Anatoli Bondarchuk (Training Concepts)

Good question. I think that, again, the farther to the left, the faster the gains (and drop offs as well), so, Mo Greene would have a shorter time to max strength than other sprinters to their relative max strength, though the time differences wouldn’t vary by a much for the group, though it would be significant for a distance runner.

Charlie, thankyou, excellent points.

Regarding points 1 and 2, when you say power scale are you referencing the F:V curve, F:T curve, etc, (e.g., shot farther left than javelin and 60m farther left than 100m on the F:V curve)


Yes. think of a continuum from the left starting with weights, moving to more elastic componants, special end, all the way to gen end to the right

This is correct. Technique is of the utmost importance to Bondarchuk, as it is to most Russian coaches.
If you look at Bondarchuk’s complete program, the strength training is very simple. No special peaking cycles, bands, chains, etc.
The majority of the time is spent on training technique and strength/speed through the correct motor pathways. This entails not just “medball/weight throws that resemble the throwing form,” but actual hammer throws with both lighter and heavier than competition hammers.
This “specific training” is looked-down upon greatly in the West, probably because it gets grouped in with what many call “specific” or “functional” training (stability balls, wobble boards, etc.).
The Russian coaches however, understand the true meaning of specific training. Your neurological energy must be rationed, and spending excessive energy on “general” exercises simply does not bring the greatest rewards, particularly for an elite athlete (but this applies to lesser athletes as well).

True, Zatsiorsky expounded upon this in Science and Practice of Strength Training:

"The requirements for exercise specificity should be thoroughly satisfied. The exercise of first choice should be the main sport exercise with additional resistance sport exercises with added resistance. This resistance should be applied in the proper direction (in locomotion, horizontally) and not exceed a level at which the motion pattern (the sport technique) is substantially altered. "


A few issues here:
1: “Mirror training” (the same action in the opposite direction) is required for rotational sports to prevent injuries due to unequal development over the long run.
2: The use of a limited number of specific actions to fulfill all power requirements risks overuse injuries and fails to take advantage of the crossover effects of other actions as power demands increase over time.
3: There is a “stimulus effect” as well as a strengthening effect from strength training, and there are times, especially related to peaking, when it is advantageous to create a stimulus effect while sparing those muscle groups most needed for the upcomming event. A clean, for example, uses approximately 80% of the body’s motor units and would prob be optimal, at slightly sub-max loads, 5 days from the competition. This is fine, from a muscular perspective, but too long from a stimulus perspective. Now add a slightly sub-max session of Bench Press, using approx 35% of the body’s motor units, 3 days out and you have created enough additional effect to re-stimulate to an optimal level for the competition without fatiguing the major muscles involved in the event itself (but only if the bench is developed to a high level).
For a very extensive discussion on this topic, especially related to sprints, check out the FORUM REVIEW on the subject of general vs specific training.
davidW has also posted an article on the subject.

Could even med ball throws have a positive effect on squat performance?

Would it be important to train at similar velocities as the action in the event? Also would it be important to devote additional work (training) on the opposite side to compensate from the event practice / training / competition? i.e., perform Russian twists to one side only depending on the rotational dominace of the sport. Sorry if this reads a little muddled!

Agreed. This is true of all sports, in that the antagonistic actions must also be trained in order prevent joint problems as well as any neural inhibition.

Specific actions certainly are not the only component of successful training. Obviously, general exercises can have a positive affect on the specific actions up to a point, but after reaching a certain level in the general exercises they begin to lose their effectiveness. As an example, I believe you have said that Ben could squat 600lbs. for sets of 5. If you brought his squat up to 700 for 5, would he have been any faster?
In a situation like this we must also take into account the stress that squatting 600-700 puts on the entire organism. Certainly an appropriate stressor at some points in the training, but for the most part (in the case of a high-level athlete) I believe this neurological energy would be better spent on more specific work.

Certainly using a limited number of exercises at high intensity for a prolonged period of time can result in injuries and burnout (look at the Bulgarian weightlifters under Abadjiev). However, this can be countered by devising a large number of special strength exercises which are rotated appropriately; the most effective being used prior to important competitions.

Certainly, neurally priming the athlete is of great importance when at the highest levels of competition.

No, but you could mirror train at the velocities of developmental exercises in the regular direction.

Yes, and sprinting too. I’ve always maintained that Ben’s lifts could not be explained by his lifting program alone. This is covered in detail in the FORUM REVIEW.

In an article by Bondarchuk which shows exercises and complexes for training for “the throws” over a ten year period, the exercises are divided into:

  1. general
  2. Specific
  3. Competitive

And then the exercises are also divided into

  1. Global Influences : meaning all pf the parts of the body of the athlete are involved ( for the specific task,in this case throwing discus ie: TONS of Snatch/clean/squat variations).
  2. Local Exercises: Only seperate parts of the body are involved (broken into parts hands/shoulders, back trunk, abs, legs) Kind of like accessory work…

The workouts are grouped differently but for example:
TRAINING PROGRAM 1 : (for beginners) would have,
Hammer throws full turn
A Global exercise then local exercises.
Here is an example during the preparation period of a training program:

Full Turn with hammer 6kg
Global Exercise: Half Snatch from boxes
Local Exercises: Overhead press, throws with weight straigh down, standing twist with barbell on shoulders, oblique sit up, hurdling.

Not sure if this helps but there are tons of workouts structured in the prep phase like this, it seems kind of like a westside approach where you have your specific exericse then move to accessory stuff…not sure if that is correct but just some thoughts.

This may be a dumb question but here goes…CF, I watched one of your seminar tapes with Ian king and I noted that you said something about how specific movements trained in the gym do not help (ie a throwing motion with a cable machine) becaue the correct motor patterns are altered with heavy loads and the speed of the movement is not duplicated…If that is a correct translation of what was said on the tape, wouldn’t specific exercises like many russian literature states have this kind of altered effect? If you immitate a discus motion with a heavy load is that not altering the motor patterns thus making your form more inefficent in the carryover?

Now that being asked I will try to answer my own question (I often talk to myself and I belief the voices in my head are other people so this is normal :eek: ) Bondarchuks use of specific exercises uses altered loads so that the small loads can enhance the proper form with speed and the heavier loads can enhance srength of the movement. THis is probably not correct but it is just an idea as to whats up? :stuck_out_tongue:

Any feedback is appreciated!

A few notes concerning Bondarchuk’s training methods:

*Emphasised the importance of ‘feeling the movement’. Temporary
exclusion of various senses, for example, closing your eyes.

“Throwing with eyes closed is also widely used at this stage to
develop coordination and a “feel” of the hammer (also, see next post). In the second part
of the preparation phase, underweight hammers replace the overweight
implements and at the beginning of March the volume of throwing
standard weight hammers is sharply decreased.”

*There is no correlation between one’s static and dynamic strength,
particularly when rapid movements are performed.

*There is no direct relationship between the ability of moving in a
straight line and rotational movements.

*Many variations of alteration of exercises exist. However,
predominately technique work precedes power, jumps and sprints. Even
if one trains twice a day (morning ‘develop’ technique).

*The fundamental principle of all training and rehabilitation is that
the latter depends on nervous processes.

*The time spent on the whole method forms 70-80% of the total
training as technique development is in the program all year your.

*Best result of young hammer throwers aged 18 years of age: snatch
125kg, clean 170kg, squat 270kg.

*Integration of general and sport specific training is completed at
an early age (conjugation). The process is monitored closely and
matched to suit the individual. `Windows of opportunity?’ Everyday
is a window of opportunity!

*There are three types of learners all with different characteristics
of learning. All athletes should learn the same thing but all arrive
at the result in different ways and different time scales (Morley,

*Maximum strength is well preserved but speed is not.

*Variation will ‘encourage a situation where performance will improve
at each stage of sporting development.’

*A relationship between phases of developing form and periods of
training; they must not be ignored, thereby interrupting the normal
course of sporting improvement.

From the “SuperTraining” forum.

On visualisation:

I recently spoke with one of the former Throwing coaches in the UK.
He mentioned that he had the pleasure of meeting Youri Sedykh and his
coach Bondarchuk on several occasions. On one occasion the coach
attended a dinner with Sedykh; they watched a number of Sedykh’s
world record throws, interestingly the coach commented that Sedykh
seemed quite emotional watching the film and he informed the coach
that he had only seen a few clips of himself on film before.
Furthermore, Sedykh commented:

“I find it hard to believe that anyone, let alone myself, could throw
that far, but funnily enough I can still feel it.”

The emphasis on visual aspects of visualisation may have detracted
our development/attention in other key areas such as feelings,
sounds, emotions? I recall posts by the very knowledgeable Jerry
Telle and Dr Siff referring to something similar, that visualisation
implies visual images, but it is far more than that.

From the SuperTraining forum.

What you say about various weighted implements yielding negative adaptations on the expression of sport skill with the competitve implement is dependent on the degree of variance.

Too heavy= negative influence on techique and breakdown in mechanics which facilitate speed strength

Too light= also negative influence on mechanics and not enough resistance to build specific strength

Care must be taken so as to stay within a certain parameter, above or below, the sporting implement. This may be effectively applied to the development of any throwing discipline, not only Olympic sports.

A throwing motion, with added resistance via a cable machine is in no way comparable to using a slightly heavier implement. Two completely different scenarios.

Yes i believe Bondarchuk used a three ball system rotation of 14-16-18 pound hammers. This style of training has been adopted in both shot and disc training as well. Each weight has a specific goal or adaptation. Obviously, Bondarchuk perfected it.

On a side note I happen to know a few hammer throwers and they once told me that they loved the transition from the indoor 35pound weight to the outdoor 16. They believed that throwing the 35 during the winter built a great fondation of specific strength for the faster 16 in the outdoor season.

Great post. This is a great point. Visualization is much more complex than most coaches make it out to be. Possibly why it has been discarded by many as a training tool.

Tony, I completely agree. I repeatedly stress the value of visualization to my school age athletes. This is something that is much easier to assimilate, especially for a younger trainee, as much of the technical training information that might other wise be utilized for communicating training concepts is not something which a younger athlete is likely to connect with or respond to.

I have had great success by utilizing various analogies which I feel younger athletes connect with, and I follow this up with encouraging them to visualize themselves performing which ever skill I intend for them to assimilate.

working with young athletes is an exceptional opportunity to hone skills which may usefully be initiated across the board-up to the elite/professional level.

Once again, we have much to learn from what was initiated in the former Soviet/Eastern bloc over 40 years ago.

Absolutely! A lot of learning can take place before the athlete ever physically attempts the skill. The difference in performance of a new skill is like night and day when comparing an athlete who correctly utilizes visualization and one who does not.