Q: Whenever I do a depth drop should I be sticking the landing without moving or should I be initiating a slight bounce out of the bottom?
A: The sticking should come first and with that the emphasis should be on not only sticking the landing but QUIETLY sticking the landing. There will be some sound of course but try to keep it minimal. You want to try to freeze immediately at impact. As you gain proficiency you'll be able to freeze so quick that your body will want to initiate a slight bounce after the absorption. To see what I mean try jumping about 3 inches off the ground and freezing the landing. Then compare this to a drop done from 18 inches. It should be easier to freeze the landing in the 2nd drop.
Q: Thanks for the depth jumps article:
In the study you sighted:
"Testing has revealed that for a shock absorbing landing with a knee bend, athletes use a resistance force 3 to 4 times their body weight. Landing performed with stiff leg joints requires a force of six to 8 times bodyweight. An athlete weighing 132 pounds requires 400 to 500 pounds of force to absorb the shock of landing. The same athlete requires 700 to 1000 lbs to land with the leg joint stiff. When an athlete lands on one leg, as in figure skating, the force at the instant of landing is 3 to 4 times bodyweight for a shock absorbing landing and five to 7 times when landing with stiff legs.
How high was the box the athletes jumped off of?
A: In those examples the box height was 30-40 inches high.
Q: Is it true that during the first four to six weeks of weight training you can gain muscle strength but not size? In other words, the muscle will get stronger, but the cross-sectional area won't change until after 6 to 8 weeks.
No it's not true that one can't make size gains when they first start working out. Anytime a muscle is damaged it will grow. Even one set of pushups is enough to cause muscle damage in someone who is sedentary. The general rule of thumb is that if you experience soreness from lifting loads then you've done some damage to your muscle cells and stimulated muscle growth. Do you have to lift 6-8 weeks before you ever experience soreness?! I've seen beginners make gains such as 10 lbs in a month if they get things right from the get go. Former Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates spent a year or more "reading" and "learning" about bodybuilding before he ever trained. He knew what he wanted to do and he mapped out a plan before he even set foot in the gym. Do you think he gained any size his first month?
However, what your statement really refers to is that most of the initial gains in strength are not caused by muscle growth. This is particularly true when considering complex movements that require a bit of skill. Theoretically you could put movements like squats and bench presses in this group.
Strength changes occur in the following pattern:
A) Increase in intermuscular coordination (the coordination between different muscle groups to carry out a movement): first 2-3 weeks of training
B) Increase in intramuscular coordination (the increase in the ability of a given muscle to recruit motor units): continues for the following 4-6 weeks
C) Increase in hypertrophy (size): during next 6-12 weeks
So initially strength increases very quickly yet those strength gains don't come from muscle size as much as they come from an increase in movement efficiency.
Before you can stress a muscle in a movement you have to be able to complete the movement with enough efficiency. The ability to complete movements will vary from one beginner to the next. Some beginners will have a hard time doing a bench press or squat just with an empty bar and for them, yes they'll have to spend the first few weeks learning the movement, then the next few weeks becoming proficient at the movement, and then finally they're able to stress the muscle enough to cause damage and hypertrophy. However, I have also seen guys come in the gym for the very first time and throw 400 lbs on the bar and lift it with passable form. Rest assured they're not gonna have to wait 6-8 weeks for any muscle damage.
So yes people do make muscle gains in the first few weeks but neurally related strength gains tend to dominate.
Whenever you add reps or weight to the bar, you either have to make a neural gain (gain in skill) or a muscle gain in order to lift that weight. When gurus say the first few weeks you aren't making "real strength gains" just neural gains" - what they really mean is that you're just learning the movement (intermuscular), then after that you're increasing the ability to recruit muscle motor units (intramuscular efficiency), then after that you're "skillful" enough at the movement that you're able to break down and build up muscle.
Q: At the end of your article Getting Stronger you have an A & B workout plan yet have no horizontal rowing movement why is that? You also have an Olympic movement listed 3rd in order after deadlifts. It doesn’t make sense to me, and every other strength coach I have read, that you would do deadlifts first then the Olympic lift later, why would you suggest that?
Keep in mind this is an intermediate or novice routine that's low volume and I'm trying to get the biggest bang for the buck. The deadlift does a lot of the same positive things that a horizontal rowing movement would do in regards to balancing out all the "pushing" that typically occurs in strength programs.
The o-lift question is very good. My reasoning for this is that the volume of deadlifts is quite low and since initially most have poor motor unit recruitment the deadlift serves as a tremendous potentiation tool and actually enhances the effect of the subsequent olympic lift. The nervous stimulation from the deadlift allows more motor unit recruitmet for the subsequent olympic lifting movement. For this same reason I will often have people perform heavy shrugs before hang cleans or power snatches. The caveat here is that the volume on the heavier movement must be low in order to avoid excessive fatigue. With the volume being just 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps on the deadlift I haven't seen it negatively affect the subsequent o-lift. However, if youre' concerned about it you could easily just perform the o-lift movement first.