Max AND SubMax or Max VS. SubMax?

Mr.Colbert brought up very interesting possible topics of discussion in a different thread,such to deserve a topic of their own,at least in my opinion.
Some points of interest that come to my mind:

  • max and submax dynamics in known training programs
  • survival issues
  • event specific output levels
  • efficiency considerations
  • maximal load vs.maximal effort

Anyone cares to start discussing here?

Before arguing, it’s perhaps best to identify what we mean by sub-max and max, and more importantly, in what context. Sub-max can mean anything under max effort (from 75%-99%). To me, 90-99% effort is considered sub-max. Max effort does not necessarily mean max execution either. This is especially true in highly technical events. Furthermore, we must perhaps make some distinctions between different training modalities in terms of sub-max vs. max; sub-max effort in plyos or in the weight room follows a completely different ideology than sub-max effort in sprinting, throwing or jumping events.

My greatest concern is technical efficiency and technical learning in highly complex events: hence my approach to sub-max effort here is completely different to sub-max effort in the weight room or plyos.

When it comes to learning in complex events, max effort is usually not the way to achieve technical mastery, albeit it’s of course the goal. This is especially true in events like javelin throw; if you have the kids throw at max every time, I can guarantee they will never be proficient in the event. The body will not find the most advantageous pattern if max effort means doing something wrong – like it usually is when starting out (tension in the wrong muscles or overall tightness etc.). Continuing this way will only enhance the wrong patterns into automata. The body will not find the most advantageous patterns because too much effort will hinder such finding. Thus, the only way to get learning going is to gradually close in towards higher intensities.

On the other hand, performing sub-max plyos is equally a disastrous waist of time. It’s very hard to find any reason why sloppy contacts would be justified.

I don’t think we can argue sub-max vs. max as a universal category, we must see the context and the goals first, and argue scales of intensity within those contexts (gross simplification):

Technical learning: argue… max AND sub-max;
Simple intensity output: argue… max VS. sub-max.

motor learning is defined by the ability of the system to attain greater and greater movement efficiencies. Of course technique must be learned but unconscious motor control (intra and inter muscular coordination) are carried out without the individual knowing it and these two factors determine energy efficiency. so I do believe that position and movement must be learned but that maximal effort is what will raise movement efficiency. sub maximal work allows for too much variability in the system to progressively or rather rapidly train proper movement patterns. look at the Bulgarian lifters I mentioned, arguably the most technically proficient lifters of all time. the system moves toward a state of bio-mechanics perfection 9although never reached) and development happens at a greater pace with maximal effort. I think its important to note that I conceive of all physical training is drills. I say drills because what your attempting to do is instill favorable movement patterns. patterns which will be most sufficient and most conducive to producing the desired outcome. if you can start thinking of all training as neurological programing you can start to see what im talking about. I think our concepts of training is what is making it difficult for us to find common ground. a max squat isn’t a mas squat, its an instance of your neurology being exposed to conditions in which it most produce a desired outcome. the more often said instances occurs the more rapid the development of that desired trait. now before you jump on me LOL, there are complexities and other considerations to take into account such as the so called CNS “fatigue”.

Now, again just so I am sure where you are coming from, your concept CNS fatigue is not that there is a limited amount of ‘CNS juice’ for lack of a better term, but that the body reacts to whatever stimulous is imposed on it by temporary inhibiting the CNS from further max effort work. Is this correct? And if so is this something that you believe can be trained to overcome? For instance from what I have read, the Bulgarians added max training volume as the athletes advanced. Is this a case where they trained to be able to ‘inhibit the body’s natural reaction to inhibit’ further max work?

We’ve had a number of posts in the archives separating max speed (100%) from sub max (95% to 99%).
The ratio of sub-max to max speed sessions must grow as performance grows. I’d think this is plain obvious, as a world record holder cannot run at world record speed three times a week.
There IS one way to expand the number of “max” sessions a top performenr can handle- keep pushing till his max is no longer what it once was.

Another thought along these lines is: How do you define max when the ‘bar’ is moving up? Equaling a lifting max (where change is fastest) may well NOT be a max by the time it is repeated, so you might well be cycling through a series of max and sub-max performances even though each session equals or betters your PB.

Question … can inter-muscluar effcienecy/coordination peak in athletes in a young age?

fatigue via inhibition yes. its not soley that they raised their volume as the progressed but the type of training they do which elicits condtions in which maxmial contraction must occur. so here we have an example of training that goes exactl counter that of what charlie mentions above. as the athlete improves so does their volume of high intensity work. inhibtion is neurological and the neurology has a high level of plasticity. so yes it can be altered so that at a certain point it doesnt shut down.

chralie i think its only obvious becasue that is the normally excepted dogma. im not saying that an elite sprinter can or should sprint at world record speed everyday but simply that high intensity work capacity does not have to go down as an athelte progresses but rather it can and can be beneficial if it goes up. now just ocnsider for a second if adpatation saw instantaneous. after a stimulus is induced adaption follows immediatly. you could train as many times a day as you wanted yes? and you would progress many times faster yes? so the question becomes how can we train more at a maximal level without breaking down. then we consider the biological and neurological considerations. your expereince has shown that volume and intensity must vary inversly to one another but there have been those out there who have found success and let me say rapid success using other methods, now ofcourse they dont have bens or marks but lets consider what they did and see if we can apply it to produce better atheltes. again i want to state i do not think that it is wise course of action for an elite sprinter to sprint maximally everyday. but we do have to consider that bulgarian weight lifters lifted maximally every day multiple times a day and only perfroming, for the most part, the lifts they use in competition.

this is where other measuring devices must be instituted to measure the athletes state. maximal load is easy but even with maximal load we want maximal velocity in the confines of said load. lifts can be timed or if avalilble the use of a tendo unit. other things are monitored such as form (i hate this term) eastern bloc countires use to assign a number to an atheltes lifting form as another source of data kept on atheltes. i personally like the tendo unit or its peers (such as a v scope). u hook it up to your bar and it tell you how much power is being produced during the movement. so with a given laod you know how much power is being produced and this is an indicator of athletic state.

Yes it can, but normally the most efficient athletes are those who have been doing it the longest as I said the body works towards a state of optimum efficiency. But really I don’t believe there is any true peak. The process towards the perfect lift or perfect 100m is asymptotal, and movement can never be perfect. The goal here is to be biologically efficient and energy efficient. The path of least resistance to complete the desired movement and for coordination to occur in such a way that the bodies available musculature is used to its maximum.

Also just to add to the discussion, didn’t the Bulgarian methods use TFmm(maximum training rate) which differs from CFmm(competition maximum). I believe Zatsiorsky goes over this in Strength and practice. The Bulgarian method would use the maximum training weight that didn’t cause substantial emotional stress. This would seem to indicate that emotional stress cause by 100% CFmm would cause too great an inhibition to overcome quickly or is this another case of something that in time, one would adapt to and overcome. Would then the effort to move the wieght as fast as possible still allow it to be considered a maximum lift? Also Coach Francis, would the Bulgarian method using TFmm correlate to your going around 95% on max sprints the majority of time?

Adadjev initially used what you saw in strength and practice. But later attempted as often as possible to have his athletes train at competition levels. He did note that CFmm induced a greater stress but also that with the reduced load (for example 5 -7 tons lifted in competition in comparison to 100s of tons lifted in training) can greater adaptation. But its isn’t the same as Charlie’s 95% because this is a perceived level of exertion where the Bulgarians trained under an absolute level of exertion. with taking account of what they did do I believe it is possible for a person to say max squat every day or max bench everyday with their true maximal load (again not that I am advising this only that the volume and intensity can coincide) but certain physiological traits must be in place along with certain neurological traits. So I don’t think that a person can just walk in to a gym and bench 450 every day for a year. We have to look at what the Bulgarians where doing and what neurological adaptations take place. If we apply this to track or field sports I believe that in training stimulus can far exceed competition thereby making competition easy in comparison.

Elliciting a pure sport competition reaction would be very difficult - crowds, atmosphere, consequences.

i didnt say reaction i said load. your expanding the topic to psychological considerations and the physiological considerations are complex enough for now.

My 95% is a TIMED function based on best performance, not a perceived effort. (The perceived effort would prob have a much greater range than the timed percentage) Additionally, it would be very difficult to measure the actual work done at max or sub max speeds because of advancing coordination, improving inhibition rate (shut down of muscles when not in use) and other mechanical efficiencies.
There are many differences between weight training and sprint work and a complex relationship between the two and other training factors.
The extension of a balls-to-the-wall weight room training philosophy to the track to advance results is not a new concept. It has been tried…and tried… and tried.
Ask yourself why this hasn’t resulted in WRs.
Are all those who have succeeded at the highest levels dullards who’ve just stumbled across some good athletes and all who’ve tried the other approach just colossally unlucky in athlete selection?

chralie my concern is not what has happened in the past what people have tried and failed at but wut can be synthesized from those achievements and failures. i get the impression on this site that a lot of people are only intrested in institutuing the same type of training. chralie the stuff you use is great but you as a long time coach should know that training knowledge is a progression of trial and error. so we take wut is useful from a program and disgard what was not to create something that will give us better results so that we can produece more elite atheltes not just encourache a small population of genetic freaks to reach a high level of ability. no please charlie please dont take this as an insult becasuse though i differ in my views i am a big fan of your work. but let me put this forward instead of using examples of past failures to discredit an idea why not argue the physiologcal processes. the bulgarians were able to get great results with their high volume high intensity system and charactersitc of their system was a rapid rate of progress. but on the other hand they had relativly high injury rates. so we must ask ourselves how can we differentiate the two to get the good (rapid results and high level of abillty) from the bad (high injury rates).we wont progress if we only rely on the same methods just like evolution we must keep wut is beneficial and cull what is not.

My experience of track & field is this: The further an athlete evolves, the narrower the window of opportunity to perform at even higher levels. This does not mean that progress is stopping; it just means that more variables have to be in place before further progress becomes reality.

To ensure that the variables really are in place, we must ensure different training modalities really work together (and not eat each other) for creating such window of opportunity. However, this does not work in a simple horizontal plane (v1 + v2 + v3 at full throttle = progress); we must also, I think, adjust the intensities of some variables in the vertical plane – we must have the option of adjusting intensities for some variables to ensure even further progress. Having the option of adjusting both the horizontal and vertical planes gives us more tools to work with, hence why sub-max becomes important. More tools = better chance to create that new window of opportunity (provided you know what you are doing).

Dissipative structures are great… for a system to evolve into a higher level of order, more entropy must first find its way into the system. Some of this is discussed here:

I’m not discrediting ideas, I’m discrediting the notion that the way forward to higher performance consists only of concentrating high intensity sessions ever closer together.
Look at it from the other direction:
If performance is to advance in any or all componants, what conditions must be in place to make it happen?
Why must ALL variables continue to advance when all but one are in support roles?
Why must variability of load and recovery be dropped when we havn’t seen an end to improvement via this means?

What’s wrong with the term “form”?