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Thread: Training Frequency: Long-Term Implications

  1. #1

    Training Frequency: Long-Term Implications

    Zak198 wrote:
    A question to which I have given some thought recently: What are the long-term implications of various training frequencies in powerlifting? The question comes up for a couple of reasons. Lifters in the West have traditionally trained at a lower frequency than their Eastern counterparts, (although I guess that's changing lately.) The lower frequency plans have often coincided with more focus on less specific training means and lower overall training volume, but not always. If you look at results in international competitions over the past fifteen or twenty years, (at least in the IPF,) Eastern lifters dominate in the open classes, while Americans fare much better at the masters level. Also, the Americans that win in the open tend to be older than the Russians who do. There seem to be far fewer Russian champions on the wrong side of 35, or even 30. I do not have data to back this up, only my impression based on a cursory examination, so if anyone thinks this is not true, by all means correct me. But the general trend seems to be that Russian and Eastern European lifters peak earlier, and burn out or retire earlier too.

    Related to this, I've read some things from Marty Gallagher and Pavel, and maybe others, claiming (to paraphrase) that strength built quickly is lost quickly, and that strength built using a lower training frequency tends to be more pervasive. Whether that's because lower frequency training tends to emphasize morphological changes over neurological changes, and vice versa for higher frequency plans isn't specified, but seems like a possible candidate for explaining this phenomenon if in fact it does exist.

    It seems like there's pretty good evidence at this point that a really well-structured high frequency plan has the potential to build strength in the powerlifts at a faster rate than a well-structured lower frequency one. What I'm really trying to get at is, is that the whole story? Even if you accept that proposition, are there strong arguments to be made for spending the brunt of training time on lower frequency plans (among which reasons might number stability of gains, longevity in the sport, long-term structural health, etc.)?

    To be clear, I'd define "higher frequency" as performing a lift or close variation 3x/week or more, and "lower frequency" as 2x/week or less. And I guess from the way I've worded this post, it's apparent that my opinion on the topic is that yes, there probably are virtues to lower frequency training making up the bulk of a training career that haven't been fully fleshed out yet. But I really don't have much more than observations to support this, and it's not a firm conclusion. Many thanks to any and all who wade through this post and offer their thoughts.

  2. #2
    aaron_lohan wrote:
    Theres a few more variables than that to explain why americans do better in masters weight categories, one of which is funding: east European lifters tend not to get full funding when they become masters lifters so they then struggle to afford to go to internationals and probably cant afford to train full time like when they were younger. Injuries also play a part, Eastern European coaches have less regard for a lifter's wellbeing so push them harder making them more prone to injury which over time would reduce the length of their careers.

  3. #3
    Zak198 wrote:
    I agree with all that. I would add that the programming can be emblematic of that kind of attitude, i.e. focusing on shorter-term returns versus longer-term ones. Because when you say "push them harder" what I think you really mean is a very high volume of work at a high frequency in the competition lifts. Of course there are countless factors, the most important of which are probably cultural and unquantifiable, to explain differences in athletic performance and the arc of athletic careers across different cultures...what I was getting at is the possibility of identifying a training variable that I think is an important one, and broadening the considerations that go into it.It's a good point that you make, though, and it does get tiresome when lifters in the West attach mystical properties to Sheiko's programming or whatever. Certainly programming is not the whole story.

  4. #4
    Mike Tuchscherer wrote:
    I think those countries just don't put as much emphasis on masters level lifting. I don't think it's that lower frequency methods are superior over a longer timeline.

    Whether high frequency training will lead to burnout in more athletes or not, I can't say for sure. But there are lifters -- even masters lifters -- who train multiple times per week with Russian-like templates. They dial them back some (at least in the cases I know of). But the point is that burnout doesn't always happen.

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