The Breaking Slope

sample weekly workout

sample weekly workout

A quick refresher on how we have our student-athletes manage their workout cards, especially in regards to monitoring and increasing the workout load.  Whenever an athlete completes their heavy day lift they “break”.  Recall that in our weekly workout, each day we do one of our four “core lifts” heavy intensity, one medium, one light, and omit one lift.  “Breaking” means they are stronger than the estimated 1 rep max that is on their card.  They know they need to mark their card and I in turn change (increase) their workout load for that lift.  This is all detailed in a previous post, Breaking, it’s a Good Thing.

When a student-athlete firsts begins a workout regimen, these breaks come pretty consistently, often weekly for each of their four core lifts.  This is because they are learning and mastering the technique for the various lifts, which along with normal strength gains lends itself to these frequent breaks.

At some point in their training, these breaks typically slow down.  When this happens, especially with our more competitive athletes, frustration sometimes sets it.  At this time, and periodically during their training cycles I will explain to them that this is a normal part of their training, and does not mean they aren’t  working hard, making progress, or getting stronger.  I use this example:

I ask the class,  “If an athlete were to break, lets say on the bench press, every week for a year, how much would his bench press increase?”  The answer of course is ridiculous – Their bench would increase 520 pounds! (52 weeks in a year x 10 pounds for each break)  I explain, and they realize, that this type of increase, this type of breaking slope, is not sustainable.  For experienced athletes, when they reach a good strength level, and have developed good technique, it may take 2, 3 or 4 weeks to break.

The question then becomes “how do you know if you are making progress?”  The students need to focus and keep track of what they are doing on their last set of their heavy day lift.  The week after they break and their max (and workout) increases, they may only get 1 rep on their final set before failing.  The next week maybe 2 or 3, then possibly the next week they will get all 5 reps (or 8 or 3 depending on the cycle) on their last set and break.  By keeping track each week of how many reps they are getting before failure on their last set of their heavy day workout they can keep track of their progress, even if they are not breaking.

When the higher level athletes see that even breaking just once a month on a lift, they will be increasing their max 120 pounds over the course of a year, their frustration level goes down and they are more easily motivated.

Tomorrow we will break down the fourth and final Core Lift – The Hang Clean.

Any Questions?  Just comment or email!

Jeff Floyd –

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  1. Pingback: Try to See The “Forest” and The “Trees” | You Can Do More!

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