Specific Strength Training – Table Practice

Specific strength training is the fulcrum of this discipline, because it allows both the novice and the advanced to increase confidence with table movements, perfect them meticulously over time and naturally build the strength that underlies performance, conditioning tendons, joints and training muscle groups in very specific positions.

The “how” to do it in the most optimal and effective way still remains the subject of study, of much constant practice and experience over the years. There are various methods and schools of thought (Bulgarian, Russian, Kazakh school, etc.) and they have all proven to be equally valid in their expression, given that they have led numerous champions of their respective “schools” to achieve enormous results on a global level. But these types of methods will not be covered in this article, but I will list a whole series of tips and concepts based on my experience, which can help in practice. It will then be up to the athlete to understand them and apply them accordingly. I would like to point out again that what follows represents ‘my’ personal vision, based on the results obtained by me and the athletes I have trained, and on the training feedback with various international champions.

  • Up to 2/3 months before the competition, table training involves a reduced frequency (once a week is sufficient, doing it intensely). In this period the priority should be directed towards Direct and/or General Strength, therefore giving greater focus on improvements in exercises involving weights, pulleys, elastic bands, etc.

This step is fundamental because it provides the body with all the conditions to proceed as best as possible in the next phase; without this, constant sparring alone will not be sufficient (in most cases) to guarantee improvement, regardless of the frequency and quality of the individual training.

  • 6/7 weeks before the competition, the programming is reversed and we proceed by increasing the frequency of sparring even up to 2 or more times a week (for those who have the possibility), gradually decreasing the focus on General and Direct Strength. To many it may seem like something crazy and unthinkable, especially if we are talking about frequencies of 3/4 times a week, but once you understand how to manage everything correctly you understand well not only why it is within everyone’s reach, but also why it could be necessary to do so.

The following table is an example of how it can be useful to approach sparring in this phase:

Week Sparring 1 Sparring 2 Sparring 3
Intensity 90-100%1 60-70% 80-90%
Rready Go! Yes (with opponent) Yes (in empty or with a loop band) No
Partials2 Yes No Yes

1          the percentages expressed are general indication. During these sessions the most important thing is to know how to self-regulate and move correctly. If you feel excessive pain or realize that you cannot sustain the pace, it is better to reduce the parameters or suspend training.

2          for Partials we intend to focus on a specific muscle group/movement/technique (rise, pronation, hand, fingers, wrist, side, brachioradialis)

Everyone menages this approach subjectively.

The total volume of work dedicated to the table is pretty high, but it will serve to improve both the static strength and power and the coordination of one’s movements which we will apply in multiple contexts.

This last point is essential, because given that this discipline brings many variables into play (each opponent is different physiologically and uses a different technique), such a voluminous and frequent approach to the table allows the athlete who must compete to have a repertoire more consolidated on how to behave before, during and after the ready go!

Naturally this is just a method like many others, which despite finding positive feedback, does not necessarily mean it is the most effective choice for any type of athlete; in fact there are various athletes who prefer a periodization aimed mostly at Direct Strength rather than Specific Strength (i.e. weights, pulleys, etc.) and manage to obtain great results in the same way, therefore opting for a much lower frequency as regards Specific Strength (even reaching just once a month), but still maintaining the right training frequency in the exercises useful for progressing in one’s specific gesture.

My advice is to try, experiment and persevere by testing both approaches over time in order to understand the ideal compromise for yourself, which not only makes you improve but which guarantees continuity while reducing the risk of accidents.


The non-competitive context follows the same principles that underlie the competitive one but with different timing, priorities and resource management, assuming that the objective remains that of progressing over time.

A non-competitive “athlete” will not have a particular date on which to make the management of his training depend, and therefore the improvement process can be less invasive, more gradual and less stressful on a physical and mental level. On the one hand, this will allow you to build your performance in a more sustainable way, but the time to reach certain goals will inevitably be slower. This does not imply that the non-competitor can afford to train without following a logic and without respecting the basic principles of training, because progress always depends on the application of these last two aspects.

The biggest limit of non-competition is the difficulty in finding a valid goal to commit to. It would make little sense to evaluate an improvement based only on the kg that rise in some Direct Strength lifts, just as it would make little sense to evaluate it based on the performance demonstrated only with one’s sparring partners. Obviously this is legitimate given that many individuals find satisfaction simply by practicing the discipline itself, but here we enter into discussions that go beyond the very purpose of the article.

Those who have no interest in engaging in competitive sports should try as much as possible to have contact with athletes from other teams or anyone who is not their usual training partner. This way it will certainly be easier for them to evaluate their progress over time.

Christian Nobile

Christian Nobile

Atleta senior SBFI Allenatore di braccio di ferro Personal trainer Invictus

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