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Forward Triphasic Training

TRIPHASIC TRAINING A Systematic Approach To Elite Speed And Explosive Strength Performance

Cal Dietz & Ben Peterson

On the eighth day,

I dedicate this book to my family — wife Karyn ,



Grandparents — and friends that helped me in my journey

To the three men who gave rise to my fascination with human performance and inspired me to pursue my passion — Coach Mac,

Coach Lilja,

Table of Contents Forward

!I Authors Note

!II Preface

SECTION 1 Basic Principles & Their Application to Training 1

Basic Principles

!2 Stress,


SECTION 2 Periodization And The Implementation of Stress 2

Microcycle: Undulating Model

SECTION 3 The Triphasic Nature Of Athletic Movement 3

The Importance of Triphasic Training

SECTION 4 High Force At Low Velocity (Above 80 Percent) 4

Training Above 80 Percent

Medium Intensity (Submaximal Effort)

High Intensity (Maximal Effort)

Low Intensity (High Volume)

Triphasic Q & A

SECTION 5 High Force At High Velocity (55 to 80 Percent) 5

5: Monday,

Medium Intensity (Submaximal Effort)

High Intensity (Maximal Effort)

7: Friday,

Low Intensity (High Volume)

SECTION 6 High Velocity Peaking (Below 55 Percent) 6


7: Monday,

Medium Intensity (Sport-Specific Time: Ideal)

High Intensity (Sport-Specific Time: Below Ideal)

9: Friday,

Low Intensity (Sport-Specific Time: Above Ideal)

SECTION 7 Putting It All Together 7

2: Wrap-Up

Foreword Triphasic Training

FOREWORD Triphasic Training is a game changer

! It becomes clear how the University of Minnesota Olympic sport programs have achieved such high levels of success after reading this book

I first began communicating with Coach Dietz in 2008

After watching Coach Dietz teach these principles,

I came to the realization that his method was sound because it applied complex scientific principles in a practical manner for people to understand

This combination has established a “blueprint for success” and helped Coach Dietz’s athletes accomplish great feats both at the collegiate and professional level

I integrated the Triphasic Method with many collegiate and professional athletes at IMG

The results were outstanding

! I will continue to utilize and integrate this very effective method throughout my tenure as a coach in this great profession

I’ve often heard that success leaves clues

After reading this book,

you’ll have a blueprint for success and a greater knowledge of the training process

Loren Seagrave always says,

!” This book will help you understand the “Why” and not just the “How”

It's a “must have” for anyone trying to get better

— Jeff Dillman Director of Strength and Conditioning University of Florida

Authors Note Triphasic Training

AUTHOR’S NOTE Co-authoring a book presented a unique challenge that neither of us expected

The book is a compilation of stories,

and knowledge of two individuals

As such,

a conventional writing style would have us write the book in a manner that distinguishes which author is contributing to a specific story or anecdote

It would require us to preface sentences with,

” or “Ben worked with an athlete who

” When we were finished with sections of the book and went back to read what we had written,

we found the constant quoting hindered the flow of the book and prevented the reader from making connections between examples that came off as separate story lines

To solve this perceived flaw to the book,

we came up with a simple solution

We wrote the book from the first person view of a third party narrative

Instead of stating which one of us is involved with a story,

we say “I remember” or “I worked with

we created an imaginary person who is the culmination of both of our life experiences,

We beg the readers indulgence with this style choice and say that it is in no way meant to deceive or misguide the reader as to the source of information,

but rather to improve the consistency and readability of the book

We feel that this allows for one clear voice to present the information and will maximize the usefulness of the material to the reader

Preface Triphasic Training


I want to make a huge confession

I want to tell you what this book is not

This book is not the Holy Grail of training

! It isn't the only way to train athletes,

nor does it promise to turn every athlete who uses these methods into an All-American

Even with the most advanced training methods,

and vast array of sports supplements the twenty-first century has to offer,

and parents must realize that in order to win,

you must have the best athletes

That means you must recruit the best athletes in college and you must pay for the best athletes in the pros

No method in existence currently used by any strength coach can make up the gap between the genetics of a superior athlete to that of an inferior one

So what does that mean

? Are superior genetics the sole factor in determining success

? Without getting into any physiology or neurology,

let me explain using a real life example of two hockey players I coached several years ago

We will call them Fred and Walter

Fred and Walter grew up playing hockey together in a small town in northern Minnesota

From the very beginning,

To call them rink rats would have been an understatement

If they weren’t at the local rink working on their slap shot or playing pick-up games,

they were at the rink that Fred’s dad made every year in the backyard working on stick handling and skating

Both households even had the same rule—if you were watching television,

you had to work on your stick handling at the same time

(Both boys had small plastic sticks they practiced with on the floor during commercial breaks

Based on the amount of practice and work the two boys invested since the age of six,

it shouldn't be any surprise that they were All-State selections in hockey and that both accepted scholarships to play for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (U of M)

I remember when Fred and Walter arrived

They were virtually identical

Both stood six feet tall and weighed 175 lbs

During their four-year careers,

they both went through the exact same strength and conditioning

Preface Triphasic Training

Their one rep max (1RM) for the bench and squat were within 15 pounds of each other

They ate the same meals at the training table,

and even dated the same girl (though not at the same time)

I will add,

that both Fred and Walter gave 100 percent to everything they did surrounding Gopher hockey

They attacked every workout and skated every shift like it was their last

For all intents and purposes,

Fred and Walter were the exact same athlete,

the only difference being their genetic makeup— they had different parents

Here is where the story takes a drastic turn

During their time at the U of M,

Walter continued to excel while Fred seemed to struggle at times on the ice

By their senior season,

Walter was a preseason All-American who would eventually go on to play in the NHL

was an average third line player

? How could two essentially identical athletes end up at such different levels

The answer was genetics

Genetically speaking,

Walter had a higher end sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and superior hormonal profile than Fred

The SNS is part of the electrical wiring grid of the body,

relaying instructions from the motor cortex to the muscles of an athlete to perform coordinated muscle movements—hand eye coordination,

and reactive ability to name a few

In addition,

the SNS stimulates the endocrine system and hormonal response of the body under stress,

controlling the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline) and the mobilization of energy substrates through glucogon secretion as well as levels of other hormones associated with athletic performance such as testosterone (muscle building),

T3 and T4 (metabolism),

insulin-like growth factor-1 (muscle building),

and insulin (anabolic recovery)

In short,

the SNS is the “fight or flight response,” the most powerful response of the human body

The better the wiring or the quality of the cable used in that wiring,

the faster and more efficiently a signal will travel through the grid


an athlete’s hormonal profile dictates his ability to respond to the rigors of competition—stress,

An athlete who can process and respond to

Preface Triphasic Training

stimuli more quickly as well as orchestrate the body’s hormonal response efficiently will have a decisive advantage over other athletes

In Walter’s case,

Think of Fred and Walter as sports cars

Let’s be patriotic and go with Ford Mustang GTs

Both rolled off the assembly line as stock models,

the cars were overhauled and upgraded

All the hours practicing stick handling and skating were like putting on a better air filter and upgraded exhaust

The hours spent in the weight room squatting and jumping on Russian plyometric boxes were like putting in a new engine block chip that allowed the cars to shift faster and accelerate more quickly

In the end,

both cars were far superior to what they had been when they originally rolled off the assembly line over twenty years earlier

The only difference—one that I failed to mention at the start—was that when these cars first rolled off the line,

Walter had a V-10 turbo engine while Fred had a V-8

From the very start,

Walter had greater potential because his engine could inherently generate more horsepower

As long as both cars received the same upgrades,

the V-10 turbo would always be the better,

Getting back to Fred and Walter,

this doesn’t mean that a person with a superior nervous system and hormonal profile will automatically be a better athlete

If Walter stayed home watching television and playing his Playstation 3 all day while Fred was off working out and practicing,

I guarantee only Fred would have been offered a scholarship to play Division I hockey

Being blessed with the genetic gift of a superior nervous system,

doesn't guarantee a person athletic greatness

It merely gives him a better chance of reaching greatness if he puts forth the effort

I don’t know if you,

are lucky enough to have an entire weight room full of turbo V-10 engines or a bunch of V-8s

You might not have Mustangs at all but instead are sitting with a lot of Toyota Corollas

The main thing I want you to understand is that this is not a book about turning a Toyota Corolla into a Mustang GT

That is impossible

Every athlete has limited potential,

a ceiling defined by his genetics

At the same time,

no athlete is confined to a certain level of performance

Preface Triphasic Training

WHAT THIS BOOK IS Every strength and conditioning coach is,

Not to beat the car metaphor to death,

but you have to look at every athlete as a complex engine with thousands of moving parts

And you,

are trying to squeeze every single drop of horsepower you can out of that engine

This book is a method of training that will turn you into a master mechanic,

showing you how to improve the horsepower and performance of any make or model car that walks into your weight room

The tri-phasic undulating block model can be applied to any athlete at any time during his training cycle and achieve the same results—improvements in power,

and neuromuscular coordination

At this point,

I would guess that some of you are holding up red flags to question that last statement

“How can one training model be applied to such a wide range of sports with the same results

?” That is a fair and legitimate question,

a question that I will answer in this book

While on the surface sports like hockey and basketball may seem very different,

they are identical at their physiologic core

Bear with me a second—the “ah ha

!” moment is only minutes away

let’s agree on a couple things: ❖ All athletes use muscles

This is self-explanatory

Moving on

❖ Every sport requires dynamic movement of those muscles


dynamic muscle action refers to the active movement of a muscle through a partial or complete range of motion (swinging a baseball bat,

I know that neither of those points are groundbreaking

Coaches often have a very good understanding of the dynamic movements used most frequently in the sports they train

This is where you can cite the importance of specificity of training until the cows come home

Coaches will often tailor their workouts to try and improve those specific neural pathways and muscle actions in their athletes,

with the goal of creating more explosive,

efficient athletes at that movement pattern

The problem doesn’t lie with this approach to training at all

In fact,

Preface Triphasic Training

taking this approach to training is dead on accurate one-third of the time

The problem lies with the other two-thirds

Remember that “ah ha


! That one simple sentence is what ties every sport together and allows all athletes to be trained using the same method,

It is what this entire book is about

Understanding the physiologic nature of muscle action taking place during dynamic movements gives you,

a foundational training method that can be applied to every sport

Couple this method with a periodization schedule that can be altered to fit with any training time frame and you have the tri-phasic undulating block method

In a very brief and basic explanation that will be expanded upon at length in later chapters,

the triphasic nature of all dynamic movement can be broken down into three phases: 1) Eccentric phase: This is the deceleration or lowering portion of the movement

associated with muscle lengthening

During this phase,

kinetic energy is absorbed and stored in the tendons of the muscle structure to be used during the stretch reflex

comes to a complete stop before being

reaccelerated in a new direction

(This is actually governed by Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion

More on that and physics later

) 3) Concentric phase: This is the acceleration of an athlete or mass

It is associated with muscle

As the adage goes,

a chain is only as strong as its weakest link

If your training program consists solely of methods that train the concentric portion of dynamic muscle action,

your athletes are heading into the season with a chain consisting of one strong link and two weak links

This book is designed to show you how to develop the other two phases of dynamic human movement

Preface Triphasic Training

within a periodization model that will make all three links strong and optimize the performance of your athletes

Remember that: Athletic Movement = Dynamic Movement = Tri-Phasic Movement

WRAP UP I’m sure by now I have peaked your interest and forced you to rethink,

the training model you currently use with your athletes

When you are done reading this book,

you'll not only be able to write programs that produce explosive,

but you'll also be able to spot flaws in the various movement patterns pertinent to their sport

These flaws tend to develop over time,

especially during yearly training phases or macro-cycles

Keep in mind,

these issues can develop even with the use of the best training methods

Any time an athlete develops a specific aspect of his performance (strength,

it likely causes a deficit in a separate but related performance quality

For example,

let’s say you make an athlete faster with concentric only focused training

is that you neglected to train the athlete's eccentric decelerator in tangent to be able to absorb the higher levels of force now placed on him by the athlete's improved speed

When the athlete decelerates to make a cut or jump on the field/ court,

he can’t change direction as quickly due to a undertrained eccentric phase—the inability to absorb the increased force

This book will give coaches and/or trainers an understanding of how to address those qualities and fix and spot these issues to help your athletes reach a new level

Now that you have a better idea of what this book is and is not,

At this point,

you've read the course outline

it’s time to get into the nitty gritty details and learn the tools that you,

will take back to your garage,

to start tuning up your athletes


Section 1 Triphasic Training

After over twenty years in the field of strength and conditioning,

I've been able to test,

and implement a training methodology that gets results (28 Big Ten/WCHA titles,

and over 375 All-Americans in numerous different sports)

don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that I'm responsible for or that my training methods are responsible for all those accolades

The accolades are due to two things—great recruitment efforts on the coaches' part and great work ethic on the athletes' part

I've been lucky to work with groups of very athletically gifted,


because I've been fortunate to consistently work with such high caliber athletes year after year,

it has allowed me to formulate,

and refine a system of training that gets results

This system,

is based on a set of three principles that I've adopted and stick with when writing programs for my athletes

These are 1) stress the human body,

and 3) stress it differently each time

To accomplish all three,

you have to be a little creative

The ultimate purpose of this book is to teach you how and when to apply different methods of stress with your athletes to not only improve performance but engage the athletes and get them excited about training

Section 1 Triphasic Training



! If the athlete isn't being physically stressed,

I honestly believe that

This philosophy—one of constantly applying stress to the human body—is the single most important component of any training program

Let me say it again—you must constantly be stressing the athlete

I was lucky because early in my own playing career as a wrestler and football player at Findlay College in Ohio,

I was exposed to literature and training methods that showed me the value of stress and its initial negative,

effects on performance (more on that in a minute)

Since my playing days,

I've continued to learn everything I can about programming and training the human body to perform at its highest levels

I've looked at and dissected every successful training program I could get my hands on (and by “successful,” I mean world record setting),

and they've all had one common theme— high levels of stress

Taking those early lessons about stress that I learned at Findlay and combining them with what I've learned since through research and experimentation,

I'm convinced that stress is the essential factor that must be a constant in athletes’ training in order for them to maximize their athletic potential

That said,

this isn't a book about stress

It's a book about how a coach should apply stress to the athlete to maximize performance

I'll discuss triphasic muscle action,

but you have to realize that these are all different methods of applying stress to the human body

Before a coach can effectively apply these methods to elicit performance benefits for an athletic population,

a coach needs to have a firm grasp on the foundations on which those methods are built


a coach must understand stress—its cause and effect relationship on the human body and how that relationship influences adaptations that improve sport performance

Stress and the human body’s mechanisms to cope with it are amazing things

Stress is caused by anything and everything the human body encounters

From the bumps you feel while driving to work in your car to the apprehension you feel on a first date to the sheer terror of stumbling across a grizzly bear in the woods,

stress is your body’s way of interpreting and cataloging the

Section 1 Triphasic Training

The idea of stress as an all-encompassing stimulus was first presented as the general adaption syndrome (GAS) by Dr

Hans Selye in the 1950s

By definition,

GAS is the manifestation of stress in the human body as it builds over time

What this means is that stress isn't a single,

It must be thought of as a fluid stimulus that the human body must constantly deal with

Think of stress as a wave

When you're in the valley,

you're experiencing low levels of stress

When you're at a peak,

you're experiencing high levels of stress

The important thing to understand is that regardless of your place on the wave,

Selye understood the interaction between stress and the body to be a battle to reach homeostasis

The human body doesn't like change,

which is why it doesn’t like stress

Stress is the signal to the body that something has to change,

something must adapt to reduce the amount of stress exerted by that stressor on the body if it were to come across it a second time

If the stressor is large enough,

The brain will then signal the body,

The body’s thinking is that while it doesn’t want to change,

it is better off adapting to the stress so that if encountered a second time,

it will be dealt with by the new mechanisms put in place for its facilitation and not have any negative effects on the body

Image 1: Used with permission from Steve Berczi and the Hans Selye Institute

Image 1

Section 1 Triphasic Training

Think about this in terms of running because it is both the easiest and most relatable example

Imagine you haven’t been out for a run for several months

Maybe you live in Minnesota like I do and outdoor running is difficult from January through March


The next morning you roll out of bed and almost fall over

Your feet are killing you,

and your lower back feels like you slept on a concrete floor

After a brief analysis of the situation,

you conclude that you're getting old and incredibly out of shape,

but you're pretty sure that it won’t kill you if you go run again

This process continues for a week or so

Each time you wake up,

you're a little less sore than the previous day even though the number of miles you ran each subsequent time increased

? The simple and clear answer might seem to be that you're in better shape,

but that isn't the real reason “why

” The real reason is because your body has adapted to a new stressor—running

During the first run,

your body was screaming at you,

“What the [email protected]

!” Your body had adapted to a state of homeostasis that didn't involve running

It was happy

By throwing in a new stressor,

so that the next time you went running,

It’s easy

” The human body is lazy and wants to be kept in the nice warm blanket of homeostasis as much as possible

As a strength coach,

you need to rip that blanket off and dump a bucket of ice water over it to stimulate adaptation

Entire volumes of books have been written on GAS and its implications since Selye first published his work over a half century ago,

none of which I will go into here

For the purposes of strength and conditioning,

as well as understanding the undulating model,

you only need to understand how it pertains to athletic performance

Selye broke down GAS into three stages— alarm reaction,

Let’s take a moment to examine each stage more closely as it pertains to an athlete

A strong training stimuli,

elicited by workloads of high stress,

mobilizes the athlete’s energy resources in amounts that far exceed the metabolic level necessary for homeostatic response

It can also be thought of as an immediate,

training effect that leads to the degradation of muscle

Section 1 Triphasic Training

These increased demands trigger profound endocrine responses (i

the secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol,

as well as human growth hormone (HGH))

This is a catabolic response

repairing the damage from the workout through an insulin response (repairing muscle damage and refilling glycogen stores)

This is the anabolic stage

Stress hormone levels will return to normal but only if given sufficient time to dissipate

If another stressor returns before the athlete has completely recovered,

the athlete will experience another alarm stage response,

pushing him deeper into a catabolic state

Other terms used to express this stage are overload,

In this state,

an athlete’s endocrine system begins to shut down,

as it is no longer able to keep up with the high stress loads placed on it

An athlete in this state will often have a deficient thyroid (low metabolism or constantly tired),

severely impaired immune system,

and an inhibited insulin response

This stage is associated with decreased sport performance

When you put the three GAS phases together along with an understanding of the physiological response they stimulate,

you'll find that there are three possible results from training

This doesn't result in any positive adaptation because the training stimuli or workloads weren't stressful enough to upset the athlete’s homeostatic balance by triggering a resistance stage response

These workouts are pointless and waste valuable training time

Section 1 Triphasic Training

Figure 1

Doesn't result in any positive adaptation

Here the stress of numerous workouts compounds itself

Before the athlete’s body can begin to build itself back up through the resistance stage,

another stressor is applied that pushes the body into a deeper catabolic state

The athlete’s body isn't given sufficient time to recover to its previous level of adaptation before another stressor is applied

If more and more stress is applied without adequate time given for recovery,

the athlete falls further and further down the proverbial cliff,

eventually reaching the bottom of the canyon

Classified as severe overtraining,

this consists of extreme exhaustion as well as mental,

If an athlete is allowed to reach this point,

Section 1 Triphasic Training

Figure 1

Also known as overtraining,

this type of stress pattern produces a performance deficit and can take months,

forces the body into the resistance stage,

where it begins to rebuild the damaged tissue and refill metabolic stores

The result of these workouts is a supercompensation by the athlete’s body,

improving subsequent performance

the athlete isn't allowed to fall all the way to the bottom of the canyon

Halfway down,

additional stress (workouts) is stopped,

and the athlete’s physiological system begins to climb back up and recover

Section 1 Triphasic Training

Figure 1

signals a massive resistance stage response,

turning the athlete anabolic and leading to positive adaptation

Where most coaches fail their athletes is in their fear of overtraining them

When coaches think of overtraining,

they often think of it only in its most severe form,

as outlined by stage three of Seley’s GAS—exhaustion

They are so afraid of producing results like the one in option two (see graph) that they never stress their athletes hard enough to see a full supercompensation response

While severely overtraining an athlete will have extremely negative effects on an athlete’s performance,

a more mild dose of overtraining,

will yield drastic improvements

Overreaching is characterized by training to a point of fatigue that begins to show performance decrements and overtraining symptoms within the athlete

These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks

Exposure to high bouts of stress,

when given adequate time to recover,

can lead to a delayed training effect,

resulting in resynthesis of the damaged muscle

Section 1 Triphasic Training

tissue and depleted energy substrates to a level above and beyond their previous state

This phenomenon is known as supercompensation

Overreaching will force the athlete’s body to adapt to higher levels of stress than normally obtained by less stressful alarm/reaction cycles

In this case,

the athlete’s body interprets the extreme stress load as a life-threatening stimulus

The body literally believes it could endure severe injury or even death if it encountered that same level of stress a second time

As a result,

the body and its physiological mechanisms go into overdrive to rebuild bigger and stronger than before and make sure that when it meets that level of stress again,

it won't just survive but will thrive

“Only when standing at the brink of destruction does man truly realize his potential

” — Ancient Samurai Maxim Clearly,

you must not severely overtrain your athletes


you must overreach them to maximize their performance gains

How does a coach know how far and how hard to push an athlete

? That is where the art of coaching and a solid understanding of stress and its application come into play

As a coach,

you must not severely overtrain your athletes,

throwing them over the proverbial cliff

They will never be able to climb back out


you need to tie a rope around their waist and throw them over,

only letting them fall halfway down

Great coaches are the ones who know how far they can let an athlete fall and still have enough strength to climb back out

Be careful though—once you get good at this,

you might not recognize the athletes as they climb back over the lip of the cliff

The athletes you threw over the edge won’t be the same ones that climb back out

They will be bigger,

In a sense,

there should never be anything fun about a workout,

at least not from a physiological perspective

workouts can be fun in nature—competitive,


each workout should make your body think that you're trying to kill it

To progress,

an athlete’s body must constantly be introduced to new,

Section 1 Triphasic Training

A strength coach is a stress manager

In looking at the three possible outcomes stress can cause in an athlete,

there is a fine line between spurring positive adaptation and overtraining an athlete to the point of severe physiological damage and performance deficit

Stress is a double-edged sword

It can build an athlete into a dominating force or it can cut him down to an inferior shell of his former self

The strength coach’s most important job is learning how to wield that sword to constantly spur positive adaptation

The subsequent sections of this chapter not only show you how to stress the athlete on a daily basis—explaining the volumes,

and intensities that should be used—but also how an athlete must be stressed on a weekly (undulating) and monthly (block system) scale

Section 1 Triphasic Training

“How much stress does an athlete need to maximize performance

?” Where is that magic tipping point between undertraining and overtraining an athlete

I've researched every worldclass caliber program I could find

After much searching,

and translating (some of the programs I obtained were in Russian and French

I found the answer—a lot

! Coaches too often are afraid of severely overtraining athletes

They never stress them hard enough or push them long enough to truly realize their potential

Whether it was cross country,

Olympic weightlifting,

or any other sport for that matter,

the programs that produced the best results applied the most stress

In looking at these programs and the world-class athletes they produced,

I realized that there were five key factors in every program: 1) High volume: The total weight lifted per session or workout 2) High intensity: The percentage of an athlete’s maximum lift during a workout 3) High frequency: The number of times the athlete trains per week 4) High expectations: The expectations of the athlete (missed workouts,

or failed reps are unacceptable) 5) Overreaching: The point the athlete is pushed to but not past (adrenal fatigue) This isn’t to say that all five factors were present all the time in every workout

That would be suicidal

Each program blended and combined two or three of these five qualities,

cycling them throughout the training year or macro-cycle

When one form of stress began to lose its novelty on the athlete’s system (the athlete’s body begins to interpret what was formerly a high level of stress as the new level of homeostasis),

the coach cycled in a new highlevel stressor to spur further positive adaptation

Section 1 Triphasic Training

Let me give you an example of one such program

The Bulgarian National Olympic Weightlifting team was a dynasty during the 1970s

In the 1972 Olympics,

the Bulgarian team dominated the competition by taking three gold and three silver medals,

leaving the world and favored Soviet Union scratching their heads as to the reason for Bulgaria’s success

To put this in perspective for you,

at the time considered the world’s best in this event,

covered an area roughly two and a half times the size of the United States and had a population of over 200 million people


was a country half the size of the state of Minnesota,

It was David verses Goliath,

Going into the games,

the Soviet Union was expected to sweep the medal board in the Olympic weightlifting events


the Bulgarians were relative unknowns on the world stage

The embarrassing loss to the Bulgarians forced the Soviets to rethink their entire methodology of training their athletes

In studying the Bulgarian method of training,

the Soviets came to the following conclusion,

noted in an issue of the Soviet Sports Review in 1974: “The main reason for the better results is the substantial increase in the training load volume to a degree never used in international lifting practice to this time


Bulgarian trainers draw on Soviet experience

For example,

their means and methods of training are the same that we have in our country

Bulgarian athletes have substantially increased their training load in recent years

” 2 There are two important points to take from the above excerpt

the Bulgarians weren't doing anything revolutionary

They didn’t have a super secret training protocol or new methods that enabled them to surpass the Soviets

Everyone was doing the same thing


the Soviets concluded that Bulgaria’s success was “substantial increases in training load and volume to a degree never used in international lifting competition

” The truth was the Bulgarians were outworking everyone else

They were stressing the human body to a level higher than anyone thought possible

Roman RA (1974)

The training of Bulgarian weightlifters

Soviet Sports Review 1:41–42

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Table 1 summarizes the comparison of the two teams and their training protocol going into the 1972 Olympics

the Bulgarians lifted higher volumes,

and more often than the Soviet athletes


Bulgarian Weightlifting Program (Based on 106kg Lifter)

Volume (Lifts/Month) Load (Tons/Month) Workouts (Per Week)

Soviet Union


When the Soviet analysis was completed in early 1974,

they instantly changed their training protocol to resemble that of the Bulgarians

What were the results

only two years after making the modifications to the program,

the Soviets were back on top as a world power in Olympic weightlifting (winning seven gold medals),

an event they would continue to dominate until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991


the Soviets decided to make similar modifications to the training protocols for many of their other Olympic sports teams including swimming,

In the 1980 Summer Olympics,

the Soviet Union won a record setting eighty gold medals

The next closest country was East Germany with forty-seven

In 1984,

the Soviet Union boycotted the Olympic Games in Los Angeles,

deciding instead to host their own Friendship Games in Moscow for all the Eastern Bloc Countries

Of the eighty-three gold medals won by the United States at the Los Angeles Olympics,

over half of them would have been silver or bronze performances if they had competed against the Soviet athletes


the Soviets did fairly well at their Friendship Games,

The adaption of the

The training of bulgarian weightlifters

Soviet Sports Review,


Section 1 Triphasic Training

Bulgarian training method of high stress,

and high intensity lifting turned the Soviet Union into a superpower until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991,

which divided up the team and resulted in severe budget cuts that made it impossible to continue such a rigorous training schedule for its athletes

Figure 1

I’m not advocating the use of this specific type of training for high school or college athletes

A training protocol like the one used by the Bulgarian National Team is definitely outside the realm of NCAA regulations

I'm giving you an extreme example of the amazing capacities of the human body and how far it can be pushed with extreme levels of stress

While I don't think the same type of training should be used with most populations,

I believe one hundred percent that the methods behind their approach are essential and will result in positive sport performance improvements in any population who chooses to adopt and apply them

Section 1 Triphasic Training

Just to give you a visual,

at the end of this section you will find an example program that would have been followed by a Bulgarian Olympic lifter leading up to competition

If your jaw drops as you go over it,

I did the same thing when I first saw it

The workout consists of nine training sessions per day,

for a total of thirty-six weekly sessions

You heard me right

The lifter performs nine separate training sessions on Monday,



Each session was to be completed by the lifter in under forty-five minutes without any more than ninety minutes to recover between each session

There is absolutely nothing fancy about this workout at all

There aren't any bands,

Just high volumes,

and high frequency—high stress

As a strength coach,

you must learn to apply stress in a manner that elicits a supercompensation effect by overreaching if you want to maximize the performance of your athletes

Both high school and collegiate settings are ideal to implement these factors into a training program that can push an athlete to the brink

Due to the training time restrictions placed on teams imposed by the school calendar,

it gives a strength coach specific mandatory blocks of time when the athletes must rest

During the school year,

there are times when you don’t have access to athletes (finals week,

Christmas vacation,

The goal of many of my training cycles is to overreach my athletes before they leave for break

That way,

I put their body through a maximal stress load,

using the five factors to stress them before giving their bodies time to completely recover

As an example,

my goal every May is to have as many of my hockey players sick with a cold or the flu going into finals week

I know that sounds terrible,

but a sick athlete is an early warning sign of an overtrained athlete

When athletes are severely stressed and overtrained,

their immune system is compromised and they get sick

During finals,

there is a tenday period when I'm not allowed to train the hockey players at all


I overreach them going into finals (they are tired,

Coming out of finals,

when they get back to training ten days later,

it isn't uncommon to see twenty- to thirty-pound increases in most of their major lifts as well as faster sprint times

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Session 7 Set Load Reps Session 8

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set 11:45-12:30pm Set Set Snatch Set Set Set

Session 4 Set Load Reps Session 5

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set

Session 1 Set Load Reps Session 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set

Set x2 x2 x2 x1 x1 x1 x1 x1 x1 x1 x2 x2 10:30-11:15am Clean & Jerk

Load Reps Session 9

Load Reps Session 6

Load Reps Session 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set

Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set Set


Section 1 Triphasic Training

Section 1 Triphasic Training

By comparing the methods employed in the weight room to the results in competition,

it will become instantly apparent whether or not a specific training method or protocol has resulted in improved sport performance

You must measure and evaluate everything that you do as a strength and conditioning coach

Sports like track and field,

and weightlifting allow you to consistently measure performance-based results so that you can evaluate the methods you applied,

see their transferability (how efficiently the athlete’s gains in an exercise transferred to his improvement during competition),

and then implement those methods to other sports

Throughout my coaching career,

I've been very fortunate to have coached at a school with a track and field team

Some coaches may view this as more of a curse than a blessing because track usually has dozens of athletes all competing in different events with unique needs

Add in the fact that the track season seems to run twelve months a year with athletes needing to peak every other meet,

and it can turn into a program writing nightmare

! If you can get past all that,

you will find that a track and field team is the single best place to develop and test training methods and programs that can then be applied to a much wider athletic base

The great thing about track and field events is that they are all one hundred percent performance based

Everything in track and field is measurable—how far the discus flies or how fast the sprinter runs

From one competition to the next,

the extent of each event stay the same (except for weather conditions in outdoor competitions)

There is very little variability within the track model compared to skill-based anaerobic sports such as hockey or basketball where no two games are ever the same

Variability in these sports is very high and thus any direct training effect is lost

I’m not saying that you can’t see improvement in an athlete’s performance from a training program

What I'm saying is that there isn't any way to show,

that those improvements can be attributed to training

Section 1 Triphasic Training

If a basketball team has a horrible regular season but goes on to win their conference tournament,

beating two ranked teams and gaining an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament,

a strength coach could pat himself on the back and attribute it to having peaked his athletes at the right time

I will concede that is a possibility,

but what if I told you that the team was young and it took them the majority of the season to learn to play as a team

? Or that two of the wins in the conference tournament came off half-court buzzer beaters

? These are examples of the two biggest reasons why a strength coach can't evaluate the validity of a program from team-based anaerobic sports—teamwork and luck (printed in bold in the table1

When you add those two variables into the equation,

it completely discredits any correlations that could be drawn from your training methods

A thrower never gets lucky on a good throw

A high jumper doesn’t rely on a teammate to give him a push off going over the bar

Both are the result of perfect technique gained through thousands of hours of practice and proper strength training methods



Outcome Measure




Control Variables

Strength Power Nervous System

Strength Power Nervous System

Strength Power Nervous System

Technique Weather

Technique Ice Conditions Awareness Goaltending Execution Defense Offense Coaching Strategy Shift Strength Line Matching Skill of Competition Teamwork Luck

Technique Passing Dribbling Defense Offense Clock Management Coaching Strategy Inbounding Awareness Skill of Competition Teamwork Luck

Random Variables

Section 1 Triphasic Training

Table 1

Notice that team sports,

such as hockey and basketball have exceedingly more random variables (variability) in their outcome measure

This increased variability makes it hard to find correlation between training and performance

By using the training methods outlined in this book,

you're getting a leg up on the competition because the methods have been tried and measured at the highest levels of competition and proven to be reliable in delivering sport performance gains

While you,

will never be able to stand up and take credit for a conference championship or national title,

you can take pride in knowing that the methods you used with your athletes undoubtedly aided in their success

Section 1 Triphasic Training

A program that doesn’t change is an ineffective program

It is imperative that the five factors discussed previously are constantly rotated through the training cycle

the factors are: 1) High volume 2) High intensity 3) High frequency 4) High expectations 5) Overreaching The first three factors (volume,

and frequency) can all be adjusted by altering the loading parameters (changing exercises,

the method of movement being applied,

or the number of training sessions per week)

Below in table 1

This is not a complete list,

and only shows some of the possible loading parameters for a horizontal pressing exercise,

the combination of which make a lifting method


Load on Bar

Method of Movement


Supine Bench Press Incline Bench Press Closed Grip Bench Press DB Bench Press Incline DB Bench Press Dips

Eccentric Isometric Concentric Reactive Chains Bands Weight Releasers

Day/Week Day/Week Day/Week Day/Week Day/Week Day/Week

Section 1 Triphasic Training

if the athletes aren't constantly being forced to adapt to stress,

This isn't to be mistaken for simply returning to the previous stimuli

You must come up with novel ways to stimulate and stress your athletes to spur change and see performance improvements

This serves a dual purpose—it keeps the athletes interested and engaged in the training and continually pushes their bodies to adapt

No one likes to go to work every day and do the same old routine over and over

Keep in mind that new or increased levels of stress must be given to the athlete all the time to see continued increases in training effect

When I speak about training effect,

I'm referring to results from continued training such as an increase in the key performance measures needed to benefit the demands of an athlete’s sport

An example for a football player would be an increase in the ten-yard dash or vertical jump

Section 1 Triphasic Training

this may seem like a lot to keep track of

Stress is a very complicated task,

especially when you realize that its application,

and implementation can have either beneficial effects or detrimental effects on athletic performance

Just look back at the horizontal pressing table with just six exercise variations per lift,

eight different percentages that can be used to load them,

and seven different methods with which the load can be moved (not counting the dozens of variations and ways these can be manipulated)

That's over 330 ways you can perform one single compound exercise

And that’s just choosing the exercise

! We haven’t even considered how heavy the load should be on the bar,

the volume or total reps that should be lifted,

or the frequency of times the athlete should perform that pressing movement per week

Are you concerned yet

It's a daunting task

is why I decided I needed to write this book—to create a format that would simplify the application of stress and the tri-phasic undulating block system

Remember—as a coach,

You not only need to know what tools are out there (bands,

but you must also know how to use them to elicit the greatest possible training effect for your athletes

You know the old proverb,

Teach a man to fish,

” I didn’t want to just write a programming book for coaches to take and simply rip out programs and throw at their athletes

I want coaches to be able to understand and apply sound,

knowledge-based training principles in the sincere effort to improve the performance of the men and women they train

The undulated block system will allow you to implement the Five Factors of Success


to truly learn how to “fish,” there is one more idea that you must grasp before we dive into the actual programs that will help develop explosive,

It is the one,

single variable of training that ties all sport together,

an integral piece to the puzzle that if missed or neglected will sabotage the potential gains of even the most gifted athlete

That variable is the triphasic nature of all muscle action

SECTION 2 Periodization: The Implementation of Stress

Section 2 Triphasic Train

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