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No BullCrap Sports Training
August 07, 2006
|Hello folks! Just wanted to let everyone know I've added 2 new articles and also have my most recent Q&A series from higher-faster-sports.com Enjoy!
1. What to do about conditioning during the offseason?
2. Natural Limits
3. Upper body contribution to the vertical jump
4. Heavy strength work and top speed
Q: 1.) In the off-season is it better to maintain endurance the entire time, or to leave it off until the end, and then build it back up again?
2.) If I leave it off until the end so that I can focus on strength and explosiveness, what is the best way to maintain the strength and speed I gained while working on endurance at the end?
Well first of all figure out what your main goals are in the off-season. If you're like most people you want to develop your core motor abilities like strength and reactivity. An excessive amount of conditioning will interfere with that. Conditioning is quick to come and anyone can develop it. Your baseline qualities like strength, speed, and explosiveness are harder to come by and take longer to develop. Additionally, your baseline levels of speed and power serve as a foundation for power endurance.
Let's say you have 2 basketball players. One of them takes a no holds barred approach to getting his strength and power up in the off-season and totally neglects his conditioning. He ends up with a 40 inch vertical jump. The other guy spends his entire offseason taking a hardcore approach towards getting his conditioning up. He moves to Denver and wakes up at 5am and runs up hills in the mountains and utilizes all sorts of other "cutting edge" training methods so that he can be the "man". After all this he ends up with a 32 inch vertical jump. However, his conditioning has paid off to the point where he doesn't lose anything over the course of an entire game. He's just as explosive in the 4th quarter as he is the first quarter. In contrast, the other guy loses 5% each quarter. Their performance might look something like this:
---------------Athlete A-----------Athlete B
So the guy with the 40 inch VJ, even though his conditioning was poor and he lost 25% off his performance, was still more explosive at the end of the game. Who would you rather be? Now imagine if the explosive guy had focused a bit on his conditioning so that he could maintain that superior explosiveness as good as athlete A?
Now, getting back to the point. Engaging in excessive amounts of conditioning during the offseason will interfere with the acquistion of core qualities like strength, power, and reactivity, but that doesn't mean you should sit around on your butt. It's a lot easier to maintain a quality then it is to boost a quality. One session per week of low intensity conditioning will be enough to maintain the majority of your conditioning off-season. In lieu of that just stay active. If you play your sport at all you won't even need to worry about it.
A couple of months prior to your season is when you'd want to add in a day of anaerobic conditioning. A month prior to the season add in another day or 2. By that time you'll have your strength and power in place and can maintain those qualities by reducing the volume up to 2/3 while you focus on bringing up your conditioning.
So a sample for an entire offseason for a football player might look something like this:
January – Mid-May (focus: Strength and muscle mass accumulation)
Mon: Lower body lifting
Late May – Late June (focus: Strength and Power Accumulation – begin conditioning)
Mon: Speed/Plyo training, Upper body lifting
July – Mid-August (focus: Improve conditioning – Maintain strength, speed, and explosiveness)
Mon: Upper body lifting, anaerobic conditioning using sprint intervals
Mid-August – November (focus: maintain strength and bodyweight)
Wed: Full body lifting
Q: I just wanted to know what is the main reason that causes there to be a natural genetic limit to muscle growth. Is it because a person's natural amount of anabolic hormones can only support a certain amount of muscle mass? I have heard some people say that muscle growth never stops but just continues to get slower and slower as time goes on, and that a pro bodybuilder like Ronnie Coleman could possibly have attained his physique naturally, but it would have taken longer than the human lifespan would allow. In other words, some people think that drugs just speed the muscle growth process up, but natural limitations don't exist. Do you buy this?
A: Remember the 3 S's...stimulation, signaling, and supply. Limitations do not exist with stimulation. Regardless of how big you get you can always stimulate more growth, but responding to that stimulation is another thing altogether. Their does exist a point where your body either won't produce enough anabolic hormones to support further growth, or where the amount of nutrients reaching a muscle isn't enough to support further growth. A natural trainee can't achieve an olympia physique regardless of how long he trains or how hardcore he trains.
Obviously, the only way to overcome those problems is to take higher and higher dosages of anabolic hormones, continue eating and training yourself up to a higher and higher scale (and fat) weight, or do both. Anabolic hormones from either natural or extraneous sources not only speed the process up, they extend the limits. A steroid using bodybuilder may be able to maintain 250 pounds of muscle on testosterone but only 220 pounds while off. Or, due to the decline in natural hormone levels, a natural trainee may be able to maintain 200 pounds of muscle as a 40 year old, but only 165 pounds as a 70 year old.
Q: Can building Upper Body strength increase vertical somehow?
A: Slightly yes. The arm swing can contribute 15-20% to a vertical jump and if you include the spinal erectors as upper body muscles it would be even more then that. The shoulder muscles are the most important muscles for the arm swing. With regard to the erectors, take a look at the erector/lower back development of most good leapers and it's obvious they are important.
Q: Will heavy squats have any carryover into top speed. In races im usually winning at around the thirty metre mark before people start to go past me. Will plyos (depth jumps, single leg hops) have a carryover into top speed even though the ground contact time is longer?
A: Levels of basic strength like you'd get from heavy compound movements like squats are still important for top speed running. They improve the amount of potential force you have to draw from while the other movements you mentioned increase the ability to draw on that force. Sprinting itself will also do that.
With top speed sprinting the ground contact times are so short you don't have much time to apply force. So let's say at the start of a race you can utilize 35% of your strength but can only utilize 10% of your squat strength while running full speed. 10% of a 200 horsepower engine is still a lot better than 10% of a 100 horsepower engine. So strength is not as important as it is at the start of the race, but it's still important.
You can improve by either improving the amount of baseline horsepower you have to draw from (getting stronger overall) or by improving the % that you can draw from, which includes getting more proficient in the movements you're performing. So one guy with a 200 pound squat who's able to utilize 16% of his available horsepower will still beat the guy with a 300 pound squat who's able to utilize 10% of his horsepower.
Additionally, the further into a sprint race you are, the more important things that you have no control over become. Those include things like leg lengths and tendon lengths. So you might just be disadvantaged in the structural department compared to your counterparts, or you just might need to improve the amount of your baseline strenght you can draw from...in other words, practice running at top speed.
Q: Please provide your feedback on sequential movement patterns in a vertical jump.
That is, should the arm swing start to rise prior to toe-off. Rather, should it sequentially follow once the body has pre-stretched power delivery from the leg muschles?
Its just like how all these sports scientists will get together and spend years arguing about all kinds of scientific stuff occuring in the sprint stride. Yet how many of those scientists even knows what it feels like to run fast? They'll draw up all kinds of charts with all kinds of big words. Then people will write up all sorts of complicated articles with big words which the avg. athlete can't understand at all and all it does is make them think the process is so complicated when it's really just a matter of doing things a 6 year old could understand. This is the kind've stuff that causes distraction in training instead of progression in training. Someone will read, overanalyze, and think they're missing out on something cutting edge. The way I see it is if it's not gonna make a difference to the average trainee there's no sense me worrying about it.
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