Working Hard or Hardly Working?

In lieu of the most recent GRC Dog Talk podcast episode, we talked a ton about weight pull and the training that would be ideal to get you and your dog prepared for the competition scene. You’ve all heard my speech about how jumping straight to wheeled implements isn’t ideal training, but there is another noteworthy distinction that we should address….. there is a difference between competition and max effort. When I talk about max effort, I am speaking in terms of heavy weight. When thinking about max effort and competition preparation—— understand one thing…. the weights are still the same, they don’t change; regardless if you are training max effort or preparing for competition. The difference lies in the “picture” the dog is shown. If you’ve been a follower of the blog, I recently wrote about the idea that successful training and the best preparation for max effort is just below that, or submaximal. Please note I stated, max effort…. I didn’t say competition, because again— you can do max effort work without ever stepping into the chute. People can squat heavy, and never enter a meet. It doesn’t mean their training is less than, it doesn’t mean that is isn’t max effort work. Those aren’t just my thoughts and opinions. There is logical explanations and rationales for the idea that much of your training time should be aimed at submaximal work, instead of each session being focused solely on how much the dog can pull with each repetition. Prilipen’s chart, which is a common guide used to direct percentage based training in the world of human powerlifting, has had much success in helping achieve success in reaching personal bests and records. It’s worth understanding when training for max effort.

Now, to kick this off, we need to address the basic differences between the idea of maximum effort AND competition. Many people are under the impression that you need to have access to competitive weight pull, or weight pull carts in order to do true max effort; that in incorrect. First and foremost, the perceived resistance changes drastically when you put a cart on wheels and load it with weight versus doing much of the max effort work with sleds. But secondly, I can go outside, by myself, and do max effort work without a cart on wheels, without a chute, and without a social group or connection. I get it, it might not be as fun for you, but the work happens and training still occurs. The value in competition is the social connectedness, the interactions and exposure….but that has no proven benefit to help a dog reach his or her maximum potential in regards to weight. I will even go as far to say that you don’t need to compete but a few times a year to establish different working numbers that will guide your submaximal training!

You see, max effort is not defined by “how hard the dog is working or putting in effort”, but rather the maximum effort the dog is capable of, given his or her genetic potential.  Even with good structured training, true max effort or genetic potential can’t be truly seen for years to come- so again, don’t be in any sort of rush. Understanding that there IS a difference between max effort and the idea of competition is key. Preparing for competition is very specific, and it is different than preparing to do max effort. Dogs who are doing max effort work DON’T need to compete, and the dogs who compete should be doing a program focusing on max effort to better their success on the track.

Keep an eye out for the next CRT program that focuses on both max effort work and competition preparedness.

Ashley Sculac