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I have argued in favor of hybrid training for improving performance in powerlifting during the past two years. There is no published scientific evidence for that. Actually, there is very little published scientific evidence for any given training method or protocol for powerlifting. The reasons for this go beyond disinterest from the scientific community. Actually, we may have unavoidable methodological issues involved in it. One of them is common to all elite athletics: elite athletes are, by definition, exceptional. Only they’re not exceptional in the same variables, which makes any statistician crazy. You may find yourself calculating the average of a certain indicator in a group of 7 or 8 where the standard deviation simply suggests you throw the observation on the trash can. Maximum effort makes everything worse, “neural” aspects complicate it to the cube.
As some very wise coaches claim, all methods work and most may not work for you –one will. Or a combination of, who knows?
A lot of (very wise and reasonable ) people criticize using Olympic WL for powerlifting performance – I don’t and I use it. I have recently observed a lifter who, for 10 years, was an average good lifter but became an outstanding one when he gave up powerlifting for two years due to an overload of disappointments. He trained and competed in Strongman, in which he could never match the stars: he is too short. When he lifted again in powerlifting, he was the star – international level numbers.
I’ve been training Olympic WL for two years. And for two years I’ve been accumulating world records in powerlifting, including an all time WR (squat). Does that prove Olympic WL did the trick? That it is the magic bullet to make a world champion?
To claim that would be methodologically unsound. Many other variables could have contributed: I bought my own equipment and started training alone at the same time. Maybe that works for me, who knows? I’m weird. I also started competing only outside the country I live, knowing very little people around at the meet. Maybe that’s what matters. Again, who knows?
We can’t even say that, if it didn’t help, WL didn’t spoil my preparation. Well, it might, mightn’t it? We can’t go back in time and change those variables.
If I were to bet – and betting is not scientific at all – I’d say it did contribute a lot, for many reasons: one, WL seems to “save” overtraining. It provides intense power stimulus without maxing out in static strength. Two, it’s been known that power transfers back to maximum effort performance. One can argue that not at that level of intensity, but, again, there’s no evidence for that. Three, it might not be a coincidence that my performance improved at the same time I started WLifting.
The truth is: I LOVE weightlifting. I’m not good at it. I’m a pretty good powerlifter and a mediocre weightlifter. Having started WL at my age, I will never be an excellent, world level weightlifter. But I have so much fun doing it that I am not willing to give it up, even if someone whose opinion I respect like the bible says so.
I practice WL at a very special place. It is a crossfit facility owned by one of my best friends, Joel. We train together. We laugh and we have fun. But we lift seriously. As serious as any serious thing in life.
So maybe, just maybe, the fun part is the trick. Fun, happiness and love for what you do may “transfer” almost as much or more than some magical accessory exercise.