The Litvinov Workout Revisisted

As many of you realized, yesterday’s post was an April Fool’s joke. I have never done the Litvinov workout, but neither has Litvinov. In talking with his son last year, current world-ranked hammer throw Sergej Litvinov Jr., he only heard about the workout in 2007 from another thrower that had tried it. When he explained it to his father “He laughed and said that he had never done it.” I have a lot of respect for Dan John, the person who first wrote about the Litvinov workout. But he never witnessed it first hand which makes me think the story boils down to a case of mistaken identity or a tall tale that has grown over the years. In any event, the workout is out there and a popular choice for many athletes. Just type “Litvinov Workout” into a YouTube search if you want to see some examples.

There are so many reasons why this workout is wrong. For starters, not one article I have read about the workout ever mentions what sport the workout is good for. Most describe the workout using adjectives like “cool”, “tough”, or “grueling”. But none describe it as effective because in order to determine if it is effective you have to know what sport you are trying to get better at. It may indeed break up monotony, increase mental toughness, or give you a good locker room story. But it has little relation to the hammer throw.


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11 replies
  1. Joseph Sinagoga
    Joseph Sinagoga says:

    Awesome article Martin. This mentality of one size fits all train till you puke is permeating all types of athletics here in the US.

  2. Tomsonite
    Tomsonite says:

    Thanks for clearing that up! I sensed that something wasn’t quite right when reading yesterday’s post. I remember hearing that Litvinov Jr. said his father never did anything like that. However, I have heard from a former Soviet coach who worked under Bondarchuk that he did in fact see Litvinov do that actual workout! Perhaps he only tells that to Americans because he wants the tall tale to live on…either way, a good series of posts!

  3. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Thank God. I’ve been hearing about this work out since high school and I could never make sense of it. I always wondered why and how, I’m relieved it’s not true, thanks.

  4. Dan John
    Dan John says:

    So, John Powell, former world record holder in the discus, tells me this workout. I adapt it for American football and military applications. I write about it for a bodybuilding magazine as a way to have a hard workout…and people:
    1. Tell me I made this up (Remember, John saw this…and he stands by this story as of last week)
    2. I am telling you to do this for the hammer.

    I NEVER said this was a throwing workout. Ever. Not once. Never recommended it. Never. Not one time to a thrower.

    It is great for American football as it “feels” like the game: battling close then chase. People have commented that this isn’t good for American football have not played nor coached the game (I did both…for a long time).

    I realize there is little in the throwing community about strength so maybe people gravitate towards this workout. Don’t. Olympic lift and throw. There you go, I charge $1500 for that information, by the way (or a discount when I just say “throw.”).

    Call it what you wish, it has great value for what I discussed this for…military and American football.

    Also, I did use this workout as a thrower. At age 47, I threw the two kilo discus (drug free…which is a big deal) nearly 55 meters with a bad wind. So, it has application to throws, but, well, why even try something new?

    I enjoy your site…always have. Email me sometime and we can talk about some other ideas.

    • Bosko
      Bosko says:

      Dan, in all fairness, this workout became popular because it had a name of a former world record holder in it. Therefore, if your article says that Litvinov did this workout days before his competition, you can’t be surprised if people question it. You never recommended it for throwers, but considering that you are a thrower, and the article is about a workout done by a thrower, people tend to assume things.

      Martin just called it what it is.

      I don’t doubt this workout has value in other sports, or that it helped you personally, it’s just that it was represented the wrong way.

  5. Brandon Green
    Brandon Green says:


    400 meters seems a bit far even for Gpp purposes for a field event athlete. A while back an ex USSR weightlifter of the 70’s told me that they would run up to 400 meters max in the summer but that was for primarily the light weight classes.
    Brandon Green


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] article writes that Bondarchuk stopped using squats in the 1980s. Is this really the case? Like the Litvinov workout, this is another myth about Soviet training and we discuss how he uses squats and other leg […]

  2. […] on step ups and squats, the “five elements” Charles Poloquin attributed to him, and the Litvinov workout. Some have a fraction of truth in them, but the majority is hyperbole. I am quite skeptical unless […]

  3. […] used in before or whether it will actually work for their athletes. My favorite example of this is the Litvinov Workout, a complex of heavy front squats followed by a fast 400-meter sprint named after the 1988 Olympic […]

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