Strength Performance Network

Several years ago, I watched this segment on Outside the Lines on ESPN.  I must admit, it really made me think long and hard about the performance training we do with athletes here in the United States.  I realize the topic may be a touchy situation, but I think it's worth a read, some digestion, and than perhaps a little discussion.  Tighten up your bootstraps!

Here's a few statements/questions to ponder.

1.  50 + years ago the Russians integrated testosterone into their competitive weightlifting program (and track program probably, too).

2.  We, here in the United States, are enamored with the type of weightlifting and performance technologies that the Russians employed during the 1950's.  We could call this the "Russian-mystique."

3.  During that period of time, the Russians began developing superior athletes on a world stage compared to those of the United States and other democratic societies.

4.  Much of the popular training doctrines for athletes today still have their theoretical basis in Russian technologies of the 1950s.  

5.  Now, if the group of coaches and athletes cheated to get superior results compared to those who didn't cheat at the time, why would we chase the outcomes from a training mindset that probably was falsely based to begin with, that being the results were tainted?  

6.  If I cheated on a math test and got an A, but didn't really study, took short-cuts, ect., would there be any real value in my methodologies to getting the A other than outside appearances? 

7.  Can we not use American ingenuity and creativity to break free from the Russian mystique and develop the kind of cutting-edge coaches and training methodologies that our athletes and tactical warriors deserve? ...I think we can! 

8.  Why, what, how to, did it work? 

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They all took drugs!!!! I started olympic lifting as a kid in the early 70's and (I will not mention names ) but the USA athlete's were doing it also and our coaching was behind it. The Russian sports schools were far superior to what anyone was doing at this time period in the history of sport. From recovery, periodization, Biomechanics, mental training etc... and the science behind supplimentation (drugs). The coaching was also far superior than ours or anyone else's for that matter.

The Russian mystique??? Interesting phrase that you use here, because it is not used in the olympic lifting world. How about the Bulgarian or Chinese mystique. The Bulgarian form of training was different and proved to be more successful than what Russia did with less than 5% of the population. They did it at the expense of thousands of athlete's that were injuried (basically broken), just to find a few genetically superior men that could handle the work load and mental stress of this type of system.


The Chinese programs now seems to be superior, but they have a million athlete's they run through their system on a yearly basis. The one's that show progress they will continue to train, the one's that don't move to a different sport or to some other function either in that sport or move into a entirely different direction.

All of these 3 programs used athlete indentification and recruiting. Something that we don't do in this country. This is another reason for the success that they have had over the last 50 years.

Our best are working towards free educations and making money in different arena's. I have trained in 4 ex USSR countries. These athlete's train as much as 10 times a week. They give up almost everything in their personal lives for national pride. I've seen it with my own eyes.


Tim Swords , Sr International USAW coach

Too me (I have nowhere near the background on this that Tim does) the Russian system had more of a periodization phase and worked more strength moves so too me the GENERAL PHILOSPHY of this VS max singles all the time with a %95 failure rate seems like its more suited to a larger group of athletes with longer term goals for other sports..

I think most would agree on say 5x5 in the back squat for example is a very good, time proven strength builder.  It might or might not have got started with guys who were clean or not but its been proven over and over again so I would say there lots of things we can take from any "system"...


There's an interesting story "Steroids - Birth of a Demon" by John Romano at T Nation ( posted a couple days ago.

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