Strong enough?

I’m curious: as athletes achieve higher and higher levels of strength, how does their weight training change? How does the purpose of it change?

For example, I recall reading on this forum that Ben Johnson did not exceed 600 pounds in the deadlift/squat - and that he may have even been lifting these weights easily. I believe Charlie stated that Ben’s level of strength was achieved more through high-quality track work AND weights than through a pure focus on weights.

So at that level, would an athlete do just enough weights to maintain strength levels - and focus all remaining efforts on track work? Or are challenging weight workouts still pursued for CNS development? Perhaps the focus could shift to higher reps with the heavy weights, or more challenging exercises that do not allow such heavy weights. Just curious…

I can’t answer your question, but i’d like to add to the topic. Does “strong enough” relate to your ability to accelerate?

If improving strength generally improves acceleration,
but only to a certain point… ie: “strong enough”
is this because you can only accelerate to your top speed…?
As in, your strength could be increased ad infinitum so long as your top speed increases as well? However most experts have created this “strong enough” theory because relatively no one outside of the world class level needs higher strength levels to accelerate to their tremendous top speed.

does this make sense?

The most challenging exercise beeing the max sprint, you don’t want to add conflicting exercises that might stand in the road of the max sprint development.

As Charlie used to say, "The surgery was a success, but the patient died… "

How can one tell when they have sufficiently stimulated the CNS with various methods?

So for example

athlete A will do 6x 30m fly + 10 medball throws + 3x5 squats and this might be enough of a total stimulation for growth


athlete B might do the same and because he is of a lower overall qualification, he does not stress the CNS to a sufficient degree.

So is there a particular marker for the achievement of a sufficient stress?

Because of the dynamics between muscular and central fatigue is so widely variable for each athlete. Or is it simply a matter of waiting for the muscular system to develop to a certain point where it becomes challenging to the CNS it just might take a longer period?

It is a complex process of observing:

  • Improvement over time
  • Fatigue in various forms (some not readily visible)
  • Biomechanics

There is no one marker, and these indicators vary by individual. Make astute observation, track progress and collect lots of data over time.

And of course, using Heart rate Variability

John posted this message under the In-Season Weights thread last week:

"from the notes I took at a CF seminar

'With higher level athletes be careful with testing maxes, for example a top level shot putter should never test 1RM as it is too high and potential for injury too great. Ben stopped progressing his squat poundages as the chance of injury was too great, he could squat 600lbs, did he really need to go higher? At some point the possibility of serious injury outweighs the need to keep adding weigh to the bar. '"