The strength–endurance phase is characterized by a high volume of repetitions (usually 8–12) in exercises that use moderately heavy loads (∼55–75% 1RM) (86). The goals of this training phase are to increase the athlete's overall work capacity and to stimulate increases in muscle cross-sectional area. According to Minetti (67) and Zamparo et al. (112), the strength–endurance phase serves as a building block for subsequent resistance training phases. Specifically, the strength–endurance phase will enhance the athlete's force production (both magnitude and rate) characteristics in subsequent training phases (22,23,85). In addition, the technique learned during the strength–endurance phase is likely to carry over into later training phases. Thus, it is important to implement exercises that serve as a foundation for future exercise progressions.
Although foundational exercises such as squatting, pressing, and pulling variations are typically implemented, only one article has discussed the use of weightlifting derivatives within a strength–endurance phase (75). Scala et al. (75) indicated that implementing exercises, including weightlifting pulling derivatives (i.e., clean/snatch pull from floor, thigh, and knee and clean/snatch grip shoulder shrugs), that recruit large amounts of muscle mass during a high volume strength–endurance phase may result in positive adaptations in aerobic power and body composition, but would also meet many basic requirements for the preparation of strength–power athletes. Based on these findings and the goals of a strength–endurance phase, the weightlifting derivatives recommended for this phase are the clean/snatch pull from the floor (27,39,110), pull to the knee (28), and clean/snatch grip shoulder shrug. The rationale for the inclusion of these exercises is multifaceted. First, each derivative serves as a foundational exercise that enables the progression to more complex weightlifting movements. Without the ability to complete the above exercises, the technique of more complex derivatives may not be completed efficiently, potentially impacting the stimulus of the exercise. Second, the clean/snatch pull from the floor enables athletes to overload the triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles without experiencing the additional stress and complexity of catching the load during every repetition as fatigue develops. Although the catch phase of certain weightlifting derivatives may enable the athlete to develop additional characteristics (e.g., improvement in skeletal and soft tissue characteristics (50,91), positional strength, external load acceptance, etc.), the high volume of repetitions experienced during the strength–endurance phase may lead to a deterioration in form due to acute fatigue. Moreover, this decline in technique could alter catch phase mechanics and thus increase the likelihood of injury or compression stress. Although declines in technique during weightlifting catching derivatives may be attenuated by using various cluster set configurations with higher repetitions (46), previous literature indicated that may be necessary to reduce the number of collisions with the bar, especially during heavy clean and jerks, to limit potential overuse injuries (82). Finally, the suggested derivatives enable the development of important lower- and upper-body musculature that will be used to enhance the force–velocity profile during later training phases in tandem with core exercises such as squatting, pressing, and pulling movements. An example strength–endurance training block is displayed in Table 1.
It should be noted that the athletic population may dictate which weightlifting movements are prescribed in a strength–endurance training block. For example, the clean/snatch pull from the floor may only be incorporated with an advanced athletic population whose movement mechanics are more stable and resilient to fatigue. As mentioned above, because of the high volume of repetitions within each exercise set, practitioners may consider prescribing cluster sets (i.e., exercise set split into smaller sets of repetitions separated by rest intervals) of either 2–5 repetitions for the clean/snatch pull from the floor (e.g., 10 total repetitions = 5 repetitions → 30-second rest → 5 repetitions). Through the use of cluster sets, athletes may maintain their technique, force, and power output in subsequent training phases that use heavier loads (39,46,47). This may also lead to high-quality work, enhanced work capacity, and force production adaptations with a high volume of repetitions (107). Moreover, the interrepetition rest period also provides the coach with the opportunity to provide additional feedback to the athlete.
Adaptations produced from the strength–endurance phase of training may enhance an athlete's ability to gain maximal strength (67,112). The primary goal of the maximal strength phase is to increase the athlete's force production capacity (5,89) using repetition schemes that include about 4–6 repetitions and moderately heavy loads (usually 80–90% 1RM, although potentially slightly higher with the pulling derivatives). Based on the goals of the maximal strength phase, practitioners may shift their focus to exercises that emphasize force production. From a biomechanical standpoint, the amount of force that must be applied to achieve the maximum potential movement velocity will be maximized by performing weightlifting movements that allow the heaviest loads to be used. With this in mind, a limitation to weightlifting catching derivatives is that the athlete cannot use loads greater than their 1RM. However, this is not the case for weightlifting pulling derivatives. The clean/snatch pull from the floor (27,39,110), clean/snatch pull from the knee (29), and the clean/snatch midthigh pull (14,16,26,55) all allow for loads greater than the athlete's 1RM to be used due to a decreased displacement of the load and the elimination of the catch phase. Ultimately, the use of heavier loads will emphasize force production and train the high force end of the force–velocity curve (Figure 1). Examples of maximal strength and transition training blocks are displayed in Tables 2 and 3, respectively.
Although the maximal strength training block typically aims to increase the athlete's general strength characteristics during moderate repetition schemes (i.e., 4–6), the goals of an absolute strength training block are to improve the athlete's low repetition (i.e., 2–3) force production (both magnitude and rate) characteristics using near maximal loads (usually 90–95% 1RM, although this can increase to 120–140% 1RM with the pulling derivatives). As new force production demands are placed on the athlete, additional weightlifting derivatives may be prescribed to meet the training goals of the absolute strength resistance training phase. Weightlifting derivatives featured in the previous resistance training phase, including the clean/snatch pull from the floor, clean/snatch pull from the knee, and midthigh pull, will carry over into the absolute strength resistance training phase. Although these derivatives enable the athlete to retain their capacity for high force production, additional weightlifting derivatives that include a higher velocity may be prescribed during warm-up and warm-down sets and on training days where relative intensities are prescribed to lower the volume–load, while introducing or retaining a speed–strength characteristic. These might include the hang power clean/snatch (93), power clean/snatch, countermovement shrug (25), countermovement clean/snatch, midthigh clean/snatch (11,12,15), and the full clean and snatch. The combination of heavy and moderate loads that enable a higher velocity also enables the athlete to train the high force side in addition to aspects of the high velocity side. This is important during the absolute strength phase as it enables the athlete to improve their force–velocity profile. These adaptations will ultimately contribute to the athlete's ability to further develop impulse, RFD, and power characteristics (3). An absolute strength training block example is displayed in Table 4.
The primary goals of the strength–speed training phase are to further increase RFD and power, while also maintaining or potentially increasing strength levels. Practitioners should note the importance of maintaining or continuing to develop maximal strength during the strength–speed phase due to its influence on an athlete's sport performance and their fitness characteristics including both RFD and power (100). Because previous literature has indicated that RFD and power are 2 of the most important characteristics regarding an athlete's performance (4,69,83), it is important to prepare the athlete to maximize these adaptations using the previously discussed training phases (22,23). Based on the phasic progression of resistance training phases, increases in muscular strength (100) and RFD (3) from the previous training phases should, in theory, enhance the athlete's ability to augment their power characteristics.
Regarding the programming of weightlifting derivatives during the strength–speed phase, the enhancement of RFD and power characteristics may be achieved through the combination of heavy and light loads. However, the emphasis within this phase of training is to move relatively heavy loads quickly to enhance RFD characteristics (21). Using the derivatives displayed in Figure 1, the midthigh clean/snatch (11,12,15), countermovement clean/snatch (93), and power clean/snatch from the knee (15,98) may be used to develop the high velocity portion of the force–velocity curve, whereas the power clean (13,19), clean and snatch pull from the floor (27), clean and snatch pull from the knee (29), and midthigh pull (26) may develop the high force end of the force–velocity curve.
Explosive strength may be defined as the force development characteristics within the first 0–250 milliseconds of the concentric phase of a movement (1,65). The purpose of a speed–strength resistance training phase is to produce peak adaptations in RFD and power before competition. The adaptations and alterations in task specificity in the previous training phases enable athletes to progress in a desirable fashion to increase their speed–strength (i.e., explosiveness) (5,89,90). Specifically, increases in rate coding due to increased myelination, dendritic branching, and doublets (30,108) may have resulted because of the exposure of heavier loads in the maximal strength, absolute strength, and strength–speed training phases. Additional adaptations in neural drive (40,42,70), inter- and possibly intra-muscular coordination (9,41,43,74), and motor unit synchronization (76,77) may also aid in the development of explosive force–time characteristics.
Optimal adaptations in RFD and power may be achieved by implementing a wide variety of the previously described weightlifting derivatives. Many of the previously described weightlifting derivatives may be prescribed during the speed–strength resistance training phase. However, the speed at which the movement is performed, and therefore the load, must be considered. The jump shrug (97) and hang high pull (96) are 2 of the most ballistic weightlifting derivatives that may be highlighted in a speed–strength training phase (95). Similar to the strength–speed phase, a combination of heavy and light loaded derivatives should be implemented to optimize RFD and power adaptations. Practitioners may consider implementing the combination of the midthigh pull or clean/snatch pull from the floor and the jump shrug and hang high pull to focus training on each extreme of the force–velocity curve (Figure 1). In addition, the combination of the above exercises enables the athlete to simulate overcoming the inertia of the external load from a static start (e.g., midthigh pull) and using the stretch-shortening cycle (e.g., jump shrug). This combination will ultimately place varying neurological demands on the athlete, allowing them to optimize impulse, RFD, and power characteristics.
Practitioners must also consider the loads implemented with each exercise within the speed–strength phase. To optimize power adaptations, it has been suggested that athletes should train at the load that maximizes power output, the “optimal load” (54,111). Research has indicated that loads of approximately 70–80% 1RM may provide the optimal load for weightlifting catching derivatives such as the power clean (13,18,19,78) and hang power clean (53,57,78). However, several of these studies indicated that there were no statistical differences in power output between loads ranging from 50 to 90% 1RM (13,18,19,53,57). Research investigating the optimal load for weightlifting pulling derivatives is limited because of the lack of criteria that indicates a successful repetition (100). However, several studies have suggested that lighter loads (i.e., 30–45% 1RM hang power clean) may optimize training stimuli for the jump shrug (60,92,102–105) and hang high pull (94,102,104). Similarly, Comfort et al. (14,16) indicated that during midthigh clean pulls, loads ranging from 40 to 60% of power clean 1RM maximized power, similar to the findings of Kawamori et al. (55). Additional literature has indicated that loads ranging 90–110% of the individual's 1RM power clean (39) or full clean/snatch (33–35,73) may produce the optimal training stimulus for velocity and power adaptations during the clean/snatch pull from the floor. Practitioners should however consider that the optimal load for power production may be specific to the joint, athlete plus load system, or the bar (66), may be altered based on the relative strength of the athlete (87), and may be impacted by movement pattern and the fatigue status of the athlete (54). Although optimal loading studies may provide practitioners with a baseline for load prescription, it is suggested that a range of loads should be prescribed to train various aspects of an athlete's force–velocity profile (38). Support for this contention comes from a recent meta-analysis that displayed that optimal loading zones existed for a variety of lower-body exercises (78). An example of a strength–speed and speed–strength training block is displayed in Table 5.
Two methods of load prescription can be used when implementing the weightlifting derivatives discussed in the previous paragraphs. Traditionally, loads for weightlifting derivatives may be prescribed based off of the 1RM of each exercise. Although this may still hold true for weightlifting catch derivatives, there are no criteria describing what constitutes a successful 1RM attempt during weightlifting pulling derivatives (100). Thus, practitioners are left prescribing the loads for weightlifting pulling derivatives based on a 1RM of a weightlifting catching derivative. The vast majority of literature that has examined weightlifting derivatives used a percentage of a 1RM completed with a catching derivative (11–14,16,19,37,39,45–47,53,55,57–62,79,80,92–94,102–105,110). Although this method may work for some practitioners, others may discourage the practice of 1RM tests, which may make it difficult to prescribe loads for pulling derivatives.
Another alternative to prescribing loads for weightlifting movements, which is highlighted in Tables 1–5, is the use of a method termed set–rep best (23,86). As mentioned above, the set–rep best method of load prescription is based on the loads that may be completed during specific set and repetition schemes in training. For example, an individual may complete a heavy resistance training block with a set and repetition scheme of 3 sets of 3 repetitions. In this scenario, the relative intensity percentage is based off of the 3RM for each individual exercise. Based on the load(s) completed during training, one may estimate the 1RM of the individual, but may also estimate loads that may be used during other repetition schemes. Advantages to this method of load prescription are that the athletes do not have to perform a 1RM test and that this method can be used with any exercise.
Certain weightlifting derivatives may be performed using weightlifting training blocks or squat rack safety bars (e.g., midthigh pull, clean/snatch pull from the knee, and clean/snatch from the knee). It should be noted that the use of certain variations may place different demands on the athlete. For example, a weightlifting derivative performed using a static start from either the blocks, safety bars, or even when held stationary at a specific position (e.g., midthigh or knee) may require a greater RFD compared with a dynamic start because the athlete would have to overcome the inertia of the training load from a dead-stop position, as previously observed (11,12). Although a dynamic variation will still require a large RFD, as is characteristic of all weightlifting derivatives, the athlete will already have developed a given amount of force. Practitioners should consider the differences between static and dynamic weightlifting variations as different demands will be required of the athletes performing the exercises.
Weightlifting movements and their derivatives may be programmed throughout the training year to fully develop and improve the athlete's force–velocity profile. Practitioners should consider the prescription of specific weightlifting derivatives during certain training phases based on their biomechanical and physiological characteristics. A combination of weightlifting catching and pulling derivatives may be used to develop the athlete's force–velocity profile. A sequenced approach should be taken when prescribing weightlifting derivatives to meet the goals of each training phase.
The authors thank Dr. Brad DeWeese for his insight regarding the programming of weightlifting derivatives in resistance training programs.
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