“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
There’s an old proverb floating about somewhere (that I can’t seem to put my hands on at the moment), that says something to the effect of agreement to one’s own notions being the most intoxicating form of flattery. That being the case, check out this recent post by Mike Young for the EliteTrack site. In it you’ll find that renown track and field coach Loren Seagrave’s take on the value of, and the eventual diminished cost-to-benefit returns on, the acquisition of additional absolute strength over-and-above what is essential mirrors my own thoughts on the subject.
Of course, the definition of exactly what is essential differs from person to person, and requires a true goals-vs.-skills, n=1 evaluation. It’s also a major rub, as it were, because it is truly subjective in nature. We’ve discussed this recently in the What, Exactly, Constitutes “Strong Enough” post, and in that post’s follow-up, More on the Acquisition of Baseline Strength. Essentially – and when all the armchair coaching is done, and it’s time for the rubber to meet the road – what we wind up with is a purely subjective strength value for a particular movement, and at this point in the game, all the nifty linear progression spreadsheets, percentage of 1RM calculations and mounds of “textbook knowledge” have to take a back-of-the-bus seat to a (hopefully, fairly astute) coach’s wisdom, experience and gut feeling. All is not lost, though. For all that one must really do is to continually ask – every day, every workout and every rep – where is the deficiency, and what can be done to rectify that lack? We all wish it was so simple as saying, “the athlete needs to be stronger, throw some more weight on the bar”; the truth of the matter is, though, that with decently trained athletes, this is rarely the case – and if it is, it certainly should not be the case for long, as absolute strength is by far the easiest of all deficiencies to rectify.
And don’t think that you have to be an elite or professional-level athlete to benefit from knowing when you’re ready to graduate from the school of “absolute strength acquisition”. A proper n=1 evaluation may prove that you’re ready to pursue other, more challenging modalities. This is usually not the problem among young (in training age) iron game practitioners, though, most of whom are all too eager to “skip a few grades”. Train true to an honest n=1 evaluation, fix what needs fixin’, and all else will take care of itself.