Q: Ok, this is something that's been puzzling me. I've built up a really strong base in the weight room over the years but lately I've been spending a lot of time out on the field and with speed, agility drills etc., in preparation for a pro day so I've cut down on lifting temporarily. I'm a defensive back. The thing that concerns me is maintaining balance between my quadriceps and posterior chain. It seems like everything I do (depth jumps, short sprints, etc.) is quadricep dominant. There's no problem getting enough reactive/power work for the quads but what about the glutes/hams etc?? Should I still be attacking them in the weight room to ensure balance or are there some other drills that I can be doing that will hit them as well as the quads??

I understand what you're saying but there's really no need to do that since you're getting your specific work in and because of your position. The best "real world" hamstring work involves agility drills incorporating backwards running. Which football players are the most agile? Defensive backs. Which team sport athletes have the best hamstring/quadricep ratio? Defensive backs. What do defensive backs do a lot of? Move backwards and do a lot of planting!! Well while we're at it, they're actually the most agile AND fastest in football. The inherent reactive work that comes from all the backpedaling and multi-directional movement also enhances the strength qualities necessary to run fast and it'll definitely take care of your specific posterior chain needs.

For the uninitiated, try a zig zag drill where you backpedal 5 yards and run forward 5 yards. Plant hard and explode forward out of your backpedal. You'll learn right quick if your posterior chain is up to snuff.

All football players need to be incorporating multi-directioanl movement patterns. Get down in a low stance and run backwards, forwards, laterally etc. I also have basketball players do football defensive work as GPP for their defense. We often play games like flag football. If you can move around efficiently on a football field with football drills and such, particularly "live" drills defending a receiver, then basketball defense is a piece of cake and is really no comparison. Think about it. In high school who plays the best defense during casual pickup games?? Usually it's the football players who DON'T play basketball but happen to jump in a game for the heck of it.

Q: I play basketball as a PG/SG. I'm not tall(178cm :) but i have the guard skills in place(shooting, ball handling, speed...). What I really want to add to my game is driving to the basket. You see i have the ability to outplay my defenders but when it gets to the physical part(driving to the rim while been pushed etc.) I kind'a back off. The question is: is it possible to train for and develop that specific aggressiveness and Allen-Iverson-like toughness that'll help me going all the way, after i crossed-over my man? If it is could you please talk about the methods etc. a bit?

2. my second question is about strengthening the tendons. It's kind of obvious to me (especially after reading your articles:) that tendons play a very important role in the physical activities of all kinds. Therefor they are as much(if not more)important for the power athlete as the muscles. I looked around the net a bit and i was surprised that almost no one talks about that issue ! I mean,the people talk about tendons only when it's ALREADY injured ! And the rare few topics about tendons strengthening are full of confusion and guessing. I mean ,people say things like " high rep low resistance (up to 100 reps) strengthens tendons and other connective tissue around the joints. The best example is the un-weighted squat that strenthens the knees when high reps are done. " and "the most effective way to strengthen the tendons is by doing slow eccentric training!!!" and so on...

A: Ok first, response number 1. The first thing you need to do is practice driving to the basket. Play games where you only allow yourself to score by layups. The more you practice the better you get. Face a mirror and work on your moves. First step quickness isn't so much about how quick you are as it is about how deceptive you are and how you change rhythms. You have the advantage in that you know which direction you want to go, when you want to go, and what you want to do. To illustrate, Larry Bird was extremely quick to the hole despite being slower than molasses. As for that mentality, that's just something that'll come with time as you become more confident and it will be enhanced if you force yourself to do it.

As for tendon strengthening, tendons and other connective tissue are strengthened by exercises that create a circulatory effect and lots of blood flow. This means general fitness activities and higher rep weight training activities are great. However, as a basketball player this isn't something you really need to concern yourself with because you probably get more then enough of that. If you were a sprinter or powerlifter then maybe because they are such short duration hig intensity activities. A powerlifter might strengthen the tendons by performing sled dragging. A sprinter might strengthen the tendons by performing interval workouts.


Q: Hi kelly I have a couple of questions 1. How come the elite athletes at the westside barbell club train both max strength, speed, and sometimes high rep timed bodybuilding methods for muscle hypetrophy and still manage to get results in terms of power, strength and explosiveness. I though intermediate to advanced level athletes need to train one aspect during a weekly to monthly period. Like strenght for a month, and then plyrometrics? 2. Also would someone like chuck vogelpohl who is very strong, squats 1000, very fast, since he does this in under 2 seconds, and is relatively lean have an incredible vertical jump and forty time? 3. My last question is if I am training for athletism with a westside template currently inbetween max and speed days can I put in a bodyweight anaerobic condition circuit, to both help improve my anaerobic condition and decrease my bodyfat level. I was thinking hindu squats, hindu pushups, back bridge, lunges, burbees, jumping jacks. would this hurt my vertical jump and forty training?

Hey those are some great questions. First of all, you're right, advanced athletes do need more "focus" in their training but they also are quick to lose what they don't train. If you take a closer look you'll probably find that these advanced westside athletes you mention are doing a lot of maintenance work. They need to maintain their muscle size in order to display their strength etc.

Use of the conjugate method does not mean that you ONLY train one given quality during a training week or during a phase. It just means that the overall "focus" of the training is on a given quality or 2 while enough volume is used on the others to maintain. There's a lot of flexibility involved with this and not many set rules. So let's say you're in a power phase. You would still perform enough strength work to maintain your strength. You'd probably lower the volume 1/2 to 2/3. Let's say you're in a competetive season. You would still do enough hypertrophy work to maintain your size and enough strength work to maintain your strength. Make sense? The westside routine does not stay static they are constantly adding things in and pulling things out and they do use concnetrated loading cycles with circa-max work. I still wouldn't consider it a pure conjugate program though but it obviously gets the job done.

Ok now question #2. Chuck Vogehlphol?? Well I wouldn't him chasing me down a dark alley would you??! hahah He probably is already extremely fast over short distances and he could probably jump pretty well too if he trained for it.

Question #3. I think the conditioning circuit you mention is a good idea. Just don't make it too intense to the point where you're getting a lot of lactic acid accumulation and a "burn".


Q: If you knew what weight you could lift for 3 reps or 5 reps (being close to not able to do a 4th or 6th rep respectively) could you not reasonably > estimate your 1rm without actually having to try it?

Say you could bench 185lbs x 5 reps. Or 200 lbs x 3 reps. And you felt like it would be a strained rep to get a 6th rep at 185 or a 4th rep at 200. If you were fresh, could you not guesstimate another X amount of weight for a 1rm? What would you guess would be a reasonable jump? 15lbs? 20lbs? I guess it would matter what lift it was huh. I'm thinking only full squats, deadlifts, bench.

Also, how do you figure the difference between a full squat and box squat re: 1rm? In other words, if you can do a full squat of 200 lbs, what would you guess that would translate into for a 1rm box squat ballpark?

A: Yeah that's how most universities calculate their "maxes". You can easily find a repetition conversion calculator that'll allow you to do that. I've never used them myself because the difference between any 5 rm or whatever and a 1rm is variable but there's nothing wrong with it really if injury becomes a factor. Generally speaking a 5rm will be around 80-85% of max and 3rm around 90-92.5% I believe. You can figure it out from there.

I can tell you this though. The bigger the gap between the "predicted" max and the "actual" max the better (but the closer one is to maxing out their strength at a particular bodyweight) and vice versa. So if a chart tells me I should have a 200 lb max but my max is actually 220 then that tells me 3 things:

1. My nervous system is more efficient then normal (which means I'm recruiting more muscle)

2. I either have and/or using more fast twitch muscle then normal (which is good)

3. I "probably" have less room for improvement then someone with the opposite characteristics.

The more advanced the lifter the less reliable those charts are.

Ok now if a chart tells me that I should have a 200 lb max but my max is actually 180 then that tells me the exact opposite. It tells me that my nervous system is inefficient and I still have a ways to go before I'm taking advantage of my muscular size. Hope that makes sense.

As for predicting box squats vs full squats it's about impossible to due structural and technical differences, not to mention box height differnces. One person's idea of a box squat might actually only be a 1/4 squat and the difference between that a full box squat might be 300 lbs!