Stripping Away All that is Useless

Have to insert my Bruce Lee reference here in the title of the thread. I made a post on sprint training in another thread that I believe deserves some further discussion. I believe that too many people are looking for solutions outside of what is important (i.e. arm spiraling bullshit and other similar fixes). Fix what is important, and then build an effective support program around your main training program. This does not mean eliminate the low intensity work - in fact - CFTS emphasizes you to keep the volume of low intensity work high - but it does mean simplify it and treat it for what it is (Chicken Soup as Charlie was fond of calling it). It’s not a holy grail. Sprinting is the key element.

Too much consideration is given to all the shit bundled around the sprint workout and not enough is given to ensuring the quality of runs in the MAIN OBJECTIVE (in this case - SPRINTING). It is a very simple process. Do what you need to do to run faster. Ensure that the key elements are supported to ensure you do run faster in training (i.e. good progressive warm-up, technical considerations, adequate recovery between runs, therapy and rest between workouts). If these issues are not addressed properly, you can do as many other bullshit exercises as much as you want and you will not improve.

Most athletes will improve significantly through the competitive period because they are forced to do a few simply things:

  1. Run fast in competitions (where you are forced to sit down and rest between heats - not taking 6 minutes between 60m races!). It also helps that you are competing against someone next to you (thereby bringing up the intensity and creating an adaptation effect).

  2. Dropping elements from their program to free up energy. Many less helpful weight-room exercises are dropped in the competitive period or the volume is reduced to almost nothing.

  3. They get instant feedback - in the form of a time - to base their effort on. If you are not getting timed in training, you do not really know if you are improving week to week.

Thus, a less than optimal training program can be salvaged through a proper sequencing and volume of competitions. Go through the archives and re-read Charlie’s discussion of Asafa Powell and his lack of races leading into major competitions. His postings were a TEACHABLE MOMENT that many people did not pay attention to.

Those of you that are paying others to prepare your training programs need to ask questions. “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” If you follow people blindly (similar to trusting your investment banker, accountant, Bernard Madoff, etc.), you could get burned in the end. There should be a logic and progression to everything that is prescribed. It is not a process of throwing a pile of crap against the wall and seeing what sticks.

*** LESSON 1 in the CFTS certification program ***

As Al Vermeil has said, “Provide a simple solution that has a complex explanation.”

Wow NumberTwo!
Do you have a Ouija board there with you today? You are channelling the spirit of CF today. The no BS comments are always appreciated.
I often wonder if people have actually attended CF’s seminars or have bought any of his products? My experience at the first Vancouver series was that VERY few understood what CF was talking about… I was left with a huge paradigm shift in my thinking. (Everything I was taught in school about biomechanics was thrown out the window) and drills I’d been doing for years a’s b’s needed a different focus. (despite being taught by Gerard on a few occasions)
I was a little skeptical on the need for the CFTS certification but your previous post has made me a believer.
Keep up the great work!

Thanks Mac. Without Charlie’s presence, some of the postings get out of hand. I’m not trying to offend anyone (well, not usually), but I do feel someone has to step in and pull out the BS Card once in a while. I feel it is my responsibility to do this for Charlie - as I know he was the first one to step up and say, “Bullshit” without thinking of offending someone or hurting someone’s feelings. It was one of Charlie’s special qualities – and he had the experience, results and credibility to do so in such a firm manner. He was never trying to sell something, he just wanted to get the truth out.

Nice posts!


I get carried away with BS all the time, until I recall the one and only training session I had with Charlie, and all falls into place (at least for the day :))

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” - Bruce Lee -

Amen to everything you said NumberTwo.

no matter where or what you do in life- you will always get someone talking BS. its life but you must get on with it and decide for yourself

good freaking post

If said weight room exercises are less helpful, why are they in the program to begin with?

This is a very good question that warrants further discussion. I think you could spend a whole seminar discussing this issue (two day seminar).

Many of today’s top sprinters do not have a heavy emphasis on weightlifting when compared to someone like Ben Johnson or Maurice Greene for that matter (Doc Kreis - when he was still the strength coach at UCLA - told me that he saw Mo doing relatively easy full squats - butt rock bottom - with 405lbs for reps). Why is that?

Before I go on with my thoughts, I would be curious to read what other think about this issue.

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.