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Strength Training Thresholds: The Key to Consistent Strength Gains

Strength Training Thresholds

The Key to Consistent Strength Gains

By Mark Sherwood

Copyright 2016 Mark Sherwood

Shakespir Edition

The author and publisher of the information in this book are not responsible in any manner for physical harm or damages that may occur in response to following the instructions presented in this material. As with any exercise program, a doctor’s approval should be obtained before engaging in exercise.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1 The Power of Thresholds

Chapter 2 The Dividing Line Between Easier and Harder

Chapter 3 Three Thresholds Explained

Threshold 1: Knowing Where to Stop a Set

Threshold 2: The Key to How Many Sets to Perform

Threshold 3: A Gauge for Determining the Heaviest Weights to Use

Chapter 4 The Problem with Exceeding Training Thresholds

Chapter 5 Sensible Progression

Chapter 6 Important Considerations When Using Training Threshold

Chapter 7 The Challenge for Long Term Consistent Strength Gains

About the Author

Additional Resources

[]Introduction

It’s no fun being stuck at the same strength level in spite of consistent, disciplined training, but that’s where I found myself. I had reached a point where I trained on regular basis, but I wasn’t getting any stronger. This went on for years. Since I wasn’t getting any stronger, I had nothing to lose by trying all kinds of strength training strategies. Some forms of training worked for a short time, but I couldn’t find anything that kept working for a long time. When I began to think about all of the years that I had been training with weights, I couldn’t help but do a little math and come to a simple conclusion. If I had gained even one pound of strength per month after I was stuck at the same strength level, those little gains would have added up year after year to produce substantial strength gains. The only problem was that I didn’t make those little strength gains year after year. Instead, I gained rapidly for a few months when I first began to workout, then I gained slowly for about a year and a half, and then I quit gaining.

Many people are able to gain strength rapidly for a period of time. Some turn out to be extremely strong by the time their rapid strength gains slow down and eventually come to an end, but why do gains have to come to an end? I was told that if I stopped gaining in spite of diligent training, I had reached my genetic potential. This seemed to be the pervasive viewpoint of many experts, but I had a hard time buying into it. Surly there was a way to gain a pound or two of strength from a month’s worth of workouts, but how? Slowly the answers began to unfold and the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. Although the time for rapid gains had long since passed, I found there was a way to gain little by little, but there were some very important guidelines that had to be followed in order for this to happen.

What I discovered was that there are training thresholds that are the key to experiencing consistent strength gains over and over again. When I combined the use of these training thresholds with the use of high frequency training, the weights that I was using started to get easier to lift, and I was able to gain strength little by little, and keep on gaining strength little by little. It became obvious to me that if I trained right, I could make consistent, predictable strength gains. Of course this would not be possible if I chose to be unrealistic by adding ten pounds to my exercises every week, but if I added weight at the right rate, I could keep making consistent progress.

Strength gains can continue long past the point where most people think they have reached their genetic potential. It doesn’t take complicated training cycles or tons of different exercises, it just takes the correct use of training thresholds with a realistic perspective about progress. Some beginners and intermediates may have the ability to make rapid progress. They may gain 100 pounds or more of strength in a year for basic lifts such as the deadlift, squat, and bench press. Advanced lifters will rarely gain this quickly. However, I believe that strength gains of twenty to forty pounds per year for basic lifts are achievable, even for those who have been lifting for several years.

If you are willing to stay within the boundaries of training thresholds, you can make steady gains in strength over the course of many years. If you are looking for the magic jackpot that is the short path to mega strength gains, you’ll tend to overlook the concept of training thresholds. Instead, you’ll look for a quick fix such as trying to psych yourself into an extreme effort to constantly outdo your previous best. It’s also likely that you’ll try to pound your muscles with severe training in order to speed up progress. None of this is necessary. You can get stronger without psyching yourself into a frenzy or killing yourself with severe training. The main thing that is needed for strength gains is to know how your body works, and to train with strength specific precision by using strength specific training thresholds (There are times when I also refer to training thresholds as precision points).

What are training thresholds and how do they work? It comes down to what I refer to as strong training and knowing how to push to the capacity of your creatine phosphate energy system without exceeding its ability to function optimally. The secrets for how to do this are explained in the rest of the book.

[]Chapter 1

The Power of Thresholds

There are times when a little change will produce a little difference in the way things turn out. There are also times when a little change will make a huge difference in the way things turn out, which is especially true of thresholds. Let me give you some examples of this. When you raise the temperature of water by one degree, not much happens; the water remains a liquid and it feels just a little bit warmer. This is pretty much what happens every time you raise the temperature of water by one degree, it just stays a liquid and it feels a little bit warmer. However, If you raise the temperature of water by just one degree when it is at 211 degrees Fahrenheit (or 99 degrees Celsius), suddenly, a huge change takes place as the water turns into steam. Of course there is also a threshold where lowering the temperature of water by one degree will have a sudden and dramatic effect. When the temperature is decreased from 33 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it will change from a liquid into ice.

Airplanes must reach a threshold speed in order to take off. Before the plane reaches a threshold speed for takeoff, it can speed up by one mile per hour and nothing will happen except that the plane will move a little faster on the ground. However, when it reaches the threshold speed for takeoff, an increase of one mile per hour will cause the plane to start rising into the air. This illustrates how a little change can make a huge difference when a plane reaches a threshold speed.

Little Change, Big Difference

Why all the talk about thresholds? Because they are strategic points where little changes can make a big difference instead of a small difference. It’s true for water, it’s true for airplanes, and it’s true for exercise and strength training. If you learn how to tap into training thresholds, your body responds by gaining strength. If you don’t train hard enough to reach your training thresholds, or you exceed them by training too hard, your progress may come to a screeching halt. This does not have to happen. You can learn to use training thresholds correctly and keep making progress for a long time.

Three Training Thresholds

In this book, three training thresholds will be discussed that can make a huge difference in the long term outcome of your training progress. These three thresholds are listed below:

1. The threshold between strong reps and weak reps:

This threshold tells you where to stop doing reps during set.

2. The threshold between strong sets and weak sets:

This threshold tells you how many sets to do.

3. The threshold between a strong lifting motion and a weak lifting motion:

This threshold tells you the heaviest weight to train with when doing a heavy single rep.

[]Chapter 2

The Dividing Line between Easier and Harder

[]

It seems that the dominant training strategy that is used to make strength gains is to make training harder by adding more weight and reps to workouts as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, this is completely out of agreement with what the body is trying to accomplish when it gains strength. Strength gains are a product of the body’s desire to enable you to lift a given weight easier. The stronger you become, the easier it will become to lift the same weight. The main goal that your body has for gaining strength is to make it easier for you to lift a given weight. This must be factored into your training strategy if you want to make consistent strength gains.

The use of training thresholds is a perfect training strategy to help your body accomplish its goal of making a weight easier to lift when you gain strength. Why? Because training thresholds form a natural dividing line between easier training and harder training. This dividing line can be incorporated into your training to accentuate the process of allowing the same weight and reps to becoming easier to lift, which is the exact goal that your body has for gaining strength.

When you don’t use training thresholds, a little gain of strength will only make your training a little easier. On the other hand, when you do use training thresholds, a little gain of strength will make your training substantially easier. Since your body’s primary purpose for gaining strength is to make it easier for you to lift the same weight, training thresholds accentuate the main goal that your body is trying to accomplish when it gains strength. It makes far more sense to your body to gain strength when you use training thresholds than when you don’t use them.

Note: (The goals that your body has for gaining strength is discussed in more detail in the book, Overcoming Strength Training Plateaus. The book is free. Click here to download it.

To help you understand how training thresholds work, start by picturing a dividing line that serves as a threshold between easier training and harder training. There are three dividing lines where this occurs. First, there is a dividing line between easier and harder reps of the same set. The easier reps can be maintained throughout the beginning and the middle of the set, but a specific threshold point will come towards the end of the set where the reps suddenly become harder.

Second, there is a dividing line between sets that are easier and sets that are harder. When you are at full strength, sets are easier. However, as you continue to repeat sets, you will reach a threshold point where you grow fatigued and sets will suddenly become harder because you are no longer at full strength.

There is a third threshold that occurs when the amount of weight becomes so heavy that it suddenly becomes more difficult to lift. Before reaching this threshold, a lifter will be able to utilize a smooth nonstop lifting motion for a single rep. After reaching the threshold, the lifting motion will begin to suffer from pauses, jerking, poor form, and dramatic deceleration during a single rep.

By pushing your training to the point of these dividing lines, but not pushing any further than these dividing lines, your body will choose to gain strength. Why? Because gaining strength will expand the easier side of the threshold, which is in agreement with what your body is trying to accomplish. This will help your body avoid running into the threshold where training suddenly becomes harder. Let’s look at how this works if you were to use the threshold point in a set where reps suddenly become harder.

We’ll imagine that Mike can do eight reps on the easier side of the threshold when using 180 pounds for the bench press. This means the reps get a little harder as he proceeds from the first rep through the eighth rep. However, when he reaches the ninth rep, there is a sudden escalation in the difficulty of the reps. He may be able to do a set of ten or twelve reps if he pushes himself, but the ninth rep is where Mike crosses over from reps on the easier side of the threshold, to reps on the harder side of the threshold. If Mike makes a habit of doing eight reps with 180 pounds, his body knows that it can gain strength and altogether avoid bumping up against the threshold where reps suddenly become harder. The reason for this is that when Mike gains strength, the easier side of the threshold expands and eight reps becomes easier. Even though Mike keeps stopping at eight reps, his body intentionally gains the ability to do nine reps on the easier side of the threshold instead of eight. The increase in strength will help him avoid reaching the threshold where reps suddenly become harder, which is exactly what Mike’s body is trying to accomplish.

[] Chapter 3

Three Thresholds Explained

Training thresholds help you to work out hard enough to gain strength, without working out so hard that your body becomes inhibited to gain strength. The easiest way to identify when you have pushed hard enough to reach a training threshold, is to apply the concept of strong training as opposed to weak training. Strong training includes strong reps and weak reps, strong sets and weak sets, a strong lifting motion and a weak lifting motion. The dividing lines between strong training and weak training reveal the dividing lines between easier training and harder training. Since the difference between strong training and weak training is vitally important for diagnosing training thresholds, it shall be addressed in conjunction with each threshold throughout the rest of this chapter.

[]Threshold 1: Knowing Where to Stop a Set

When addressing the dividing line between easier reps and harder reps, the word, “suddenly” is a key. When you begin a set, the reps grow harder little by little as you continue from one rep to another. However, the key is to notice when you reach a point where the next rep is not just a little harder than the last rep, but it is substantially harder. The ability to identify this point will give you a means for knowing where the threshold between easier reps and harder reps is occurring during a set. The easier reps are referred to as strong reps. The harder reps that come afterwards are called weak reps.

Strong Reps vs. Weak Reps

Strong reps are forceful reps that you can perform using a steady even pace from one rep to the next. On the other hand, when you reach a point where you suddenly want to pause longer between reps, and the pace of your reps starts to slow down, you are doing weak reps. Strong reps are primarily fueled by the creatine phosphate system, whereas weak reps are primarily fueled by the lactate system.

The Creatine Phosphate System

The creatine phosphate system releases energy at a very rapid rate because the phosphate molecules that form fuel (in the form of ATP) for muscle contractions are stored within your muscles. The rapid rate of energy release that the creatine phosphate system provides is what enables you to do strong reps, and to move with speed, force, power, and strength. When the pool of creatine phosphate dwindles low enough from doing repeated reps, the lactate system becomes more dominant in providing ATP as fuel for reps and muscle contractions. However, the process by which the lactate system forms ATP is a slower process, which causes energy to be released at a slower rate in comparison to the creatine phosphate system. When the rate of energy release slows down, so do your reps, and they become weaker. The threshold between strong reps and weak reps is based on the threshold between the creatine phosphate system acting as the dominant energy system, and the lactate system acting as the dominant energy system.

One of the secrets to consistent strength gains is to keep repeating strong reps until you reach a threshold where weak reps occur, but stop right before you do any weak reps. This is a strategic place to stop doing reps during a set. When you do this, your body will want to increase the capacity of the creatine phosphate system to help you grow stronger. The improved capacity of the creatine phosphate system expands the easier side of the threshold so that you can use the same amount of weight and reps without running into the lactate threshold that your body wants to avoid.

What happens if you exceed the threshold capacity of your creatine phosphate system, and you do weak reps in the lactate system? Your body will start to focus on improving the lactate system at the expense of the creatine phosphate system. If you improve primarily by expanding your lactate system, you may gain the endurance to do more weak reps at the end of a set, but this is not a guaranteed way to gain strength. In contrast, if you improve by expanding your creatine phosphate system, you will be able to do more strong reps as a result of gaining strength.

[]Threshold 2: The Key to How Many Sets to Perform

Just as there is a threshold between strong reps and weak reps, there is a threshold between strong sets and weak sets. This is because there is a dividing line between doing sets when you are at full strength, and doing sets when you are not at full strength. Sets are easier when you are at full strength, and they are harder when you are not at full strength. If you continue to repeat sets for the same muscle group, you will reach a threshold point when sets become harder due to fatigue.

Strong Sets vs. Weak Sets

Strong sets refer to sets that are done while the muscle group that you are exercising is at full strength, and weak sets refer to sets that are done when the muscle group you are exercising is no longer at full strength. How do you know whether or not you are at full strength? You can determine this by experimenting to find out the number of strong reps that you can perform when doing a specific exercise with a specific amount of weight. This information can then be used as a measurement to evaluate whether or not you are at full strength when using a specific weight for an exercise. I will give an example to illustrate how this works.

Determining Whether or Not You Are at Full Strength

Let us imagine that you are going to experiment to find out how many strong reps you can perform when doing 225 pounds in the squat while you are at full strength. In order to carry out this experiment, you must be warmed up, but not fatigued, because fatigue will diminish the number of strong reps that you can truly do. Likewise, if you haven’t taken the time to do some light warm up sets, your muscles may not be alert enough to function at full strength. Assuming you are at full strength during this experiment with 225 pounds for the squat, you find that you have the capacity for eight strong reps. This information lets you know whether or not you are at full strength any time you use 225 pounds in the squat. Any time you are using 225 pounds for the squat, you are at full strength as long as you can reach eight strong reps, and you are no longer at full strength if you reach a set where you fall below eight strong reps. Even if you can successfully complete eight reps, if your rep speed slows down when you reach the seventh or eighth rep, you are not at full strength.

Train to Your Limit of Strong Sets

To take advantage of the training threshold for strong sets, do as many strong sets as you can, but don’t crossover the threshold and do weak sets. With experience, you will eventually find out how many strong sets you can do for a muscle group. For example, if you find in your workouts that you can normally do three strong sets for an exercise, but you tend to transition over to weak sets on your fourth set, then just do three sets in order to avoid a weak set that would occur if you were to do a fourth set. In this case, the threshold between strong sets and weak sets occurs between the third and fourth set.

It’s important to understand that people vary in terms of their capacity for strong sets. Most people will be able to do two to three strong sets, but some people may be able to do more, and some people may only be able to do one strong set. Make sure you do sets according to your own capacity instead of a predetermined number that has no real basis for why you are doing the number of sets you are doing.

Mini Sets and Single Rep Rest-Pause Sets

Another important factor to consider in relationship to identifying your capacity for strong sets is to know that there is no rule that says you must always push to your capacity of strong reps when doing a set. For example, many powerlifters like to do mini sets by doing only three reps with weights that they could actually do for eight to fifteen reps. The reason they do this is to avoid the buildup of fatigue that tends to come at the end of a set. This enables them to lift with maximum force and power for each rep. Since they avoid fatigue, they may be able stay at full strength longer and do more total reps across the combined number of mini sets than if they push to their limit of strong reps for each set. Some lifters may also want to do single rep rest-pause training by repeating forceful single reps every fifteen seconds while using weights that they can perform for six to twelve strong reps.

When doing mini sets, or single rest-pause reps, you must have a sense of whether or not you are maintaining the same force and rep speed from one mini set to the next, or from one rest-pause single rep to the next. If you sense that the force and speed that you are applying into the reps is starting to diminish, you should stop exercising the muscle group you have been working.

The threshold for how many strong sets you can do for a muscle group is right at the point where repeating sets starts to become more difficult. Because of this, when you push to your threshold of strong sets, your body will choose to gain strength in order to keep from coming as close to the threshold that it wants to avoid where training suddenly becomes more difficult. If you train to your threshold capacity of strong reps and strong sets, then gaining strength is the most logical thing for your body to do.

[]Threshold 3: A Gauge for Determining the Heaviest Weights to Use

There is a third training threshold. It serves as a dividing line between the heaviest weights that you should use for a heavy single rep, and weights that are too heavy for optimum training. It is possible to train too heavy, even though you may be able to successfully lift the weight. To avoid this, the third training threshold is based upon the heaviest weight that you can lift while maintaining a strong lifting motion.

A Strong Lifting Motion vs. a Weak Lifting Motion

A strong lifting motion consists of a smooth nonstop lifting motion while using excellent form. If you exceed your ability to do this, your lifting motion will deteriorate into a weak lifting motion. A weak lifting motion is marked by undesirable qualities such as pauses in the lifting motion, or points in the lift where rep speed suddenly slows down. It often results in poor lifting form.

When considering how much weight to use for heavy single reps, keep in mind that there is a threshold weight that serves as a dividing line between a strong lifting motion and a weak lifting motion. To insure that you keep on making progress when using heavy weights for single reps, you can lift heavy, but don’t lift so heavy that you can’t maintain a strong lifting motion that consists of a smooth nonstop rep.

The threshold for a strong lifting motion is the dividing line between a weight that produces a manageable training stress for your body, and a weight that begins to produce a severe training stress. You don’t have to use a severe training stress in order for your body to think that gaining strength is the best thing to do. When you push to the point where you touch upon a threshold, your body is encountering the beginning of a severe stress that it wants to avoid. By gaining strength, the easier side of the threshold expands to help you avoid running into the threshold where the training stress suddenly increases. In other words, if your limit for a strong lifting motion occurs at a threshold of 300 pounds for the squat, your body will want to gain enough strength so that you can do a 305 pound squat before reaching the threshold, even though you are still using 300 pounds. The increase in strength will help your body avoid running into the threshold it wants to avoid when you do a 300 pound squat.

[]Chapter 4

The Problem with Exceeding Training Thresholds

I would never claim that you won’t gain strength if you exceed the thresholds of strong reps, strong sets, and a strong lifting motion. You may even be able to speed up your progress by exceeding your thresholds. The problem comes when you gain enough strength to do workouts that exceed your body’s recovery ability to adapt and gain more strength. At that point, you may be able to maintain the strength level that you have achieved, but your adaptive capacity becomes maxed out when severe training stresses are consistently used.

You can exceed the boundaries of training thresholds and make progress without any problems as long as you have a reserve of adaptive recover power, but once this gets maxed out from heavier and heavier lifting that occurs with progressive strength gains, you’re stuck. When you reach this point, your body will be overwhelmed when you exceed the capacity of your training thresholds. It will no longer think that gaining strength is a good idea. Why? Because gaining strength will lead to the ability to use more weight, and do more sets and reps. Your body doesn’t want to lift more weight and do more sets and reps when it is already overwhelmed with the amount of weight, sets, and reps, that you are currently using. Your body sees no benefit to this and it won’t gain strength.

To avoid the never ending sticking point that eventually hits when you continuously exceed training thresholds, stop overwhelming your body with severe training. Instead, simply push to the point of reaching your training thresholds without exceeding them, and stick with the same training until it becomes easier. The details of how to do this are addressed in the next chapter.

[]Chapter 5

Sensible Progression

How to Know When to Add Weight

I believe it is best to progress from a point of predictable consistency. This basically means knowing how many strong reps you can do with a given weight, and knowing how many strong sets you can perform for a muscle group. Once you know this information from your workout experience, keep repeating the same number of strong reps from one workout to the next with the same weight until it starts to feel easier. If you normally do a cycle of workouts, then repeat the same cycle until it becomes easier. When the training cycle or the amount of weight and reps you are using starts to feel easier, you can increase the weight by five to ten pounds. Once you have increased the weight, you must test yourself to see if you can still do the same number of strong reps that you use for the various sets of your workouts. If your strength has increased, you will still be able to avoid hitting any weak reps with the increased weight. We can look at an example of Fred’s training to illustrate this.

We’ll imagine that Fred can do ten strong reps with 200 pounds in the bench press. He keeps doing ten reps from one workout to the next until he gains enough strength for ten reps to feel easier. Once it feels easier, Fred decides to add on five pounds to test whether or not he can do 205 pounds for ten strong reps. When he raises the weight to 205 pounds, he finds that he is able to do ten strong reps. This means that he has become strong enough to keep on training with 205 pounds. He should continue to use this new weight until it also becomes easy enough to add weight. However, if we go back and change the story, and this time Fred finds that his tenth rep is a slower weaker rep than the first nine reps, then he is not ready to use 205 pounds yet. Fred should stick with 200 pounds until he can do ten strong reps when he moves up to 205 pounds.

What if Fred uses different amounts of weight and reps for different sets of a workout? We’ll imagine that he does three sets of squats consisting of 12 reps with 185 pounds for his first set, 10 reps with 200 pounds for his second set, and 6 reps with 225 pounds for his third set. In this case, Fred’s goal is to add five pounds to each set while maintaining the ability to do the same amount of strong reps that he has been using for each set. The same would be true if Fred uses a cycle of workouts where he uses different amounts of weight for different workouts. Fred would need to make sure that when he adds weight, he can still do the same number of strong reps that he has been doing for the various workouts of his training cycle.

Repeating the same cycle is especially relevant when it applies to the use of a short cycle of one to three weeks. It is not likely that you will be able to increase your weights every week unless you are a beginner or intermediate, so you just repeat the cycle until it becomes easy enough to increase the weight while still maintaining the ability to perform the required number of strong reps for the various sets that you are doing in the cycle. However, if a long cycle of six or more weeks is used, then repeating the same cycle with the same amount of weight and reps becomes irrelevant because the goal is to always increase the weight from one cycle to the next. However, training thresholds can still be used throughout a long training cycle.

The same basic principle of doing workouts with the same weight until it becomes easier to lift applies to heavy single reps. As the weight becomes easier to lift, you will still be able to maintain a strong lifting motion when you add on five to ten pounds. If you can still maintain a strong lifting motion with the added weight, then keep using it until it becomes easier to lift so that you can add weight again. On the other hand, if you add weight and it produces a weak lifting motion that is marked by negative qualities such as pauses, a super slow lifting motion, or poor form, then go back to the lighter weight that you were using until it becomes easy enough to add weight while maintaining a strong lifting motion.

Using the Same Weight

Some people may wonder how you can get stronger by using the same weight and reps over and over again. Don’t you have to add weight to become stronger? Without a doubt, you can get stronger by using same weight and reps for a period of time; so do it as long as it works. Your body wants the same workout to become easier so let it accomplish this goal. Using the same weight and reps won’t work forever, but you won’t be using the same weight forever, you will increase the weight after you get stronger with the weights and reps that you are using.

Gaining strength is the most logical thing for your body to do if you repeat the same workouts with the same amount of reps and weight within the context of training thresholds. This is because your body is smart and will see the benefit of expanding the capacity of the easier side of the threshold. It does this by gaining strength. Don’t be misled to think that you must frequently add weight in order to gain strength. Regardless of what anyone thinks, your body can gain strength for quite a while by using the same weight and reps from one workout to the next if (and this is a big if) you use training thresholds.

The use of training thresholds is not a quick fix for huge strength gains that occur almost overnight. Unfortunately, many people are misled to constantly expect rapid progress with various strength training programs. Sometimes you can shock your body with severe training and quickly gain strength, but then what? Usually the quick gains that occur from bombing your muscles with severe training will stop, and you eventually find that your strength level is stuck at the same spot, or it yo-yos up down without ever making any real progress. On the other hand, if you use training thresholds correctly, you can keep on gaining strength, little by little, over and over again, for a long time.

Realistic Progress

The consistent use of training thresholds allows you to use basic exercises and simple training routines while adding five to ten pounds to your exercises every six to twelve weeks. Beginners and intermediates can usually make progress much quicker and may be able to add weight every one to four weeks. Those who have been working out for several years must be content with slower progress as their adaptive capacity has been used up to a greater degree. Slow progress is a dirty word in much of the strength training community where hyper-speed strength gains are constantly being advertised. However, the truth is that many people who have been lifting for years have stopped gaining any strength at all, and they can start gaining little by little again if they use training thresholds

Perhaps the best part about using training thresholds is that you won’t miss a lift or fail to complete a rep if you stay within the boundaries of strong reps, strong sets, and a strong lifting motion. Likewise, progress becomes predictable and you can count on adding weight at regular time intervals. The time interval that is needed for a workout to become easy enough to add more weight is called an adaptation period. You can add weight from one adaptation period to the next for years without missing a lift.

[]Chapter 6

Important Considerations When Using Training Thresholds

High Frequency Training and Low Frequency Training

If you stick with the use of strong reps, strong sets, and a strong lifting motion without exceeding the training thresholds that accompany them, you may find that recovery between workouts occurs quickly. This is because the workouts are not severe. Since the workouts are not severe, they are fairly easy to recover from and high frequency training becomes a valid option to experiment with. You may find that you can train each body part three to six times per week without overtraining, and that progress is enhanced by training often. For me, the use of high frequency training in combination with the use of training thresholds was the formula I needed to break out of a training rut. At the same time, your personal physiology may be suited to benefit from training each muscle group only once or twice per week. Don’t be afraid to experiment with high frequency training, low frequency training, or somewhere in between. Each person must find a training frequency that works best for their own physiology.

Don’t Let Your Ego Get in the Way

The choice to work out within the boundaries of training thresholds without exceeding them takes patience and self-control. It also requires looking away from your ego. When you only do strong reps and avoid weak reps, you will stop short of doing as many reps as possible. This may mean doing less reps than you normally do, which can be hard on your ego. Likewise, if you limit yourself to a weight where you can use a strong lifting motion, you will be using less than the maximum weight you can possibly lift for a single rep.

Others around you may be straining out more reps per set and lifting heavier single reps than you, even though you are stronger than them. This may be more satisfying for them at the moment, but what about next year? Will they still be getting stronger? Training with thresholds may seem to limit the amount of reps you do, or the amount of weight that you lift in a given workout, but this will work to your advantage with added strength over time.

[]Chapter 7

The Challenge for Long Term Consistent Strength Gains

After trying everything imaginable to get stronger, I believe that the single biggest factor that leads to long term progress more than anything else is the use of training thresholds. You can use them by repeating the same workout over and over again while slightly increasing the weight from one adaptation period to the next. You can also use them with other training strategies such as block periodization, linear periodization, and nonlinear periodization. While these training strategies are beyond the scope of this book, if you are already using any of them, then combining them with the use of training thresholds will make them even more powerful as a strength training tool.

There have been lifters who have had a tremendous sense of how many sets to do and where to stop a set in order to push themselves hard enough without pushing too hard. They may not have ever discussed their training in terms of training thresholds, but their training clearly reflected the use of the training thresholds that have been presented in this book. As a result, they were able to gain strength year after year to become enormously strong. If you take the time to learn the principles regarding training thresholds, you can challenge yourself to the do the same thing with consistent long term strength gains. Best of training to you.

[][] About The Author

Mark Sherwood is a long time fitness enthusiast who has pursued weight training and other fitness activities for over thirty years. His educational and professional background include a B.S. degree as an exercise specialist in physical education from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and positions as a fitness instructor and physical education teacher.

One of Mark’s passions is to distinguish between strength training concepts that are consistently effective as opposed to those that are effective for a short time period. Through his education, research, and personal trial and error, he has endeavored to gain the necessary knowledge to share effective training strategies with those who desire to maximize their training results.

Mark resides with his family in Southern California. For more training resources from Mark, you can visit www.precisionpointtraining.com and highfrequencytrainingmst.com. In addition, you can you view more books on strength training that he has authored on the next page.

[]Additional Resources

Other books by Mark

Strength to the Max

High Frequency Strength Training

Rest Pause Training

Beginning Strength Training

Overcoming Strength Training Plateaus


Strength Training Thresholds: The Key to Consistent Strength Gains

Strength training thresholds help answer the questions: How many sets? How many reps? How hard should you push yourself for best results if you want to gain strength? You can imitate strength training routines that others do. You can also sift through monstrous amounts of weight training information only to be left with endless training options. The real answer to these questions can be found by understanding your own work out performance. Strength training thresholds provide a means for evaluating your work out performance and give you a physiological basis for helping you to identify how much to train, how heavy to train, and how hard to train. When you understand how to train according to strength training thresholds, it takes the guess work out of training and allows you to work out with strength specific precision.

  • Author: Mark Sherwood
  • Published: 2016-05-08 02:50:17
  • Words: 6844
Strength Training Thresholds: The Key to Consistent Strength Gains Strength Training Thresholds: The Key to Consistent Strength Gains