Olympic lifting Questions for Triphasic Concepts

Questions by Jim Fanara


1.       A common way to set up weightlifting training would be to do snatches or cleans in the beginning of the workout, then to go on to training the squat. This falls right into the mixed training problem you describe. How would you set-up the daily training of a weightlifter to maximize adaptation?

Cal Dietz Answer – Yes that is correct, the training of these two movements within the same session does have the potential of causing mixed training. At least at the deepest levels of adaptation. Mixed training occurs when the athlete applies multiple, non-compatible quality training (strength, strength-speed, speed-strength, and speed) within the same time period. When the body experiences these multiple qualities being trained simultaneously the athlete will not adapt optimally to any of the stressors being applied. A coach must always consider the goal quality of the training session (strength, strength-speed, speed-strength, and speed). Transitioning from snatches to squats within the same training session can lead to less than optimal improvements as the Olympic exercises are typically completed at higher velocities than a squat. For example, a clean executed at 90% will be much faster than a squat at 90%. For this reason two entirely different qualities are trained, strength-speed with the clean and maximal strength with the squat. Each movement’s velocity/load must be considered in order for the desired quality adaptation of the training session to occur in theory.


 2. On a podcast you were on, you mention the story of a Chinese weightlifting coach that had an injured athlete who could only do assistant lifts. This athlete went on to break records at the next competition. Would your training focus be on assistant lifts even with a healthy lifter?

CD Answer – Absolutely, the assisted training exercises are implemented to strengthen any weak link found within the main movement. In a competitive movement where a one rep max is completed, the max weight completed ultimately represents the strength of the athlete at the weakest point in a movement. Using a deadlift as an example, if the posterior chain is weak, an athlete may be able to pull heavy weights from the floor to knee level but be unable to complete the movement for a successful lift. Training of an assistive movement, such as an RDL will strengthen the posterior chain and increase the odds of the athlete to complete the lift successfully. Another example of an assistive exercise is the use of isometric training to improve the strength in a specific joint angle. These can be particularly useful around a sticking point. The understanding of these weak links within the main movement will also play a role in the use of oscillatory training methods discussed later.


 3. Could the undulated weekly model you use be expanded across consecutive days? A quick example of this would be something like:


     Monday -Fronts squats @80% 5×2, Tuesday- Snatch/Clean Pulls @83% 3×2, Wednesday – Back Squat @ 90% 3×1, Thursday- Snatch/Clean pulls @ 75% 6×2, Friday- Back Squat @ 70% 6×3.

CD Answer Yes, the undulated weekly model can be expanded across multiple days, I have seen people use this programming method with great success. The modified undulated model I have created fits the needs of the drug free athlete. The original undulated model (Bulgarian) could not be completed without the use of performance enhancing drugs due to the high volume utilized.


4. When peaking for a weightlifting meet, it is not uncommon to see back squats programmed at percentages around 90% for sets of doubles or triples. If you were to peak a lifter for a meet, would you keep the squats and pulls more in the 55-80% range in order to maximize speed-strength qualities?

CD Answer  The program must ultimately revolve around the needs of the individual athlete and their weakest qualities, or their limiting qualities in performance. The strength quality serves as the foundation for all Olympic movements, however it is possible for an athlete to be strong enough that it is no longer efficient for improvements in strength to be sought after. When this inefficient training of strength occurs, training percentages used could be lowered to train other limiting qualities in performance. It is for this reason, to determine specific quality needs of each athlete, that all individuals should work with a knowledgeable coach.


 5. Russian texts speak of the importance of the explosion phase on the pulls and the change of direction on the jerk. Do you see eccentric and isometric training as a way to enhance these aspects of the lifts?

CD Answer These movements, just as every other dynamic movement, contain the three muscle action phases (eccentric, isometric, and concentric). These two phases (eccentric and isometric) of muscular contraction can definitely be used to improve an athlete’s ability in Olympic training movements. Failure at these lifts occurs typically when the athlete is required to absorb extremely high levels of force created by the implement. This is due to a lack of eccentric strength, which results in a lowered ability to absorb high forces. By training eccentrically and isometrically, the muscle tissue’s ability to reverse the force of the bar is improved, leading to an increase in one rep max.


6. Russian programs commonly speak of the benefits of the shock method and program depth jumps multiple times throughout the training cycle. Do you see a benefit of incorporating he French contrast method into the training of a weightlifter?

CD Answer The effectiveness of the implementation of these shock training methods depend on the limiting qualities in performance, which were discussed earlier. If an athlete has a solid strength foundation the improvement of their speed-strength quality may be their limiting quality. If these exercises are to be used, they should be placed within a program about 10-12 weeks from competition. This will allow adaptation of the speed-strength quality while also ensuring appropriate focus can be placed on the specific movement required in competition. Once again, a coach that understands the requirements of competition must be used to guarantee appropriate individual quality needs are being met through training.


7. Similarly, do you see a benefit of using the oscillatory method for a weightlifter and how would you incorporate that into training?

CD Answer Oscillatory training methods can be applied with the same mentality as assistive exercises discussed earlier. Returning to the idea that one rep max is truly only an indicator of strength at the weakest point in a movement, heavy oscillatory training can be used to further increase strength in a weak range of motion. Returning to the RDL example as an assistive exercise, if there is a specific weak point within the RDL full range of motion is realized oscillatory training can be used to improve the strength levels at this point. Oscillatory training ultimately allows work to be completed at the absolute weakest point in a movement, whether it be a main or assistive exercise. By improving strength at this weakest point one rep max will continue to climb for the athlete.