Training, Fast and Slow

Earlier this month I wrote about how the universality of fartleks. The concept comes from the world or running, but I outlined how one could implement such speed play in throwing. This isn’t just a concept that sounds fun and cool; it also has some science to back it up and can be applied in preparation for any number of sports. Read more

What is Robust Running?

Robustness is a term that gets thrown around a lot lately, but few people take a step back to look at what the term actually means. Robustness is more than just having the strength to endure more pressure; it is about being able to endure different pressures. Or, to quote the experts, the ability of a system to tolerate perturbations. We are happy to announce that our latest eCourse in the HMMR Media Classroom focuses on the topic. In it, John Pryor provides a practical guide to develop robust running skills. Read more

How Your Emotional State Can Be More Powerful Than Your Rep Scheme

Next month I will be hosting a seminar in London with John Kiely on periodisation and planning. The key theme underlying the seminar is that current periodisation models are based on outdated or nonexistant science. The scientific understanding of stress and adaptation, for example, have changed a lot the past century, but periodisation has not changed with them. In our seminar we will discuss this new understanding, what it means to coaches, and how it affects the planning process with examples of effective solutions. Read more

Fartlek Throwing

Typically distance runners have trained via two methods: either putting in the miles or running fast intervals. But, back in the 1930s, Swedish coach Gösta Holmér developed a new method called fartlek training that combined the two. The fartlek – Swedish for speed play – simply combined periods of fast running mixed with periods of slower running. It proved to be a quick success. Read more

3 Keys to Winning Forever

Pete Carroll is a divisive figure. He stands there on the sidelines with a cheek of chewing gum, dad shoes, and a big smile on his face. Fans find his happy-go-lucky persona either endearing or grating. But no matter what camp you are in, you cannot deny the sustained success he has had at both the collegiate and professional level. As head coach at the University of Southern California he rebuilt a winning tradition, leading the team to two national championships and a record seven straight BCS bowl games. Since 2010 he has been with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks where they have now won three NFC West Championships in four years, been to two Super Bowls, and won one. Read more

The Role of Specific Strength Exercises in Team Sports

A question that comes up nearly every time I present on specific strength exercises is whether such work in the weight room is really necessary for team sports. Athletes from these sports spend large quantities of time on the field and little time training off of it. As a result many strength coaches feel a need to balance out their training and focus only on general exercises once the athletes enter the weight room. I must admit, it is a great question. In fact, I’ve been pondering it for a few months now. Read more

Where is Periodization Headed?

Modern sport has changed drastically over the past several decades. More money has entered sports, seasons have gotten longer, travel demands have increased, along with many other changes. The result is that we are no longer training towards the same goals that we once were. Our periodization models, however, have not always adapted to keep up with the current reality. Read more

Dealing With the Downsides of the Information Age

Over on the GAINcast we are in the middle of a three-part series of interviews that Vern did with staff members at the US Ski and Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence. Throughout the course of the interviews one recurring theme has emerged: the use data in sport. We are in the information age, and many coaches spend as much time with information as they do with athletes. But despite being with different teams and working in different roles, the staff all saw this as one of the most important issues they confront daily. To put it simply, we are not always getting much in return for the time we spend with information. The final interview will be up in two weeks, but in it Troy Taylor summarized the issue well: Read more

4 Things I Learned From Frans Bosch

Dutch coach Frans Bosch started quite the conversation last year when he released the English edition of his book Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach. A look at how training methods have evolved over the last century shows a clear trend towards more specific training means. But so far there has yet to a clear look at comprehensive look at the topic in detail. Bondarchuk has written in detail about the connection between specificity and transfer, but does not spend much time answering why things work that way. Verkhoshansky wrote a book on the topic but the exercises he describes often do not fit into his own definition. Bosch’s book attempts to do just that by taking a 360-degree look at the topic. It puts specificity in context by looking at how we coordinate our bodies and how best to develop that coordination. Read more

The Fallacy of the Strength Reserve

There is an ongoing debate about when maximum strength training reaches a point of diminishing returns. Increasing maximum strength has benefits for athletes in nearly every sport. If an athlete increases their bench press from 200 to 300 pounds their shot put results will undoubtedly improve as a result. But will the same thing happen for an athlete that improves their bench from 400 to 450 pounds? Ask a dozen coaches and you might get a dozen different answsers. Read more