“There are only two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as if everything is a miracle. I believe in the latter.”
~ Albert Einstein
Chad Waterbury has put up two fantastic training articles this week over at the site I love to hate, the infamous, T-Nation. For the life of me, I don’t know why the T-Nation boys don’t dial-down the knuckle-draggin’, goober antics a bit (check that — I do know why — but damn, does everything have to be about makin’ a buck?). As I’ve said before, as is the case with many main stream physical culture outlets, you really have to endure a lot of knee-deep slop-wading to finally reach the real gems. T-Nation, though, does provide a lucrative (I would imagine) platform for a stable of very astute strength and conditioning minds, so maybe I ought to cut them some slack. First and foremost on that long list of astute strength and conditioning minds is Chad Waterbury.
I’ve talked about one of Chad’s previous T-Nation articles (a real jewel) in this post, and he’s come through with clarity and insight once again, here and here. And although I haven’t mentioned these particular methodologies by name, if you go back over my weight training workout posts, you’ll see that I employ these two principles routinely. Chad does an excellent job of detailing the “whys” behind these two methodologies/principles. And although I’ve never really “named” them anything as such, I keep them straight in my mind thusly:
- Heavy and fast, for a 10-second blast. Manage fatigue, and
- 25 for a bigger engine
Read over Chad’s articles, and these two pithy comments will come to make much more sense.
The first article (Heavier Weight, Less Time), elegantly describes the reasoning behind why I utilize heavy weights, and move them at a fast (or, as I like to say, deliberate, or “snappy”) speed, for a relatively low number of repetitions (or, if you prefer — and Chad does, here — a short period of time, i.e., 10 seconds or less). As I’ve stated before, this method is about overall fatigue management as well, and using the proper protocols to reach and tap into those all-important, fast-twitch muscle fibers. Most of my weight lifting sets last from 1 to 3 repetitions, which corresponds to less than 10 seconds per set. And if you’ll notice, the vast majority of my sprinting is done for a time period (or “set”) of approximately 10 seconds, as well. This method is also a close correlate of the drop-off method of managing fatigue that I talked about here. In fact, these two principles are, by necessity, married at the hip.
The principles underscored in Chad’s second article (Counting Your Reps for More Muscle) are those I utilize when I want to phase into a hypertrophy cycle, i.e., build a bigger engine. Now, I’m lucky (I suppose) in the fact that I gain/maintain muscle mass with a fair amount of ease, so I prefer to spend the majority of my workout time chasing what I perceive to be my broad weakness, short-duration power. As an aside, the Paleo lifestyle has only intensified my muscle gain/maintenance ability, quite a lovely side-affect. Now personally, I spend approximately 85% of my time in the speed-strength and strength-speed realms (both flavors of the “power” modality), and in the pure strength realm in support of chasing those power gains. My “power-oriented” to “strength-oriented” workout ratio clocks in at about a 3-to-1 ratio. Every now and again, though, you’ll notice a distinct phase in my workouts to some combination of a 25-rep (20-25 repetitions per exercise is what I prefer) scheme. The next time this comes about, I’ll make sure to flag it as such. And let me say as well, that while the division between strength and power work is subtle — all hues and shades — and sometimes hard to see in a workout, the difference between a strength/power workout and a hypertrophy oriented workout is stark. We’re talkin’ proverbial apples and oranges, here.
Now, everyone has to find their own way, and their own ratio. 85/15 is what I’ve found — over much trial and error, tweaking and refining — works for me and for my goals; but will it suffice for you? Only time in the gym, intense effort and keen observation will answer that question. But hey, that’s all part of the joy of discovery, and the thrill of the ride. Now go out and define your ratio.