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No BullCrap Sports Training
June 01, 2006
Hello folks. Here is my most recent q&a from which is now available strictly to newsletter subscribers. Enjoy!


1. The problems for extreme hardgainers
2. Correlation between vertical and short sprints.
3. More on partial rep training
4. Setting up training and movement screens for an older martial artist

The Extreme Hardgainer

Q: I have been reading your articles for a while and you amaze me with your knowledge. I do have a question for you.

Have you ever had people that simply do not respond to training and just seem growth resistant and strength gain resistant? I seem to be one of those people, I am not an athlete but all I seek is muscle and srength and I have been making more progress than I was now that I am following alot of reccommendations that Stuart McRobert reccommends as I am hitting the gym twice a week and I only focus on the compound excercises yet I still can only add 1/2 a pound or so a week to the bar. My workout is 2x 5 of dips and 1x5 of chinups on day 1 and 1x3 of squats and 1x10 of deadlifts on day 2 and I alternate between deads and squats each week. I am not even squatting my bodyweight for reps and I can barely deadlift 225x5

I also have a lot of motor recall problems, digestive trouble, low work capacity(I overtrain easily even on low volume). Whenever I eat I seem to just get fat and not gain muscle as I eat bout 350G protein a day,200 G carbs and 100 G fat. I seem to respond alot better to high reps but I am simply not strong enough yet to take advantage of them, I always try to keep a rep left in me when I finish the set so I do not go to failure as I know that is hard on the CNS.

A: Well a lot of people think they have problems when all they really need to do is eat better. Assuming that's not the case with you I'd say the deal is this:

Have you ever known someone to put on muscle right after a divorce or a highly stressful situation such as the death of a close loved one? I know I sure haven't. The problem is, your body might operate similar to people in those situations - only you don't need a divorce or stressful situation for it to happen because your body just kind've runs that way all the time.

I have a thorough upcoming article about this that should be running at in the near future, but let me give you the abbreviated version:

In short, some people are just incredibly stess sensitive. Stress negatively impacts testosterone and it also interferes with digestion and appetite. Activation of the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight or flight response from stress) is responsible for the increased large intestinal contractions during stress which can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

During a stressful situation the body also diverts attention away from maintaining the gut lining and thus organisms like helicobacter pylori that all of us carry (which cause ulcers), are allowed to proliferate and become problematic. The same is probably true of the proliferation of bad bacteria and fungus like candida.

The result is, in addition to the other problems, a lot of people in your situation end up experiencing various digestive problems,fatigue, and a host of other "hard to put your finger on" symptoms. The most important thing you can do for both that and the low work capacity is reduce your psychological stress levels. Do whatever you need to do to relax and get more sleep along with reducing simple sugars in your diet. That's probably all you need at this point. You're making some progress so don't fret. Even 1/2 pound increased bar weight on a movement per week is 25 pounds over the course of a year...100 pounds over 4 years. That's certainly not shabby.

Correlation Between Vertical and Short Sprints

Q: I read on one of the Q&A on defrancos site and he stated that improving the vertical will improve your short sprint times but not vice versa. Why is this? A while back you mentioned that you cant jump at all due to some injuries but you said that your short sprint times are as fast as ever. Can you elaborate the relationship between sprinting and vertical jump?

A: That's a good question. Even though the 2 involve very similar qualities and the same muscle groups there is more force involved in the vertical jump. I have some minor injuries in my feet and knees now and thus I can't handle the force of a maximal effort jump. My muscles just shut down at about 50% max effort. However, I can still tolerate the forces for a short sprint so I can put out full effort in them and they don't affect my injuries. In fact I equaled a PR at 20 yards a month or so ago but I'd be lucky if I could jump 30 inches right now.

I do think increasing sprint times can transfer to the vertical jump though but the way it works is not a direct one. What happens is doing sprints provides sort've a tonic effect on the nervous system so that you get better output in the jumps that you do. Go out and run just a few 40's or 60's, rest 10 minutes and then come back and see if the jumps don't feel a little smoother. I also think sprints tend to improve posterior chain and hamstring recruitment which is why I often include them for guys that I feel need more posterior chain activation.

More on Partial Range Training

Q:You said you don't really like overload partials like partial bench presses for bodybuilders. How about doing a set of full range reps and then several short partial reps at the end such as a set of 8 full range leg curls followed by 10-20 very short partial range leg curls at the bottom of the movement?

A: Those can be useful and they give sort've the same effects that a drop set of post-exhaustion set does. They prolong the duration a muscle is under tension and increase the metabolic chaos taking place.

A post-exhaustion set would be something like doing a set of bench presses to failure and immediately following that up with a set of flyes. Or a set of dips to failure immediately followed up with a set of overhead dumbell extensions. You have to be somewhat careful with these types of partials, post-exhaustion sets, or static holds from a recovery standpoint though. If you're gonna use them make sure you cycle them in and out of your training otherwise you will create excessive fatigue in the neuromuscular system and might have problems making strength gains. For every 3 weeks that you include them I'd recommend you have one week where you dont.

Volume, Intensity, and Movement Screen for Older Athletes

Q: Thanks for putting up such a great site. Here are a few questions for you:

First of all, how would you modify your remarks re: volume and intensity for older athletes? I'm 41, which means 1) I can't recover like I used to, 2) I have a job, so I have less time for training anyway, and 3) my speed is declining. My sport is Krav Maga, which is a pretty high-intensity martial art. I need to train for quickness and power (and endurance) to keep up with the 25 year-olds, or else sparring becomes no fun at all. I go to Krav practice for 2 hours on Sundays and Wednesdays. Should I add weight training on those days, or do it the day after (Mondays and Thursdays)?

Second, in high school squats always hurt my back. Jump squats especially sound like a bad idea to me. Yet squats are central to speed and strength programs. Are there any decent substitutes? Leg presses or split squats or Bulgarian squats? (It's also possible I just never got proper training on the squat, but I'd like to minimize my risk of back injury anyway.) My sense is that martial arts require acceleration from more of a standing position, hence practitioners would most benefit from compound movements that hit the hamstrings pretty heavily. Suggestions?

Finally, what sort of conditioning is best for martial arts? We spar in 3 minute rounds, so what mix of endurance and stamina training would be most appropriate, and would least detract from speed/quickness?

A: Good to hear from you and glad you like the site. I'll see if I can't give you a few suggestions to help you out. First of all, make sure that your posture, mobility, and proper muscle activation is spot on before you engage in a hardcore training program. I recommend you find somebody who can evaluate your functional movement for any issues. It's important for everybody, but the older you get the more important it gets. here's an example of a simple functional movement screen here:

Gray Cook's Functional Movement Screen

Bill Hartmann's self assessment

You should be able to go through those and see for yourself if you have any real movement issues. Your training should be set up to address and correct any weaknesses you have in those areas.

As for specific training recommendations, for someone in your shoes I might recommend a monday and thursday setup. One day might be more oriented towards hypertrophy and strenght and the other day might be oriented more towards power and speed. A basic whole body workout with maybe 5 exercises total per workout....lower body squat or lunge, lower body pull, horizontal push and pull, vertical pull etc. Jump squats aren't absolutely necessary and mos tlikely the reason they're irritating your back is becuase you have some type of imbalance in there somewhere in your hip region. Split squats are definitely a good exercise for anyone. For endurance the best thing you can do is get out on the mat and fight.

But anyway, those are just some general recommendations. Good luck with your training!


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