“Train SMART and you will hit your max in competition!”
One of the most common questions asked of a weight trainee is "How much can you lift?" We have all heard this question many times over. This question normally refers to a single attempt, not the weight you workout with. Because of this It is only natural that every weight trainee, whether a competitive lifter or not, would want to test their strength with a maximum single attempt. It would seem that this would be a very simple matter. Load the bar and see what you can do. In actual practice it is not that easy. Single attempts can be very taxing on the body and could cause serious injury, unless you are prepared both physically and mentally. For this reason it is very Important to prepare yourself in the proper manner. The more you become Involved In this sport the more you will appreciate the thought and planning that goes into it.
Before getting into the mechanics of heavy singles, let's determine who should be doing them. A beginner, an individual with less than twelve months of training, should not try single attempts. This individual should stick to a good basic total body training program. With less than twelve months of training your body Is not ready for the strain of maximum attempts. At this stage singles are only inviting injury. You must build a good foundation before exposing your body to the strain of heavy singles. Don't rush. Your time will come. For now, be content to prepare yourself for the future.
The advanced lifter with many years of training and a number of contests under their belt will usually have their own method of preparing for a heavy single in the gym. What is left is the intermediate lifter, the individual who falls somewhere between the beginner and advanced lifter. This Individual is ready for max attempts, but has probably not yet determined the best method of doing this. I feel the majority of lifters fall into this category. We will try to map out a plan for the lifter in the intermediate period. Proper preparation for a heavy single will usually mean the difference between success and failure. Nothing can be more discouraging than missing a single attempt that you should have made. The intermediate lifter should be training no more than four days per week.
For this illustration we will say he is deadlifting and squatting and assistance work on Monday and Thursday and bench pressing and bodybuilding on Tuesday and Friday.
Our single attempt will be done every fourth week. This single does not have to be an all-out maximum attempt. It will depend upon your current training level. The single you will try every month should not be much more difficult than an opening attempt in a contest. (This means one you are very confident of making.) This may not seem like a true single, but for the lifter at this stage it should be sufficient. The day will come, if you are a competitive lifter, when you have to do many heavy, near maximum lifts in training. Believe me it can get to be drudgery. Don't jump the gun and push too hard. A serious injury could end your career. Acquiring true natural strength takes time. Don't rush it.
Many trainees make the mistake of doing too many singles. They get to the point where they are doing a single every week or even every workout. This can become very counter productive. The single should be the test of your strength, not the means of building it. I have found most trainees will make more progress by limiting their singles. High degrees of strength will be built by sets of three, four or fives. It is a rare individual who can make continual progress on a steady diet of singles.
To take a single attempt every month will require some changes in your standard routine. Here is how we will set up that special week. Monday is the first workout day of the week. On Monday do your normal stretching and abdominal work (both of which are strongly recommended), and your normal squat and deadlift workout. Any bodybuilding or assistance work should not be done. On Tuesday again do your stretching and ab work, plus your normal bench workout. Again drop all bodybuilding and assistance work on that day. Wednesday is your normal day off. Thursday Is the single day for the squat and deadlift. When you get done with the singles it will be alright to do any bodybuilding you normally do that day. Friday is single day in the bench press. As on Thursday, you can do any regular bodybuilding after your single. Don't forget to do your stretching prior to these workouts.
Let's say your normal training program, whether it is the squat, bench or deadlift calls for you to do sets of five. Follow your regular warm-up and take your first set of five with the weight you normally use. The next three sets will be four, three and two reps. Use a progressively heavier weight for each set. No one can give you the exact amount of weight to increase. Everyone is different. You must determine this yourself, so pay close attention to the ease or difficulty of each set. This will give you the best gauge for what the next set should be. This way you will ease yourself into the single without a great shock to your body. The increase between the set of two and the single will not be too great at first. Do not add too much weight for the last set. Right now, a few pounds could easily change what should be a smooth single into a wobbly grinder with a chance for serious injury. In future singles you will have a base to start from. Make your single the first time and build on that base in the future months. I am attaching a sample routine that the lifter in this category would be following and the adjustments to be made in a single week. The sample regular routine that I have attached is a good overall size and strength routine. It does not specialize on one area. If the routine appeals to you, feel free to use it. I have given this exact routine to many trainees.
One Week Preparation for single Attempt Routine
(Done every Fourth Week)
The following would be the single attempt routine with hypothetical weights. This is to illustrate the types of increases. The actual poundage will vary from lifter to lifter.
Tags: Strength Programs Bemch Press Deadlift Squats
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