Overcoming Stalls

Jul 31st, 2010

Category: Fitness

Overcoming Stalls

Reminder: classes will be held as normal this Saturday and Sunday at CFO.

Candace Heavy Jerk 2010 NorCal Sectionals

Candace going for a heavy jerk at the 2010 Sectionals. Getting strong overhead requires time, persistence, and smart training strategies.

During the course of any training program gains will cease and certain performance metrics will plateau. How a trainee gets through those sticking points will determine their success during their training careers. It is important to keep in mind that no program will produce gains forever and that as adaptation to training occurs, gains will come more slowly and with greater effort than before. Come to think of it, the reasons for that slowing of progress sounds like a good idea for another post. Look for that discussion next week. For now, let’s continue the discussion on maintaining progress by looking at the shoulder press.

The shoulder press, or just the press, is a difficult exercise on which to get strong. The muscles that are tasked with raising the bar overhead are small and easily fatigued when compared with the muscles that power the squat. The press has a long kinetic chain that stretches from the hands to the ground. Add to this the requirement that the knees must stay locked for the movement and you have a challenging, but very useful exercise. In the event that your press is not progressing and your form is solid, the first thing to try is microloading the bar. That is, use increments of less than five pounds for your jumps. CFO happens to have a small assortment of plates that range from 1 pound to 0.25 pounds. Additionally, we have several 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) plates. Personal records are not set in five pound increments alone. Pressing 0.5 pounds more is improvement. Microloading leads to significant gains over time.

The next thing to address is recovery. People do not get stronger from training. They get stronger by recovering from training. The two biggest variables at our disposal to aid in recovery are food and sleep. Conditioning work and barbell training are taxing on the body. The more sleep a trainee can get, the better off they are. Eating plenty of good food is essential to spur progress. Consuming sufficient protein with every meal and taking in more calories are successful strategies for making gains.  In the event you are not sure what to eat, I suggest you talk to Connie. She will set you on the right path nutritionally.

If the gains from microloading the press have been exhausted, sleep clocks in at an average of nine hours a night (everyone gets this much, right?), and food is being consumed in sufficient quantities, then it is time to consider deloading. Take 10% of the weight off the bar and work back up incrementally with the idea of recovering while using a smaller workload and then surpassing the plateau. This is where a well kept training journal is of enormous value. You can track your progress, find sticking points, and make the adjustments necessary. By combining proper form, microloading, focused recovery efforts, and occasional deloading periods when necessary, you have the tools at your disposal to make continued progress for a long time.