T Nation

Question For Olympic Gurus

thx for attending my question.

ive read in a dozen sources about a test conducted at an olympic event (mexico city, late 60’s i think).

they tested the o-lifters 20 yard dash against the o-sprinters 20 yard dash, and the o-lifters vertical jump against the o-highjumpers vertical jump.

they say the o-lifters tested faster and jumped higher than the o-sprinters and o-highjumpers.

is this true?

if it is true, then a plethora of questions come to mind.

It’s true, check out Harvey Newton’s (not sure if I spelled his name correctly) new Olympic lifting book for the precise details.

I have read something similar, though I cannot remember where exactly. Perhaps Medvedev’s book on the training of weightlifters. I don’t have my copy with me and can’t check.

From what I recall, the claim was that o-lifters were the fastest of all athletes for the first 10 meters of a sprint, and second only to high jumpers in their vertical jump.

This supposed study was quoted by Dr. Fred Hatfield numerous times but I am yet to find a true scientific reference for it. Well, to be fair it was not a study per se, but rather a generalized physical testing of the athletes of the 1968 Mexico olympics. It stood out (supposedly) that olympic lifters had the best performance of all classes of athletes (on average) on a 25 yards sprint and a vertical jump test.

Let’s assume that this testing really did occur (I have no reason for doubting the honestly of Dr. Hatfield, whom I deeply respect). These results would be interesting, but consider that:

  • Dr. Hatfield mention that the date was taken at the 1964 Mexico olympics, the Mexico olympics were held in 1968. Which one is it???

  • In 1968 very few classes of athletes were involved in any significant strength and power training protocols outside of event-specific training and some low-intensity jump training. “Modern” plyometric work (depth jumps) was developped in the early 1960’s by Verkhoshansky but was not used widely by athletes before 1968. Strength training for athletes wasn’t accepted, or at least widespread in the US and was still in its infancy in Eastern block countries

  • On the other hand, olympic lifters were doing a lot of cleans, snatches and squats on top of jumps and sprints. Back in the 1950-1960s olympic lifters did a lot of jumps and sprints for overall consitioning. So it’s not suprising that they were good jumpers and sprinters too, plus they were generally more stronger and powerful than other classes of athletes because of their strength training.

  • Some athletes were indeed involved in some basic form of strength training, but it wasn’t as structured, sport-specific or advanced as what the olympic lifters were doing.

  • When it comes to muscle fiber makeup and contractile capacities, olympic lifters are very similar to sprinters. Both are fast-twitch dominant.

  • Understand that there were few “heavy” olympic lifters back in 1964. The heavies were 198lbs+ and, for example, at the 1964 US championships only 3 men competed in the “over 198lbs” class (Norbert Schemansky, Sid Henry and Tommy Suggs) while 44 men competed between 123lbs and 198lbs. Granted, by 1968 ore big men were competing (Zhabotinsky, Reding, Dube, etc.), but there were still much more “smaller” men competing. Now, take a 181lbs olympic lifter with little body fat, a lot of power and lower body strength, a wide experience of sprinting and jumping and of course it is quite possible that their results in tests such as the 25yards dash and vertical jump were quite high.

  • Chances are that the 25yards sprint was on a FAT start, not at the sound of a gun. The researchers wanted to evaluated strictly the physical capacities of the athletes. Starting at the sound of a gun would thus taint the results as reaction time would be factored in and would obviously give a false advantage to sprinters who are trained to reac to a gun. So the clock probably started on the first movement of the athlete. 25 yards isn’t very long … we’re talking around 2.8-3.2 seconds, maybe a bit more. On such distances it’s quite possible that lighter olympic lifters did very well because of their high power output. But I doubt that any difference was significant.

  • High jumpers use a specific technique and part of it is the transfer of horizontal velocity and momentum (provided by the initial running start_ to the actual jump. And let’s not forget the Foxbury flop which is a very technical move which can significantly enhance HJ results. Basically, what high jumpers do has little to do with a regular vertical jump. On the other hand, the pulling phase and jerk drive of the olympic lifts are much more similar to a vertical jump. So better results for weightlifters in that test is nothing to be surprised about.

Excellent post, Thib.

DI

"Excellent post, Thib. "

Ditto!

thx, you da mang, CT

I bet there’s definately some validity to this statement…

Just the other day I came across some info and the U.S. Super Heavyweight Shane Hammon(d)?

It said he can dunk 2 handed from a stand still as well as perform a backflip. You might not think this is all too impressive until you put into account that he’s 5’9 320lb.

Thib’s response exemplifies what makes this website so valuable. I’d have given the proverbial left nut to have this caliber of information and analysis available ten to fifteen years ago. And seeing names like “Zhabotinsky” and “Schemansky” – why that sort of historical awareness is almost as motivating as some of the inspirational pictures posted hereabouts from time to time.

Assuming that such a study/test was indeed conducted some 30+ years ago, my guess is thatif repeated today the results would be largely the same; i.e. world class weightlifters would demonstrate themselves to be among the best sprinters over (very) short distances and among the best leapers. Perhaps other athletes who nowadays incorporate more explosive training might come closer or even exceed the performance of weightlifters, but my guess is that the difference would be marginal. But that’s only a guess.

This does bring up the age old question, and one for which I have not yet seen a definitive answer. Again, assuming that the above mentioned test results were accurate, does one conclude that training as an olympic lifter improves one’s ability to sprint and to jump? Or does it merely show that athletes who happen to have exceptionally explosive legs (muscle fibers that are overwhelmingly fast twitch dominant)tend to make both excellent weightlifters and sprinters/jumpers? One of the things for which most selection protocols for o-lifting talent test is jumping ability, in addition to things like joint flexibility and general strength potential.

Of course, the answers to those questions are not mutually exclusive: training the snatch and the C&J may improve an athlete’s ability to sprint and jump while at the same time those who are by birth exceptional sprinters/jumpers may still prove to make exceptional o-lifters, all other things being equal. In fact, common sense suggests that the answer to both questions is yes.

So, perhaps a better way of putting my question would be this: how much convincing evidence exists showing that training as an o-lifter improves an athlete’s ability to perform related explosive movements like sprinting, i.e. that there is indeed carry over? I know people vigorously debate and argue this, but the fact that arguments continue does not necessarily mean that conclusive evidence has not been produced.

Made a huge difference in my vertical. Not sure about sprinting.

I’ve done tons of sprinting over the years and my oly lifts wouldn’t increase. When I did tons of oly lifts and hamstring work, my jumping went through the roof and my sprinting impoved dramatically. I always attributed my sprinting ability to genetics and improving my oly lifts.

My track coach used to always tell us sprinters that fast sprinters had fast twitch fibers and the best way to improve is to do explosive types of exercises…and sprinting.

My 2 sense

Kir Dog

Kinda on the same subject; some numbers from top shot-putters.

Ulf Timmerman 6’4" 262 lb.
VJ 36"
BP 550
SQ 805
Clean 485
Standing long jump 11’2"

Greg Tafralis 6’ 295
VJ 33"
30m 3.7sec
BP 638
SQ 880
Clean 520
SLJ 10’

Jason Tunks 6’7" 261
VJ 30"
30m 3.5
BP 485
SQ 628
Clean 320
SLJ 10’2"

TNT

I had always understood that this was from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Earlier studies done on Pete George gave the notion that the snatch is “the fastest movement in sport.”

Olympic athletes are in the same rare air as NBA players and NFL guys. I used to help train some Pros and, from my heart, I doubt the bulk of us could:

  1. Get a ball in an NBA game
  2. Get off a shot.

It’s like working with people from “someplace else.” Olympians are the same. When you meet an “undersized thrower,” that means he is 6’ 2" and 270 wih a lot of lean body mass that goes really fast and moves a lot of weight.

[quote]TNT-CDN wrote:
Kinda on the same subject; some numbers from top shot-putters.

Ulf Timmerman 6’4" 262 lb.
VJ 36"
BP 550
SQ 805
Clean 485
Standing long jump 11’2"

Greg Tafralis 6’ 295
VJ 33"
30m 3.7sec
BP 638
SQ 880
Clean 520
SLJ 10’

Jason Tunks 6’7" 261
VJ 30"
30m 3.5
BP 485
SQ 628
Clean 320
SLJ 10’2"

TNT[/quote]

I think one could extrapolate from the study that strength training helps an individual improve their abilities in other physical tasks, specifically sprinting and vertical leaping. This extrapolation can be further supported by looking at the improvements made in various sports (such as sprinting) since weightlifting was incorporated into their training. This is something that I think most of us consider general knowledge now-a-days.

Personally I had a dramatic increase in my both my vertical leap and 40yd dash time when I trained the powerclean and squat exceptionally hard. I always find personal experimentation to deliver the best results when you want to figure out if something will work(ie don’t waste time babbling about it, go do it and see what happens).

Regards,

Sensless

[quote]Ajax wrote:
Thib’s response exemplifies what makes this website so valuable. I’d have given the proverbial left nut to have this caliber of information and analysis available ten to fifteen years ago. And seeing names like “Zhabotinsky” and “Schemansky” – why that sort of historical awareness is almost as motivating as some of the inspirational pictures posted hereabouts from time to time.

Assuming that such a study/test was indeed conducted some 30+ years ago, my guess is thatif repeated today the results would be largely the same; i.e. world class weightlifters would demonstrate themselves to be among the best sprinters over (very) short distances and among the best leapers. Perhaps other athletes who nowadays incorporate more explosive training might come closer or even exceed the performance of weightlifters, but my guess is that the difference would be marginal. But that’s only a guess.

This does bring up the age old question, and one for which I have not yet seen a definitive answer. Again, assuming that the above mentioned test results were accurate, does one conclude that training as an olympic lifter improves one’s ability to sprint and to jump? Or does it merely show that athletes who happen to have exceptionally explosive legs (muscle fibers that are overwhelmingly fast twitch dominant)tend to make both excellent weightlifters and sprinters/jumpers? One of the things for which most selection protocols for o-lifting talent test is jumping ability, in addition to things like joint flexibility and general strength potential.

Of course, the answers to those questions are not mutually exclusive: training the snatch and the C&J may improve an athlete’s ability to sprint and jump while at the same time those who are by birth exceptional sprinters/jumpers may still prove to make exceptional o-lifters, all other things being equal. In fact, common sense suggests that the answer to both questions is yes.

So, perhaps a better way of putting my question would be this: how much convincing evidence exists showing that training as an o-lifter improves an athlete’s ability to perform related explosive movements like sprinting, i.e. that there is indeed carry over? I know people vigorously debate and argue this, but the fact that arguments continue does not necessarily mean that conclusive evidence has not been produced. [/quote]

[quote]wufwugy wrote:
thx for attending my question.

ive read in a dozen sources about a test conducted at an olympic event (mexico city, late 60’s i think).

they tested the o-lifters 20 yard dash against the o-sprinters 20 yard dash, and the o-lifters vertical jump against the o-highjumpers vertical jump.

they say the o-lifters tested faster and jumped higher than the o-sprinters and o-highjumpers.

is this true?

if it is true, then a plethora of questions come to mind.[/quote]

The answer is rather simple, maximal strength increases correlate with improvements with the ability to overcome inertia. thus it will help the vertical jump (more from a static start than a coutermovment jump for example) and the first 10 meters of a sprint. The higher the load to overcome, the greater the effects, that is why in the bobsleigh start where you also have to overcome the weight of the sled, maximal strength gains are beneficial.

The MAN himself responding.

Awesome stuff.

Amir

[quote]Charles Poliquin wrote:
wufwugy wrote:
thx for attending my question.

ive read in a dozen sources about a test conducted at an olympic event (mexico city, late 60’s i think).

they tested the o-lifters 20 yard dash against the o-sprinters 20 yard dash, and the o-lifters vertical jump against the o-highjumpers vertical jump.

they say the o-lifters tested faster and jumped higher than the o-sprinters and o-highjumpers.

is this true?

if it is true, then a plethora of questions come to mind.

The answer is rather simple, maximal strength increases correlate with improvements with the ability to overcome inertia. thus it will help the vertical jump (more from a static start than a coutermovment jump for example) and the first 10 meters of a sprint. The higher the load to overcome, the greater the effects, that is why in the bobsleigh start where you also have to overcome the weight of the sled, maximal strength gains are beneficial.[/quote]