Heavy lifting 85100

High intensity lifting is the best way to increase muscle strength. It also has a very important neural component. The closer to your maximum you go, the greater the relative importance of the nervous system. That's why heavy lifting is a great tool for the athlete. When combined with strength-speed exercises it creates the best stimulus for strength and power gains.

However, since heavy lifting is very demanding on the nervous system (and the tendons), volume and frequency must be planned carefully. It is easy to do too much work, especially when the athlete is in good shape and feels "psyched" to beat his record.

Understand that it is not necessary (or even desirable) to constantly lift limit weights in training to maximally stimulate strength gains. Don't forget that strength levels fluctuate, they do not linearly improve over the course of the training season.

Furthermore, the capacity to lift bigger weights in training doesn't necessarily mean that the muscles are getting stronger and more effective. Remember that gym performance has a lot to do with the level of arousal, motivation, fatigue, etc.

Thus increases and decreases in gym performance are not a good way to gauge the true progress of an athlete's strength. As such, always trying to lift limit weights is erroneous. When you try to beat your record in a certain lift you are not developing strength, you are learning to demonstrate your strength in that particular lift.

Also do not make the mistake of planning heavy weight lifting out of context. The capacity to produce force will be greatly diminished if the volume of work in other training methods is high. Plan in consequence.

Heavy lifting refers to straining to lift a weight. One must attempt lifts with near-maximal resistance to develop limit strength.

One should always use multi-joint exercises with this training method.

Pros: Best way to gain limit strength. Has an important neural factor which irradiates through the whole body. Increases muscle strength and size via functional hypertrophy.

Cons: When used out of context it can set the athlete back a few days. Easy to overstress the nervous system if overdone. Can be hard on the tendons.

When to use the method: This method should be used throughout the year, but at varying degrees. Early in the preparatory period the importance of heavy lifting is relatively high and increases up to the middle of the competitive preparation period. After that point it is drastically decreased to a maintenance level to allow one to be in top form at the competitions. Even during periods of high volumes of heavy lifting I prefer to use a minimalist approach (2-3 exercises per workout, 1530 total reps per exercise, 2-4 times per week). Only multi-joint exercises (squat, bench press, deadlift, etc.) should be used with this method. Note that if you plan to do a workout using loads of 90-95% of your 1RM before a game or test, you must plan a taper of 9-12 days between that session and the game/test. If you plan to go as high as 100% (or test a new max) you'll need a taper of 12-18 days. Another important matter is that the stronger an athlete is, the less lifts with 95100% weights are required, these athletes will benefit more from an increased volume of lifts at around 85-90% of their max.

The following table (modified from the work of R.A. Roman and A.S. Prilepin) illustrates how you should plan a certain heavy lifting session.

1. Select the appropriate intensity level according to your athlete's capacities at the moment (how much CNS stress can he tolerate?)

2. Once the intensity is decided, decide on the volume in total reps that your athlete can sustain. This depends on how much volume he already had during the week.

3. Decide how you are going to split the total reps (e.g. are you going to do 3 x 6, or 3 x 5 + 3 x 1 ...).

Intensity level, CNS importance, and optimal volume in heavy lifting exercises


Intensity /

Reps per set

Optimal total




volume range


















Near maximal














Turbo Charged Fitness With The Tabata System

Turbo Charged Fitness With The Tabata System

The Tabata workout system is a version of the High Intensity Interval Training program developed by Professor Izumi Tabata as training for Olympic speed skaters in 1996. The results studies conducted on the training program confirm that even a four minute cardiovascular exercise routine improves a persons level of fitness.

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