Just as steel is forged in extreme heat, strength and speed are developed in physical as well as psychological stress. Said stress is not merely the emotional pressure but physical caused by unstable settings. Essentially the road to success starts from leaving the ‘comfort zone’ for both physical and psychological reasons.
Part of the physical aspects of departing the ‘comfort zone’ is respecting the importance of imperfection in training and managing tension. Both of these elements play a major role in the ‘iron game’ whether the individual is enduring through sets with peak contraction, yoke carries, running in sand dunes or (abdominal) plank holds. Each involve, to varying degrees, imperfection and sees the trainee managing tension (and optimal posture) during long duration movements.
You’re as strong as your weakest link
You truly are only strong as your weakest link, whether that is physical, emotional or in sport, tactical. Within strength development, this 'weakest link' is quickly seen in the ability to manage posture under duress and the more directly the 'strength curve'. The ‘strength curve’, graphical presented, is best considered as the force produced during the full range of movement (joint angles). Many explanations make the 'strength curve' sound remarkably complex but in-truth it is very easy to understand and simple common sense. Summarily, the 'strength curve' can be considered as such:
• Ascending, as a Squat, where the movement is easier near the end of the action
• Descending, as a High Pull, where the movement is more difficult near the end of the action
• Parabolic, as a Biceps curl, where the movement is more difficult near the middle section of the action
Training tools such as weight releases, bands and chains are extremely valuable when addressing the strength curve and work in conjunction with imperfection and managing tension.
To be fast train fast
As an example and with Squats, the base of movement is the most difficult section of the lift where the individual is at a mechanical joint disadvantage. With emphasis upon ‘bar speed’, bands or chains are set-up with minimal load at the (basement) bottom of movement (‘deloading’) As the range of movement expands (individual rising in Squats) increased ‘chain weight’ or ‘band expansion’ occurs, in the case of chains all links are off the ground, thus providing the user greater muscular stimulation and ‘over-loading’ sections of the ‘strength curve’.
Quite naturally there are many approaches to what precise mixture of bar to chain weight and naturally should vary with lifting maturity and personal traits. The ‘best solution’ is safety first and find an area of confidence but typically the total chain weight for intermediate level near the start of their training will see chain 15 to 20 per cent of one rep max. That said I place emphasis upon patience as Squats with chains will tax the core quickly.
• Squats Deadstop (parallel position) 60% + 15% chains*, 6 sets x 4 reps
• Snatch Pulls 60% + 15% chains*, 6 sets x 4 reps
• Bulgarian Squats 75% + 15% chains*, 6 sets x 3 reps
* load is effectively ‘deloaded’ in base position and completely off the ground once fully upright
Prepared by John Davies
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