Developing maximal strength for all

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This week on Get Change we talk training. Specifically, I want to help you get as strong as possible. So, I thought I would share how I approach strength work.

First, you need to understand that tension is very important. When we manipulate sets, reps, load, all that, what we’re really doing is adjusting the dose of tension. We increase the load to raise the tension, and we add reps or sets or sessions so that we can extend the amount of time we spend under tension.

This is a great way to get strong, but it’s not the only way. When you a struggling to make progress in the gym, try adjusting tension in other ways. Try simple moving the barbell faster, for example. Make the movement much harder by just increasing the range of motion, or you can add a pause to the lift to increase the time under load.

These are effective strategies. But still, it’s not the only thing that matters in the gym. You can also get much stronger simply by spending some time on smaller accessory exercises. Pistols, rows, presses, sled dragging, you name it. These movements are not as important as squats and snatches, but they are great for building work capacity, identifying and correcting weaknesses, and maintaining balance in programming.

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That’s a recipe for strength, baby. I hope you dig the show. If you have any questions about training or what have you, leave them in the comments below.

I’ll be sure to answer.




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8 Responses to “Developing maximal strength for all”

  1. Michael

    Awesome Chris can’t wait to listen. Love your approach to strength work. Combine your strength expertise with some of doug’s mobility knowledge and there’s a killer recipe

  2. Cali

    Chris- I’m feeling nerdy so let’s do this.

    I’m curious as to whether or not you delineate between perceived effort and actual, quantifiable effort? Meaning, just because an exercise or variation “feels” harder does that necessarily imply the intended effect. In this case, strength development?

    For example- you suggest some conjugate methods to stress the system and make squats “really, really, really, hard” as you discussed. Advocating chains and band tension can be effective in making a movement difficult for sure, but they have a very specific effect beyond just “feeling hard”. You mention how it improves compensatory acceleration which is true but do you think it could also make an lifter weaker? Or slower? For the most part, your average lifter’s strength curve is going to look like – heavy at the bottom and lighter at the top where mechanical advantage increases – while it’s just the opposite for more experienced (and definitely geared) lifters. Hence the use of tension that increases towards the top of the lift (chains/bands).

    We could get real dirty with this. Time under tension causes a lot of muscle fiber trauma (which we want) due to the lengthening but if it is not performed with a dynamic concentric phase, it forms scar tissue instead of new muscle fibers. So basically, if you’re pause squatting and you’re concentric looks like .5 meters per second when it should be close to .8 – are you really getting stronger? Have you heard this argument? What do you think?

    I guess this leads me to my real point…do you think tension can inhibit strength development? And if so, how?

    • Chris

      Hi Cali,

      I personally value doing both. Sometimes things need to be very heavy, but other times it’s not appropriate or possible. For me, lifting “harder” has allowed me to build strength again and prepare myself for some true max efforts, especially in the pull.

      All of the standard benefits of chain and band apply. I use band and chain subtely. It makes things fun. It provides incentive to CAT the barbell. It does allow the lifter to rack up more lbs lifter, which is great. I just think people make to much of it. They over think it’s role, the loading %’s, all that.

      Your last question is really good. Can it limit strength? I’m sure some other ideas will come to mind, but I would start by saying unnecessary tension seems bad and dangerous. Moreover, too much in the wrong place is very bad. Could throw off your movement quite a bit. That’s what happens when raw lifters pile on band, basically.


  3. Dennis


    Hey dude, I have a question about taking time off from training and then getting back into it. For example, say you are in the middle of a strength program and you go on vacation, get sick, get injured, go on a work trip etc. and you have to pause your workouts until you get back. How do you re-enter the program? Does it matter where you are in the program? Does the length of time you had to pause working out change how you re-enter?

    Thanks for the help. Take care,


    • Chris

      I just back the weights down and resume the loading. Strength comes back very fast, you don’t have to worry about it.

  4. Shaun Boyer

    Hey man,
    So I follow the wendler strength training model as far as for the rep and weight scheme for the main lifts but try to change up the assistance exercises just to give myself variety. I want to program in some glute ham raises in place of the leg extensions that he has but I have no experince with that exercise. I was wondering if you coud give me some advice on what kind of weight and rep scheme I should use and if you think this is a good way to introduce it into my workout.

  5. Corey

    Congrats on the Spartan! I did my first 2 last November in Dallas, TX. It was mentally challenging more than anything. It was 42 degrees with gusting winds those days. so those wet obstacles really sucked!

    2 training points that helped me prepare for the Spartan Beast, outside of the normal crossfit WODs: 1) ruck sack runs. Occasionally i would run with 35 pounds in a backpack for up to 4 miles. 2) Sprinkle sets of burpees into your training runs.



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