Starting strength

For sprinters is it necessary to perform lifts to improve starting strength in the weights room? eg. pausing for 2-4 seconds at the bottom position in the squat before exploding upwards; this could be on pins or without pins.

No pins are involved, but John Smith actually has people do this, and only on the squat.

Gradually drop the weight to the bottom over about 3 seconds or so, hold the weight steady at the bottom for 3-5 seconds, then explode upward. And what Smith seems to pay more attention is not so much the amount of weight, but how fast the bar was moving.

I’d be curious to know how much weight (% of 1 rep max) coaches like John Smith recommend for this type of movement, particularly with a barbell up on your shoulders.

This a good question. The CAT principle for some powerlifters (Hatfield) doesn’t go above 80%. CAT= Comp. Acc. Train.

I have always wondered though what the appropiate percentages should be. I don’t believe in pausing for 3-5 seconds but with a slight pause. I was taught this at one of the best powerlifting gyms in the country (Mikes Olympic Gym: Mechanicsville, Va), as well.

Powerlifters also do a long pause, but it is used in a completely different type of training method, often up to 12 seconds. Completely diff. from the CAT principles.

Where Smith or anyone else gets a pause of 3-5 seconds beats me.

3-5 seconds is about how long it takes for the stretch reflex to be gone

Also Hatfield was the inventor of this term.

Smith has HSI people doing BB-type lifting, with rests sometimes as short as 30 seconds. He is NOT trying to turn people into PL-types and you will not hear one word of things like westside at any HSI session. Maurice did squat sessions as 10-8-6-3, and most HSI sprinters (Ato did his own thing) are doing 6-10 reps for bench, with some supplementary work at sets of 15, and only PC at 5X5 (sometimes).

The HSI philosophy is really about explosiveness as opposed to strength and managing resources. The latter is not just the drive phase holding back at the start that everyone here seems to hate (but take a look at the youtube videos of Mo running the 60 WR and the 100 WR and see what position he comes out of the blocks). Charlie’s way is about maximizing recovery after work by doing the weights right after speed; JS is more about expending less CNS resources in the gym to begin with. These guys are NOT doing weights above 90%, period.

I’ve tried doing John Smith’s workout as 3X3, but you get VERY sore quads from this, even though you can feel that the workout “works.” You can, however, do a hypertrophy-type workout ending in a single explosive set of 2-3 at below 90% 1RM. I do the squats as 3X8 + 3, with the 3 no higher than the projected 90% point from the 8.

What Mortac8 said about the 3-5 second pause being just long enough to eliminate the plyometric stretch-response effect may be correct (this is still offseason, so no HSI workouts at UCLA and I can’t ask him), but the emphasis of the workout is explosiveness.

Is it possible that the shift in loading parameters does still present a similar total high-intensity stressor if we consider things from a breadth vs height perspective? While the intensities are lower, do the higher volumes balance out the total stress as compared to a more low volume/high intensity program? Please correct me if the volumes are low as well, but I thought that elsewhere it was implied they are not.

Do you happen to know why John Smith utilizes hypertrophy style training with mature sprinters? Is the aim hypertrophy or is he aiming to improve something else? Are there concerns about the soreness that seems to be a result of this style of training? How is this soreness you alluded to managed?

Thanks for your time.

This is somewhat off the topic of this thread, but these are answers as I know them:

(1) John Smith simply believes in MUSCLE. Short sprinting requires more than long sprinting, and some of this has to do with the way Smiith teaches drive phase (if strong enough, you come up at ~50 meters, and I do this): By accelerating longer, you have less time to lose speed at the end of the race. Mo’s training has, in addition to 5-10 sets of bench in the 6-10 rep range, incline bench, and flys. There is MAJOR emphasis on shoulder development for the initial acceleration. Torri Edwards also shows this, as does Asafa Powell. And hypertrophy development didn’t keep Ato from running ~19.7 for 200.

(2) CNS vs. muscular fatigue. If you do bench the way JS does it or the way I do it now (~15-13-10-8) with short rest, you may have more muscular fatigue initially than if you do 3-4 X 3 at a higher load. But the CNS fatigue a couple of hours (or days) later feels much less, and because of this you can do a higher load on the track. There is load in both cases, but the fact that the type of load is different is a very important point. Also JS says that the reason HSI lifts before track is because his guys are not “lifters” and he worries about mechanics falling apart, but my impression is the real reason he does this is because he can due to the different type of stress his weight program produces.

(3) Speed endurance, hypertrophy and body weight. It is fairly well known, I think, that when Mo started with Smith, JS sent him into the weight room to raise his weight from 155 to 175. But Charlie has pointed out that you don’t necessarily gain weight with hypertrophy if you do enough SE. And I personally have done JS-style hypertrophy AND Charlie’s SE in the last year, lost weight, AND gone faster. If you balance out the training and your diet, you can spare CNS load with hypertropy without the weight gain. About the diet: Mo was for several years on the Zone diet and JS has a general rule of not eating in one sitting a meal (main course) that won’t fit in the palm of your hand.

I would like to hear what CF thinks about the higher reps etc.

I see no reason for this with a sprinter as the total lifting capacity is secondary.

What about higher reps = less cns stress = more track load.

Why should there be more soreness automatically with hypertrophy work? As the stress is determined at the end of any set regardless of the weight used, soreness can be controlled via selection of weight vs reps- and must be controlled, I’d argue, to allow speed and SE to rise unimpeded throughout the program.

wouldn’t the higher reps cause more muscle fatigue and in turn limit the intensity of the track. in th end, muscle fatigue hampers the athletes ablity to spend more time at the higher velocities. so, more volume of what, lower velocities, that doesn’t seem better than lifting after running so you can attain higher speeds during the workout.

I rather doubt that any of us here are lifting before running, so I don’t think that part of it applies, but it seems to go as Charlie says: The volume/intensity is limited so the lifting doesn’t affect the track work.

The other thing to consider is what the track work actually is. HSI has a significant component which is Special Endurance 1 (starts as 300’s which are initially during GPP run as tempo with guys capable of 20.0 for 200 running in the 44-45 second range for 300’s early) and some of this is Special Endurance II during SPP for outdoor with a VERY LARGE special endurance component during SPP2.

For me during SPP1 this year, largely following the Vancouver/04, the load was:

4X4X60 with 2.5 min/6-8 min
4X60 with 15 min

This comes to 1200 meters S/SE each week plus 1-2 X 30m start and 1 X 60 meter buildup (30m accel + 30m maintain) per S/SE session, so ~1400 meters of HI work per week during SPP1. Another 2 sessions of tempo and 2 sessions weights done as speed-weights-tempo.

From Ato’s log, there are also 2 HI sessions per week during indoors and the load during SPP for indoors is roughly 600 meters of speed (60’s from block or 3pt) and another 1200 meters per week of special endurance (200’s or 300’s). So the total load is 1800 meters per week plus tempo, and the tempo is 8-9 X 200 per session.

So, while the total training volume that HSI does is higher (and they lift 4 days a week 2-3 hours before track workouts), the HI volume is significantly less than I do following CFTS and something like HALF the HI volume that Ben apparently did.

All this needs to be factored in. You have to consider the total load and how that load is structured. It probably shouldn’t be that surprising from a coach who was once one of the best in the world at 400 meters.

With the discussion about sleds, something that might surprise people that haven’t been to an HSI workout is how much work they do accelerating. They even do tempo out of 3 point starts, and just about everything they do is done out of blocks or 3 point. John Smith believes strongly in practicing acceleration technique A LOT and they do. No sleds or other contraptions as far as I know.

Depending on the time of year, S-to-L volumes of speed are not 1400m per week till late in the phase. On my schedule listed, they run from 2160m and stay above 2000m for the first 5 weeks of a 12 week phase. That is the schedule for a highly developed athlete, but you need to use it when you compare workloads with a top performer like Ato.
I might also point out I’m pretty familiar with Ato’s sessions, as printed out on his site at one point. They mirror almost session by session the schedule of Angella Issajenko for the 1980 to 1981 season (phase one of a L-to-S schedule) when John Smith was here living with Angella.
The biggest difference is the weights, which HSI does in the AM as a preparatory stimulus to the PM session, so numbers must stay higher and weight lower.

something that might surprise people that haven’t been to an HSI workout is how much work they do accelerating.

I saw them training in the CP with no emphasis on acceleration.

Not impressed by the weights in the gym.

Impressed (at the time) by the length of the warm-up, by the distance covered with each drill and the perfect technique.

Impressed also by several 100m curve runs at 9.8", even by Maybank.

P.S.: I think there are better options than the pause squat.

Also, HSI strength training was actually JS philosophy or Art Venegas’?

The weights used to be Venagas but don’t know if that’s still the case.

Totally agree. This is what we are experiencing. The limit on reps controls soreness not the type of weights session assigned.

From my observations John Smiths 400m guys don’t do pause squats, & the 100m guys use them only partially. In comp phase both 100m & 400m guys squat workouts serve the purpose of maintenance.