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Lessons from Chad Wesley Smith

Sandeep and I attended an all day powerlifting clinic by Chad Wesley Smith of Juggernaut Training Systems today. Below are some of my notes from his presentation and advice between lifts. Its important to keep in mind that these are points that can easily be taken out of context or misinterpreted, and that the below information is purely my personal interpretation of some of the larger concepts that coach Chad touched upon. There was probably a whole lot more that preceded or followed most points, and the Juggernaut website is a great place to go to if you’re looking to fill in the missing links.

A post shared by Strength System (@strength_system) on Feb 8, 2015 at 2:41pm PST

  1. Chad does/did a lot of volume work to get his muscles big. Mass moves mass.

  2. Determine where you are on the pyramid of strength. The lesser experienced you are, the more you are going to benefit from general training for longer. The more experienced and advanced you are, especially if you compete, the more specific your training needs to be.

  3. Build that upper back. Do a lot of pulls – horizontal and vertical. If your scapulae don’t move on the pulling movements, they don’t count.

  4. Accessory lifts should be aimed at fixing weaknesses. Don’t try to PR on your accessory lifts. Work at an RPE of 8, and always have one more left in the tank. If you can’t justify why you’re doing a particular accessory move, you shouldn’t be doing it.

  5. Make all your lifts. Do submaximal lifts and gain confidence under the bar.

  6. When setting up for a lift, think about pushing your obliques out, by breathing through 360 degrees. Setting up for a lift should be uncomfortable. “Your head should pop off or you should poop your pants.”

  7. Lesser experienced lifters should train at higher intensities more often. This is because a beginner’s highest intensity is still not high enough in an absolute context and the goal here is to gain more experience with high intensity training. New lifters can also get away with higher intensity training because recovering from a 400 pound lift will always be easier than recovering from a 900-pound lift.

  8. Its always better to deload before you know that you need it. Either reduce intensity by 60% and keep volume where it is or vice versa. If you’re feeling too beat up, reduce both by 60%. Do not sit on your ass. Do not introduce any new stimuli (New exercises, for example).

  9. Early specialisation of youth athletics is an epidemic and should not be encouraged.

  10. Think of the deadlift as a vertical jump. Push off the floor and jump up and back. Maintain lat tension throughout – “protect your armpits”.

  11. Good technique allows you to express strength the best.

  12. If your deadlifts fail because of poor grip strength, hold every last rep of every set at the top for 10 seconds. Load 50% of 1RM and do timed holds for 20 – 30 seconds.

  13. Be process-oriented instead of focusing on long-term goals. Enjoy the process.


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