…read The Perfect Rep, by T-Muscle contributing writer, Christian Thibaudeau. Of course I’m biased here (because this is precisely how I train the vast majority of my time in the gym), but this is, bar none, the best explanation of how each rep of a workout ought to be executed that I have ever come across.
Thibs tends to frame the process in terms of “force” and “acceleration”, whereas I choose to use the term “power” but, in essence, we’re both talking about the same phenomenon. Speed of execution and cns stimulation reigns; the actual weight used takes a back seat – a mere means to an end. The number of reps and sets in a particular movement are used only as a gross quantification of more specific auto-regulation. And truth be told, I’m quite sure that the most well-known (notice I said “well-known”, not “the best”) strength and conditioning coaches realize that this training method is, in fact, the bedrock methodology required in the building of an efficient athlete (or a bodybuilder, for that matter). It’s not the only method, of course – but I would go so far as to say that it ought to comprise the backbone of all weightroom methodologies.
Are raw strength and RFD important? No doubt, they are. But only insofar as their correlative contribution to peak power production, and the rapid recovery and repeatability of that power production. It’s a cyclic, yin-yang natured thing, improving a trainee’s athleticism. And for those interested primarily in bodybuilding, or just “lookin’ good nekkid”? Yep, this is a bedrock methodology for those folks, too. The only difference here is that I’d revert away from this methodology at a little greater frequency so as to pursue other more “TUL-heavy” protocols. Like any methodology, you can only wring so much out of it before you’ll have to shift to something different. When to shift and for how long becomes just another variable to learn to master.
But back to the point I was establishing before I slipped into the bodybuilding thought: why is Thibs’ “Anaconda” methodology not more generally recognized? Because it can’t be readily quantified, that’s why. It’s a touchy-feely, nebulous and dare I say, vague idea to try to get across. You can’t put a hard number on effort, speed, acceleration, intensity…feel. How do you package something like that? (other than to tie it to a pricey supplement 🙂 ) It’s the same with auto-regulation; akin to the Paleo diet, in that the devil resides squarely within the individual implementation of the theory. Concepts that are repeat with subtleties, ambiguities, and yes, sometimes out-and-out contradictions. Concepts that only transfer fractionally, at best, via the written word. Has anyone ever learned a martial art from a book? Volumes could (and have) been written about the martial arts; how, though, is a craft that must be passed on in the presence of the teacher. To a lesser extent, the same is true with this manner of training. Not “getting it” doesn’t mean it’s ineffective, or not applicable to you, it simply means you probably require hands-on instruction, continual guidance – at least until you reach that point where you can fly on your own.
The short clip at the end of the article is good as well. Notice the difference in execution speed between Kevin (the bodybuilder) and Nate (the athlete). It would be interesting to film this using Dartfish technology so as to be able to figure the total power output difference between these two guys, and then compare that output to perceived effort. Over time, one could then set up a bio-feedback loop where maximum power is generated at some known (kinetically) speed and correlated perceived effort.
Enjoy the article, and let me know what you think.