Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Creating a Winning Habit & Understanding The Sub-Maximal

I recently posted on The Bending Barbell page about creating a winning atmosphere, and how both winning and losing are habits.

If you haven't seen it:
1 - Go like the "The Bending Barbell" Facebook page (and "Nitman Performance Training" while you're at it)
2 - here it is ...

"Success is a habit. And so is losing.
So why would you want to engrain losing as a habit in your training? It's something that confuses me personally - because when it comes down to it, whether you compete on a field or a platform, you want to win. And if not win then at least be successful in terms of your performance. 
With strength sports it is all down to your performance on competition day. It doesn't matter what you do in the gym if you compete - it only matters on the 1 day that you put all that hard work into practice. 
Chad Wesley Smith always preaches about "training is for building, not testing". Meaning that the time you spend preparing for a meet is used to BUILD your lifts to be better than they were before.
This way when you get out on the platform you can break PRs. The test is on the platform.
For strength a failed lift won't make you stronger. You want your body to be engrained to succeed every single time you hit a lift.
In terms of hypertrophy it can be a little different, as to stimulate muscle growth you need to break down the muscle fibres. BUT there are other ways - drop sets, rest pause etc. Which still allow you to practice succeeding. 
I'm going to go a bit more into depth on this in a blog post, I'll post the link in the comments once it's online, but for now here's the take home message:
Make your lifts count.
And more importantly -
Make Your Lifts.
Coach Rob Nitman - TBB Team"

I just want to expand about what I spoke of in this piece.

As I stated, winning is a habit. Losing is too. So how can we re-inforce a good habit of winning, and how can we break a bad habit of losing?

Well to re-inforce winning I believe you have to practice it all times. In team sports - play competitive games regularly to keep your players intent on winning at all costs. If you are a strength athlete and you compete on a platform (powerlifting, strongman, weightlifting etc) then during your training cycle you should (in my opinion) only allow yourself to complete successful lifts. Don't fail. Ever. It is not something you want your body to become accustomed to. The only time that failing is relatively understood is when you're attempting max effort lifts which should be left til competition day.

If you are losing in team sports - then again I believe that by making smaller parts of the everyday routine competitive re-instates the natural instincts of humans. As humans we are designed to be competitive, to want to win. Many moons ago we used to have to fight for our food - us against an animal. The winner stays alive and gets to eat. Simple. 
We had to fight to eat, to have shelter, to stay alive. This is in our blood. I don't care who you are - you are competitive. I used to have friends who claimed they don't care if they won or lost at sport, but then as soon as they got home they were furious if they lost to their friend in Cyber-Space at Call of Duty. It's the same damn thing. We all want to win at what we love, or what we're good at. The smart people want to be the smartest, the athletes want to be better than their opponents, Apple want to come up with the next big thing before Microsoft. It's all winning.

I got side tracked sorry.

Create a competitive atmosphere in smaller areas. In team sports - play games with a "it pays to be a winner" type attitude. Every successful team I ever played in or coached we spent a lot of time training in a competitive atmosphere. Win everyday. 

Now on the never failing thing, in strength sports especially, there is a type of programming a lot of people use to help this. It's called sub-maximal programming. Essentially instead of basing all your percentages or work sets of 100%, your true 1RM for example, you use, for example, 90% as the top limit instead. This way you are never truly going to your absolute max. 

This can be good for a few reasons:
1 - it helps engrain technique with weights you can hit
2 - it creates an environment for repetitive success
3 - it's safer, especially in the long-term

I work with a professional rugby team at the moment, and when I do programming I base it all off 90%. It means the players stay fresher, they never fail lifts, and it minimises the opportunity for injury.
I also do online coaching, and throughout all the various different programs I may use with any given client (dependent on the person) they are ALL based off 90%. For the same reason - training is for building. It may not make you hit a PR in 3 weeks time, but in 13 weeks, 23 weeks, or longer - you'll be using your old max for warm ups. 

Also by using sub-maximal it allows you more room to play around with the variables of programming; frequency, intensity, and volume. 


That's pretty much all I wanted to say (I think) so I'll leave it at that. 
A bit of a mixed bag this article, but still I think I covered some pretty good topics really, and two that inter-link of the world of sport.

Thanks for reading, check back for more soon.

Rob Nitman.
Twitter - @nitman89        |        Instagram - @rob_nitman        |       Facebook - facebook.com/NitmanPerformance

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