Has anyone read ‘Power to the People’ by Pavel Tsatsouline?. It is a short and cheaply put together book (albeit at an expensive price), but 95% of the advice is spot on. I would be interested to know if anyone here has benefitted from the advice. The concept of quality training, instead of quantity training, is the theory behind acquiring more strength without the unnecessary muscular bulk (i wish Mike Tyson had read this book before taking on Lennox Lewis, because then he could have come into the fight at 215- 220lb with much greater speed and strength than he had at 235lb. That way he would have knocked Lewis out no problem, as his speed of foot would have negated Lewis’s reach advantage. To try to get as close to 6’ 5" Lewis’s 250lb as possible- as a 5’11" man was a catastrophic error on the part of Team Tyson, because he was an incredibly slow fighter with short arms and with a great deal of unnecessary muscle, he just got picked off by a taller guy. Still what do i know!) I believe Dwain Chambers suffers from the same problem in track terms, which is why he was picked off by J J Johnson in the recent 100m relay final at the world champs. Chambers needs to realise that he is not competing in a bodybuilding contest (his ‘contest’ with Levrone confirms that he is into the bodybuilding thing and reads Flex regularly which is how he came upon Levrone’s challenge). He is far too big to be a perfectly functioning athlete, although like his UK counterpart John Regis (who coincidentally? has been a part of Dwain’s development) he does very well in spite of his excess muscle. It is obvious that if he was lighter he would be even better (maybe sub 9.85 in average conditions, not those that he ran his 9.87 in, as he would easily be capable of running sub 9.8 in those if he was lighter), because 1)his power to weight ratio would improve, as his strength could easily be maintained 2)his thighs would not chaffe together as much; obviously the friction between his thighs impedes his running action and acts as somewhat of a break on his leg speed 3)he wouldn’t cramp up as much as he is known to do, because lighter guys are known not to cramp up as much.
I am sure that Dwain’s excess muscle is the result of the type of training he is doing, although he probably does have a genetic tendency to acquire muscle faster than his peers. To become what he has become, it has to be intentional in some part, unless it is down to something in particular in any ‘special diet’ he may be following. I believe that he is doing at least one of the following, probably all three, 1)training at, or very close to, muscular failure 2) performing reps above 5 in his sets 3) and also performing too many sets in a workout. These 3 largely contribute to the tearing down of muscle that when repaired contributes to increases in muscular mass. Strength/power can and should be built without resorting to these practises, unless one requires muscular bulk for sport or aesthetic purposes.
Tsatsouline argues, correctly in my opinion, that strength can be increased dramatically whilst keeping muscle development to a minimum, if one limits the sets and reps (and overall amount of exercises performed) in such a manner that no more than 10 reps are performed for each exercise in a workout. e.g 5 sets of 2 reps at 90% of 1rm is a good training protocol for power athletes, or 3 x 3 etc. This methodology suits me because i too have a tendency to pack on more muscle than i can ever need, especially in the lower body. i.e Before reading Tsatsouline’s book 6 months ago, i had 26" thighs and 171/2" calves (yes i am caucasian) whilst weighing 93kg bodyweight at 5’10" and with a pb in the FULL squat of 180kg + 100m pb was 10.79. I had 24" thighs (hardly any definition though) as an 18 year old before commencing strength training. The 180kg squat was attained by following a 5 sets x 5 reps methodology, not bad in itself. After implementing Tsatsouline’s methods, my full squat went to 225kg (495lb) in six months, bodyweight remained surprisingly constant, but incredibly my thighs dropped to 251/4", albeit with much greater definition. My current 100m pb is 10.61.
Before reading Tsatsouline’s book i didn’t think it was possible for Jonathon Edwards, who lets face it LOOKS about as strong as a choir boy, to power clean 150kg. After reading the book i thought that he must be doing very limited reps and sets, which would partly explain why he has relatively small muscles. After coming across this great website and forum, my hunch was confirmed when i read Shaun Pickering’s statement that Edward’s does 2 or 3 sets of 1 or 2 reps. Now that explains his phenomenal power to bodyweight ratio.
I hope Chambers listens to the comments of Michael Johnson, who said that he is too heavy and clumsy looking, and starts to look into ways of dropping some of that bulk.He will be a better athlete for it.
Caution: Myself and my training partners have found that whilst Tsatsouline’s tension methods do increase strength rapidly (which we all know is a needed facet of the sprinter), in our experience it also made us feel slower and tight, probably because some of the tension is left in the muscles after the set and indeed the workout. This is obviously not good, as it slows reactions and prevents the relaxed state so crucial for speed. Clearly from my 100m improvement i found a solution. After each set and at the end of the workout, i would stretch the worked muscles and relax my body as much as possible by shaking the muscles and joints. For a few seconds after each set i would also practise quick hand and feet drills. These all served to rid the built up tension when i no longer needed it to lift. In the off season strength phase this is unlikely to be a problem, but in the competition phase i would advise that people should practise these speed and loosening habits to get rid of the tension that successful strength training builds up.