Okay guys I got tired of telling you same thing in a different way, so I decided to dive a little deeper into the subject and educate y’all on some of the best ways to get bigger and stronger. I invested in a book called Scientific Principles of Strength Training, which goes into detail about how to set up a split and gain strength. A lot of the principles are common sense, but once the concept is expanded they become really interesting. If you’ve read any of my posts then you know I believe in a style of training that focuses on the basics and ignores the bullshit, like bosu-ball dumbbell kegel squeezes. Thankfully this book backs me up, so at least I’m on the right track. Just so you guys know, this book was authored by a PhD named Mike Israetel and Chad Wesely Smith. Both of these guys are beyond strong so if you don’t know who they are you need to do some research on them. I’ll give you a short synopsis, CWS has squatted over 900 pounds raw, and he is a professional strongman. He’s strong.
Okay, now I’m going to give you the first step to creating your own strength split, or at the very least understanding whether or not your program is any good. The first and most important factor in creating a program is specificity. Think about it this way, you can practice hitting forehands all day, but if your goal is to squat more then hitting forehands for tennis won’t do you any good. No matter how good your program is, if it isn’t specific then it won’t get you to your goal. Specificity is defined as, “Training the systems that are responsible for generating movement for that sport movement in question.” This means that if you’re a powerlifter you need specific sport practice on the squat, bench and deadlift, or if you’re a football player you need specific sport practice in football. Getting your deadlift to 600 pounds probably won’t carry over to football all that well, but getting your deadlift to 600 pounds will certainly help your performance in powerlifting.
Along the same line you can train very specifically for your sport in a peaking phase, or you can be less specific in a hypertrophy phase. This is all dependent on the place you are at relative to your competition date. The easiest way to describe specificity is to use the same example the book did. The book outlined four layers of specificity from the most specific to the least specific.
- Training that specifically supports performance, such as doing the big three for singles.
- Training that generally supports performance, such as muscle building exercises and strength building.
- Mostly tangential (stretching and flexibility)
- Harms Performance (endurance training)
Obviously you can get very specific or so unspecific that it has no carry over or becomes detrimental to your overall goal. One way people do this is by riding two horses with one ass, or the guy who is trying to raise his 5RM and his 20RM. Doing either is possible, but doing both at the same time trains two different system so you will have lackluster results on both goals. The solution to this is to not be a dumbass, and instead chase one goal at a time through the use of different phases.
Now that we have the idea of specificity and it’s layers out of the way, lets get a little more specific (see what I did there, I crack myself up).
- The closer you get to a competition the more specific your training should get. If you have a meet coming up you should probably be lifting with higher intensity and lower volume, duh.
- Make sure that your assistance work is helping you and not hurting you. If it doesn’t help you get stronger or bigger in the big three then it’s useless (at least as far as powerlifting is concerned). So for your bench you should build your pecs and triceps while worrying less about your rear delts. Also I know how much some of you lady boys love your zumba class, but it’s not helping your total, sorry.
- Learning and Practicing Good Technique. This is, once again, very common sensical, if you can’t squat heavy without shaking like a leaf then you haven’t been specific enough in your training. If you think that starting heavy squats a week out is a good idea then I don’t know what to tell you besides you’re an idiot. Practice for your goal so that you can achieve your goal, seems too easy right?
That’s it for this installment of understanding strength training. Let me know if you enjoyed it!
Until Next Time,
Life’s too short for shitty beer
Israetel, M., & Smith, C. (n.d.). Scientific Principles of Strength Training.