Apr 16


Shire Speed and Strength is a secular gym, so we will be BBQing and lifting at Easter to celebrate yesterday’s Lunar Eclipse. Remember, fish meat is practically a vegetable so we’ll be eating more than that too.







Apr 01


If you do not understand the difference between these two things, then read on. If you do understand, carry on as you were.


There are many places to exercise, there are few places to train. Exercising can be done literally almost anywhere, training requires a planned organized environment. Not all environments are what they seem however. A runner may need only an empty bit of footpath to train on but the runner in training has a plan; this is the other significant difference between Exercising and Training, a proper environment and a plan.


Training involves developing a plan, putting that plan into action, crafting coherent strategies within the plan, and ensuring that the resources for the plan are sufficient to see it through.



You do not need Shire Speed and Strength in order to exercise. There are a million gyms where you can exercise. You can boot camp your way around the parks and beaches of the Shire or indeed the entire city if you like. There are pools, 24 hour health and wellness centers galore. There are PT studios and ‘Hard-core’ gyms that you can get sweaty in and be motivated to run-up-a-hill-under-fire with the yelling of inspirational cliches; you don’t need us for that. Luckily for people, getting better than what you are now is actually exceptionally easy, unfortunately its essentially a Ponzi scheme, and its not likely to be training.


Whilst there are a multitude of these kinds of places, there are not many places like SSS. Without conceit I think we can mention that we dont charge $80 an hour for 45min of standing next to you on a treadmill. We encourage and make affordable options to train, be taught, be filmed and programmed; and not in group sessions, seminars and ‘weightlifting-dude-ranch’ weekends. We are an open gym, you train when you want, the more committed you are the more coached up you’ll get. You can come and lift and do your own thing or you can take on programming advice or run some training experiments that you have developed from other coaching resources.


Training involves knowing why you are doing what you are doing. Its never a waste of time to examine if you are really on the right track and whether your plan can withstand scrutiny. “Am I really sure of my own view?”


Let it be known that when someone decides that they want to train, they can do it here. This does not mean that someone is already good. In fact, most gym members here are emerging from novice into low-level intermediate levels of being a lifter. Others are preparing generally in the gym and have other sports outside of SSS that they are concentrating on. Some lifters are very very good. What they all share in common, is that they are training; and either through prior goal or now realized goal, they know where they are going.



Mar 12


When you build a great familiarity with someone’s work over a long period, you are eager to see them finally put together a concise manual that compiles their up-to-that-point sampling of articles and Q&A repertoire, but additionally you wonder if the offering might be redundant in information; have you essentially just bought a souvenir?

Considering what James ‘The Thinker’ Smith, has provided free of charge via his articles and commentary through Q&A over the years, even if this manual were merely a sounvenir, its worth the money.



Smith breaks his manual down into 19 chapters and the justification for the depth and breadth of the manual, and indeed the existence of it at all, can be found in his summary at the end.

‘Sprinting is one of the basal constituents, arguably the most important, in the preparation of most T&F, team based field and court sport athletes. Any coach of speed/power athletes is assured to enhance their competition outcomes via the study and practice of applied sprint training.’

The manual begins with a description of Sprint Speed and the difference between acceleration and max velocity. Smith uses and contrasts the 10m segment sprint times of Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell from the World Record setting race in Berlin in 2009. The Track and Field data in the manual by itself is a great resource and may be unfamiliar to those who have not analyzed it themselves before.

The manual reflects on and gives credit to the work of Charlie Francis. Francis is the late Canadian athlete turned sprint coach who most famously coached Ben Johnson. For that reason, amongst the general public and media at large his enormous efforts to the preparation of sprinters in particular is over-looked. Amongst serious coaches, his work is well respected.

Chapter 2 describes Francis’ ‘Speed Zone’ categorizations and descriptions. These are revisited several times throughout the manual and are a necessary fundamental understanding for athletes beyond just those in T&F. Francis’ model on intensity limits is provided and then Chapter 3 explains the proper coupling.



You’re not buying this manual because of its presentation. A few more edited washes might have ended up combining Chapters 4 and 6. Chapters 5 and 7 might also have been combined, but no matter. Smith explains the considerations for Long to Short and Short to Long methodologies in programming as a part of ‘Speed Development Strategies’. His development exercises and warm ups are spread across 2 chapters.

Tempo Training’ , or percentage-based running efforts, is a simple enough concept in T&F but Smith urges us to consider the programming implications with field sport athletes. In Chapter 5 he also takes aim at the aerobic and lactic testing models that are traditionally used in organized sport and explains Maximal Aerobic Speed (MAS), contrasting examples of a middle distance runner and sprinter; the training that mimics those athletes, what does it mean for the training of the field sport athlete?

The meat of the manual for me comes in ‘Implications for Sport Training Load’ in chapter 8. We look at the training calendar and consider Long/Short and Short/Long block options as well as Francis’ Vertical Integration model. Throughout, Smith gives personal testimony of athletes he has trained and it adds very positively to the manual as a whole.

When it comes to having total program control, (matching the general preparedness with the technical-tactic demands) we must consider the expense of each training session and how they impact on subsequent ones. Smith introduced your author to the ‘High/Low’ method. This method considers the intensity of training sessions, its position in the week, and the corresponding Central Nervous System loading. As he goes into this, Smith isn’t just name dropping when he acknowledges the work of other well known T&F coaches and their methodological training systems. Smith gives examples of how the High/Low model works in both a General and Specific Physical Preparation stage and all the time you are reading this you start to understand the historical development of what has gone on over the last few decades of athletic preparation.

Smith has put great research into this history; this manual is the result.



The ‘Applied Physics‘ chapter, to be honest, was the component of this manual I was most eager to read. Efficient barbell mechanics has been an enormous part of my coaching in the last 3 years in particular and it has unearthed a demand for deep knowledge and understanding, so-much-so that I have returned with new eyes to T&F and Gymnastics; how I coach it, what I emphasize and what I work towards.

Start and acceleration mechanics has been a huge curious endeavour that I have revisited in 2014, asking myself why I coach what I coach and drawing on new resources; this manual has largely confirmed a lot of the new information I have been gathering from the likes of Dan Pfaff, Adarian Barr and Latif Thomas. Chapter 14 deals with both the understanding of the physics involved in linear speed, jumping and change of direction and then addresses considerations of external forces.

Further along into chapter 14, a more in-depth look at the Applied Physiology of the concepts already laid out from earlier chapters. Time motion analysis data is used to explain and prescribe volume and intensity that is coherent with the bioenergetic realities of sport and its training. It dove tails nicely into a more complete understanding of what Francis is talking about in his Speed Endurance categories that we first saw in Chapter 2.

The sample programming in Chapter 18, sure, some readers will no doubt go straight to it. Understanding the justifications for the lay out however are key to properly managing the variables that will occur from athlete to athlete, team to team, and responsibility to responsibility. You cannot understand the programming unless you understand the components.

A good manual can be revisited again and again and this one will be well thumbed over time. It has a simple presentation, and it shouldn’t be needed to be said that you are buying it for the content. The lay out is consistent with Smith’s sober practical observations and analysis. It does assume a certain amount of back ground knowledge so it is not a text for the fledgling reader.


Recommended wholeheartedly to any serious coach or athlete.

Mar 03


The Autumnal Equinox Lifting Competition will be held on Saturday March 22nd, weigh in 9.30am.

* Only those lifting will be able to use the gym on this day. Spectators are of course invited to come and support those entered in the competition.


So far in the history of the competitions held every Equinox and Solstice we have not had a repeat winner.


2012 Summer Solstice Brendon Apperley 299.4

2013 Autumnal Equinox Sean Muir 329.6

2013 Winter Solstice Ben Chan 324.1

2013 Vernal Equinox Ryan Dodson 312.6

2013 Summer Solstice Dylan Paterson 333.7


The competition is an attempt to fairly pit weightlifters and powerlifters against each other in the same competition.


At Shire Speed and Strength there is a mix of both, and we have decided upon a format that we feel helps resolve the argument that still never really goes away.


LIFT#1 Snatch (150%) or ’2-hands-overhead-anyhow-from-rack-or-blocks’ (100%)

This lift favours good snatchers. You should be able to snatch within 80% of your C&J, accommodating the fact that these Jerks are from the blocks or rack then it evens out a little. A 100kg Snatch is worth the same as a 150kg Jerk in this event, factoring in that most powerlifters are going to probably chose to Behind the Neck Push Press then you can see where they might fall behind here.


LIFT #2 Bench.

The Weightlifters are favoured in the first event but clearly here the Powerlifters have the advantage. Dylan Paterson (2013 Summer Solstice Winner) Sean Muir (2013 Autumnal Equinox Winner) and Geoff Hopkins have all benched 160kg in competition.


LIFT #3 Clean (100%), Deadlift (55%)

Here is another event that favours the weightlifters slightly. A 110kg clean is worth the same as a 200kg deadlift. We’ve seen 260kg deadlifts in this competition and cleans above 130kg.


LIFT #4 Weighted pull up + bodyweight.

The lifters’ score is calculated by including their bodyweight in the score of the lift. So if a 100kg lifter completes the pull up with 25kg his/her score is 125kg. An 80kg lifter would need to do a pull up with 45kg. We have seen Ryan Dodson and Ben Chan register lifts with 80kg+ at around 82kg bodyweight, essentially a double bodyweight pull up.


Final score and bodyweight coefficient.

The final scoring is assessed on bodyweight coefficient, so the heavier you are the less of a percentage of their total they get. Age and gender are also factored in.


Feb 18


One of the themes from The Wizard of Oz, is generated by the Scarecrow. He was ashamed that he didn’t have a brain, so much so, that he went on a long journey to ask the Wizard for one.


The Battler’, has no brain and combines this with having no shame.



The Battler is out of its element everywhere. Nothing comes easily or naturally, everything is hard, however The Battler prepares itself for only ease at every turn and is alarmed at encountering only difficulty: And it has no idea why.


In the gym, The Battler does not warm up. Because, ‘oh yeah, I forgot to’. Once it has been made to warm up, The Battler has no ability to gain any benefit from doing so. It will writhe and gyrate, doing ‘something’, but totally miss the point of whatever has been prescribed or recommended. Sometimes it will copy what it has seen other lifters doing but can make no connection between what and why.


The Battler does not make even the most rudimentary assessment of the lifting area before starting. He or she does not consider the pin height for the rack to be of any importance whatsoever, and unless every single warm up set has been written down for it, it will just load the bar for the first work set and go ahead and unrack it. Even the most obvious obstacle in The Battler’s way will go unnoticed. Anything out of place will remain undetected by The Battler until it actually steps on it, crashes the bar into it or gets choked out by it.


The Battler begins every set by clipping the bar against the rack or J-hook. When squatting and benching, it will clip the rack several  more times during every rep, but no rep will look anything like the last. Routinely, the 4th rep will be much better than the 2nd rep and the likelihood of failing on a rep does not increase proportionally as each rep is completed; Failure can occur just as likely on the first rep as it could on the last.


The Battler will find the only bent bar in the gym to lift with, and then will wonder curiously why ‘it feels so weird’. Quality of the bar or plates is not a consideration for The Battler, as The Battler is cocooned in the abstract numbers of its magic program or behaves as one would at a buffet, sampling everything, piling potato salad on top of its prawn cocktail, conditioning work on top of its strength phase.


The Battler will manage to get chalk in its mouth, in its eyes, in its ears and almost certainly set off an asthma attack or allergic reaction. The Battler is the only person in the gym that has asthma, and everyone knows about it. The Battler will miss several training days because of unusual ailments and it has no gauge of the difference between injury and pain. It will stop lifting because it scratched itself (don’t want to get tetanus now) but then insist that it can complete the next set despite being crushed on the last set of 5 by the 2nd rep. When it does have some sort of injury, it will be rare or unusual kind, as the Battler thinks that it is a unique snowflake that needs individual attention. Because it does not behave rationally, it will injure itself in strange places and strange ways and want to tell you the story of how it did it.


The Battler sees no problem with squatting here.


The Battler absolutely loves to load the bar with multiple small plates and has absolutely perfect timing in doing this at the busiest time of day when other people need small plates on their next set. The Battler is also expert in finding a solution to its equipment problems at the furthest distance from where it is lifting. Instead of looking around in the immediate area, The Battler will go on a 5 minute expedition around the gym in search of what it thinks it needs for the next set.


No amount of eye rolls or groans will indicate to The Battler that it is talking way outside of its experience level and asking spurious questions, the answers to which should be intuitive anyhow.


The Battler will strain terribly on light sets and make groaning noises like two seals mating, but insist that it can get the next set ‘no problem’. The Battler is forever boggled by rudimentary training concepts and does not understand when rest periods are either severely too short or grossly too long.


If The Battler ever senses that someone else around them is struggling or stressed in some way, the Battler will offer unsolicited advice with the absolute certainty of an authoritarian.


The Battler is not self-aware, it does not know that it is battling. The Battler will never change, never overcome and never succeed and The Battler should never be approached for your own safety.


Feb 04


The prospect of a new PR is both a motivator and an intimidating monster that will surely crush you. It fosters a determination to beat it and fear of it. Goal achievement juxtaposed with defeat.

Bring forth ‘The Program’! your trusty offsider in pursuit of this white whale. How do programs help with this dangerous task?

The pursuit of a new PR can topple your boat.


The first consideration in your programming to break a PR is that obviously the infantile tactic can be dispensed with immediately; loading the bar with the new PR weight and attempting it over and over and over hoping that you’ll magically get it somehow. In simple terms it makes sense that “you’ll get it eventually” but biologically the stimulus of failing again and again would more likely create an accommodating effect of failing at that weight rather than an adaptation to make it.  So we shall leave that by the wayside.

Your homework people, is to consider basic principles of programming; Building the Mezzanine.


You dont snatch 120kg by accident.


It’s never a waste of time to examine first principles, and for this we must consider the relationship of Volume and Intensity with our lifting. Volume; the total weight lifted (adding up the weight of all your lifts) and Intensity; how much weight on the bar is represented as a percentage of your maximum.

Also to be considered is, how much of your lifting is taking place at a high intensity?

Contrast these 2 sessions not specifically for snatch, C&J or squat.


Example 1, Lift A 1×3@70%, 1×2@75%, 1×2@80%, 1×1@85%, 3×2@82%, 2×2@80% (19 total lifts, 0 lifts @ 87% or >)


Example 2, Lift A 1×3@70%, 1×2@75%, 1×2@80%, 1×1@85%, 1×1@90%, 2×1@92%, 2×1@87% (13 total lifts, 5 lifts @87% or >)


Thinking about that mezzanine level for a moment, accumulating a large consistent volume of reps in the 90% range of your old PR is going to be what is absolutely necessary for busting that PR on a given day.

For the competitive Olympic lifts in particular, Snatch /Clean & Jerk, the lift becomes vastly different once you get up to that 90% range; THIS is the Mezzanine level. It’s nice to be able to say that you just PR’d your best snatch triple and its around 82% of your old PR but you’re not going to win anything with that in a competition. I would consider that foundational, the Mezzanine is the necessary range of volume that will consistently set you up for a new 1RM single.

There is a lot to get familiar with at the Mezzanine level, consistent success with heavy weights is going to replace the consistent re-setting of PR’s when the lifter first starts. An improved lifter should be able to hit 90-92% on any day that they walk into the gym to train, the newer lifter will hit a 110kg C&J one day and struggle with 95kg the next. Technique needs to be consistent if you’re going to get the most out of your training effort.

So, what can we draw on from this concept? On your bad days in the gym you still need to be able to hit 90% of your 1RM’s, build up a volume of reps around that mark and look at programming that does this. The volume in your training can always be developed with the accessory lifts but once you’re an intermediate lifter, and PR’s are no longer occurring every week then your programming should reflect the effort to develop consistency at the Mezzanine level. 

Feb 02


It’s not enough for us to train, we must elaborate; against the better judgment of the rational mind we must decorate, inflate, dramatize and make numinous.

You must genuflect to a picture of Anatoly Pisarenko any time you pass it.


We may be slightly more evolved mammals, but we cannot be happy just with pattern seeking our way to a scientific discovery of improved physical function. We must spiritualize the experience, we must genuflect to icons of the creed regularly, we must adorn ourselves with garb and we must obey our superstitions of the steel.

Nothing like a new pair of lifting shoes to get your lifting looking on the up and up.


‘I’ll just go to failure on this set.’ ‘Gotta make up for the day off.’ ‘It seemed hell light today I’ll add in another set.’ ‘I haven’t done any cardio for ages.’ ‘yeah I’m getting stronger but I’m not as lean as I want to be.’


We cannot stick to a plan, we have no patience, we allow the adrenaline gland of now over take the prefrontal lobe of the beginning of the original plan.


The weekend training camp, the beginning of the new program after a layoff, the seminar, the weightlifting-dude-ranch weekend contrasts the biological reality that massive gains cannot occur in a short time. These are the ceremonies that form what our rational mind can discover already exist but lack the special emphasis of atmosphere, charisma and panache.


We wont stop doing this, but we probably should. Make a plan based on sound already known principles and follow it through.

Jan 22


It is with some regularity that new lifters come to the gym (some are not yet lifters but they want to be) and usually they divide into two groups. One group is made up of people who wish to join the gym. The other group are already happy where they are currently training; gym, garage, often far away, but they have come to SSS for some coaching to improve.

In particular, it is the lifting skills that they covet.

“I really want to improve my _______ and I just know that my form’s not good.”

We start by getting a gauge on what things look like with their current state of efficiency, but it’s only too often that before we can solve the lifting mechanics inefficiencies, some glaring mobility problems need to be solved.



It’s not that a sense of disappointed occurs, but the plan was to look at someone’s snatch technique and we ended up working on mobility for 40min. It’s a realization from early on for the new lifter to the gym that things have to be done in order and we cannot progress if we’re unable to unlock the full scope of the lift. Mobility is a facet of fitness, just as coordination or strength is. A person comes in thinking coordination is the main issue, and it is, but mobility and strength have to be seriously addressed too.

I wonder how long it will be before the question I get asked is,

‘I really want to improve my _______ and I know that my mobility is just not good.”

Dec 22


Monday December 23rd            6am to 9pm

Tuesday December 24th           6am to 4pm

Wednesday December 25th      CLOSED

Thursday December 26th          CLOSED

Friday December 27th               6am to 9pm

Saturday December 28th           6.30am to 2pm

Sunday December 29th             CLOSED

Monday December 30th             6am to 9pm

Tuesday December 31st            6am to 4pm

Wednesday January 1st             CLOSED


Normal hours from the New Year onwards.

Dec 17


Since opening the gym 4 and half years ago, getting to seminars has proven difficult. However, when I learned a couple of months ago that Mike Tuchscherer was coming out to Australia I made the extra effort.

Mike’s powerlifting achievements are very very impressive, his bio can be found here on the RTS website. In particular, it is his inquisitive and conscientious mind about powerlifting and training in general, which is most appealing. One need only take a short tour around his newly redeveloped website to see what kind of direction he has taken his training and the kinds of services he offers.


You see, I AM actually taller than Mike T.


OPENING TOPIC AREA. ‘Current Theories in Auto-Regulation’ Mike Tuchscherer.

Not to singularly type-cast someone, but in terms of ‘shtick’ Mike T is somewhat known for his theories and practice of auto-regulation. Philosophically, the theory has to do with basing the weight on the bar within the training template on the abilities and preparedness of the lifter on that training day. It relies on the use of a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). This is where the lifter indicates a number that corresponds with how difficult the previous set was.

A prescription might be something like “Work up to 1×3@9 RPE”. This would mean that the lifter works up to a set of 3 repetitions until the set is so difficult that only one more rep is possible before failing.

Using the system, the lifter should not miss any reps and should also be able to give precise feedback on exactly how they are going in the training session.

In this opening to the seminar, Tuchscherer was able to introduce how some of the arrangements that this methodology are expressed. Tuchscherer offered, ‘Load drops’, ‘Rep Drops’ and ‘Repeat Sets’, with the emphasis in this presentation on ‘Load Drops’.

Without stealing the novelty of the system too much, Load Drops result in subsequent drops in weight on the bar by a certain percentage seeking a certain RPE after the heaviest peak set. This is usually 1-2 sets.

The Auto-regulation method is in contrast to traditional percentage based systems. One of my questions at the seminar was in regards to the need for a conscientious type lifter to properly get the most out of this system. As a coach of mostly novice and intermediate lifters who are only scratching the surface, auto-regulation will require them to take the next step in recording data and acknowledging the feedback of their own body. Auto-regulation ‘accurately accommodates the reality of varied preparedness’.

The draw back, particularly initially, could be the poor understanding that a lifter may have of their fatigued state. With a percentage based program, it says right there on the page what the next set will be in the training session. However, as that percentage method program progresses, the fatigued lifter might not make that next set due to the amount of fatigue; be it a genuine plateau in the training progression or an incomplete recovery from the previous session or any number of other reasons. Either way, they miss the set, and that is not good.

Auto-regulation might be something that I recommend to a few lifters in the future who are beyond their initial novice phase and ready to explore other methodologies.



20 time National champion Sioux-z Hartwig-Gary presented on ‘Winning The Mental Approach’. Hartwig has been a consistent high performer and detailed her thoughts on ‘Mental management: Improved probability of having consistent mental performance under pressure, on demand’.

The Conscious Mind focuses on the task at hand. The Subconscious Mind is well trained. Self Image is when you ‘Act Like You’. Hartwig recommends 5 elements of gaining the edge mentally.


1)    Recognize you have a choice. Put yourself in control by making a decision about what you are going to do in response. Vent if you have to get it out of the system but move on.


2)    Get organized. Write things down, be specific.


3)    Focus. Just that task at hand.


4)    Visualize. See yourself doing the lift and doing it calmly.


5)    Confess. Positive affirmation and make an action statement.


Hartwig-Gary is a breath of fresh air; up beat and positive. Her infectious attitude is an attempt to prime her for performances and have an excellent outlook on life and its ups and downs.


Emily is a member of the SSS Brains Trust, so often asks much better questions than your writer does.



Dr Zoudos is the assistant Professor in Exercise Science at Florida State University. His presentation detailed findings that foundationally support his training methodologies.

Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) immediately made me think of some of the early ‘Light, Medium and Heavy’ days prescribed in team sport barbell sessions from the 70’s and 80’s in the US. Joe Kenn most recently described a system of Squatting, Benching and Power Cleans, 3 times a week, each taking a rotation of being Light and quick, Medium for volume and Heavy for intensity. Zourdos goes well beyond this strategy however.

Overall, Zourdos is a proponent of managing and prescribing competition lifts with varied intensities and volumes to get the optimal training effect. He gave a detailed summary of a study comparing Flexible Non-Linear and Non-Flexible loading prescriptions.

The seminar encouraged lifters to be able to design their own training programs to manage which days should be lighter, heavier and more volumous. A 4 week example sighted squatting progressions for 3 sessions per week starting with a percentage based week #1 and incremental advancements there-forward. The system makes sound use of known and established protocols for advancement and doesn’t stray too far from the methods often seen in our gym for the quick lifts; varied stimulus created through the volume and intensity of the lift, not different kinds and versions of the same lift.



Matt Gary, husband of Sioux-z is a National team coach, referee and competitor. He presented on the basic fundamentals of the 3 competition lifts as well as information on attempt selection backed by excellent data from competitions.

The attempt selection data was tremendously interesting. Gary provided research on competitions, comparing place getting and lifts made. He also broke down how lifts are missed and on the repercussions on 1 miss on subsequent attempts statistically.

The recommendations are clear. Conservative openers, don’t miss an attempt, have a sound plan and stick to it, if something goes wrong “build your total, don’t bomb out”.

Gary presented demonstrations of landmark lifters, noting their precision and attention to detail. Being that many at the seminar have been drawn to Mike Tuchscherer’s technique in lifting, these were ears ready to aspire to a precise, sober approach to competition powerlifting.

Gary is a loud clear presenter and you imagine the great sense of security and support he would give to the lifters he is handling on meet day. Competitors would be smart to find such an experienced advisor for their meets if they can.


DAILY 1RM TRAINING. Dr Mike Zourdos.

Dr Zoudos presented on Day 2 about his data collection on daily 1RM squat training.

There are a few examples on the net of blogs detailing some attempts to squat a heavy single every day for a year. Zourdos has collected data on 2 squat periods of 41 and 69 days where he advanced his squat to a new PR (41 day block) and experienced the, as you could expect, fluctuations in performance. It is the observation and understanding of those fluctuations which are educational.

The point of the experiment is to demonstrate the adaptation waves experienced by the human organism under the stress of daily max squatting. The experiment presentation dove-tailed into Dr Zourdos’ thoughts on the difference in importance between intensity and volume. The protocol for the daily max involved rotating 5×3@85% and 5×2@90% back off sets, the percentage based off of the 1RM recorded that day. His presentation on Day 1 about Daily Undulating Periodization detailed the use of varied volume and intensity days for a single lift in a 4 week block. The Daily 1RM protocol demonstrated instead the ability of the body to adapt to such a stimulus and that pushing through the initial drop in performance will be overcome later on in the progression if time is allowed for. Zourdos recorded an initial drop to 440lb 1RM after starting at 460lb; he then recorded a 505lb PR and a second 500lb 1RM over the 41 days of the experiment. Whilst in and of itself the experiment is not something applicable to most people, the data suggests that training frequency can be set to very high levels as long as the volume and intensity are managed appropriately.




Tuchscherer, Gary and Zourdos finished the seminar with a very interesting debate on the use and place of assistance work.

Zourdos’ presentations at the seminar detail a direction towards manipulating the competition lifts to drive performance. By contrast, Tuchscherer finds a place for assistance work and looks for a creative solution to lifter deficiencies be it paused squats, deadlift holds or board presses (to name just a few).

Gary is the middle-man, advocating principles from both sides. The audience however was mostly with the Tuchscherer way of thinking but to be fair to Zoudos he is not talking about rehabbing injured lifters. He’s talking about healthy lifters who are battling to make progress. His opinion is that the SAID principle leads us towards mastering the competition lift and manipulating the variables of intensity, frequency and volume to improve the training effect. My question to him in the Q&A time at the end was “Once you grant the failure of a lift due to stabilizing musculature instead of prime moving musculature, and you concede that assistance lifts are more efficient in strengthening those areas aren’t you better off selecting a stimulus that forces a faster adaptation that is lacking?”

Zourdos is not convinced. Tuchscherer even more succinctly puts it this way, ‘The opportunity cost of missing another session of the main lift is outweighed by the carry over benefit of improving an assistance lift.’

The final installment of the seminar probably could have gone on for hours and overall was one of the better components of the weekend. The lifting skill demonstrations were somewhat redundant for me as they are almost identical to how I coach the lifts now anyway with some minor differences such as gripping the bar instead of thumbless for the low bar squat. Those periods did however allow for others to ask questions specific to them and gain some direct coaching observation.

The weekend will urge me to add some auto-regulation to my training prescriptions and already I have recommended someone consult with Reactive Training Systems about their next training block. Whilst there are a lot of seminars on offer, this one was one that I gladly made time for.

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