ISSUE #44                           



-“Book Review: Speed Training with Charlie Francis: PART I”
-“Injury Rehabilitation: A Common Sense Approach”





Different people always have varying views of the same event or information. For what it is worth, this review will cover a book by a very infamous name in Canadian track and field, Charlie Francis. You may remember the name Francis being associated with the biggest scandal in Canadian sports history because Charlie was Ben Johnson’s coach.


Regardless of your opinion on steroids, there was a lot more to making Ben the fastest man in the world, a man that could once run 44km/hr, than steroids. Francis used advanced recovery techniques, properly incorporated periodization (times of varying training intensity & volume), and applied scientific principles to his workouts. Granted, not all of his ideas were perfect or as effective as he may have believed, but Francis brought Canadian sprinters and some interesting training techniques to the forefront of the Olympics. 


First, Francis recognized the importance of leg strength in its application to sprinting. He believed that the thigh musculature needed equal strength (i.e. quadriceps and hamstring strength should be equal), however most athletes were not training their hamstrings enough. If the quads were too strong, they exerted a greater force in the deceleration phase (braking) of sprinting thus serving to slow the runner down.


Also, the weaker hamstrings would have a greater force to work against, and the hamstrings are probably more important in sprinting because they act to extend the hips and propel the body forward. The bottom line: train your hamstrings with hip-extension exercises like deadlifts and reverse leg presses. For the calves, they would develop well on their own through plyometric exercises.        





As athletes, weightlifters, and fitness enthusiasts, we often spend time planning our workouts, recovery, and nutrition. Some of us even get very scientific about it, and even more of us strive to make a career out of it! However why is it that some people still will not back off from an injury even when their athletic experience and common sense tells them to do so?


Many lifters suffer from long-term (chronic) injuries but will benefit from a 4-week program of reduced intensity training and isolated injury rehabilitation exercises (a plan of common sense in combination with proper training methodologies).


Step #1

Use common sense. For example, if it hurts, don’t do it. If it doesn’t hurt as you do it but it then hurts the day after then don’t do it. Do not train through the pain, it will get you nowhere in respect to rehabilitation.


Step #2

Take the time off. Substitute a new activity. Accept the setback.


Step #3

React to discomfort, avoid pain, etc. Anytime you feel a “twinge” stop your set. If there is an uncomfortable feeling after a set, respect that feeling. Do NOT do another set just because you have it scheduled in for that day. Deal with the source of discomfort rather than further aggravating. Injuries do not just go away with ignorance.


Step #4

Plan and implement a thorough and specific warm-up for your injury. Warm-ups should not be generalized and the same for everyone.  All athletes have a different trouble spot. It is very important to address the weak or injured area with the proper warm-up. Do light movements as this will lubricate the joint, promote blood flow to the muscles of the area, increase nerve impulse conduction, and mentally prepare you to train that area without hesitation.


Your warm-up may take 15 minutes, it may take 25 minutes, but always be conservative. Even if it only allows you to get in two working sets, this is better than 4 working sets with an unprepared body. Warm-up through a full range of motion for the joint and perform light stretches to assist the elasticity of the tissues.


Step #5

Injury rehabilitation is not a 30-minute workout 3 times per week. It is a 24 hour, 7 day per week physical and mental awareness. If you have to adjust your workstation, do so. If you have to adjust your sleeping position, do so. Stretch the injured area at regular intervals during the day after some light movements.


By keeping the rehabilitation as an active process you can reduce your warm-up time before the workout and will have more time to perform strengthening for the area. The constant attention may also promote better recovery.


Step #6

In order for some individuals to take time-off to rest the injury but also to prevent stress from a workout layoff, you should incorporate some form of cross training. It can simply be an activity that you do not usually do and that does not aggravate the injury. Even a long walk is mentally and physically helpful in rehabilitation.


Step #7

Always be conscious of your injury. This is basically a summary phrase for the previous 6 steps, but it reiterates the point quite well. Modify your life for a few weeks to get over the injury. This will build injury-preventing habits that will help you in the future. Best of luck beating the injury bug.


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