Q:What type of posterior chain work for setting a very solid base for more explosive type training do you like for basketball player in the offseason? I have 2 months which seem to be adequate for this type of work before moving on.

I'll answer your question but I also want to address a couple of other things. Most young basketball players I see do lack posterior chain development (glutes, hamstrings and lower back) and if there's one thing they can immmediately benefit from the most it's performing some form of squats as well as deadlifts, yet performing the squat the way a lot of athletes do isn't enough.

To increase development of the posterior chain you really need to get down low in the squat and break parallel and that leads to another thing. There are plenty of guys with strong overall quadriceps but not many guys with good vastus medialis development and strength. This is also called the "teardrop muscle" and what I consider the most important muscle in the quadriceps because it ensures structural integrity of the knee. The thing is, unless you're doing full and deep squat or lunge variations this muscle will hardly be trained. So squat full and deep and you kill 2 big birds with one stone - Not only do you build your posterior chain but you also strengthen the vastus medialis.

I can't tell you the number of school programs I've seen that utilize the squat extensively yet their athletes still have little hip, hamstring, or vastus medialis strength in part because they don't squat deep enough.

For pure posterior chain development I would consider deadlifts superior but they hardly involve the quadriceps so I recommend you do both. Here's a workout that will definitely increase posterior chain strength and vastus medialis development. Perform a workout every 4 days and alternate between the 2.

Workout A

Snatch grip or podium Deadlift with straps- 4 x 5 (drop one rep per workout for 3 consecutive workouts)

Dumbell Split Squat (elevate rear leg on a bench and perform a lunge)- 4 x 8

Leg curl or Glute Ham Raise - 4 x 8

Workout B

Below parallel low bar box Squat- 6 sets of 3 - Use 70# on set 1, 65% on set 2, 60% on set 3, 70% on set 4, 65% on set 5, 60% on set 6.

Front Squat (full and deep)- 4 x 8 (Drop one rep per week for 3 workouts)

Russian Deadlift (arched back bent knee good morning)- 4 x 8

You can find video of most of these movements at http://www.midwestbarbell.com/videos.htm

The reason why I underlined low bar on the squat is because very few athletes know how to squat with a low bar position. All this means is that instead of having the bar cratering down on your traps move it down a few inches. Look at the squat videos and pay attention to the bar position. A low bar position automatically engages more of the glutes and hamstrings so I recommend you use this position for posterior chain development. A high bar position is mainly a quadriceps exercise and will not engage the posterior chain near as well.

After a month on this routine you should notice substantial improvements in not only posterior chain strength but overall lower body strength. I've found the average increase in lower body and posterior strength for young athletes is an easy 15-20% in a month with the above routine.

Q: I really enjoyed the article on force training but I'm curious how you would set up a pressing workout for a boxer who lacks speed?

Good question! Along with plenty of sport specific activity (boxing) i'd institute the following workout.

Workout #1

wheelbarrow runs (have partner hold your legs and run with your arms in a pushup position) 2 x 10 seconds forward as fast as possible 2 x 10 seconds backward

Upper body weighted depth jump or bench throw- 4-6 x 12 inch boxes or 12 inch throw (elevate yourself in a pushup position on two 12 inch boxes. Drop off and rebound yourself back up on the boxes as soon as you contact the ground

Trap raise- 4 x 12-15

Row 4 x 8-10

explosive dip- 4 x 5-6 (descend slow, pause, and explode)

Workout #2

Bench x 70%- max reps in 25 seconds (4-6 sets)

Isometric Chin-up (hold at the mid-point and use added weight if possible - 4-6 x 30 seconds)

Front plate raises- 4 x 12-15

Triceps extension- 4-6 x 6-8

Once you've improved your speed I'd then switch to a workout designed to build up your max strength.

Q: Is strength to bodyweight ratio a good way to predict performance for an athlete?

It really depends. While strength/weight ratio can be a good indicator of performance for some people I believe a much better indicator would be speed dominant power to strength ratio.

Tests of basic strength are really not tests which show the ability to translate that strength into short quick bursts as needed in sports. I know a whole bunch of really strong and light guys who are also pretty slow. There are powerlifters weighing 165 lbs. squatting over 600 lbs. yet they aren't always able to move quick or explosively.

There are also plenty of little guys who aren't super strong but they can be quick if they have done nothing but played sport most of their lives. Some people are simply better at expressing power on the speed end of the force curve, while athletes trained with traditional strength training methods will gain the ability to display force closer to the Max strength side of the force curve.....where squats and bench presses fall.

Now, do all measures of strength and power relate to Max strength? Yes, I believe they do, but an increase in max strength, until trained to be displayed further down the speed end of the force curve will not produce a direct correlation with speed dominant power. That is, even though max strength does serve as a foundation for the ability to jump, run, throw a baseball, throw a punch, or anything else you can think of - you could keep getting stronger and stronger and stronger and not see any improvement in those speed dominant tasks. The trick is to be able to determine whether you can make immediate gains in speed dominant power by increasing your max strength. If so then that will be the quickest path towards improvement.

If there is a large gap between an individuals max strength and speed then explosive training will be the quickest route to take for improved progress. If there is a small gap between max strength and speed then lifting heavy weights and improving max strength will be the quickest path to take. Take another look at the force training article for the example I used of assessing 2 boxers.

Force Training