The Power of Simplicity in Strength Training

June 4, 2002 10:59 AM

Routine construction is the induction or baptism of sorts for the apprentice strongman/woman. It is a necessary evil in that it offers an intellectual guide to strength, melding the How's, Why's and When's. It is at the same time the bane of the strength community whan it takes precedence over the Dynamic Duo, Tension and Practice.

Tension is by no means limited to the sensation one feels once the weight has been lifted. It is, and should be an active process. One must have the feeling of creating it, harnessing it; the goal being to gradually transform the whole body from "Powder to Pillar". Once this tension is achieved, it must be maintained, releasing as little as possible to grind through the chosen lift.

In order to amplify my own tension, the focus has not only been on lifting heavier weight, an external task, but breathing or breath retention, which forces internalization. Specifically, Power Breathing. Simple? Indeed. However nothing can take its place in terms of upping tension and teaching the proper "non-breathing" pattern required for hoisting ponderous pulls and presses.

I Power Breathe Daily, for 5 sets of 5 eye-bulging reps. I have increased the drills difficulty by utilizing a long metal tube and bucket filled with water. Immerse the tube in its body, and have at it! Once I had adapted to the requisite light-headedness and occassional cramp, I extended the high-pressure air release beyond the suggested 3-5 seconds. The archives at Dragondoor's discussion site and Pavel's articles in MILO and Powerlifting USA can be referenced for execution. Seek these sources out, they offer a wealth of information. Apply this technique for vein-popping tension, new PRs and a unit whose muscles stand out in bold relief. Above all, constantly seek to increase tension. It is an indomitable comrade in the acquisition of strength.

Regarding training, simplicity is the order of the day. Daily, Frequent and fresh practice is my motto. My reps are limited to singles, doubles and triples. I may pull 450x3, 465x2, BUDGE 600, 485x1, 500x1...end of session. Budging entails taking a supra-maximal weight and barely breaking it from the ground. An inch or two is all that is required to open up new synapses. My pressing is usually done with 5 singles working up to a heavy grind, while abdominals are worked daily using the Full Contact Twist or Ab Wheel. I've adjusted my wheel so it can be done with one arm and one leg. An honest test of tension. I follow the "3-5" rule of the Party, that is 3-5 reps, 3-5 sets, 3-5 minutes rest. A Sprint/ Kettlebell combination twice per week is but the cherry on top.

Strongman/woman, seek simplicity. Constantly seek to hack away, All the routining in the world can never take the place of practice and internalizing effort (tension). Whether it be 3,5, or 7 days per week...practice. You will find your individual "groove" and the body will become its function.

Become proficient at what you know, relinquish novelty and simply Press and Pull. Through it all....GRIND

Civilize the mind, Savage the body,

Richard-Anthony Morris AKA "trend"

"Comrades, do not take the 'eye-bulging' literally. The pressure should be focused in your stomach, not your head or chest. It helps to imagine that you are blowing up a party baloon that is inside your stomach. Not the stomach itself -it should contract -but an imaginary four inch ballon inside. To rephrase it; do not blow up your belly, blow INTO your belly while contracting it. Sounds complicated but it is worth it.

Understand that high tension training and power breathing may be dangerous to your health and life and are not appropriate for those with a heart condition, high blood pressure, and some other health conditions. Check with your doctor before following the above or any other exercise programs and techniques.

-Pavel Tsatsouline, AFS, Inc."