I hope that the holidays are going well for everyone.
A couple of quick thoughts and then I can discuss eccentric/pause squats in a little more detail.
First, I personally am not a fan of partial ROM movements, especially when combined with very heavy weights. It works for some people, and that's fine for them, but I don't use them – but that's my opinion. It's a big world and everything works for someone, it's just not a tool that I like to use. So, I don't like 1/4 squats even though I know a lot of t&f coaches swear by them. Yes you can do a lot more weight, but I find that form breaks down during those 700 pound 1/4 squats and I've seen more back injuries from those than I care to think about.
Second, I don't like situations with supermaximal amounts of weight either – so eccentric squats with 150% of your maximum squat. Again, we all have good intensions but form breaks down too badly.
Third, in my opinion the weight room is a terrible place for sport specificity. The weight room is a great place to provide you with the physical foundation that you need for t&f, but you must then transfer it to the track. This means that you won't duplicate speed of movement, angles, etc. in the weight room and it's pointless to try (my opinion).
Typically with college t&f athletes, we have a general phase that runs into October. A specific phase that runs into December/January. Pre comp that runs January and into some of Feb (yes we're competing in indoors in Feb, but we're not peaking yet).
Now, this depends upon the level of athlete, but general phase focuses on fundamental exercises and strength/technique in those exercises. Lots of Olympic lift fundamentals (lifts from the hang), lifts off two feet (squats, RDL's, etc.), that sort of thing. Specific phase, for me, begins to peak strength and to apply it a little more to the event. Having said that, it's still a learning phase – which means we begin introducing things like eccentric/pause squats to the athlete. Those exercises aren't heavy yet (b/c the athlete is learning) and they aren't complexed with anything yet (b/c we're not peaking yet in terms of event performance).
I find that athletes have trouble transferring weight room strength to the track. Some of this requires a good t&f coach to help this occur, some of this is because athletes have trouble connecting the two mentally. So they may have a great back squat, but be unable to maintain their posture well on footstrike. I like eccentric/pause lifts as a way to help train this. But I don't like 100%+ lifts for reasons I just mentioned. I find that if these are done properly, they are extremely fatiguing (i.e. form breaks down) – which is not something you want to combine with too much weight.
The other side to both these lifts (eccentric and pause) is that there is a slow descent (or a hold in the bottom position), but this is to be followed by an explosive ascent. Again, just like with sprinting/jumping/Olympic lifting we don't want to use too much weight, with bad technique, combined with too much fatigue because we teach the athlete to be slow and lack explosiveness.
Remember, you cannot just add cool exercise into your programs on a whim. You may want to do complexes, but you have to remember that my athletes have spent years building up to that point and learning the exercises. Everything has to be introduced at a lower intensity so that the athlete can learn the proper technique.
I don't buy the soreness argument from eccentric lifts. As I mentioned to someone privately, it's one exercise of 4-6, it's not like the entire workout is based on eccentric exercises. Plus I feel that the athletes will adapt if it's introduced at lower intensity (usually around 60% when I start them off on these) and then gradually progresses.
An important thing to realize is that everyone approaches training differently, whether it's Mike, myself, or a guru. These different approaches often work for the individual coach because of who the coach is – my personality let's me do things a little differently than other coaches. I once heard Boo talk at a clinic and I loved his response when an audience member was grilling him on why he was training his athletes the way he was. He basically said (and I'm paraphrasing heavily): "Hey, you invited me to talk about what I do with my athletes. If you don't like what you hear then don't do it, but this is what I do…" There's a lot of ways to do this, and they all work for someone.
Sorry that this is a rambling post, but it is the holidays 🙂
Feel free to email me privately at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have any specific questions.