Bodybuilding Training Article from EricsGym.com

Weight Lifting and Weight Training - Chapter 21

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WEIGHT LIFTING AS A COMPETITIVE SPORT

Chapter Twenty-One

Principles of training

Weightlifting is a demanding sport. It means a lot of hard work over a long time, often interspersed with periods of frustration and staleness when little or no progress is made. The road to the top isn't easy but the journey can be made smoother if the right route is taken. And this means training on the best and most economical principles.

It is true that the method of trial and error has to be applied in some instances: in variation of lifting technique, the number of repetitions to be performed in the various lifts exercises, frequency of training and so on. Nevertheless, the basic principles of performance and training apply to everyone. It is only in the variations of these principles that individual expression is found. This comes only with experience and a gradual learning of oneself.

In the early ages of one's weightlifting career it is advisable to follow the accepted patterns, based on long experience.

The most important requirement of an Olympic lifter is unquestionably great strength. Other necessary qualities, such as good lifting technique, the right mental approach, suppleness of limbs and joints, speed of movement, balance, coordination and courage, all have a part in the complete make-up, but none rates so high as the possession of great strength.

Every top-line lifter and champion possess great strength. Some have excellent technique, most have good or reasonable technique and a few of them are champions despite the fact that they lack good technique.

But none of them reached the top with just moderate strength.

Even with perfect technique no man can lift really heavy or record poundages unless this technique is allied to great strength.

Some of the best technicians I have seen have been in the ranks of club and league lifters, but they have remained in that class because they lacked the power of the world champions. It is true, of course, that many a champion could be an even better champion if he improved his lifting skill, because it is necessary to develop the best possible technique in order fully to utilize whatever degree of strength one may possess. Yet I know from a long experience that many performers find it difficult to attain good technique. It may be because of some physical disability, such as tight shoulder articulations, stiffness in the hip and ankle joints; or if may be that they are naturally slow in their movements and reactions (a virtually essential part of good technique is speed of movement).

Generally, the best technicians are the naturally athletic types, with good flexibility and quick reactions. Yet even the poorest technicians can improve by perseverance and practice.

On the other hand, I believe that for most lifters it is relatively easier to develop strength than technique, and the equivalent time spent on strength development often gives better results.

Since all lifters are just not capable of developing good, or even near good technique it can often be a waste of time trying to reach a technical standard that is quiet beyond you. To expect every Olympic lifter to reach 100 percent precision and skill is, in my view, asking too much. Attain the highest possible technical standard, by all means, and maintain this by constant practice, but remember that the ultimate object of training is to improve your total on the three lifts, and if it is found that more work on strength building brings higher totals, then be wise and exploit this to the full. However, don't ever neglect technique. It is import nat -- but not by any means the complete answer to higher Olympic totals.

Remember that all of us have only a certain amount of time available for training, and this should be used wisely to get maximum benefit. More time spent on technique work means less time spent on power work, which is the real basis of building the strength necessary to hoist record poundages.

The ideal programs for the advanced man is to adjust his training form time to time, concentrating on that part of his lifting that is lacking at any particular period.

The First Steps
For the beginner it is essential that some reasonable degree of lifting skill and positional efficiency should first be cultivated before attempting to lift heavy weights, and one's early training should be directed to this end.

Many instructors believe that a potential Olympic lifter should first spend a few months working on standard bodybuilding exercises. Others believe that it is preferable to go straight on the Olympic movements without any preliminary bodybuilding work.

My own view this that this depends largely on the individual. If a pupil is naturally weak and underweight (and the majority generally are) and has never practiced physical culture, exercised or played games at all I think it is wise to spend on some time on bodybuilding and strengthening exercises before going on to learn the more complicated movements of Olympic lifting. But some who wish to start weightlifting have already developed a fair amount of strength and athletic ability, maybe through gymnastics, physical training or games. In such cases, preliminary weight training is not so essential and one could straight away start Olympic lifts training.

Frequency of Training
As a minimum requirement to make satisfactory progress. I consider three sessions weekly are essential. Progress can be made on less work, but generally it will not be enough for the best results. One cannot hope to reach a high standard of performance without hard work and dedication. Even the naturally strong and athletic types, who respond well to normal training and generally make faster progress, need plenty of hard work if they aim to become champions, and the man who does not possess much natural potential, the man whose heredity and physical type handicaps him to some extent for the start, has to work much harder for equivalent gains.

However, guard against overtraining. This is just as bad as not doing enough.

Actually intensity and quality of training should vary at different periods, depending upon whether there is any particular contest due in the near future or not. Once cannot keep in hard training and in tip-top form for an unlimited period. Rather, training should fluctuate, building up and intensifying as a contest approaches, followed by a period of comparative relaxation before starting to build up again.

Normally, with nothing particular in view, one should keep in reasonably good condition with three or four training sessions weekly, working up to limit or near-limit poundages about once a fortnight -- except perhaps on the Press, when limit attempts may be tackled more frequently.

Then, as the contest approaches, the work done can be stepped up to bring peak condition. After the contest, it is wise to rest completely for a few days, then start a building up process again, bearing in mind that many weight lifters lift limit weights in competition largely with the aid of severe mental concentration. And in order not to tax the nervous system too much, on must take periods of relaxation.

Repetitions and Poundages
To develop any physical quality, one's training must consist largely of similar movements and exertions.

Weightlifting is a sport that demands short, and sharp explosive efforts, interspersed with brief rest periods. the quality of stamina -- as employed in such activities as track athletics, swimming, cycling, for example -- is not required. stamina of a kind is necessary, but of a totally different nature.

Training for Olympic weightlifting must be directed towards developing the quality of being able to concentrate one's energies and mental concentration for this brief explosion of power.

High repetitions will not develop this power to maximum extent, but will tend to develop the quality of being able to perform high repetitions, and to increase muscular size rather than strength.

Low repetitions (generally threes, twos and singles lifts) are essential for the development of the essential qualities required -- with heavy weights.

In weightlifting competition, only three attempts are allowed on any one lift -- all with limit and near limit poundages that are approaching your limits.

There is room for occasional periods of training with light weights -- apart from normal warming up, which should be used in every training session -- as a means of avoiding possible staleness and boredom, and for training on technique work and developing extra speed when it is felt that such diversity of training is needed.

Detailed schedules based on these principles are given in Chapter Twenty-two.

Other Activities
When one is specializing on Olympic weightlifting, there is little time left for participating in other physical activities. Furthermore, additional activity can lessen one's chances of making maximum progress at weight lifting -- unless it is of a limited nature and deliberately designed to help your progress at weightlifting.

Such activities as a little hand balancing (for improving your Press when special balancing movements are concentration on) or gymnastics to improve balance and coordination, are very useful. But make sure not to overdo anything of this nature.

One of the finest activities, and one which I really consider essential as an sid to greater efficiency, is running -- the oldest, cheapest, the most natural, and perhaps the best fitness producer ever known.

Yes, running should be included in your training program. Get out on the road once or twice a week, jogging, or alternately running and fast walking, and you will soon get that extra edge on your condition that cannot fail to help you.

There is no need to rush at it. Start off with a medium jog of about a mile for a few nights. Then gradually build up until you do three or four miles.

Think for Yourself
Each individual has to decide his own destiny. he will have certain interests and ambitious in the sport. he will have quota of natural potential, which will help him to a degree dependent on its quality. To this, a basis for progress, will have to be added plenty of hard work and dedication.

From then on, he is master of his fate. The man who forges ahead of the others will be the one who applies these qualities with the greatest force and wisdom.

Although a book of this nature can help to make the journey easier, one must all the time be thinking and acting on personal experience and progress. I have no quarrel at all with anyone who departs form the orthodox path if he finds he can make greater progress that way. Indeed I applaud him. Many champions in sport are men who have decided that their own way is best, but generally, this departure from the accepted path should not be made until one has first followed the normal pattern of technique and training methods.

More chapters from this book below...
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