Strength has long been a cornerstone of Alliances’s physical training program. We have for a number of years had strength programmed into our weekly training template twice a week. Over the years we have utilized many different methods for our strength training, all of which, have proven to be successful in building strength. Although these methods have been varied ,the principles behind these methods have remained the same. each time we utilize a new method the goal is to make the training as safe, effective, and efficient as possible. I want to introduce a new approach to strength training that is a combination of some of our old proven methods combined with some new things we have been experimenting with. We are calling this new method, “Master Strength”.
So, what is Master Strength and why the name? First, we chose the word Master to symbolize the approach to mastery of the movements and tools used in this system. Of course, we encourage you to take this approach and apply it to all your movement. One particular method that gives us a chance to work on mastering the movement is Super Slow. Moving slow gives you an opportunity to increase your awareness of body position, movement, and possible compensation patterns. Moving slow also gives you the opportunity to make corrections to those movements if needed. The focus with slow movement is very intrinsic. You must focus on feeling the movement. As I have joked about before, it doesn’t necessarily look impressive on Instagram or Facebook. With some of our training we use work capacity to measure our improvement in strength or conditioning. For example, if you perform a workout where you do 5 pullups, 10 pushups, and 15 squats for as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes, you are measuring the amount of physical work you can do with those exercises in that time frame. If your strength and/or conditioning improves you should be able to perform more rounds of these movements in the same time period. With slow movement the the total work appears to be less and work capacity, as a measure, is not as effective. With slow movement the stimulus for strength gains is created through muscular fatigue or strength inroads. It is important to understand that the fatigue is actually what you are seeking. Purposefully going into fatigue is against human nature but it is also what stimulates the positive adaptation of increased strength. It requires mental discipline to go towards fatigue. This is partly why I say it is more intrinsic. You cant see it from the outside but you can feel it on the inside. The slow method can also be used to train the mind and spirit. We have often used crucible training focused on pushing beyond our perceived work capacity limits. We have also used high intensity workouts to to push beyond our comfort zones to train the mind. Slow training to deep levels of muscle fatigue is another method where we can do the same. It takes a great deal of focus and mental discipline to push to true muscular exhaustion and failure especially while maintaining correct form.
The second reason for calling this method of strength training “master strength” is that it is suited for those of us who may have a few extra miles on the body. The “Master Strength” program is a form of high intensity exercise but does not place excessive low and stress on the joints.
It is important to understand that to develop strength, it is not a necessity to demonstrate that strength in every workout. I have written about “what is strength” in the past. We can choose the basic exercises such as squat, bench, and deadlift to measure strength by testing a one rep max but we can also use other methods. Strength can be very specific and although testing a one rep max is a great way test and demonstrate strength, it is not the only method. Although it has not always been my view, I now view strength in general to be the capacity to create tension. If you think in these same terms you can then determine what strength means to you.
In general, the “Master Strength program will involve several key components.
1. Slow movement- to improve movement capability and to stimulate gain in muscle strength and hypertrophy by taking the muscle to momentary muscular fatigue and thorough inroad safely and efficiently.
2. Eccentric work- using slow eccentric work to more thoroughly inroad muscles after pre fatiguing with slow concentric work. Again this allows us to exhaust the muscles without undue stress on the joints.
3. Partial range and isometric work- this allows us to load the muscle and bones with more load but it is done where the joints are in an advantageous position so again we increase safety.
4. Speed work- we will still incorporate movement with more speed but this will be done in a fatigued state where the capacity to produce high forces is reduced.
5. Functional training- sled work, rope pulls, carries, and other loaded carries- again we are able to load the structure in very functional exercises that we can push the intensity and level of exhaustion on but remain safe due to the minimal Weight bearing (spinal load), Eccentric, and Skill involved.