Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How They Train: A Report from the World Championships - C. D. deBroglio


Bruce White of Australia, weighing 148½, made an official world record in the deadlift of 611½ pounds at 26 years of age.


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How They Train: A Report from the World Championships
by C. D. deBroglio (March, 1962)


NOTE: The following article is taken from “The Australian Weightlifter” and was originally written by Mr. Oehley and Mr. deBroglio of the South African Weightlifter’s Assn. This is one of the most informative articles about how other countries train their lifters and we thought that readers of Lifting News would receive a great deal of benefit from it.

In this article they discuss the world championships and the lifters they observed training, and tell of some of their visits with top lifters regarding training methods.

We feel this is one of the most important and significant articles we have published and believe you will feel the same.


I arrived in Vienna on the 14th September. We had our first training session on Friday the 15th with the Iranians and Colombians. The Iranians were very impressive and SERIOUS. They had about 30 supporters who had come to see them train as there is apparently a large Iranian student community in Vienna. There were only two Colombian lifters, a lightweight and a middleweight. We shared a bar with them. The unknown Colombian lightweight, Peres, proceeded to shatter our standards by pressing 264½. Then the shocks started. Two of the Iranians whom we did not recognize and who looked like a light-heavy and a mid-heavy, were snatching in the region of 300 pounds!

It turned out that one of them was Boromand who placed 4th in mid-heavy with a 980 total and a 308½ snatch. The very next minute the feather-weight Elmkhah, did an easy clean & jerk with 297½, then 308½, just missing with 319½. Their CONFIDENCE and LACK OF RESPECT for HEAVY POUNDAGES started to rattle me. They did not look faster, stronger, more intelligent, and yet they outlifted our best by many pounds.

After the Olympic lifting, all the Iranians pulled out their CANVAS STRAPS and proceeded to do high pulls with wide, then narrow grips. These straps are 1” wide canvas belting, ⅛” thick. the canvas is about 24” long with a loop in the middle to put the hands through. The two ends are then wrapped around the bar inside the hands and with a slight twisting of the fingers, made very tight. When pulling, all the strain is placed on the wrist and the hands do not hurt. This allows lifters to train REGULARLY on their pull without developing a psychological HATE for the exercise. I know many lifters who shirk heavy high pulls because of sore hands and I am one of them. Immediately on my return I made a pair of these straps and tried them out on my first workout. The high pulls were a real pleasure to perform. I feel that THIS SIMPLE PIECE OF INEXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT IS A MUST FOR ALL LIFTERS.

I was so impressed by the standard of lifting that I power cleaned 264½, my best ever, and then foolishly copied the Iranians with high pulls working up to 341 for 3 reps. I had never handled this sort of poundage before and was so stiff afterwards that I could not have a proper workout again until I lifted a week later.

The Iranians did high pulls until 3 days before they lifted. The feather, Elmkhah, at the end of his workout, was doing sets of 5 reps on high snatch pulls with 198¼ lbs. and then going down into a squat snatch on the 6th rep. The Iranians seem to train VERY HARD and rather differently from the Russians. They do not seem to put as much stress on suppleness and agility, although THEY WARM UP VERY THOROUGHLY.

The next day we heard that the Russians had arrived so we rushed to the gym. We got there before they did and found some of the Iranians training AGAIN, doing squats, press from stands, etc. Then the whole Russian team arrived. They stripped in the gym and we were impressed with the physiques of Vlasov, Stepanov, Kurinov and Minaev. Lopatin looked rugged but not very impressive. However, they all had one thing in common. They looked SUPPLE, SOFT, AND AGILE.

They all put on elastic belts about 4” wide under their lifting costumes (so did the Iranians) – they seemed to be used as a support for the lower back muscles, as well as a leather belt. They then proceeded to warm up. They did a combination of shadow weightlifting with broom sticks, sprinting, gymnastics, ballet dancing, high jumping and the S.A.B.C. daily dozen.

Vlasov was probably the most supple. In fact he looked almost double jointed. He stretched all his muscles, from his neck to his wrists and his back. This was the most instructive part of their training, especially when we found out that this phase of their training is carried out on the off days as well.

It was remarked that competitors like Minaev, Vorobyev and Stogov, although old, looked fresh, supple and completely free of injuries, sore knees, etc. After about 20 minutes of warming up they started on the weights.

The surprising thing is that they did not start pressing. They all did different lifts. Stogov and Minaev did a few sets of power snatches, then snatches. Kurinov did power cleans and push presses, all very fast. Vlasov did sets of 2’s up to 380 in the press. We realized later that he did his presses first because he was not snatching that day, nor cleaning. He only did presses, high pulls up to 550, incline bench presses and squats. He pulled the 550 up to his chest using the canvas straps. None of the Russians worked high on the press in that workout. They seemed to be concentrating on snatching and cleaning.

Another interesting point is that they do 3 or 4 sets on 132 to get warm and then jump to a much higher weight without wasting energy on intermediate poundages. For example, Kurinov did about 4 sets of 2’s in the snatch with 220, then went straight to 275 for a single and 286 for another. Minaev would jump from 132 to 198. Vlasov took 220 for his warm up sets then straight up to 303.

They all rested the next day and then trained on the Monday again, except Stogov, who just played with a broomstick, as he was lifting on Wednesday. The Russian coaches were there during the workout and merely made notes of poundages handled, observing styles at the same time.

On the rest days, the Russians spent about 30 minutes in the morning doing handstands, press-ups, broad jumps, floor dips, shadow lifting with a broomstick, etc. On training days they only do the shadow lifting for about 15 minutes in the morning.

One of the most impressive lifters was Palinski. He is a very handsome, rugged individual who snatched 286 easily and toyed with a 386 clean & jerk. He did not split more than 8” for the clean and jerked it, lowered it behind his neck, then jerked it again – by far the most impressive lift we saw in training. He faithfully recorded every lift in his training book which he keeps very methodically. Another sensational training effort was 3 power snatches with 242½ by Baszanowski, Polish lightweight.

On their second workout the Russians worked on the press and the clean. Minaev pressed 242½ easily for 3 singles. Kurinov worked up to 308½ in good style and cleaned 374 – a very beautiful lift. He looked in fantastic shape. Vorobyev cleaned 386, but looked rather flat. At the end of their workout they again spent about 15-20 minutes loosening up: jumping, running, fast squats, shadow lifting with broomsticks, etc.

The Americans and Japanese arrived on Sunday (rather late I thought). Vinci, Berger and Kono all trained on Monday which was their last workout. We missed them through transport trouble. On Tuesday, Jim George, Dick Zirk and Sid Henry trained. Their training was very conventional – 7 sets of presses, 7 sets of snatches, and about 8 clean and jerks. THEY DID NOT WARM UP VERY MUCH, and they paid very little attention to style. They just tried to get the whole weight up and registered LOTS OF FAILURES, contrary to the Russians, Poles, Japanese etc. Jim George had four hopeless attempts on 396 clean & jerk – in the competition he only managed 374. The Americans did not seem to be very scientific about their training.

We became very friendly with Mekhanik, one of the Russian coaches who works at the weightlifting institute in Moscow. He did not do any coaching at the championships but just watched the proceedings. He holds the Left Hand Snatch world record at 192 in the lightweight division (quite a lift). He was very friendly and gave us lots of training tips. When I asked him for a general training program, he said it was impossible as every athlete was different and liked different exercises. He said he would give me a course after he saw me lift. I was surprised to see him at the side of the platform every time I came off after a lift. He saw a lot of mistakes in all my lifts; bad starting position for the press, too erect under the weight and he suggested more lay back and DROPPING OF THE SHOULDERS. In the snatch and clean he criticized my starting position, buttocks not low enough and back too rounded and BACK TOO ROUNDED, CAUSING THE WEIGHT TO TRAVEL FORWARD, poor pull due to lack of high pulls and also lack of flexibility of the hips and thighs to go into a low split.

He suggested that I should snatch and clean first in my workouts at least twice a week, doing sitting presses, incline presses, or presses from a stand at the end of a workout. This more or less confirmed the general training methods of the Russians, Iranians, Poles etc.

It was further emphasized by Louis Martin with whom we had a long chat a couple of days before he lifted. His workout goes something like this:

Monday –
Press : 145x3, 145x3, 220x2, 250x2, 270x2, 285x1, 300x1,1,1.
Snatch : Concentrating on technique, working up to 250.
High Clean : 320 up to 410 in 5 sets of 2.
Front Squat : sets of doubles and singles, 300-420.

Wednesday –
Snatch : sets of doubles and singles up to 300.
Incline Press : 6 sets of doubles and singles, 280-350.
Jerk from stands : singles, 300, 350, 80, 400, 420.

Friday –
Power cleans : up to 280, then Cleans up to 380-390, 10 sets.
Push press : from stands, up to 340.

Sunday –
Squat snatch : from chest position.
Full squats : and a couple of other optional movements such as the High snatch and Bench Press.

As you see from this workout, Louis tried to avoid using the same muscle group two workouts in succession. After talking to him you realize how much thought he has given to his training. He is absolutely dedicated and did not leave the camp from the day he arrived until the day he went to the hall to lift.

He told us that he has never seen any lifting at world’s championship from bantams to light-heavies. The other top grade lifters who place in the first six all have the same attitude. They do not watch any lifting until they go on. Otherwise they would have late nights and also lose nervous energy watching the record attempts, etc.

An interesting point is that all Russian lifters rested for the whole day in their rooms the day before they competed. You would never see the Russian feather on the day the bantams were lifting nor the lightweight on the day the feathers were lifting, etc. Vorobyev seemed to actually disappear for a couple of days. He was probably a bit off form and rested more than the others. The day they lift they act normally, walk around, play chess, etc. A lot of trainers will be interested to know that WE NEVER SAW ANY LIFTERS EXCEPT THE AMERICANS AND PHILIPPINES TAKING ANY FOOD SUPPLEMENT (protein, vitamins, etc.). Most seem to rely entirely on training, rest and ordinary wholesome food. Very few lifters smoked before the contests. Palinski was one exception, about 6-10 cigarettes a day.

continued . . .

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