The Scottish hammer thrower tells David Lowes about his unusual training methods
Last summer Mark Dry hurled the hammer to a life-time best of 74.82m to finish second in the 2012 UK rankings behind Alex Smith.
He says: “My training is a little weird, but obviously effective and is based on the system of Dr Anatoliy Bondarchuk (1972 Olympic champion) who coached Yuri Sedykh to the world record.
“Bondarchuk has also coached 18 men over 80m and currently coaches Canada’s 75m hammer thrower Sultana Frizzell as well as compatriot 22m shot putter Dylan Armstrong.”
Dry contacted Scottish record-holder Chris Black to ask if he would coach him and moved to Glasgow in late 2007. He commuted to Edinburgh to work with Black for two years which saw him improve from 57 metres to 70 metres and importantly learn much about the event.
When he lost his job he sought a new pathway to improve and moved to Loughborough towards the end of 2009 to work with his current coach, Derek Evely.
Rotates around a three-day cycle: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 (Rest)
10 throws with a heavy hammer, 10 throws with the competition weight or something similar and then a sombre form of specific throw – this could be heavy turns with a 20kg hammer. Also, kettlebell throws could be included into the long jump pit, 25kg plate deliveries into the pit – basically another form of weighted throw exercise, followed by a lift, usually a clean or Olympic lift on day one, then a specific strength circuit usually involving five exercises performed straight after one another and three times through the circuit.
Dry emphasises: “This is the basic layout of my training – maybe adding sprints and other weighted jumps during identified periods of training. The session should take no longer than two hours in the morning as we throw inside with a very technical focus, then we repeat this exact same session in the afternoon, but outside, so the throwing session takes a lot longer with the collecting of hammers.
“The sessions don’t appear to have too much in them, but when it’s spread over the day, it’s very high volume without excessive load on the body which allows us to pack a lot of training into the week.”
Day two follows the same format but with a middle/competition weight hammer and light hammer, and the exercises will be different, but in the same format and the lift will be a form of squat instead of an Olympic lift – generally the format is day one, day two and then a day off.
Once he has reached peak condition, he goes into a parts programme which is five throws with a light hammer followed by two sets of five exercises of general strength and this is done four times. So in one session it is 20 throws and 8 sets of general strength – this session will be repeated twice daily on the same two days on, one day oﬀ structure, except every day is the exact same.
Dry says: “This is like cleansing the palate between courses of a meal to prepare for the next. The cycle is so different from our usual development cycle that our body ‘unadapts’ from the norm, so that when we start again it takes a new effect and so at the end of every development cycle I am in peak condition. I then take around 10 days to reset my system to start again.
“Repeating these same sessions allows my body to adapt quickly and reach peak condition. If this was spread out with more sessions it could take double or more the length of time to hit peak form – I can peak five to six times a season, and when I’m at a peak, tweaking the exercises gives my body enough stimulus to remain in peak condition for more than a few days. I can extend this for two weeks or so no problem, plus a week either side, and I won’t be far oﬀ .
“So if we identify a busy month for competition we can plan it out accordingly. That’s kind of the punch line to what this type of training allows you to achieve, but it also requires very controlled circumstances. When I was working it was incredibly hard to predict, as we couldn’t tell if my responses were to the programme or how hard my day was at work.”
» The sessions above are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes. Stats on Mark available on Power of 10