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Old 02-23-2010, 08:42 AM   #1
Bearded Beast of Duloc
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Default Bompa on Strength Plateaus

Bompa on Strength Plateaus

An athlete doesn't reach a plateau very quickly. It takes time - several years of training at a high level - before something like that can even be considered. In my career of many years I've rarely seen athletes reaching a plateau in strength training. This situation is mostly discussed in bodybuilding and at times in football. Nevertheless, let's try to discuss some possibilities for breaking through training plateaus. Here are five:

* Use a maximum strength phase to stimulate higher percentage of fast twitch muscles into action. In many sports, strength training is poorly designed - lifting weights for strength's sake. There's no plan, no periodization. Athletes and bodybuilders that use periodization very rarely reach a plateau, in my experience.
* Design a good periodization program with phases of maximum strength and phases of power training, where the objective is to increase the firing rate of fast-twitch muscles. In my strength training book, Periodization of Training for Sports, I discuss that in detail.
* If one has a longer preparatory (pre-season) phase, several phases of maximum strength and power could be alternated. This alternation of maximum strength with power would certainly have the probability of breaking the plateau.
* Under normal conditions I wouldn't suggest a maximum-strength phase for longer than six weeks. It's quite stressful to cope with. However, if an athlete has reached a plateau, I'd use a nine-week long maximum strength phase. Under these conditions, the muscles are stimulated at much higher levels than before.
* Use more eccentric (negative) contraction techniques. Eccentric contractions require a much higher tension in the fast twitch muscles. Eccentric training shouldn't be used before the athletes have a better background. Unfortunately, many coaches can hardly wait to use everything they know; in this way they themselves are contributing to reaching a plateau.

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