FRAPPIER'S FIRST TRAINING PROGRAMS WERE DESIGNED FOR GYMNASTS.
In 1986, he traveled with the U.S. National Team to the Soviet Union as part of the Goodwill Games delegation. During his Russia visit, he participated in a sports science conference and was introduced to several physiological and training concepts the Soviets were using to push the thresholds of human performance, including:
OVER SPEED TRAINING: The Russians were doing some unprecedented things with over speed training and neuromuscular training using electrical stimulation. Essentially, they were trying to determine if there was a way to trick the body's somatic sensory systems to do a little more than the body thought it could previously. In coaching terms…if you try and raise the threshold as to what the body thinks is ok and safe, and implement a training modality that is performed safely and doesn’t result in injury, an athlete is going to inherently release some of the inhibition that is associated with trying to protect the body….and performance gains can potentially be garnered as a result. That manipulation is really what neuromuscular training is all about. And so some people call it "over speed" training.
CHALLENGES OF INCREASING ELECTRICAL STIMULATION: Electrical Stimulation is another way to send the strongest signal possible to specific muscles. But the problem with electrical stimulation is that the input only goes one way and it interrupts the feedback system that takes place in the body. This is because there are all sorts of sensors in the muscle and ligaments that work to protect the body. Sending an electrical stimulus from an outside source can result in the muscle contracting at a higher force level, but it disrupts the feedback process and the control of the muscle is therefore compromised. John recognized this challenge while watching the Russians tow athletes behind cars in an effort to get them to run faster than they normally could on their own. While they were encountering some success, ultimately 'towing' didn’t work for a majority of the athletes.
RIGOROUS TESTING: Right after WWII, the Russians instituted a national fitness program. They wanted to make sure that they had the most fit athletes and best soldiers in the world. Drawing from a huge talent pool of athletes, the scientists were charged with the ultimate goal of pushing the limits of human performance. The experiments they performed, including some which may not be considered acceptable by today's standards, and their documentation of the process with outcomes, ultimately validated these new training techniques and the importance of incorporating sports science into sports training.