Resourceful Training: Parts Programming

You head to your training session, all you have is your discus and shot put and your body. There isn’t any weightlifting equipment, there isn’t any coach. You MUST be resourceful. You can’t lose all your gains. You need to figure out the best way to continue your progress during these times of crisis. What the heck can you do?!?!?


Dire Straits

Is it possible to keep your gains rolling? 100%. During 2007 and 2008, I trained under the incredible tutelage of Olympic Champion Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk. He was the master of being resourceful. One of his first memories in life was being imposed into a 2 year famine in Ukraine by Josef Stalin. That’s some intense stuff! Leave it to him to be able to create some incredible training situations.

Dr. B would create crazy exercises, he would talk about training Soviet Union hammer throwers in bomb shelters, throwing in the snow and being as creative as possible. He consistently told me the secret to coaching. Force adaptation! By analyzing the resources at hand, all the coach needs to do is stimulate the athlete to make some semblance of adaptation.


Here we are today in 2020, fighting a crazy virus that will soon enough have the entire country on lock down. This means every gym is closed and most athletes only have access to their body and their personal implements. In comes the infamous Parts Program.


Soviet Union Parts Programming

The first time I trained through a parts program, I thought Dr. B was insane. He wanted me to do the bare minimum amount of weights, while getting throws done after each lifting round.


This is how the day was set up:

Throw 7k 6-8 Reps

Lifts (5 exercises prescribed, typically 3 sets x 5-7 reps)

Throw 7k 6-8 Reps

Lifts (5 exercises prescribed, typically 3 sets x 5-7 reps)

Throw 7k 6-8 Reps

Lifts (5 exercises prescribed, 1 set x 5-7 reps)


This was a total SHOCK to my system. However, the interesting part was working through the program over 5-7 days and noticing a period of adaptation. By the 6 day, I started to feel like a freight train. I wasn’t tired anymore after the first round and instead went into the later rounds ready to go MASSIVE! My 7k ended up growing tremendously, to the point where I hit a training PR over 18 meters. I know that is measly by today’s standards, but for me that was BIG!

When a thrower takes throws and then does lifts, they are forced to adapt and alter their feeling from set to set. Their proprioception begins to improve and they find a significant GROOVE. Once they get into a groove, they start to feel everything click and the shot or discus just SAILS off the hand.


Practicality

Dr. B always said to me in various interviews (embed PDF interview) that the coach needs to make the best out of every single situation. In the Soviet Union, they had a few peculiar situations they would conquer.

  1. When traveling, it was hard to predict what equipment was around, in comes the Parts Programming.

  2. When international strife struck the country (which happened frequently), athletes could train a Parts Program and maintain or even improve their many gains!

  3. If an athlete was stagnant for quite a while, a Parts Program can stimulate impressive technical adaptations!

The practicality is entirely based around varying the approach to training and lifting while using minimal equipment. As throwers, we are so hung up on lifting HEAVY, HEAVY, HEAVY and sometimes the body just needs a variable feeling!


Results

While training under Dr. B, I had started to experiment some of my ideas with two world class athletes. One of those throwers was 2004 Olympic Champion Adam Nelson. The other was 3 time All-American Jon Kalnas. Jon and I had a phone call and we discussed the parts programming I was working through. He wanted to dip his hand into the madness.


Jon and I set up a test run for a weekend he would compete at Princeton and then Delaware. He was destroyed early in the week but by Wednesday and Thursday he started to feel something big. His body was adapting and he felt like he could destroy a monster throw.

“IF I COULD BOTTLE THIS UP INTO A PILL, I’D BE A MILLIONAIRE!”


That was Jon’s voice when I picked up the phone in British Columbia. He had just had the best meet of his life, smashing throws and crushing 20 meters. He went OFF! This stimulation produced a huge result and it did the same thing a year later when he went 19.91 and Kalnas continues to use this method with many of his elite high school throwers!


Recap

Make sure you take your implements to the circle and your specific program. Follow the set up of taking 6-8 throws, then completing the exercise prescription. Take note of which round you throw best and take note of which DAY you start to adapt to the training. This is a fun experiment and is something that you can use in the future to better your own training experience!

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