Isolation helps Olympian grow faster, stronger, and more powerful

Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) long jumper Brooke Stratton has spent the last eight weeks improving her physical capacity from the garage. Under remote guidance of Strength and Conditioning Coach Cory Innes she’s been able to improve on her weaknesses and set new personal bests when she returned to the VIS gym on Monday.

When the VIS gym was shut down in March, Stratton moved her physical training into her home garage and has been completing three strength and conditioning sessions a week.

“The time allowed me to really focus on building my strength and power via a very effective program requiring minimal equipment and machinery.” She said.

Image: Brooke Stratton lifting in her garage gym, Credit: Michael Dodge (feature image as well) 

The 2016 Rio Olympian is also the Australian record holder for the women’s long jump, a record she broke at the Perth Track Classic in 2016 with a jump of 7.05m.

During Isolation Stratton wanted to work on fine tuning some technical aspects of her main lifting exercises as well as targeting weaknesses such as her stability and ankle stiffness.

“Cory incorporated specific exercises into my program to really target my weaknesses, which saw significant improvements over time.” She said.

The period also allowed her to advance the weight on her main lifts from the increase in volume and consistency which led to ample improvements in her main lifting and on Monday the results showed, as she set some new personal bests in a testing session with Innes.

“The main goal was to get stronger, faster and more powerful and this seems to have been successfully achieved.” Stratton said.

Video: We caught up with Stratton in 2019 to get an insight into her daily training routine. 

Innes said that COVID-19 created an opportunity with the track and field athletes that they otherwise would not have had – “a long training block, completely dedicated to training with no outcome goals at the end, such as competitions and training camps.”

"We [The VIS Physical Preparation Team] saw this as an opportunity to focus on athletes’ weaknesses and so we pushed through as much testing as we could before COVID, and set programs to reflect those weaknesses.” He said.

Innes said that for some track and field athletes they set goals away from strength and conditioning such as technical improvements, study, life or rehab goals, but for Stratton the time was a perfect chance to work on her physical capacity.

“Brooke has very little limitations in programming as she has a great home set-up and the fact she has done so well in her first block was simply down to her motivation, dedication and application towards improving those weaknesses we identified.” He said.

Whilst he did admit that there were still areas to improve and build on in her preparation for Tokyo 2020 held in 2021, he says that “she has certainly done a wonderful job in this first block in trying circumstances.”

During isolation Stratton and Innes worked together over Zoom and this allowed Innes to provide specific technical feedback between exercises and help monitor progression and load.

“I was very thankful to have coordinated some S&C sessions over Zoom with Cory.” She said.

Despite the isolation Zoom sessions proving very successful both Stratton and Innes agree that it feels “amazing” to be back in the VIS gym and there is nothing quite like the motivation you get from  training in a high performance environment.

“I feel we’ve done a good job in isolation, but nothing can replace being there with them and coaching in 3D!” Innes said.

“The technical details, angles and sense of how they are feeling just can’t be replaced by zoom or videos.”

Innes said that he has really missed being able to coach the athletes in person, and to see the application of training and comradery of the group together again is “awesome.”

“I’m very much looking forward to continuing the rollback for the athletes left to return and to a big year leading into the Olympics next year.”

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