T Nation

Bobsled - Because White Guys Can't Run on the Track

My name is RJ and I’m training for the US Bobsled team (which just won a gold medal). In order to be a bobsledder you’ve got to be big, strong, explosive, and fast, so that’s what I’m training for.

Some of my stats are:
6’ tall
210 lbs (a bit lower today, but I was dehydrated)
9-10% BF
Power Clean: 300+ lbs
Power Snatch: 100+ kg
Back Squat: Somewhere in the 400s
Vertical Leap: 33-34" legitimately measured
Broad Jump: closer to 11’ than 10’

As you can see, I need to do some testing, but my numbers are all in the general area of the above. I keep a log on another site, but I thought I’d bring it here.

Here’s today’s session:

February 27th, 2010
Lower Body Focus

Condition:
Still sick, and a little emotionally drained, but I need to get back to serious training. I felt a little better today after a nap. Weight is still a bit down, 206 this morning.

Warm Up:
Some BW movements

Light Plyos

Workout:
Power Snatches (index fingers on rings, no dip to catch)
8 x 3 @ 155 lbs, 120 sec. rest

RDLs
2 x 10 & 155 lbs, 120 sec. rest

Abs

Cool Down:
Nothing

Notes:
Well, this session was harder than I thought it was going to be. The snatches are light enough to be easily manageable, but they put a lot of overall stress on the system. I don’t know how to describe it other than I just felt dull afterward. The minimal rest periods might have had something to do with it.

The RDLs were done extremely light with a focus on spinal position and driving with my glutes. Ab work was like it usually was, sucky, but beneficial.

To preserve my hands and shoulders, I won’t be able to snatch for high reps every session. At least not initially. Next session will probably be a mix of squats and DB jump squats. More plyos too.

I should note that I’m not on the team yet, but will be trying out this summer or fall. It should be fun.

March 1st, 2010
Lower Body Focus

Condition:
I’m finally getting better, but my traps, shoulders, mid back, and glutes are fatigued from snatches two days ago. I feel strong though.

Warm Up:
Some BW movements

Light Plyos

Workout:
Power Snatches (index fingers on rings, minimal dip to catch)
5 x 3 @ (135, 155, 165, 175, 185 lbs), 120 sec. rest

Back Squats (Hip-width stance, feet straight ahead, full depth)
1 x 5 & 275 lbs

Abs

Military Presses (to clavicles)
1 x 5 @ 155 lbs

Cool Down:
Light plyos

Notes:
I could definitely feel the entire backside of my body while doing power snatches today. I’m fatigued from my neck down to my calves. Still, the weights flew up like I was screwing with an empty bar, though the short rests made it tiring.

On squats, I have no desire to go heavy for a while. Instead I plan on using squats as a mobility/activation exercise. 275 was a good weight.

And finally, on military press, my shoulders, traps, and lower back were shot. As such, I could only manage 155 for 5. I know that were I fresh, I could hit it for 9-10. I’ve already been able to do 75s for 7-8 on DB overhead press, so it shouldn’t be too hard with a barbell.

This log is of great interest to me. It’s nice to see an athlete’s training approach.

Two questions:

Have you considered military pressing prior to snatch? To me the snatch benefits from it by having the shoulders warm and more ready to go.

Have you considered wearing a nice pair of leather chore gloves while snatching light reps (around $5 at Walmart)? They truly are a skin saver and grip does not seem to be an issue when I do it.

Thanks for starting a log here and good luck!

[quote]bluejay wrote:
This log is of great interest to me. It’s nice to see an athlete’s training approach.

Two questions:

Have you considered military pressing prior to snatch? To me the snatch benefits from it by having the shoulders warm and more ready to go.

Have you considered wearing a nice pair of leather chore gloves while snatching light reps (around $5 at Walmart)? They truly are a skin saver and grip does not seem to be an issue when I do it.

Thanks for starting a log here and good luck![/quote]
First of all, thanks for the support. My training will be a little boring for the next month or so (mostly weights), but when the weather warms up things will get more interesting.

As for the military press, I don’t really train my upper body with any sort of plan or intensity. Occasionally I’ll grab some DBs and do some vanity work at the end of a workout, but I don’t really train for it. Military presses tonight were just for fun. I have bench pressed over 300 lbs and done 7 chin ups with 90 lbs around my waist before (both after minimal training) so the strength is there.

And for grip, I just picked up a pair of straps yesterday. In combination with gloves, they are indeed a skin saver.

Thanks again.

March 3rd, 2010
Lower Body Focus

Condition:
I’m feeling good. Back, shoulders, traps, and glutes are still a bit fatigued, but I feel great. I have been studying hard for midterms, so I am a little mentally tired though. Weight is sitting at 208 and I’m fairly lean.

Warm Up:
Some BW movements

Light Plyos

Workout:
Power Snatches (index fingers on rings, no dip to catch)
4 x 3 @ 160 lbs, 120 sec. rest

Back Squats (full depth)
Worked up to 1 x 1 & 365 lbs, missed rep 2 (WTF?)

Rhythmic DB Jump Squats
4 x 8 @ 45+45 lbs, 120 sec. rest

Abs

Military Presses (to clavicles)
1 x 3 @ 170 lbs

Cool Down:
Light plyos

Notes:
Soooo, I can power snatch around 230 lbs with a close grip, but apparently I can only back squat 365 lbs. What the hell!? Granted, I haven’t really squatted in a couple weeks, but just a little while ago I was doing 385 for fast sets of 3. My ability to strain against a heavy weight has really gone downhill. My explosiveness is better than ever though. As a speed athlete, I can’t really complain too much.

After squats, I was a little demoralized, but the DB jump squats were fast and high (relatively speaking). Abs were good too, though I still hate training them.

I had two tests today and I have two more tomorrow. School is not fun right now.

March 5th, 2010
Lower Body Focus

Condition:
My entire backside is still fatigued. On the upside, I finished with my last two midterms yesterday. I’m now officially on Spring break. Bodyweight is 208 lbs.

Warm Up:
Some BW movements

Light Plyos

Workout:
Back Squats (full depth)
3 x 3 @ 275 lbs, 180 sec. rest

Power Snatches (index fingers on rings, minimal dip to catch)
5 x 3 @ (135, 165, 185, 205 (easy 5 lb PR), 165 lbs), 120-180 sec. rest

Rhythmic DB Jump Squats
3 x 8 @ 25+25 lbs, 120 sec. rest

Abs

Cool Down:
Nothing

Notes:
Well, today’s session went well. 275 lbs still feels far too heavy on my back, but 205 felt like a feather in my hands. 205 lbs x 3 is a 5 lb PR on the power snatch, but I could’ve gone quite a bit higher. Oh well, there’s always next session.

After that, jump squats and ab work were pretty standard. I’m going to be occupied this weekend, so I don’t intend to train until Monday. The extra rest day will be nice.

Here’s video of a few snatch sets:

By a prowler (or push cars), train like an oly lifter and just worry about your power output to weight ratio. Find the best power to weight ratio for you. AND DON’T DO ANY EXTRA WORK ON YOUR UPPER BODY.

I used to be a sprinter (Junior Olympics for three years straight until I broke my arm playing football) and trained like a strongman by pushing cars around with my dad when i was 12 after watching the Hulk TV show. Most importantly, do not run any distance over 60 yards ever.

[quote]wher0001 wrote:
By a prowler (or push cars), train like an oly lifter and just worry about your power output to weight ratio. Find the best power to weight ratio for you. AND DON’T DO ANY EXTRA WORK ON YOUR UPPER BODY.

I used to be a sprinter (Junior Olympics for three years straight until I broke my arm playing football) and trained like a strongman by pushing cars around with my dad when i was 12 after watching the Hulk TV show. Most importantly, do not run any distance over 60 yards ever.[/quote]

Thanks for the tips. Your experiences are a bit out of the ordinary though. If you can train like a strongman, push cars, and still end up fast as hell, you’re blessed for speed. That type of training would not work well for most people concerned with the 100-400M.

Having said that, I like your way of thinking for a bobsledder. I’m also a sprinter though, so I will probably include some runs out to 120M for speed endurance when the weather warms up. I’d still like to be able to put up a fast 100M. I’m also not too big of a fan of upper body work. It’s good for aesthetics, and that’s about it.

Thanks again.

[quote]RSRNJ wrote:

[quote]wher0001 wrote:
By a prowler (or push cars), train like an oly lifter and just worry about your power output to weight ratio. Find the best power to weight ratio for you. AND DON’T DO ANY EXTRA WORK ON YOUR UPPER BODY.

I used to be a sprinter (Junior Olympics for three years straight until I broke my arm playing football) and trained like a strongman by pushing cars around with my dad when i was 12 after watching the Hulk TV show. Most importantly, do not run any distance over 60 yards ever.[/quote]

Thanks for the tips. Your experiences are a bit out of the ordinary though. If you can train like a strongman, push cars, and still end up fast as hell, you’re blessed for speed. That type of training would not work well for most people concerned with the 100-400M.

Having said that, I like your way of thinking for a bobsledder. I’m also a sprinter though, so I will probably include some runs out to 120M for speed endurance when the weather warms up. I’d still like to be able to put up a fast 100M. I’m also not too big of a fan of upper body work. It’s good for aesthetics, and that’s about it.

Thanks again.
[/quote]

To clarify, the only way that I trained like a strongman was to push cars. My dad was a powerlifter, so it helped that i had a partner to steer the car.

Did i forget to mention that my grandmother was born in Jamaica? lol, true though. And yes i am white.

I do remember an article that helped me. Back in the 80’s they studied Oly lifters’ sprint times and realized that for the first 20 yards, the fat bastards WERE in fact faster. I you are really looking to do bobsled, i would try not to train more than 10 yards past their max distance as it might hurt your progress

Two tips I remember from training:

  1. try to pretend you are floating above the ground while running. It is pretty stupid but it makes you run upright and use proper form. If you have good form, screw it.
  2. in the Army i was taught that if you try to rip the ground apart while doing pushups, you will be able to do more weight and/or reps. There is a reason that this works and maybe someone can chime in. Do the same thing with your feet to the ground. Pretend you are a tiger with claws and shred the ground while running. This will activate more of the calf muscle and create more of a push off effect.

The point is not in the visualization, just in the technique that is gained. Also, RUN BAREFOOT MORE OFTEN or buy those ugly sock-shoes. Stronger grip = stronger bench…stronger feet = better runner.

Above all else, good luck and best wishes. I would def love to see a TMUSCLE/T-Nation reader whoop some ass. Don’t forget to wear the shirt when you get to the Olympics!

[quote]RSRNJ wrote:

[quote]wher0001 wrote:
By a prowler (or push cars), train like an oly lifter and just worry about your power output to weight ratio. Find the best power to weight ratio for you. AND DON’T DO ANY EXTRA WORK ON YOUR UPPER BODY.

I used to be a sprinter (Junior Olympics for three years straight until I broke my arm playing football) and trained like a strongman by pushing cars around with my dad when i was 12 after watching the Hulk TV show. Most importantly, do not run any distance over 60 yards ever.[/quote]

Thanks for the tips. Your experiences are a bit out of the ordinary though. If you can train like a strongman, push cars, and still end up fast as hell, you’re blessed for speed. That type of training would not work well for most people concerned with the 100-400M.

Having said that, I like your way of thinking for a bobsledder. I’m also a sprinter though, so I will probably include some runs out to 120M for speed endurance when the weather warms up. I’d still like to be able to put up a fast 100M. I’m also not too big of a fan of upper body work. It’s good for aesthetics, and that’s about it.

Thanks again.
[/quote]

Yes, you are def right about the 100-400 times. This type of training would succeed at 40-60 yards sprints only.

March 8th, 2010
Lower Body Focus

Condition:
It’s been a few days since my last session and I feel good. I wasn’t exactly easy on my body this weekend, but I recovered nicely anyways. Bodyweight was 209 lbs this morning.

Warm Up:
Some BW movements

Light Plyos

Workout:
Back Squats (full depth)
3 x 3 @ (315, 335, 355 lbs), 180 sec. rest

Power Snatches (index fingers on rings, minimal dip to catch)
7 x 3 @ 170 lbs, 120 sec. rest

Abs

Cool Down:
Nothing

Notes:
Okay, my squat strength is coming back. The bar still feels awkward on my shoulders and my lower back hasn’t completely gotten used to the load yet, but the strength is there. I may have lost some quad mass, but my p-chain strength and size seems to be in order.

Not only were squats good, but power snatches were good too. 170 lbs isn’t much, but when you’re using 2 minute rests, it gets difficult. Still, I had a lot left in the tank. I figure that once I can do this with bodyweight (210-215) I should be able to power snatch 275 or so. That’s a ways off though.

You’re workouts are good and you seem to be improving.

Keep it up.

good luck with making the team! yes, you will have ‘off’ days, especially with squats (and after a two week break). how is your diet? im interested to know what you eat

wher, thanks. My squat strength is still pretty far behind where it was just a few weeks ago, but my power snatch is increasing steadily. Now that I’m not sick anymore, I can start making real progress again.

caveman, thank you. Making the team will be hard, but I think I’ve got it in me. I’m much faster than I am strong, so my lowish weight room numbers are kind of deceiving. As for my diet, it’s horrible. Breakfast this morning was a meatball sandwich and chocolate chip cookies. I don’t really use any supplements either, just vitamins. I’m lucky I’m naturally fairly lean, but if I cleaned up my diet I’d be considerably leaner. :stuck_out_tongue:

March 10th, 2010
Lower Body Focus

Condition:
The entire back side of my body is sore. I feel strong though, well rested too. Bodyweight today is 207.

Warm Up:
Some BW movements

Light Plyos

Workout:
1 1/2 Rep Back Squats (full depth)
2 x 3 @ (295, 315 lbs), 240 sec. rest

Power Snatches (index fingers on rings, minimal dip to catch)
Worked up to 220 lbs x 2.5 reps (Big PR), 180 sec. rest

Abs

Cool Down:
Nothing

Notes:
Dammit, haha. I tried to pull 100 kg for 3 reps, even though I was sore as hell, and I almost got it. I lost rep 3 out in front, even though I pulled it more than high enough. Oh well, this was 15 lbs above my 3 rep PR, so I’ll take it. Also, this was the first time upper body strength started to hold me back. I caught the second rep with locked elbows, but the weight pushed them apart. I need to get my lockout strength up to par.

Besides snatches, the squats were fairly difficult. I was still majorly fatigued from last session, so 315 felt like a ton on my shoulders.

All in all, I’m happy with how today went. Even with how run down my body was, I still had 220 x 3 in the bag. When fresh, I could go even higher.

Here’s a link:

March 12th, 2010
Total Body Focus

Condition:
Ugh, everything from my neck down to my hamstrings is sore and tight. My body does not want to train today. My mind, however, is dead set on busting ass, so guess what I did. Weight was 207.

Warm Up:
Some BW movements

Light Plyos

Workout:
1 1/2 Rep Back Squats (full depth)
Worked up to 225 lbs x 3, didn’t have it in me to go heavier

Power Snatches (index fingers on rings, minimal dip to catch)
8 x 3 @ 175 lbs, 120 sec. rest

Rhythmic DB Jump Squats
2 x 10 @ (25+25 lbs), 180 sec. rest

Push Ups (hands and feel elevated for extra ROM, close stance, elbows tucked)
4 x (8, 8, 8, 6) & BW + 70 lbs, rest varied

EZ Bar Curls (strict)
Dropset (107 lbs x 7 + 87 lbs x 6 + 67 lbs x 7)
1 x 11 @ 67 lbs

Abs

Cool Down:
Shoulder Dislocates

Notes:
Well, I just couldn’t squat today. I didn’t have it in me to push myself. On snatches however, 175 for 8 x 3 went up like a dream. Both my strength and work capacity are really coming along well. I know it’s one hell of a long shot, but I want to be using 200+ lbs for this same workout before I turn 22.

Other than that, a number of factors have convinced me that I actually want to look like I lift. My shoulders are fairly developed, but my arms and chest are lagging. Push ups allow me to train abs as well as my pressing muscles and curls are just fun. I seem to have a lot of strength on curls, but my bicep development doesn’t show it. Oh well, I’ll fix that.

Also, on push ups, I weighed myself on a scale at the bottom of a rep and it came out to 222 lbs. Factoring in the weight of my arms, that’s only the equivalent of about 200-205 lbs on a barbell. That’ll go up quickly too though.

I enjoyed watching your videos. Ive always wanted to try to learn to power snatch. I love doing the one arm variety.
Your form looks great. Did you have coaching in the past? and please if you could give me some pointers for a beginner like myself(to Olympic movements), I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give on starting power snatch training. You seem to be very good compared to the majority of amateur videos Ive seen of people doing the movement, in fact the best I can remember.

[quote]Pistol Pete wrote:
I enjoyed watching your videos. Ive always wanted to try to learn to power snatch. I love doing the one arm variety.

Your form looks great. Did you have coaching in the past? and please if you could give me some pointers for a beginner like myself(to Olympic movements), I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give on starting power snatch training. You seem to be very good compared to the majority of amateur videos Ive seen of people doing the movement, in fact the best I can remember.
[/quote]
Thank you very much. I’m glad somebody is getting something from the videos.

As for my form, thank you again. I’ve never had a coach, nor have I ever actually seen someone else do a power snatch before (in real life). I taught myself the lift, power cleans too.

If you want to incorporate the power snatch into your routine, I’d say it’s a good idea. It’s not necessary, but it’s a very economical lift, fun too. My first bit of advice would be to watch a lot of videos of people using good form. You can learn merely by watching and picturing yourself replicating others’ movements.

After that, I’d give hang power snatches a try. I don’t use many complex cues. I just focus on keeping the spine neutral, the shoulders over the bar (in the vertical plane), lowering slowly (you might only want to lower to the top of the knee caps initially), and then pulling like hell. You will be pulling with your arms, but only secondarily to your back and hips.

Start light and remember that its a back and hip exercise, not an arm exercise. It should also look explosive, snappy, and effortless. If it looks ugly or slow, you’re probably not doing it right. Filming yourself for each set also helps provide instant feedback.

Good luck. If you need a more in depth explanation, I think Charles Staley provides a snatch walkthrough that’s somewhere in the archives here.

March 15th, 2010
Total Body Focus

Condition:
Man, I woke up with massive DOMS throughout my entire back, but especially concentrated around my scapulae. My chest was sore as well, but it’s been that way since Friday. I shouldn’t be training, but I want to anyways.

Warm Up:
Some BW movements

Light Plyos

Workout:
Back Squats (full depth)
2 x 3 @ 300 lbs, 180 sec. rest

Power Snatches (index fingers on rings, minimal dip to catch)
4 x 3 @ 180 lbs, 120 sec. rest

Rhythmic DB Jump Squats
2 x 10 @ (25+25 lbs), 180 sec. rest

Push Ups (hands and feel elevated for extra ROM, close stance, elbows tucked)
4 x (10, 10, 9, 6) & BW + 70 lbs, rest varied

EZ Bar Curls (strict)
Dropset (107 lbs x 8 + 87 lbs x 5 + 67 lbs x 10)

Abs

Cool Down:
Shoulder Dislocates

Notes:
Well, squats were as hard as ever. I don’t know what it is, but my knees won’t handle them. I’m beginning to think a medication I’ve been on might be affecting my knees. My squat has been down since I started taking it.

After that, the snatches went well enough. My back was tired though, and so I cut the volume to prevent myself from wearing it out too badly. I’m going to stick with this weight all of this week before pushing for 185 for sets and reps next week.

Upper body was fine. Big recent PRs on both lifts. My upper body is going to catch up to my lower body quickly. I plan on being 100% better by Wednesday, but if not, I might push back training until Friday. That probably won’t happen, but it’s the plan.