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How Strong is Strong Enough?

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Matthew Thome

on 30 April 2015

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Transcript of How Strong is Strong Enough?

How Strong is Strong Enough?
“How Strong is Strong Enough?”

How important is general strength?


How much do our athletes really require?

“Adapting Training to Maximize Performance”

Improving efficiency of General Physical Preparation (GPP)

Know when to move on and what comes next

The Importance of GPP
The base of the pyramid; the foundation

Without a solid base, you won’t reach a high peak

Provides groundwork for adaptation to more intense, specialized training
Improves the quality of SPP

Injury prevention

Relationship to performance?

Michigan Tech Examples
Michigan Tech Football Strength Numbers (Back Squat):

Most Linemen: high 300’s - mid 400’s for 14-16 reps
Most skill players: 305-355 for 14-16 reps

Junior (now Senior) DT, 260lbs: Back squat 535 for 10 reps

Freshmen corner back, 156lbs: Back squat 285 for 20 reps after 3 months of training

Freshmen running back, 192lbs: Back squat 335 for 14 reps

Utilized 1 set for about half to two-thirds of the off-season, 2 sets for the other; no greater then 85% intensity (no less then 8 reps)

Freshmen have only used one set thus far; no greater then about 70% load (or no less then 14 reps)

Adapting Training to Maximize Performance

Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk:Transfer of Training
1972 Olympic Gold Medalist in the hammer throw
Doctor of Pedagogical Science

His athletes won all hammer throw medals in 4 consecutive (non-boycotted) Olympic Games
Yuri Sedykh is still the world record holder in the hammer throw (set in 1986)


Bondarchuk, A. P. (2007). Transfer of Training in Sports (Vols. I - II). Muskegon, MI: Ultimate Athlete Concepts.

The research:
About 7000 athletes
20 years long
Compared performance in general and specific exercises to performance in competition

Dr. Bondarchuk wrote a book (eventually 2 volumes) inspired by research of his:
General Exercises: Sprint Performance
General Exercises: Throwing Performance
Sedykh
Shot Put Throwers
Hammer Throwers
100m Sprinters
200m Sprinters
Transfer of Training
Primary Findings:
There are upper limits to general exercises and, specifically, their transfer to competition


Performance in the weight room, in general exercises, is not necessarily a good indicator of success in competition

Chasing Strength?
So why is there so much “talk” about general training and why do spend so much time developing general strength?


Increasing general strength is only a small part of what we do

Important, but a means to an end
Not the ultimate goal; stronger for what purpose?




This leads me to believe:

1. The importance we place on general strength is still a bit skewed
(It is important, but the level of importance is relative to the level of the athlete)

2. We have been negatively influenced by sport coaches’ demands
Too much focus on record board numbers

And/or

3. GPP is not being carried out efficiently
If what we were doing to increase general strength was working well, then why are we continually searching for “new” methods or the next big thing? Why are we always working to develop more?

Michigan Tech Examples
Michigan Tech Football Strength Numbers (Back Squat):

Most Linemen: high 300’s - mid 400’s for 14-16 reps
Most skill players: 305-355 for 14-16 reps

Junior (now Senior) DT, 260lbs: Back squat 535 for 10 reps

Freshmen corner back: back squat 285 for 20 reps after 3 months of training (bw = 156lbs)

Freshmen running back: back squat 335 for 14 reps (192lbs)

Utilized 1 set for about half to one-third of the off-season, 2 sets for the other; no greater then 85% intensity (no less then 8 reps)

Freshmen have only used one set thus far; no greater then about 70% load (or no less then 14 reps)

How Did We Get There?
Simplifying GPP
If key principles are followed properly, GPP is very easy to develop


The development of general strength will become a by-product of the process, not a primary training target


It will develop so fast that you may actually need to deliberately slow it down

Hans Selye: Training As A Stressor
1938: “when an organism is exposed to a stimulus to the quality or intensity to which it is not adapted, it responds with a reaction which has been termed General Adaptation Syndrome.”
“It seems to us that more or less pronounced forms of this three-stage reaction represent the usual response of the organism to stimuli such as temperature changes, drugs, muscular exercise, etc.”

Garkavi, Ukolova, Kvakina (Late 1960s)
Decided to complete Selye’s research to verify how an organism will respond to stimuli of different magnitudes


Their hypothesis, according to Selye’s theory:

What Garkavi, et al. Found
Repetitive, high level stressors decrease the organisms resistance to the stressor (Stress Reaction)

Low and medium “doses” increase the organisms resistance (Training and Activation reactions, respectively)

“For every substance, small doses stimulate, moderate doses inhibit, large doses kill.”
Arndt-Schulz Law (1888)

“everything is a poison, nothing is a poison, it all depends on the dosage”
Paracelsus (1493-1541)

Stress and Adaptation:
Dose is Everything
The same dose of a drug/medication that would be effective in treating a condition in an adult could kill a baby or small child

Low and moderate level athletes do not need as strong of a “dose” of training as high level athletes



Always err on the side of too little
“I seldom see an undertraining injury, and undertraining is quickly solved.” Henk Kraaijenhof

Sets and Reps for Strength?
NSCA Recommendations

For who?

Should 10yr old beginner and an Olympic athlete both use 2-6x5 for strength?

Where do you start?
Baechle, T. R., & Earle, R. W. (2008). Essentials of Strength and Conditioning (Thrid ed., p. 419). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Dr. Yessis and 1x20
This is the system I’ve used to develop strength at a great rate


Start with low intensity and low volume (low dose; below the “threshold of adaptation”) and deliberately, gradually progress


"Undershoot” the dose in the beginning; novelty will still provide stimulus for adaptation

Too Much of a Good Thing:
The Point of Diminishing Returns
My athletes develop strength too quickly

May need to deliberately slow down or halt strength development to eliminate negative impact on other aspects of development/training

Adaptation Energy:
Weighing Cost vs Effect
“…every organism posses a certain amount of ‘adaptation energy’ and once this is consumed the performance of adaptive processes is no longer possible.”

Selye, H. (1938, May 21). Adaptation Energy. Nature, 141, 926.

My Observations:
Less is More
One of the biggest issues I see in Strength and Conditioning: (and this appears to be improving)

Excessive volume and/or intensity
More work eats up more adaptation energy
This retards the development process

You may be able to develop the same amount of strength (eventually), but it will take a lot more work and a lot more time

The extra work will have a negative impact on everything else you’re trying to develop

Slow down your progression; “master” each step

Full adaptation to each stimulus; change the stimulus when further progress is needed
Higher potential peak
Faster results

“How do you know you're not doing too much if you’ve never done too little?”
Find the threshold

Goal:
Foster the best environment for optimal adaptation, don’t try to force it (you can’t)
This applies to every aspect of training

Progressing Beyond GPP


Knowing when to progress beyond GPP is just as important as knowing how to properly build a general base

This is not black and white (GPP then SPP); it is a gradual process
Dynamic Correspondence becomes increasingly more important

What is Specificity?
Dynamic Correspondence

1. Same muscle groups involved
2. Same ROM
3. Same type of muscular contraction
4. Emphasis portion of the ROM
5. Magnitude of force and duration applied

All 5 are not always applied but progression should lead to greater inclusion

Bondarchuk’s Exercise Classification
Types of General exercises:

General preparatory exercises
do not repeat the competitive actions as a whole or in their separate parts

Specialized preparatory exercises
(same as general prep) but use similar muscle groups that participate in the sports skill

Types of specialized exercises:

Specialized-developmental exercises
repeat the parts or whole actions that are seen in the execution of the sports skill

Competitive exercises
modeled to repeat the competitive conditions, making them easier or more difficult

When Does Each Apply?
Lower level athletes have greater transfer from any exercise

As an athlete develops, general exercises will have lower transfer

However, these general exercises should still be utilized; they are a necessary stimulus
(And may still encompass the majority of your training time)

Specificity
A more specific exercise is not always a better exercise
Depends on the situation

Most specific: competition in the sport
If the most specific thing was always the best, we’d just play the sport for 100% of our training

Why Doesn’t That Work?
Progressive overload
Volume, intensity, exercise novelty
“something to change to”


If we are always doing the same thing, there is no (new) stimulus to spark adaptation


This is why some exercises with lower transfer still have their place in the programs of higher level athletes

Progressing Beyond GPP
It’s easy to get caught up in squat and bench numbers when they are consistently rising

If our football team is as strong or stronger then a large, Division I school, does that mean we would beat them in competition?

Why not? What’s missing?
This is where our focus should be once GPP has been developed properly

Performance in the weight room, in general exercises, is not necessarily a good indicator of success in competition

Specialized Means
Dr. Yessis’ specialized exercises
Dr. Bondarchuk has found there is not an upper limit to the transfer of specialized exercises to performance
An increase in Specilized Strength = Increase in performance

Specific jump exercises and plyometrics
Technique with cutting; increasing specificity
Type of Strength (Starting strength, explosive strength, speed strength, etc.)
Utilizing general exercises in a more specific way (Changing ROM, etc.)
Vision training/brain training

Individualization
Autoregulation: Athletes will progress at different rates
The “art” of training includes recognition of this and constant regulation of training in response

Specificity and Injury Prevention
Last season, no non-contact injuries on the entire football team

How did we do this?
Trained every joint
Utilized high rep ranges early on; focused on technique and large/full ROM
Small increases in intensity

Prepare your athletes for the demands they will incur in competition (Dynamic Correspondence)

In Summary
Based on what I often see, read and hear:

Starting with too advanced GPP, lack progression to SPP
Starting at step 4 and progressing to 6
We need start at 1 and progress to 10

Simplify GPP and improve efficiency
Less is More; Be precise
Continue moving forward





Questions?
Matt Thome
mdthome@mtu.edu
The Stress Reaction
Be Precise!
Full transcript