Bondarchuk’s Principles Part II – Specific Exercises

This week guest Martin Bingisser is back with us to share more of his insight into the training principles of the legendary Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk. In this video, Martin demonstrates the use of specific exercises and how they transfer into the performance of sport.

In this week’s episode of 8 Weeks Out TV, we’re back with special guest Martin Bingisser looking inside the mind of Anatoliy Bondarchuk.

Last week we talked about the exercise classification system that Bondarchuk himself uses.  Today we’ll summarize that again and then we’re going to show you some actual exercises and how they fit into the classification system.

As mentioned last week, we’ve got four classifications of exercises that every exercise can fit into.

Bondarchuk Exercise Classifications

The first category is general preparatory exercises and those exercises are completely different than your athletic event. You’re using different muscles, different body movements, and different bodily systems.

The next category is specific preparatory exercises. These are little bit more specific but still not quite that similar to your event; you’re going to be using the same muscles as your sport or your event, but you’re going to be using a different movement to engage them.

The third category is specific developmental exercises. These are where you start to get really close to the event; you’re using the same muscles, you’re using very similar movements. The only difference is it’s just a slight difference in movement from the event.

Then the final category is what you’re actually training for. If you’re doing the long jump, the long jump would be you’re competitive event, or MMA, it’s actually being in the ring.

So those are the four categories that we’re working with.

While you still use general preparatory movements in your training, it plays a little bit smaller role because there’s a little bit less transfer from that into your sport or event.

We’ll kind of work our way up that ladder of specificity using the hammer throw as an example event.  We’ll take a look at some other exercises and how they fit into the Bondarchuk categorization.

Bondarchuk Exercise Categorization Examples

One of the most basic exercises we do for the hammer throw is the plate twist.

In the hammer throw, we’re doing most of the work in accelerating the hammer with both feet on the ground. We use two arms and the hammer is moving across our body in front of us to the left for the right-handed throwers.

Now with the plate twist, we’ll take the plate, hold at out straight in front of us and just twist to the left and back to the right. Like in the throw, we have straight arms. Straight arms mean longer throws, so you want to hold your arms out straight.

You’re going to be bent a little bit, your back is going to be straight, your arms are going to be out. The plate twist is going to be almost the same exact position that you’re accelerating the hammer in. It’s just going to be a little bit heavier load so that you’re working those muscles a little bit more through the throw.

The kind of weights you use depends on what kind of level athlete you are. You don’t want to do it so heavy that it’s going to hurt your technique; if you can’t even hold the weight up in front of you, you’re not going to be able to execute it technically very well.

One of the things about this category of exercises is you’re not just working strength, you’re working strength together with the technique.

We can also do some medicine ball drills along the same lines.

There are a lot of other exercise varieties to do the same movement and some of the best ones involve throwing. Throwing is actually an even better way to develop power because when you’re doing something with a plate or even if you’re doing bench press, you can apply power for a certain amount time and then after that, you’re just decelerating to stop.

If you’re actually releasing something, you can use maximum power until the end, until you let go, and you’re going to be able to generate more power overall in that.

Obviously in the hammer, you’re releasing the hammer; a throw is closer to the event, so it’s a much better exercise.

One of the things we’ll do is we’ll take a kettle bell and using one arm or both arms, we’ll just take it and turn and release. Again, we’re using long arms, having both feet on the ground, a good posture, slightly bent legs.

Now onto kettlebells…

Most of the time, we’re picking up a kettle bell is to throw it. I don’t know if we’re doing any that are just lifting. We’ll use a bar, or we’ll use plates to do the lifting exercises, but when we get the kettle bell in our hands, we’re throwing it.   

An advantage is that the grip of a kettle bell is a lot like the grip of the hammer.  Again, it’s more like the hammer and it’s developing the strength a little bit better.

Using a medicine ball is another option. Again, it’s the same type of movement, same posture. We’re just holding the ball out there and then releasing it. You’re just moving the ball, both hands in front of you, relaxed and trying to get more power.

With med ball throws, we’re using weights pretty similar to the hammer throw. The hammer throw is 16 pounds, so it’s a little bit more than 7 kilos, and we’re often using 6 to 8 kilos with the medicine ball.

It’s going to feel a little bit different because the hammer is a couple feet long and so when the weight is out there, it feels different than when you’re actually holding it to close your body, but that’s pretty much what we’re using.

If you’re using something that’s too heavy for an athlete, the technique is going to suffer and you don’t want that. You want to develop strength and keep the technique, so you have to watch and see what the athlete’s doing, see if they look comfortable with the weight; if you can add a little bit more and keep the same technique, go for it.

How to Use Bondarchuk Categorization

To sum it up, we looked at the plate twist, which is where our trunk is the same base position, your arms in the same position and that’s what makes it a special developmental exercise for the hammer throw.

You’re using the same muscles and the same movement as the hammer throw, and that’s helping get a better transfer to that actual event.

The plate twist is a little less specific than the kettle bell or medicine ball throw because now we’re actually releasing the movement.

Even the kettle bell is less specific than the actual hammer. If you want to get to the most specific strength there is, you pick up a hammer and throw.  A lot of people forget that your actual competitive event, that’s your most important strength exercise that you have.

In our programming, we’re including this in every single training session, so whether it’s one or two exercises, we’re at least doing something in the special developmental category of exercises after we do our throwing.

So your competitive exercise comes first and then you’ll do the accessory but specialized exercises second.

The reason for that is we want to start with what’s most important and then if we get a little bit fatigued doing this, it’s not as relevant as if we’re getting fatigued during the hammer throw.   We start with our sport, then move to special strength stuff and then move to the more general strength exercises.

You’re not trying to get a million throws done; it’s not an endurance sport. You need to be rested. Ideally, you take a couple minutes rest between sets and make sure you’re fully recovered before you go to the next one, because you want to be able to hold that technique. If you’re trying to rush through the exercises, you’re going to get tired faster and your technique’s is going to fail, and then it’s going to be counterproductive.

Next week, we’re going to look at how we apply the specialized exercise concept to some other sports as well and how you can use as exercises to improve your performance.

About Martin Bingisser

bondarchuk-cleanMartin Bingisser is a tax attorney, track and field coach, and five-time Swiss national champion in the hammer throw. He has been training with Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk since 2005 and writes frequently about Bondarchuk and other training topics on his blog

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