Lift lighter to get stronger: Submaximal Training.

Seems counterintuitive right? in order to lift more in a maximal lift,  it is beneficial to train with submaximal weights. It is becoming more and more prominent in the strength training world, to train consistently with much lighter weights (RPE 6/7) for longer periods of time during training cycles.

I mean, it sort of makes sense when you think about it from a logical perspective, you would get better at moving lighter weights for more reps in order to be stronger with fewer reps. But, the essential part of submaximal training is that it is competition specific. For example doing a bench single with 315 @ RPE 7 is specific and then you could follow that with 225 for 4×7 @RPE 6. This would give you a decent level of volume in that competition movement and overall it is specific.

There are several other benefits of sub-maximal training. You can do more work in the competition movement or competition variants in order to improve your technique and ability to handle even heavier weights.

Another benefit is the limitation of fatigue. You are able to handle much higher frequency in competition lifts throughout each week and thus each training block.

But, the ultimate benefit of sub-maximal training is that you can more efficiently and consistently train in the competition movements without de-loading nearly as often.

However, like with anything it has disadvantages. Firstly, In my opinion, it is not nearly as enjoyable! You are lifting in such a conservative state for the vast majority of your training that it can be tough to actually have fun while doing it, that is if lifting heavy is your thing!

Additionally, while the majority of your training is specific in that you are training mainly in the competition movements. It loses specificity because you consistently train at like 70% of your max which is not ideal for powerlifting specific training at least for me. Obviously, different people respond to different training stimuli differently, which is a key aspect of coaching. Just for me, it is not something that I would use in my own training.

Well, I more so mean as a primary method of training. Sub max still has a place in my program or any ones training for that matter. I mainly use sub max for back off work. For example, work up to a single, double, triple at RPE 8 and then follow with varying weight sets at around RPE 6/7 using a load drop to keep the RPE consistent. I have been playing with pyramiding the back off sets and that has been giving me a lot of success.

Regardless of your training preferences, just find a consistent way to source progression in your training and roll with it. Success in powerlifting is all momentum, so just find ways to build it, whether it is 2.5 pounds a month or 20 pounds a week progress is progress.

 

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