Rate of Increase in Strength

What are your opinions of a good rate of progress in strength training? (mesocycle/month/year)
What is your/your athletes fastest rate of increase?
How variable is the rate between individuals and over time within individuals(all else equal)?

Based on your experiences or research.

James - Some factors that might influence rate of improvement:

  1. Age
  2. Training age
  3. Technical proficiency/exercise (complex exercises are likely to permit greater improvement)
  4. Training frequency
  5. Nutrition
  6. Other activities (reduce available adaptation energy)
  7. Body weight (relative strength will usually increase less than absolute strength)

etc etc

In a compound exercise such as the squat I would suggest that a ‘mature’ lifter would be doing v.well to improve more than 15% per year.

Also the principle of diminishing returns- the stronger you get and the closer you get to your personal limits, the smaller the incremental improvements.
David: How would you rate improvements on technical lifts vs strength lifts ?(clean vs squat for example) You could start tailing off on the squats, yet technical improvements would allow the cleans to keep going up in a linear fashion. Also, what is the impact of this on ultimate power output? What is the impact relative to the sport?

The strength ceiling should really be tied in with training age (assuming intelligent training methods!)…

Coaches often use an exercise like the clean as a performance marker. Jonathon Edwards (as an example) however improved from 132 to 150 but his jump performances actually declined. It is likely that one of the ways he was able to improve his clean was through improved technical proficiency (i.e. specific inter muscular coordination).

Additionally, it is generally accepted that strength peaks later than speed. An exercise that relies more heavily on the former may therefore continue to improve longer. I often notice this in master’s lifting - the snatch is the weak lift.

I was thinking that it might be worth thinking about who would benefit most from a shift to Oly lifts. For example, a weaker athlete could increase his power output after his capacity for improvement in strength lifts was relatively used up, though a very strong athlete might be able to stay with simple strength lifts much longer- if not all through the career. Strength does peak later than speed generally, though that issue is clouded by the Speed Endurance factor- which dictates that seasonal gains here can be piled on year after year to more than offset a very slight loss of absolute speed. Even within absolute running speed, strength may outweigh the slight max nervous system losses for awhile. This (along with the money) goes a long way to explaining why the ages of the top sprinters have gone up.

I’ve got some more questions, to do with the implications for sports science and evaluation of program, will post when I have time.

I think that I’m a little confused by all of this. Wouldn’t be the first time. If we’re talking about world class sprinter say in the sub 9.9 club then don’t they all have the capacity to be very strong whether they choose to exploit it or not? Ben, Tim, Mo, Linford have exploited that avenue from what people have mentioned on this forum and even Carl in the last year or two of his career and these athletes were incredibly strong. Frankie is one that I’m not sure used the strength capacity but what if he had? Would he not be up there in terms of strength as well? I had thought that speed was the first to run out then strength and finally endurance. Is this correct? If not then could someone please shed some light my way. Thanks

Also, shouldn’t the CNS be used for the development of speed and power on the track while strength is acheived in the weight room. Along with that, shouldn’t the strength gains be acheived witht minimal CNS involvement??? Thanks. :confused:

Strength characteristics vary even among the top level. For example Ben, Mo, Linford on the one hand- Calvin Smith, Frankie on the other.

Yes, but wouldn’t they have the potential capacity for the strength? Whether it’s exploited in training is imaterial.

Not necessarily. Some athletes have more strength that can be expressed through weights, some through elastic response, in part from the tendons, some have a lower “viscosity” (the muscles move over themselves with less resistance due to fibre directionality), and some have a nervous system that allows them to shut down antagonists more quickly and more completely during the rapid alternation in sprinting.
Sprinters are a combination of these possibilities in varying measure.

So Charlie, That means that I (as a begginer sprinter) can work on all of these factors (theoretically) and if I find that I’m deficient in one, make up for it by increasing the others. This is based on the assumption that:

  1. Strength can be increased
  2. Plyometrics work not only on the muscles but also at a level that elicits or favours a better elastic response
  3. Shutting down of antagonistic muscles in sprinting can be “learned” by the CNS or at least improved through max. speed training
  4. Lower viscosity of the muscles is solely afected by genetics

Look forward to your reply

All four factors are affected by genetics, but, 1,2,and 3 can be developed/enhanced by effective training and relaxation to varying degrees.

Charlie, what did you like about deadlifts when you incorperated them into Ben’s earlier treaining years? I have just started doing sumo deadlifts becuase I remember years ago excelling much quicker in deadlift variations than squat variations. Allready in my first deadlift session in years I am lifting more than I do in the squat, so I’m dropping the squats (again) and I 'm thinking of adding pistol squats to my dead’s so that the quads still get some work.
I think another factor in strength gain is individuall leverage. Any comments?

Deads can be a great starting point towards cleans later. As you say, it’s highly individual, depending on the stage of development and the number of lifts required within the lifting phase.

DLs don’t develop eccentric strength and tend to fry the nervous system

not meaning to be rude, but why don’t DLs build eccentric strength? If one lowers it rather than using a controlled fall, wouldn’t it develope eccentric strength? Or is the reason that it doesn’t build eccentric strength is that most people essentually let the weight drop?

I definately understand the CNS fatigue from DLs :), i was just curious to that part.

When we did DLs we lowered the bar between multi-reps, though I moved away from them when squats and/or cleans were able to cover their needs. I think we were doing this early enough in their careers that the CNS implications David describes weren’t seen (beyond that of other lifts using a high percentage of motor units), though I don’t doubt his experience there.

Hi, I was wandering if anyone could help me out with something that has been on my mind for quite a while.

People who visit these boards on numerous occassions have said that “My strength comes from the weight room and I get my power from the track”. When you talk about gaining power from the track, What are you referring to???.. Is it something to do with Leg frequency/Stride Rate, Is that Power???..

On many occassions I hear power can also be increased in the weightroom along with strength. I know that an increase in strength is pretty much an increase in Stride Length as long as you stay supple, but what are we talking about when someone says, I gain my power from the track???..

Please Reply, Thankyou…

power is a reference to RFD, the best ex. i can use is powerlifters train strength with max lifts(charlie advises this as well) and power with speed work(submaximal loads acc. as fast as possible) and they say that track work develops this dynamic quality…