Synergies in Strength

In a world of increasing technological advancement the quest for the ultimate product or service is an on going and ever changing scenario. Time management is always a high priority, and you can bet your last rep that it will be a key feature in any companies sales or marketing strategies. Strength training is no different and for us here at definitive physique we are always experimenting with our own training in order to develop programs that incorporate as many different training variables as possible whilst still fulfilling the given goal. Synergy of certain strength training techniques can improve the success of an overall program allowing efficient use of time and methods.

Linear Approach

A standard linear approach to training see’s an individual focus on one particular training modality for anywhere from 3-6wks. On completion the subject will then switch to a different training modality and again fulfill a predetermined period of time. Periodization of such an approach will see the individual switch back and forth between relative strength, power and volume with the goal of improving performance on the next round of any given modality. An example of this can be seen in both simple and complex training programs but for the purpose of this article we will look at something as simple as basic strength and volume rep brackets. Using a linear approach one may embark on a simple 3week period of 5×5 with the view of then switching to a 10×10 volume program also for 3 weeks in duration. On completion of the 10×10 the subject may opt to switch back to his 5×5 program with the sole aim of increasing his intensity ranges over the subsequent 3 weeks. There will be a interaction between the two approaches that will result in a improvement in both strength and volume training. However, in order to achieve this benefit a certain number of cycles of the above example will be needed and as a result the issue of time is a factor.

Conjugated Approach

The conjugated approach explained in the video Build strength and muscle simultaneously is an example of how one can incorporate different training modalities into a single session. It is not only limited to a single session scenario however, and the majority of people familiar with strength training will associate conjugate method with that of a weekly training system. Within a particular week a subject will work on strength, speed and repeated effort (volume) with the view of developing all aspects in as short a time frame as possible. This system is often regarded as a more efficient method, based on the notion that several motor abilities can be trained concurrently. This is by no means necessarily the better of the two methods, but certainly does highlight and solve issues of time management. Much the same as the linear approach put perhaps even more efficient, the conjugate method basically aims to use the synergy of different modalities. In order to improve it is important that we explore all options available and how these different options may help to improve one another.

Synergy Systems

There are numerous examples of synergistic training methods that can help to improve both the aesthetics and performance of an individual. A perfect example of such a system can be seen in a method known as 1 & 6. Popularized by Charles Poliquin this method sees a subject increase a current 6rep maximum by as much as 7-15%. It works off the simple theory of muscle fibre recruitment, and Central Nervous System excitement. By performing a one rep maximum in any given lift we can recruit those all important fast twitch muscle fibres whilst simultaneously waking up the whole CNS as a whole. After resting from anywhere from 3-5mins we can then perform a 6rep maximum usually at a higher intensity range than a subjects current 6RM. This procedure can be repeated up to as many as 3 waves totaling 6 sets. I will generally start clients off at a conservative 1RM with the view of waving upwards on both the 1RM and 6RM.

Below we can see the 1RM of the final wave of one of our Definitive Physique clients using this method on Bench Press. Not text book form as we can see hip movement off the bench and a little bounce at the chest. However, we will let this go for Fred as this was a new PB and in fact a whole 15kg up on the last time we did a 1RM together.

The next clip shows Fred tackle 100kg for 6 reps, which is just over 10% on his usual 6RM. Again from is a little off what we require for a perfect lift, but is good enough given he is in his final wave.

What I have tried to show in this article is the importance of using different training methods in a synergistic fashion. The 1&6 method is a great instant visual representation but is also isolated to an example of strength. I have touched on the concepts of linear and conjugated training procedures to also show how working in completely different modalities can have a compounded effect on ones overall goal. Choosing the right system at the right time and how it affects the overall periodization of a given goal is of the upmost importance to both the athlete and the man in the street. Definitive Physique personal trainers use a wide variety of systems in order to evaluate what works best for the individual and maintain a continual improvement in strength and body composition.

This article was written by Mike Porter, Director, Definitive Physique

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