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        FITNESS TIP FOR 10/1/2002    

Work Ethic Versus Performance Ethic: 
Why "Fatigue-Seeking" Is The Enemy of Progress!
By Charles Staley 

I'm about to challenge one of your most deeply-held beliefs about training 
with weights. The paradigm in question is so widely accepted that for most 
it is considered a simple fact of life. You might not even realize that you're 
a believer, but it's highly likely that you are.

As a way of presenting my argument, let me first draw a few parallels 
between two hypothetical training scenarios- the first is highly unlikely, 
the second is ubiquitous and all-too familiar. Both, however, are equally 

Scenario One

You're trying to get in a decent  workout, but you're finding yourself 
increasingly annoyed by a Body Pump class in the aerobics room on the 
other side of the glass wall. Over the course of an hour, the participants 
are looking sloppier and sloppier. "What's the point?" you wonder,
watching the class going from crisp to wilted over the course of the 
sweat-fest. "They'll never grow any muscle doing that sloppercize 

Scenario Two

The next week, you're back in the gym performing a set of squats to failure. 
You reason to yourself that only an all-out assault on the bar will result in 
progress- no pain, no gain as they say. So you unrack the bar, step back to 
clear the rack, and go to war. The first 4 or 5 reps are pretty solid, but after 
that, you begin to slow down. Nevertheless, you manage to complete 12 
reps. This is a personal record for you, but no need for congratulation: rep 
by rep, your fatigue levels escalate. And the more you fatigue, the less 
force you exert on the bar. The less force you exert, the less your training 
targets the fast twitch fibers and the more it targets the slow twitch fibers. 

Oh, by the way- fast twitch fibers are so-named because they make you fast, 
while slow twitch fiber development slows you down. Now, what did you 
say your reason for strength training was??!!

OK, look- if you're feeling somewhat discouraged by the sudden realization 
that all the weight training you've done (for who knows how many years) is 
ineffective, take heart- you're not alone! Based on my experiences 
consulting with athletes for the past 20 years, I'd estimate that well over 
99% of those who train with weights subscribe to the erroneous notion 
that the primary goal of training is to achieve a high level of fatigue. 

If you're looking for membership in the 1% club, it's time for a paradigm 
shift. Here it is:

The effectiveness of training is not determined by the amount of fatigue it 
produces; but rather, by the degree to which it improves the skill or 
quality which is being trained.

In strength training (as in most other pursuits), the "quality" of a training 
session is defined and measured by how closely it approximates your 
maximum capabilities. For example, if an athlete can perform a power 
clean with 275 pounds for one rep and not two, this is called "1RM," or 
"single repetition maximum." This is your 100% quality benchmark for 
that exercise. In a strength training session, the closer you are to your 
1RM, the higher the quality of that session. In another example, if your 
1RM is 300 pounds and during a workout you lift 234 pounds, then you 
are training at 80% of 1RM, regardless of how many sets and reps you 
perform with that weight. Paradoxically, even a single repetition with 
275 pounds is higher quality than an all-out set of 12 reps with 270 
pounds, although the 12 reps will certainly result in greater fatigue.

Don't miss the point however: a certain amount of quantity is indeed 
necessary to achieve a good training effect. What we're suggesting is 
that quality should never be sacrificed for the sake of quantity. This 
certainly shouldn't be a foreign concept- how many times have you 
heard "Practice doesn't make perfect....perfect practice makes 
perfect." ? All we're doing is applying the same principle to strength 

To be continued.

Coach Staley has released a new book "Physically Incorrect". If your 
training efforts aren't paying off, it's NOT your fault! Let Charles be 
YOUR coach through the pages of this unique strategy manual! 

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