Lifting Heavy All Season!
by James Bullock

Article featured at StrongandFar.com

Originally featured at StrongandFar.com.


The age-old myth that lifting “heavy” makes you slow makes as much sense to me as those who obsess over which lifts are “transferable” to a specific sport. The manner in which you lift is always more important than the specific lifts you do. Lifting heavy doesn't make you slow, lifting slow makes you slow. Yes, you can argue that lifting maximal weights will make you slow, but it all depends on how much time is spent moving the bar at slower speeds. 

Many athletes let their overall strength suffer during their competitive season only to spend the entire off-season attempting to get it back and then some. Has that method worked for many great athletes? Absolutely it has, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to continue to build strength while lifting heavy in the competitive season.  Yes, I am talking about trampling on conventional wisdom. I rather enjoy punching it in the mouth and doing my own thing. 

So how do you still increase your performance on the field while still increasing your overall strength?

The key to being able to do this is within the repetitions themselves. Not just one rep, but every rep of every set matters. The effort you put into each rep is THE determining factor when it comes to achieving the results you desire. 

Here is a breakdown of one of my athlete’s lifting sessions:

Weight, lbs. x Repetitions

-45x10
-45x10
-95x10
-135x5
-185x5
-205x5
-225x5
-275x3
-285x3
-300x3
-320x3 (new 3 rep max achieved)

It is safe to say that all the sets under 225 lbs. can be considered warm up sets (which are extremely important, by the way). We all know the feeling of when we can put some serious speed and effort into the bar at a certain weight. The second that you feel that you don’t have to “hold back” is the time to put maximal effort into every rep of every set. Don’t save up for later sets! By not holding back you are training explosiveness while you are ramping up to a heavier set. If you need more work in the explosive range simply do more in that range before going heavier. Being strong AND explosive is always better than being one or the other. 

The ultimate goal is always to increase our performance on the field. Just because you want a PR on a given movement doesn’t mean you hold back in your lower end sets. We all know that the lower end sets yield the most potential for increased explosiveness. It is possible to train every range of the strength curve while lifting heavy.  While you are ramping up to a heavy triple, give just as much effort to the lower end sets as you do that heavy triple and you can reap the benefits of both worlds regardless of what particular lifting method you utilize.

By not holding back you are training explosiveness while you are ramping up to a heavier set. If you need more work in the explosive range simply do more in that range before going heavier. Being strong AND explosive is always better than being one or the other. 

I have had great success using unconventional methods for a long time with athletes from many different sports. The bulk of my clients at present are Highland Games athletes and MMA fighters. 

Strength & Honor

James Bullock


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About the Author

James Bullock is the head coach for Irondom Performance Systems and Combative Sciences. He's written programs for athletes and non-athletes alike, including numerous world record holders in various sports. Combative Sciences was found in 1999 and is the culmination of decades of martial arts training. 

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