The Value of the On the Minute Drills (OTM)
How often do you train OTM?!
First, let’s define “On the Minute” (OTM) drills. On the minute at Garage Strength means: to perform a lift, drop the bar, set a 1:00 timer and when that 1:00 is finished the next lift commences. To be precise, the exact amount of rest is 60 seconds!
(Skip to 5:18 for the OTM part!)
Who Uses it?
We use it for a variety of athletes. Multiple types of sports will be trained with OTM drills. Wrestlers will gain an incredible amount of strength endurance by hitting doubles and triples on the minute over a span of 7-10 straight minutes. Football players can use it not only to prepare for the season by doing 12-15 straight minutes of OTM drills, but by also doing doubles over 8-10 minutes which will essentially force the meathead footballers to stay lighter because of the rest period.
Regarding sports like throwing or pole vaulting, it is important to provide the athlete with 1-2 technical cues for the lift then letting them go into the OTM drill with a focus on executing the cues precisely while under a significant amount of fatigue. This forces them to execute technical precision at high speeds while slightly tired, a skill that transfers well to their events.
Olympic weightlifters will see a massive benefit from OTM’s. I like to use them with our Olympic Lifters who are struggling to find a technical groove. If the drill is 8-12 minutes long, it enables the lifter to get into a nice rhythm, to find their patterns properly and to ultimately shut off their brain. Once the brain is disconnected, the body takes over and forces them into sound movement! This is a quick way to get them to focus more on feeling and less on thought, a key point behind Olympic weightlifting. Often times, I have had athletes hit personal records simply by using the OTM drill. This prevents them from going on their phone, getting distracted, talking to training partners or gossiping about what is going on in the world, which will all lead to tremendous technical and physical improvements.
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Planning and Accountability
I believe it is very important to make sure the gym is set up to handle OTM drills. It is not overly difficult to do, but occasionally athletes may get out of their OTM, because no one is holding them accountable to actually follow the rest period. Athletes love to putz around between sets when they begin to fatigue. If you are a coach, make sure you keep an eye out for this and create a way to prevent such laziness. Come up with a way to force the individual to stay closer to their platform and to stop meandering throughout the room.
When training large groups of athletes like soccer players, field hockey players or football players, these drills become indispensable. It is very easy to manage athletes with OTMs because everyone is on the same page. I recommend setting up each available area, or platform with 3-4 athletes of similar strength levels to force them to stay on task, stay focused and to feed off of one another. By the end of the drill the group’s cohesion is improved, because everyone is suffering the same way. Everyone is struggling to make the lifts and to be successful which leads to great camaraderie!
OTMs and Periodization
Strength coaches get blown away by the power of the OTM, but then ultimately become confused about when they should periodize the drill and implement it into training. At Garage Strength, we use them throughout the year for all field sports. Field athletes tend to fair very well with higher amounts of sets and different variations from program to program within the OTM. For instance, we have had tremendous success with our wrestlers doing power snatch/full snatch OTMs. Then the following block they might do high hang snatch/snatch to complement the exercises. It is important to find the exercises that transfer best to each sport and prioritize them for the OTM session of the week.
For weightlifters, I typically have two guidelines I use for periodizing them into a given program. I LOVE to use them during a volume based program. They can be used on a day when volume needs to be high, but the lifter loves to go heavy. This enables you as a coach to see if they are grooving the weight and if so, they can push to the upper limits. If the groove is not on, you can auto-regulate the lifter to a lower percentage and force them to be more consistent.
The second method is all based around temperament. Many gear heads that are Olympic Lifters love to go HAM (heavy). They will go HAM, but get a minimal amount of technical work accomplished. This is a great chance to appease both sides of the coin. Let the lifter push weights, and roll heavy if they are performing the tasks with technical precision!
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Use these drills for large groups, focus on athletes that need to perform technical movements under a large amount of stress or fatigue (essentially every sport ever created) and make sure a system of accountability is established. Plan out the session, make sure all athletes training know that the OTM is about to be executed so everyone knows to stay out of the way to prevent the individual from milking the clock!
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.
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