Knowing When to Stop

By Phillip Wylie


I was talking to Sean and we were discussing topics for new articles. He suggested doing an article on knowing when to stop during training sessions.

While nutrition and other factors are important, training is undoubtedly the most important component of powerlifting.  It would be even ridiculous to think of going to a meet without training. No matter what program you follow, training is important.  

The saying “work smarter not harder”, a popular saying in the business world, can be applied to powerlifting or any sport. I have heard this numerous times in my life and it makes good sense. 

It is imperative that you train hard enough. After all, remember another saying tells us “you get out of it what you put into it”. While this is true, you don’t want to over do it either. This all goes back to the training smarter not harder. Max effort training days are just that: max effort. However, you have to know when to walk away and save some for the next training session. You want to make sure you get plenty time under tension and strain hard. Overdoing training sessions can have negative effects on your strength. Sometimes you have to forget about feeding you ego and do what’s best. For example, let’s say you are doing a max effort training session for the squat and you’re doing a low box squat. You are concurrently getting ready to finish the last dynamic workout before your de-load on a circa max. It’s going to take everything you have to complete the circa max session in four days. You set a PR on the box squat it was a good strain with adequate time under tension. Your training partner asks “do you want to do another one?” You’re ego says, “Yes!” Now let us take a moment to analyze the situation. You just set a PR and it wasn’t easy. You’re not sure you can do another set. Deciding to do that extra set may be detrimental to your next workout and could negatively impact you in a few different ways. First and immediate recognized affect could be if you miss on the next set, it will affect you mentally. It’s always good to finish on a positive note. The second effect could be if you didn’t fully recover by your next workout. You can see where pushing one more set under these circumstances will affect your circa max, the part of your training that is most important on meet day.   

I have witnessed and experienced the effects of not knowing when to stop. I have learned when to stop and save some for the next training session. This does not mean to take it easy and not train hard. You just have to make sure not to over do it. Just imagine a twelve week training cycle for a meet and you over do it through out the cycle. Odds are good that you will over train and on meet day feel tired, slow, and run down. How well do you think you will perform in that condition? So when you’re training think of the big picture and not just that training session. Always consider how your current training day affects other sessions. A successful training cycle is made up of many good workouts and over doing it could adversely affect your performance on the platform.  After all, that’s the only place it counts.


Phillip Wylie 08/17/04


* Sean – We really like to see our lifters PR on ME day but not at the expense of killing their training cycle.  Some of our max effort lifts can take up to 8 seconds to finish and everyone knows that person is done.  We also do not like seeing our lifters miss on ME day.  I feel this teaches you to miss on meet day.  While we do miss in training, people never get smashed. It’s usually a technique error.  Phil has led by example in our program by knowing when to stop.