Written by Matt Vincent
I have trained hard and consistently for the sole purpose of increasing athletic performance in one way or another since I was 13. Now 17 years into my journey I am glad some 5 years ago I really was able to swallow my ego and start making proper gains. Knowledge comes with experience and I have been and trained with different people all over the country and taken what worked for me and applied it to the goals I want to accomplish. Years of Powerlifting in gear or Raw and years of Strongman put such a focus on max weight lifting week in and week out. This of course is the easiest way to see gains for the novice. Also you are going to make and see gains quickly, especially if you are fresh at training in this method. However eventually it is going to catch you and you will have to train smarter.
Years of max effort lifting is going to lead to injuries and a lack of mobility. This is what happens when you push the limit that hard on the weight side of the equation. You are not going to be perfect on max effort lifts. Thus it increases your risk of injury and is unnecessary. No matter what sport you compete in the goal is make it to the competition as strong and healthy as you can so you can perform at your best that day. If you are an athlete then how you compete on competition day is what should matter to you. If you cannot perform at or as close to your potential due to injury you suffered in training, caused by doing something you could have equally accomplished with less risk, then you are an asshole. Staying healthy and able to train every week hard and consistently will always win.
Lifting heavy singles is not the answer to that. Heavy max lifts are a test this is not where the work gets done. You are going to get stronger on multiple sets of 3 and 5 reps. Keeping weights around the 75-95% range is also where your bread and butter is going to be. These are weights that keep injury chances low, technique high, and can work on strength. These sets will help fatigue the smaller muscles that you will need to keep technique solid at max attempts. This is where the work gets done. The more you can stay there and keep progressing with rep maxes you will keep getting stronger.
Using these sub-maximal loads and hitting the reps is what is going to allow you to build your technique. Like throwing or any other activity it is repetition done correctly that will create technique and muscle memory. You want with any lift to be able to trust what you have built so on game day you can think of one cue or two and let the rest do what it is supposed to do.
Now with that said sometimes a max weight is necessary. This is when you are testing or competing. Prior to a meet you need to figure out your openers. This is the time to focus and find out where you are. This is not what makes you stronger. This should be the exception to your training and done when you need that number.
So stop being a guy who is constantly injured or always on the threshold. Start training smarter like an athlete should. You can train without trashing your CNS and keep maintaining flexibility. These things two things will lead to consistent gains forever. Becoming strong is not a short race; this is about the long haul. I am not looking for 5 years then being broken I want to train hard and lift forever. When I am done I know I have used this body the best way I could have. Setting 5lbs Prs every cycle and knowing what gains you make in 12 months or 3 years or a decade is what it is about.Matt Vincent is a top Professional Highland Games World Champion. Matt has spent the last 15 years strength training with a focus on functional strength for athletics. Track and Field for LSU as a shotput, discus, and hammer thrower, two top 3 finishes in SEC and two top 5 Regional finishes in Discus. In the last 6 years he as traveled all over country and trained with many of the top coaches and athletes in various fields form Weightlifting, Strongman, Powerlifting (both Geared and Raw) and now focus on Highland Games. Matt also has competed in all of these different disciplines to make sure he has a 1st hand knowledge of training and competing. With success as a top AM Strongman qualified for nationals 3 times. Powerlifting numbers of (875-700-700 in APF @275) and (675-425-665 @ 275 RAW). Weightlifting numbers of (319 Snatch and 400 Clean and Jerk @ 105+). Highland Games he won 3 AM World Championships and 1 Professional World Championship as my first year Pro. Matt is also the Author of Best Selling Highland Games Training Manual for Developing Max Strength and Power: Training LAB and the only Highland Games technique rescource, Throwing LAB Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter