T Nation

Pursuit of a Higher Work Capacity


I'm not quite sure if you guys have heard about this.

According to the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), there really is no universal way of "curing" DOMS (as you may have already know, DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). There is, however, a phenomenon that allows you to almost permanently eliminate its occurence. It is known as the "decreasing bout effect." It is believed (by the NSCA) that through consistent utilization of a certain workout regimen, the occurence of DOMS will gradually disappear.

Here's the question though, "Why would I care about muscle soreness? Can't I just walk it off, man up, and squat while my lower back feels like shit?"

NO! DOMS causes temporary decrementation of strength (which most, if not all trainees for strength sports considers to be "overreaching" or "performance regression."). By eliminating DOMS, you get to keep yourself from suffering from its negative effect. For olympic weightlifters who train up to 3 times A DAY, this should be of topmost priorty. IF YOU WANT YOUR BODY TO BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF FORCE, THEN YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE IT PRODUCE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF FORCE AND BEYOND. This is impossible to accomplish if the respected trainee is currently in a state of extreme soreness. As we all know, adaptations are specific. (you improve your pressing strength by pressing, you improve your squatting strength by squatting.) An olympic weightlifter cannot train properly if he/she is experiencing DOMS. He/she will not be able to induce the type of stimulus that he/she needs to impose to his/her body to improve in his/her respected (and all powerful) sport.


less DOMS = less fatigue

less fatigue = more capability of doing extra training sessions

more capability of doing extra training sessions = more powerful training stimulus

more powerful training stimulus = more strength (when recovered)

more strength = better olympic weightlifter...

...wouldn't paying attention to methods that minimizes DOMS be of significant importance in the improvement of our work capacity? Maybe (just maybe) this thing about DOMS elimination may provide several clues as to how we can systematically build enough work capacity to impose much more powerful stimulus that can make us exponentially stronger? Maybe (just maybe) the elite weightlifters (of today, yesterday, tomorrow, drug-free or not) have already figured this out? There's a similarity between having out bodies adapt to the high demands of training with having our body acquire the capability of minimizing DOMS. Rome wasn't built in a day, and so is our ability to handle intense training.

...Another question... Does CNS fatigue have any correlation with the over production of lactate?


Olympic lifters tend to do the same basic lifts day to day, and go heavy relatively often. The only time they will get DOMS is when first starting to lift again after a break (if they even have any type of deload week), or if their training becomes drastically different and provides a different stimulus, which is unlikely in a Olympic lifting world. As long as you can get past that first week or so of DOMS, if that week of DOMS even occurs, you are fine... My opinion on the matter.

As for your second question, I don't really know. Lactate affects you metabolically, and can give you adrenal and residual fatigue if done after a certain point, correct? About neural fatigue, I'm not sure. I'm sure after too much lactate work is gonna F your CNS up, though.


^This. You would already be aware of this if you had stuck to any semblance of an intelligent program for more than 2 months.


Truth. It actually doesn't surprise me that you had to reference the NSCA in order to figure out something everyone else on this site had already figured out.

But since I'm feeling helpful...

The one thing that I noticed that has an inverse relationship on DOMS is frequency, and this is backed up in literature. Infrequent training leads to severe DOMS, but at the same time has an effect of downregulating/disinhibiting the golgi reflex, so there is a trade off there. That is part of the reason why people can get stronger training 12x per week or 2-3x per week.

I actually rarely get sore at this point in my training career. The last time I remember being really sore was the last time I started a plyometric training block. Since I only perform these blocks 1-2x per year depending on competition schedules, the different training technique was a shock to my muscles. I also got sore after Louie told me to start doing timed sets for 100+ reps on a few movements, but that was very moderate. When you consider that I had almost never used either of these techniques (plyos and high reps) you can see that my muscles have learned to get past whatever is causing the DOMS, most likely trauma.

Further, DOMS does NOT inhibit strength expression. I can't reference them off the top of my head, but I distinctly remember reading two studies on athletes (a group of recreational weightlifters and a group of sprinters) that showed that DOMS had no effect on power output, as long as the DOMS causing stimulus was at least 48 hours prior to the testing.

You can figure this out for yourself if you don't believe me. Since I'm pretty sure you train the front squat frequently, grab the bar and do 200 reps. This will definitely make you sore. 48+ hours later, have an ME session. While you'll probably have to stretch and warm up more than usual, I'm willing to bet that if you can push past the pain that you'll have no problem hitting the weights you usually hit.

Also, for the record, your whole A = B thing is complete bullshit. Equals does not mean "by broad generalization", and 4 huge generalizations equals complete bull shit.


Very good statement. You can't say always or never in reference, there are exceptions to every rule and being ignorant makes you look bad.

That being said, think about it like this. Whatever model of training you use at some point intensity goes up (if you're actually smart about training) and you over reach, whether it's adding more reps/sets/conditioning, whatever. Your body may not have developed the capacity to deal with this stress, and thus you get "sore". Once you develop recovery means from a biological stand point, you will generally be less sore from these sessions.

Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands, that's something every certification talks about. If you place the demand on the body, and provide enough rest/recovery, you should adapt to the stimulus.

I play semi-pro football, and like an idiot play flag football the day after, and monday's my ME Upper day. My bench hasn't suffered yet, but I'm sore, stiff and tired. So american football, a CNS intensive sport, and DOMS, have not effected my strength, however, they have effected my work capacity. I can still go really heavy, but have to dial down the volume to make up for it or I feel like a train wreck. Tired now so this is all over the place, but in a nutshell, some days you just have to grow a pair and work through it, CNS fatigue or not. It's not the DOMS that can cause CNS fatigue, but what caused the DOMS that would cause the CNS fatigue in my opinion. And with higher rep work that's more likely to be a metabolic issue, not being able to remove the lactate from the working muscle efficiently enough. Rant Over.



My training sucks. After 5 weeks of training (with 1 deload), my deadlift strength and squatting has gone down (Not even a plateau, it actually WENT DOWN!). My pressing strength, on the other hand, have started improving.

How do I normalize the situation?

One of my theories, (and this is just my humble theory) is that since I press heavy dumbbells for Max Effort, I have to get down to pick them up... And I noticed that even though it's not really super tough for me to deadlift the DBs, my upper back pulls them at the top (which probably made them VERY FATIGUED). Back then, my sticking point is the hole. Right now, it's at the top half. From what I've heard, the top half of the lift makes you use your upper back alot... I've never rowed 105-110 pound DBs before, but I had to, cause that's what I press...

So please, tell me, is that the most likely reason as to why my deadlift strength have gone down? I now train DB presses 6 days a week with max weights, but my deadlift can't handle that. It's still done at 5 days a week. (ANd yet, I still regressed... And you can never say that I undertrain...)


Well, I hate to say it because it's been said, you are seriously overtraining. To be doing max weights of the same exercise 6 days a week will overtrain you. And then you are adding max deadlifts 5 days per week, I'm surprised you can still move around.

BTW, if you are an olympic lifter, why are you doing DB presses and deadlifts and the soly lifts themselves?


just because you are not under training does not guarentee you success


I'm not an olympic weightlifter. I'm just a newb trying to figure things out.

The reason why I do DB presses is because I love them. No spotters needed. No risks of choking myself with the bar, just the risk of smashing my face.


Are you implying that I'm doing too much? It took me a few seconds to understand what you're trying to say.


dude, if you're deadlifting hard 5X/week and your DL is going down...man, no offence, but that shouldnt take Any seconds to understand

Where did you get the idea to train the way you are? (serious question)
Besides hearing of professional, olympic level atheletes training every day (and mind you probably even more time stretching and warming up cooling down etc.) , who trains their whole body 5-6X a week, doing heavy lifts like deadlifts and dumbell benching "with max weights" 6 times a week? (even atheletes at that level would probably just be doing mostly variations of the Olifts and some squats and stuff)


I agree with the where did you get your idea from. Seems like you are just throwing different things together and hoping it sticks.

There is a reason oly lifters train the way they do, and powerlifters train the way they do. It seems like you're trying to take different methodologies and mash them together.

If you want to do HFT using slow lifts, look at Sheiko. The O-Lifts and powerlifts are intrinsically different, and each cause different types of stress. Because of the amount of muscle damage in the powerlifts, training them on an oly template just doesn't make sense. If you look at any successful training using the powerlifts and a HFT approach, they are percentage based programs with carefully regulated training volumes. The average intensity of high volume, high frequency training approaches is usually much less than 80%, and more importantly, it is waved based on how the coach feels adaption and recovery will take place (this is guesswork since you can't know for sure, but nonetheless it's planned). You will never see a good program that says to deadlift heavy 5x a week and press heavy 6x a week. It's just too stressful.


It's only too stressful if I get injured, experience regression, or die. Have you heard of some ancient chinese women having their feet deliberately stunted from growth? That right there, is barbaric. They're practically deforming their bones for the sole purpose of looking more attractive to rich creepy guys with weird fetishes. That's bone deformation right there, and yet, they still managed to live normally. They had no knowledge of any training methods that can increase the decreasion of their bones, and yet, they succeeded. What about those ancient female english royalties who had their lower ribs surgically removed just for the sake of looking more hourglass? Some of them wore breath-restricting clothes to deform their ribs into being less puffy. It even came to the point where their lower ribs get dangerously close to their lungs...

With these extreme circumstances, these people have survived. If you come at me complaining about how your knees start hurting after squatting 3 times a week with less then 80% of your max, then please be reminded of these chinese and english women. "Beauty is delightful to behold, but a vicious taskmaster". (more vicious that weightlifting indeed!)

There is such a thing as "physiological plasticity". It's true that Ivan Abadjiev have crippled more athletes than he had made champions out of them, but keep in mind that Abadjiev is a NUTJOB and was rushing for gold. He picked model athletes, NOT model training programs for average joes. Louie Simmons did the exact opposite. He picked average joes, and made model training methods for them, but even he, who thinks Abadjiev is full of crap and would pee his pants at the sight of Medvedev, have clearly stated in his august, 2009 article, that "The Bulgarian system produced the highest results in weightlifting. Why? They handled the highest average weights most often. Itâ??s that simple. Yes, they had used a very select group of lifters, but that system was the best."


And what made you think weightlifters only used the quick lifts? Squats and front squats have been primary assistance exercises for nearly every olympic weightlifters.


None taken sir. I completely understand where you're coming from.

"The butcher" (Ivan Abadjiev)


The Bulgarians took many YEARS to build the work capacity to handle the workout Abadjiev had them do. How many years have you trained?

They would work up to a daily max and then drop the weight for their work sets because they knew there would be daily fluctuations. Also the O-lifts have no grind component like deads and presses, so you either make it or you miss it (yes, squats do but are less stressful than deads).

Like Poliquin says the body is equipped to handle intensity, you either make the lift or you don't, but it can't do that with training volume so it is easy to use too much volume (and this includes frequency).


i just see you making some similar mistakes that i have..except after a while, i did get injured...many times, and i am 100% sure that for all the time training and everything, i could and should be lightyears ahead of where i am now, if i had done things differently, i know for myself i tend to have to make my own mistakes to learn (usually many times over) but really, it doesnt make sense, so please learn from my mistakes as i'll be paying for them the rest of my life(i have worked through and/or rehabbed a fair bit, but i really did a number on myself), because in the real world, sometimes you dont get second chances for stupidity (not saying yours, i'm referring to my own here)


looks like i'm longwinded today, my appologies all around, but i think you might gain from this (-took me WAY too long (and lots of potential progress) to start to figure out)

it seems that you've really done your research, and that you're giving yourself a good knowledge of training. thats good, and its good you're interested... but you know how sometimes you see guys bigger and stronger than yourself that dont seem to know anything? well your body doesnt care what you know, your body cares what you do, day in, day out, according to your own capabilities...and these people will continue to progress because they're still doing most things right, even if they dont know all the ins and outs of why its working, and all that knowledge that i have acquired...well basically isnt worth half the time it would have taken me to just being consistant and not changing things and not obsessing over it, just Doing it 100%, All the time.

the tortoise really does win the race in an application like this (most anything that takes time/patience to develop really), and trying to rush your progress will not be condusive to said gains


I'm sorry, did you miss my entire post, or does your reading comprehension just suck that much?

"It's only too stressful if I get injured, experience regression, or die."

And did you miss the entire explanation for why powerlifting is different from olympic lifting? You can't compare Abadjiev to Simmons, it's stupid, they are different sports. I realize they both revolve around lifting weights, and you can learn from both of them, but you can't train your deadlift like a bulgarian would train a snatch.

Further, even the bulgarians had methods in place that kept them from going to high in intensity. Most of the time their "training max" would really be a heavy single without any psyching up.

As for using squats in training, most of their training on these lifts was done at a higher rep range and a lower intensity. 'Science and Practice of Strength Training' lays out the rep ranges and intensity levels for champion olympic lifters following both the bulgarian and russian systems.

I think you'd be surprised to find out how low the average intensity actually is in both situations. These lifts were also rarely or never trained to failure, which is why you'll never find a video of a top oly lifter grinding a lift out, just as you'll never find a top powerlifter grinding through accessory work.

It is obviously very important to you to be training hard with a high frequency. I understand this, as I don't like training less than 5 days a week. However, you need to learn to balance this. My recommendation is you take 3 training days a week and devote them to speed work 45-75%, 1 day a week to recovery/restoration work, and 2 days of near max lifting.

The speed work can still be very tough, but it is easier to recover from and puts less of a drain on the nervous system as a whole. In addition, it helps keep back on spinal loading (keep in mind that your spine IS your CNS)


Did you know that "speed work" is for people who can't handle lifting max loads more than once a week? AJ Roberts have stated that in an elitefts article. What's the point of doing speed work if I can just grind a max daily single?

Usually for my daily singles, I do 3 singles at 90% of my max. I try to make it as close to 90% as possible. I've tried doing it up to 95%. (Gulp). Too scary.

As far as separating powerlifters from olympic weightlifters... that's just retarded. The only difference between the two class of athletes is their superiority. POWERLIFTERS ARE WEAKER THAN OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTERS! Do you have any idea what the minimum requirements are for a weightlifter to have a 600 pound clean and jerk?

-A rock bottom front squat of atleast 774 pounds.
-A raw deadlift (with an olympic-style of pulling) of atleast 850 pounds.

How many powerlifters can do that? Seriously?


The fetish of doing things my way is more pleasurable than the success that I get from doing things that are bandwagonistic.