People often ask me what an Olympic track athlete does in the weight room. A few common questions are: “What kind of lifts do track athletes do?” “Are there a lot of Olympic (explosive) lifting involved?” “How long do your lifts last?” “How many days of the week do you lift?”
When I’m in the weight room, I’m completely zoned out in my mind. I allow the music to take me to another place mentally. This helps me transform into a different person and bring out my inner beast. As a professional athlete, I follow specific instructions from my strength coach before and between lifts. My strength coach is Mr. Cole Barnhart at the University of Arkansas. Cole designs lifts for me to do three days per week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I have built-in rest days in between each lift day to give my body the opportunity to recover. It’s very important for the body to receive adequate rest time because it directly affects how I perform on the track and the next lift day.
Olympic lifting means attempting a maximum weight, single lift of a barbell that is loaded with weight plates. Examples of Olympic lifts are power cleans, clean jerk, hang clean, push press, split jerk, and high pulls. The time of year determines the reps and length of the lifts that I do. When I am in the off-season, I lift a bit heavier with higher repetitions. When I am “in season” the reps are lower and quicker. I typically have two lift days during this season, especially if we are competing at the end of the week.
Cole designs each lift cycle to last one to two weeks and modifies each move to support the action I must carry out on the track. The magical thing about the weight room is that the more successful I am with strength, the faster I am on the track. My muscles don’t fail or give out as easily. This sets me apart from the competition – most athletes would typically break down in a race or toward the end of a season. No matter how much it burns, or how uncomfortable it may feel on certain days, I totally embrace the burn because I know the benefits will be more than worth it.
Olympic Medalist: Track & Field