Dominique Arnold training article

Monday, Oct. 01, 2007
Guy Cipriano Track & Field
Olympic hopeful comes back to State College for training advice
This has the makings of a compelling television feature during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The athlete is outgoing. Plus, he competes in the 110 -meter high hurdles, a marquee event which includes Chinese star Liu Xiang, one of the most popular athletes from the host country.

So what does this have to do with State College?

This is where it gets interesting. Dominique Arnold, the American record holder in the 110 hurdles, left State College on Sunday after spending 10 days training with Kym Burke, a co-owner of One on One Fitness Consultants on Aaron Drive.

Arnold’s ex-wife introduced him to Kym three years ago. Arnold, a former Penn State assistant track and field coach, was experiencing back troubles when he met Burke and he figured the former gymnast could enhance his training.

“I wanted some gymnast strength,” Arnold said. “It was the best thing I could do at the time because my back issues were gone.”

[b]Burke’s workouts were different than anything Arnold had encountered. He spent more time on foam rollers and balance balls than benches, and Arnold discovered training doesn’t always involve macho pursuits.

“I will never forget the look on his face when I tried to get him to do a single-leg balance,” Burke said. “Here’s this world class athlete who is excellent in everything and the little lady at the fitness center was knocking him on his butt.” [/b]

Arnold, a 1996 NCAA champion at Washington State, repeated the words slowly.

“On,” he paused. “My,” he paused again. “Butt,” he said, accentuating the rigors of his initial workouts with Burke.

Burke calls it athletic readiness training. Her methods prepared Arnold for some breakthrough moments.

His 2005 included a personal-record 13.01 seconds and a second-place finish at the United States Outdoor Championships. The following year, he ran an American-record 12.90 during a meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He started this season with solid performances in Paris, Athens, Lausanne and Eugene, Ore., before finishing second at the national championships to earn a spot in the world meet. But Arnold’s body didn’t feel right, so he bypassed the world championships in Osaka, Japan.

He was diagnosed with an inflamed Achilles, another injury in a career filled with physical setbacks. With the Olympic Trials looming next year, Arnold, 33, didn’t want to risk further injury.

“I felt things breaking down last year,” Arnold said, “and that’s when I knew I needed to do something.

So Arnold called his friend in State College.

He arrived here on a Thursday. By Friday, he was undergoing fitness assessment tests. By Saturday, he was ON-HIS-BUTT.

“It’s getting the job done,” Arnold said.

Arnold and Burke spent more than a week crafting a training plan. They designed the plan to ensure Arnold peaks during next year’s Olympic Trials at Eugene’s storied Hayward Field. Burke filmed Arnold’s movements, and Arnold returned to his California home with workout DVDs.

[b]Some of Arnold’s exercises use weights. Others involve foam rollers, balance balls and bungee cords.

“Why does an athlete like Dominique need to be laying on his back putting a bunch of weight over his chest?” Burke said. “He doesn’t bench press when he goes over those hurdles. He doesn’t want to have a lot of mass to carry on down that stretch.” [/b]

Arnold doesn’t begin his outdoor preparations for the trials until November, when he runs Pasadena’s grassy hills.

He starts training on a track with coach Larry Wade in December.

The trials start next June 27, giving Arnold and Burke eight months to tweak their plan.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we are doing things that other people aren’t doing,” said Burke, whose own Olympic gymnastic aspirations were eliminated because of the 1980 boycott. “This is really athletic readiness training. It’s preparing the athlete to be ready to do the training their coach is going to ask of them.

“I don’t know anything about running the hurdles. But I have an idea about body position and specific strengths and where that explosiveness needs to come from.”

Arnold said most of his competitors are implementing conventional training plans for the Olympics.

“They run a lot,” he said. “Some might do some bungee work, but that’s it. We work from the top of the head to the soles of the feet. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. This is a full program.

“It’s not lifting, then some ball work and bungee work, and then balancing on one foot and calling it a day. That’s not how it works. If that works for you, then fine, but I know something else that works for me. I don’t want to give them any secrets.”

Don’t worry Dominique, your secrets are safe in State College.

Guy Cipriano is a sports writer for the Centre Daily Times. He can be reached at 231-4643 and

yeah right.

Wow… and I have never heard of that place. I used to go to a gym within 1/4mile of it. Maybe I’ll visit for some secret advice.

This gymnastics coach targets the bench as things Arnold does not do over a hurdle.

I wonder how much foam rolling, stability ball balancing and bungee work he does over the hurdle either.

That this guy believes that benching must = adding mass to the chest is beyond ridiculous.

It’s also laughable when someone/guru proudly points out that their workout was difficult for an athlete(even a world class one) to perform or complete. Yeah, if you have never done anything remotely like that, it might be kind of tough for anyone.

That said, I hope it all works out for Arnold.

Anything gymnastics based will always be difficult for a non gymnast. Perhaps there is something to performing movements in unfamiliar positions (as in pilates) but there is also something to weight training. Everything requires moderation.

Interesting to note that (most of) these stuff are of low intensity and/or for rehab purposes.

As in ?

I find this very interesting…I for one am not going to be too dismissive of the information given. I think there is a place for that gymnastic type training in hurdles especially as you have to balance on one leg to clear the hurdle…a stronger core/stability means an far more efficient hurdle clearance? Thoughts…?

In general I’d agree, I could and I think many could see a value to some of this training. Where I and some others(I believe) took issue, is with this gymnastics coach’s comments-especially the ones highlighted by PJ.

He admits he does not know anything about running the hurdles but then proceeds to tell us what Arnold does not do over the hurdles-among other things, bench press. Thanks, we were not sure about that, coach. He disputes, it seems, the value of benching because it’s not specific to hurdling yet he himself uses many general means of training Arnold. Not that these ideas are necessarily in-effective(apparently they have worked for Arnold in the past) but he himself is using what would be considered general methods of training for a specific result.

The older you get…the more this kind of junk training comes into play in my experience. If I am interpreting this correctly…then I would call it Prehab. Similar to taking time to work rotator cuff, supporting musculature, etc., before jumping back into a bench press routine. Or lots of hip stabilization, VMO, lower back training in prep for the Squat. Foundational training. Most don’t do it and lack the foundation to train at a high level though they may be capable of reaching it. It’s part of those “little things” that add up to a lot in the long run. There are probably a multitude of ways I would train before using a balance ball, though.

Notice Arnold wasn’t developed by this guy (nor anyone else, you can bet!)- he came by for a workout with this stability-ball salesman. What crap!

Your bullshit detector is set too low. please readjust it!!

I loved the analogy the coach used for not using certain exercises… lol…

“He’s not going to be bench pressing over the hurdles, so why do it?” He won’t squat while going over the hurdle either, or deadlift, or powerclean over the hurdles. sheesh… “Sport-Specific” guru training, must know the secrets!!

He won’t be going over a hurdle while standing on a swiss ball, nor will he be balancing on one leg while standing still either, unless he hangs out with dimwits like this for too long.
As the old proverb says: “He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not is a fool- shun him.”

hahaha…Looks like I gotta bin it…along with my stocking for Santa, signed ‘authentic’ Nike Ben Johnson spikes and the photo of Ben squating in Seoul.

The Gymnastics Guru said: “I don’t know anything about running the hurdles"

Derrrr…and even less about the training requirements for it.

He should be training with Larry Wade, now, not spending three months with a self confessed - ‘I know nothing about the event’ personal trainer before teaming up with Larry In December.

I like gymnastics as a supplement to the usual training of lifting and sprinting. I don’t think you need to do gymnastics exercises to succeed in any other sport, but we did an hour session on a so-called rest day and all the sprinters felt like they were 6 inches taller.

The work we did was with a Chinese full-time instructor and all my athletes did was a modified warmup used by the little boy gymnasts he was employed to coach.

After a few weeks all the athletes could do 10xsingle-leg deep squats (down and up is 1 rep) with the other leg extended in front.

They did a lot of core work, stuff like getting into a V-sit and slowly rotating the legs in a fully extdned position.

Lots of flexibility and some plyometric work. The sprinters seemed to enjoy the gymnastics although they were slightly terrified of it.

The coach found some strength imbalances which I hadn’t sorted out and he used manual resistance over the months to rectify the weaknesses using a kind of PNF to strength and stretch. That’s what it seemed like.

I can’t say I could quantify the improvement, but the athletes just seemed more stable through the pelvis when they ran.

All the training I would say was “old school Chinese”. No gimmicks, no swissballs, pulleys etc. But those little boys (some aged under-10) were so muscular they were amazing.

If you’re looking for something a bit different in the way of strength and flexibility and mobility, I’d recommend trying some basic gymnastics.

But as I said, it doesn’t replace what you already do. It something extra which can enhance the strength gained from weightlifting. That’s been my experience anyways.

Good points KK, but the difference is I’m sure you were well aware of the functionality of the movements in relation to the event. ie: the gymnastic training was complimenting the track program you had in place.

I’m sure you didn’t hand them over to someone who knows nothing about the event for 3 months before you took them over for their track sessions.

For sure. Coaching is management and while you can delegate some responsibility, handing over the lot (be it for weightlifting or gymnastics) without closely monitoring would be dereliction of responsibility.

The only disappointment for me regarding the gymnastics was not enough front-to-rear range of movement work. I had hoped there would be some advances, but not really.

On the topic of Swiss balls, I stumbled across this gem on YouTube:

And who could forget this brilliant display of athleticism:

You would have thought people would have “Checked” out of this madness after their fearless leader blew out a knee with this nonsense.