More Isn't Always Better: Proper Training Intensity in Weightlifting
I find it rather common that some weightlifters feel the need to consistently exercise with weights of higher and higher intensity. While there is some correlation between heavier training weights and competition results, the same can be said for lighter intensities and bar speed.
Get Into The Zone
Research has shown that weights in the zone below 50% have almost no effect on strength development. The question then arises as to which zones will provide the most strength development.
- While 60% and 70% zone lifts provide some strength gain benefits, they are especially effective in improving speed of movement of both the athlete and the bar.
- 80% zone lifts have the greatest effect on speed and strength development.
- Lifts over 80% have a greater effect on strength development and less on speed development.
"Power snatches and power cleans are mostly performed in the 60% and 70% zones and hence contribute most greatly to the speed component."
Since the goal of every weightlifter should be to develop maximum strength and speed, the training weights should be distributed over a range of intensities that develop both qualities. Power snatches and power cleans are mostly performed in the 60% and 70% zones and hence contribute most greatly to the speed component. Pulls are generally conducted in the zones at 80% and above so are more pertinent to strength development.
Finding Your Zone
Here is a table showing the percentages of repetitions performed in each zone for several exercise categories. The results were derived from the training programs of some of the top Russian weightlifters.
These represent a typical pattern for the development of both strength and speed. What the lifter needs to take away from this is that both components must be consistently addressed in the planning of training. Constantly striving to lift heavier and heavier weights ignores the speed component. It is the combination of exercises, work, and character of the training that has the greatest effect on weightlifting progress - not simply the adding of more weight.
"It is the combination of exercises, work, and character of the training that has the greatest effect on weightlifting progress."
Plan It Out
An athlete only has a relatively brief window of time in which to achieve the greatest results his or her potential will allow. No one can afford to make overt errors in training and still achieve the maximum potential. Training should be well planned and take into consideration the variety of components that must be addressed by the programming. Impulsivity in training will produce results in a sporadic and limited manner.
The best results will only be achieved through giving proper attention to all the components that contribute to optimal performance.
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