by David Horne
Revised edition released by popular demand as a PDF document. Now with almost 1500 entries. Invaluable guide for researchers and collectors. 21,719 words, 97 pages.
Phase 3: Strength and Skill
As before there is an overlapping of the phases. There was some lifting in the fitness phase, some fitness work in the strength phase. We saw that the Olympic lifts figured in Schedules C and D of the strength phase and you will find that there is still a lot of assistance work in the skill phase.
It should be noted, however, that there are some vital differences plus a change of emphasis. The Olympic lifts in Schedules C and D involved sets of 3 to 5 repetitions. This is not particularly good for developing movement patterns and good technique, so as training moves into a more advanced stage repetitions are decreased and there are many doubles and singles. Once again the pyramid figures in our scheme of work. Within our overall pyramid we now have a little pyramid of repetitions - 4/3/2/1 is a common training concept.
This of course means that during this phase there will be a decrease in the total tonnage but an increase in the intensity. The tonnage will still be fairly high but as you move towards the peak the total work volume must take second place to intensity. In other words low reps must be arrived at, even if there is a decrease in total work. We must consider that the total is made up of only two lifts, the best snatch and best clean & jerk. The winner may not be the one with the best average on the six attempts, in fact his average may be very poor. We are, in the final analysis concerned only with two maximum intensity efforts.
To reach this, a fantastic volume of training must be done. All my studies on the subject seem to indicate that a plan which makes a progressive development from a wide basis of fitness to a very narrow basis of intensity is the most productive system and if we use this as a guide in every phase, it results in a logical system which gives the necessary stamina, speed, strength and finally skill.
The skill and strength phase is one of the most critical, not only from a physical point of view but mentally too. The strength phase is extremely important and probably the one which will make the greatest difference in totals from year to year. For this reason instead of a clear cut division between the skill and strength phases we prefer a very 'blurred' border where there is still a lot of strength work being done but with a shifting of emphasis. The coach should now be stressing the more correct path of movement in assistance work. I am not insinuating that pulls, etc., should be done as skill training but the lifter must try to see that instead of building power alone he aims for correct application of this power. For example, in pulling exercises he will set his knees under the bar and try to sweep the hips slightly forward and upwards instead of 'counter-balancing' by moving the shoulders and back around the hips which stay in the same place. In the front squat the feet will be placed exactly as they would be in rising from the clean; snatch balance exercises are ideal at this stage of training as they include an element of related skill as well as strength.
It is all a question of keeping priorities in mind by shifting the emphasis. New training patterns emerge although the schedule may not be greatly altered. The actual competitive lifts must be the most important exercises here, and they must all be practiced intensively each week in addition to the numerous power movements. This means that in the early stages you may have three different workouts to be done each week. The clean & jerk may in this case be treated as two lifts. A different competitive lift should have priority each session.
Excellent results have been achieved by the following regime in this final phase of training.
A) 3 days training/1 day rest/2 days training.
B) 2 days training/1 day rest/2 days training.
C) Alternate days training.
D) Tapering off period.
If you are working on a two-cycle plan this will result in A, B, C, and D being divided roughly as follows - 14 days, 12 days, 13 days, and 6 days. In a single-cycle plan A would take approximately five weeks, B - 4 weeks, C - 3 weeks of alternate day training, and D - tapering off and contest - 5 days, then one week's rest.
Next: More on the necessity of heavier weights.