Andreas Behm is the coach of Aries Merritt, the London 2012 Olympic Champion at 110mH, the 2012 Diamond League winner, and now the World Record holder with his 12.80 at the Brussels Diamond League.
If you haven’t read the Aries Merritt Teleconference Excerpts, I recommend it as there are so many great lessons and tidbits in such a few short words.
Mike Young from EliteTrack and the Vancouver Whitecaps recently interviewed coach Behm. For the entire interview, go to http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/7385/
Here are two of the Q&A from Mike’s Blog (the rest are good hurdle questions):
Aries had what might be the greatest season ever for a high hurdler, was there anything different that you did this year that you can pin his continued development and consistency on?
While everyone sees the success Aries had this season, it is important to understand that this was more than just one year in the making. It took us two or even three years to get to this point. The obvious technical change everyone has been talking about is the switch from an 8 step to a 7 step approach. It gives him an increase in propulsion on his approach and better velocity on takeoff through the first hurdle. The work on this started two seasons ago when we were still using an 8 step approach. On acceleration days Aries would alternate his front feet on each rep, so as to get used to having his unaccustomed foot forward in the blocks. The other major technical component we refined was his hurdle clearance.
We worked on establishing consistent takeoff distances, an aggressive takeoff angle, closing down into and over the hurdle as well as continuously moving his limbs over the top of the hurdle. All this resulted in him clearing the hurdle a lot lower and more fluidly than he used to. Aries also has simply been a lot more diligent regarding his work ethic, nutrition, treatment and rest. He has basically been able to stay fairly healthy for the last two seasons for the first time in his career, which means lots of great training sessions without setbacks and interruptions. He is at an age where his maturity and experience finally match his talent and that has made all the difference in the world.
How much emphasis do you place on building strength in the weight room? Does it differ with different athletes, ages, etc? And what is your general strength development philosophy?
Throughout the year I tend to go from structural to maximal and finally to more dynamic and functional lifting as the year progresses. I also start off with more double support lifts and transition to more single support exercises as we go along. Once I have developed strength and power to satisfactory levels, I like for the body to be able to express these qualities unilaterally. I feel very strongly in having a multifaceted approach and making sure that track training, weight training, general and specific strength methods are all used in an integrated manner. The levels of each that are applied depends on the type of athlete you are working with and the strengths and deficiencies they bring with them.
As far as a general and overarching philosophy, I believe in posture, rhythm, range of motion, coordination, (and depending on the lift, bar speed) before weight. If you are working on all those qualities you will be able to lift heavy and explosively in time, but never stop working or compromise these just for the sake of lifting heavier.
On a more hurdle specific note, I have put an added emphasis on such lifts as quarter squats, low box step ups and explosive movements from shallow flexion. These help more closely mimic the force application demands of a shuffling hurdler. A hurdler simply cannot open up and apply forces into the track with the range of motion that a sprinter can, due to the limited amount of space they have to work with between the hurdles
For the entire interview, go to http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/7385/