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Interview with the Expert- Christian Carter, M.S.

Quick Hit Summary

In this segment of “Interview with the Expert” we have Christian Carter with us to discuss his experiences both as a coach and as a strength athlete. Christian’s coaching resume includes 3 D-1 athletic departments as well as time at a private performance training center. Christian also shares with us the experiences he’s had both as a powerlifter as well as an Olympic style weightlifter. Additionally, he provides readers with a wealth of resources to help them further their own sport science and coaching knowledge.

About Christian Carter

For this segment of “Interview with the Expert”, Christian Carter is here with us to discuss his experiences as a strength and conditioning coach. Christian is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology. After taking some time off from the academic arena, he decided to return to college and is earned his masters degree at Virginia Tech. Starting Fall 2010, Christian will start working toward a PhD in sport science at East Tennessee State University under the guidance of the highly regarded Dr. Mike Stone.

Christian also holds coaching certifications through USA Weightlifting (USAW Club Coach) and the NSCA (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). In his travels, Christian has spent time working as a strength and conditioning coach in both the collegiate (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Arizona State University & currently Virginia Tech) and private settings (WCS Gattone Sports Performance).

Figure 1 Christian Carter performing the snatch. Picture taken by Steve Fauer photography.

Christian Carter is an accomplished athlete in his own right. During his powerlifting career, he qualified and competed at the 2004 Collegiate National Powerlifting Championships in Omaha, Nebraska. For those not familiar, powerlifting involves the following three lifts: back squat, deadlift and bench press. Due to a back injury, Christian had to take some time off from resistance training. Although he stepped away from the sport as an athlete, he stayed active in powerlifting arena, founding and coaching the University of Wisconsin-Madison Powerlifting Team. In fact, one of his athletes, Terry Timmons, placed 9th at the 2006 Collegiate National Powerlifting Championships held in Miami, Florida and is now one of the top ranked raw powerlifters in the country at 181 pounds. Upon “fully” returning from his injury, Christian retired his powerlifting “shoes” and ventured into Olympic style weightlifting. In contrast to the slow, maximum force lifts associated with powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting focuses on quick, explosive lifts, such as the snatch & clean-and-jerk. Under the guidance of two of the top Olympic weightlifting coaches in the nation, Mike Gattone and Roger Nielsen, and after only two years as a competitive Olympic style weightlifter, Christian competed in the 2009 American Open and looks to qualify for the 2010 National Championships in Peoria, IL during one of his next upcoming meets.

Coach Carter, on behalf of the readers at CasePerformance.com, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to join us this afternoon.

My pleasure.

I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss Olympic and Powerlifting training with you. As I mentioned in your intro, you’ve had some success in both respective branches of resistance training.

Only slightly above average, but I do what I can.

First off, let’s talk powerlifting.

Can you give us a brief overview of your training routine. In other words, how many days per week you train, how long did your sessions last, what type or rest periods did you have between each set? I realize that the answers to these questions vary depending on what training “phase” or “block” you happen to be in, but if you could just give a rough general outline, it’d be appreciated.

My powerlifting days were when I was still a relative rookie to the strength sport world. I started when I was in high school and did the typical “maxing out every day” workout that high school kids do. I spent a year in school at Northern Illinois University (before transferring to University of Wisconsin-Madison) and trained with the head strength coach there, Matt Mangum. Through him, I also had the opportunity to train with Ed Coan, the Michael Jordan of powerlifting, and several other accomplished lifters at Quads Gym on a few occasions. It was then that I actually had some semblance of an actual, structured routine. The routine that I did at the time was pretty straight forward classic periodization, four days a week, hour and a half workouts. I would generally just run simple 12 week cycles where I would either max or have a contest at the end.

Weeks 1-4 would be sets of 3×5 on the big lifts, 3×8 on the assistance exercises.
Weeks 5-8 would be sets of 3×3 on the big lifts, 3×6 on the assistance exercises.
Weeks 9-12 would be sets of 3×1-2 on the big lifts, and 3×5-6 on the assistance exercises.

Rest periods were about 3-5 minutes between the big lifts, 2-3 minutes between the assistance exercises.

Like I said, pretty simple stuff since I was still a newbie to the world of powerlifting; I didn’t need anything complicated.

{For those unfamiliar with terminology, periodization is the idea of using successive training blocks/phases with slightly different training goals. Each block/phase usually lasts 3-4 weeks in duration and is immediately followed by the next training block. By making modifications to ones training program in this method, greater physical gains are realized vs. doing the same type of workout every single month. As a brief example of what I’m talking about, the classic 12 week periodization schedule for sport athletes is a hypertrophy block, followed by a strength block and a concluding power block. Years of research back up this routine. Luckily for us, Christian has listed a few resources that discuss periodization further in depth at the end of the article.}

During each individual training session, did you tend to lift full body or split it up into lower/upper body training sessions? In other words, would you bench & squat/deadlift on the same day or tend to do these lifts on separate days?

Day 1 would usually be squat day. So, I would squat, pause squat, single leg squat, etc. Pretty much dedicated to legs.

Day 2 would usually be bench assistance day. I would do something like speed bench, floor presses, military presses, dips, etc.

Day 3 would usually be deadlift day. I would deadlift, SLDL, rows, etc.

Day 4 would be bench day. I would bench, board press, incline bench.

Stuff like that pretty much. Nothing very glitzy or glamorous.

For those individuals interested in learning more about powerlifting training techniques, are there any resources (books, coaches/authors/researchers or organizations) that you recommend?

Testing my memory here, it has been a few years since I was in the powerlifting game, a lot of things have changed I’m sure.


-Fred Hatfield a.k.a. “Dr. Squat”
-Louie Simmons
-Ed Coan
-Larry Maile

Those are the names I remember from my days of powerlifting.


In terms of strictly powerlifting training, I don’t know of any books off the top of my head that address that. However, for just learning the basics of training the big lifts like squat, deadlift, the press, I would suggest:

Starting Strength 2nd ed by Mark Rippetoe.


There are dozens of powerlifting federations these days, but I competed in USA Powerlifting (USAPL), which I found at the time to be the most legit (drug wise, etc) federation that was offered.

Let’s talk Olympic Lifting.

Similar to what I asked before regarding powerlifting training, can you give us a brief overview of your training routine? In other words, how many days per week you train, how long did your sessions last, what type or rest periods did you have between each set?

When I first started getting into the Olympic lifts is when I first started getting into strength and conditioning. I figured if I was going to tell my future athletes to do them, I better be able to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Now, it really is one of my true passions, even though I might never be one of the best at it, I really love doing the lifts, competing, and being around my teammates. In the beginning, I was self taught, which I highly do not recommend! My technique was not nearly as good as I thought it was. It was when I started working with Mike Gattone and Roger Nielsen that I really started learning the lifts and not only learning to do the lifts well myself, but to be able to teach the lifts successfully to others. For most of my brief Olympic lifting career, my programs have been designed by my coaches, so they are always coming up with something different to do.

In general though, I train four days a week, hour and a half to two hour workouts (depends how slowly I move!) and anywhere from 1-5 minutes rest (usually closer to 3-5), depending on the exercise, phase, etc.

I currently started a new program that Mike is experimenting on me, so we’ll see how that goes. But I’ve used programs similar to the powerlifting one described above, just classic periodization; to using overreaching concepts, to modified Bulgarian style things.

For a general idea, my routine is usually something like this:

Day 1 is some sort of snatch variation, jerk variation, and back squat
Day 2 is some sort of clean variation and clean pull variations
Day 3 is some sort of snatch technique work, front squat, and presses
Day 4 is usually snatch work, clean and jerk work, and clean pulls

Set and rep schemes are all over the place depending on what kind of phase I’m in and routine I’m doing. Beyond the scope of this interview for me to describe right now!

What do you mean when you say “modified Bulgarian style things” and “overreaching?”

Dr. Stone covers overreaching really well in his book listed below. But basically in overreaching you’re doing a large amount of work, more so than normal, in a microcylce (one week or so). Essentially, beating yourself down. You’re going to have a decrease in performance initially because of this, and it should be expected by the athlete and sport coach. You follow this overreaching week with a decrease in work for the next 3-5 weeks to allow for recovery. The idea is that you have a huge spike in performance after the accumulated fatigue from overreaching dissipates.

The modified Bulgarian stuff is kind of an inside joke between my coach and I. Modified Bulgarian style is the type of training I’m doing right now to get ready for my next meet. When the Bulgarian’s dominated Olympic weightlifting, they would pretty much max out every day of every workout. What I’m doing right now is working up to a max effort set on an exercise. It is something new that we haven’t done before, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’m shocked… For the most part, you talk about using BASIC periodization plans during both your former powerlifting days and current Olympic weightlifting training. How did you manage to succeed in these sports without using some flashy workout plan that was developed by some “guru” trainer over the internet?!?!? I’m shocked that you didn’t use the same workouts used by the professionals that show up in popular newsstand magazines. I say this tongue-in-cheek of course.

Strange, isn’t it!?!? It boggles my mind how many “experts” there are on the internet with little to know actual credentials. Although I’m extremely confident in my abilities, I by no means consider myself an “expert.” That term is thrown around WAY TOO OFTEN. In my opinion, it takes many years before one can actually be considered an expert in this field. Experts are guys like Dr. Mike Stone, Al Vermiel, Mike Gattone and other individuals that I’ve referenced in this interview.

Basically, when I started in powerlifting, my training age (that is, the number of years of intelligent training you’ve completed) was pretty low. I’d lifted and worked out since the beginning of high school. But my workouts had no real design or plan behind them. So, I didn’t need any sort of special program to succeed. Sometimes the basics work just fine. The same applies for when I made the switch to weightlifting. I’ve only been competing in Olympic style weightlifting for a little more than two years. It’s not like I’ve been Olympic weightlifting since age 12, so I don’t need something super duper complex. When you’re a beginner, just about anything you do in the weight room will turn to gold. So keep it simple! Mark Rippetoe, a highly respected strength coach, talks extensively about this in the article The Novice Effect.

There is no need for super complex programs for beginners. Once they have reached a more intermediate or advanced level (a training age of several years), their programs might call for more variation and complexity. But not until then. Always remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I’d like to thank you for bringing up the expert topic with respect to strength and conditioning. Just as with nutrition, it takes more than just keeping up with the current literature to be considered an expert. It’s the effective application of principles that truly matters. In the strength and conditioning field, one needs hands on experience with a wide variety of athletes. There are many good, solid coaches out there, but in my opinion, one has to be actively coaching 15-20+ years before I’d even consider them an expert. Yes, one can read about what programs work and the science behind them, but to be a good coach, you must put in your time!!!

Are there any particular resources that you recommend to those interested in learning additional information regarding Olympic weighlifting?


I really don’t think you can learn how to do the lifts from a book. You NEED hands on coaching from people that KNOW what they’re doing. But for additional information:

The Weightlifting Encyclopedia by Arthur Drechsler.

Coaches/Authors/ Researchers worth “googling” and/or investigating on Pubmed.com (Pubmed applies to researchers only):

-Mike Gattone (coach)
-Roger Nielsen (coach)
-Dr. Mike Stone (coach, researcher)
-Dr. Brian Schilling (coach, researcher)
-Dr. Greg Haff (coach, researcher)
-A.S. Medvedev (coach, researcher)
-Dr. John Garhammer (researcher)
-Andrew Charniga (author, translated texts)


USA Weightlifting

International Weightlifting Federation

p(title) Now let’s compare Olympic vs. Powerlifting training.

What motivated you to make the career change and focus your training on Olympic Style Movements? Do you enjoy one type of training over the other? If so, why?

I grew tired of powerlifting, just burned out from it from doing it for years. The ridiculous number of federations, the laxity in rules between them, the gear (squat suits, bench shirts, etc). The whole sport just became a laughing stock to me and I didn’t want to be associated with it anymore. On top of which, as I mentioned before, I decided to enter the strength and conditioning field and wanted to know how to do the movements in order to teach them. The explosiveness and speed of Olympic style weightlifting, the ultimate goal of the Olympics, the camaraderie of the team I lift for, it’s just more fun and it has never stopped being fun. Sure, drug use is a problem in both sports, but I don’t know if strength sports can ever escape doping; you just have to do your best to corral it.

Have you found either of these training styles easier on your joints, etc?

I’ve never really had chronic joint pain. My low back injuries stem from an incident unrelated to weightlifting, but just so happen to be aggravated from time to time by lifting heavy stuff for fun. Any joint injury I’ve had has been acute and is usually healed within days or weeks. Weightlifting has one of the lowest injuries rates per hour of participation of any sport1. Under the guidance of a qualified coach, I would rather have kids participating in weightlifting than soccer, football, or cross country. In addition, I feel that proper, full, deep squats are beneficial to knee health as they are strengthening the knee joint through a full range of motion.

For both powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting competitions, athletes compete in specific weight classes with the goal of lifting the most weight as possible. Curious, does this mean that hypertrophy training phases are excluded from the workout?

[For those unfamiliar with terminology, the goal of hypertrophy training phases is to build as much muscle size as possible such as seen in body builders. Remember, muscle size does not always equate to muscle strength. In general, comparing top body builders and power lifters of equal body weight, composition (ie- % Body Fat) and training age, the powerlifter almost always is capable of lifting significantly more weight.]

Any time I did hypertrophy/high rep/high volume phases in powerlifting and any time I do them now for my weightlifting training, they are far out from competition. In terms of the yearly training plan, focused hypertrophy training accounts for only a small overall percentage of the total training volume. For example, when powerlifting, I’d do maybe 1 -2, 4 week hypertrophy training blocks per year.

According to Rick Brunner in Soviet Training and Recovery Methods2, Soviet weightlifters spent virtually all their time below 5 repetitions on the Olympic lifts; with nearly 60% at 2 repetitions and roughly 19% at one repetition and three repetitions, each. You can be assured that their squat and pull repetitions were along similar lines in terms of repetitions. I doubt very much they were over 8-10 reps. more likely 3-6 reps.

In the last two years of my training, I honestly have not done a high rep phase of squats or pulls (8+ reps) in probably more than a year and a half. I’m indecisive regarding high volume phases for weightlifters. Generally they are used for hypertrophy and building a foundation. If you’re an experienced weightlifter, your foundation has already been established, so how often do you need to go back to high volume to re-establish this? I’m not sure. In addition, if you’re restricted by a weight class and don’t have much room to give, hypertrophy might not be the best thing for you.

I know that highly respected individuals such as Dr. Kyle Pierce at LSU-Shreveport and the Dr. Mike Stone are big proponents of high volume phases for weightlifters and have their athletes do sets of 10 on squats and pulls fairly often. I’m not sure I’m sold on it yet though.

Changing the topics a little bit, let’s discuss your experiences training ball/track& field/swim athletes.

What’s your general philosophy on using traditional Powerlifting (back squat, deadlift, bench press) or Olympic weightlifting (power snatch, clean & jerk) lifts or training techniques with your ball athletes?

I incorporate both types of lifts for almost all of my athletes that are capable of performing them with proper form. You hear strength coaches, who aren’t necessarily fond of the olympic weightlifting movements say, “we’re not building weightlifters, we’re building athletes” as their way of saying you shouldn’t make athlete workouts the same as weightlifters. My response to this… Weightlifters are some of the strongest, most explosive athletes. Dr. Michael Yessis, Professor Emeritus at Cal State-Fullerton and expert on Russian training methods, noted that top end Olympic weightlifters have some of the fastest short distance sprint times (first few yards), comparable or better than world class sprinters3; while Dr. Stone stated that the highest vertical jumps recorded, of any athlete during his time at the United States Olympic Training Center (USOTC) were done by weightlifters4. Coaches want these types of adaptations for their athletes and you’re damn right that I think they should use the Olympic lift variations, squats (overhead/front/back), and pulls to obtain them. The Olympic lifts have some of the highest power outputs of any barbell exercise56. This doesn’t mean I’m going to eliminate other types of exercises from their workouts, but the foundation of virtually all my athlete’s workouts are an Olympic lift variation (whether it be a power clean, push jerk, muscle snatch, etc.), some type of squat variation, and usually some type of pull variation (clean pull from different positions, clean deadlifts, liftoffs, etc). I think this quote from Dr. Mike Stone sums up the use of the Olympic lifts pretty well.

“Logical arguments and evidence from objective studies indicate that training at high-power outputs will result in superior increases in power compared with typical resistance training methods. Evidence indicates that high levels of maximum strength in association with high-power training, or a combination of heavy resistance training and power training (as occurs among elite weightlifters), can result in superior power performances.”7

One of the more important things in using the Olympic lifts with athletes is to teach them through a proper progression. You have to learn to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run! I’ve seen this often in the strength and conditioning setting, the lack of teaching progression for the Olympic movements. The Olympic lifts are closed, serial skills. Therefore they should be taught in parts that build upon each other. I teach the Olympic lifts in a similar progression as proposed by USA Weightlifting, a top-down approach. In teaching the clean, I first make sure the athlete can properly rack the bar in a front squat position. Then I will teach them the power clean from mid-thigh power position, then hang above knee, then hang below knee, then from the floor. In addition, I will also teach liftoffs from the floor (deadlift to knee height) and clean deadlifts at various parts of the learning process. This way the athlete is learning both the top-down approach and how to lift the bar from the floor, combining both processes. USA Weightlifting offers coaching courses on how to teach and utilize the Olympic lifts, I highly recommend that anyone interested in using or teaching the Olympic lifts to take their courses! Information regarding their coaching courses can be by clicking on the USA Weightlifting link I posted above.

There are some instances where I might not progress an athlete all the way to the floor based on their anthropometrics. For instance, a tall, lanky athlete with stiff hips and long lever femur bones (upper leg bone which runs from hip to knee), it can be difficult to perform the lifts from the floor. In this instance I might only have them go to a low block below the knee or hang above knee for safety reasons.

Physical therapists commonly use unstable surface training protocols to assist athletes returning from injury. [For those not familiar with terminology, this includes training on BOSU Balls, Wobble Boards, spongy foam pads, etc]. Within the last 5 years, the use of unstable surface training seems to be the “rage” in gyms across America. What are your thoughts regarding the use of BOSU balls, wobble boards, inflatable dyna-disc, etc, with healthy athletes who aren’t recovering from an injury?

I don’t use unstable surface training with my healthy athletes at all. If they’re not rehabbing from injury, I see no use for them. Some trainers like to use unstable surface training methods as a means to “train the core.” If you take an athlete and have them power cleaning a weight from the floor and receiving it across the shoulders, snatching, overhead squatting, or just squatting in general under a heavy load you’re working the core musculature pretty damn hard! I would gladly take this type of “core” training, under a load, over unstable surface training. On top of which, McBride et al. showed that muscle activity, peak forces and rate of force development in different muscles of the leg were lower in unstable versus stable isometric squats8. Not something I want for an athlete, do you? In another study conducted by Nuzzo et al., squats and deadlifts were compared to three stability ball exercises and EMG activity of various core musculature were measured9. As you might have guessed, squats and deadlifts across a spectrum of percent one rep max showed greater core musculature activity than stability ball exercises. Chalk another one up to training under a load on a stable surface. Also, I think you need to take specificity into consideration when training with unstable surface toys. What are you trying to get better at: Performance in your sport? Or single leg squatting on a stability ball with a kettlebell over your head while chewing gum? Just because instability makes an exercise more difficult does not mean it will improve athletic performance!

I have to agree with you for the most part on using unsteady surface training. I’ve experimented with unstable surface training a little bit for muscle activation purposes (kind of like a cheap improvised version of a whole body vibration platform). I have found that to be somewhat effective when used in addition to a warm up set with a weighted bar. For example… do 1 (5) squats on unstable surface, do 1-2 warm-up sets on squat and then start my work sets. However, I’ve found ABSOLUTELY NO PURPOSE for unstable surface training outside of this!!!

I often hear of healthy individuals using unsteady surface training as a means of enhancing balance and other physical skills. They argue that improving these factors will increase sport performance and decrease the risk of injury. However, I don’t see this as a reason to include unstable surface training as a part of your training program; unless the goal of your training program is to get good at standing on wobbly surfaces!!! To my knowledge, only one study has examined this topic. Cressey et al. examined how stable surface training vs. unstable surface training affected the physical performance capabilities of division 1 soccer athletes when included as part of a 10 week training program10. The only difference in training program was the inclusion of one exercise that was done on either stable or unstable surfaces (See below for one of their daily workouts; all workouts followed this general format). Before and after the 10 week study, each athlete was tested in counter movement vertical jump power, bounce drop jump power (done by stepping off a 12” box. As soon as one’s feet hit the ground, he/she immediately jumps again), and agility T-test. Also, 10 and 40 yard dash times were recorded. At the conclusion of the training programs, it was found that those used only stable surface training exercises had significantly greater improvements in counter movement jump power, bounce drop jump power and 40 yard dash times vs. those in the unstable surface training group. No significant differences were seen in T-test or 10 yard dash times. Obviously a lot of other factors may have affected the study’s results, but they are interesting none the less.

TABLE 1. Sample training day: week 1, day 1.
Team dynamic flexibility warm-up
A) Speed deadlifts: 4 X 2, 55% 1RM
B) Barbell deadlifts: 3 X 5
C) Dynamic dumbbell lunges (stable/unstable): 3 X 8 right
and left
D1) Low-incline barbell press: 3 X 5
D2) One-arm bent-over dumbbell row: 3 X 6 right and left
E) Side bridges: 3 X 40 seconds right and left

  • The experimental/unstable group performed these lunges
    with the front foot stepping onto a Dyna-Disc. The control/stable
    group performed the exercise while stepping directly onto the
    floor. All other exercises were the same for both groups.8

Many coaches use unstable surface training as a means to strengthen “core” musculature. As you mentioned in your response, one will build a strong core using squats, etc. What are your thoughts on including prone (belly toward ground) planks, side planks and bird dog type of exercises to strengthen the core?

Obviously as you pointed out in one of your previous articles, Core vs. Sit-up Training for Improving Army Physical Fitness Test, these exercises can effectively strengthen the core musculature. I usually include these types of exercises at the end of my workouts as a way to include extra “core” exercises into the workout. However, I focus more on rotational based medicine ball exercises to target the core. I absolutely love these exercises.

Most collegiate athletes have multiple training sessions per day (strength & conditioning session + sport practice). Between your personal experiences and that of athletes you’ve worked with, have you found any effective recovery strategies?

Rest. Proper nutrition. Rest. Nutrition. Rest. Nutrition. Rest. Those two, by far are the biggest, most important factors in recovery. It is the sport coach’s and strength and conditioning coach’s job to incorporate periods of rest and recovery for their athletes (this means NOT competing at every opportunity!!!). Constantly beating the crap out of your athlete and expecting high performance at every instance will lead to poor performance, guaranteed.

Dr. Bill Sands, who used to run the recovery center at the United States Olympic Training Center (USOTC), said the three biggest recovery methods for athletes are: rest, nutrition, and decreasing the inflammatory response (compression garments, cold tub, etc)11.

Curious, I’ve seen some strength and conditioning coaches who use Olympic style lifts at the end of their training sessions vs. the start of the workouts. They argue for this by saying the “We’re training sport athletes, not Olympic lifters. By doing these Olympic lifts at the end of our training session, we’re teaching athletes to be explosive even when they’re tired… Similar to how they must be explosive during the 4th quarter of a foot/basketball game.” What are your thoughts on this subject?

Unfortunately, that is not the way the body works or adapts. The Olympic lifts, just like plyometric exercises, should be done at the beginning of the workout when the athlete is still fresh. In addition, the Olympic lifts are complicated movements that should be done while the athlete is non fatigued. These are some of the most technically demanding lifts one can do while training. Thus, lifting in a fatigued state (as you are at the end of the workout) greatly increases your chances of injury when using the Olympic lifts.

In a personal communication with Dr. Digby Sale, an expert in neural adaptation to training, a similar question was asked. Basically, through exercise peripheral (lactic acid build up, depletion of phosphocreatine, etc.) and central (motor unit activation) fatigue occurs. Sale said:

“in addition to reducing force (strength), fatigue also causes slowing of muscle (decreases maximum shortening velocity and rate of force development). The slowing effect would have a greater influence on lifts intended to be done quickly (explosive or Olympic movements). The central aspect of slowing is a decrease in the high-frequency motor unit firing rates that occurs at the beginning of explosive movements (or intended explosive movements that may actually be slow because of the heavy load used).”17

Dr. Sale is saying that fatigue causes motor unit firing rates to be lower than is necessary for high power and maximum rate of force development. Therefore, these types of exercises should be done when you are fresh!

Looking specifically at training ball/track & field/swim sport athletes, are there any particular books or authors that you’d recommend to those further interested in this area?

Authors/Experts/Researchers worth “googling” and/or investigating on Pubmed.com (Pubmed applies to researchers only):

-Al Vermeil—Strength and conditioning (coach)
-Mark Verstegen—Strength and conditioning (coach)
-Mike Gattone—Weightlifting authority, strength and conditioning (coach)
-Charlie Francis—Sprint coach authority (coach)
-A.S Medvedev–Periodization, training of weightlifters (researcher, coach)
-Dr. Inigo Mujika—Tapering (researcher, coach)
-Dr. Mike Stone—Periodization, weightlifting authority (researcher, coach)
-Dr. Atko Viru—Hormonal responses to training, periodization (researcher)
-Dr. Greg Haff—Periodization, training theory (researcher, coach)
-Dr. Brian Schilling—Neuromechanics, training specificity (researcher, coach)
-Dr. William Kramer— Little of everything… Youth/elderly/female resistance training, hormonal responses to training, dietary supplementation (researcher)
-Dr. Dietmar Schmidtbleicher—Sport biomechanics (researcher)
-Dr. Bill Sands—Recovery, sport biomechanics (researcher)
-Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky—Periodization, “shock” method (researcher)
-Dr. Vladimir Zatsiorsky—Periodization, training theory, sport biomechanics (researcher)


Principles and Practice of Resistance Training
by Mike Stone.

Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training 5th ed. by Greg Haff.

Strength and Power in Sport, 2nd ed by P.V. Komi (editor).

Science and Practice of Strength Training, 2nd edition by Vladimir Zatsiorsky & William Kraemer.

Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology in Practice by Frans Bosch.

One book that I’d like to add to the list that Christian has mentioned is the book Core Performance by Mark Verstegen. The movement prep (active warm-up) exercises are worth their weight in gold. In my opinion, it’s worth buying the book just to see these exercises. This is especially true for those active individuals who consider a warm up to be 10 minutes on a bicycle, touching the toes a few times and then jumping into your squats, etc. There are also some companion DVD’s that you can buy separately that demonstrate the movements used in the book (vs. just looking at pictures).

2009 Coaches College

Similar to myself, I know that you keep a close eye on latest developments in research with respect to strength and conditioning. Recently you attended the 2009 Coaches College at East Tennessee State University which was hosted by one of the world’s top minds in sports science, Dr. Mike Stone. I was wondering if you could give a quick cliff note version of some of the presentations you saw.

This is the second year I’ve attended the Coaches College at ETSU. In my opinion, it is the best sport science conference in the country. The top minds in their fields (Olympic weightlifting, periodization, recovery methods, etc) from across the world come to ETSU every year to disseminate information.

Some highlights:

Dr. Stone and Dr. Haff presented on periodization methodology. Periodization is defined as, “the logical and systematic sequencing of training factors in an integrative fashion in order to optimize specific training outcomes at pre-determined time points”12. I highly recommend Dr. Stone and Dr. Haff’s books mentioned above for a more in depth discussion of the topic.

Dr. Stone also gave an in depth presentation on the pull in weightlifting movements. The double knee bend DOES happen, people! You can’t tell me that it doesn’t because I can show you that it does! It should be taught!

Dr. Bill Sands gave an interesting talk on recovery methods which I basically summarized above. REST. NUTRITION. And possibly decreasing the inflammatory response, which can be a whole discussion in itself.

Finally, Dr. Inigo Mujika, a world authority on tapering and peaking strategies for competition spoke13. Dr. Mujika’s work is summarized nicely in Dr. Haff’s book mentioned above, but I’ll give a very brief overview. Much of Dr. Mujika’s work is done with endurance athletes, so keep that in mind with what is mentioned here. The idea behind tapering is to reduce the fatigue that accumulates with intense training leading up to a sporting event of large importance (ie- marathon, Olympic sport games, etc). Thus, the fitness gained from training shows through, maximizing preparedness, and ultimately peak performance (fitness-fatigue paradigm). Tapers can be as short as one week in length or as long as a month, depending on the volume and intensity of the training previously conducted. Volume can be decreased by as much as 40 to 90 percent (with 40-60% being an ideal range, again depending on previous training). With regards to training intensity, endurance trained athletes would find it useful to keep training intensity high (>90%VO2 max) [12]. Gibala et al. also demonstrated that it’s useful to keep training intensity high (but reduce volume) in strength athletes14. In addition, training frequency (number of training sessions) should be maintained or decreased only slightly. An interesting point brought up was the use of progressive, non-linear tapers being the most advantageous way of seeing peak performance. A progressive taper implies, as you would assume, “a systematic and progressive reduction in training load” in a non-linear, exponential fashion [12].

Interesting, could you provide our readers with an example of what a progressive taper situation looks like in contrast to a progressive, non-linear tapering strategy using running or weightlifting as an example?

I think this graph does a better job of explaining the theory behind the types of tapers.

Figure 1 What you see are four lines indicating four types of tapers. The step taper is the horizontal line on the graph, basically this indicates just lower volumes of training through the taper. The linear taper and exponential tapers are types of progressive tapers. There are two types of exponential tapers pictured, slow and fast decay, which describe how fast the decrease in volume of training occurs. While the linear taper shows just that, a linear decrease in training volume over time.15

Another point that I’d like to mention, along with the research presented by Christian, is the positive psychological effect that tapering has on athletes. Numerous research articles have shown an increased mood state in athletes following a taper (compared to normal mood state prior to the taper)16. Being in a better state of mind (via tapering) obviously has great impact on athletic performance.

That’s all the questions we have today. On behalf of the readers here at blog.nutribodies.com, I’d like to thank you for your time and wish you success in your upcoming weightlifting meets.

It was my pleasure discussing training and sport science with you and your readers.


1 Faigenbaum AD, Myer GD Resistance training among young athletes: safety, efficacy and injury prevention effects. Br J Sports Med. 2010 Jan;44(1):56-63. Epub 2009 Nov 27.

2 Brunner, R. (1990). Soviet training and recovery methods. Sports Focus Publishing.

3 Yessis, M. Speed-strength training. Track and Field Quarterly Review; 89(4):43-45, 1989.

4 Stone, M. “Round table discussion”. Millenium Center, East Tennessee State University. 19 Dec 2009. 2001 Millenium Place, Johnson City, TN 37604.

5 Garhammer, J. (1980). Power production by Olympic weightlifters. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 12, 54-60.

6 Garhammer, J. (1991). A comparison of maximal power outputs between elite male and female weightlifters in competition. International Journal of Sport Biomechanics, 7, 3-11.

7 Stone, Mike., Pierce, K., Sands, B., and Stone, Meg. (2006). Weightlifting: a brief overview. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 28, 50-66.

8 Isometric squat force output and muscle activity in stable and unstable conditions. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20, 915-918.

9 Nuzzo, J., McCaulley, G., Cormie, P., Cavill, M., and McBride, J. (2008). Trunk muscle activity during stability ball and free weight exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22, 95-102.

10 Cressey EM, West CA, Tiberio DP, Kraemer WJ, Maresh CM. The effects of ten weeks of lower body unstable surface training on markers of athletic performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):561-7.

11 Sands, B. (2009, December). Recovery-Adaptation. Presented at the 2009 Coaches College at ETSU, Johnson City, TN.

12 Bompa, T., Haff, G. (2009). Periodization: theory and methodology of training. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

13 Mujika, I. (2009, December). Tapering: the ups and downs. Presented at the 2009 Coaches College at ETSU, Johnson City, TN.

14 Gibala MJ, MacDougall JD, Sale DG. The effects of tapering on strength performance in trained athletes. Int J Sports Med. 1994 Nov;15(8):492-7.

15 Mujika, I. and Padilla, S. Scientific Bases for Precompetition Tapering Strategies. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 July, 35(7):1182-7.

16 Mujika I, Padilla S, Pyne D, Busso T. Physiological changes associated with the pre-event taper in athletes. Sports Med. 2004;34(13):891-927.

17 Sale, Digby. Personal Communication. 25 June, 2007.

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Written on January 11, 2010 by Sean Casey
Last Updated: September 18, 2010

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Sean Casey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in both Nutritional Science-Dietetics and Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology. Sean graduated academically as one of the top students in both the Nutritional Science and Kinesiology departments.
Field Experience: During college, Sean was active with the UW-Badgers Strength and Conditioning Department. He has also spent time as an intern physical preparation coach at the International Performance Institute in Bradenton, FL. He also spent time as an intern and later worked at Athletes Performance in Tempe, AZ. While at these locations he had the opportunity to train football, soccer, baseball, golf and tennis athletes. Sean is also active in the field of sports nutrition where he has consulted with a wide variety of organizations including both elite (NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars) and amateur athletic teams. His nutrition consultation services are avalable by clicking on the Nutrition Consultation tab.