I do not agree with that supposition.

The issue is that many people continue to pursue maximal strength as the major focus in their physical preparation past the point where it positively impacts their athletic performance and fail to adjust their training so that the maximal strength that has been developed can now be expressed explosively.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Paul

John McKean wrote some good stuff on Dragondoor a few years ago about what he calls "Constant weight training". Once a high level of strength has been reached then It basically involves dropping to lighter weights and using those weights for a lot longer than you might normally. Lifting them is done explosively and he combined them with bands to make the resistance heavier towards the end of the rep. He found his max lifts at powerlifting meetings went up even though he never lifted anywhere near maximally in the gym. I've been a life long lifter and had rings for the last 4 or 5 years. I switched to this type of lifting in the last few months and have never been as strong as I am now. Where ever possible I combine a weight with bands or bodyweight with bands so that I can accelerate fast and the bands give extra resistance in the last 1/2 or 1/3 of the rep. I train around 5 days per week, never go anywhere near failure and it's been a real revelation to me.

Paul.

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Guest cccp21
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

********* Real odd that discus went down with 400 lbs. back squat seeing that he is a large man and high relative strength is needed for the throws.I do imagine that rotaional ability is more important in the discus than linear force production.

Brandon Green

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Coach Sommer
high relative strength is needed for the throws

This is nearly correct. It is important to remember that power is expressed as strength x speed. As a consequence, grinding strength done very slowly will reduce your power output and consequently your athletic explosiveness.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Guest cccp21
John McKean wrote some good stuff on Dragondoor a few years ago about what he calls "Constant weight training". Once a high level of strength has been reached then It basically involves dropping to lighter weights and using those weights for a lot longer than you might normally. Lifting them is done explosively and he combined them with bands to make the resistance heavier towards the end of the rep. He found his max lifts at powerlifting meetings went up even though he never lifted anywhere near maximally in the gym. I've been a life long lifter and had rings for the last 4 or 5 years. I switched to this type of lifting in the last few months and have never been as strong as I am now. Where ever possible I combine a weight with bands or bodyweight with bands so that I can accelerate fast and the bands give extra resistance in the last 1/2 or 1/3 of the rep. I train around 5 days per week, never go anywhere near failure and it's been a real revelation to me.

Paul.

*************** From what i understand the Soviets in the sport of Olympic lifting lifted mostly in the 70-85% of max range.

The thing about max tempo is that force can actually exceed that of a 90% plus lift. You don't stress the connectve tissue

or the CNS as much as the heavy lifts do but get much of the same result. Not that you don't need max intensity it's that it has it's drawbacks and the volume must be watched.

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Guest cccp21
Coach,

Do you think that a large influence could be the nervous system? It is said that the nervous system is highly adaptive and I remember reading Coach Charles Poliquin stating his athletes and many people will adapt to a certain program in around 6 workouts of the same kind (the nervous system that is). Do you think that as the nervous systems activation etc begins to peak, continuing maximal strength may become less effective and even almost pointless?

Just an idea....not sure if this is 100% physiologically right at all. Trying to add to the discussion :) .

*********** Just like Bondarchuk used a complex of 12 exercices and did not use this same complex for 2 years.

Brandon Green

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Guest cccp21
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. http://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.

************* not to add to anyone's confusion BUT power training(speed-strength and strength speed) do assist maximal strength expression(Louie Simmons and Jay Schroeder)!

Brandon Green

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