An Interview With Dr. Michael Hartman – Part 2
Part 2 of Dr. Hartman’s interview (click here to read Part 1), what better way to start the week?
Michael returns to give his thoughts on in-season training for athletes, how he implements screening and corrective exercise protocols, plenty of good reading suggestions and what every athlete needs to train. In addition, he gives some of the best advice i’ve read about how to develop yourself as a coach and what factors must be taken into consideration.
Plenty of things to get your teeth into here, have a great week.
8. How do you implement resistance training during a team sport athlete’s in-season period?
In-season training really depends on the athlete and how often they compete, and the amount of time they play. In the US, most team sports play both during the week and weekend (except American football, which is just Friday or Saturday). In some cases there may be a stretch of 3 games in 5 days, and other times 3 games over 18-21 days. Obviously the time during the season with a high amount of game activity, the training is more restorative or corrective in nature, and higher loading, as seen is the off-season, is reserved for the times during the season without much game activity.
In some younger athletes, who may not play as much, in terms of minutes played per game, in-season training is not too different than the off-season period. The focus is still on basic exercises and general preparation.
9. Manual therapy is beginning to be considered an essential element within the training continuum. What have your experiences been with this work and how do you incorporate it into your training programs?
Foam rolling and basic joint mobility work, including static and dynamic flexibility, is a staple of my basic dynamic warm-up for most athletes. Outside of that, massage, soft tissue work, myofascial release, etc., I tend to differ to the experts. If I suspect an athlete could benefit we will consult with someone more knowledgeable than I am in that particular area. I try to focus one what I know best, which occurs in the weight room, and I have no problem bringing in experts who can ultimately improve athlete performance.
10. “Corrective exercise” and various assessment/screening protocols (e.g. FMS, Movement Dynamics etc.) are current discussion topics within the field (with many differing stances). How, in your opinion, does corrective exercise fit into the training process and how do you implement assessment protocols/corrective exercises into your programs?
My idea of corrective exercise occurs in the form of prehab and rehab work that I prescribe in addition to the basic training plan. Certain sports and activities are predisposed to overuse or even traumatic injuries that can sometime be controlled through a few extra preventative exercises (i.e. shoulder injuries in volleyball players).
I have always liked the idea of an initial screening process with athletes, although I do not subscribe to any one test or methodology. I use several basic tests and exercises as my initial screening process. When a new athlete enters the gym, one of my primary goals is to teach and implement the Olympic lifts into their training as soon as possible.
Now, no two athletes are ever the same, and in some cases Olympic lifts may be the last thing a specific athlete needs to improve performance, but in general, I feel most athletes can benefit from performing the Olympic lifts as an effective means of increasing power production.
I always start with an empty barbell and attempt to have the athlete perform two basic movements, a front squat and a snatch-grip RDL. Depending on their performance in these movements I generally have a good idea of what we need to work on, or if we can progress to leaning the full lifts. If someone is unable to perform these movements, which indicates that we need to spend a little time working on other areas before they can experience the full benefit of the lifts. I also have athletes perform a few other dynamic activities, push-up, jumping, and sprinting. By no means are these tests inclusive of all deficiencies, but it gives me an almost immediate idea of who I am working with and what needs to be addressed.
11. What are your all-time favourite resources for strength training, rehabilitation, nutrition, and random/recreational reading?
By no means an exhaustive list, but a few good resources all coaches should in their library include:
- Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics; Brooks and Fahey
- Fundamentals of Special Strength Training in Sport; Verkhoshansky
- Science and Practice of Strength Training; Zatsiorsky
- Skeletal Muscle Structure, Function, and Plasticity; Lieber
- Starting Strength; Rippetoe and Kilgore
- Strength and Power in Sport; Komi (ed.)
- Transfer of Training; Bondarchuck
- Block Periodization; Issurin
For general interest reading I enjoy books on military history and leadership.
12. If you had to choose one thing (e.g. a specific exercise, programming component) that you think people should be including in their training, what would that be?
An emphasis on training for power. A strong, slow athlete will not be effective, and neither will a fast, weak athlete, because they both lack the ability to produce power. Power can be trained many ways but I am partial to the Olympic lifts as the primary means, with medicine ball work, jumps, and other basic plyometrics also being used throughout the annual plan.
In your previous interview with Sean Waxman he mentioned the Clean & Jerk as his “one thing”, I fully agree with and support that answer. An athlete who can pull (clean), stand-up with, and then put a large weight overhead, and who does so explosively and with the prerequisite mobility to perform the lift correctly, has the ability to be a very effective competitor.
13. What advice would you give young coaches like me who are establishing themselves in the field?
I believe a great strength and conditioning coach should first be a great coach. What I mean is coaching is about teaching and improving your athletes. Many coaches spend too much time worrying about sets/reps and not enough time actually getting their athletes to perform at a higher level. The best program ever written won’t produce results if the athlete does not believe in the coach and what he is trying to do. Great coaches understand that their situation is unique. What works for one group of athletes may not work for another; coaches must adapt with their athletes, and not force athletes to adapt to them. Great coaches also understand their role.
In strength and conditioning, we are often times at the mercy of the sport coaches. Rather then complain about what limits you have, accept the fact that there are limits and make the most of it. From a coaching perspective, I would suggest that the most important time in an athlete’s development is typically the most under coached.
Not that the coaches working with athletes at the lowest level are always unprepared, just that they usually have the fewest resources available to them, and these positions may often pay very little if anything. So, all aspiring coaches want to work at the highest level. It is not until an athlete reaches a fairly high level that they are exposed to any sort of performance testing and an emphasis on training correctly.
By this time they are typically resistant to change. Training program modifications are difficult because it is not what they have done to get to that level; and from a biomechanical perspective, attempting to change technique is very hard to do after the first few years of training and practice.
I believe all coaches should start with novice athletes. As your athletes grow and develop over time, so will you as coach.
14. Michael, thank you so much for your time. Where can my readers find out more about you, materials that you may have available, and/or any projects that you may have coming up?
Thank you, Cedric, for giving me this opportunity and platform.
I maintain the Doctor Hartman Blog, with weekly posts, that is now almost exclusively content related to Olympic Weightlifting at http://www.doctorhartmanblog.com.
I also have another site in the works that is more geared towards general strength and conditioning and athlete development, but specific to American football, at http://www.offseasonfootball.com.
My good friend and mentor, Dr. Lon Kilgore, recently accepted a faculty position at the University of the West of Scotland, so who knows; maybe I will make an appearance on your side of the pond for a seminar or lecture series in the near future. Besides that, I have a few other projects in the works, that will be announced shortly on both blogs, and also my Facebook page in due time (facebook.com/doctorhartman). My wife and I are also expecting our first son this summer, so we are very excited and busy planning for his arrival.