Is Successful Strength Training like Marriage ?

Successful Strength training like marriage is measured in years not weeks or months

Pay attention to the basics . Lift often, lift heavy (5 plus, but vary from 5 to 1) be happy with small increases. Every relationship or “thing” in your life requires consistency

Don’t panic if you plateau.

In what other part of (real) human existence do we expect to have increases all the time . We can tamper with economics and pretend we have yearly growth: some NHS workers ( apparently ) get a grade increase each year , but that always. always unravels. “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow…….’

The hall marks of successful strength training (marriage) is patience and maturity: watch for the opportunity to improve but don’t obsess, be happy with consolidation, treasure consistency and above all, be confident enough to rest and take it easy.

Eat well and sleep well

Bear in mind that all advanced programming is dedicated to one phenomenon, failure. Many marriages fail because one partner isn’t happy with the perfection they have, and instead indulges in fantasy . Don’t let the strength porn of a few gifted ( psychotic) individuals deprave and corrupt your normal image of how things are.

Failure is rushing at fantasy target too hard and fast.

Having preached consistency, it’s equally essential to mix it up and be creative. Add some strongman training, add and vary assistance exercises.

Variety has always been the spice of life But variety is still just a spice. It makes the fundamentals seem a bit different that’s all. It still needs the fundamentals/

In short, don’t see strength as something geeky or the preserve of experts. See it as the perfect romance or marriage, demanding consistent loyalty commitment and work , along with romance and variation.

So to be successful, research how to be romantic and simply build it into your strength regime

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Olympic lifts as a percentage of your back squat

It’s a big, big, sweep of the arm, but most of your lifts can be (could be) compared to your back squat. If you back squat 100kg, the chances are you can snatch up to 60kg, and clean 75kg. Bear in mind these figures could vary by as much as 15%

Front SquatSnatchClean
 87.5% 60% 75%
Overhead Squat
Power SnatchPower Clean
DeadliftSnatch PullClean Pull
 125% 90%100%
Christian Thibaudeau adds extra ratios and insights  here
Waxman’s gym has a fascinating “Weightlifting Lift Calculator” here
Box Rox also has a nice assessment tool here
My take home message is this: once you start struggling with your olympic lifts, and your technique is quite good, start to consider improving your strength.

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Prilepin table

Assuming you get to a decent gym, that allows you to do some barbell movements, how do you go about developing the strength you so long for? The reality is that the average Gym instructor may know a bit about hypertrophy ( ” 3 sets of 10 mate!”) but that’s about it. Sitting in a Globo gym among a pile of machines does that to people. It’s tragic. But, let’s say, you have something heavy and you want to lift it, how many sets, how many reps?

One of the secrets of elite trainers, like me, is that we are quite well-read: we look at British, American, and Russian strength training literature. ( mind you, if  Tabata is Japanese, add Japanese literature to that list).An interesting piece of research was carried out by soviet Sports scientist, AS Prilepin, who studied the training logs of  1000 leading weightlifting champions. The table below is an averaging of these logs and shows the % of 1 rep max, the number of reps performed per set,  the optimal amount of reps per workout, and the range of reps used indicated by the research. This table is specifically for gaining maximal strength

The Prilepin Table: 
IntensityReps per setRecommended optimal Total of RepsRange of reps seen in research
Below 70%3 – 62418-30
70 – 79%3 – 61812 – 24
80 – 89%2 – 41510 – 20
90% and above1 – 274 – 10

There are of course a few points worthy of mention. These tables were extracted from the training journals of Olympic weight lifters and it’s possible to argue that this would not apply to other lifts ( the slower lifts like the squat, deadlift press, etc).

This also assumes you have a reliable 1 rep max figure, and for that matter, an up-to-date one.

What I don’t know ( and if anyone does, please let me know) does he use the idea of a 1 rep max as your best ever lift. If you look at Zatsiorsky and Kraemer, they establish a difference between a training max and a competition 1 rep max. They suggest that the difference is about 12.5%  +/- 2.5% in superior weightlifters. The further makes the distinction that a training max is  a load you lift with no emotional arousal which can be monitored by your heart rate. If someone says, lift that weight, and your heart rate zooms up in anticipation, that load is  (probably)  above your training max. This,of course, assumes some experience. Stopping the average sedentary person and saying, lift that weight, will probably get most people’s heart rate up!

These tables and information are, of course, a snapshot. I’m not discussing long-term fatigue, issues of scheduling.


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