Training at Thresholds: How to Not Kill Yourself Training for Weightlifting

Training at Thresholds: How to Not Kill Yourself Training for Weightlifting

Staring at your program and looking at what’s on tap for the day, you’re likely to see one of two things.

Option 1: A hard and fast percentage of your best lift. Written in blood, on a tablet of stone, you have to hit this number or you’re a total loser.

Option 2: Some rep max, and some back off sets at 5% or 10% less than that rep max. This should account for your daily state of readiness

I use option 2 all the time, and option 1 for certain athletes in the gym. I will mix these methods quite often in training. Lots of people have gotten super strong and achieved insane feats of strength with these methods.

In this article, I want to present to you different method of training which I have used successfully in the last year or so in my own training, and have now employed in the training of several of my athletes to achieve pretty remarkable and sustained results.

Daily Thresholds
Training at a daily threshold is an option that allows for much more freedom to hit an appropriate number on the day. First let’s figure out what the hell I mean, and second let’s describe why this is a good idea for your training.

This is an option for more advanced athletes only as they must have some training blocks under their belt to tap on that previous experience. They must also have realistic and appropriate goals for the end of the training cycle. This wouldn’t be appropriate for the young, new, new athlete.

Your daily threshold is a number that you set out before you begin a program for certain rep schemes in training. A couple things things to take into account:

Thresholds should be set on a goal that is 8-12 weeks ahead of where you are now.

These numbers should be realistic, but at the stretch end of your goal setting.

Look across the entire training block and see what rep schemes you have.

If in doubt put them a little bit low, a made lift is worth 100 misses.

For instance in the preparation for master’s nationals training block I set out the following thresholds for given rep schemes. These were based on goals of a 131 KG snatch and a 162 KG clean and jerk.

The percentages established next to the numbers were based on my final goals in the training cycle, but give you an idea that each of these were on the low end of the expected spectrum of something like Prilepin’s table.

Prilepin’s Chart

Once your thresholds are established these are the minimums to hit through a given rep scheme. These numbers should be enough to develop a training stimulus, but not so heavy that you cannot hit them anytime in a training cycle.

In week one of a training program you would likely hit these numbers for 1-2 sets. In successive weeks you can hit a higher number, 1-2kg higher, or do it for more sets than the previous week.

Both volume and intensity can create a training stimulus, so no need to chase both. More total sets or more absolute weight.

In the lead up to master’s nationals I used this method across 66 training sessions. In 60 of them I exceeded the threshold of the previous week’s session. My basic premise was I wanted to go up 2kg each week in each training movement. I didn’t achieve any 5kg improvements outside of the squat, but my 2kg and 1kg improvements led to big improvements across 12 weeks.

Here are my results of training at thresholds from the 12 week training block

Why does this help?
The overriding principal in strength training is progressive overload, and the general adaptation syndrome. To improve a stress must be placed on the body, this stress cannot be the same over and over because the body has adapted. The stress must also be small enough that one can recover.

The threshold is not too easy, it is somewhat challenging, but not too big. Adding 1-2kg per week or perhaps one additional set, is not too big of an additional stress. But you can still use products like CBD Oil for your recovery sessions.

There are many more made lifts in a threshold program over a percentage based or pure rep max based program. More made lifts leads to more opportunities for learning, and more importantly, athletes with a better mental make up. Athletes that make more lifts have a better training experience, are more ready for each training session.

If you’re stalling in your program currently then try this. It’s as simple as sitting down with your training program and choosing the lifts you want to make as a minimum each day. After week 1, set out next week’s goals, rinse, repeat and see where it takes you.

If you’re interested in training with me check out our remote coaching program! Our lifters have won youth, junior, university and master’s national championships!

Originally Published 11/29/17