Ignore Circuit & Weight Training at Your Peril – Lessons from Peter & Seb Coe

© 2017 Runner’s Tribe, all rights reserved.

Sources:

  • British Milers Club. Volume 2, Issue 4, Autumn 1992.
  • Better Training for Distance Runners. By David E. Martin and Peter N. Coe.

“It was the long and careful attention to strength training, that enabled a slightly built Seb Coe to run successfully in 400m events and relays” (Seb’s 400m PB 46.87)  – Peter Coe

Seb Coe strength training

Strength Training

Peter Coe always argued that carefully tailored strength training was crucial for the development of Sebastian Coe.  To be a top middle distance athlete Peter Coe argued that:

“A middle distance runner needs to have good repeatable 400m speed. Any sprint coach will tell you that over and above the mastery of starting and technique generally, the absolute must for really fast work is raw animal strength”.   – Peter Coe

Coe also argued that the common myth that weight training led to muscle bulk was incorrect. Stating that:

“Exercises to develop strength and endurance are not those used for producing hypertrophy”

Strength Training Guidelines

The following guidelines outline Coe’s circuit and weight training philosophy:

  • Strength training should not be restricted to the winter months but should be a year-round commitment. However, the exercises should be tapered down right before the period of peak performance (target races etc).
  • Flexibility and stretching is a vital aspect of circuit and strength training.
  • With exercises, progression is best made by increasing the number of repetitions, rather than increased the weight/load.
  • Progress with the circuit training ever so smoothly and slowly, to avoid injuries.

Seb Coe’s Circuit\Base Training Program

The following is a typical circuit training session that was completed regularly by Seb Coe during his career:

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  • Half squats: Two sets of 5 x 200 to two sets of 500 each.  With recovery equal to the duration of one set.
  • Bent knee sit-ups: Alternating straight trunk curls with oblique trunk curls, alternate elbows touching the opposite knee.  Work up to one set of 200-250 reps.
  • Press-ups: With feet elevated to incline the lower limbs: 5 sets of 20.
  • Back Extensions: Using a friend or some heavy piece of furniture to stabilise both legs. 3 – 4 x 20-30 reps. Do no more than 100 per session.
  • Step-ups: Onto a box or low sturdy table. 2 x 10 each with alternate legs. Done as one continuous set. Progress up to 100 continuous step-ups on each leg.

Seb always went straight from one exercise to the next, this way the anaerobic benefits of the circuit training session was maximised.

Each circuit was usually finished with some stretching and a light jog.

Seb Coe strength training

Seb Coe’s Weight Training Program

General guidelines

  • Make sure the correct equipment is used and you are taught the correct techniques, to avoid injury.
  • A lifters belt and proper lifting shoes (with extra heel support) should be worn at all time, again to avoid injury.
  • The goal is to finish each session not exhausted but in a pleasant state of fatigue – not excessive fatigue.
  • Start light and slowly build.

Seb Coe’s Weight Program

  • Barbell curls: 3-10 reps per set.  3-6 sets in total depending on level.
  • Bent-arm pullovers: 2-8 reps per set.  2-3 sets in total depending on level.
  • Barbell bench press:  2-6 reps per set.  4 sets in total.
  • Barbell half-squats:  2-6 reps per set.  4 sets in total.
  • Barbell alternated front lunge: 2-6 reps per set.  3-6 sets in total depending on level.
  • Vertical Rowing: 2-5 reps per set.  4-6 sets in total depending on level.
  • Barbell step-ups: 2-5 reps per set.  2-6 sets in total depending on level.

Sources:

  • British Milers Club. Volume 2, Issue 4, Autumn 1992.
  • Better Training for Distance Runners. By David E. Martin and Peter N. Coe.

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