Saturday, March 12, 2011

How Much Training Is Enough? - Tommy Kono

How Much Training is Enough?
by Tommy Kono

The base of the isometric contraction principle is maximum contraction of a muscle or muscle group from 7 to 10 seconds. That is all that is required to stimulate the muscles to enlarge and become stronger. Arthur Jones, who developed the Nautilus machines back in the late 60's, stressed only one set of any exercise movement on his machines but performed until another repetition was not possible . . . exercise the muscle to total failure of contraction. Any more sets or reps were not necessary to achieve development.

The total opposite of the above two principles is the concept of increased volume of workload and consequently greater tonnage in your training. This, of course, means you are performing numerous repetitions of the two lifts in addition to supplemental movements that are similar in nature to the lifts considered as assistance exercises.

There are two contrasting approaches to develop stronger muscles but the first dot not involve any technique part of Olympic weightlifting. The basic principle of the original American style of training was to perform your technique work by performing repetitions with lighter weights in the Olympic lifts to ascertain the correct pattern of lifting and then quickly move to heavier weights with fewer repetitions.

The key was to perform the lighter sets to warm up the muscles and have the correct lifting pattern and then jump to heavy weights to actually tax the muscles in performing the lifts.

If you are still in the learning stage of technique work, you may spend nearly all your time in performing the light weight/repetition stage because you need to learn to lift correctly. If you are in the advanced stage, then only a few warmup sets are all you need and you can jump right into heavy weights to tax your muscles and hone your technique.

Training at a steady pace, usually half an hour of any one lift, is more than adequate time spent to get the most out of that exercise. Any more time spent and your ability to concentrate fully on the lift will diminish. In other words, you want to quit the movement before fatigue sets in and your timing and coordination become sloppy.

For instance, if you were performing the Snatch for a half an hour, you can perform some Snatch-grip High Pulls to end the Snatching session. This supplemental exercise can be performed for only 2 or 3 sets of 2 to 3 reps, depending on the weights you are handling. They are performed to augment your Snatch but not to tax your speed, timing or exacting movement of the actual lift; however, you may want to perform these pulls correctly.

The same warmup and heavy moves can be applied to the Clean & Jerk lift. Since the Clean & Jerkj is not so exacting a move as the Snatch, fewer repetitions are needed to warm up and you can proceed to heavy weights for single repetitions immediately.

Most lifters have become accustomed to tapering down on their lifts before ending. The last set of your lifts does not have to be a lighter weight than the heavy ones you were handling. There is no need to take a lighter weight for your last set of a Snatch or Clean & Jerk.

Your last exercise in your training program can be the inclusion of some type of squats. It can be Back Squats or the Front Squats but perform them correctly. If your back is not upright as your perform the squats, you are not performing them correctly. Performing heavy squats incorrectly may impress those around you but in reality you are only fooling yourself because these squats will not help your lifting. 3 to 5 sets of 3 reps performed correctly are all you need to tax your legs for this training period.

The whole workout should not exceed 2 hours and that includes a little stretching at the beginning and end of the session. If I were training alone, my session might last an hour and a half because I do not need to wait my turn on the platform, and with no training partner there is no time spent in socializing before, after or during training time.

The training program may sound simple but it will be productive, for you will be taxing yourself without being fatigued and there is enough recovery time built in if you follow it 3 or 4 times a week.

A complicated program and adding up the total volume of work is for those who believe in the European style of training. Your volume of work compared to those who train 6 to 9 times a week will not be impressive but your lifting will improve faster than theirs.

(and this can easily be adapted to all forms of lifting)

You are training to increase your Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Anything else is unimportant, so gross volume and tremendous tonnage means nothing if the Olympic lifts are not going up.

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