I mentioned on Monday, Bondarchuk is as active and busy now as he was decades ago. He recently released an English translation of Volume 3 of his series on Periodization of Training in Sports, available for purchase from his website. I am too biased to give a true book review, but his books are not cheap and I find it helpful to at least give you all an overview of each book here. I finally had a chance to give it a thorough read after the holidays and my impressions are below.
Earlier this week top high school throws coach Nick Garcia explained on his blog about how he determines whether his throwers will use light or heavy implements in training. After researching the practices of the top shot put coaches in the country, the main theme he noticed was that everyone had their own approach. So he created a systematic method to track and test his athletes to determine which combination of implements and what timing of each was best for them.
I love the simplicity and individual nature of Garcia’s approach. But it isn’t the only approach out there. I use a variant of it myself. Bondarchuk has commented on the topic too. And coach Larry Steinke has an interesting approach that he explained at the Canadian National Throws Conference in October. Steinke uses a basic formula to determine whether an athlete should throw heavy or light hammers in training.
My previous two posts (available here and here) discussed the findings from my graduate school thesis when nine of the top American shot put coaches were surveyed. I would now like to address my thoughts on the findings and how I apply the training theory of using multiple weighted implements. First off, each of the coaches surveyed have had extreme success applying their theories to this training method. What they do has obviously worked for them. Furthermore, the fact that each of these coaches have successfully applied this training theory in different ways is proof that there isn’t just one right way in doing it. Therefore, I needed to come up with my own way of applying this training theory.
A lot has changed on this site over the past year. Just before the year started I launched memberships to the site. At the start of 2013 I completely redesigned the site. In November I relaunched the site as HMMR Media and brought on board great content from Kibwé Johnson, Nick Garcia, and HSHammer.com. And to end the year we launched a store which includes custom hammer wires, premium memberships, books, and coaching. All the while our readership has grown, which makes all the work worthwhile. I started this site to help myself and others learn more. With more people joining in the conversation we all benefit.
Looking back at the year, I wrote about a lot of interesting topics. In years past my most popular posts tended to be about current events. But this year training was the popular topic:
- Most Popular Post: Training Talk with Dan Pfaff
- Most Facebook Likes (242) and Comments (15): Reverse Transfer of Training
But many more were my favorites. Below is a compilation of my favorite training posts from 2013.
A HMMR Media membership is required to read many of the articles, so if you haven’t joined yet it is a perfect way to start the new year.
My first post for HMMR Media laid out how top American shot put coaches choose what weight implements to throw in training. The data came from my master’s thesis on the resistance training methods of elite shot putters, where I asked nine of the top shot put coaches in the USA a wide range of questions. These coaches were chosen based off of the results they had in International Championships, USA National Championships, and NCAA National Championships.
After I asked them what weighted implement they used, the next logical question was to ask how and why they used each one in training. Just as each coach had a different formula for what implements to use, they also had their own approaches to when they would use them.
In Martin’s post from earlier this week he mentioned that coach Jean-Pierre Egger had expanded his rule of not using implement more or less than 10% of the competition weight. With Valerie Adams now uses a range of plus or minus 25%. Larry Judge is one of the few American coaches to write about the topic and he mentions a similar 10% rule, although he noted that it is not uncommon to throw an implement upwards of 20% higher then the competition weight to develop special strength. Is there such a simple rule that can be easily applied to throwing heavy and light implements?
When working on my graduate degree I chose to do my thesis project on just this topic. The final thesis was titled “Resistance Training Methods of Elite Shot Putters” and I asked nine of the top shot put coaches in the USA to participate in the project. These coaches were chosen based off of the results they had in International Championships, USA National Championships, and NCAA National Championships. One of the questions I asked each of these coaches was if they used multiple weighted implements as a means of training. I included this question because using multiple weighted implements for training was widely accepted and at this time there had been very little research done using this training method.
Germany is the top throws country in the world. Other countries may have more depth, but Germany has developed an unmatched elite throws team. Despite being a fraction of the size of rivals like the United States and Russia, it is the only country in the world that has a legitimate medal contender in all eight throwing events.
This past weekend I travelled to the Kienbaum national training center outside of Berlin for the German federation’s annual throwing conference. The training center is already a heaven for throwers. Add in 100 energetic coaches and you start to see why the country has so much success. But as good as thing are, the Germans face the same problems every country does. There was much heated debate about how to get kids started in the sport earlier, retain them longer, and provide better support for elite athletes.
But this debate is also key to their success. Rather than being antagonistic, everyone was on the same page because they were working towards the same goal. That teamwork and structure forms the foundation of their success. Despite being the best they want to improve and learn from the best in Germany and around the world in order to do so.
In other throwing events it is common to throw in each direction. How many throws should you take in the opposite direction and how good does technique need to be in that direction? My concern is that training just to one side might provoke scoliosis or other spinal injuries. -Thomas
Throwing in the opposite direction is indeed less common in the hammer throw than in other throwing events. Tony Dziepak has compiled a list of ambidextrous throwing records which include impressive performances like Hank Kraychir putting the shot 20.55-meters with his right hand and also going over 18-meters with his left hand. With the amount of technique involved, it is natural that hammer throwers generally do not throw as much in the other direction. But in looking at the necessity of it, the same rules apply to all throwing events.
Becoming 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. The 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.
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.
With 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 post, found below, indeed talks about special strength, but 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.