Monday, January 6, 2014

The First Tier: Gaining the Psychological Advantage

Throughout their training lifetime a lifter may find themselves at a plateau in a lift. They're stuck. The weights wont move. The bar alone is heavy. Desperate they scour through their training logs. Analyze every workout. Nitpick nuances otherwise unnoticed. Then, bewildered, they find no clearly identifiable flaws. 

The weights were moving fast.

The sets felt smooth. 

Then suddenly, it stopped. Why? 

Perhaps sometimes the issue is not simply how fast the bar is moving, or how many reps are done across however many sets. Maybe the issue is more subtle. Perhaps the weights became heavy not because the physical effort required was too great, but the mental effort was beyond them. 

That is where training in the 1st Tier comes into play. 

There are limits which we impose on ourselves and often times in lifting those limits revolve around specific weights or percentages of your tested capabilities. The 225, 315, 405, and so on and so forth quagmires. 

That is why I advocate training so closely to your maximum capabilities. How close? Well, over the last year or so I've been training around weights that I figure are an "everyday 2 rep max." These are weights that I figure I could hit any day of the week for two reps. Rain or shine. Sleep or not. Drunk or sober. 

Ok... well maybe not that last part. But you catch my drift. 

A training plan centered around this average performance is close enough to build confidence under the bar. That is the training factor that many fail to incorporate. But at the same time it is far enough away from true maximums to evoke any sort of cyclical fatigue and those painfully slow and grinding reps. 

Don't get me wrong, the grind has its merits, but not when done multiple times per week- for weeks on end. 

A lifter approaching their daily maxes is not a new or revolutionary idea. I certainly didn't create it. But I am an advocate of it because it has value beyond developing physical strength- it helps promote psychological strength. 

Confidence under intensity. 

An example template would look something like this:

(Everyday 2RM% x Reps x Sets)

Week One: 85% x3, 87.5% x2, 90% x1x3
Week Two: 87.5% x3x3
Week Three: 87.5% x3, 90% x2, 92.5% x1x3
Week Four: 90% x3x3
Week Five: 92.5% x3, 95% x2, 97.5% x1x3
Week Six: 85% x1, 90% x1, 95% x1, 100%x1+ (Last Set AMRAP)

Then develop your next training program based off of how well you feel your 2RM has progressed. 

The everyday 2RM is how I've been basing my training maxes off of for nearly the last year, and it has been working pretty damn well. Sure I've fallen into my own pitfalls of psychological cowardice, but lately... I have been progressing nearly as fast as I was two years ago when I first started training for powerlifting. 

So in the future should you come to a grinding halt, consider that maybe it isn't your training that is wrong, maybe your mind isn't right under the bar. 

1 comment:

  1. My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more!
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