Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I am slow in getting to this but I wanted to be very clear in my thinking when I wrote this review.  I followed Doctor Hartman's program FORTIS for my last training block leading into an Olympic Weightlifting competition. The e-book was $19 and the programming and rationale was excellent.  If nothing else I would encourage other strength coaches, sport performance coaches, personal trainers, and general training enthusiasts to purchase it to get an excellent summary of block training periodization and a practical application of its use.  Even with a streamlined concentration that is the sport of Olympic Weightlifting it is very easy to see how programming in this way can be simply modified to benefit athletes and coaches from other sports.  As Dr. Anatoli Bondarchuk is fond of saying, "There is no Russian system or American system. There is rational and irrational." The rationale you will find in the FORTIS program is excellent.

To the specifics of the program it is clear that the primary target of FORTIS is strength development. You will squat and squat often. You will squat at the beginning of the training session and at the end of the training session. If the squat is a limiting factor for your Weightlifting performance FORTIS will absolutely help you to improve upon it. My front squat went from a 152K single (334-pounds) just prior to the program to a 150K double (330-pounds) and on my back squat I went from 170K to 178K for a single (missing on 182K on a poorly timed max day; I will get this soon). The rest of my training progressed very smoothly and the main thing I noticed was the same level lifts across a broad intensity range were subjectively "easier" to perform and recover from. In my final max day I worked up to a 110K snatch (+5K from prior to the program) and missed 114K overhead 4 times; after snatching so aggressively I managed to clean up to 135K but missed the jerk (+7K from where I was prior to the program; I have been working more on my jerk as well so I knew this was an issue going into that day).

When it came to final preparation for competition it would be really unfair to compare my results from there (full disclosure: I bombed) as I encountered a schedule interruption that prior to beginning the program I had not anticipated: I was invited to attend a Nike SPARQ event in Portland, Oregon and this was something that with my career in mind I could not pass up (especially in consideration of my relative mediocrity in Weightlifting). The Nike SPARQ Conference was awesome but in the week just before the competition I was only able to lift once in the time I was there.  For a review of this event check out the write-up Jeff Cubos did on the event. I was finally able to meet Jeff at the event as well as meeting other heavyweights including Don Saladino (Owner of Drive495), Jimmy Yuan (Owner of Warrior Restoration), Aaron Coutts (sport scientist from Australia), Mark McLaughlin (OmegaWave expert and sport performance coach), Nate Brookreson (formerly head s&c coach at Eastern Washington University and now Director of Olympic Sports at the University of Memphis), Ben Shear (Athletic Edge),Walter Norton (Nike; Institute of Performance and Fitness), Robert Butler (Research Genius and FMS expert), Mira Kwon (Nike; StrongFirst Instructor), Michael Gervais (Sport Psych expert), and many, many others.  I also met Frank Dick! Even got to spend some quality time with three Nike guys, all-time greats, and friends Patrick Ward, Dewey Nielsen, and Charlie Weingroff. Meeting Walter Norton was especially awesome because I can still remember watching the VHS video on 'Lateral Speed and Change of Direction' from Coach Michael Boyle and Walter.  After first reading 'Functional Training for Sports' and seeing that video things really accelerated in my development as a coach so I will always be grateful to those two guys! I have since spent a lot of time with Coach Boyle but as I said this was the first time I got to meet Walter and I still remember Coach B saying that Walter was the best coach he had ever worked with. What a compliment!

The programming was in no way, sharpe, or form easy and my competition lifts didn't just blow up the same way my squat did but that is because I am still continuing to grow as a weightlifter (in the slow progression I have grown used to in balancing my roles as a father, coach, and weightlifter/athlete). The limitations of this specific program were reflective of my own and that is why this stuff takes continual attention to progression across the developmental spectrum!

To expand in the discussion of the limitations I experienced on the performance of the snatch, clean, and jerk variations throughout my development rather than ignore the limitations I have seen, felt, or been told I have developed I have instead attacked them head on. Upon beginning this program I had just started to change my start position, again, for the snatch and clean and these changes take time to stick (especially when performing maximum lifts). If I had to say one thing I felt specifically it is that if you tend to squat more as a "back dominant" back squatter then don't be surprised when you can't hold position well on the snatch but especially on the clean when loading is absolutely maximal. In order to make the progress with the squatting I definitely felt myself driving more from my back than from my hips and legs so that is something I have been addressing currently and will be part of my continued growth.

All in all Dr. Hartman's FORTIS program is excellent and my summer has been inspiring and time well spent.