Another edition of the critically acclaimed series… JK! This week I want to address the issue of GPP and strength athletes. While many people don’t consider Powerlifters, Strongmen or Body-builders athletes, we are! As a result, I think there is a huge issue that needs to be addressed, General Physical Preparation. In other words, Cardio.
I think this is a hugely underrated aspect of preparing for competition in strength sports. Don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting that to succeed in a competitive environment you need to become a cardio bunny. Strength sports competitions are often really long, the last powerlifting meet I competed in took 7 hours. While clearly you are not lifting for the entire duration, having some stamina is clearly beneficial, given that you have to work up to a squat, bench and deadlift one rep max in that time frame.
Additionally, you cannot forget the athletic requirements of the sport, explosiveness, endurance and speed are all essential to success in the sport. Being able to control your movements despite fatigue and repetition are essential to succeeding in any strength sport. Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell, is a huge proponent of the importance of endurance for success in powerlifting, while I disagree with a lot of his training modalities it is hard to argue with the huge success of his team.
So what do I suggest? Well to start with try and avoid steady state cardio. There are a couple reasons for this, firstly, studies have shown that it does not have a huge amount of carry-over for athletes in explosive anaerobic sports. Secondly, after spending 2-3 hours in the gym lifting who wants to return and sit on a stationary bike.
So here are a few suggestions:
- HIIT is great, Short explosive exercises are going to have a significant carry-over to the explosive movements of powerlifting. Some suggestions: Hill sprints- (Find a hill sprint up, walk back down, repeat until considerably tired)
- Walking, it is easy! 40 minutes a day on top of your current walking can be greatly beneficial. You can simply swap out driving to the gym and walk instead, providing a good warm-up and some nice active recovery!
- Supersets/Burnout sets, These are clearly a more sport specific option, but I think they are also hugely beneficial. Supersets teach your body to become better at performing weighted movements continuously, but more importantly, they help to cement mental endurance. Burnout sets are also great for the same reasons but I would suggest saving them for the end of a training week because they leave you sore and exhausted. Some suggestions: Tricep/Bicep Superset-(Who doesn’t want bigger pipes, try super setting cable bicep curls and tricep extensions 4×10)
- Plyometrics, personally I am a big fan of plyometric movements and the carry-over that they have to powerlifting movements. Box Jumps can be a great way to practice becoming more explosive in the squat and deadlift. They are also great at building up a sweat. Some suggestions: Seated box Jumps-( Sit on a low box jump up to a higher box, step down repeat for a set time) Plyo-Push Ups-(put plates outside normal pushup hand position and explode up onto plates 4×5)
Overall, the most important message to draw from this post- DON’T BE LAZY! Some type of cardio will be beneficial to you in some respect whether it is for heart health or to assist in strength competition. My aim in these posts is simply to dispel some myths that surround strength training so I hope I was able to provide you with some value! So keep training hard and remember Strength has no Limit!