Carl Lewis (Tom Tellez) Training & Race Approach: Microcycle, Weight Training, Core Stabilization, and Race Strategy (Part 2)

>> December 08, 2010

Carl Lewis has given some approaches and tips of training and racing during his visit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in December 2010. Click here for part 1. I was invited to meet the winner of 17 Gold medals at the Olympics and World championships, and thanks to organiser for offering a special seat, about only 10 feet in front of the athletics legend. Friends and I have used the special opportunity to ask a lot of questions.

Carl Lewis had been coached by Tom Tellez under a renowned athletics club, Santa Monica Track Club (SMTC) which was founded by Joe Douglas in Texas and has produced numerous World champions, Olympic champions, World record holders, and World-top athletes including Leroy Burrell, Michael Marsh, Joe DeLoach, Steve Lewis, Danny Everett, Johnny Gray, Kevin Young, Floyd Heard, and Mark Witcherspoon.

Tom Tellez according to Lewis is a big fan of high quality workouts (in the training programs). Following are the detail of tips given by Carl Lewis:


Carl Lewis recommended three days hard sessions out of six days training in a week; on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Below are the sample of 2 days hard workouts for the 400 metres runners:

Monday workout should be the toughest workout in a microcycle (week). Lewis suggests a Special Endurance II workout to be done on Monday. He gave example as 600m + 500m + 400m with short rest (recovery) in between but this will be dependent on the training cycles.

After a medium (or light) session on Tuesday, Lewis suggests a Special Endurance I workout in Wednesday which is the 300 metres workout with short recovery in between. Lewis mentioned that the workout on Wednesday is hard but he went on to say that the athletes need a program that really challenge themselves. For 55-200m sprinters, he recommends the 200 metres workout with 75s rest in between.

Note: Carl Lewis mentioned that his 'normal' Wednesday workout would be like 6 x 200m @ 23.0-23.9s, 75s rest. Next, he added that the toughest workout he has ever done were 6 x 200m @ 23.0-23.9s, with 60s rest in between (note: shorter recovery).

Kindly note that ...  a 5 x 200m @ 25.0s with 4 mins rest might be the appropriate workout for a 10.8s sprinter, one second slower than Lewis, which is already quite demanding.


Carl Lewis mentioned that his only goal now is to match his record 300lb (136kg) in the bench press before turning 50 years next year. He set that record at 36 in 1997 or AFTER his retirement. Everybody were laughing when he mentioned this, but according to Lewis it is the fact. Not satisfied with Lewis answers, I asked him to explain his best efforts for bench press and squat during his prime time. Lewis said, "I don't know, I didn't lift weights".

Note: Carl Lewis has never done a lot weight training. Conversely he has done a lot of plyometric exercises with various techniques including the stair exercises. But Lewis explained and admitted that an athlete can do weight training as long as he or she is able to maintain the ideal body weight because he believe that "increasing the muscles means carrying the weight during running."


Carl Lewis has mentioned that all core area are very important. Core area includes the abdominals, back, pelvic floor, gluteus, hips flexor and adductor muscles. To generate an explosive speed and power is one of the matters to have a good core strength and stability.

In order to improve the core strength, Lewis suggested to perform the plyometrics and the medicine ball exercises three times a week. Note: I guess these are performed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday because they are the non-heavy days in the Tom Tellez system. The plyometric exercises he did including various types of free jumping exercises and box jumps while the medicine ball exercises would be such as overhead throw, ball slam etc.

I also asked Lewis about sit ups or something similar, he said, "oh yeah i did all them with the 16lb (7.27kg) medicine ball.


I've written about John Smith 7 phases but Tom Tellez introduced a 5 phases strategy in the 100 metres for Carl Lewis and his training group. The most important point in the strategy is enhance ability to eliminate the negative acceleration, or in other words to improve the speed endurance.

Lewis would accelerate and hits the full speed at 60 - 70 metres, then maintains the top speed for about 10 metres. After that, he would just relax and maintain. The reason why a lot of sprinters tend to loss the speed at the end is because of execution of the race strategy. These are the main points he described regarding race strategy.

Tom Tellez 5 phases strategy allowed him to maintain the top speed and top end speed better than anyone else and decelerate less than others (not gaining speed) in the last 20 metres. The Tom Tellez 5 phases are as follow:

1- Reaction
2- Block Clearance (0-5m)
3- Speed of Efficient Acceleration (5-69m)
4- Maintenance of Acceleration (69-87m)
5- Lessened Degree of Deceleration (87-100m)

He utilised the same strategy for the 200 metres race in which he would accelerate all the way through the turn and hits the top speed between 110 - 120 metres, and then maintain it all the straight away. In the 60 metres race, he would hits the full speed at 40 - 50 metres and maintain it to the line.


> Jogging or long run can be done by 400 metres runners all year round.
> One of the most important criteria to be a good 400m athlete is an ideal body weight.
> For sprint-jump athletes, he suggests to focus only one event, sprint or jump.
> A long jumper may has potential to success in sprinting.
> Lewis emphasized only high quality run during running workouts.
> In the 100 metres, sprinters speeding up and slowing down about 90 metres, whereas 10 metres to maintain the top speed.

Finally, Lewis has said that when an athlete broke a personal best by  mere 0.01s it would be the same feeling (happy) as he felt when he broke the 100 metres World record in 1991 World championships. "if you managed to lower your time by one hundredths of a second (0.01), it would be the same feeling as I felt when I broke the 100 metres World record (9.86 seconds) back in 1991."

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