Friday, August 2, 2013

Planning a Training Program, Part Seven

The Need for Heavy Poundages,
and Some Skill Phase Programs

We have pointed out the necessity for heavier weights and lower repetitions even if it means lessening the total amount of work. It could be argued that if it is easier to build strength and muscular endurance, etc., with heavy weights done for 5 or 6 repetitions then this should be continued. This system would work but we have seen that lower repetitions - doubles and singles - work even better for several reasons. High on the list is the fact that there is a psychological urge to handle heavy weights approximating to competition efforts as the contest approaches.

Secondly, it is a fact that lifts with light or medium weights do not repeat the patterns which are done with top weights no matter how skilled the lifter may be. In case this fact is disputed let me repeat the findings reported by Russian researcher Arootunyan in Theory and Practice of Physical Culture (1964). This was an analysis of dynamograms and mechanograms of lifters doing the quick lifts. The tests were on a wide variety of subjects - 14 of good club level, 36 first class lifters, and 32 Masters of Sport, which in the USSR means good international standard. The investigations recorded 2,460 lifts. There were five snatches and five jerks per subject with weights of 60-65% maximum, 70-75, 80-85, 90-95 and 100%. Each of the five lifts was performed one time every three to five minutes.

His findings were most interesting. The study of the jerk showed that with the heaviest weights the movement pattern was much more stereotyped: "There is a strong and deeper stereotype of movement, which does not appear with lesser weights."

Where the poundage was 70-75 and 80-85% maximum, there were different results in distribution of effort. There appeared to be a 'braking' in the lift which was not present when the competitor used top weights, although the best lifters could repeat the movement pattern more accurately with the lower weights than the lesser lifters could. Arootunyan concluded that this showed that the Masters of Sport and first class athletes had better developed 'muscular feel', or what our sports technicians would term 'kinesthetic sense'. The second and third class lifters had the proper stereotyping only in the heavier weights. These remarks deal with the jerk but the same picture was seen in the snatch. In top lifters the 75-85% weights do not permit the best technique and tempo.

It is highly recommended that for perfection the lifter must work up to maximum and near-maximum weights during training. 

I am indebted to the late John P. Jesse for the detailed information about his research as it shows how thoroughly the Russians treated the subject, and one can have confidence in the validity of the research.

Poundages in Assistance Work

In this phase you can use poundages which are actually higher than your best efforts in similar Olympic lifts, e.g. snatch and clean pulls. Not more than 5 repetitions should be done and most likely, with such heavy lifts, poundages will be less and the accent on sets rather than repetitions. Around 5-8 sets are common but seldom, if ever, should you go above 10 sets.

In such assistance work you should consider 90-100% of a similar Olympic movement as a medium-heavy weight; anything under 70% would be light.

These different loads are specifically mentioned as lifting must not continue heavy loads exclusively in spite of what has been said earlier regarding skill training. If you continue to push the 80-95% poundages you will go stale very quickly. Over-training is a great problem for dedicated trainees. A number of enthusiasts are scared to lower poundages in case they lose the progress they have made, but in fact it is by not lowering that they will go 'stale'.

Whether on assistance work or the actual Olympic lifts you must ease off every two or three weeks (the Russians advise a drop after 6-7 sessions, that is about two weeks' training under  their system).

There is one final point about poundages and repetitions in this phase which relates to the total tonnage used. We have stressed the need for increasing intensity but we must be careful that the tonnage is not increased too much. The problem need not resolve itself into merely juggling with repetitions and poundages, for a further aspect which must not be overlooked is that the number of exercises can also be cut. This will allow increased poundage without decreased volume in that schedule when it is felt desirable.

Some Skill Phase Schedules

In all the following schedules the poundages and increases depend a great deal on your personal standard. A world champion might start 90 kg. under his top lift but if you only do 70 kg. on the same lift then obviously you must adapt the poundages and increases accordingly. The suggestions provide a fairly average guide.

There is a different workout for each training session per week, e.g. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. It is suggested that heavy try-outs be on Sundays.

Workout 1

Heave Jerks: Dip at start and finish, no foot movement. Start approx. 30 kg. below top. Work up in 5 kg. jumps as follows - 3, 3, 2, 2, singles to top training weight. Follow with 2-3 singles at this weight. Drop 12 kg. and do one single. Add 5 kg. and do one single.

Snatch Start: 30 kg. below starting poundage. Do sets of 3's and 2's working up in 5-7.5 kg. jumps to top. Do several singles (maximum of 6) with top training poundages.

Front Squats: 3 sets of 5 reps: light - medium - heavy.

Cleans From Hang: 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1.

Workout 2 
Power Snatch and Snatch: The procedure here is to power snatch the first few sets. When you need to dip, start full snatches on the next set. Do 6-7 sets of 2 reps, plus 3-6 singles, increasing the weight each set. Do 2 singles with top training weight.

Halting Dead Lift (straps): Hold for 5 seconds minimum then pull as high and as fast as possible. Repeat twice only.

Roman Chair Situps: Weight at chest. 3, 3, 2, 1.

3 Standing Long Jumps and 3 jumps to touch board.

Workout 3

Cleans: 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, increasing poundages. Drop 10 kg. 1 clean & jerk. Add 5-7.5 kg. 1 clean & jerk.

Heave and Sink in Split Position: 5 sets of 2 reps, 5 singles, increasing poundages in all sets.

High Pulls (snatch grip): 4-6 sets of 3 reps increasing weight in the first 3 sets only.

Front Squats or Lunges Squats: 3-5 reps; light - medium - heavy.

Snatch Balance Exercise: 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 4-6 singles increasing in all sets except singles.

Situps: several sets of 10 reps. Weight behind neck.

Workout 4

100 Up (run on spot): 100 knee lifts, fast as possible for the last 20.

Jerks from Racks: 3, 2, 3, 2, 5-8 singles going as high as possible. Every effort should be made to go well above best clean.

Snatches: 3, 3, 2, 3 singles, to approximately 85-90% of best.

Push Press: 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1, increasing weight each set.

Roman Chair Situps: Several sets of 10 reps, weight behind neck.

Next: Pre-contest training, tapering off, and flexibility in lifting.

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