Why Percentage Programs Should Still Track RPE

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Why Percentage Programs Should Still Track RPE
By Mike Tuchscherer

Theme:  RPE should be considered a core metric in your training, even if you’re not basing your training off RPE.

I’ve been fortunate to travel the world giving seminars about Powerlifting and I’ve been doing so for kind of a long time – since 2008 or so.  When I first began, most powerlifters were not familiar with the concept of RPE, so I would teach it from scratch.  Since then, it’s become increasingly popular in the Powerlifting community and, to some extent, the wider strength-training world.  How I go about teaching RPE has changed since the beginning.  I think anytime you teach a subjective technique in the face of a changing surrounding context, that has to happen.

I used to teach RPE something like this…  Read more…

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Training the High School Powerlifter

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Training the High School Powerlifter
By Chad McMullin, MS, CSCS

Having been head coach of the Warren Central powerlifting team for almost ten years, I can tell you that without hesitation that training teenagers has be one of the most frustrating and at the same time rewarding jobs of my life. Many of the guys I have coached came into our weight room as freshmen having never even seen a weight, only to leave after their four years having won district, region, and some even state titles. The frustration comes from seeing some guys having great talent, but end up a memory simply because they could not handle the expectations of our program. In the following article, I will discuss the way we set up our training and my philosophy of training. Read more…

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GPP Considerations for Strength Sports

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GPP Considerations for Strength Sports
By Mike Tuchscherer

General Physical Preparedness (or “GPP”) has become somewhat of a catch phrase for Powerlifters in the last decade or so. It is a term tossed around to describe a wide range of activity from mowing the lawn to dragging a sled. The truth is that we often misuse this term or apply it loosely. I’m not here to be the word-police, but today we’re going to learn some more about GPP – what it is and how it can benefit you.
GPP describes the body’s general ability to do work that it is not specifically trained to do. Simply break the word down – How prepared is your physical body in general terms? Do you tire easily or can you work all day and still have energy left at the end? For powerlifters, bodybuilders, and other gym-rats – can you go outside and play a pickup game of basketball or football and at least look coordinated? GPP is more than just work capacity – it is a general measure of the other physical fitness traits that are not assessed evenly by your given sport of choice. For example, Powerlifting focuses on the development of absolute strength. So things like flexibility, aerobic fitness, etc would fall under the category of GPP.
But why should you care about GPP at all? As a strength athlete under normal conditions, improving aerobic fitness won’t improve your squat and flexibility won’t make you snatch more. Or will it? Read more…

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Getting Over Overtraining

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Getting Over Overtraining

By Mike Tuchscherer

If you read interviews with top athletes, especially powerlifters and bodybuilders, a favorite question to ask them seems to be if they made any mistakes in their early training. And most of them will say that they spent too much time early in their careers overtraining. Many of these athletes feel that if they hadn’t, they could have reached their current levels faster or maybe could have been even better than they already are.
Overtraining is a result of training stress, plus the rest of life’s stress, exceeding an athlete’s ability to recover. This results in stagnation, or even injury. At a minimum, it is inefficient – meaning that the athlete won’t improve at their optimal rate.
If overtraining is so bad, and it’s easy enough to fall into that even top athletes sometimes mess it up, what can you do about it? Well, I’m glad you asked! Below are five practical tips that you can use to prevent and/or treat overtraining. They are not in a particular order, nor are they all-inclusive. However, they are effective. So without further delay, let’s jump right in. Read more…

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RTS for Bodybuilding

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RTS for Bodybuilding
Mike Tuchsherer

Bodybuilders and Powerlifters have not historically gotten along very well. Although the relationship strain seems to be mostly limited to internet forums, it’s interesting nonetheless. The thing is we can learn a lot from each other just by looking.

Getting along
I like to think of myself as observant of trends in iron sports. Training in general is fascinating to me, so it’s always enjoyable for me to watch how things develop and evolve over time. Whether it be the way Olympic lifting ebbs and flows in and out of favor for training athletes, or the way that foam rolling first gained popularity and is now becoming almost cliché, it’s interesting to watch. One trend I’ve noticed lately is that bodybuilders are beginning to train more like powerlifters and are showing good results because of it. Additionally, powerlifters are beginning to have a more balanced approach (similar to bodybuilders), and also seem to be benefitting from it. This simply highlights the fact that we can learn from one another. Read more…

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Mental Cues for the Squat

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Mental Cues for the Squat
By Mike Tuchscherer

I’m a very cognitive person. I think through everything – even when I lift I like to stay very mentally engaged. Lots of guys shout and yell before a big attempt. Not me. I even prefer silence as it lets me focus better.
One thing I’ve struggled with in the past is the depth of my squats in training. This has only rarely been a problem in a contest, especially in recent years, but it makes me wonder how much better of a competitive squatter I could be if I simply trained how I compete.
It took a lot more than this simple realization to make a difference in my training. At least for me, it wasn’t just “squat deeper” and voila. A whole array of technique cues needed to be lined up for me to squat well. I broke the lift up into a few phases and I developed a mental checklist that I think to myself as I execute each rep. That checklist helped my consistency immensely and that’s what I’d like to share with you today.

Read more…

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RTS for Strongman

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RTS for Strongman
by Mike Tuchscherer

Reactive Training Systems began as a system of training for Powerlifters. It has since evolved into a system of principles that can govern any sort of physical training from Weightlifting to general fitness, from Bodybuilding to MMA. One of the most interesting applications so far has been applying RTS to Strongman.
I like training Strongman athletes for several reasons. The biggest reason is that Strongman requires a very interesting and ever-changing skill set to be successful. Success in one show may depend heavily on absolute strength in an athlete’s back where success at the next show may depend heavily on speed during walking events. Add on the comparatively complex energy system demands and you can have some pretty interesting training problems! But solving those problems is part of the fun of programming.
So without further adieu, here is a primer on using RTS to train for Strongman. Keep in mind that a complete discussion of the topic would well exceed article-length, so this will just get you thinking about the various training topics and how to address them. Read more…

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Gauging RPE

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Gauging RPE
By Bob Wanamaker

“How does an athlete know what an RPE of 8 feels like?” Which is the same as the question “How does an athlete know when s/he has 2 reps left in the tank?”
The first thing to note about gauging RPE is that there are training-specific variables which impact the intensity of which an athlete is capable. Number of reps in the set, volume of work, amount of rest between sets – all of these will impact the intensity an athlete can bring to the bar for a given working set. So, out of the gate, those variables need to be controlled to an appropriate degree. Read more…

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First Meet: Getting Ready for your Opener

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First Meet: Getting Ready for your Opener
by Eduardo Chile

Congratulations, you have taken the first step in becoming a powerlifter and want to compete! Now, what do you do? Step one is find a meet to compete in. With so many federations out there with different rule sets this could be a daunting task. The only advice I can give is to pick a federation that is in line with your standards of competition. If you like to compete in single ply, triple ply or raw it’s your decision. If you feel the judging is questionable to your standards then find another federation. Location-wise, you should find your first meet within 100 miles if at all possible. Here is a great resource for finding meets. You should perform a search based on location and date, and please give yourself at least 10 weeks until the meet. Once you have narrowed it down to a few meets research the federation for each one.

Once you have chosen your meet you will need to make plans for it. You will likely need a membership card to compete in the federation. Most federations allow you to sign up the day of the meet, but please check with the meet director to make sure. Most meet directors are very approachable and don’t mind answering questions for you. Next, you will need to send in the registration form. There is quite a bit of information on this form, so if there is anything that is confusing, contact the meet director to get some clarification. Even if you don’t have problems, contact the meet director anyway and introduce yourself. Inform them it is your first meet. My experience is they will be helpful in ensuring you have all of your paperwork in order. Read more…

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AMRAPS in Training

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AMRAPS in Training
By Bryce Lewis

The AMRAP or AMAP set is a training concept meaning simply to perform as many reps as possible with a given training load, taken from the acronym for “as many as possible”, or “as many reps as possible”. Bryan Mann, a researcher from Missouri State links the origins of this idea to 1945 and military surgeon Captain Thomas DeLorme, who used a basic increase in load from session to session and a set to failure after three sets of ten repetitions for post-surgery soldiers healing from bone and joint repairs. From there, Mel Siff proposed the idea again in Supertraining, called it the APRE (autoregulated progressive resistance exercise) method. It was Bryan Mann who did the research on APRE in comparison to linear and block models of periodization.

Since then, it has experienced a resurgence of popularity in the last year or two, and many athletes are interested in how to make use of this training tool. This brief article will serve to illustrate some concepts of the AMRAP set and cover some psychological, programming, and strength benefits, and some potential pitfalls. Read more…

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