Russian & Soviet Space Program

1960's Russia - cold, bitterly cold...

It was a typical Russian winter - snow, bitterly cold temperatures, vodka etc. A young jumps coach by the name of Yuri Verkhoshansky of the Moscow Aeronautical Institute, was determined to put together a training program for his jumpers to use during the winter months, as they had no indoor facilities at the time. In the past, the best they could manage was participation in winter sports such as ice skating and skiing to maintain condition, as well as a small amount of jumping in the snow. Obviously this was not ideal for athletes who were competing against the very best the world had to offer.

On one particularly horrendous day it was not possible for any type of training to take place outside. However Yuri was determined for his athletes to get some sort of training done that day, so he located a barbell, found a small area in which the athletes could train (actually under a set of stairs) and set the athletes a few of the exercises that were being used in strength conditioning programs at the time. As they winter continued, Coach Verkhoshansky modified the exercises being performed to make them more specific to the jumpers needs.

When spring rolled around it was discovered that the training done with the bar bell had actually been of great benefit to the athletes and it was this that planted the seed in Yuri's head about the possibilities of strength training for jumpers.

At the time Yuri was also conducting some research on the the various phases of the triple jump, and in particular the force placed on the body during the second and third phase. It was discovered that the pressure placed reaches up to 300kg! Having seen the good results achieved with the ad hoc training program implemented over winter, a more methodical approach was taken from here on in.

Yuri realised that it would not be possible to simulate a 300kg force by doing squats - it was much too heavy a weight for the jumpers to be attempting. Even with partial squats, it was soon found that athletes were experiencing back injuries as a result.

The next idea was to attempt a form of what we know now as the leg press, with two spotters assisting. However even with the two spotters, the weights being used were too heavy, and the exercise ended up being too dangerous. Back to the drawing board.

The next idea was where he struck gold. After attempting to simulate the forces by using heavy weights, he realized that it may also be possible to simulate the forces by using the body's own energy. Movements that closely resembled those of the athletic event, would reproduce in the body the same need to overcome the forces that are at work during the event itself.

So, using what space he had - narrow tall areas underneath stairways at the Institute - he gradually developed a training methodology that he would term the Shock Method. This method of training would be crucial to the success of many Russian jumpers and sprinters of the time, and would lead the western world, and in particular the U.S, to attempt to discover the methods of training being used, and in the end develop what we know as plyometrics today.

It is important to note that what know as plyometrics today is not the same as the training method that was created by Yuri Verkhoshansky. An American coach by the name of Fred Wilt is believed to be the first person to use the term plyometrics to describe the jump training that some U.S coaches were implementing with their athletes. It is under this term that we now group the many different types of exercise that are performed with the aim of increasing the power output of the muscular contraction by utilizing and maximizing the stored energy that is created by the preceding extension of the muscle.

Well i hope this has has given you a better understanding of the history of plyometrics. There are some books written by Verkhoshansky that go in to greater depth about the development of his shock method, but my Russian doesn't extend past 'Vladivostok', so i'll have to wait for the English translation, which i believe is under way.

If you'd like more info about plyometrics, including a review of the top plyometric programs available, feel free to visit my site http://www.fitnessnewsandreviews.com/plyometrics Over the coming months i'll be adding more content with regards to plyometrics and other forms of training, as well as various health and fitness topics that interest me.

Do you think that Malaysia should send 2 Malay Astronauts into Space?

It is a waste of Malaysian Tax Payers Money, as it i s not part of their Space Program. Malaysia Government should have spent that amount of money to upgrade Education System in Malaysia. It seems that the Government is proud of something that we are ashamed of, when you tell that to Russians or Americans!

I think this is an excellent idea, providing only the Malaysians demonstrate their true internationalism by offering the third place (free of charge) to George W Bush.

P.S. Just checking - there isn't much chance of them landing safely back on earth - is there?
.

USSR - Union of Soviet Space Republics




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