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A Powerful Method for Progress

October 20, 2004 01:05 PM

Over the course of my lifting career I've inadvertently stumbled across some very effective methods, some of them almost identical to the methods Pavel advocates. Very low rep squats for sets of 8-10, not going to failure with short rest periods, used to be a favorite of mine. Sound familiar? Controlled over-training is one of the methods I've always found to be very effective without really knowing why, just that it worked. This is not a method to be ignored or abused. Comrade Pavel discussed this method in the Russian Kettlebell Challenge book and rightfully so! Get a copy if you don't have one.

An example, I could not do a strict RKC military press with my 24kg bell and I decided it was time I did. Easy solution, I did the graduated press and to a lesser extent, the yielding press. I would go as far down as I could and progressed lower and lower over the course of a couple weeks of training. Soon I was doing full range presses, now I can crank out 5 reps easily and strict military pressed the 32kg bell on my first attempt. How does controlled over-training enter the equation? Simple, I do high volume work for 2-3 days straight then take a break for a day or two or have "active recovery" when I want to push my progress along. You should come back and find yourself stronger. That simple. Apply it to any lift.

Try adding some "active recovery" on your rest days if you don't feel to fatigued. A couple sets of windmills, static holds in the press, and abdominal work tend to revitalize me and seems to facilitate recovery. Don't push it, keep it short and sweet. You should feel charged, not tired. This isn't a bad time to brush up on your power breathing (if you've been neglecting it). Watch that bell float up after your break is over!

Don't abuse this method but don't neglect it either. Keep your sessions very short- for me that's 30 minutes or less-but I'm moving right along. It's simple, yet effective. Exercise caution if using this method for "big" lifts like deadlifts, squats, clean and press, etc. as central fatigue and localized fatigue will build up quick and risk of injury will run high. Stop well short of failure, but keep the rest periods short. Back off if you have to.

A few last notes. I use the term "high" volume a little relatively. If you are sticking with standard Power to the People! protocol then five sets of five may be high volume to you. Adjust the workload however you feel necessary. Another point, you don't necessarily have to do many repetitions. Utilizing high tension (which you should always!) and very low reps, as in 1-2, is just as effective and possibly even more effective then just plain high volume work with more repetitions. I do this often as I feel it facilitates "learning" of the movement. Once again, as Pavel has stated, vary the difficulty. Similar movements will benefit each other, also. My increased bent pressing prowess has greatly improved my military press and vice versa, so don't be afraid to do another movement other then the one you are trying to improve.

If you take anything away from this article then please take this! Keep it SIMPLE! Really listen to your body to find what is an effective load. Don't abuse it, but don't be afraid to push it a little. Happy training!

Daniel Rodgers a.k.a. Dano