Sustainable Training & Performance: Accumulation Block for Weightlifting

An accumulation block of training represents the first block of a Macrocycle. It is characterized by low training frequency, high training volume, and low specificity. In the video above, we discuss the significance of the Accumulation Block in the context of the larger Macrocycle. We also discuss the general characteristics of an Accumulation Block, and how Weightlifters, specifically, would incorporate it in their training.

(Whiteboard spell check: *derivative)

Exercise Considerations:

We recommend that an Accumulation Block for Weightlifting emphasize one-to-two Weightlifting Derivatives per workout, such as the Snatch Deadlift, Clean Deadlift, High Bar Squat, and Overhead Press. Secondary exercises ought to be one-sided, aka "unilateral". This may include 1 Arm Farmers Carries, 1 Arm Overhead Carries, 1 Leg Deadlifts, and Lunges. 

*Follow this link for an expanded list of possible exercise to be used in this block. 

Specificity during the Accumulation Block, in the context of the Macrocycle, is furthest from 1RM Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Therefore, even the Weightlifting Derivatives can be performed outside of their normal joint angles. This will allow the body to recover from the prior Peaking Block. An example would be to alter, slightly, stance width in one’s deadlifts and squats. Moreover, we’re replacing specificity with variation.

Rep and Set Considerations:

Reps in an Accumulation Block can range from 8-20. We recommend  8-12 reps for Weightlifting Derivatives, and 12-20 reps for unilateral exercises. From week to week, reps can either decrease, increase, or stay the same. If reps decrease, add 1 set per week, beginning with 2 sets per exercise. Each week, add ~5-10 lbs/2-4kg, perhaps even more for the Weightlifting Derivatives. This format works well for those who will bypass a Hypertrophy Block, and go straight to a Strength Block.

If reps increase each week, begin with a higher number of sets (~4-5) but keep the total sets the same. Each week, subtract ~5-10 lbs/2-4kg. This progression benefits those who will advance to a Hypertrophy Block. *We'll discuss factors that influence whether to advance from Accumulation to either Hypertrophy or to Strength in next week's Training video.

If the reps are kept the same across, add one set per week, starting with 2-3 sets per exercise. Each week, add ~5-10 lbs/2-4kg. 

Lastly, Weightlifting Derivatives may be split into cluster sets to avoid technique breakdown. This is an especially helpful consideration for those unaccustomed to high volume training. An example would be: Snatch/Clean Deadlift: 2 Sets x (5.5) with 30 seconds of rest between clusters.

Weight/Tempo Considerations:

To begin the cycle, we recommend that one selects a weight that’s 4-5 reps from failure. Towards the final week of the cycle, the weight should be 1-2 reps from failure. The weights in this block are light enough to allow for deliberate eccentric control, followed by explosive concentric action. This tempo will help ensure safety and offer time to focus on good technique. An example of this tempo involves squatting down with control, and standing quickly without a bounce.

Exercise Correlations:

These ratios provide the guidelines for where one stands to improve most. Consider the percentages below to be averages, and performance that follow within a range that is up to 5% lower or greater than these averages to be normal. Differences in relative limb length segments may account for this range. Performance outside of this normal range dictates the need for targeted training to strengthen exercises that are relatively weak when compared to others.

Zachary Greenwald