Posts

GAINcast Episode 140: Beyond the exercise

Exercises are the basic element of training, but the value in an exercise lies in more than first meets the eye. On this episode of the GAINcast we look beyond the exercise to discuss finding context, creating exercise menus and developing progressions so that coaches can find exercises that based on the value they add and not how they look. Read more

Get Past The What

What you do in training, the exercises are no more than just stuff unless you know WHY you do what you do. It is easy to go to these so called “summits” and come away with more stuff but all the stuff comes up short because there is little underpinning of why. To make training transfer to performance demands a deep investment in WHY to give the WHAT meaning, purpose and direction. Read more

GAINcast Episode 43: Focus on Function

Coaches have a near limitless inventory of exercises to select from and navigating this topic can be difficult since even two exercises that look nearly identical can cause vastly different adaptations in an athlete. On this week’s episode we give some suggestion on how to evaluate the application of an exercise to your goals by focusing on the function. Read more

GAINcast Episode 15: More Than The Exercise

You look around social media and you will instantly see athletes and coaches sharing their latest greatest exercises. These exercises become the focus and whole programs are developed around them. But training is not just about the exercises; they are the means, not the end. On this episode of the GAINcast Vern discusses why training is about more than the exercise.

This Episode’s Question: Exercises are the building blocks of training, so why is it that athletic development is about more than the exercises? And what is it about then?

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Specific About Strength

At the start of the month I published an article in Athletics Weekly about specific strength. In it I give a brief introduction to exercise classification, specific strength, and some tips on implementing it to your event. Tom Crick also helped provide some great graphics to illustrate a few examples.

The article is adapted from my book The Ball and Chain where I cover this and other topics in more detail in Part IV: Training for the hammer throw. If you like it and want to learn more, pick up a copy of the full text. We also have some additional resources on this topic available for HMMR Media members, including Nick Garcia’s article on exercise classification for throwers and a post I wrote about specific strength in theory and practice. But this article isn’t just about the hammer or about throwing; it takes a look at a general idea that can be applied to any sport or event. Read more

Juggernaut Training Systems

Creating Special Strength Exercises

One of the core concepts at the heart of Bondarchuk’s training methods is his exercise classification scheme. Bondarchuk has written about dozens of different periodization models that can be used for a variety of sports, but all of them make use of his four-category system of classifying exercises from general to specific. The concept is straightforward, but not one that I have spent a lot of time on here talking about.

In my latest article for Juggernaut Training Systems I take a look at how both Bondarchuk and Yuri Verkhoshansky use their own systems to define special strength exercises. By looking at two leaders in the field of special strength, we start to see what common elements special strength exercises need. I also explain my own five tips for selecting a special strength exercise:
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Another Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 1)

Coach Evely with Sophie Hitchon, the UK record holder. Photo used with permission from Jonathan Mulkeen.

Coach Evely with Sophie Hitchon back in 2011. Photo used with permission from Jonathan Mulkeen.

We all know the hammer throw is a unique sport, but I rarely stop to ponder why exactly it is unique other than the fact that we are hurling a ball and chain as far as we can. It is unique in a number of ways and this uniqueness should play an important role in training. I recently re-watched a presentation Derek Evely made in Sweden last year where he addressed this specific point and pointed out two key facts about the hammer throw that make it unique. First, the hammer throw is the only track and field event where the athlete keeps contact with the ground at all times and the goal is to lengthen the amount of ground contact. Second, hammer throwers must work together with an external object. Both of these facts have an impact on training and I recently had a chance to talk with Derek about how he took these facts and used them to create a hammer-specific training plan for his athletes. We started out talking about the first point and its impact on training. Part 2 will discuss the second point.

For those of you not familiar with Derek, he was most recently the head of the UK Athletics High Performance Centre in the lead up to the London Olympics where he also served as the personal coach of Sophie Hitchon. He has had a long and successful career that also included time working with one of my mentors, Anatoliy Bondarchuk.

This isn’t my first training talk with Derek. We sat down two years ago for a discussion on Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk which I feel is one of the best examples available online of how to implement Bondarchuk’s theories in a variety of events. Derek is one of the most knowledgable and thoughtful coaches I have had the chance to work with and, as you can tell, he is more than willing to share his knowledge with others. If you get the chance to hear him speak, I guarantee you will walk away smarter. One good chance for this will be at the Canadian National Throws Conference in Ottawa from October 18-20, where Derek will be presenting along with Vésteinn Hafsteinsson and Esa Utriainen. The theme for the conference is “Developing the Throws: European Perspectives” and registration is now open. This topic is just one of many that Derek will touch on in his presentations there and will be a can’t miss event. Read more

Vern Gambetta

To Do or Not To Do

Yesterday as I was working on some new training programs and evaluating the past training cycle when I came across a “new” exercise that I thought might solve a specific problem one of my athletes was having. The dilemma in this case always is, will the new exercise do a better job than what was being done before. Read more

Training Tools Vol. 2: Heavy Winds

A favorite topic of mine is special strength, the bridge between throwing and lifting. The point of special strength is to improve your throwing through exercises that closely mimic the movements and muscles used in the hammer throw. I have already outlined some of the classic exercises, like plate twists or kettlebell releases. But I am always looking for new exercises since the body frequently needs something new in order to shock the system and get it to adapt to new, higher levels.
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The Gambetta leg circuit

The Leg Circuit is a tool I devised out of need around twenty-five years ago. It is placed in a training following the Foundational Leg phase. I have used it in many sports. It is a versatile tool if used properly. The Leg Circuit is the foundation for more specific work to follow in terms of absolute strength and plyometrics. This is a program to pu the finishing touches on a foundational strength and power endurance base. It is also a very useful tool to use in lower extremity injury rehabilitation to rebuild work capacity in preparation for return to play. The basic prerequisite for progressing to heavier lifting and high level plyometrics is the ability to perform five full leg circuits without stopping. When an athlete has progressed to this point they are ready! Read more