Hey Rebels and other members of the interwebs!
Today we are going to be talking about submaximal training and why it is important to you and your journey to the body you want and the quality of life that you deserve. First and foremost I am going to lay down two inarguable truths. Number one, I think that it is safe to say that injury sucks. We have all been in that situation where we take a lift and really wish that we hadn’t pushed the envelope quite so much that day. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, and I am sure that we will all do it again at some point, but the truth is that injury and pain is just the bodies way of giving you the Howard Stern, “Hey now!”
Number two, that the athlete that trains with the greatest frequency, with the greatest intensity and the best technique will more often than not win out over those who have the odd great training cycle but are on the whole inconsistent. This in essence leads me to why submaximal training is important. Because failed lifts, time taken off for injury, and sessions gone bad due to technique breakdown limit the amount of total training volume that you can accrue in a given time period, which in turn is going to limit the amount of ground work your laying down to build that sexy bod you have always wanted. Greater work done means greater results earned and lets be honest, if you are reading this blog you are not a half-rep Harry.
So lets break this down into the two main benefits of submaximal training, the physical and the mental. Submaximal training can be defined as any form of training in which you work below you maximal capacity in regards to volume or intensity, basically smart guy talk for lifting less that you could. Now before you all dive into a great big bowl of haterade and start telling me that this ‘submaximal thing’ sounds a lot like being a pansy let me break it down. If we are honest, and I mean really honest, you and I are both guilty of letting our form slide for the sake of stacking a few extra kg’s on the bar, and as much as we like to justify it by saying, “nah bro! My back curve was only thoracic”, bad form is bad form, and until you are manhandling 400kg lets not kid ourselves that trying to justify that fact that we are just too weak to keep good shape is an effective use of time that could be spent developing good technique and becoming a savage.
The act of submaximal training allows you to keep yourself to a strict technical max which, in the long term, is going to lead you to greater overall gains and a reduced risk of injury. If you look at the best squatters in the world, or for that matter the best of any sport, they are the ones who are the most technically sound throughout their training and have the greatest total volume of correct movement patterns under their belts. To achieve this you need a great deal of time which can be destroyed by injury or discomfort. Equally bad form leads to muscular imbalance and as such will destroy what chance you have of having a symmetrical, well balanced and most importantly of all posturally correct physique. The movement that recruits the most muscle is one that goes through a full technically correct range of motion which will allow you to get in more quality reps, with a higher range of muscular recruitment and keep you healthy in the process.
On the mental side of things submaximal training should mean that you never miss a lift…ever. Granted with the Olympic lifts this is pretty much impossible, but with the majority of the lifts this is a more than achievable goal, it just requires a little brutal honesty. Missing lifts is dumb, fact. When you miss you are just reinforcing an incorrect movement pattern and an overload of your system that could be potentially dangerous. Ever seen a guy stapled to the floor with a squat because he went to heavy, cause I have. Taking weights for reps can in many ways be just as scary as taking a 1rm attempt and you need to be brutally honest with yourself and believe that you can do what you are asking you body to do. You need to believe more in your ability than you believe that up is up and down is down. The moral of the story is this, there is a time to grip it and rip it, but that’s the on the platform, the stage, the testing day. Not in every day gym life.
So how do we factor this into your training? Well the simple answer is to increase the weight gradually or increase the total volume of reps done, either via an increased number of sets for a greater broad volume, or simply doing more reps in the same number of sets. Either way, the name of the game is factoring in a progressive overload that is going to allow your body to grown and adapt in response to an increased stimulus. This is very easy to do by either using a Perceived Rate of Exertion scale of 1-10 or by working off a training max of 90% of you true max. What this means is that if you max 1RM Bench is 100kg, 90kg would be your 90% and that would allow you to train multiple singles over a given time period.
Now, I do want to take the time to throw down a little disclaimer. I am not now, nor am I ever going to say that you shouldn’t take chances on maxes if you feel especially good in the gym that day, but remember that there is a difference between building strength and testing strength. Taking maximal attempts at any rep range is an important way to gauge strength but they take a great deal to recover from and will take away from the following sessions intensity if you are all busted up from the day before and grinded or missed lifts will take longer to recover from psychologically as well as physically as you have gone beyond you capacity to preform. Make sure that if you are going to push the envelope that you will make that lift. Yes, things don’t always go to plan, but you need to minimize the risk of a failed lift as much as possible to make sure that you continue to recover, preform and prevail.
I hope that this was a good read, and if nothing else you get out there and train a little smarter and a little harder.
Later Rebels, and remember,
For any information or questions regarding the blog, or for any information regarding my services as a Personal Trainer, please contact me via my Facebook Page, Twitter, Email, or in the comment section below.