Resistance and Technique


To make myself stronger, I use resistance between the minimum that forces the correct technique and the maximal training resistance (MTR)—the greatest resistance that can be overcome without a strong effort of will and emotional stress.

Exceeding the MTR, except for a well-justified test, is about vanity, showing off—it doesn’t perfect technique (it leads to blank spots in your mental image of the movement), is less effective for building strength than working at or below the MTR (due to excessive compensations), and is needlessly risky (too close to the limits of control).

Correct technique is that which permits safe—that is, stable and controlled (it doesn’t mean slow!)—movement; it is the basis for steady, significant progress.

Incorrect technique is that which may succeed initially but fairly quickly, even within a few workouts, leads to a plateau in strength gains or even an injury.

Optimal training resistance is between the maximum at which one can perform the technique perfectly and the MTR.

Here are the resistance “points” I use routinely in training, from the lowest to the highest:

1. Minimum that forces the correct technique (MinRCT).

2. Maximum that permits the correct technique (MaxRCT).

3. Maximum training resistance (MTR). Occasional minor deviations from the correct technique may be okay. People who do resistance training know why.

Those are on a continuum, and with subsequent repetitions the same resistance may move to a higher point, say from MinRCT to MaxRCT, and then to MTR.

These guidelines apply to all kinds of strength training: general, directed, and sport-specific (for definitions and explanations, see Science of Sports Training).

Science of Sports Training, 2nd edition, by Thomas Kurz

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

Secrets of Stretching: Exercises for the Lower Body by Thomas Kurz

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5 Responses to “Resistance and Technique”

  1. 1 aaron hall

    This is the Secret to long and Healthy Strength Training. Even many Bodybuilders have looked back at their careers and stated they wished they had lifted less Weight, in the 10-12 Range, rather than pushing for the very heavy poundages in the 6-8 rep range. Theres no hard evidence from what I know to suggest heavy resistance training damages the joints. However I know many Powerlifters and men who lifted heavy in theirs youths who now in the 50- 60 age range seem to have very bad joints. Whether this is down to bad form or a wear down in the joints is unknown. I think the 10 -12 Rep range, a weight about 60percent of ones 1rep max is the best, for safe and progressing gains.

  2. One can exceed MaxRCT and eventually MTR at any repetition range, be it 12 or 100. Pay attention to what I wrote, “with subsequent repetitions the same resistance may move to a higher point.”

  3. 3 aaron hall

    Whats the point in doin that? Thats like trying to rollerskate up hill.

  4. I like the connection between quality of movement and maximal training resistance. I use the definition “optimal” to describe the minimum load that elicits a meaningful training effect, and therefore allows the athlete to do their sport.
    We simply do not have the capacity to train at max all the time.

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