Strengths and Weaknesses

In strength training/powerlifting...

  • ...you have to train your strengths.

    Votes: 2 16.7%
  • ...you have to train your weaknesses

    Votes: 1 8.3%
  • ...both/it depends(we all know it’s coming)

    Votes: 9 75.0%

  • Total voters
    12

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I am from the train you strengths school of thought. StrongFirst right.

If you only focus on the weakness how can you make your strengths stronger, but if I only focus on my strengths the weakness will become a limiting factor, or worse, injuries.

I like to work on my weaknesses, problem areas I know will be weaknesses from experience, but heavy maximal and supra-maximal is the key to strength in my opinion.
 

ClaudeR

Level 6 Valued Member
I think you need both... work on your weaknesses, really build your strengths! Same as you I guess
I usually force myself to start with some things I don't like doing (weaknesses I guess), then go on to enjoy working the strong things!

oh and... it depends ROFL
 

vegpedlr

Level 6 Valued Member
I come from an endurance background, so train your weaknesses and race your strengths.

Your strengths take you furthest, but your weaknesses hold you back. So train your weaknesses farther out from the big day, and shift to your strengths as the season approaches.
 

John Spezzano

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Like most people, I prefer to work on my strengths, but know I need to also address my weaknesses so I work on everything, albeit gradually. And I believe a broad base of strength across multiple lifts is a good goal for longevity.

One great way to ensure this approach is to have a goal that will test both your strengths and weaknesses. Rarely is this achieved in training one lift only. This doesn't mean getting a 3x body weight dead lift is not something you should work toward, but it won't challenge as many elements as a multi-lift goal. This multi-lift goal can be the TSC (coming soon!) where you will test your max dead lift, your max dead hang pull ups and your max snatches in 5 minutes. Obviously the big guys have an advantage in the DL and the little guys have one in the pull ups. Some of us might fall in the middle somewhere but we all have our natural abilities and weaknesses so hitting PRs in all 3 will force you to work on your weaknesses as well.

The goal I've chosen for myself is Beast Tamer. 48k press, 48k pistol, 48k pull up. I will readily admit I am nowhere near achieving it just yet. The press is the closest (because I love pressing and am good at it), the pull up a distant second (because I'm OK at pull ups), and the pistol is not even on the map yet (because I am not built for squatting and they are a challenge). But this goal is forcing me to work on my squat and my pull up to get them to catch up to my press.

I'm not sure when I will be able to realistically attempt this goal, but it's making me improve my weaknesses while maintaining my strengths.

Stay strong, my friend!
John
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
There's a time and place for both. I also think it's more important to focus on the strengths. It's especially true close to a competition or the like if one is so inclined. Weaknesses are better improved in the off season.

One weakness in focusing on the weaknesses I can identify is that it can be easy to find new weaknesses, true or not. So the training program can become too varied and there can be too little focus on the main dish that makes us stronger.

I would also like to ask if we can continue to become stronger efficiency concentrating on our strengths, do we really have serious weaknesses, or are they holding us back?
 

Bro Mo

Level 6 Valued Member
I'm totally in the training strengths camp. If Brian Shaw would have worked on distance running because it was a weakness, he wouldn't be worlds strongest man or worlds fastest man. He would just be a tall guy.
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I think you need both... work on your weaknesses, really build your strengths! Same as you I guess
I usually force myself to start with some things I don't like doing (weaknesses I guess), then go on to enjoy working the strong things!

oh and... it depends ROFL
I agree something you want to work on should be done first in a session and preferably often. As part of warmup, between sets, off days work well.

How I do PTTP often is to Press before Deadlift. I know my Deadlift will progress, and I know doing my Press first does not effect my Deadlift too much.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 6 Valued Member
I looked at it two ways... and both ways decided on train your weaknesses.

Suppose you're a PL competitor, and you have an amazing DL, but a poor bench press. Won't it be easier / more efficient to add 50# to your total by bringing your bench up to par?

And if your just a regular shlub... having a huge DL may not really be all that useful to you (aside from pride), if you can't walk 100 ft without getting winded, or do a single pullup. The whole "GPP" idea ought to mean ready for anything (or as many things as you can), in my mind.


Of course, the correct answer is "I have no weaknesses!"
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I come from an endurance background, so train your weaknesses and race your strengths.

Your strengths take you furthest, but your weaknesses hold you back. So train your weaknesses farther out from the big day, and shift to your strengths as the season approaches.
I agree you need training cycles to improve weaknesses. It’s hard to improve everything at once.

Depending on the nature of the weakness it can be brought up just by focusing on strength.
 

Karl

Level 6 Valued Member
I think about it as a function of ability to do work. In my line of work, physical generalist do the best. The big guys that can carry a lot of weight often time struggle on long hikes to a fire. Consequently the skin runner types can struggle on the same hike if they have to carry a lot of weight to that same fire.

This is why I have trained and continue to train my folks 1 day lsd run, 1 day lsd heavy ruck, 1 day pickup heavy stuff and move it circuits, 1 day bodyweight circuit. Is this a program that will develop amazing athletes? No, it will not.

Unless you are competing, I do not see the real benefit in specializing and continuely working on something you are already good at. I frequently have to tell my folks that complain about doing something they suck at (big guys running, little guys rucking heavy), your ego is in the way. Shove your ego aside so we can work on the thing that hurts your ego.
 

Simply strong

Level 4 Valued Member
Assuming your weakness are not, and will never, impinge upon your strengths then train your strengths!

Eg if a lack of flexibility will eventually lead to an injury, the injury will impede your ability to lift. So work your flexibility till it no longer threatens your lifting.
Eg 2. If a particular portion of a lift is a limiting factor (and therefore a weakness) then train the h*** out of it!
Eg 3. If Brian shaws marathon time (his weakness) isn’t imposing on his lifting (his strength), then he should ignore it.
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Level 6 Valued Member
If you only focus on the weakness how can you make your strengths stronger, but if I only focus on my strengths the weakness will become a limiting factor, or worse, injuries.
A Little of Both

As many have posted, some training needs to be devoted to your weakness and finding a way to minimize it.

With that said, the information that I am about to present is geared Powerlifting/Limit Strength Training. However, these concepts can be applied to other types of training.

"Training Your Weakness"

The sticking point is the weak link. Think of it like having to drive your car through a mud hole, where you can get stuck. Some effective training methods are...

Isometrics

In the concentric contraction (pushing/pulling the weight up) only a few milliseconds is spent at the weak link/sticking point; research indicates that is somewhere around 300 milliseconds, about 1/3 of a second, in the movement.

Isometrics allow you to focus on the sticking point and strengthen it. Isomeric Strength in the sticking point is developed with around 3 - 6 second of an all out Isometric; Josh Bryant, one of the best coaches in this area, uses 10 second holds.

That means when an Isometric Hold is maintained for let's say 3 seconds, the time under tension is 10 time more than in a concentric movement, with around 300 milliseconds of tension.

Research also shows that up to 15% more force is displayed with an Isometric Hold and that Strength is developed within 15 degrees below and above the position of it. The Isometric directly target the sticking point.

Heavy Partial Rack Work

Heavy rack work from the sticking point is effective.

When performing it, remember where the bar stop in a movement isn't necessarily the sticking point.

It is similar to a car running out of gas. When you runs out of gas your car keep rolling. So, where your car eventually stop isn't where you ran out of gas.

With that said, heavy rack work for the sticking point needs to occur slightly lower where "you ran out of gas".

Anna's Halting Deadlifts
Strong swing, weak deadlift - how to bridge the gap?

Partial Range Movements in the weak part of the movement is another effective method.

Anna provided a video of her Conventional Deadlift in coming off the floor, post 105.

Anna then post a video of her results after training Partial Range Halting Deadlifts, post 112. An impressive improvement.

Power Training

Power is the grease that help you slide through you sticking point. Just as in driving through a mud hole in your car, the more momentum you can generate with a heavy load prior the sticking point, the more likely you are to squeeze through it.

Power is developed in traditional movement (Squats, Bench Press. Deadlift, etc) in using load of 48-62% of your 1 Repetition Max.

Sticking Points

The Squat, Bench Press and Conventional Deadlift sticking point are approximately 1/3 of the way up.

Thus, the more force/power you can generate in coming out of the hole in a Squat, coming off the chest in a Bench Press and coming off the floor in a Deadlift, the more likely you are to get through the sticking point. The Sumo Deadlift sticking point is different, requiring a different approach.

Playing To Your Strength

For a competitive lifter, this come down to playing to your strength and avoiding your weakness, as much as possible.

A good example are lifters with a strong back usually do well with a Conventional Deadlift. Lifters with strong leg drive perform better with a Sumo Deadlift.

Dr Tom McLaughlin's Biomechanical Bench Press Analysis

One of the greatest lifter of the 1980's was Mike Bridges, a great Bench Presser, Squatter and a good Sumo Deadlifter.

McLaughlin's research examined what great Bench Pressers vs what poor Bench Pressers do (Bench Press More Now).

Changing The Bar Path Trajectory

McLaughlin's research determined that over the years, Bridges' Bench Press bar path trajectory changed, allowing him to push more weight up.

Think of the Bench Press as ascending a mountain and finding a path to the top that is easier; better technique.

Bench Press Bar Path: How to Fix Your Bar Path for a Bigger Bench

Dr Greg Nuckols' article provides some of McLaughlin's research on how to improve your Bench Press.

The training concepts of McLaughlin's Bench Press research are applicable to the Squat, Deadlift, etc.

Kenny Croxdale
 
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Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Research also shows that up to 15% more force is displayed with an Isometric Hold and that Strength is developed within 15 degrees below and above the position of it. The Isometric directly target the sticking point.
Great thing to know, there.
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Level 6 Valued Member
And so it is 10 times more taxing on CNS?
Based On...?

Isometric can be taxing on the Central Nervous System.

However, what is questionable is stating that they 10 time more taxing.

I haven't seen any research data on that.

Something else to consider is the...

Energy Expense

Research shows that Isometric require less energy than a concentric contraction.

Eccentric are second to Isometrics as being less energy expensive than a concentric contraction.

Concentric Contract are the most energy expensive.

Kenny Croxdale
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
I think the "taxing on the CNS" concept comes from the practice of StrongFirst foundational principles. As @Karen Smith said here, "The key principles taught at the SFG are the same at the SFB... Irradiation, Dominata and Feed Forward tension. Once you master your own body and can maintain tension to move your body as one unit for the skills then you will see your strength baseline increase and then when returning your your other modalities (KB, Barbell, etc) you might just be surprised at how much easier they feel."

So yes, that can be very taxing, as anyone who's been to SFB or the bodyweight course can attest. We learn to crank up the tension way beyond what we ever did before. But you can do an isometric contraction without maxing it out, in which case it's really not very taxing. We do it all day long; sitting, standing, holding an arm up in the air, etc. So it's hard to speak of isometrics being 10x something, or even characterizing isometric contraction as "taxing on the CNS" in general, because it depends so much on the strength of the muscle contraction, how many muscles are involved, the reps/sets/time, etc.

I've gone back to a once-a-week yoga class the past couple of months, and I notice a lot about isometric contractions in static poses... there's a wide range of effort you can put into them. It's an interesting study of simultaneous tension and relaxation.
 
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