Wednesday, July 17, 2013

High Frequency Training for Strength and Power, Part Two

     In part one of this series, we discussed some of the basics for building a lot of strength and power using high-frequency training (HFT).  In summation, here are the main points from the previous post:
·         “Train as frequently as possible while being as fresh as possible.”  For most people, this means 5 days per week, sometimes 6.  Take off at least one day each week.  When you first begin, however, 4 days per week should suffice.
·         For the most part, use progressively heavier sets.
·         Train with 2 or, at the most, 3 exercises each day.  Pick a squatting movement, a pulling movement, and a pushing movement when using 3 exercises, or 2 combinations thereof when using 2.
·         The majority of reps should be done in the 2 to 5 range.
·         For most lifters, 5 to 7 progressively heavier sets are enough.
·         The more reps that are utilized, the less total sets should be used.  In other words, if you are doing progressively heavier sets of 3 reps, then 7 sets are optimal.  If you are doing progressively heavier sets of 5 reps, 5 sets are probably optimal.
     In the second part of this series, I’m going to discuss some other set/rep combos that can be utilized as you advance.  One word of note/caution: if you have yet to embark on such a high-frequency training program, then make sure you spend several months on a program as outlined in part one (or as outlined in my “Ditillo-inspired training program”).
Speed Sets
     As you get stronger, you want to make sure that you aren’t getting slower.  This is especially true for lifters whose main focus is pure strength through such exercises as squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and overheads.  If you are more into “quick lifts” such as power cleans, snatches, high-pulls, etcetera, then this won’t be as much of a problem.
   And, by the way, if you have yet to build any impressive strength, then there is no reason for you to do any speed work, but at some point – once you have built up your strength – you are going to have to do some speed training to keep yourself from getting slow.
     Speed work should be done by using multiple sets of low reps – 8 to 10 sets of 3, 12 sets of 2, and so on.
     When incorporating speed work into your HFT program, I think it’s best to do it first.  For instance, if you are going to squat, bench press, and high pull during a workout, begin with 12 sets of 2 reps on the squat, using about 60-70% of your one rep maximum.  After this, perform the bench press and the high pull the same way that you have typically been training.
Straight Sets
     Straight sets – such as 5 sets of 5 reps with the same weight – actually take more out of you than simply doing 5 to 7 progressively heavier sets.  For this reason, they should be used with caution, and only once you have increased your work capacity.
     When incorporating straight sets, save these for the end of the workout, doing them only on the last exercise.  Also, don’t perform them every day.  Your nervous system must be able to adapt and recover from your workouts, more so than your muscles themselves.
Multiple Sets of Singles
     One of the great training systems of all time was Hepburn’s “multiple sets of singles” routine.  I’m not sure if he was the first lifter to utilize it – and later it was used by great powerlifters such as Pat Casey and then later Jeff Maddy – but he was certainly the first to popularize it.
     The program works like this: pick a weight (after warming up, obviously) where you can get 4 to 5 singles.  At each successive workout for that lift, try to do another single or two.  Once you can get 8 singles, increase the weight on that lift the next time you train it, starting the process over again.
     It’s deceptively simple, but also highly effective (of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy).  But you also can’t go overboard on it, otherwise, you’ll burn out along with all of the other heavy training that coincides with it on this program.
     If you do choose to use it, then start off by just using it on one or two exercises.  Let’s say you decide to use it on squats and overhead presses.  A week of workouts might look something like this:
Day One: squats (multiple singles), bench presses, power cleans
Day Two: deadlifts, overhead presses (multiple singles), power snatches
Day Three: high pulls, one-arm dumbbell overhead presses, chins
Day Four: Off
Day Five: squats (multiple singles), incline bench presses
Day Six: deficit deadlifts, overhead presses (multiple singles), dumbbell cleans
Day Seven: Off

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