Q: Do you have a specific template you use when training lower body?

Well there are a ton of them and it depends on a multitude of factors but providing you have at least 2 years of training experience and are at the intermediate level with the minimum necessary levels of strength in place I'll give you the most common cookie cutter prescriptions. This is only addressing the work in the weight room.

Option 1

This option is for the guy who's fast and light on his feet but not so great strength. Split 2 lower body workouts per week 1 limit strength and 1 explosive strength.

Day 1-

Heavy limit strength movement (squat, deadlift, etc.) - 3-6 sets of 2-5 reps

assistance hamstring dominant movement (glute ham, good morning, reverse hyper)- 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps

single leg quadricep movement (lunge, bulgarian split squat) - 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps.

Day 2

Explosive strength-speed movement (box squat up to 70%, speed deadlift at 60%, snatch, clean, jump squat etc.) - total of 6-8 sets of 3-5 reps

assistance hamstring dominant movement (glute ham, good morning, reverse hyper)- 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps

single leg quadricep movement (lunge, bulgarian split squat) - 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps.

Option 2

This split is for the athlete who is much stronger then he is fast and light on his feet. Split 2 lower body workouts per week with one being explosive strength dominant and the other being reactive strength dominant.

Day 1

Explosive strength-speed movement

(box squat up to 70%, speed deadlift up to 60%, snatch, clean, jump squat etc.) - total of 6-8 sets of 3-5 reps

assistance hamstring dominant movement performed with an emphasis on max acceleration (glute ham, good morning, reverse hyper)- 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps

single leg quadricep movement (lunge, bulgarian split squat) - 2-3 sets of 6-12 reps.

Day 2

Bodyweight reactive strength movement

(depth jump, depth drop etc.) 6-8 sets of 3-5 reps

Bodyweight posterior chain dominant movement- (single leg triple jumps, single leg on-box jump, running bounds) - 4-6 sets of 3-5 reps or 50 yards

Loaded speed-strength movement - (jump squats @ 20-30%, backward kettlebell, dumbell or medicine ball tosses) 4-8 sets of 5-8 reps

EMS on lower body.

For beginner athletes up to the intermediate level I favor a 3-5 routine designed to advance necessary levels of limit strength. That's 3-5 sets of 3-5 exercises 3 days per week.

For advanced athletes it's impossible to lay out a cookie cutter set-up.

Q: I have a question concerning the monitoring of cns fatigue and arousal. First, is a sleepy, lethargic, and drowsy type of feeling an accurate symptom of cns and endocrine system overtraining and if so, how can you really be sure if your cns and hormonal systems are being overtaxed from training or if the drained feeling is related to factors unrelated to training that can give a false measurement of what your true performance capability is? For instance, sometimes when I wake up in the morning I will feel kind of drowsy and lethargic and it will be hard for me to produce my best max effort performance. However, later on in the day, if I decide to try again, I might be able to achieve a better performance than I had in the morning proving that my suboptimal performance in the morning was not because of the fatigue from previous training stresses, but due to other non- training stress related reasons like circadian rhythms, quality of sleep, or some other factors. Likewise, an individual might really be overtrained on a cns level, but if someone put a gun to his head and said "you have to jump this height or run this fast or I'll shoot you", all of a sudden his cns fatigue would probably disappear. So my question is, how can you distinguish the true signs and symptoms of neuroendocrine overtraining/overreaching from confounding factors unrelated to training?

A: That's a good question and one that I've given a lot of thought to myself over the years. Many things can cause "fatigue" including hypoglycemia, lack of sleep, under-eating and muscular fatigue, yet with any of those once you get warmed up it's not uncommon to set PRs so it is kind've confusing. Over the years I've learned to identify with 100% accuracy where my fatigue is coming from but when evaluating someone else it's a little more difficult. It does take a lot of practice and experience but here's how I do it.

Neural over-reaching will generally involve an elevated heart rate and wired out feeling under a big wave of fatigue. You'll be tired yet have a hard time going to sleep - or tired and awake at the same time if that makes sense. There are also often symtpoms of CNS hyperactivity such as muscle twitching or eye twitching involved and you will often notice your eyes are sensitive to light. If you wanna get a heart rate monitor you can take you heart rate upon wakening each morning and when you see a sudden jump you're most likely headed into neural over-reaching.

Of course the most important thing is that even after you warm up you simply won't be able to perform without a large amount of external hype (rah rah and yelling), or internal stimulation (using stimulants). What I recommend you do is, along with your training diary, you start keeping track of 2 other things each day. As soon as you wake up rate your motivation on a scale of 1-10 and your energy level on a scale of 1-10. With experience you'll be able to see correlations between your daily motivation ratings and your performance in training and that'll really help you differentitate external fatigue from internal fatigue.

Q:What do you think of hill sprints?

Hill sprints are a great training method to teach proper start mechanics and also apply resistance to the initial phases of the sprint. If you're gonna do them always keep the distance under 50-60 yards and rest approximately one minute for every 10 yards sprinted. Also, make sure you have good mechanics in place because they tend emphasize "push running" largely by taking the hamstrings out of the movement and some already have a problem with that. If you're one of those guys who tends to run with a low center of gravity and excessive knee bend you're probably much faster off the start then you are at max V anyway, comparatively, so hill sprints probably aren't the best option for you. If you're fast at the end and slow off the start then by all means hill sprints are great.

Q: I have a question for you. I've been doing lots of posterior chain and basic strength work and am definitely stronger then I've ever been but have not been doing any reactive exercises the last 6 months or so. Where exactly do reactive exercises have their play with training? When I was doing them I definitly felt more explosive and I think my rate of force development was faster but I was just wondering your take on where exactly what they do and how they fit in.

A: It would actually be a lot easier to show you if I could post some videos of various athletes doing drills but since I can't I'll try to explain it. Weight training and plyometric training are both "tension" training methods. Weight training is more responsible for how much tension your muscles can develop when they lock up against a resistance. Plyometrics training is more responsible for how fast your muscles can lock up against a resistance. Put them both together and you have plyometric proficiency.

Stand on a box about 18-24 inches high. Next, drop off to one side and immediately when you hit the ground I want you to bounce all the way back over the box and just bounce back and forth 8-10 times. Now, when you hit the ground you got about 6 x your bodyweight in force going down into the ground. The ability to absorb that force is determined by your eccentric strength which is highly influenced with weight training. Yet that's not all there is to it. In this situation not only do you have to lock up against large amounts of force/tension but you also have to do it very quickly and this is highly influenced by plyometric training. When you put both together your muscles lock up immediately and allow your tendons to act like rubber bands and spring you back the other direction.

Take a group of athletes and watch them do that drill and just from observing you can tell which ones are the best athletes from a physical standpoint. Providing you know their strength numbers you will also immediately have a good idea which ones are faultering due to lack of strength, which ones are faultering due to lack of speed, and which ones are proficient at both.

That's about as simple as I can explain the differences between weight training and plyometric training and hopefully that helps you grasp how plyometric training fits into training for increased sporting prowess.

Q: Hi! I have some questions regarding heavy eccentric training!

First, I noticed that my muscles grow much more when performing heavy eccentrics - eg. 120% of 1RM or 1/2 technique (lowering with one limb, yielding with two), or combining two movements (db flys for eccentric and db press for concentric)!

This is how I used to grow my pecs (nothing else worked)!

1) Is it possible to perform this type of training year-long?

2) Is there any risk of overtraining?

3) What's about body adaptation? I know that we should change stimulus frequently (eg. 3x8, 4x6, 5x3 ...) every two weeks or perform blocks of training (eg. block I - 4weeks 4x12reps, block II - 4weeks 10x4reps ...), but what is about heavy eccentrics? Does body adapts to this stimulus even it's greater than 1RM?

4) I think that this is great training system, eg:

3 weeks - heavy eccentric overload 1 week - deloading (low volume without eccentric overload)

Repeat structure (with different exercises?) year-long!

Is it possible to adapt to this stimulus because:

120% of 1RM - recruits many muscle fibers and do a lot of muscle damage!

A: Yes heavy eccentric training works and causes the greatest muscle breakdown (thus hypertrophy) because they create the most intramuscular tension. As long as it's working for you I think your proposed plan will work nicely yet as you progress in strength you might very well find you won't be able to continuously go at it 3 weeks all out. Also, with regards to hypertrophy, your body will eventually adapt to this overload training and respond with less muscle damage and thus hypertrophy, which in science is called the repeated bout effect. You'll eventually find you either need to increase the volume to a point that would probably overtrain you, or you'll need to back off for a couple of weeks so your muscles decondition a bit and become responsive once again.

It should also be noted that training for muscular growth and training for muscular strength are 2 different animals altogether. In the first case, hypertrophy, a decrease in work capacity is a good thing because it allows you to generate more muscle damage with less volume. Would you rather have to do one set at 60% to stimulate growth or 5 sets at 120%?

Q: Kelly, I have a 14 year old son who is a good athlete. He is quick and fast with good lateral movement. I have always been a little perplexed by his lack of jumping ability. Your article states that speed and jumping are related, yet he is fast but not a good leaper. Is this most like due to a strength issue? He seems to have explosiveness for running, but not for jumping.

A: I would be curious what his speed is like over short distances (0-30 yds.) in comparison to longer distances (60-100 yards). It's not uncommon at all to find someone who has a really good top speed yet not a very good vertical jump and not much explosiveness off the line. What you will find is that top speed sprinting correlates fairly well with unilateral (single leg) leaping ability but may not correlate well with the vertical jump. This is due to several reasons. First, the vertical jump is more quadricep dominant then a top speed sprint which relies nearly exclusively on reflexive (non-voluntary) contractions in the adductor magnus, gluteus hamstrings, and achilles tendon. Second, structure plays a more important role for top speed sprinting and those with long legs, long achilles, high muscle attachments, and narrow hips are advantaged in this department. I wouldn't be surprised if your son has some of these characteristics.

Now that I've done enough rambling let me go ahead and answer your question, yes, I would guess from the information provided that this is an issue of lack of strength. Strength, vertical jump, and the ability to "accelerate" off the line in a sprint all share a very strong correlation. So get him stronger in basic movements like the squat and you should find his vertical jump improves immensely.

Hope that helps.