More Absolutes?


You can’t do this or you must do that. Don’t listen to absolutes. I was appalled when I read one prominent consultant share his opinion that swimmers should not do olympic lifts like it was gospel. His evidence was it was documented the power clean caused the back problem. Well my documentation shares a boatload of olympic gold medalists and world records by those who have used bars and bumper plates. Some world record holders barely did anything. I don’t use OL with everyone but that is because of problems with the environment and situation, not the exercise.Sometimes a bad horror story can frighten off methodology for the wrong reason. Sometimes those that can’t teach it, ban it. We see a pattern of banning things with ideas we don’t like or often can’t do. I don’t care who does what, so long as it can be reproduced consistently, and if people are getting hurt all the time and can’t compete, even the stubborn make changes.

Penelope Heyns was world record holder and is a multiple gold medalist and used power cleans. I use her as an example because swimmers are suppose to be frail, and some point out women have less testosterone then males, making excuses for why they should be stuck with the kneeling push-ups. The reason I bring her up is that we train football players like we did swimmers in the 70s, like frail athletes instead of adaptable organisms that have a thirst for challenge. Those that talk about coordination in the weight room like it’s magic never like the argument about taking out practice of skills and replace it with Frans exercises and see if things are improving. Coordination is part of the picture but global qualities with specific practice will trump the bridge to nowhere exercises that still have no research or empirical validation. I will let the Frans followers do step up cleans with a stumble reflex and I will do block starts and regular power cleans. Where are the freaks? Since 2007 where are the advancements? Perhaps the 2012 combine will have legions and hordes of Barry Sanders coming from Holland after the water jug step ups with a twist?

Personally I don’t care about methodology so long as progress is consistent and evident with one’s program. We need to avoid group think with and question suggestions that are in absolutes. Sure most swimmers don’t’ have a gravity loading environment as most don’t do enough real dry land. The convenience of doing a circuit around the pool is great, but the limits of the facility in the real world end up doing endurance like exercises that dilute the very need the body desires, hyper gravity. Bodyweight is not progressive as one thinks. Most adding difficulty in the exercise is a circus act of balance, not creating gross forces. Give the athlete what they are not getting, not recreate the imbalance of development.

The lesson learned is that the obvious is blind from over thinking and not getting to fundamentals. Swimmers experience less forces because of the minimal gravity environment and lack of exposure to more land based activities. Instead of dry land training it needs to be resistance overload not motion recreation or endurance dilution training. Swimmers may not need to do Bondarchuk programs that hammer throwers would be scared of, but treating them like post concussion athletes hurts progress and risks injury.

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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