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Threshold Training for Powerlifting: a Targeted Approach

Threshold Training for Powerlifting: a Targeted Approach

When you are looking to improve your form when lifting, as well as lift more weight efficiently, one of the most important considerations is the thresholds of exercise. The internet is filled with corrective exercise demonstrations and it can be tough to wade through the chaos and know what will fix your specific issue. This is where understanding what threshold your issues fits into is beneficial. In powerlifting terms, there are 2 types of thresholds: absolute and functional. When something is trained below the “threshold”, it fails to produce a sufficient stimulus and as such, you don’t create adaptation/progress. We will look at how to find the maximum capacity of both these systems, by using the functional threshold to do so. An absolute threshold is the absolute maximum that you can do. An example of this would be a 1 rep max, with whatever form changes you might make in order to get it up. This might not look like your “ideal/good technique”, but the weight went up, and that’s all this threshold reflects. The sport of powerlifting heavily emphasizes this threshold as it’s the one that wins medals. Functional thresholds reflect how much you can push without degradation in technique. Because of the nature of this limit, it will always sit lower than the absolute threshold; though we should always aim to close the gap between the functional and absolute thresholds as this tends to lead to better efficiency with lifting as well as a theoretically reduced risk of injury. Within the functional threshold category, there are 3 subsets that are relevant to powerlifting: 1. Endurance/Fatigue Threshold We...
A Guide to Applying DNS/PRI Principles to Powerlifting (Part 3: Deadlift)

A Guide to Applying DNS/PRI Principles to Powerlifting (Part 3: Deadlift)

If you haven’t already seen Part 1 and Part 2 to this series, I strongly recommend reading that first as it lays down the groundwork for what we are diving into here. Today’s installment in the PRI/DNS to Powerlifting series will focus in on the deadlift. Before we dive in, I just wanted to make a quick note on this article series: I am making this series to help lifters and coaches understand how to use these trains of thought as tools and some scenarios where it might be helpful. It is by no means the only tool that you should have in your toolbox. PRI and DNS don’t solve every problem that you’ll encounter in powerlifting, but they can be a good starting point to work from. As much as I’d like knowing how to do powerlifting and these modalities together to be the silver bullet to perfect, efficient movement and absolute injury prevention, they aren’t that, and if they were… I’d probably be a lot richer by now. That being said, let’s get down to business. Today’s article will be broken down into 2 main sections: Addressing the positions of the deadlift, particularly in the setup, Transferring the foundation you lay with the set up into an efficient deadlift Part 1: Set Up For Success Not wanting to make this article a deadlift tutorial, let’s assume if you’re reading this article, you have some experience deadlifting and understand some basic principles like bracing, a hip hinge, and working to shorten the range of motion effectively while playing to your leverages. The most common “error” that we see in...
A Guide to Applying DNS/PRI Principles to Powerlifting (Part 2: Bench Press)

A Guide to Applying DNS/PRI Principles to Powerlifting (Part 2: Bench Press)

If you’re a trainer: As with the hips, respect the structure, build a good foundation/alignment, and generally things will fall into place with more complex skills, Train the sagittal plane and restore a “neutral” thoracic spine curvature and ribcage position before dealing with any rotation or left to right asymmetries, If there is an asymmetry, some transverse plane work with a right rotation bias is a great progression once the sagittal plane has been taken care of Favoring some right ribcage/thoracic rotation with a neutral or even left rotated pelvis in other aspects of the training can be useful in restoring balance and improving performance.   If you’re a powerlifter/meathead/just want to lift without feeling like your body is going to fall apart: Bracing is good, but if you can’t get into a good spine/ribcage/pelvis position, you’re leaving some of that brace on the table, Rounding your shoulders isn’t inherently bad, in fact, it can make for an excellent recovery position from regular powerlifting training, Some asymmetrical work for the shoulders can be useful in balancing out your bench press and making it symmetrical. More specifically, creating more right rotation in your warmups may help to balance things out.     If you haven’t already seen Part 1 to this series, I strongly recommend reading that first as it lays down the groundwork for what we are diving into here. Today’s installment in the PRI/DNS to Powerlifting series will focus in on the bench press. One of the central points with PRI is how the human body is asymmetrical. I’m sure you’ve seen people stand in line at the...
A Guide to Applying DNS/PRI Principles in Powerlifting (Part 1: Squat)

A Guide to Applying DNS/PRI Principles in Powerlifting (Part 1: Squat)

TL:DR Version If you’re a trainer: As always, respect the structure, build a good foundation/alignment, and generally things will fall into place with more complex skills, If you don’t already, work on some frontal/transverse plane control work through the trunk/hips… Favoring left hip rotation via left hamstrings and adductors/right glute max in your supplemental work can be a very useful tweak to otherwise symmetrical training If you’re a powerlifter: As much as you think you might be bracing, you can probably do a better job by getting some of the deeper “core” muscle to work in sync with the rest of them by creating better IAP, Asymmetry exists within your body and as such, training symmetrically all the time might not be the best course of action, especially with your accessories. Some of your lower body accessory work and/or warmups should be asymmetrical to counteract this, Instead of mindlessly stretching as a warmup, address the problem head on with some of these asymmetrical exercises I showed above. They’ll not only feel good and get you better warmed up than foam rolling, but they’ll also help you move better and more efficiently. More efficiency=more weight lifted. Hard to argue with that.     For anyone who has trained with me for powerlifting in person over the last couple years, you’ll know that I draw a lot of the stuff that I do outside of the standard exercise programming (percentages, block structure, etc) from the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) and Dynamic Muscular Stabilization (DNS). These are both systems which focus around the role of the diaphragm, and breathing’s impact on movement...
How to Program Your Powerlifting Accessory Work

How to Program Your Powerlifting Accessory Work

The powerlifts unto themselves offer a lot to be gained in the long term with proper planning and progressive overload, though when trained in isolation they can leave some stones unturned when it comes to long term development, muscular balance, and general muscularity. Not to be confused with secondary and supplementary movements such as pause squats, pin press, block pulls, etc. which are generally a derivative of the main lifts, accessory movements are generally smaller/less stressful exercises. This is due to 2 things: 1. They use inherently lighter loads that have to be used due to the nature of the exercise, 2. In the context of a powerlifting program, the goal is not to get the best barbell row (or other accessory lift), therefore it will not be as much of a focus in the program. Before we begin, let’s outline some key components as to why and if you should even bother doing lifts outside of the squat, bench, and deadlift. From a movement quality standpoint, accessory exercises will help to iron out the natural imbalances a powerlifting program will create as well as maintain joint/tendon health. This could be pulling muscles (upper back) that are not strong compared to the pressing muscles in the shoulders (chest, shoulders, etc), or strengthening the abs relative to the back. The idea behind this is preventing nagging injuries from developing in the long run is easier to do if you are proactive about it. From this point of view, I believe every powerlifter should be doing some form of “injury prevention” type accessory work. The second main appeal to accessories is...