Matt Wenning is a world-class powerlifter who needs no introduction!
Over the years I have drawn heavily from the Matt Wennnig training philosophy to produce superior results with my clients.
Matt works extensively with elite powerlifters, firefighters, combat units, and anyone else who needs to be able to perform at an extremely high level.
Matt is an absolute wealth of knowledge and I highly recommend you check out his work.
Of course, you could also stick around here for two things I learned about the Matt Wenning training program:
Lesson #1: exercise variation is critical for longevity
Matt has said that a smart man does not have just one book, he has a library of books to learn from.
Likewise a smart lifter should not have just one exercise but a library of books to draw from.
Charles Poliquin is of a similar opinion, saying that you should have a treasure trove of exercises to utilize in your training.
The principle of specificity seems to be a hot topic recently, with many individuals extolling the virtue of the Bulgarian method, the Sheiko method, and other training methodologies that utilize the competition lifts rather extensively in training.
While it is hard to argue with the success that athletes have had with such programs, Matt brings up a very important point: the strength athletes who have the most longevity tend to be the ones who vary their exercises the most.
On the other hand, those who draw from a more narrow selection of exercises tend to have somewhat shorter careers.
Of course the principle of specificity exists on a continuum.
If you want to improve your deadlift, at some point you are going to have to deadlift.
But there are many ways to manipulate an exercise to vary the form and point of overload.
You can perform sumo, conventional, or snatch grip deadlifts. You can deadlift from the ground, standing on a podium, or from blocks.
You can alter the strength curve using chains or bands.
Changing the method or mode of contraction would be another possibility – isometric deadlifts come to mind as a great plateau buster.
There are many ways to skin a cat with regards to exercise selection, but one thing is for certain: if you want to stay in the iron game for a long time, exercise variation is your friend. As they say, he who lifts the longest gets the strongest.
Lesson #2: warming up with circuit training
The Matt Wenning training program utilizes a very specific means of warming up for his workouts that I have found quite useful.
Matt performs a circuit consisting of four exercises back to back with each exercise performed for four sets of twenty-five reps. These sets are rather light and are not intended to significantly fatigue the athlete.
The exercises are chosen based on the lifts that will be performed on that day; for example, a warm up for a bench press session may include triceps extensions and lat pull downs, while a warm up for a squat/deadlift day may include reverse hypers and belt squats.
This type of warm up accomplishes two things: it potentiates the muscles that you will be working that day, and provides a slight conditioning effect for the athlete.
Matt has spoken at length how this type of warm up has improved his muscle mass and conditioning level.
In fact, Matt has gone so far as to suggest he can bench press 315 lbs for a set of 20 reps, rest three minutes, and then bench press 600 lbs for a single.
Of course, Matt has spent a very long time building up to his current conditioning level.
More dopamine-dominant lifters may find that performing slightly lower reps during the warm ups (such as sets of 8) to be more beneficial than the sets of 25 reps that Matt personally uses. Nonetheless, I have found this to be an invaluable tip.
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