Stimulus Package

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Weight training is just a general stimulus? Everything works? Yes. Everything can work with someone at some point, but again perhaps not with you or your athletes. The real questions should be what works most often with most athletes and most effectively. Note the word efficiently doesn’t come up as coaching and training is not very efficient in Track and Field. 48 weeks a year of training 3+ hours a day for 10 second events to improve 0.08 a year or more is a poor investment. When reading forum posts I constantly hear sprinting is specific and that any weight program will work since many different programs have worked for the elite level. So what. Can you use one elite program with non-elites and have it work just as well? Will speed deads at 60% of MVC get me to run faster than Allyson Felix since she only did regular deadlifts? What lifts act generally and what acts specifically? What does both? What models seem to work with more athletes and what changes to that program must be done to develop them further?

Weights are not general but they have general qualities, and most conventional methods done sanely will transfer, making lifting overall an effective choice for improving general adaptations but the specifics must be accounted for. If lifting is so general why not do machine circuits with B level talent and see what happens. Attachment to talent at the pro level, that is developed by the D1 coach, will make bosu ball agility programs look impressive yet we all know the tubing and toys didn’t make the athlete. As talent increases many athletes act as the Delorean from back to the future and fly while being fueled by garbage programing. I will be the first to admit that some of my talents succeeded from good DNA, not the workout I thought was doing the changes. It wasn’t until the next year with a group of athletes with less talent did I see what was likely to be effective. Years later when a bigger talent came along I was able to make changes and the results were better. With no emotional attachment to any methods of training a sense of clarity exists as no agenda is present.

Every lift and workout has a unique signature that must be matched the athlete or we are not exploiting the benefits of the lifts. Just do plyos may not work for those with no surface to do them or expertise to guide them. Get ’em strong works only when you know what else they need to do. My real fear is that I see many programs avoiding learning conventional lifts in favor of more single leg exercises and less technical lifts to save time and be efficient. Well what about effective long term? You can get strong with single leg exercises but often stabilizers become overloaded artificially with efforts to do single leg exercises as primary strength builders. Soon false positives of weakness to muscle groups that are frankly overloaded and exhausted rather than not innervated. Often it’s easier to not include a lift in a program because of the baggage attached with movements that demand a lot of one’s biomotor abilities. If one prepares an athlete to lift (Al Vermeil has a great presentation on this) they are most likely functioning better than just settling for step ups because they can’t do anything else easily. You may not need the olympic lifts but wouldn’t it be nice to have the joint mobility, core stability, and coordination of one? For example I have read two posts by an online guru sharing his admiration for two famous olympic lifters but doesn’t include olympic lifting is his program while he uses them as examples of flexibility and pelvic control in deep squats. I don’t understand why he doesn’t see the connection. I guess olympic lifters flexibility is 100% genetic.

In summary we must look at lifting and other training elements as a spectrum of general and specific adaptations to the body instead of a sweeping stroke of one or the other. Getting stronger in a squat is important but what about elastic qualities? Using the cliche tool analogy how many of us use the same tools because we are good with it and end up using the handle of the wrench as a makeshift hammer? Sprinting is specific but specific training comes with specific overuse injuries as well. Lifting must balance out the speed work so the natural running, jumping, and throwing will evolve with just the right assistance.
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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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