I’ve read about training programs for olympic lifters that have them do Front Squats before the classic lifts. Part of the rational is that your Central Nervous System is primed. I was wondering if the same concept would apply to using Front Squats as part of warmup routine on a competition day. I also thought I read that sprinters perform a 3RM Squat prior to a race. Any thoughts? I have a competition coming up.
the 3RM squat before a race is a myth…at least according to Charlie francis (trained Ben Johnson).
that doesn’t eliminate its potential validity though.
First of all the 3RM for sprinter is hogwash. It all started when Charles Poliquin told the story about how Ben Johnson performed a 3RM squat before his 1988 race. Charlie Francis (Ben’s coach) has stated numerous time that he never did that, that it was actually a stupid idea.
That having been said, there is a phenomenon called post-tetanic potentiation that can actually improve performance by priming the nervous system. But you don’t need to be performing a max lift to do so. I find that a few sets of explosive ballistic exercise (jump squats for example) to work just as well.
MANY elite olympic lifter actually peform a light training session the morning of their competition. No max weights are used (obviously), such session is used to “wake up” the nervous system and to “loosen up the joints” so to speak.
In training, Bulgarians will often perform a relatively light workout in the morning (sub maximal snatches - often only power snatches - sub maximal clean/power clean & jerks and a bit heavier on squats) then go at it for a maximum lift in the afternoon (around 4 hours later). Of course, between both sessions they do relax and even receive some restorative treatments.
It will work, in the short term. But if you are natural and/or have other things to do in life than lifting, it can quickly lead your body into overtraining or overuse.
A good way to use this technique might be to go for max lifts only once per week (I suggest saturdays as most competitions are on this day so it’s best to get your body used to peaking on that day). On that day you would perform a morning session of power snatches (around 70% of your max snatch) and power clean & jerks (also 70%). Stick to sets of 2-3 reps and focus on SPEED. Also perform 4-5 sets of squats or front squat, keep the reps around 3 and gradually work up to around 10-20lbs less than your normal 3RM over those 4-5 sets.
Eat a good meal, relax (BUT DON’T NAP) and go for you max session 4 hours later.
The rest of the week you should only perform one session per day. Sunday should be a rest day, relax enjoy life etc. Monday is an easy technical session (light weights on the classic lifts emphasizing speed under the bar and crisp technique).
Tuesday is heavy power work (going heavy on power snatches and cleans or variations, i.e. from hang or blocks, and moderate on squat … I suggest front squats up to 90% of your clean max and/or overhead squat up to 80% of your max snatch). NOTE THAT ALL PERCENTAGES ARE BASED ON THE RESULTS OF YOUR MAX OUT DAY.
Wednesday is either off (if you have a busy schedule or feel tired/overworked) or a light technical session.
Tuesday should be an heavy strength session. Going relatively light on the technical lifts and heavier on squats or front squats as well as pulls (snatch pull at 100-110% of your max snatch and clean pull at 110-120% of your max clean).
Friday is OFF. Time to let the CNS recover from the heavy lifting session. Saturday morning your have your activation work out and then go to war in the afternnon!
what a phenomenal thread…this is a valuable article in itself…thank you Coach Thib…
Wow, thanks a bunch for your suggestions Christian, greatly appreciated. And thanks for clearing up the myth about the 3RM squat for sprinters.
BTW, make sure that you perform the outlined cycle at least twice (thus 2 weeks) before testing it on competition day. You never know how your body will react to such a novel approach.