How to achieve the best maximum lift

This subject may have been covered before but I couldnt find it so I would like to know how people feel about it.

What would you guys recommend be lifted leading up to a maximum lift. That is, what weights and lifts (the day of) would you lift to attempt a max lift. For instance, if I was to attempt my PB of 130Kg on the bench, I would warm up and stretch, lift say a set of 8 on 70Kg, a set of 2 on 90Kg, a set of 2 on 110Kg, a set of 1 on 120Kg then attempt the 130Kg.

WHat are peoples thoughts …

Too much volume for me. I just do 1x3 on a weight about 30 pounds lighter than what I am maxing and then I max. I have yet to not reach what I wanted on my max since I started doing this.

The progression is highly individual. Rules:

  1. Body temperature must be raised without causing residual muscular fatigue
  2. The neural system should be stimulated but not fatigued.
  3. Static stretching of agonists should be avoided
  4. THe more technical a lift, the greater the no. of warm up attempts required

Couldn’t some jump roping for like 5min achieve the first 2 and then do 1-2 sets of warm up for the 4th point?

I hate going through the trouble to do a bunch of sets of warm up because I’m trying to max, not fatigue and that looks like what he was doing.

I have a follow up weights questions.

When it comes to track improvements people do 3/4 or half squats, to load the legs as if they were in the block positions. Is there any benefit from doing the same with the bench press. That is, loading it up to like 120% of your max and doing half bench press?

Super-maximal loads can help condition the nervous system to accept greater loads by reducing neural inhibition. THeir use however should however be restricted (~<3 times per 4 week cycle) since they are very stressful on the CNS. Sprinters may be wise to save this nervous energy for their specific track workouts.

Eccentric training is a popular method of using super maximal loads to break plateaus. e.g. 3 to 8 singles at 100 - 150% with a slow tempo. Eccentric training creates forces in the active muscles that are greater than those possible during the concentric range. Additionally, fast twitch fibres are recruited sooner and in higher numbers. Many athletes also attempt to hold isometrically at the ‘sticking’ point in order to increase TUT and hence the stimulus at that specific joint angle.

When performing eccentrics appropriate saftey precautions must always be taken. I prefer to use a power rack and unload the weight after each repetition.

Do you use Ecc or Iso lifting much in your program David?

I have with on my squat… and with some success.

I think a reasonable level should be reached before an individual considers incorporating these methods. It drives me crazy when I see guys on the bench doing negatives with 40k.

The potential for serious injury is very great.

I have only used such methods on controlled exercises such as Lat pulldowns or leg presses where the movements are more controlled and safety pegs can be used.

About point n.o 3;

I’ve been doing my weights seperately but I’m going back to doing them after sprint sessions. I do a lot of stretching after a sprint session, all static. Would this interfear negatively with my lifting session 10 mins later?

Depends on the individual and total duration of the stretches.

For lifting after track work, I’d generally wait till the end of the weight work out to stretch. An exception would be if you were only lifting upper body (and not stretching upper body after track work).

I fully agree with david’s points on pre-max efforts. I think as to point 2, you need to focus mostly on speed of the lift you are maxing on for your nervous system warm up.

If you really want to up your max efforts in a lift, look into some of Westside’s protocols (I think on Elitefitness…?).

I agree, stretch AFTER weights.

I agree also -stretch after the weight session. If you lift shortly after the sprint session you can greatly reduce the number of warm-up lifts required.
David: Can you give a few examples of an eccentric session? If it relates to squats, would you stop at a shallow depth? With pins in the rack or with release clips for the extra weight?(I wouldn’t do ecc with pull-downs). How manyy training years should the athlete have before considering this?

He should be at an elite level i.e. benching at least twice his BW (this is just a benchmark, not written in stone), over 20 years of age (because most people have stopped growing naturally at this age) and only if an athlete has reached stagnation. Ecc lifts are good between 105% to 130% anything above the 130% has to much gravity pulling forces or momentum rather and the body says screw you I’m shutting down and the muscles won’t contract because doing so would cause injury anyways.

I currently bench 385lb and still rising since I discovered periodization. So now I don’t want to use eccentrics until I stagnate.

According to Hatfield in his book titled POWER “Excessive tension or stretch in a muscle activates the Golgi apparatus, which in turn causes a reflex inhibition of that muscle…Too much tension and the muscle shuts down. The excitation threshold of the Golgi tendon organ-the ‘shutdown threshold’-can be altered through proper training”

Therefore, use closer to 105% for people who have are new to eccentric loading and increase the percentage if you start stagnating while doing eccentrics. Sounds weird stagnating while doing eccentrics but the body will need a new stimulus to keep the strength going up.

I believe eccentrics are a way to voluntarly lift more weight. Involuntarily a woman can lift a car to save her baby as the story goes; however, this condition is only in a live or death situition.

I also disagree with stretching before working out.

  1. Doing dynamic stretches like inch worms can warm-up the chest/shoulder area and increase the temperature in that region faster then on a bike where virtually no upper body movement is used. Doing 5-8 reps would be optimal with your own BW after riding a bike for 10min.

  2. STRETCHING your antagonist muscles like your biceps and lats will lead to less resistance for your chest and triceps in bench pressing and therefore you will lift more. The stretch recommended here would be hanging from a lat pullup bar in that position first for a minute and then in a chinup position second. In both positions your just hanging like a monkey. Another great stretch is hanging from a rack with both hands like your doing a squat but your arms are in front of you hanging onto a rack while your in a parallel squat position.

This is all bullshit. It will make no real difference but for a few rare cases. Both the biceps and lats are involved in the bench press movement.

The more years of strength training the smaller the ecc load tolerated. Those with very high max strength (2.5-3x BW) would not be able to handle anything greater than 105-120% eccentric loading whilst others with lower max strength can handle 120-150%. You will not plateau in eccentric training if done in conjunction with normal max strength training. The more experienced the greater the % of lifts in a workout done eccentrically. Anything longer than 3-4 week blocks causes ligaments to be and tendons to be sore. My squat max has hit 200-205 KG (bodyweignt 76-78 KG) Before I started my ecc phase it was around 185-190KG. I took my time building up, but hit it for 3 weeks. 2x a week with 3 “lifts” at 210 KG. Tested my standing jump on a contact mat. Increased my height by 2-3cm. CMJ not such a big increase. I can handle much more reps at 160-170 KG range but deliberately limit it.

You are misinterpreting Hatfield yes too much tension and the muscle will shut down but eventually inhibition decreases leading to an increase in elastic or eccentric strength. Its like plyo you have a certain amount of weeks of inhibition and then an increase occures in activation and stimulation.

Hence the reason why plyo should be done over a long period of time.

Two thoughts:

On maxing: It seems like you’d need more warmup sets, which in this case might be more accurately called work-up sets, if you’re moving big weights. PLers typically describe doing something like: 225x5 315x5 405x1 495x1 585x1 640x1 for a 700 max. So the body can “adjust” to the heavy load safely. Clearly if you’re lifting 300 you wouldn’t need as much.

On eccentrics: The stronger you are, the more risky it seems to go beyond 100%, since you’re doing loads that are tough enough as is. So it makes sense to me that the advanced lifter can handle less of an extra load. Also, 120% of 300 = 360 but 120% of 500 = 600, which is a mighty big jump, esp at that level.

In regards to Hatfield I was referring to ecc loading greater than 130% not that you shouldn’t do it.

I strongly disagree with the use of ecc loading until any athlete reaches stagnation. Why overstimulate an organism if it is already stimulated enough; furthermore, this leads to longer regeneration time as well not only for the muscles to recover but also the CNS. If used in CF system of lifting 3 days a week along with sprinting it could be to much. The only exception would be to use ecc loading if you try to make an NFL team or its the Olympics where it maybe your only shot.

I agree with the 3-4 week period leaning more towards 3 weeks and then regeneration for the fourth.

Martin did you stagnate before you decided to do ecc loading?

There’s nothing written in stone here but your after long-term benefits versus the short-term. :cool: