Tag Archive for: Transfer of Training

Basic Principles of Data Collection

As technology has proliferated over the past decade, so has data collection among athletes and coaches. Data collection is nothing new, but as the amount of data and the ease of obtaining it seems to be growing exponentially. I was just speaking to a scientist from Push last week and their new device will soon let you capture all kinds of metrics with the touch of a button in training. Other devices are adding different metrics. But with all the new data, it is important to keep in mind two principles of data collection:

  1. Know what the data tells you; and
  2. Know how to use it.

If you overlook these, then the data might as well be useless. Read more

Talking Specific Strength on the Performance Podcast

Coach Wil Fleming and I go back a ways. We competed against each other back in college and while he has moved on starting his own gym and running a great blog and podcast, we still keep in touch to talk about training occasionally. A few years ago I did an interview for his blog about Westside Barbell. This year he provided input in our coaching roundtable about Olympic lifting for the throws. And just last week we chatted about specific strength for his new venture: The Performance Podcast.
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Interview with Jake Jensen

The publisher is putting the finishing touches on Bondarchuk’s latest book (Olympian Manual for Strength & Sizepre-order here) and it should be shipped this month. An overview of the book and its table of contents are available here, but in the meantime I had a chance to talk with translator Jake Jensen about his own thoughts on the book. I assisted Jake in the editing of the book and got to know him throughout the process. As a competitive weightlifter and trainer, Jake is not just interested in translating the book, but also in what it contains.
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Don’t Forget the Speed

Over the last two weeks I’ve compiled a lot of great information on Olympic weightlifting for throwers. Weightlifting coaches provided their feedback on variations of the lifts for throwers and lifting technique. Elite throwing coaches Dan Lange and Don Babbitt discussed how they implement Olympic lifting in their programs. And I reviewed Greg Everett’s book Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, which provides great teaching progressions for each lift. But in all the great advice each coach gave, one thing was barely mentioned: speed.

I was reminded of this while reading through the final draft of Anatoliy Bondarchuk’s new book Olympian Manual for Strength & Size (available for pre-order here). The book will be published by Ultimate Athlete Concepts in the next few weeks, and unlike my book they are good about meeting deadlines. Jake Jensen has been working diligently on the translation and in my opinion it is the best translated book by Bondarchuk so far and covers a diverse range of topics that he has never written about in English before. I’ve also helped edit the work, which helped me make sure it addresses some of the shortcomings in prior translations.
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Bondarchuk on Maximum Strength and Intensities

When I discussed how transfer of training and the reverse transfer of training might make us reconsider he use of high intensity lifting, I presented my point as a simple cost benefit analysis that tends to lean in one direction. I am not one for bold statements since I am generally a non-confrontational person.

Bondarchuk, on the other hand, simply tells it like he sees it. On this point he has a clear opinion and at 73 years old he isn’t slowing down either. He just published the third volume of his periodization series (a review will be online this month) and is finishing up a book on strength. He will also speak at the Central Virginia Sports Performance Seminar in April. As he gets older he prefers spending time with his family over traveling for seminars, so if you have the chance is recommend attending this rare opportunity to hear him in person.

But back to the topic of high intensity lifting. To help promote the event, organizer Jason Demayo did a short interview with him to talk about the scope of his book and related topics. When asked what he thinks is the biggest mistake made by strength and conditioning coaches he did not pull any punches on this controversial topic:

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International Festival of Athletics Coaching Presentation

International-Festival-of-Athletics-Coaching1Becoming a better coach requires learning new ideas. In Switzerland, that can be a bit more difficult than in other countries. The coaching education program here is quite insular. It is great for beginning coaches, but more advanced coaches are not often exposed to the leaders and new ideas in other countries. Last year I worked to change this by co-organizing a clinic with Harry Marra, the coach of world decathlon record holder Ashton Eaton. We hope to put together another event in the Spring. But in the meantime there are also many coaching conferences in Europe that already bring together to top coaches. This Autumn I have the chance to attend two of them: the International Festival of Athletics Coaching (“IFAC”) and the German Federation’s Throws Conference. I will post about what I learned at each conference.

The first stop is the IFAC, which is currently going on in Glasgow, Scotland. Not only does this conference give me a change to learn, but I also get the honor of presenting alongside some of the top names in athletics coaching like Harry Marra, Vern Gambetta, Frank Dick, Vesteinn Hafsteinsson, Jacques Borlée, Yannick Tregaro, Benke Blomkvist and many others from both within and outside our sport. I actually led two sessions: a theory session on Friday and a hands-on technical workshop on Saturday morning.

The theory presentation covered the topic “Simplifying the Soviets: An Easy Approach to Soviet Throws Training Methods and Periodization.” The presentation is an updated version of the topic I presented at the UK Athletics Hammer Workshop in 2011. It essentially boils down Soviet hammer throw training methods into five basic principles. I would have loved to go into periodization and programming in more detail, but with just one hour all I had time for was this basic overview. Nevertheless it was well received and it led to some informative discussions in the evenings where I had a chance to go into more detail about implementing the five principles. A copy of my slides are below, although much of discussion explored diverse tangents that help provide context or answered some of the great questions asked throughout the presentation.
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Juggernaut Training Systems

Putting Theory Into Context

While I spend much of my time on this site talking about the hammer throw and training for the hammer throw, it is important to remember that much of what I talk to is just as applicable to the other throwing events and even other sports. Training principles are fairly uniform. Facts like how the body adapts to stress or the how to increase power output are the same for other sports. The main difference is how they are applied.

Juggernaut Training SystemsWith that in mind, Chad Smith asked me to contribute regularly to his site Juggernaut Training Systems. Smith was an elite shot putter before starting the JTS webpage, hitting a personal best of 19.46-meters as a post-collegiate in 2009. Since then he has switched to other strength sports, most recently winning the 2012 North American Strongman championship. He has also worked just as hard on his website as he has in the weight room. The site provides training information for a variety of strength sports, from throwing to strongman to powerlifting to Crossfit and more. Over the past year it has grown tremendously from around 20,000 visitors per month to over 300,000 a month.

Every month or two I will be posting a new article on JTS. The content on this site will not change and I will also post with the same frequency here. My posts for JTS will instead focus on the new topic of applying concepts like special strength to other sports. My first article, found below, focuses on a key factor of all training missing in many online training articles: context. Too often articles focus on theory or practice, but they leave out the most important element of context. Read more

A Video Introduction to Special Strength

bondarchuk_principlesWhen I first started sharing my experiences with Dr. Bondarchuk I wasn’t able to convince many coaches that his methods could be successful in any sport other than the hammer throw. There were even skeptics of its success in the hammer throw without the Soviet sports structure supporting it. But then Dylan Armstrong became the top shot putter in the world and we won over some skeptics. Others, however, held out and attributed Armstrong’s success solely to his freak athletic abilities. Then last year Justin Rodhe finally made the breakthrough from small school champion to world class shot putter after years of training under Bondarchuk. The skeptics got even quieter and even non-track and field people started looking at how his methods can apply to training for any sport.

Joel Jamieson has been one of those guys since the beginning. And when I stopped by his gym in July he asked me to do a short introductory video series on Bondarchuk for non-throwers. While most of Bondarchuk’s research was specific to track and field, his methods can be easily applied to other sports. Over the past few weeks, Jamieson has posted the first three parts of the series on his homepage which explain Bondarchuk’s exercise classification system and some examples of special developmental exercises for the hammer throw and some other sports.
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Another Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 2)

Earlier in the week I began a discussion with coach Derek Evely on how training needs to be tailored to the event for which you are training. He provided two examples from the hammer throw by looking at two unique aspects of our event. 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. In part one, we discussed how this fact has an impact on selecting exercises for the event. Second, hammer throwers must work together with an external object. In this final part we move on to discuss how the hammer’s forces also impact training.

For the best opportunity to learn from Derek about this and other topics, check out the Canadian National Throws Conference in Ottawa from October 18-20. Derek will be presenting along with Vésteinn Hafsteinsson and Esa Utriainen on the theme of “Developing the Throws: European Perspectives.” Registration is now open. Another good read from Derek is the training talk we did two years ago.


Part 1: Optimizing Jumping Exercises for the Hammer Throw

Part 2: Recreating the Hammer’s Forces in Training

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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