Schroeder's System Revealed?
By: Kelly Baggett
A couple of years ago an NFL prospect out of Arizona State University named Adam Archuleta marveled football scouts with his superior athletic attributes. At the NFL scouting combine he posted some of the most impressive results for a safety in the 17-year history of the NFL Draft Combine. The 6-foot, 211-pound Archuleta ran a 4.42 40, had a 39-inch vertical jump and bench-pressed 225 pounds 31 times.
As a 172-pound high school junior, Archuleta became intrigued by an article written by strength coach Jay Schroeder, founder of Evo-Sport, and felt compelled to contact him. Schroeder developed Evo-Sport based on a principle that is widely regarded in strength and conditioning literature but rarely practiced, plyometrics. Nearly every part of the program involved absorbing and rapidly propelling force. When Archuleta began the Evo-Sport program, he benched 265 pounds in 2.76 seconds in the concentric or ascending phase of the lift. He squatted 273 in 3.47 seconds, ran the 40 in 4.79-4.81 and had a 26-inch vertical jump. Today, his personal best in the bench press is 530 pounds in 1.09 seconds and in the squat, 663 pounds in 1.24 seconds. At an individual workout for NFL scouts, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds and jumped 39 inches vertically.
Soon, coaches and athletes everywhere were hot on the trail to find out the details of Schroeder's system. ESPN even did a short short mini-feature on some of his training methods. He incorporated exercises like having his athletes catch falling loads, being dropped from 4-6 ft high in a pushup position and hitting the ground while absorbing the impact. He'd have them dropping light weights and quickly catching them and throwing them back up in the air. He also used a host of other rarely seen exercises that created bewilderment among some.
For coaches or athletes who have ever delved deep into exploration into strength training, no single training method he used really stood out. Rather, it was the combination of the program elements like isometrics, plyometrics, rebound training, amplitude drops, isometric + explosive repetitions, plyometric catches and throws with weights etc. and the apparent effectiveness of it all that made it appealing. It wouldn't take much for anyone to use these methods, but understanding why, how, when, and what created a lot of questions for the curious.
Schroeder apparently wanted to keep the organization of his methods largely a secret. Many people have wondered why he has failed to reveal the specifics behind his program construction. One has to wonder about the elusive effect. It seems that when a coach (or anyone) is brought into the spotlight the less he talks and the less he reveals about himself the more magical him and his systematics seem; thus the more money he can bring in when he does offer a product, seminar, or service.
On the other side of the coin there are extremely knowledgeable coaches who give freely of their time by contributing to forums and the like. Often, the more approachable one becomes often the less value is attached to their name. There are examples of this everyday. It seemed that maybe he'd rather stay in the dark and keep the magic attached with elusiveness. Or, it could be that for whatever reason(s) he just wanted to avoid the spotlight and keep to himself.
He gave out a couple of sample workouts that were soon spread around the internet and they were impossible to ascertain. In 2003 he released a video Freak of Training that showed Archuleta demonstrating in more detail some of the exercises he uses. Anybody who has seen the video would agree it is impossible to construct a program out of it. What was interesting is how the construction of some of the training elements didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. For example, Schroeder would incorporate long extended sets of isometrics coupled with explosive reps alternating back and forth for nearly a minute. Everything seemed to be based on time rather then sets and reps. For those who were really interested in his methods and system all the video really did was help to explain the few workouts of his that had been posted. Here's an example of one.
Isometric : 1-3 Minutes
Ice Massage: 3 - 5 Minutes
Rest 4 -6 Minutes: Specialized Drinks
Rebound Technique: 3 Minutes Total Performance [No Rest Time Included]
Rest 4 - 6 Minutes: Self Massage
3 x 1 x 80% 10 Count Eccentric, Followed By Rapid Concentric Phase. Use Vibrator Massage Between Sets
3 x 2 x 90% Manual Overspeed, Normal Eccentric Phase,[ Concentric Phase Must Be Performed in 25% Of Normal Performance Time]
ANCILLIARY METHODICS SCHEDULE
Perform A Normal Eccentric and Then Hold For 3 - 10 Counts And Perform A Fast Concentric, For A Total Of 3 Sets Of 3 Reps Perform the Following Ancillary Exercises: Russian Twist, Glute-Ham Raise, Barbell Row, Barbell Curl Perform These Exercises On Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday
MASTER PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
Weeks 1 and 2 Perform As Is Written
Weeks 3 and 4: Drop Slow Eccentric On 80% Performance, Manual Overspeed Increases To 105%
Weeks 5 and 6: Drop The Isometric
Weeks 7 and 8: Perform 2 X 1 X 95%, 2 X 1 X 105%, 2 X 1 X 110% With No Ancillary Work
WEEKLY PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
Isometric Rebound Primary
One Legged Squat Russian Lunge Squat Double Bounce
Wide Dip Close Grip Bench Bench Press Top & Bottom
Deadlift In Cage Low Squat Foot Jump Deadlift Top & Bottom
Off - Restorative Measures, Active Rest
All E.D.I., All Primary - 5 Sets
Rebound Push-Ups, Russian Lunge - 200 Of Each, Perform Throughout The Day
Off Restorative Measures
To the best of my knowledge, Schroeder has never revealed any direct sources that enabled him to come up with his system. Evidently he has said he studied a lot of soviet literature and even spent time over there learning as much as he could. It is not unlikely that one could put together such a program just from studying strength training literature and experimenting with different combinations of exercises over the years. Personally, few years back I started what would soon become a closetfull of notes on possible speed and strength training methods just from delving into books like the book Supertraining by the late Mel Siff. At the end I was left with a whole schlew of possible program content besides the norm, but with no idea how to really put all these methods together. So, I was left on my own to experiment - which I enjoy doing, that's also why Schroeder's Evo-Sport system seemed very appealing.
Now, to move on, things got really interesting last year when German strength coach Dietrich Buchenholz (a.k.a. Dumbell Hammer) began writing articles on Dave Tate's elitefts.com website. The articles were informal and mentally stimulatory, yet displayed with a tone full of confidence and much of the information was often difficult to comprehend. He revealed a lot that made people think, but often used terms unfamiliar to most people.
To give a quick overview, The heart of his system revolves around the use of his auto-regulatory fatigue and volume management system, which in simplistic terms, allows one to manage volume and frequency based on their individualities, while taking advantage of their super-compensation cycle which is what progress is all about. His training approach is based on manipulating the nervous system and increasing performance from the inside out rather then the outside in. To do this he classifies exercise based on neural signaling factors such as rate (speed), magnitude(level), and duration (length). The goal is to "program" the body to perform in the manner you want it to.
At the muscular level he classifies work as either frictional or elastic in nature, with frictional being movement performed by the muscle fibers and elastic being movement performed by the tendons/fascia etc - Or in other words "plyometric" work. At the structural level the goal in DB's programs seems to be an optimization of the static-spring effect which is inherent in all movement and requires a balance of frictional vs elastic development with most athletes displaying sub-optimal amounts of one or both and with different sports requiring a different level of each.
Attention is focused on determining which neural and muscular qualities an athlete is leaning towards or lacking in and correcting the deficiencies via specific training to enhance performance. To determine this he uses a lot of tests such as speed tests, explosive strength deficit tests, and RFD tests. One big strength of his program, as I see it, is his system allows one to zero in on the exact factor that is holding back their development for any given task and address it accordingly with proper volume management.
Sometime in July DB joined the supertraining list on yahoo groups and immediately caused quite a stir both with the quality of information he presented, and with the way he went about presenting it. Upon his arrival to the group DB made a comment that he had started posting and writing articles because he used to consult with others for free and apparently this had allowed some self serving individuals in America to make a buck on the content he had taught them.
Over the span of a few months he contributed lots of thought provoking information, and from what I gather was always more then willing to help out anyone who ever emailed him from the list, yet his style displayed in public posts irritated some. In fact, many long time members wanted him gone. Despite this I believe there were just as many people watching behind the scenes and enjoying all of the information he presented, with myself being one of them.
Finally he offered to put his self on the line and reveal the effectiveness of his system. He invited someone to volunteer and come forward and said he would consult with the volunteer and provide him workouts, based on his goals, and would therefore show the effectiveness of his system to all and let the results do the talking. For a good while nobody would take him up on his offer, but finally Todd Hamer, a strength coach and Westside powerlifter, came forward and volunteered to take DB up on it. To make a long story short, after completing around 4 of DB's workouts, and without understanding the system fully, his raw bench press increased by 30 lbs over his PR. If anyone is interested simply read the Todd E. Hamer project on DB's website www.inno-sport.net and through his posts on the supertraining list archive. They start towards the end of July.
So anyway, up until this point I don't think many were really mentioning Jay Schroeder and Dietrich Buchenholz in the same sentence. DB had revealed a lot about various facets of training but hadn't delved into many specifics of his system besides his Auto-regulatory programming. However, when DB unleashed his website and his book, many of those who have delved deep into them and are somewhat familiar with what has been revealed by Schroeder have repeatedly mentioned to me of the similarities.
For just about every exercise demonstrated, but not really detailed, in Schroeder's videos such as:
1. Dropping and catching light weights
2. Isometric holds
3. Dropping, catching, and absorbing heavy loads
4. Plyometric exercises with weights
5. Absorbing the force of ones own bodyweight when landing from a distance
6. Various partner assisted exercises
7. Isometric + dynamic exercises
8. Performing a variety of quick bodyweight movements while in a squat position
DBs book and the information in his writings describes and categorizes these same particular training modalities and others as well as the systematics he uses to incorporate and regulate them. Based on some of the pictures in the book I would also guess these methods are not something he came up with yesterday.
Many who have spent much time reading DB's articles or book have pointed out that nearly all of the training methods seen from what Schroeder has revealed,along with others, are exhaustively used in his programs, along with a systematic method of structuring them and breaking them down into categories. This enables one to organize and apply these various techniques accordingly based upon training goals, strengths, and weaknesses and in large part answering the how, why, what, and when.
As far as training frequency is concerned, many will point out that DB usually calls for a session frequency of once every 4-8 days whereas Schroeder has recommended training the whole body every day. This may appear true but DB also likes to use factorized arrangement, where a muscle group or training element would also be trained everyday.
As far as fatigue, Schroeder has mentioned he likes to initiate a 3-7% level of what he calls overtraining, in order to heighten subsequent supercompensation. DB likes to initiate an average of around 3-10% fatigue, depending on training frequency. From what I've seen though Schroeder seems to favor a concentrated loading approach, whereas DB doesn't.
It is also interesting that DB always signs "Evolution" in closing after any of his articles or emails. The name of Schroeder's company is Evo-Sport.
What is also interesting is how DBs system is largely built on manipulating the nervous system to increase performance. A couple of years ago Schroeder was selling a supplement designed to boost output of the nervous system.
Some have told me DB has recommended both ice massage and vibratory massage be used in between sets and for recovery after and in between workouts. If you see Schroeder's workout from above you see both ice massage and vibratory massage being recommended.
So whether or not this is all coincidence or not who knows? I asked DB about this and he basically said that anyone he consults with or has consulted with in the past is ensured 100% confidentiality and selling off names is a step in the wrong direction for boosting up the level of training practices worldwide. I was very impressed with his integrity as to me it would seem much more profitable (if it were in fact true) to say "Hey, I'm the guy responsible for the system that developed that guy!"
The bottom line is I would say if you want to figure out how to interpret the methods from Schroeder's system or advance any other system, I would highly recommend taking a look at the inno-sport system. Although it may take a bit of study to embrace the concepts, understand the terminology, and incorporate the information - I think most would agree there is plenty of information to take advantage of and put to use. Even if you just gain a thing or 2 to incorporate into your own training or gain a better understanding of why you do, or do not make progress, the basic auto-regulatory concepts can be applied to any system with success.
The reason I decided to write this is #1, so many people have asked me my opinion on this topic and #2, I can't go to the gym without people commenting on me or someone I'm training performing manual glute-ham raises, plyo bench presses, isometrics + dynamics or some other method that the average gym attendee or even the majority of coaches finds foreign. People often say, "Hey that looks like that stuff I saw that guy doing on ESPN a while back!" Well, maybe if more people started training like this it wouldn't seem so foreign and the overall level of sports training and performance would improve!
Since I've become fairly familiar with DB's inno-sport system I've been receiving countless PM's and emails from people asking me for help on how to interpret some of his terminology, workouts, and programming basics. I've comprised a series of notes from his articles that I've dumbed down quite a bit that are a compilation of the basics of his system that he has placed as an article on his website called "Inno-Sport Training Basics." If you're interested in learning more I'd recommend going to his website
and browsing his articles, Q&A's, and consider purchasing his book. For further reading you can also go to elitefts.com and read his series of articles there. DB has also always been very helpful so you might consider emailing him.