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  • Peaking for non competitors

    I'm an intermediate lifter, making progress weekly.

    I understand that progress in the lower rep ranges is a better indicator of strength improvements that a new PR for a set of five, which is why singles @8 are great tools.

    I also get that volume may require slight reductions every once in a while (low stress weeks). But this is not peaking.

    Given that peaking, while it allows demonstration of strength, is a detraining event, does it have any place in the training plan of someone with no plans of competing?

  • #2
    I think that this topic is a bit misunderstood, let me try and explain.

    First, definitions:

    Stress: Any input to the lifter that decreases performance
    Fatigue: The summation of all stressors on the lifter.
    Recovery: The process of returning to baseline performance for a lifter
    Adaptation: Changes to performance, positive or negative, based on training
    Peaking: Adjusting the training induced fatigue such that max performance is favored over training development (there is some carry over in some contexts)

    During the process of training, a lifter will adapt less and less to a given amount training, as it [the training] no longer applies the correct amount of stress needed to drive the desired adaptation. At this point, there are two general options- apply more training stress or change the nature of the training stress in a significant enough way that the desired adaptation proceeds.

    If the desired adaptation has changed, changing the stress is an easy option.

    If the desired adaptation has not changed, e.g. "get stronger" then the correct choice depends on additional context.

    If one reduces volume and jacks up intensity, the training stress changes and this may produce an increase in strength development and performance, with the major adaptation being performance. This is why peaking blocks only are productive for a few weeks, in general. During this time of altered training stress, the lifter likely becomes more sensitive to their previous training stress and he/she may be able to resume it unchanged and see improvements. Alternatively, he/she may need more stress than previously regardless of the re-sensitization period (the peak).

    "detraining" one physical characteristic in favor of another physical characteristic is what occurs during peaking and we need to be very specific about what we're actually talking about when we say it.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Jordan Feigenbaum View Post
      Fatigue: The summation of all stressors on the lifter.
      Thanks for those definitions Jordan I actually understood them!

      I'm sorry if this is off topic but what recommendations would you suggest when factoring in additional life stressors e.g. moving, birth, death etc ? And/or how do you calculate and make those adjustments?
      Keep Getting Stronger!

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      • #4
        How exactly do you measure stress?

        If tonnage increases (per unit of time and assuming intensity on every rep is at least 70%), has stress increased? Would you need tonnage to increase and average load to at least stay the same? How about average load increases but tonnage stays the same?

        If a lifter increases weight, goes from 3x5 to 3x3 and adds enough back-off work to increase tonnage, has the lifter increased stress?

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        • #5
          So peaking would indeed have value to someone with no aspirations to compete, whose goals are regardless increased strength, to:
          1. Allow the display of performance with fatigue recovery to check possible hidden progress
          2. Re sensitizing to training so that improvement can continue to be made without massive increases in training stress
          Am I on the right track?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MorganIsm View Post

            Thanks for those definitions Jordan I actually understood them!

            I'm sorry if this is off topic but what recommendations would you suggest when factoring in additional life stressors e.g. moving, birth, death etc ? And/or how do you calculate and make those adjustments?
            This is very complex. These sorts of stressors do increase the risk of injury and setbacks.

            The coach must be able to objectively assess the lifter's life situation in the context of their current training and competitive plans.

            In addition, they have to know their lifter -- in other words, is the lifter an extremely stoic, resilient person? They might not need much adjustment at all. Or are they a highly anxious/neurotic, perfectionist? Do they have adequate social support? How's their confidence/self esteem? Do they tend to catastrophize?

            The list of things that can influence one's ability to manage stress and setback is quite extensive. One interesting article on the topic is titled "Psychology and socioculture affect injury risk, response, and recovery in high-intensity athletes: a consensus statement" by D. M. Wiese-Bjornstal.
            IG / YT

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            • MorganIsm
              MorganIsm commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks Austin. I now have it on my reading list. I also believe training through this stuff really helps build resilience and reduces anxiety. A lot of things now don't seem that hard or scary compared to putting a heavy bar on my back.

          • #7
            Originally posted by fitengineer View Post
            So peaking would indeed have value to someone with no aspirations to compete, whose goals are regardless increased strength, to:
            1. Allow the display of performance with fatigue recovery to check possible hidden progress
            2. Re sensitizing to training so that improvement can continue to be made without massive increases in training stress
            Am I on the right track?
            Yep -- though the trainee should know what they're getting themselves into, and the costs/benefits. A full peak effectively requires the detraining of certain physical characteristics such as work capacity, and it's theoretically possible to re-sensitize someone to "regular" training stress without doing a full peak and 1RM test, so it may not ultimately be worth it. It's really situation dependent, although we don't think the benefits outweigh the costs for someone at the end of the "novice phase".
            IG / YT

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