Some Experimental Ideas and Perhaps Value in Backoffs

Written by Kevin Cann


I am writing this down to get my thoughts on paper and perhaps some reading this might have a few ideas.  The first is in terms of training mental fatigue.  I have been reading some of Noakes and Marcora’s research about a central agency responsible for fatigue.


Marcora has protocols to train this.  The idea is to raise perceived effort without changing physiological function.  These endurance athletes perform tests for 30-90 minutes that induce mental fatigue.


This is too much time. I am thinking between sets; the lifter can do a crossword puzzle or other task by themselves and without the support of the group.  I will advise the group to not cheer them on and offer them any extra support.


Frustration will rise to high levels here, so we will make sure we do something before they leave to switch them out of that negative mindset.  I am not trying to ruin anyone’s life.


I would run this like a variation for a period of time.  Remove the mental stress and perceived effort should decrease, requiring more weight to hit those perceived efforts when stressed.


We see this play out in the gym when a lifter feels a weight is heavy, but the team tells them to go up. They go up and hit the weight and it trains that perceived effort.  At the end of the day that is perhaps all that matters.


I am recruiting some members of PPS to try this out now and setting up how it is going to work. There are a few obstacles here that I need to iron out.


The second part of this comes from an article that John Flagg sent me about dart throwing between bench press sets.  Contextual Interference seems to increase learning in the bench press.


This just may be as simple as randomly switching between tasks in training as I saw in a study looking at CI on tennis players.  Here is a chance for value in backoff sets.  Perhaps if the lifter sees something breakdown in the top sets, the backoffs are something that works on that inefficiency.


This is how I do it in the gym quite a bit.  The randomly switching of tasks may have some benefit here.  After all, training is nothing more than practice to enhance a skill.

One thought on “Some Experimental Ideas and Perhaps Value in Backoffs

  1. Would you share the research sources that are the basis for this post from Noakes and Marcora, and the CI on Tennis Players? It would help give more context. I’d really like to read them and I’m interested to see what the results were before I comment further. Also, do you mean “backoffs” to be a back off in mental support from the group or a back off in the weight being moved?

    I feel your post is missing some critical information to inform those that aren’t fully immersed in the Powerlifting sphere (I am a CrossFitter, myself) and could leave out valuable perspectives from others in the industry.

    Otherwise, I’m very interested in your ideas and the basis of your training methods. I enjoy reading your posts and what I think you’re starting will benefit others.


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