Martin Bingisser’s 6-week Bondarchuk program training journal

This training journal from Martin Bingisser takes a 6-week look inside a training program from Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk, including all throwing and lifting programming, discussions of when and how exercises are changed, adjustments for pre-season and in-season competitions and more.

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Program overview

On the outside, the training programs of Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk can seem quite complex. No two programs are the same: each program is individually tailored to the athlete and their needs at the time. I have had the privilege of training under and learning from Bondarchuk for nearly a decade. The program below helps put his programming into context by looking at one month of training with Bondarchuk leading up to my first big competition of the 2010 season.

» Learn more: Video Lesson 1 outlines Bondarchuk’s training philosophy and methods.

6-Week Training Journal

Week 1 (March 8th)

Having just come out of a transition phase, it was time to get back into normal training. During a standard week we will train 10 times: twice a day on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday during the week. Thursday and Sunday are passive rest days.

Under Bondarchuk’s method, whatever set training plan you choose is simply repeated until you reach a new best. That means if you set up one program, you repeat it 10 times a week. In this phase we set up two programs, and repeated those over and over. Therefore every morning we trained Program A and every afternoon was Program B:

Program A (Morning) Program B (Afternoon)
8 x 5kg hammer throws 8 x 7.26kg hammer throws
8 x 8.2kg hammer throw 8 x 10kg hammer throws
Side Cleans – 2 x 5 each side @ 50kg Hammer Wind and Release – 2 x 14 with 14kg hammer
Medicine Ball Throws (Down) – 2 x 6 @ 7kg Snatch – 2 x 5 @ 70kg, 1 x 5 @ 80kg
Sit-up Medicine Ball Throws – 2 x 6 @ 7kg Front Half Squat – 3 x 5 @ 120kg
One leg vertical jumps – 2 x 4 each leg Sit-ups – 3 x 8 @ 20kg
Side Bends – 2 x 8 @ 10kg Good mornings – 3 x 5 @ 50kg

As you can see, more than half of my time at each training session is spent with the competitive movement: throwing the hammer. The competition weight hammer is 7.26-kilograms (16-pounds), so I am now throwing a variety of light and heavy hammers that help build special strength and develop technique. We typically average 150-200 throws per week, and in this program I took 160 throws every week. I would say that the average American hammer thrower has three or four throwing sessions a week and takes a total of 100 throws, so this is the first element of our training that sets us apart.

The rest of my training time is spent in the weight room with exercises that fall into five categories: global/Olympic-style lifts, leg lifts, abdominal exercises, back exercises, and twisting/special strength exercises. We normally do one exercise from each group during a lifting session, although sometimes we will include a second special strength exercise. The last category is the most important for us since it has the highest correlation to success in our sport. Throwing heavy hammers builds special strength, but a variety of other exercises help. For instance, in this program I do winds and releases with the 14kg hammer. At twice the weight of the competitive implement, it helps develop the core muscles used to throw the hammer.

Since we normally throw and lift ten times every week, the weight room intensity is fairly low in the other lifts. General strength is one of my weaknesses, but even for me the weights I use are very light. We normally stay in the 70-80% range for Olympic lifts and on bad days I can still easily complete all my lifts in the weight room without feeling exhausted. The afternoon workout is a better example of a typical Bondarchuk workout since the morning workout was designed to be a bit easier than normal.

Overall, the training program may seem easy at first glance, but it will wear on you after ten training sessions each week. Even a strong, well-conditioned athletes take a year or more to adjust to Bondarchuk’s training programs since the volume of throws and number of weight training sessions each week can be exhausting.

Week 2 (March 15th)

Results fluctuated up and down the first week, with a little muscle soreness setting in due to the new exercises. By the second week the soreness was gone and the rhythm was feeling pretty good. I had a pre-season competition in Arles (France). We decided to train through this competition and use it as a test rather than changing up training to try and peak at this. This meant that the week looked exactly the same except I only did 7 sessions rather than 10. One extra day was taken off for travel from Canada to France. And the competition day just had one throwing session (I lifted after the competition). Otherwise training was as normal.

Week 3 (March 22nd)

On Sunday I returned from a pre-season competition in France. As this was already a rest day, no training sessions were missed. On Monday, I jumped back into training and continued the same training program I had been doing prior to the competition.

I was used to the volume this week, but I had yet to adjust to the eight-hour time zone change. As a result, my results dropped slightly sluggish at the start of the week with marks about two meters below normal with each implement. I gradually got back into form and on the weekend I was throwing around 77 meters (5kg), 64 meters (7.26kg), 59 meters (8.2kg), and 52m (10kg).

Week 4 (March 29th)

I continued the same training program this week, repeating the twice-a-day workout program on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Once again, Thursday and Sunday were passive rest days.

This ended up being what we call a “down” week. Through the process of adaptation, results will inevitably fall at some point. This point is different for each athlete, but for me it normally comes during the fourth week of a program. Since I began this program at the beginning of March, this was my fourth week on the program and my results fell about 2 meters with each implement (3-5%).

Week 5 (April 5th)

I quickly bounced out of the week-long slump and I was just one inch shy of my training personal best with the heavy 10-kilogram hammer (52.80m) on Tuesday. With my next competition still a week away, Bondarchuk altered my training program slightly so that I would maintain my form. He does this by adding some variation, but not completely changing the program. Training on Monday and Tuesday was the same as last week, but I took an early rest day on Wednesday and then began a new program Thursday morning. The new program featured some throws with the 6-kilogram hammer and light lifting in the morning followed by the same 7.26kg/10kg workout I have been doing in the afternoon recently. I alternated this workout with my old workout for the rest of the week, doing the new workout on Thursday and Saturday and the old workout on Friday. I rested on Sunday.

By varying my training only every other day, my body must continue to adapt and that will hopefully allow me to stay in peak physical condition longer. Keeping the old elements as well means there is enough change to stimulate the body, but not so much to really beat me down.

New Workout:

Mornings Afternoons
10 x 6kg hammer throws 8 x 7.26kg hammer throws
Overhead shot put throws – 2 x 8 with 7.25kg shot put 8 x 10kg hammer throws
Russian twists – 2 x 10 @ 20kg Hammer Wind and Release – 2 x 14 with 14kg hammer
V-Ups – 2 x 10 Snatch – 2 x 5 @ 70kg, 1 x 5 @ 80kg
Supermans – 2 x 8 Front Half Squat – 3 x 5 @ 120kg
Dumbbell vertical jumps – 2 x 8 @ 20kg Sit Ups – 3 x 8 @ 20kg
Good mornings – 3 x 5 @ 50kg
Week  6 (April 12th)

After beginning the new workout, my results dipped slightly early in the week. Although the lifting in the new program is extremely light, I still experienced a little muscle soreness due to the fact it was something different and my technique also suffered some as a result. I continued to alternate the new and old program during the week. I did the old program on Monday and Wednesday and the new program on Tuesday. I then rested on Thursday to travel to my competition.

After arriving, I did a quick pre-meet workout on Friday morning. I took six throws with the 8.2kg hammer and did one set of the old lightweight morning workout in the weight room. I threw over 60 meters with the 8.2kg hammer for the first time in this training program, which was very encouraging since I only took a few attempts. After working out, I got a quick massage, stretched, iced, and rested the remainder of the day.

Saturday was meet day and it went very well. The conditions were perfect and I threw 65.88 meters, which is my best result in two years. My last attempt was even better and measured 67 meters, but was out of the sector and therefore did not count. But nonetheless I know there is more to come in the next few months as the season gets underway. On Monday, I will begin a new training program that will lead me into the heart of the season where I hope to break 70 meters.