What is the SRA principle and How Does it apply to Weightlifting
Updated: Jan 26
In this article, we're going to be diving into...
Estimated read time 3-6 Minutes
What is the SRA Principle?
SRA stands for Stimulus Recovery Adaption. It’s basically a fancy sports science term describing the process through which our bodies respond to training.
When we train we introduce a stimulus or stress. Our bodies then respond to this stress by making various adaptations. If our body’s respond adequately then we grow stronger and become more able to deal with the initial stress. Before I forget, you might also be interested to know that I've put together a free 40-minute training covering the other key principles involved in getting stronger and improving lifting technique, which you can check out here.
Too Much Versus Too Little Training
If you overdo training frequency, pushing SRA too far, then you will stress your body too much, potentially leading to overtraining, a lack of progress, and even becoming weaker.
If you underdo training frequency, not pushing SRA enough, then you won’t be giving your body enough stimulus in order to optimise adaption. (Too little training = too little gainz)
Make sense so far?
SRA and Movement Types
Weightlifting movements, such as the Snatch, Clean & Jerk all require very little time under tension. The average movement is executed in less than a second and we drop the bar so there is no eccentric portion of the movement. This means that the overall impact of the training is fairly light in comparison to say heavy squats or deadlifts. This means that weightlifting movements have a short SRA curve and can be trained more frequently than your strength movements.
Strength-based movements on the other hand tend to require more time under tension, they also involve larger weights, typically more repetitions, and they generally include eccentric movements. This means that Strength movements tend to have longer SRA curves and need to be trained less frequently than your olympic movements.
What Lift in Powerlifting Has the Longest SRA Curve?
The deadlift has the longest SRA curve, next up is the squat, and then the bench press.
What Lift in Weightlifting Has the Longest SRA Curve?
The clean has the longest SRA curve as it tends to be heavier than snatches.
Muscle SRA Curves
Different muscle groups have different SRA curves, which will vary by lifter. A good rule of thumb is that smaller muscles groups tend to have shorter SRA curves. So your biceps and side delts, for example, can be trained very frequently because they recover very quickly. Your quads and hamstrings on the other hand need to be trained heavy less often because they require much more time to recover.
How to Factor SRA Into Your Programme
Simply put, practice light olympic lifting frequently across your training week, but have only 2-4 heavy strength training sessions. This will allow for the development of both attributes at an optimum rate.
For example you could perform heavy olympic lifts, heavy squats and some heavy pressing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then on Tuesday and Thursday you could come into the gym and perform some light weightlifting technique work. That would mean you were completing 5 Olympic lifting sessions and 3 strength sessions. And if you're planning to incorporate bodybuilding movements on top of your weightlifting or strength work, feel free to train small muscle groups more frequently, perhaps 2-3 times per week.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is One Way You Can Violate SRA?
The most common way that people violate SRA curves is with training too heavy and too hard too often. For example, an intermediate lifter doing two or three heavy sessions back to back, when they should be spacing them out with lighter sessions in between.
What is Supercompensation?
Supercompensation is what happens across an SRA curve. Your body encounters stress, takes a temporary hit, but then recovers to a point BEYOND where it started (Hence 'super')
That's it for today. The next time you're picking a programme, consider whether it works with, or against, the SRA principle.
If you're interested in more coaching tips and information, feel free to join my mailing list. And if you're looking for a custom programme designed for you that takes SRA into account, you can have a look here.
'Til Next Time