Saturday, January 9, 2010

Conditioning for Overload Training - Russ Knipp

Conditioning for Overload Training
by Russ Knipp

The purpose of weight training is to increase your own ability to defy the law of gravity by jumping, running, hitting, lifting, pushing and throwing. This is important for all sports. Athletes need to train scientifically with heart in order to achieve maximum results.

A good athlete knows that one should never workout heavy all of the time – the continual tearing down of the muscle causes poor results in contraction efficiency. Overtraining in any sport causes a buildup of lactic acid (waste products) in the muscles that restricts their stretching ability. If a muscle becomes too congested it is highly vulnerable to pulling and tearing.

Some of the overall body symptoms of being overtrained are loss of appetite, restless sleep, tension and irritability. This is why proper nutrition, methodical training and adequate rest are vital to maintaining steady progress.


In many long years of weight training, I have found that the only way to make gains is to train under a well-developed program. Before developing your program, you must first find out how much you can do in each exercise. Suppose you can bench press 200 pounds. Your whole routine is based on percentages of this poundage. Based on a three day a week program, a weekly routine for your bench would look like this:

First Week
70% of 200
75% of 200
70% of 200

Second Week
85 %

Third Week

Fourth Week

The first two weeks the exercises are done using 7 sets of 5 reps; the third week they are done using 7 sets of 3. During the first three weeks, use the first three sets of repetitions to warm up the muscles by using progressively heavier weights. Then lift the maximum percentage for the remaining four sets. For example:

Set No. 1 – 120 lbs.
Set No. 2 – 150 lbs.
Set No. 3 – 150 lbs.
Set No. 4 – 190 lbs.
Set No. 5 – 190 lbs.
Set No. 6 – 190 lbs.
Set No. 7 – 190 lbs.

The fourth week the exercises are done using progressively heavier weights, with fewer repetitions, to warm up to your new maximum weight. For example:

Set No. 1 – 120 lbs. for 5 reps.
Set No. 2 – 140 lbs. x 5 reps.
Set No. 3 – 160 lbs. x 3.
Set No. 4 – 180 x 1.
Set No. 5 – 195 x 1.
Set No. 6 – 210 x 1.
Set No. 7 – 210 x 1.

The first week has to be light in order preparation to go heavier in the remaining weeks. Likewise, after the heavier workouts in the fourth week, you must work light again to recuperate from the previous heavy workouts. Once you’ve exceeded your previous best in the fourth week, you again begin the first week with your new percentages of your new best poundage. This percentage routine applies to all exercises.

The exercises I recommend in a general power routine for all sports are as follows:

Back Squat – back must be arched at all times.
Curls – these should be done with the back and hips resting strictly against a wall.
Deadlift – the back must be arched, legs lifting first, then lifting with the back by bringing it to a straight position, then continuing upward with a trap shrug.
Bent Arm Pullover – done lying on the back with the head extended over the end of a bench.

Figure out your program with the exercises I recommended after you have determined your maximum for singles in each of the lifts.


Note – Before beginning Phase Two you must first go through Phase One at least four to five times.

The principle involved in overload training lies in moving the weight from a partial position (such as in the press from eye height on the power rack) to a lockout position. The partial movement enables you to handle much more weight than you would handle in a full range movement. This puts a greater demand on more muscle fibers (strengthening the connective tissue that binds the fibers) resulting in greater muscle efficiency.

The following weight training program is a percentage-based program combined with heavy overload movements to reach maximum results in a shorter period of time without the effects of being overtrained.

The percentages used in this program are designed to make a weight trainee work on specialized training loads which increase intensity. To follow the program you must keep a written work diary.

First begin by determining your maximum in the following exercises:


A. Bench Press
Position one – full extension from chest to lockout.
Position two – six inches from chest to lockout.
Position three – twelve inches from chest to lockout.

B. Overhead Press
Position one – shoulders to lockout position.
Position two – eye height to lockout position.
Position three – two-thirds to lockout position.


(The squatting muscle groups are the strongest and largest muscle mass on the body and to the detriment of many an athlete are often the least considered in athletic performance. All-around successful performance has its primary foundation in leg strength. Overworking and fatiguing the leg muscles can mean defeat the day of competition.)

A. Front Squat – arched back (shoulders back over hips); rotating around the knee instead of the hip forcing the weight on the front thigh. Use a three inch board to help keep back vertical.

B. Back Squat – Full squat, weight behind the neck using hips as axis point which forces the weight on the gluteus. Do not use a board.

C. Two/Thirds Squat – (same position as back squat) A partial movement enabling the athlete to handle greater weights. Use a power rack to insure safety and handle maximum weight.


Pull weight from floor to chest catching the bar at the shoulders.


Use a wider grip than the clean and pull from the floor as high as possible without catching the bar.

V. Deadlift

VI. Parallel Dip (if desired)
Narrow grip with weight around waist.

The Phase Two overload program utilizes the same principles as the Phase One program percentage-wise, but is based on a five week time period instead of four. The first two weeks the exercises are done using five repetitions, and the third and fourth weeks are done using three reps. The fifth week the exercises are done using progressively heavier weights until a new maximum is established, working up in singles. For example, the bench press:

Position one – max is 225 lbs.
235x1: new max.

Position two – max is 285 pounds.
300x1: new max.

This is a four day a week program to force greater gains in strength. These exercises I recommend work all major muscle groups needed for all around strength in all sports. There could be a few auxiliary exercises added such as situps and perhaps a special exercise for your sport (for example, neck work for wrestling, lat pulldowns for swimming etc.).


(The importance of this program lies in this fact:
Only Mondays and Tuesdays are overload days. You exercise using three positions only on these two days.)

Monday (pulling)
1. Power Clean – close grip.
2. High Pulls – wide grip.
3. Deadlifts – close grip.
Situps, curls, etc.

Tuesday (squatting and pressing)
1. Squats – all three types (front, back, and two/thirds.)
2. Bench Press – all three positions.
3. Overhead Press – all three positions (dips, optional).

Wednesday – Rest

Power Cleans only. Example: 135-155-175-195.
Curls – four sets with the same weight.
Situps, etc.

1. Front Squat – three warmups, then three work sets with the same weight.
2. Bench Press – Position one ONLY.
3. Dips.

Saturday and Sunday – Rest.

Application of Percentages

Week 1
Use 5 reps sets, Monday/Tuesday 75%, and Thursday/Friday 70%.
Week 2
5 reps sets, Mon/Tues 85%, and Thurs/Fri 75%.
Week 3
3 reps, Mon/Tues 87%, Thurs/Fri 82%.
Week 4
3 reps, Mon/Tues 92%, Thurs/Fri 65%.
Week 5
New Max on Monday/Tuesday (105%), Thursday/Friday 5 reps sets at 65%.

Through studies and practical experience it has been found that it takes seven to nine days to recuperate from maximum performances. Workouts during this time should be light, from 65 to 75%.

(hypothetical weights)

I. BENCH PRESS – power rack program.
Position one: 3 warmup sets, then 3 work sets with the same weight. Example: 135-175-205-225-225-225.
Position two: one set increases between position one and position two, then 2 sets with the same weight. Example: 245-260-260.
Position three: one set increased, 2 sets with the same weight. Example: 285-305-305.

A. Power Cleans: 3 sets of warmups, three sets of same weight. Example: 135-155-175-195-195-195.
B. High Pulls: 2 sets of increased weight adding 50 pounds above the last set of power cleans to the bar to finish the last 2 sets. Example: 210-230-245-245.
C. Deadlifts: 2 sets to warm up, 1 set adding 75 pounds above the last high pull to finish. Example: 250-275-310.

A. Front Squat: 3 warmup sets, 3 sets with the same weight. Example: 135-155-175-195-195.
B. Full Back Squat: 2 sets increased, 2 sets the same. Example: 225-250-275-275.
C. Two/Thirds Squat and calf Raises: 1 warm up set, 2 sets same weight adding 50 pounds to bar above last back squat. Example: 300-325-325.

Position one: military presses, 3 warmups and 3 sets with same weight.
Position two: 2 sets increasing weights and 3 sets with same weight.
Position three: two sets increasing weight and 2 sets with same weight.

2 sets with bodyweight to warm up and 3 sets with weights, keeping the same poundage.

unless you faithfully follow your program you will not get results. Many athletes faint in their minds and then get careless in following their program, or just give up before the result is achieved. They must build the power to stick to it. We are what we think we are. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)

I have found in practical experience that by having the mind of Christ, the Christian is the only athlete who can never truly be defeated. As man, He took every conceivable insult, degradation, and physical torture humanly possible.

When agony and torment were at their worst, Christ never made a mental compromise to give in. He endured even to the point of crucifixion because he knew the sins on man were place on that cross with Him. Then history records His resurrection from the grave.

As a result of receiving Christ into our lives we can have the unfailing, immovable toughness of the mind of Christ. We can fight every physical setback because we will have it in our minds that no matter what obstacle comes before us, we can endure to the goal through the power of Christ.

The following are some Bible verses that I have found helpful in my relationship with Christ and as an athlete:

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not tire; they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31)

Cast you burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalms 55:22)

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

I can do everything God asks of me with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power. (Philippians 4:13)

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