More on Work Versus Training

Ask yourself is what you are doing busy work or best work? Best work is training and that will get you better, busy work will just get you tired. There is a huge difference between getting tired and getting better. Training recognizes that there is a time to be tired and a time to be fresh. Knowing the difference is a key to adaptation. Read more

Work Versus Training

Work is hard and the harder the work the better the work is. No, absolutely wrong – STOP – that is not training. That approach will work for a while before the inevitable crash occurs. Certainly training is work, but the key distinction is that training is work with a specific direction and purpose. Sometimes training is very hard and other times it is very easy. Read more

What is Training?

Training is not about the hurt or pain; it is not about puking and being at the max in each workout. That is not training. Training is systematic, sequential and progressive; it incorporates hard workouts and easy workouts to allow the body to adapt. Work is easy training is hard. Anyone can do mindless work that wears out the body; not very many can focus and put the pieces together to systematically improve performance over time. To understand what good training is, it is important to be able to separate fact from fiction and style and marketing claims from programs that have substance and produce consistent results. Read more

Innovation & Change

Everyone likes to think of innovation and change as major things you have to do. Radical departures if you will. I think of change as a constant, if you are not continually changing and adapting then you are not growing. The same with innovation, it is an ongoing process. If you want to stay ahead of the game then change and innovation is part of your daily routine. You have to see your world with different eyes. You have to use all your senses and heighten your powers of observation. Read more

Training Talk: Recovery with Joel Jamieson (Part 2)

Strength and conditioning coach Joel Jamieson.

Strength and conditioning coach Joel Jamieson.

Over the weekend I started an interesting training talk on the topic of recover with Joel Jamieson. In part one both Joel and I commented on how recovery methods can be overused. But they are still important for training when used appropriately. This final part continues to discuss Joel’s thoughts on when and how to use different recovery methods.

Joel is best known as one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the mixed martial arts world, although his experience is much broader. He has also developed an expertise in training recovery and he has created BioForce HRV, a portable tool to monitor an athlete’s training state through heart rate variability.
Read more

Training Talk: Recovery with Joel Jamieson (Part 1)

Strength and conditioning coach Joel Jamieson.

Strength and conditioning coach Joel Jamieson.

Recovery is an important aspect of training that is often overlooked. But, to the surprise of many, it is also an element of training that can be overdone. For decades the theory was that all methods of recovery were good and researchers tested out new technologies to see what might give athletes an extra benefit. But in recent years the pendulum has swung in the other direction: there can be too much of a good thing.

One of the first people to explain this topic to me was Joel Jamieson. Joel is best known as one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the mixed martial arts world. His gym in Kirkland, Washington has trained some of the top MMA fighters around, including current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. His blog, 8WeeksOut, is one of the most popular MMA training blogs. His experience, however, is not limited to MMA. He started his career as a strength and conditioning coach at my alma matter, the University of Washington, and then for the Seattle Seahawks. He also has trained many pro athletes in a variety of sports. Joel has developed an expertise in training recovery and he has developed BioForce HRV, a portable tool to monitor an athlete’s training state through heart rate variability. His manual for the device contains what I find the best overview of the adaptation process available, as well as the impact of recovery methods on it.

When I was back in Seattle at the start of August I had the chance to sit down with Joel to discuss this topic and other topics. This is just the first in many posts I will have that resulted from my visit, but before we begin it is helpful to put this first topic into context.
Read more

Continuous Improvement

Is it realistic to think that an athlete can seek and attain continuous improvement throughout their athletic career? At first glance it sees like the answer would be no, but in my experience that is not the case. As an athlete starts their journey the trajectory of improvement is almost linear, virtually everything the athlete does in training results in improvement in performance. Then there comes the inevitable leveling off process. This is the point in the athlete’s career, the proverbial crossroads, where the coach and athlete need to make a choice, stay the course or seek new ways to get better. Read more


It is easy to get caught in the isolationist trap. Trying to isolate an energy system or any system of the body may be mentally convenient and look good in theory but in practice it is like chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. All systems of the body work together all the time and they work together synergistically to maintain a state of homeostasis. Read more

Change We Can Believe In

If you look past the oiled up muscles and ads promising the latest and greatest supplements, T-Nation is one of the best resources online for the discussion of new ideas about training. Sure, some articles there are based on inaccurate hearsay or seem written more for the author to hear his own voice, but it also collects together input from some of the top young minds in athletic development looking to teach and learn like Wil Fleming, Chad Smith, and Derek Woodske. All three are former throwers and run their fantastic blogs of their own. But no matter the author, the site always leave you thinking and help on developing your own training philosophy.

Disclaimer: this post is not a political statement.

Disclaimer: this post is not a political statement.

A few weeks ago Chris Cralle pointed out an article on change, one of my favorite topics. In the article trainer Todd Bumgardner essentially makes the assertion that changing exercises in training is a bad thing. Merely adjusting volume and intensity is all the change an athlete needs. As he puts it “A new exercise variation typically isn’t the solution; an innovative way to load a proven exercise typically is.” The author makes a few good points: change done to make things interesting is bad and training needs to focused on the event. But after that our opinions diverge. I think change is one of the most crucial factors in developing a good training plan.

Read more

The Peak-End Rule

I always like to end my training with a good throw. I used to think of this tendancy as a superstition, but recently I have begun to think that it may actually have a real positive affect on my training, both psychological and perhaps also physical.

I’ve had this habit since I started playing other sports as a kid. In basketball, for instance, I inherited my father’s insistence of not leaving the court until I made my last shot. That’s a habit I continue today in pick-up games with friends and have carried into hammer throwing. This habit served a few purposes: it encouraged me to focus on technique if I wanted to ever leave the court and it also left me leaving with a more positive reflection on the game or practice. The same can be said with hammer throwing.

In April I read the New York Times bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow, by the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman is a psychologist whose research has focused on topics like the psychology of judgment and decision-making. In particular, he has identified many biases and heuristics that impact the way we think. One such heuristic is the Peak-End Rule. The rule states that how we judge experiences is largely based on how they were at their peak and at their end. For example, how we judge a practice will be affected by how far our furthest throw was and how well it ended. Numerous studies have shown this heuristic affects and will cause people to rate more painful incidents better than less painful ones. Read more