|Back to Back Issues Page
No BullCrap Sports Training
June 27, 2006
|Hello folks! Here is my most recent Q&A from higher-faster-sports.com Enjoy!
Q: I was just wondering if you knew exactly what it is that makes a person's nervous system easily be able to transfer increased weight room strength gain into increased sports explosiveness?
A: I think determining factors that make that easier for some internally are the sensitivity to testosterone in the CNS as well as the sensitivity to the body's natural stimulants such as epinephrine. There is no doubt that the testosterone sensitivity factor is a big one as testosterone definitely influences fast twitch characteristics. I dont think the level you produce is as important as the sensitivity though. A lot of the responses to testosterone we carry as adults depend on what happens during the developmental phase before we are born. When the fetus is developing it is exposed to testosterone from the mother and a lot of tendencies are wired in at that time. There are other physical manifestations that correlate to that developmental phase. For example, compare the length of your index finger (pointing finger) to the ring finger. If the ring finger is longer, you were probably exposed to more testosterone in the womb and may have more characteristics related to good athletic expression.
Other factors include limb and tendon lengths, movement patterns, mobility and state of freshness. The more "plyometric" dominant a person is the easier they get a direct transfer of strenght into explosiveness. Longer tendons definitely correlate with plyometric dominance and longer tendons are normally associated with longer limbs. Bodyweight and body-fat are also factors. Lighter and leaner is generally better.
Movement patterns and mobility are also important. A person can have faulty movement patterns preventing them from moving corectly and if this is the case they will struggle. These can be caused by a variety of things including muscular imbalances, injury, soft tissue restrictions, and lack of mobility.
State of freshness refers to fatigue. It's hard to fully demonstrate explosiveness in a fatigued state and lots of weight room work can cause chronically fatigued muscles. That's why a tapering period after a period of concentrated strength loading allows the fatigue to dissipate and whala!!...All the sudden lots of explosiveness emerges.
Q: What is the best way to increase the number of chin ups someone can do? I weigh 200lbs (~15% BF) and can deadlift and squat double bodyweight but in general find chin-ups incredibly difficult. I can usually do 5 sets of 2-3 but even when I go "all out" for on set I can only get 5-6 at best. I'm aiming to do about 12-15 in a row as I'm sure a lot of my upper body strength problems lie in not being able to do chin-ups. If it helps, I can perform strict dips with a 45lb for a set of 5.
A: Well first off if you wanna be really good at chin-ups get your body-fat down and your body-weight down. If you carry a lot of muscle mass in your legs or if you gain mass in your legs, pullups or chin-ups will tend to be a struggle. That's why rock climbers are so good at pullup variations and usually have such thin legs. Having said that, there are several ways at getting better at pullups and I'll touch on a couple here. The fist way is just knock out a set periodically throughout the day. Don't overanalyze the frequency or volume or anything just get in the habit of knocking out a set of pullups whenever you get a chance...at least 2 times per day and as often as 12 times per day. Over time you'll get more proficient at them.
The 2nd way involves focusing on the various regimes of muscular work - isometric, eccentric, concentric. On monday go in and, using the top and midpoint position of the pullup, do weighted isometric holds top and midpoint position for 4-5 sets of 30-45 seconds each. Wednesday go in and do assisted negatives for 4-5 sets of 4-5 reps using a 6 second eccentric. Follow that up with 1 set of max bodyweight pullups. Friday pick a target goal you want to get for pullups...say it's 20. Add 20 reps to that and do as many sets as you need to do with short ~20 second rest intervals until you hit the target number.
Q: I know you have stated many times that the cleaness of a bodybuilding diet and all the little details such as meal frequency, macronutrient ratios, carb type, etc. are overrated, and that the main factors in determining how much muscle you gain relative to fat gain when bulking or how much muscle loss there is relative to fat loss when cutting is primarily a matter of your natural genetic signaling, activity level, and the extent of one's caloric surplus or deficit.
However, with that said, do you think that carb type in terms natural vs. processed plays a role in how well one performs during their weight training or other intense anaerobic sessions? For instance, you have said that there will be little difference in the amount of fat gained vs. muscle gained between two individuals who are both on a bulking diet where they are both getting the correct amount of protein and the extent of their caloric surplus is the same, but where one individual is eating junk processed carbs like crackers and cookies while the other is eating natural carbs like rice, potatoes, and oatmeal. Although both individuals are getting enough protein to build, and the extent of the caloric surplus is equal, do you think relying mainly on processed type carbs may make it a possibility for that individual to suffer from a vitamin and mineral deficiency since those types of foods are energy dense but not very nutrient dense? I would think this would be even more of a risk when dieting too, since the person must make sure they are getting all the nutrients they can get from the restricted amount of calories they are eating. Anyway, I was just wondering if you think this is an issue worth worrying about, and whether the cleaness of one's diet in terms of how natural or processed the carbs are can make a difference in their training or competition performance?
A: Yeah from a health standpoint there would be differences and that would probably impact performance. There would be more of an impact on energy levels though from the blood sugar swings. It is worth worrying about and I wasn't trying to tell people to go out and eat a bunch of junk I'm just saying from a physique perspective people tend to think there's some sort've magical dietary potion or style of eating that will give them a hercules body and they spend 23 hours a day overanalyzing every single detail to the point where if negatively affects their life and relationships and they just fail to see the big picture.
Additionally, a case could be made that a lot of foods people consider "healthy" and "clean" are nearly as problematic as junk foods in their own way. Take potatoes, oats, beans, tuna and post-workout carb drinks containing dextrose. Well, potatoes are a nightshade and give lots of people joint pains and other bad symptoms. Oats can bother people who are gluten intolerant. Beans contain lectins which can bother people. Tuna contains mercury. Post-workout carb drinks are really nothing but pure sugar. See. Just so much stuff to worry about. :)
Q: In Body comp basics it says "Usually, if an exercise is harder or less comfortable then its alternative, you should choose the more challenging exercise." And it talks about using free weights instead of machines to work the stabilizing muscles. Aren't one legged body weight squats of "pistols" harder to stabilize then regual squats? So would it be better to do them instead?
A: Pistols are good, but for the majority of people they require so much skill that the "focus" of the exercise is more on the stabilization aspect and less on training the prime movers. When I say, "do the tougher exercise", I'm referring to exercises that still focus on the prime movers and don't take a gymnasts skill to master. Squats vs Leg presses or free weight bench vs machine bench etc. Squatting one legged on a swiss ball is harder then a squat and harder then a pistol squat, but the effects on the prime movers (the quadriceps) are minimal because it requires too much balance. Hope that makes sense.
|Back to Back Issues Page