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Ask Martin Vol. 6: Offseason Training

Question: In your opinion, how much time do you take off to rest at the end of the season? I just finished up my season and I’m thinking I will take 4-5 weeks off to let my body recover. –Ben Bishop
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Simplifying Bondarchuk

Not working much in the offseason gave me a chance to spend more time on this site and also work on a few projects that I’ve had on the shelf for years. One of those projects was to write a primer on Bondarchuk’s training. I originally wrote an article along those lines in 2004 after doing years of research, reading, and talking with other coaches about Bondarchuk’s ideas on training. However, as I was about to publish that article, I actually met Bondarchuk and it made me realize I still had a bit more to learn. Then I began law school and my free time vanished.

I still posted the original article on Hal’s Hammerthrow.com site, but I’ve wanted to update it with some new insight and finally had the time to do so this past winter. Thanks to some great feedback by my training partner Ryan Jensen, Zach Hazen, my girlfriend, and others, I was able to get the article published in the April edition of Modern Athlete and Coach. Modern Athlete and Coach is published by the Australian Track and Field Coaches Association. Their organization has done a lot for Bondarchuk (they published his first book in English) and I think they are perhaps the best athletics coaching magazine in the world. They are also very nice to work with and have been kind enough to let me republish the article here.

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One Month Training Journal

I’ve learned many things from coach Bondarchuk about training, technique, and life. But, as I’ve said before, one of the things I respect the most about him is his openness. In my first few weeks working with him he told me that the more you share, the more you’ll learn. In a local newspaper article last summer, he repeated his mantra, saying “If you don’t share your secrets, your information, you can’t improve . . . If you don’t learn from each other, there is no progress.” That philosophy is one of the reasons I started to write so often about our training methods on this site.
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Book Review: Bondarchuk’s Transfer of Training in Sports Volume 2

This article from the HHMR Media archives is being provided as a free preview. For access to other archived articles from Bingisser’s Blog and additional premium content from other authors, become a member now.

Last month I reviewed the first volume of Anatoly Bondarchuk’s Transfer of Training. In volume one, my coach essentially puts to rest the notion that stronger is better. By laying out the correlations between training exercises and results, it becomes clear that strength gains only equal further throws for beginning hammer throwers. The book shows all of the data Bondarchuk has collected for all track and field events and provides a useful guide to what exercises transfer over to competitive results. Volume two, which was just released by Ultimate Athlete Concepts and available for purchase in the HMMR Media store, continues where volume one left off.
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Book Review: Bondarchuk’s Transfer of Training in Sports

This article from the HHMR Media archives is being provided as a free preview. For access to other archived articles from Bingisser’s Blog and additional premium content from other authors, become a member now.

“We will free ourselves from naive and abstract types of conclusions: as for example, to throw the hammer such and such distance it is necessary to do the barbell squat a certain number of time, the power clean a certain number of times and so on. The time of primitiveness has already passed and the time has come to look at the problem all the more seriously.”

-Anatoliy Bondarchuk in “Transfer of Training in Sports,” available from the HMMR Media Store

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The Best Track and Field Blogs

It’s been two and a half years since I started writing about my training on this thing called the interweb. Since then, many other track and field athletes have also started their own websites. Now, there are so many blogs that it can be hard to decide which ones are worth the read. Some are updated often and some rarely. Some provide a superficial look at the athlete, while others are more personal or contain detailed accounts of training. Below is a collection of my favorite sites across all the events.  If I leave out any great blogs, feel free to add them in the comments below.
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The Mental Game

I’ve always thought that the best tool for sports psychology is a good training program. A good training program won’t solve all of an athlete’s problems, but when training is going well, it is hard to convince an athlete that they will not succeed. Throwers even have a unique advantage in this department. We get to practice every day like it’s a competition and are truly able know what shape we are in; all we have to do is pull out the tape measure and measure our results. Distance runners, on the other hand, do not have this advantage. An article in last month’s Runner’s World talked about how Kara Goucher has worked with a sports psychologist to overcome her mental hurdles. Unlike throwers, it is harder for runners to know exactly what shape they are in. They obviously run in practice, but they don’t replicate an entire race at competitive speeds. Even if they do, they cannot replicate race tactics in training. When the distance runner toes the line, they often aren’t quite sure what to expect and that is where doubt can enter the mind.
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True Training Volume

I used to think that high volume was German Volume Training, or other programs similar to that… Little did I know … Everyone told us that we were going to have to be patient with the transition moving here. We were told countless times that we might as well just treat it as a “throw-away” year. As Kibwe and I heeded these warnings we were still thinking to ourselves (quietly) that we would just have an average year. We never thought we would be down as much as we actually were.
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Recovery: The Other Side of Training

Training at an elite level isn’t just about how hard you train; it’s also about how well you recover.  My training group trains ten times each week.  In order to be fresh and get the most out of each training session, it is important that we not only train properly, but also do the right things outside of training in order to take care of our bodies.  I find this just as true for me, even though I’ve never had a major injury or even an injury that has required me to miss a practice (although, in hindsight, I should have taken it easier after my bruised rib in 2008).

Proper recovery requires two things: time and resources.  As an undergrad, I was fortunate enough to have both the time and resources to do everything I wanted.  I was never rushed for time and the school had a full staff of trainers, a sauna, free massage, sports medicine specialists, and state of the art equipment.  All those resources remained when I began law school, but my free time dried up, forcing me to cut back on my hour-long post-workout routine.  Since moving to Kamloops, things have changed yet again; I now have ample time, but limited resources.

To give you an idea of all the things an athlete can do, I’ve outline some of the recovery methods I’ve used throughout the years.  Some work, some don’t, but since what works is quite individual it is helpful to list them all:
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More on The Throwing Pope

coaches

Legendary coaches Pál Németh (L) and Anatoli Bondarchuk (R).

In a follow up to this week’s review of the documentary A dobópápa (The Throwing Pope), I wanted to mention that director Ágnes Sós has been kind enough to put the English version of the movie on her site now.  I also wanted to add a note about Coach Németh’s approach to coaching.  Throughout the entire movie, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities Németh has to my coach, Anatoli Bondarhcuk.  As perhaps the two most successful and legendary coaches in hammer throwing history, I guess it is not all that surprising that they have so much in common.  Nevertheless, it is intriguing.
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