What's the difference between "training max" and "competition max"

WhatWouldHulkDo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Anna C , I saw in your TSC video that you missed at 320#. Did that miss cost you any recovery time? Or did it just feel like business as usual?

I had a miss at the TSC, and it cost me enough in fatigue that I needed to stay off the weights for a couple days. And I definitely have to work with a training max - basing weights on my competition max would absolutely beat me up.

I'm wondering if there's a form component to this question. Just spitballing... one's best lift with "perfect" form is going to be limited by the weakest link in the chain. Allowing form to break may allow one to lift more by letting stronger muscles try to compensate for the weak links, at the risk/cost of doing some damage. I'm sure that's true for myself, and I am reminded of friends in college who tore pecs or quads attempting max lifts.

So... if one is not meat-headed enough to allow a form break, perhaps there's little difference between a competition and training max. And, in this sense at least, perhaps a competition max is almost like cheating yourself.
 

Timo Keskitalo

Triple-Digit Post Count
I guess if my choice is between having a 300 lb deadlift anytime, and having a 310 "competition" + 285 "training" max, I'll take the 300 "anytime" deadlift :)
Most programs go with 105% as new comp max. So it'd more likely be closer to 310 new record and 295 "training max" vs. 300 lbs anytime. I know what my choice would be.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Good points, @WhatWouldHulkDo !

I am not sure, on the 320 lb miss and recovery time. I was pretty wiped out for the rest of the weekend, but I'm sure the whole event plus travel was going to do that anyway. Monday's training I just took it easy and did S&S variation. Yesterday was my first deadlifting and I didn't feel like going heavy so I did an AMRAP set at 225 lb and got 17 reps. Crazy!

Yes, I agree the form component does play in. Some people let form slip on a max attempt and generally that's fine. For me if I feel the low back start to round, something in my brain tends to abort the effort. Consciously I don't think it will hurt or injure me, but subconsciously it doesn't feel safe I guess. It suppose it could be right so I won't fight it. The good news is, that used to happen at 250 lbs... now it's at 300+. So I can keep moving that ceiling up.

I would say I have a really good mind-body connection, body awareness, etc... even better now since the surgery and recovery, so perhaps that does work against me a bit as you describe. Or maybe it protects me. Either way, it can work to nullify the difference between training max and competition max.

This has indeed been an enlightening thread!
 

Philippe Geoffrion

More than 500 posts
Programs that 105% as a new competition max are not for advanced athletes. The Surovetsky routine Pavel talks about - PTTP Pro, I think - he mentions this. If I had my copy handy, I'd give a quotation from there.

-S-
Yes i recall this. Pavel remedied this issue by saying an elite athlete should make a realistic goal weight to plug in for the 105, and base the rest of the cycle based off of that chosen weight.
 

Philippe Geoffrion

More than 500 posts
Good points, @WhatWouldHulkDo !

I am not sure, on the 320 lb miss and recovery time. I was pretty wiped out for the rest of the weekend, but I'm sure the whole event plus travel was going to do that anyway. Monday's training I just took it easy and did S&S variation. Yesterday was my first deadlifting and I didn't feel like going heavy so I did an AMRAP set at 225 lb and got 17 reps. Crazy!

Yes, I agree the form component does play in. Some people let form slip on a max attempt and generally that's fine. For me if I feel the low back start to round, something in my brain tends to abort the effort. Consciously I don't think it will hurt or injure me, but subconsciously it doesn't feel safe I guess. It suppose it could be right so I won't fight it. The good news is, that used to happen at 250 lbs... now it's at 300+. So I can keep moving that ceiling up.

I would say I have a really good mind-body connection, body awareness, etc... even better now since the surgery and recovery, so perhaps that does work against me a bit as you describe. Or maybe it protects me. Either way, it can work to nullify the difference between training max and competition max.

This has indeed been an enlightening thread!
Indeed, a large part of this absolute strength vs training Max strength, is under the conditions of highly competitive environments, that extra strength is a result of basically overriding the body's protective mechanisms in order to complete the lift by any means necessary, something that shouldn't occur during training, but for the serious strength athlete, is acceptable in competition. A higher risk is involved here, however, and for someone who just wants to be stronger, perhaps the risk is not worth the reward and training at a safer intensity (training max) is optimal.
 

Timo Keskitalo

Triple-Digit Post Count
Yes i recall this. Pavel remedied this issue by saying an elite athlete should make a realistic goal weight to plug in for the 105, and base the rest of the cycle based off of that chosen weight.
So if you'd put 103% as your target weight, your 100% workout would really be something like 98% of max? Sounds reasonable.

My point was about training max being only 92% of comp max, I don't believe it. It'd be 95+%. Hence I'd rather pursue the 310 than do 300 any day.
 

Philippe Geoffrion

More than 500 posts
So if you'd put 103% as your target weight, your 100% workout would really be something like 98% of max? Sounds reasonable.

My point was about training max being only 92% of comp max, I don't believe it. It'd be 95+%. Hence I'd rather pursue the 310 than do 300 any day.
Yes. The Surovetsky cycle ends with 2 x 3 sets @ 105%. So an elite lifter with an 800 lbs DL might make 785 or so his 105 % as opposed to 840 x 2.

A training max has different meanings to different folks I believe. I use it in the 5/3/1 sense, meaning it minimizes the actual training percentages are at 90% of a true max, thus you are always lifting a manageable weight, in the beginning at least. It's part of the whole start too light method, which I happen to agree with.
 

Jeff Roark

Triple-Digit Post Count
So I suppose that's the key... For the general strength trainee, absolute strength does not waver around that much.

Therefore, the whole concept is somewhat non-useful for the general strength trainee. Any 1RM is basically a training max.

I guess if my choice is between having a 300 lb deadlift anytime, and having a 310 "competition" + 285 "training" max, I'll take the 300 "anytime" deadlift :)
Anna- honestly I wouldn't waste much thought on this stuff. Just keep doing what you do, it seems to work.
 

Midlife Beast

Double-Digit Post Count
I've completed exactly once, 20 years ago, and I was kind of still a newbie at the time. I'd never pulled more than 385 in the gym, but on my third DL attempt my coach said "you're doing 425" and I was surprised but it went right up. I think the difference was just the adrenaline of a meet environment, on an 18 year old nervous system.
 

Bro Mo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Yes i recall this. Pavel remedied this issue by saying an elite athlete should make a realistic goal weight to plug in for the 105, and base the rest of the cycle based off of that chosen weight.
Some track coaches have athletes train at current race paces intermixed with days of goal paces. I think it's more common for coaches to use only current best paces rather than goal paces though. Some very successful track programs simply do a lot of repeats at best race pace for shorter distances while increasing volume with number of repeats rather than increasing pace or distance.

Seems like trying to use the same concept, one would simply put something like a 3RM weight on the bar and build up volume of singles at that weight or doubles of a 5RM weight until a new test day. Conceptually, Justa singles come to mind as an example.
 

LoneRider

More than 300 posts
From previous reads (namely Beyond Bodybuilding and various books by Jim Wendler) a training max is 85%-90% of a 1RM. In the case of Mr. Wendler's work the training max means a weight one can complete with some effort but not anywhere near 'overstrain'. He states its to prevent burnout.

For me, personally (currently running through a 5/3/1 cycle) I find the 85% training max lets me get some good heavy lifting in without breaking it off in me for other things I have to do (PT with my unit 3x/week (we get two gym days in a week where I run 5/3/1)) and other activities (5x/week I train in Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai). The training max lets me train reasonably heavy with a decreased likelihood of burnout.

In the Wendler system Training maxes allow for 'autoregulation' and thus avoiding burnout.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Yes... But for me there seems to be no difference, so if I was to use his programs and populate the program using my gym/competition (same) 1RM of 305 lbs, or use 85% of that, or 260 lbs, that's a HUGE difference. Not sure which would be "better" for 5/3/1. The reps and sets in 5/3/1 are then using a smaller percentage of that number.

But, doesn't really matter, as my current programming doesn't distinguish between the two.
 

Bpj911

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
I should say upfront this comment is only in relation to the deadlift. I've done some pretty extensive coaching of my wife and I've noticed she responds much differently to very high intensity much differently than I do. She is similar weight and lifting capacity to you it appears from your video. (shes' been training for approximately 5 years now) She can train much closer to a true one rep max than I can much more often. She is able to really bounce it off the redline for several attempts without much of anything happening negatively. I find anything over 90% to be more stressful than it's worth to my training but she seems to REQUIRE double the volume and closer to 95% of true one rep max to make continual progress in the deadlift. This was not necessarily the case until she made it to a double BW deadlift but it is now. So, she will generally deadlift 3 times in 2 weeks and I generally have her do 5 sets of 2-4 at 95% true one rep max once of those 3 sessions, one AMRAP session with bodyweight for gigantic reps and one easy session of approx 10 sets of 3-4 reps at a comfortable weight of her choosing, generally 70% ish of true 1 rep max. We will generally opt for a rep progression from 2-4 before adding 10 pounds and going back to 2. She does not back squat so she seems to tolerate the deadlift pretty easily and I guess we'll see where it goes. She is still double overhand and no belt yet so I'm not quite sure how far she can take it but
 

Bpj911

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
I meant to add, as much as I like the look of 531 and the neat spreadsheet and so on I've never made any progress on it, at all. I considered going back to 531 and trying all the "add ons" Wendler now suggests but I've not done it. I've found a modified Texas Method to be easier to progress on a weekly basis and then I don't waste a month (or more) not going anywhere at a time. If I screw up a week I can basically start over or change the plan a bit or whatever without scrapping anything other than the week I screwed up.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
I should say upfront this comment is only in relation to the deadlift. I've done some pretty extensive coaching of my wife and I've noticed she responds much differently to very high intensity much differently than I do. She is similar weight and lifting capacity to you it appears from your video. (shes' been training for approximately 5 years now) She can train much closer to a true one rep max than I can much more often. She is able to really bounce it off the redline for several attempts without much of anything happening negatively. I find anything over 90% to be more stressful than it's worth to my training but she seems to REQUIRE double the volume and closer to 95% of true one rep max to make continual progress in the deadlift. This was not necessarily the case until she made it to a double BW deadlift but it is now. So, she will generally deadlift 3 times in 2 weeks and I generally have her do 5 sets of 2-4 at 95% true one rep max once of those 3 sessions, one AMRAP session with bodyweight for gigantic reps and one easy session of approx 10 sets of 3-4 reps at a comfortable weight of her choosing, generally 70% ish of true 1 rep max. We will generally opt for a rep progression from 2-4 before adding 10 pounds and going back to 2. She does not back squat so she seems to tolerate the deadlift pretty easily and I guess we'll see where it goes. She is still double overhand and no belt yet so I'm not quite sure how far she can take it but
Yes, a lot of that sounds like me. It's really important to figure out what drives progress for ourselves. and while most things about training do not need to distinguish between genders, a few things do seem to respond differently, especially in programming. Thanks for the insights!
 

Molson

Triple-Digit Post Count
I should say upfront this comment is only in relation to the deadlift. I've done some pretty extensive coaching of my wife and I've noticed she responds much differently to very high intensity much differently than I do. She is similar weight and lifting capacity to you it appears from your video. (shes' been training for approximately 5 years now) She can train much closer to a true one rep max than I can much more often. She is able to really bounce it off the redline for several attempts without much of anything happening negatively. I find anything over 90% to be more stressful than it's worth to my training but she seems to REQUIRE double the volume and closer to 95% of true one rep max to make continual progress in the deadlift. This was not necessarily the case until she made it to a double BW deadlift but it is now. So, she will generally deadlift 3 times in 2 weeks and I generally have her do 5 sets of 2-4 at 95% true one rep max once of those 3 sessions, one AMRAP session with bodyweight for gigantic reps and one easy session of approx 10 sets of 3-4 reps at a comfortable weight of her choosing, generally 70% ish of true 1 rep max. We will generally opt for a rep progression from 2-4 before adding 10 pounds and going back to 2. She does not back squat so she seems to tolerate the deadlift pretty easily and I guess we'll see where it goes. She is still double overhand and no belt yet so I'm not quite sure how far she can take it but
Yes, a lot of that sounds like me. It's really important to figure out what drives progress for ourselves. and while most things about training do not need to distinguish between genders, a few things do seem to respond differently, especially in programming. Thanks for the insights!
This reminds me of neuro type training as studied/used by Christian Thibaudeau. Depending on how our minds and neuro systems are build, some need to challenge themselves with max weights in regular basis while others need to stay away and use mid range, to make respective progress.

The Neuro Type Workouts | T Nation
 
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