Monday, November 5, 2012

[GTS Q and A] Maxes and Training Percentages

Here's a little email Q&A from this past weekend regarding training percentages and progressing toward maxes.

Email Question:

Hey Jason.

Hope you're having a good weekend!
For some reason I don't think I ever asked about this. What are the general percentages we use when we train? Like for week 1 were at 65%, week 2 were at blah blah % and so on. Are we working off projected maxes for the next comp or our previous maxes? How much do you stick to hitting percentages vs just seeing how it goes? I hope that made sense….

Yours Truely,

Ms. Guns McGee

GTS Answer:

Dear Guns McGee,

We don't operate off of true percentages like most programs because your percentages are constantly changing based on where you are in the training cycle, how well rested you are, how new you are to the sport, your technique, etc.

Competition Day Max

Here's a few maxes you could potentially base your percentages on...
  • Competition Max 
    • Perhaps either suited or equipped, assuming a de-load week, possible weight loss for weigh in, assuming your nervous system is around a 9-10 out of 10. 
    • Adrenaline is going through the roof, maybe you're caffeinated up, and you have that do or die mindset with the goal of leaving it all on the platform. 
  • A End of Training Cycle Max 
    • Which may incorporate suit/equipment, perhaps you have a de-load week, maybe not... 
    • Doesn't assume any weight loss for a weigh in. 
    • Assuming your nervous system averages around 6-8 out of 10. 
    • You're primed to hit a peak number, and you may or may not be caffeinated up. 
  • A Day to Day Max 
    • Something you could hit any day of the week, without caffeine, little sleep, stressed, full training week of other exercises/training, etc. 
  • And the Various Permutations of each of the above: 
    • Use of equipment or not, perhaps completely raw, belt, other equipment. 
    • How rested are you?
    • What's your stress levels been like? Sleep?
    • Did you eat?
    • Training at night or in the morning? Did it change from day to day?
    • Do you have a form standard you're trying to maintain or does it not matter?
    • Using stimulants?
    • What's your mindset like?
    • You brand new to training? If so your maxes will skyrocket week to week.
End of Training Cycle Max

Think about it... assuming all equipment, bars, training environment remained equal...  let's compare these 3 weeks of someone that have been training for a while...
  • Week 1: Deadlifted 290 lbs for a max & missed 300 lbs. 
    • Conditions: trained at night, well fed, no stimulants, ok day.  
    • Attempts: 100, 150, 200, 250, 290, 300/miss
  • Week 2: Deadlifted 300 lbs for a max! 
    • Conditions: trained at night, caffeinated out of their mind, well fed, and amped. 
    • Attempts: 100, 150, 200, 250, 300.  
  • Week 3: Missed 305, 300, and 290 lbs in that order.  
    • Conditions: Trained in the morning, without caffeine, barely awake, and didn't sleep very well because they were stressed out about work. 
    • Attempts: 100, 150, 200, 250, 305/miss, 300/miss, 290/miss 

Did they get STRONGER from Week 1 - 2? 
  • Opinion 1: If you're comparing those two days, than yes, they were stronger in week 2.  
  • Opinion 2: Perhaps 290 was the perfect stimulus to allow their body to adapt to deadlift 300 lbs the following week.  
  • Opinion 3: Perhaps they were just as capable of hitting 300 lbs on week 1, but since they selected 290 first and it was such a grind, it burned them out to go any higher that day. Week 2 they were more selective in their weight choices and didn't burn themselves out with 290 first.

Did they get WEAKER from Week 2-3?

  • Opinion 1: If they are comparing those two days, than yes, they were weaker on week 3 than week 2.  
  • Opinion 2: Perhaps their body was still recovering from the 300 lbs the previous week that it wasn't capable of replicating or going beyond that number.
  • Opinion 3: I would argue they didn't lose their potential to lift 300 lbs, and who knows probably could have lifted even more assuming all of the conditions were perfect. But assuming all of the conditions were perfect, did they just get stronger or did they just create the perfect storm to lift a new max?

Working technique under his day to day max.

If had to theorize on the percentages we use at GTS, most of the time we are operating in the 70-90% range of your day to day max, and dip into low-mid 90's pre-competition prior to our de-load week.  If our day to day max increases... in theory our competition max should increase as well, assuming we do all the prep work required for competition day. 

I'll then use that training cycle max, previous competition Personal Records, as the perfect storm of conditions listed above (like stress, weight loss, etc.) to predict realistic POTENTIAL Max for Competition, which will help me select their attempts for competition.

Depending on the training cycle, exercise, etc we usually start off looking for a Clean/Perfect form 5-8RM, and we'll just progress in either weight or reps from that point each week depending on what the focus is on.  Percentages are great, but there's no perfect formula and for some it overcomplicates things.

In general, you want to leave your self lots of room to grow, provide a small but significant enough stimulus each week to force the body to adapt. If your number isn't increasing... we either did too much or too little.  And that is entirely dependent on the person, how they recover, their calories, hormones, and all of the conditions listed above.

In my opinion, when it comes to strength, unless you have an extensive amount of time to rest, keep your stress levels low, eat, massage therapist, etc... it's better to error on the side of less than more, as those other factors listed will play a huge role in your adaptation.

That said usually most people have competing goals... like they want to get strong, muscular, lose fat, more conditioned and get more explosive all at the same time. Which means they either want or have to do more work, which will slow or halt adaptation in other areas all together.

THE KEY is to pick a priority and cycle the other goals in and out as necessary.  Typically our GTS goals are focused on strength and movement, and hypertrophy/fat loss/conditioning get cycled in based on where we are at in the training cycle.

  • If strength is the priority 
    • Less volume is more. Our goal is to keep the nervous system primed and ready to lift relatively heavy week to week. (think end of a training cycle). This is why our accessory and conditioning work becomes less of a priority.
  • If movement is the priority 
    • Light/moderate weight work well and we use more repetition to condition patterns. 
    • Since our nervous system doesn't take as much of a hit we can typically incorporate other things like hypertrophy/fat loss/conditioning. (think beginning of a training cycle)
Matty C Pulling a new End of Cycle max using equipment.

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