Activation sessions day before competitions

Some coaches at my uni prescribe their athletes an ‘activation session’ the day before a competition. It usually involves some sub max 30’s, bounding and light/fast cleans and squats.

It has been my experience this winter that I feel better sprinting the day after sub-max weights, as apposed to a complete rest day…

What are your thoughts on ‘activation sessions’ and what do you do the day before a race??

I think it depends on the person and also what events you are doing at the meet.

If you are the man, and you have 100m trials and finals, you can probably do nothing the day before and use the trials as your activation.

Some people will try to do activation the day before but if it’s not of a high enough intensity, it won’t be very effective. This is especially the case for unmotivated lower level athletes.

Hell I know some coaches who wake their athletes up at 6am while on travel at a meet to do some jumps for activation then allow them to go back to bed or back to the room to rest. What is the cost/benefit ratio here?

Another question to ask is: is activation raising muscle tone too much such that you’ll break down earlier in a meet where you compete in many events (are you in essence ‘wasting a race’ with activation the day before?)

The specific activation session I outlined is used by the jumpers at my uni…

I always threw crap off a light session the day before, some training partners threw well.

All I liked to do was a nice walk, so easy mobility work and relax

Optimal solution: Get in a meet where you can run heats, definitely make the final and rest the day before :).

Realistically: A lot of people like to do a few short starts the day before and maybe some medball throws or jumps. Some people even do cleans the day before (Donovan did 8x1 powercleans after his quarterfinal in Atlanta) a big race. I think you may want to experiment because people respond differently. I personally know people that will compete like ass if they do much in the couple days before a meet and just run/jump/throw one round and I know people that are just the opposite.

I have seen some athletes, and read about it, performing some activation exercises if they have just arrived from travelling and have to compete the next day, this would make sense to get as to loosen up from the traveling.

The only thing I would be worried about would be a highly motivated athlete doing to much and screwing himself over for the next day

i also do simular stuff the day before…

for example,


(all out sprint, full rec)

4x5 hurdle hops (90secs rec btw each one)

4x1 cleans @ 90%

It works much better for me than having a day off before.

That’s interesting regarding Donovan. How heavy was he lifting then?

Pretty sure Dan say 120-130kg. It was either 120-130kg or 130-140kg for the sets. Pfaff says cleans were his only option at the time because of limited time (only about 20mins) and space (no room for throws and such).

Good thread.

Are you aware of what Donovan’s RM1 was? Just to try and work out what percentage he was lifting. I’m guessing rom the figures it would be between 85 and 95%. When carrying out a session like that, what recovery would you take between the sets?

He (DP) has said DB could powerclean 150kg without too much trouble, but he had kinda crap form on them.

What would I do? 90 seconds to 2 and a half minutes is probably enough. I have no idea how much rest Pfaff gave DB or what he would use.

Thanks for the information and advice. I may try it next Friday before racing on Saturday. I can’t comprehend lifting that sort of weight. I witnessed a prominent young British sprinter cleaning 155kg on Wednesday, I just find it very impressive!

Who is this guy?
Aikeens?(sp)?155kg is a lot of weight…for any sprinter!

Didnt donovan also weigh 203?

Anyone have an idea on his squat/bench press?

Visiting a friend/ coach who spent the last month with Dan today, I 'll soon find what Donovan actually did between rounds in Atlanta.

The words are from Dan’s mouth from a seminar that is available on the Athletics Canada site. Please find out what Donovan “really did” and report back because Dan must’ve been lying in the seminar tape.

That’s what he said he did. If you use a different system then people respond differently to it. Dan’s system is different to Charlie’s therefore you may get away with different stuff.

Was this with the same weight set that BJ used at 88 oly 5min before the final?

Thank you for the intelligent question, Bold. You know, I think it might be the same set. I’m sure Dan, who shares such a wealth of information with people and allows people to watch their sessions, is for some reason lying about doing the powercleans after the quarterfinal in Atlanta.