Thursday, February 25, 2010

Training Methods - Carl Miller

Chart One
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Chart Two


Chart Three


Chart Four


Chart Five


Chart Six


Chart Seven


Chart Eight



Chart Nine





Training Methods
by Carl Miller


What is so different from swimmers training four hours a day and going to school or work and a lifter doing the same? Not everyone would want to do this or could, but some can and will. I want to say that although we in the West are on the right track in our training methods, there are some things that should be stressed even more, and there are some things which should be thought of in a different manner. What this amounts to is organizing and putting to work some of the great ideas born out by practical results in the weightlifting field.

What I am going to relate should be viewed in a certain perspective. One, it cannot be fully explained in something as short as this paper. That is why I am urging more clinics, for both coaches and athletes. There are intangibles which are difficult to put into writing unless time is allotted to write a book (this should be done but until it is done we have to get out the information as soon as possible and in as meaningful a way as possible). Two, this is not a pure Bulgarian system or any other system because we are Americans and live in different conditions. It is a system I believe can be the most meaningful to Americans. I find the Bulgarian system the most applicable because of its sound technical base, success and its similarity to what we could do in this country, even though the Bulgarians lifters are state supported.


The Meaning of Training Phases

It should be evident to even the most novice athlete that to get in top shape he conditions himself for a contest and then he competes in a contest. After a while he may become stale and performance drops off. Now this has a very real physiological basis depending in part on what is happening in the adrenal glands. Hans Selye, famed Canadian research doctor, has on many occasions explained his theory of stress by three stages:
1.) An alarm stage which is the phase of adaptation during which training is initiated and progress is made toward peak performance. This can be from 4 to 12 weeks.
2.) A resistance stage which is the complete adaptation or achievement of peak condition which lasts 3 to 6 weeks.
3.) An exhaustion stage which is re-adaptation to the loss of peak condition.

This means that a preliminary phase, a contest phase and a post-contest or re-adaptation phase for lifting are real, not imaginary; there are certain boundaries of time for getting ready for competition, reaching and maintaining the peak for the competition and re-adapting again for the next competition. It becomes even more meaningful the higher a lifter travels up the scale in competition because the stresses are more.

Let us use as an example the elite lifter. For him this whole preliminary/contest/re-adaptation cycle takes 16 weeks. This can be divided into an 8 week preparation phase, a 6 week contest phase and a 2 week re-adaptation phase. This works out to three peaks (three 16 week periods) per year with a 4 week period of vacation.

The class four lifter cannot fit exactly into the stress theory because he is new. He will make good progress because he is new and not wholly because of the correct program he is on. However, it is applicable to him because if he is to progress he needs a meaningful structure to train by so that he will make the most progress possible. He must learn a correct training system so when he does progress and changes categories, he will have trained under a system which will bring out continued progress in him. There is no reason for many of our lifters to get bogged down in their categories. If they trained under a sound system their bodies could be coaxed into far more progress.

Below are listed the cycles of competitions and the length of training phases for our different classes (categories).


CLASS IV
Eight competitions, every 5 to 6 weeks. Two phases of four competitions with a vacation between each phase.

#1
1-2 week preparation phase
3 week competition phase
1 week re-adaptation phase

#2
Same

#3
Same

#4
Same

- around 24 weeks total depending on selection.

Vacation

#5
Same

#6
Same

#7
Same

#8
Same


CLASS III
Six competitions every 7 to 8 weeks. Two phases of three competitions with a vacation between each phase.

#1
2-3 week preparation phase
4 week contest phase
1 week re-adaptation phase

#2
Same

#3
Same

Vacation

#4
Same

#5
Same

#6
Same

- around 23 weeks depending on selection.

Vacation

#4
Same

#5
Same

#6
Same


CLASS II
Five competitions every 9 to 10 weeks. On phase of five competitions with a vacation at the end.

#1
5 week preparation phase
4 week contest phase
1 week re-adaptation phase

#2
Same

#3
Same

#4
Same

#5
Same


Class I
Four competitions every 12 weeks in one phase with a vacation at the end.

#1
6 week preparation phase
5 week contest phase
1 week re-adaptation phase

#2
Same

#3
Same

#4
Same


MASTER AND ELITE
Three competitions every 16 weeks in one phase with a vacation at the end.

#1
8 week preparation phase

#2
Same

#3
Same


It is recognized and understood that our contest in the Unites States will not allow this to be followed exactly, but they come fairly close. And if something is off a few weeks, adaptation will have to be made. However, this guideline is also set up to try to guide our meet directors in the placement of their meets. This means having contests scheduled by classes (categories) where possible. Some places are already doing this. This also means having more local support financially as out lifters can travel when need be to closely follow such a training cycle.

It is also recognized that other contests will come up during this time in which a lifter may want to lift for a variety of reasons. This is fine, but he should treat these contests as workouts and not peak for them. He may train on the same da after this type of contest is over with; this is very prevalent in other countries. Sometimes entering such a contest will catch a lifter unexpectedly at his best; in this case he should not hold back. The important thing is to have treated the contest as a workout by not peaking for it. If the weights feel extra light in such a contest, the lifter may go for records.

The number of competitions for lower category lifters is more than the number for lifters in higher categories. This is extremely important for development. It must be stressed that what happens in the gym is only part of the development. The lifter must get used to and even thrive on competition. There is so much to learn from competition that the many peaks for a lower category lifter are important if he is to develop fully and eventually lift the most he possibly could at the end of his lifting career. The higher category lifter has had many competitions in the past and no longer needs as many. He is now a veteran and he needs to spend more time on making his body respond to higher training intensities.


The Preparation Phase

The preparation phase brings the body to the point where it is able to go into peak phase and maintain it. It is important to know that in this phase much of the time the lifter is lifting while tired. He trains to a tired point and then trains more. He is actually doing more work at higher intensity than during the phase that follows, which is the contest phase. This idea of training while tired during the preparation period is a concept developed by the Bulgarians to good success, but it is not limited to weightlifting. Such sports as track and field and swimming have used it for years.

When I say the lifter is doing more work during the preparation phase, I mean actual TIME training. This time concept was also developed by the Bulgarians. They recognized that work as measured by existing tonnage measurements was grossly in error, so why add it up. This is something I have pointed out in past clinics, based on my experience in Japan, and I was glad to see it confirmed by the Bulgarians; they have not used the tonnage system for years. What they measure is time spent per type of exercise per lifting rating (class). It is taken for granted that a lifter will rest two to three minutes between lifts. This is also a way of scheduling workouts which other sports such as football and basketball have used with success. It means scheduling time for drills in accordance with each drill’s importance to the final result so that each workout is as productive as possible.


Contest Phase

The contest phase starts when the lifter wants to go into peak condition and hold it for the competition. The time allotted to training is reduced; the lifter trains till he is tired and then no more. Workouts are more short and sweet. On paper they may not seem that much shorter, but it is that little bit of a slack-off in work which allows a freshness on the part of the lifter. If there is too much slack-off, the lifter loses the edge he is building for.


The Readaptation Phase

The readaptation phase is one of coming down off of a peak, maintaining good weightlifting physical condition, and easing into another cycle of preparation. This is a very important phase. I have already stated that the body needs this to recuperate. The adrenals have been at a hyperactive state for weeks, and they cannot take any further output. The mental, physical and emotional stress of preparation an then competition leads to a state of exhaustion. If a lifter goes from a contest immediately back into a preparation phase, he is not allowing the adrenals to recuperate. After 7 to 18 weeks the adrenals require a period of recuperation. If they do not get it, their output not returned, and there is also a drop in the eosinophil count (one of the white blood cells) because of too much constant physical, mental and emotional stress.


Vacation

A vacation should really be called active rest. A complete change of living habits (without going against health) should take place in order for the lifter to feel fresh for the upcoming training sessions. The theory is to have fun actively. It is taken for granted that athletes like movement; therefore, when they go on vacation they should have fun with movement. This way they enjoy themselves, a change of pace is attained, and their general physical condition does not deteriorate. Sports suggested for a vacation are: basketball, soccer, track and field, paddle-ball, handball, volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, bicycling, skiing and ice-skating. The lifter can engage in these sports in his own town or wherever he goes. He should have fun with them and just enjoy the movement of activity, letting his mind and emotions rest.


Practical and Realistic Training Time for Progress

The Bulgarians train longer than the amount of time presented here. I have adapted their training time to something realistic for us. Even so, to some lifters it will seem too long. If so, maybe such lifters are overachieving for their class; their bodies are just not adaptable to such training. Such a lifter might try training one category less than his actual rating. But remember, to lift more weight, the lifter must wisely increase his intensity and the amount of work. There might be a stage he will reach wherein his body goes downhill. But with systematic training and excellent health habits the lifter can probably adapt to more intensity and work. The theory of adaptability is the key to getting the most out of the body. We have only to look at the long intense training sessions (4-6 hours) or our top swimmers and wrestlers to know this can be done. They did not start out with such lengthy sessions, but they followed adaptive training methods of increasing work and intensity, and when their bodies adapted, they swam faster and wrestled better.

There will be casualties along the way. One lifter’s body will be able to produce less; another’s will produce more. That is one reason why there are so few world champions. It is nothing that can be helped and nothing personally against a lifter. It is also a reason why our selection process should be good so that we can get lifters with the physical constitution that can adapt to the high levels of stress needed to progress.

In any case, each lifter should give himself every chance of success. I have already mentioned the necessity of excellent health habits. If a lifter does not follow such health habits, his body cannot adapt as well to increasing stress. This means regular sleeping habits. It means eating well. It means no smoking. This also means being very careful of alcohol. A few beers once in an while is not going to hurt a lifter, but any more is going to have a pronounced effect on his recovery from workouts. Alcohol effects the enzymatic system which plays such an important role in assimilation of foods. There will be enough emotional stress just training and competing; to add to it other outside problems means the lifter cannot recover well enough between workouts.

I hope the idea of discipline has come across. This was stressed at the European Coaches’ Conference time and time again, not only by the Bulgarians but also by the other countries involved. Even the Russians said the key to the Bulgarian success is discipline. Such intense training cannot be done without it. This word takes in so much. Many training problems are solved just by having discipline.

*See Chart One


Related Exercises

To help organize the countless number of exercises, we group related ones. Each one can be designated as technique oriented (T), power oriented (P) or both (B). Below are such listings.


Snatch Related Exercises
1.) Complete from floor. T
2.) From knees. T
3.) From mid-thigh. B
4.) Deadlift to knee. P
5.) Power snatch. P
6.) High pull, straight arms. B
7.) High pull, arms coming up. B
8.) Overhead squat. T
9.) Isokinetics. P
10.) Eccentric contraction. P

Jerk Related Exercises
1.) Push press. P
2.) Push up and out. P
3.) On toes, split and recover B
4.) Push drive. P
5.) Balance. T
6.) Jerk, eyes closed. T
7.) Front squat & jerk. T
8.) Jerk from rack. T
9.) Isokinetics. P
10.) Eccentric contraction. P

Clean Related Exercises
1.) Complete from floor. T
2.) From knees. T
3.) From mid-thigh. T
4.) Deadlift to knees. B
5.) Power clean. P
6.) High pull, straight arms. B
7.) High pull, arms coming up. B
8.) Position squat. T
9.) Isokinetics. P
10.) Eccentric contraction. P

Leg Related Exercises
1.) Front squat. P
2.) Super killer squat. P
3.) Speed squat. P
4.) Pre-exhaustion. P
5.) Back squat, Olympic. P
6.) Back squat, pull position. B
7.) Split squat. P
8.) Olympic clean deadlift. B
9.) Isokinetics. P
10.) Eccentric contraction. P


Remedial Exercises

Leg
1.) Leg extension.
2.) Leg curl.
3.) Leg push.
4.) Hack machine.
5.) Isokinetics.

Back
1.) Good morning.
2.) Hyperextension.
3.) Stiff-legged deadlift.
4.) ¾ hyperextension.
5.) Isokinetics.
6.) Bent-knee situps.

Shoulder
1.) Seated press.
2.) Bench press.
3.) Behind neck press.
4.) Standing military press.
5.) Power snatch to forehead & pressout.


Exercise Groupings

Exercises are grouped into categories according to specific goals of a workout and then these categories are practiced so many times per week depending on the rating (class) of the lifter. The chart above lists these categories and the number of times per week they are practiced.

*See Chart Two

Some of the thoughts behind the groupings are:
1.) As the lifter advances in rating and style is learned, strength must be emphasized more.
2.) The clean & jerk is separated for some specialized training since it is made up of two separate skills, but then it is practiced in its entirety.
3.) There is a progression in the number of times various facets are practiced per week.
4.) Remedial exercises play a part in the program.

Let me define remedial exercises. There are exercises which should give specialized strengthening around the back, leg and shoulder joints. They are not practiced for very long nor are they emphasized in intensity. To place more emphasis on them might open a lifter up to injury or overdevelopment; he does not want to get injured doing the exercises. Part of the purpose of such exercises is to balance possible overdevelopment incurred when doing the standard exercises. Leg curls would be such an exercise to balance the development of the quads. Bench presses would be another to balance pulls. We do not need big pecs and we do not need to be able to bench big weights, but we do want to strength in the chest area for the reason stated above and for general shoulder area conditioning. Seated presses do not help the first part of the jerk, but by strengthening that area they could prevent an injury there. Just a few sets into the time allotted at the end of a time period with 80-90% of the best for those reps engaged in (for example, 80% of best for 5 reps) would be sufficient for the remedial exercises.


Actual Practice Layout

Listed in the next chart above for each class is a layout of the number of times exercises grouped in categories are practiced each week, and the time allotted per workout for the exercises. The exercises can be inserted. Technique groups are placed during the practice at the time that the lifter would be most fresh. Remedial exercises are at the end of the practices. The explanation of warmups and games and recovery will be presented following this section.

*See Charts Three to Eight

There are two methods of doing the exercises which fit into the time allotted per exercise grouping in the Readaptability Period:

ONE METHOD is for the lifter to choose a weight that is within 50-60% of his best and do four to six repetitions, doing as many sets as the time allotted calls for, resting only one minute between sets.

A SECOND METHOD is for the lifter to choose a weight that is within 40-50% of his best and do 4-6 repetitions, going from exercise to exercise with no rest and repeating the exercises in a circuit. The exercises can be grouped so that the time allotted to exercise related grouping is covered and the exercises are placed so that they do not fatigue any one muscle group, something like the old PHA system of the mid and late 1960’s.

As was stated earlier, the readaptation phase is one of coming down off a peak, maintaining good weightlifting physical condition and easing into another cycle of preparation. The adrenal glands are given a chance to rest and recuperate. In either of the two methods described above, all this can be accomplished because coordinated movements are being performed without emotional stress. It is enough of a change of pace to be refreshing and enough fast work to be physically stimulating. At the end of this phase or period the lifter is in shape mentally, physically and emotionally to go into the preparation phase of the next cycle.


Warming Up

The warmup should bee well planned, organized and goal oriented. It is the warmup which not only prevents both micro and major injuries but also sets the mood for the workout. A lifter can feel varying degrees of enthusiasm going into a workout; if he goes through a well-designed warmup his enthusiasm will rise.

Improved circulation is one goal of warming up. There are circulatory adjustments the cardiovascular system makes in order to handle increased activity. Circulation should be increased throughout the whole muscular frame.

Specific flexibility is another goal. A warmup must increase the flexibility in areas most useful to the lifter. Specific coordination patterns used in lifting should be a third goal of warming up. Extemporaneous movement patterns during the warmup, while increasing circulation, do nothing for adding more practice of movement patterns along the lines a lifter can use.

To reach the goals of increased circulation, specific flexibility and specific coordination, the warmup is best designed in a circuit with exercises placed in the circuit. A circuit has these three advantages:
1.) It can be performed in a small place.
2.) It offers an organized pattern which is a goal itself and thus more meaningful than just warming up haphazardly.
3.) It offers a method of organization of warmup exercises which stimulates the desire to train and which does not tire out the lifter.

With the above in mind, see the example circuit illustrated above.
*See Chart Nine

The lifter should go through this circuit as many times as it takes to complete a 10-15 minute warmup. He does the exercise as correctly as possible but also as fast as possible. The lifter is only in competition against himself so it is a race with himself and nobody else.

These types of exercises were chosen and placed in order that:
1.) They will invigorate the lifter.
2.) Gradual loosening will take place before complicated movements are performed.
3.) Maximum use can be made of a small room.

While there are other exercises which can be substituted for the ones presented, the jerk, clean and snatch shadow movements should be included in any type of circuit warmup. The following is a brief explanation of the exercises used.


Flexibility Exercises:

1.) Ankle Walk – Bend over, grasp back of heels and walk. This stretches the hamstrings.

2.) Ankle Stretch – Lean on a solid surface (arms outstretched, palms against the surface) and put one foot as far back as you can, keeping the whole foot flat on the floor. When you get to the point where the heel starts to come up, then stretch it down by pushing down and back on that foot. Push down for 3-5 seconds, relax and follow with 2-4 more bouts of 3-5 seconds. Do the same with the other foot.

3.) Yogi Crotch Stretch – Sit down, bend the knees and put the soles of the feet together, bringing the feet as close to the crotch as possible. Grab ankles with hands, arms between thighs, and put elbows on thighs, using them and the forearms as levers to push down and out on the thighs. This will stretch the adductors (inside of thighs). Hold the maximum stretch for 3-5 seconds and do the stretch 2-4 times.

4.) Arm Circle – Hold arms out to the side. Make 10 small firm circles forward and then 10 small firm circles backward.

5.) Dislocates – Take a broom stick and using the snatch grip move the stick from overhead to behind the head and down to the lower back. Return the stick to the overhead position. Repeat 10 times.

6.) Scapula Raise – Stand with hands on two chairs shoulder distance apart or with hands on parallel bars. Completely relax the scapula and lean down on the hands letting the shoulders come upward towards the ears. Hold for 3-5 seconds and then drop the shoulders. Repeat 2-4 times.

7.) Wrist Stretch – Stand arm distance away from a wall. Extend one arm putting the palm on the wall, fingers pointing down. Move the palm up the wall until it will not stay flat on the wall. Then lean into the wall so the palm does touch it again. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 2-4 times. Do all three wrists.

8.) Split Squat – Put one foot in front and the other in back like a split clean of snatch. Put hands overhead and drop down into a low split keeping the trunk erect. Stay in this low position 3-5 seconds and repeat 2-4 times. Let your bodyweight push you down far. Work both legs.


Coordination Exercises

Shadow Jerk, Shadow Clean and Shadow Snatch – As in “shadow” boxing. For each of these go through the exercise like you normally would with a bar. Concentrate on hitting all positions as you go through the movement. Try to make the movement feel fluid as you do it for 5 reps. Because no weight is present you will feel clumsy to begin with, but this will subside if you go through the exercise purposefully and slowly, striving for a fluid motion. With each repetitions pick up the tempo.


Circulatory Exercises

1.) Crab Walk – Sit on the floor and put palms on floor a little behind the shoulders with the fingers pointing back. The feet are out front with the knees bent. Raise the rear end off the floor and on all fours walk backward, one arm and the other opposite leg going back together.

2.) Jump Rope – Jump using any of a variety of steps you might know. Take 30 jumps to reach your destination. This way height of jump is emphasized and not ground covered.

3.) Hops – The distance is short for 20 hops, which is good because you want to concentrate more on height than distance. Extend the knees, hips, back and feet fully as you hop.


Games

Games are used in the workout schedule for some very good reasons. The most obvious is to gain some cardiovascular strength. Anybody who says weightlifting is not an endurance sport does not understand that to keep your adrenaline up for the many hours of training, to say nothing of a lengthy competiton, takes real endurance. If the cardiovascular system is developed, then stamina can be called on late in the routine or contest because a lot of blood is not only being pumped through the system but it is also being tapped by the cells. This means more oxygen and nutrients go to the cells and more toxins are gotten rid of.

A second reason for games is to reinforce movement patterns that are similar to those used in weightlifting and that are power oriented. This is why, for example, volleyball and basketball should be played a lot. If you have ever played a good game of either you know how much your legs and hips get worked. Of course, broad jumping, high jumping and shot putting are good to “play” because of power movement patterns similar to lifting.

A third reason for games is to develop competitiveness. Although competitiveness is natural to man it is not always brought out or reinforced, so it never gets developed to its full potential. Not even a class four lifter competes in many competitions a year. This is one reason why many lifters are gym lifters. They never had much training in competitiveness as they were developing. By playing games in the training routine and placing emphasis on beating the next man’s mark or beating the other team, competitiveness is developed. This can be a lot of fun; by mixing up what type of competitions you will have, and even by inventing a few.

Change of pace is a fourth reason for including games in your workout schedule. The lifter needs good hard physical fun. This will help his morale when the gym seems very confining.


Workout Recovery

As much as possible the waste products built up during training should be removed. In this way the muscles will recover faster and will stand less chance of injury. For this reason hot and cold showers are important. The lifter should get under a hot shower for 2-3 minutes. The intercellular fluid will then be drawn from the capillaries into the cells because of the high degree of toxicity in the cells. This increase of fluid in the cells will dilute the toxins. Then the lifter should turn the shower to cool or cold (the cooler the better) for 15 seconds. The cells will constrict and squeeze the excess fluid and toxins out into the intercellular space where it will enter the circulatory system and be carried off. The lifter should repeat this alternation of hot and cold showers three or four times for best results, ending up with the cool or cold shower.

Another method of removing the waste products is alternating a steam or sauna bath with a swim in a pool or a dip in the snow. If you have never tried this form of recovery you are in for a pleasant feeling after a workout. There will be much reduced or even no soreness and a real fresh feeling. Taking a hot shower or steam or sauna bath without following it with cool or cold water means excess fluid will get into the cells but will take a long time getting out. It will impinge on nerve fibers because of the stretch of the cells by excess fluid, and there will be increased chance of a muscle cell rupturing. At the same time, the cell is still wallowing in its own filth and not recovering as fast.


Number of Lifts PER MONTH Above Certain Key Percentages

The counting of lifts (Olympic lifts and pulls) 90% and above per month has been standard practice. This has been the mainstay for judging proper intensity for many years. We now have the development of counting lifts not only for this percentage but also for the lifts 100% and over. These are not fixed at this time but some fairly accurate figures are available. The body responds to different stimuli for gaining strength. And this new development of counting lifts 100% and over should be viewed with great interest since the Bulgarians pioneered it, and the are the ones who have taken lifters farther toward potential than any other country.

With a good training background, most lifters will be able to fit into their proper category. It must be understood that there are such individual differences as age, years of lifting, high rating despite poor training habits, and so on. that would make some lifters uncomfortable lifting in the category the qualify for. If such a case occurs, the lifter should be flexible and use the category that seems best for him. He should strive to eventually use the category he properly belongs in. If the individual difference is extreme, then he must operate in the category that seems best. While these are guides which have proven successful, they are flexible.


Preparation Period

Elite:
80-100 at 90%+
20-30 at 100%
15-19 at 100%+

Master
60-79 at 90%+
15-24 at 100%
12-16 at 100%+

Class I
40-59 at 90%+
12-18 at 100%
10-13 at 100%+

Class II
30-39 at 90%+
9-13 at 100%
6-11 at 100%+

Class III
20-29 at 90%+
7-10 at 100%
5-7 at 100%+

Class IV
10-19 at 90%+
5-8 at 100%
4-6 at 100%+


Contest Period

Elite
70-85 at 90%+
17-25 at 100%
13-16 at 100%+

Master
50-69 at 90%+
13-20 at 100%
10-13 at 100%+

Class I
30-49 at 90%+
10-15 at 100%
8-12 at 100%+

Class II
20-29 at 90%+
7-11 at 100%
6-10 at 100%+

Class III
15-19 at 90%+
5-8 at 100%
4-7 at 100%+

Class IV
10-14 at 90%+
4-6 at 100%
3-5 at 100%+


The 100% and 100%+ lifts are included in the 90%+ counts. The part of the 100% and 100%+ lifts that is the 2 Olympic lifts and the part that is the pulls vary, but the part that is the 2 Olympic lifts does not exceed one-third of the counts during the preparation phase and one-fourth of the counts during the contest period. The pulls therefore comprise at least two-thirds of the counts during the preparation period and at least three-quarters of the counts during the contest period.

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