This page represents my interpretation of the Burdenko Method and the integration of numerous other training styles. This page will continually evolve with my understanding of human performance. Follow my profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube for continued training education.
The Burdenko Method Water and Sports Therapy techniques focus on restoring maximum functional capacity. It encompasses a variety of programs for the general public such as: rehabilitation, conditioning, and training. The Burdenko institute, in Newton Massachusetts, provides certification in the Burdenko method, seminars and workshops, personal training, diet therapy, acupuncture, massage, podiatry, and swimming lessons. To Learn about the institute and Igor Burdenko, click here.
I trained with Master Certified Burdenko Instructor, Tom Barbeau, M.S. (two-time Canadian Olympic Ski Coach) for two years before getting certified. I have taken the Burdenko Method and blended it with Athletic Training, Sports Medicine, Personal Training, and years of sports and performance research. My goal is to create the best training strategies to prevent injury and maximize performance.
PART I: BALANCE
The 4 Keys to a Balanced Body
- Body Analysis: When athletes train for specific sports, they develop sport-specific imbalances. This often results in predictable sport-specific injuries. Body screening for movement limitations and strength deficiencies is essential to optimal performance and preventing these predictable injuries.
- Movement Assessment: A comprehensive video analysis of fundamental athletic movements. This provides the information needed to assess functional deficiencies in activities such as Running, Jumping, & Landing. All can be indicators of injury risk.
- Corrective Exercise: After recognizing a problem, an athlete must take steps to correct the limitation. The first step is to limit strenuous workouts, and instead, focus on the specific areas which need improvement. Common limitations include strength deficits of the hamstrings, core stabilizers, and gluteal muscles. These are reflected in tight quadriceps, hip flexors, low back, and inefficient muscle control of lateral hip stabilizers and knees. I discuss these briefly in my book, ‘The Modern Athlete‘
- Release tight muscles.
- Strengthen the weak muscle groups with muscle-specific exercises.
- Maintain balanced development of opposing muscle groups for continued injury prevention.
- Multi-Directional Stability: The body is not designed to move just forward and backward. The human body has the ability to move in all directions with ease. Only by training coordination can an athlete unlock and utilize their full athletic potential.
- Variable Resistance: Burdenko Belts, thera-bands, ropes, TRX straps, rocks, logs, uneven surfaces, water-workouts, and physioballs.
- Variable Direction: train forward, backwards, diagonals, side/side, rotational.
- Nutritional Balance: Nutrition adds a huge advantage to athletes who know how to use foods to maximize performance. The key to unlocking this potential is timing. A solid nutrition plan will result in:
- Increased Performance
- Decreased Fatigue
- Improved Immune System
- Decreased Risk of Injury
- Improved Recovery
PART II: COORDINATION
4-Parts of Coordination Training
- Adaptation: Learning new exercises and movement patterns keeps the body from developing imbalances. It also trains the body to learn quicker.
- Functional Movement Patterns: Training coordination means constantly changing the environment and exercises to keep the body from adapting to one specific movement pattern. The body is so adaptable that sometimes it can learn improper movement patterns. After an injury, for example, the body may continue to limp because of an mal-adapted muscle imbalance.
- Sport-Specific Movements: Coordination is a series of movement patters the body has mastered. Once the body learns a pattern, it becomes instinctive and effortless. Think of a runner who can run nearly effortlessly. Every sport-specific task requires increased levels of coordination. This becomes the difference between a 50 mph baseball throw and a 100 mph baseball throw.
- Cross-Training: New challenges develop new skills. You can use tennis balls, varying speeds, sticks, balance challenges, and many other techniques to challenge coordination.
Two Examples of the Advantages produced by ‘Training’ Coordination
- Running: Though ”running” seems a simple concept, it takes an extreme amount of coordination to time the movement between arms and legs, maintain spinal stability, relaxed form, and proper foot mechanics. Correct running form is what makes Olympic Sprinters faster than anyone in the world. Just by improving running form through coordination, an athlete can significantly increase their speed.
- Throwing: Though there is little to no strength difference, you can throw a ball 10 times further with your dominant arm than your ”weaker” arm. The only difference between sides is coordination. Even if you increased the strength of each arm by 10x, the ability to throw would be minimally affected. With practice and training, you could learn to throw with the weaker arm almost as well as your dominant arm.
PART III: FLEXIBILITY
Stretching is Not ”Training’‘ Flexibility
- Flexibility is Dynamic: There is a misconception about flexibility. It has been common practice to perform static stretches. Actually, static stretching causes neuro-muscular inhibition, which means the muscles become less responsive… aka weaker. Here is an article debunking stretching ”Static Stretching is still almost universally practiced among amateur athletes”. The key word in the previous sentence is ”Amateur”. Professional athletes do not waste time weakening their muscles with static stretching. Even yoga, which is considered a ”stretching” exercise routine, incorporates nearly constant movement.
- Freedom of Movement: In the modern evidence-based world of fitness, dynamic warm-ups have become increasingly common. The Burdenko Method calls this ”Freedom of Movement”. You will notice it refers to Freedom of Movement exercises often, as they are used as a dynamic warm-up, cool down, or full recovery training program. A Freedom of Movement exercise series will work the whole body through a full range of motion. (Personally, I have seen these exercises change my own movement patterns, as well as many clients.)
- ”Training Flexibility”: When muscles are used in a fully stretched positions, injury often results. In situations like this, static stretching was not enough to prepare muscles for these extreme forces. Most athletes do all of their strength training and sport specific training in the confined needs of their sport. This is fine for the technical aspects like shooting a basketball. However, when dealing with physical performance, the body is pushed beyond its normal training limits during competition. This is why it is important to improve flexibility beyond need.
- To do this, one must do resistance exercises with bands and other devices to challenge muscles through their full range of motion. Over-time, this increases flexibility, while also developing strength at end range of motion.
”Training Flexibility” Benefits:
- Injury Prevention
- Muscle Elasticity
- Reaction Time
PART IV: ENDURANCE
Cardiovascular – Muscular – Psychological
Endurance is more than just running to improve long distance training. For example, the number of repetitions for weight lifting is an element of endurance. Also, the ability to stay focused at the end of a long competition is a neglected element of endurance. Recovery is also part of endurance.
Endurance: “The Ability to exert effort over a long period of time. And to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.”
- Cardiovascular Endurance: Cardiovascular Endurance is developed by progressively improving lung and heart ability. One of the best methods to achieve this is with heart rate training. Heart rate training is a proven method that requires a heart rate monitor to guide an endurance athlete’s performance during training sessions. To improve cardiovascular performance, athletes train at their anaerobic threshold, or the point at which muscles begins using more sugars and less oxygen to function. Training at this level improves the body’s ability to use oxygen, which will improve performance over time. Adding this style of training to your workouts will progressively increase running/biking speeds while maintaining a constant heart rate and perceived level of difficulty.
- Heart Rate Training
- Anaerobic Threshold Training
- Interval Training
- Muscle Endurance: is the ability of muscles to perform difficult tasks numerous times with limited fatigue. Runners, bikers, and other long distance athletes have incredible cardiovascular endurance, but lack muscular endurance which can mean the difference between winning and losing in events that require more than just ”running”. Contact sports, obstacle course racing, paintball, Otillo, triathlons, and other alternative sports require this style of training. At AMA, we hit muscular endurance by performing exercises at varying speeds, increased repetitions, and in combination with other endurance activities, such as running hills between weight lifting sets.
- Increase Repetitions
- Increase Sets
- Limit Rest between Sets
- ”Super-Setting” (switching exercises between sets with little/no rest)
- Psychological Endurance: Psychological Endurance is the ability to stay focused when the body is stressed and the brain is receiving limited amounts of oxygen due to strenuous activity. During running, biking, or other thoughtless endurance activities, the brain is not challenged by adversity other than overcoming these activities. Adding complex challenges to endurance activities increases performance by preparing the mind for the unexpected challenges of competition. Use tennis balls, sticks, bands, hills, and many other types of obstacles and thought-provoking activities during endurance exercises so as to prepare for the unpredictability of various sports and races. This not only improves performance but reduces the risk of injury, as athletes will be more aware of surroundings and better able to react and adapt to unanticipated circumstances. This recent Research Article shows the direct physical benefits of this method of improving performance.”If you stress your brain at the same time as your body, when you get rid of the mental stress, the physical training seems easier.”
- Add Complex Challenges to Endurance Training
- Change Environment
- Vary Resistance (Weights, Bands, Water)
- Unpredictability and Reaction Training
- Recovery Strategies
- Freedom of Movement: Early sub-maximal muscle exertion pumps blood through sore muscles. Often, the best recovery program for soreness is to exercise. This removes electrolyte build-up and supplies fresh nutrients to the repairing muscle fibers.
- Aqua Training: Isotonic resistance training with Water workouts also provide the benefits of sub-maximal muscle contraction. In addition, water pressure improves venous blood return, and the removal of gravity allows joints to relax, open, and recover.
- Proper Nutrition & Timing: After training, a series of chemical reactions cause muscles to begin rebuilding, but they need building blocks. Immediate post-workout meals of 100 grams simple carbohydrates and 20-40 grams simple proteins is essential. Without proper nutrition, muscle fibers will break down and destroy themselves.
- Sleep & Rest: Muscles grow and develop because of body hormonal changes due to training. Lack of sleep or increased stress increase cortisol (hormone) levels release. During deep-stage sleep, cortisol levels are lowest and growth hormone levels are at their highest. Take advantage of sleep to maximize gains in the gym.
- Hydration: There are two ways to develop muscle size. One is to train Olympic power lifts which can increase the number of muscle fibers. The other is to increase muscle plasma. Both cause muscle hypertrophy. Proper hydration ensures the muscles can hypertrophy and function maximally. Start each day with a big glass of water immediately after waking.
- Cross-Training: Performing the same exercises results in muscle imbalance, over-use, boredom, plateaus, and injury. In between certain strenuous activities, do yoga, swimming, hiking, or rock climbing to cross-train. This develops new coordination patterns, core strength, and motivation.
PART V: SPEED
Speed is the ability to think, move, sprint, change directions, change speeds, and do all of this without fatigue.
Multi-Speed Training Principles
- Muscles Adapt to the stresses regularly applied to them.
- If you only train at one speed (even if it is your fastest speed), you will improve very slowly.
- Achieve Best Results by training slow, medium, and fast to teach muscles to adapt, rather than to teach them only ”fast”.
- Rapid, repetitive movements
- Methods include ladder drills, hurdles, bench hops, ”hop-skotch”, tennis ball throwing, sprints, reaction-timing.
- Achieve best results by changing the exercises each session.
- ”Falling Technique”
- Use Resistance: weighted vest, parachute, resistance bands, hills (up & down), stairs.
- Single Leg (or arm) Explosive exercises.
- Plyometrics – ‘Muscle Elastic Reflex’ Training
- Relaxed Body
- Including a muscle stretch before contraction: An example is a box jump BETWEEN 2 boxes. Instead of only jumping up onto the box, jump down first, and then up onto the second.
- Decrease loading time: Between jumps and hops, the feet should only touch the ground briefly.
- Fascia Health: Fascia is the ”gristle” of the body which translates forces from extremity to extremity. Healthy fascia allows for increased conservation of energy. Proper food, hydration, posture, and freedom of movement exercises keep fascia healthy and mobile.
- By quickly stretching a muscle before contraction, it creates an automatic, reflexive contraction. This saves energy expenditure allowing the athlete to perform more repetitions with less fatigue.
PART VI: STRENGTH
Size and Strength are the focus of most athletes. Once all other qualities are mastered, strength will grow exponentially faster. Without Balance, Strength leads to injuries and compensations. Without Flexibility, Strength is inefficient. Without Coordination, Strength fails to translate to sport specific activities. Without Endurance, Strength fatigues. Without Speed, Strength becomes obsolete. Each Element adds a component of Strength that enhances the athletic performance of all individuals.
How to Maximize Results
Size: develops as a consequence of progressive muscle overload. Progressively challenging muscles to work at 60-90% of their maximum strength stimulates natural anabolic hormones in the body. The hormonal changes stimulate muscle hypertrophy. There are multiple different types of muscle fibers, hormones, and training routines. Different types of strength training techniques result in different developments among muscle fibers.
Muscular Adaptation: Generally, training at 60-80% of maximum strength creates sarcoplasmic hypertrophy which increases the amount of fluids and glycogen in muscles. Training at 80% or more of maximum strength stimulates hypertrophy of the muscle fibers actin and myosin. Varying amounts of weight, sets, repetitions, and exercises can be used to achieve the desired physical result.
Neurological Adaptation: Muscles are made of bundles of fibers, each controlled by different nerves. Each time you use a muscle, some of these nerves activate some of the fibers. The only time ‘All’ of these fibers are activated is if you are struck by lightning or electrocuted. Strength Training trains these nerves to activate in a more coordinated effort to lift specific amounts of weight. This is why new weight-lifters accelerate so quickly the first few months and then plateau later on. (Remember the rapid benefits of Burdenko coordination training.) Some Power Lifters are able to fire over 90% of their muscle fibers at the same time to maximize muscle output. Neurological adaptations from lifting weights translates to enhanced performance of sport specific activities.
- Warm-up: Many muscular contractile enzymes do not function at low temperatures. 5-10 minutes of Freedom of Movement Exercises make a perfect warming routine.
- Fuel: Maintenance of Blood sugar levels and Selection of caffeine, proteins, vitamins, and other supplements can make the difference between a good and bad workout.
- Form: Poorly performed power lifts and neglect of full range of motion result in spinal injury and torn muscles.
- Safety: Having a spotter during power lifts adds safety and gives the lifter extra confidence and motivation to do more repetitions.
- Cool-down: exercises and yoga
- Re-fueling: Timing, Selection, Amount
- Sleep: Increased sleep of 8-10 hours per night has been proven to increase muscle growth, recovery, and hypertrophy.
A sign that one has mastered all of the 6 qualities of life and sport is the single leg pistol squat. This is the best exercise for leg strength. It addresses stability balance; unilateral leg balance; hip, calve, hamstring, quadriceps, low back flexibility; arm & leg coordination; high repetition endurance; optional slow, medium, and fast speeds; and strength of lifting body weight (plus added weights). It can be done anywhere, with assistance devices if needed, by anyone with any amount of added challenge such as weights, unstable surfaces, eyes closed, or added coordination such as catching a ball. On top of all of this, it challenges core stability, spinal alignment, and mental focus. Master this exercise before doing any type of weighted two-legged squat.
Freedom of Movement:
FOM is the basis of all Burdenko Method training. Without it, the body’s ability to move will be restricted. To develop full FOM, it is important to practice full body Range of Motion movements on a daily basis. Here is a brief introductory video that will get you started. To take your body to the next level, get in contact with me to schedule a training session and personalized program.
Yes, you just got your mind blasted with a huge amount of information. If there is anything you did not understand fully, that’s okay! It’s taken me years to understand and develop my fitness programs. I would love to connect with you today and go over yours or your team’s training programs.
The Burdenko Method embodies the most safe and effective training techniques, but even I do not do Burdenko-style training every day. I also do Olympic lifting, outdoor sports, tabata, circuits, heart-rate training, and home videos like P90x. If you are going to work with me, expect to do a variety of different training styles meant to fully develop your body and focus on your specific goals.
I will continuously add new Burdenko lessons on this website and my social medias. However, all of my Virtual Coaching clients are set up with a complete 30-90 day home-workout program like p90x by Tony Horton, Insanity by Shaun T, or another beachbody product that we decide is the best fit.
If you are interested in talking about your fitness habits and goals with me, Click below for a FREE consultation!
If you want a comprehensive book on Core Stability, Injury Prevention, and Performance Enhancement with an easy to follow progressive exercise series that incorporates the Burdenko Method, buy JT’s self-published book, ”The Modern Athlete”. It is a handy guidebook that explains one of the primary causes of low back pain and core instability. Always consult a doctor before trying any new exercise program. Consider this as educational material only.
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