Stronger Athletes

Mystery Guest and Validity of Athletic Transfer?

April 26 "Words can do wonderful things. They can urge, they can wheedle, whipe or whine. They can forge a fiery army out of a hundred languid men." -Gwendolyn Brooks

Mystery Guest

Coach Bryzcki gave us the idea to use a question mark as opposed the the picture of each mystery guest to make them harder. It was after his urging to get tougher mystery guests we chose to use him! We had the opportunity to meet Coach Bryzcki this winter at the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar in Blaine, MN. He spoke about the fundamentals and guidelines for running a high intensity program. [Correctly naming Coach Matt Bryzcki were Fred Cantor, University of Maryland-Baltimore; Scott Savor, Shakopee, MN; Joe Ross, Tampa, FL; Jim Bryan, Winter Haven FL; and Matt Brzycki correctly naming himself, "The question mark is definitely an upgrade compared to the face that I was given!" (Coach, thanks for being a good sport! -S.A.)]

"Coach Matt Bryzcki served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1975-1979 and then earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from Penn State in 1983. From 1983-84, he was a Health Fitness Supervisor at Princeton. From 1984-90, he was the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Rutgers University. In 1990, he returned to Princeton University and is now the Coordinator of Health Fitness, Strength and Conditioning. He has authored more than 160 articles that have appeared in 32 different publications and three books. He has also co-authored a book with the coach of the Boston Celtics. He has been invited to speak at local, state, regional and national clinics and seminars throughout the US and Canada."

Coach Brzycki has written several books and well over 100 articles on safe, productive, and efficient strength training. Check out what he has to say about strength training HERE.

**Note** Much of this bio was taken from the Princeton University website. The link to Coach's articles is hosted at

Dear More Validity of Athletic Transfer

This exchange continues the validity of athletic transfer argument from a few weeks ago. Please feel free to send us your take on the matter.

Coach Rody,
I have been involved in weight training for over 40 years, over that time I have seen many different "systems" come and go. These have included "Static Contraction", "Isometrics", "Isotonics", "HIT", etc. the list can go on. All of these programs have a plethora of "scientific" research to back them up and yet over time they seem to drift away and the traditional or "Olympic Style" lifts seem to continue to endure. Can you tell me why?

I have used slow controlled lifting as part of an overall lifting program, I believe it has a place in an overall lifting program, I do not believe it should be the entire overall lifting program. I think it has a benefit as part of rehabilitation of an injured area, muscle isolation for rehab can be beneficial. I think it has benefit as part of an annual cycle for building size and strength. Where we differ is with two fundamental premises' of the HIT philosophy, those being 1) That their is only one kind of strength and 2) The HIT definition of specificity of training. I believe that exercises such as the Power Clean and Snatch have direct applicability to developing as well as expressing explosiveness.

Can you point to specific errors in the writings and systems proposed by Tudor Bompa?

I believe the speed with which an athlete can move a bar in bench press is an indication of how well that athlete can throw the shot. I believe the ability to sprint and jump can be improved by doing heavy squats and by doing plyometrics, (not in the same day). I also believe it is the HIT community that has the closed mind regarding training by trying to sell a one size fits all system that ignores all the other data available that does not support the HIT system. As I said earlier, HIT and slow controlled lifting has a place in the program, but it is not the only place.

Is their an elite level thrower or jumper 06-12-2018, in any weight or jumping event, that uses the HIT system? Male or female, for shot put, discus, javelin, long jump, high jump, triple jump, pole vault. Also please include participants in the "Heavy Games" or Scottish or Highland Games, (whatever name you use for them).

Name Withheld

Dear Coach,
First of all, we are not "HIT" or some fly by night outfit. [We are two coaches who are concerned with the profession of coaching athletes.] We do agree with most aspects of HIT though. HIT has a wide range of beliefs in its philosophy. We agree with most of its beliefs. If you think that static contractions and (which is a very productive technique to increase intensity) and HIT etc... has drifted well think again. HIT has been here for decades and is here to stay. In fact, it is growing in popularity and is an will continue to be on the rise. Coaches are getting educated on the science aspects of lifting and are asking the question why they do what they do. They cannot come up with sound scientific research to support their philosophy. Why is that? Obviously the Olympic lifting style is still the most popular and accepted method of training. Does that make it the safest, most productive and efficient way to strength train for athletics? Obviously not. Its popularity maintains because that is the way coaches were taught to train athletes. Most current strength coaches maintain that philosophy because Nebraska or some other successful team does it. They don’t know why.

The Principle of Specificity is not a HIT definition. I have an extensive background in Biology and have emphasized physiology in my studies for years. This principle of science can be found in most any physiology text. Take a look. How can a movement that creates momentum and takes the stress off the working muscles develop power? It directly violates the most widely accepted scientific principle: The Henneman Size Principle of Activation. Continuous tension on the muscles throughout the set is a requirement to train the Type IIb muscle fiber. If you can’t train Type IIb muscle fiber then very little power can be developed. Don’t tell us that you believe the body can magically bypass Type I and intermediate fibers and directly train the Type IIb fibers. It doesn’t and cannot happen. The speed of the bar is important in movement such a bench press. The movement should be slow and controlled. There is a fundamental difference between expressing and developing power. See Expressing vs. Developing Power. Moving the bar quickly in the bench press has nothing to do with the shot put. Believe me, coaching the shot put is one of the things I do for a living. I have helped develop some of the best shot putters in the state and never have performed an Olympic type of lift.

Anyway, a successful shot putter is one that is able to get his/her hip into the throw. The majority of the power comes from the lower body not the upper body.

Heavy squats can develop strength, power and explosiveness. Then the jumper and sprinter needs to go out and practice their event. As far as plyometrics, they are not necessary for any event. They do create many injuries as I have witnessed in programs every year.

We do not believe the HIT community or ourselves are close-minded. Olympic lifting advocates cannot stand it when other philosophies have hard scientific facts and principle that do not support the Olympic lifts. This research is real and is here to stay. Each year we have seen injuries that occur in various programs from the Olympic lifts. Unfortunately, coaches do not want to believe this. We owe it to our athletes to provide them with the safest program possible.

The throwers I can tell about are Steve Albert who is a world class thrower. He did away with cleans because of the aggravation to his wrists. Imagine that. Scott Lofquist who was an All American thrower who tells us that he threw in the upper sixties when he did the hang clean and power press. Some years he decided to bench and squat primarily with heavy weight and still threw in the upper sixties. Could that mean that these Olympic type of lifts are not necessary? We have a pole vaulter who took first place at Nationals last year. I would like to bring your attention to the greatest discus thrower that has ever lived- Al Oerter. He did not believe in sport specific weight training. He feels that it is nonsense. He also indicated that the athletes he competed against (East Germans and Russians) all had back operations. Who are we to argue with this man. He believe on get strong in weight room and going out and practicing your event.

We maintain that if the current elite athletes that perform Olympic style lifts take them out for awhile they will still be top throwers. We do respect your thoughts and opinions and wish you the best of luck.

Coach Rody

Dear Coach Rody,
You have not answered my question concerning Tudor Bompa, what part of his program is wrong? Also I will again say that your system has its place in a year round lifting program, but I do not believe it can be the whole program. I will refer you to the writings of Dr. Fred Hatfield and the work he has done in the applicability of Olympic Style Lifts and their ability to DEVELOP strength and power, not just express it. The definition you use regarding the principal of specificity is correct; however, it is an incomplete investigation of the principal. Power Cleans will not teach you to be a shot putter, but if you cannot power clean you cannot be a good shot putter. You mention several athletes in your answer to my original post to you, not that I know everyone, but I have never heard of any of them with the exception of Al Oerter, furthermore I have known several elite athletes over the years and none of them did anything but Olympic Lifts and they have various colors of Olympic medals to show for it. This includes shot putters, discus throwers, decathletes and Javelin throwers. I also know several sprinters who use Olympic Style lifts and while the volume is less than a throwers, the quality is the same. Al Oerter is somewhat unique, but if you ever see him, ask him how he used to do his 230 lb. "Cheat Curls", I'll tell you, he did them fast as hell and if you analyze the movement it is a hang clean with a reverse grip.

I will agree with you that the opportunity to sustain an injury in Olympic lifting is somewhat greater than the slow controlled style of lifting but I also believe that the athlete who uses your system EXCLUSIVELY is subject to more in sport injuries. I will be glad to forward Dr. Hatfields writings to you, along with some protocols from Louie Simmons Westside Barbell Club. I still stick to my original premise that your system has a place, but it is not the only place.

Name Withheld

Dear Coach,
I have read many of Fred Hatfield's publications and agree with some of them but most of his research in our opinion is not based on the current findings of science. We read a little bit about Tudor Bompa and are still looking into more. We will respond to your comment about an athlete cannot be a good shot putter without doing power cleans. This is a false statement because like I said, I train these throwers at the high school level and we always have some of the best throwers every year.

You say that my definition of Specificity is correct then why do say that if an athlete can't power clean he can't be a good shot putter. This is a direct contradiction. All a power clean shows is that an athlete can power clean. Good for him. It does not relate to throwing. Coaches in this Country are so fixed into thinking that the Olympic lifts are the best way to develop power and explosiveness. That's too bad. Most coaches have their athletes do them and really do not know why. We keep asking for the science behind why the Olympic lifts are the best lifts for athletes to do and never receive any.

Can you tell us how muscle fiber is recruited during an Olympic lift? How do these lifts train the Type IIb muscle fiber efficiently? In previous articles we have outlined how muscle is recruited during an exercise. The stress on the muscle during the quick lifts is not constant. The Principle of Muscle Fiber Recruitment and the Principle of Specificity show that the Olympic type of lifts are the least efficient exercises to perform for power. We would like to see some of this so called sound science sent to us.

Lofquist at Arkansas agreed with my beliefs that the Olympic lifts are not necessary to be a great thrower. He told me this immediately after a presentation I gave at a Track and Field Clinic.

You also mentioned that if an athlete uses my program exclusively that they will be subject to more injuries in competition. Come on! That's not even science. It's just common sense that the Olympic lifts predispose you to injury in competition if you already don't get hurt while doing them. I think Al Oerter was telling the truth when he said his competition all had back injuries because of these lifts. Why would he lie? He beat all of his competition.

You mentioned Al Oerter and his cheat curls. I have performed cheat curls with 200lbs and it was nothing like a hang clean. During the execution of a hang clean the barbell does not travel in an arc path away from the body to the shoulder area. This is a problem many athletes have when performing the hang clean. They swing the weight forward away from their body in an arc path to the catch phase. By you mentioning this, I can assume that you are saying that cheat curls are responsible for his success. I don't think so.

Obviously there is more than one way to train an athlete. You believe in yours and we believe in ours. But to say that an athlete can't be good with out doing lifts like power cleans. Please, I prove that wrong every year and so do many colleges.

Coach Rody

***No Liability is assumed for any information written on the website. No medical advice is given on exercise. This advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner. Before anyone begins any exercise program, always consult your doctor. The articles are written by coaches that are giving advice on a safe, productive, and efficient method of strength training.***

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