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Hints & Tips

I plan the training session, and then a heavy rainstorm means I have to abort the planned session - what do I do?

If you have somewhere dry with a bit of space, then this is a possible solution. The added benefit is that in one session, you can develop the athlete's strength and endurance. Identify the possible exercises that can be performed with the available equipment and then construct 3 to 4 circuits of 6 to 10 exercises. In each circuit, try to ensure that no two consecutive exercises exercise the same muscle group. e.g. do not have press-ups followed by pull-ups.

A circuit should be set up so that you work each body part as follows: Total-body, Upper-body, Lower-body, Core & Trunk For each circuit I have a set of linoleum cards (you could use laminated cards), 6 inches by 6 inches, with an exercise written on each which I lay by the equipment to indicate to the athletes the required exercise at each stage of the circuit. Ensure you have one or two circuits where no equipment is required. I am sure you have experienced the situation where you are unable to conduct a planned coaching session because of unforeseen circumstances (generally in the UK this is the weather).

In the future, you can get the cards out, find some space and do a circuit training session. I can remember, many years ago, conducting a session on the 3rd floor of a 4-floor car park during a thunderstorm. Consider the Fast Feet drills detailed in this newsletter as possible exercises for inclusion in a circuit training session.

What is the best thing for my athletes to do between work intervals?

A recent study in France suggests that if you are carrying out short, very intense work intervals, you are far better off exercising lightly during your recovery intervals, compared to just resting. If you are conducting a high interval session, it's always wise to resist the temptation to be passive during your recoveries. Hanging on to the edge of the pool or leaning up against a fence by the track may seem like the right thing to do but moving around at a slow but steady rate is the best way to prepare yourself for the next work interval. Active rest leads to better-quality work intervals, which ultimately produce higher fitness levels and improved competitive performances.

What is the most common injury athletes experience, and how do I combat it?

One of the most common sites of injury, regardless of the sport, is the lower back region. There is a whole host of causes for lower back pain; for example, in runners weak or inflexible hamstrings can often be the culprit. Poor posture is another common cause, so conditioning the muscles that help to maintain a solid posture should form part of the schedule of anyone who exercises regularly, whatever their discipline or sporting standard. A variety of muscle groups contribute to good posture, and all require attention. Naturally, the lower back muscles can do with strengthening. Work on the abdominal muscles is also essential because it will complement the work you do in the back region; it is dangerous to develop muscular imbalances by working on just one part of the body.

How can I measure/test my athlete's core strength?

If core strength is lacking, then the torso will move unnecessarily during motion and waste energy. Good core strength indicates that the athlete can move with high efficiency. To conduct this test, your athlete will require: Flat surface, a mat, and a watch.

The Core Muscle Strength Test is conducted as follows:

The Plank
  • Assume the press-up position as in the picture above.
  • Hold this position for 60 seconds
  • Lift your right arm off the ground
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Return your right arm to the ground and lift the left arm off the ground
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Return your left arm to the ground and lift the right leg off the ground
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Return your right leg to the ground and lift the left leg off the ground
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Lift your left leg and right arm off the ground
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Return your left leg and right arm to the ground
  • Lift your right leg and left arm off the ground
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds
  • Return to the press-up position - as in the picture above
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Hints and Tips. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 1 / May ), p. 8-9

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Hints and Tips [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Brian Mackenzie is a British Athletics level 4 performance coach and a coach tutor/assessor. He has been coaching sprint, middle distance, and combined event athletes for the past 30+ years and has 45+ years of experience as an endurance athlete.