T Nation

Supramaximal Lifts and Connective Tissue


#1

Does anyone here do any training to explicitly strengthen their tendons and ligaments?

Mostly I'm thinking of things like supramaximal static holds (overhead supports, Anderson squats, above-the-knee rack pulls) and/or heavy dynamic stability work (heavy strapped farmers walks, chain/solid yoke walks, overhead walks). Although, I'm open to other options.

There's a certain part of me that thinks if you regularly stress your body in ways that crush it and tear it apart, that you'll ultimately benefit from the adaptations... provided you don't actually tear yourself apart. I still remember the first time I did a pin squat with a weight over twice my max and it felt like every joint in my body was going to rip apart.

Just wondering if anyone's done any training like that, for that purpose. And if so, how you programmed it and what you learned from it... and if you're still doing it.

And maybe training like that isn't worth it, given that your connective tissue already adapts to whatever progressive overload you're already using, and that it possibly cuts very deep into recovery time.


#2

heavy partials and weighted carries.
Got the idea from CT.

No idea if it actually works, but my joints have never felt better since i started incorporating them on a regular basis.


#3

I did heavy bench negatives about 16 months ago and got absolutely nothing out of it.


#4

From my experience, it’s beneficial from a mental point of view to get used to handling heavy weights, but joint wise it’s completely counter productive. If you’re joints are struggling with lifting X then why would subjecting them to 2X be a good idea? If they aren’t struggling with X, then you’re solving a non-existing problem.


#5

It seems to me that there are different adaptation rates for each of the components within the body needed for lifting.

  1. Muscle - adapts quickest and also heals quickest from injury.
  2. Tendons - adapt slower than muscles, require weeks and months to heal.
  3. Bones - adapt by slowly gaining density over the course of years.

Looking at it this way, I would guess that using weights that are at the upper limits of what the muscles can handle would not be the way to strengthen the tendons as they are normally lagging behind the muscles anyway in their development.

Feel free to shoot holes in this…It is just my own theory.


#6

There are studies showing that eccentric actions help strengthen tendons and ligaments more than concentric actions, but I don’t think they were supramaximal.


#7

[quote]roland2000 wrote:
Looking at it this way, I would guess that using weights that are at the upper limits of what the muscles can handle would not be the way to strengthen the tendons as they are normally lagging behind the muscles anyway in their development.

Feel free to shoot holes in this…It is just my own theory.
[/quote]

I think it’s bullshit. If I remember correctly tendons can sustain incredible forces before tearing - much higher than muscles. Would also mean that training them specifically (even IF possible) doesn’t make much sense.

Anyway, just stick to traditional heavy ass training. Partials have a use in training sometimes but I highly doubt it has anything to do with training the tendons.


#8

Just finished reading the book “squat every day” and there is a part where he talks about connective tissue recovery being better with a higher frequency of stress due to blood flow characteristics.

He also mentions that muscle recovers faster than connective tissue, so when lifting at lower frequencies you can end up lifting when muscle is at full strength and tendons and ligaments are still recovering. Where, with doing something every day, it protects connective tissue, because muscle and connective tissue are on an even fatigued level.

It seems fairly true by my experience.


#9

I’m living proof that explosive concentric training is the ultimate training tool for tendon & ligament health. I’m not going to go into my history, frankly because it depresses me too much. Sorry. Let me just say that RIGHT NOW I’m nearly 50 years old and very very physically capable.

I incorporate concentric only sets in my warmups for for all training days. Some days I mix in some concentric sets contrasted with regular sets. For instance, a set of One Arm Rows followed by a set of explosive one arm rows with a sled. And, one day a week is totally dedicated to concentric only training. If you have tendon problems I highly recommend experimenting with this type of training.


#10

[quote]roland2000 wrote:

  1. Tendons - adapt slower than muscles, require weeks and months to heal.

[/quote]

My experience is tendons respond very quickly to the right type of stimulus.


#11

I love partials but I never gave them much thought. I had stability and confidence issues squating and heavy partials starting at the bottom helped me straighten it out. I used a weekly ROM progression a’la T3punisher.

I did supermaximal DL partials at one point, but I think it was more of a confidence builder than anything.


#12

pts often use eccentric/negitive movements to bring on the healing response in tendons for stuff like tendinitis etc…3 by 20reps x 3 times a day kinda stuff with bodyweigh or even less …so i suppose the theory holds up …but for me dont try and fix something that aint broke


#13

I think the key is choosing lifts that will your address your weaknesses and challenge your tendons and ligaments without endangering your joints. Haphazardly throwing in some ultra heavy bench press negatives or some dynamic leg extensions will probably hurt shoulders and knees more than it helps your connective tissue.

For example, a bodybuilder on a five day split who does 1 “part” at a time would probably get a lot out of Isometric holds. Simply holding the bar over head, locking the upper back, pulling the bar apart, driving the hips in and underneath and pushing the heels into the ground will engage the whole body. You don’t “feel” it in the “muscles” but you develop pressure everywhere.

Coach Thibs wrote a bunch about these types of holds a couple years ago.
http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/1734
http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/173

A power lifter who lifts big weights in stable positions may get more out a of heavy farmer’s walks, which challenge their stability, than from a partial squats which just overload the spine and just repeat the squat pattern that they are already doing.


#14

I didn’t mean to do a hit and run on this thread.

Thanks for all the input.

I was familiar with using holds, isometric work and heavy short-range partials from some of the writing coming out of the 50s and 60s (Strength and Health, especially). I’d also heard about eccentric only work, usually very slow, used in rehab. I had also come across a lot of anecdotal stuff (including the book Squat Every Day) that suggested plenty of higher-rep work to pump blood through areas of connective tissue for healing and recovery.

However, I hadn’t heard of using concentric-only training.

Not sure where I’m going to go with it, or whether any of it will make it into my own training, but thanks.