Aaron Schwenzfeier posted a GREAT post on training the other day (among several recently…you’re getting GOOD Aaron!):
Which prompted an “offline” conversation about training. Here’s the summary:
With well-designed programming it isn’t necessary to separate “therapy” “stretching” “power” “strength” etc. as much as most folks think it is nowadays – particularly for the non-professional athlete (which includes high school and college athletes and amateur competitors).
Those things – and the people who specialize in them – become necessary when the athlete breaks down. And that happens because they’re in a “separationist” training paradigm to begin with.
My statement assumes that the athlete is training holistically to begin with. The progression of science over the past 90 years has been down increasingly narrow alleys (specialization and reduction), so most athletes aren’t training holistically, and most coaches aren’t thinking holistically.
Pete Egoscue’s “tomato patch” was a great example of part of the holistic training concept, but that old B&W film of the Polish Weightlifting team training is even better (and Pete E borrowed the idea of the Patch from that film). Here it is:
How does a weightlifter train (in that day)? – running up hills, jumping up steps (or hills), rolling and tumbling, “cross-training” (enjoying other sports casually), and…practicing weightlifting.
What they didn’t show in that video was the rest of the weightlifter’s day (which I can only guess at for that team specifically, but this is what most of the Eastern Bloc camps I’ve read about did) – classes in A&P, sessions with the sports psychologist, massage, sauna, active stretching, eating, resting and sleeping.
A lot of that training was outdoors and in the “elements” outdoors. Rain, snow, etc. Poland is home to one of the last primeval forests in the world (or vice versa). So add to that list all of the benefits (“physiological” or “psychological”) of training in the outdoors and of training in a forest.
But I think this type of thing is lost on most modern S&C coaches – even the most progressive among them.
Some hint at a pathway to the holistic concept – stick to the physiology – but I don’t think this scope is broad enough.
The physiology is extremely simple. There are a few very simple things that offer significantly greater results/effects (the old 80/20 rule) in any given area (stretching, therapy, strength/power/speed, etc.). Stick to those things.
All well and good, but what is the limit of the physiology? When you train with Mick Dodge you learn that “The trees are your external organs…” And, certain movements provide more benefits than other movements do. Brachiation provides grip and shoulder strength, flexibility, and patterning.
I think this is the real genius of “great” coaches (S&C or otherwise). They stick to simple fundamental principles that were proven (or known through experience) to produce the desired result and consider the whole ecology of their habitat.
Bill Bowerman is one good example – Hard/Easy training…sprints and long slow distance…if the athlete shows up to practice with a weird physiology (back then he just would take their pulse and look at their features) send them home to sleep or rest.
16-minute hill runs would be unheard of today in this world of “sport-specific” and “energy-system” training. But Rice (and his coach) knew something that others still simply can’t grasp (because they’re holding onto their graphs and charts so tightly) – train the whole animal and succeed.