Stripping Away All that is Useless

When you start it isn’t that important what is being done as you are simply exercising muscles. The closer you get to the business end the more specific the training must be and exercising muscles isn’t enough.

Good points. Weights are more relevant for high schoolers and perhaps those in their first few years of college/university. At some point, once your strength gains reach a certain point - there is a point of diminishing returns with the weight room (as it applies to sprinting). You must find specific stimuli for adaptation for your main goal (sprinting 100, 200 or 400m).

By keeping the weights general,low intensity, it well keep the athlete fresher for the speed work. The faster the athlete, the more the speed work will drain them.

" specific stimuli for adaptation" What does this mean? Using ways of developing strength for speed through speed work?
We have seen some notes on MVP program with a large amount of hills & sled work " specific stimuli" while the weights program seems to be mostly general.

In addition to what everyone else saisd, I think there is the issue of making the athlete robust enough to handle the high-intensity and specific training.

I recall an audio interview with Pfaff where he talked about one of his sprinters who was, as he put it, allergic to iron. Pfaff apparently felt that the lack of weights in the program were part of why that sprinter often got hurt.

High intensity sports include a lot of pounding to the body, joints, connective tissues. Weights earlier in development strengthens those and could be beneficial from that standpoint as well.

By “specific” I am referring to the quality of sprint runs as a primary means of creating adaptation that contributes to the final product. The maximal weights portion of the training would be considered “general” in the sense that it is creating a general improvement in strength that will feed into the sprint training (starting strength, acceleration, general body integrity as mentioned by Lyle).

Your points on the MVP program are well taken, as they are not trying to get fancy with their weight program. It is what it is – a general means to an end. The sled work and hill work can bridge the gap between general strength and speed.

I remember a coach referring to a phase of the weight training program as “general muscle and connective tissue integrity development”. While it is a mouthful, it does make some sense. Building up the body for the stresses of training is an important part of the general preparatory phase. And, maintaining this foundation of strength through the season is also important. If you go too far away from it (i.e. drop it entirely from the program), you will lose these qualities. Charlie’s whole program of Vertical Integration (raising or lowering the volume of specific components - but not eliminating them) addresses this issue very well.

He will be at a stage where increasing his power output is far more important than developing strength using the squat.

For me personally, leg speed, tendon strength & elasticity are the defining qualities of the fastest 100m sprinters.

Bench, squat, oly’s & deadlifting are ‘usually’ the Western standard that just don’t cut it in each department in developing those qualities to world standard IMO.

Yes they can too an extent but there are far better means.

As the sprint game has changed in the past 20 years with a movement to harder tracks and stiffer spike plates, there has been a tendency to move towards a “muscle-tendon stiffness” emphasis in training. The payoff has been significant in many more athletes running sub-10 performances over 100m.

What are the downsides? A greater potential for muscle-tendon juncture injuries, with more stress placed on the achilles tendon and the tendons of the lower hamstring and upper calf.

Thus, Lyle’s comments with regard to integrating a general weight program become much more important - not necessarily in a maximal strength manner - but as a general body integrity input.

What I do find interesting is that we have more athletes running sub-10 in the 100m, but not necessarily more running sub 6.50 in the 60m. There are a number of reasons including less emphasis on indoor competitions than previous decades, as well as this emphasis on muscle-tendon elasticity/stiffness – which will have a bigger payoff from 50-100m, than zero to 50m.

The potential drawback of these observations is that a coach may completely switch their programming to plyos/tendon elasticity and drop the emphasis of weights as a significant input. From my experience, this would be a short-sighted move that could lead to greater incidence of injury (and repeated injury) over the long term.

The conference I am holding on May 14 in Vancouver will include a researcher from the University of Calgary - Dr. Benno Nigg - that has done probably the most significant research on muscle-tendon compliance and different shoes/surfaces. I would like to sit down with him and discuss this specific topic and related topics in more detail.

Not sure if I’m a fan of Benno. Although world renowned, his research results seem to depend on who is funding his research. ie. Adidas, MBT shoe. etc.
Truly brilliant man. His new research is promising. Last time I heard him speak he wasn’t very open to questions. At that point he was unable/ unwilling to provide any practical applications for his work…
Hopefully he will be more open to discussion in a small group setting.

Can you elaborate on the focus on muscle and tendon elasticity/ stiffness. How would this be focussed on in training? I know Plyo’s would increase stiffness and massage can reduce tone… Since this is a periodization thread, how would this work in a vertical integration model?

You do know he is a university professor…? :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s the interesting thing about working at a university – all the work I do is “practical”, so nobody in the Kinesiology department wants anything to do with me.

I do know that some of his recent articles have claimed that expensive shoes don’t work as advertised and orthotics only provide cushioning. In those cases, perhaps it is more useful to review his data, as opposed to his interpretation of the data. However, I’m more interested in his data/results on muscle-tendon tuning. His interpretation of the data may be open to interpretation.

There needs to be a distinction between stiffness from training volume and stiffness as a voluntary means of creating propulsion or an elastic response. I do believe you can bring down muscle tone in a manner that can enhance the latter. In that regard, there is a sweet-spot for muscle tone (too high is bad and too low is bad). In any case, increasing the positive aspects of stiffness must be done gradually over a long period of time in your training program.

Charlie and I discussed this concept of enhancing lower leg stiffness in a positive, progressive manner. We reviewed some of Dr. Nigg’s data on muscle tuning and Charlie had some profound ideas on how this could be done within a training program. I would like to reserve that information for the CFTS certification program, as well as consolidate some ideas after speaking with Dr. Nigg.

Reading this reminded me of Charlie’s comment on NBA players and the amount of plyometric work they (should) do.

Doh! Good point. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Too bad “practical” things aren’t valued more. Its their loss, I guess!

I think I see where you and Charlie were going with this… (at least in a vague kind of way) Very exciting concept! It would great if you could apply some “practical” applications to Dr. Nigg’s research.

At the conference I attended Dr. Nigg presented his ideas on vibrational tuning; specifically how it would influence running injuries. He believed that changing running surfaces, shoes or orthotics would do little to change the frequency.

I am REALLY interested to find out how you plan to implement these ideas! :cool:

My guess would be that within a research study, you would have a number of limitations:

  1. Short study window. I would think that you would have to study this over months to years to see the full effect of changing surfaces and modalities - periodized for maximum effect.

  2. Quality of athlete in the study. I would expect that lower level athletes (or regular people) would exhibit less profound effects than elite athletes. I would also be interested to see the differences between developing youth athletes and mature athletes. I would expect that if you used this methodology properly during the developmental years of an athlete, you would have long lasting, profound results that would be hard-wired into the athlete.

So, I can’t see how he could replicate the precise effects of muscle tuning through training.

Helluva topic to discuss though…!!!

While I agree with the points you make, I wouldn’t confuse dropping means, during competition, that compete with the CNS reserves needed for sprinting during competition. CNS demands from sprint training are much higher in comp phase than GPP or SPP. Some of these exercises may be good and very much needed, you just can’t afford to do them during comp phase because higher and higher sprinting intensity is absorbing so much more of the CNS reserve than in earlier phases. Doesn’t necessarliy mean you can/should do without them during GPP or even SPP.

We’re not saying drop them absolutely. However, are there some exercises that are kept in the mix for, say, reasons of insecurity, rather than having a proper place in the training program? It is a discussion that needs to be addressed.

I liken some training programs to the way airlines overbook seats in flights.

The other issue is in relation to mature, elite sprinters versus developing non-elites.

It is not a “black-and-white” discussion. There are many shades of grey.

From my research, heavy isometric training is regarded the best for developing the tendons/increasing stiffness. It’s also the fastest way to CNS drainage too (30-60sec holds).

Muscle can’t compete with tendon elasticity.


And not a spiral in sight. :smiley: