Goodbye 2015, welcome 2016.

It has been a while since my last post, for the very simple reason of being too busy to write a decent post. I am shocked to see that it is almost 6 weeks ago.
The good side of this is, I have been traveling, lecturing and learning a lot and reading more new articles and books than before. For those who do not know yet, I am also writing some guest post for the Omegawave blog. Also I am finishing a simple book about speed training (in English) to be published by Ultimate Athlete Concepts, probably the best training book publisher in the market.

A few highlights: lecturing for the Global Hamstring project: the 2nd international seminar with some incredible knowledgeable lecturers. Here is the link to a short videoclip of it.

It was an invitation of my good friend Per Tesch, one of the world leading brains as far as muscle and strength training are involved. He is together with Hans Berg one of the designers of the flywheel- system, originally intended for use in space as being gravity-independent. His Yo-Yo machine is the “Coca-Cola” of the flywheels, now called NHANCE.

Per also wrote the interesting book, Muscle Meets Magnet, in which he researched muscle recruitment by putting athletes in an fMRI, doing an exercise, and again making an MRI and measuring the difference, which is the best way to see which muscle(-s) participate in an exercise.
This is interesting since most of the time we just assume that an exercise will involve certain muscle groups and as the books shows, many times we are wrong.

The same was revealed (by the same fMRI procedure) for different hamstring exercises and here is what might be a shocker for many of you: the popular Nordic hamstring exercise (which isn’t Nordic at all) is an almost useless exercise when it comes to adequately strengthening the hamstrings at least for prevention of hamstring injuries in sport.

One of the lecturers also showed video clips of the best new set of exercises I have seen in a long time, working with the best European soccer players. Some of these guys are 10 years ahead of the rest of the field. We work with flywheels since 15 years, but only recently the US embraced flywheel training as being “new, revolutionary and innovative”. Also with vibration training we were 5-8 years ahead when the US S&C community discovered vibration training.

Amazing that in this time of the “Internet”, the information about new developments still travels at snail speed and it still takes years to discover, leave alone embrace, new ideas and tools. Most of the time only when many copycats and me-too products start to flood the market. Despite our innovative image, coaches are rather conservative, and seldom belong to the true innovators or even early-adapters. We just prefer to jump on the busy bandwagon. On the balance of risk-taking and experimenting at one side, and “wait-and-see-what-everybody-else-does. on the other side, we coaches often choose the last option. Most people who talk about out-of-the-box-thinking prefer to sit cozily inside that box, and keep the lid firmly closed, one never knows, what might happens outside.

This week I met with one of my former athletes, I might say a kind of guinea pig for me, since I have always been working with sprinters up to 400 meter and 400 meter hurdles, the 800meters were a sort of unexplored territory and endurance plays as much a role as speed or explosiveness. Her name is Letitia Vriesde from Surinam And I must say, one of the toughest and most dedicated athletes I ever coached.

Letitia going for silver in 1.56.65 World Championships 1995 Goteborg (2nd from right)
Letitia going for silver in 1.56.65 World Championships 1995 Goteborg (2nd from right)

The funny thing was that, even though, training with me brought her the first medals indoor and outdoor in the 800 meters and also two personal bests (indoor and outdoor) she always doubted if we were doing enough work for the 800 meters.
Are you sure this is enough work, shouldn’t I be doing some more reps, shouldn’t I be doing some morning runs as well? Now, one seldom gets medals for how long you run, or how many miles you make, most of the time it is about how fast you run. With these results I think my hypotheses about 800 meter running were confirmed, since we only work with cases, not with groups. Probably more than in any other event it is important to know if the athletes is explosive or endurance oriented, (for the 100 meter or the marathon it is quite obvious and one-sided)

No need to say the period is one of family and friends and so last week I visited my mother to celebrate Christmas. She has been involved in local and national sports organization for a long time and many athletes have spent time in her house. She is now 85 years old, grows orchids, recently took computer classes (Henk, have you ever heard of Google?) and she started painting, even though her joints and so her hands are ruined by rheumatoid arthritis for many years now. But she is not a person to give up easily and an example for me. One of my favorite paintings of her below.

Tulips from Holland
Tulips from Holland

Wishing all my readers, a healthy, happy and successful 2016!


  1. Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalo

    Great post Henk! As a follow up, the information presented in the 2nd Global Hamstring Project regarding muscle use (by fMRI) in different hamstring exercise will be soon published in the Int J Sports Med. I hope coaches find the info presented in that paper useful.

    1. Hello Peter, The Kbox is just a copycat from the original concept, the Yo-Yo of Per Tesch, I seldom go for a the copy cat, (I also drink Coca-Coals instead of Virgin Cola). It’s always hard to beat the original! Of course, many systems appear on the market now, just like the vibration platform, but without the background, the knowledge and the experience of the original, of course keeping the cost/effectiveness ratio in mind. The Versapulley cannot be compared to the Yo-Yo, due to its different functionality (multiple exercises by cable and cone, vs. the single exercise by flywheel.

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