Q: I have a few questions I'd like to ask.
First about the unilateral jump. I've been practicing the techinque and I've been getting better but my standing vertical is still about 8 inches higher. My hamstrings are pretty weak comparing to my quadriceps so that could be why but if I mastered the proper techinque should my unilateral running jump be higher than my standing vertical?
I seem to be better at the bilateral jump but I'm still confused on the technique. How far should my feet be a part when I run and jump. I think them together loses too much speed. And there should be a short spot right and not just a boost up during the run like the unilateral. Also how much higher should my running vertical for bi/unilateral jumps compared to my standing vertical.
Also I read that you said to use ice packs for knees. Would heating pads be as good to use?
A: First of all, you might never have a unilateral jump that's better then your bilateral jump. However, strengthening your hamstrings would be a good place to start if you want to maximize that jump. If you're either more quadricep vs posterior dominant, strength vs reative dominant, and pack a decent amount of body size, and have a wider hip structure, the unilateral jump will probably never feel quite right for you. In general a running jump should be 10-30% higher then standing jump...any less demonstrates lack of reactive ability.
As for the width of your stance in the bilateral jump, just do what comes natural. It's one of those things that you shouldn't be thinking about really.
As for heating pads, following up an ice treatment with heat in the form of a pad or hot shower can be effective to create a "flushing" effect yes. Ice eliminates blood flow from an area while heat increases it. If inflammation is present ICE is typically a better option. If you just want to increase blood flow and stimulate healing, heat is a better option. If you combine the 2, you first eliminate inflammation with ice, then use heat to engorge the area with blood.
Q: I know you are against isometric training and I was skeptical about it too. I have been training for the 100m for about two years alternating with weights, short sprints and recovery all year round. After following the program on athleticquickness.com I made more progress in the 100m than i had made in the past year. Maybe it would be worth a look at cause it definately works, ive been feeling lighter and springier ever since i started using it, can't argue with results.
First of all i'm not necessarily against isometric training but the way I see it the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. Technically, all dynamic movements are "isometric". If you take 300 lbs of bar weight on your back and squat it, everytime you change direction from down to up you create an isometric contraction of 300 lbs minimum. Strength training is about increasing the ability to produce tension and regardless of whether you build that capacity with bodyweight training, rubber bands, kettlebells, or weights, anything will work providing that it provides a great enough stimulus. That stimulus generally must be around 80% of your current "tension producing strength" in a given muscle group, to spark addition gains in strength.
What I question is the ability of something like athletic quickness to generate enough tension to be effective for all but beginner level athletes. I would be curious to see how much your ability to produce tension has increased. One way to measure that would be to hook yourself up to a special machine that measures maximum voluntary strength (tension). Another would be to get in the squat rack and see how many pounds of bar weight you can take and lower down to ass to grass and back up.
I think, given your previous level of preparedness, the more likely scenario is it worked because of what you "weren't" doing not because of what you "were" doing. You said you were following a program of weights, sprints, and recovery all year around...well what did you eliminate? You eliminated one of the most fatiguing elements from your training (hardcore weight training) and replaced it with a much milder version of that. Given the fact that multitudes of track athletes are overworked and I'd say you probably progressed because you were fully recovered.
If you take a powerlifter and run him into the ground for 6 weeks every day hardcore, test his maxes, and, after testing his maxes, you have him train with Richard Simmons for 2 weeks, what do you think would hapen to his maxes during that time span? Well, they'd go up because he'd be recovering. Do you attribute his increased maxes to Richard Simmons training or do you attribute it to the recovery that took place that allowed him to demonstrate the gains from his previous months training?
Like I said before, strength training is all about increasing the ability to generate tension and the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. Find me two twin brothers and we'll have one screw around and generate tension with rubber bands and we'll have another one take a no holds barred attitude into getting up on the platform with ever increasing amounts of bar weight along with PROPER RECOVERY, and after 6 months we'll see which one gets better results.
Q: Do you ever implement resisted sprints (up to a 10% decrease in speed) with your athletes? Also, I was wondering what your thoughts are on sled dragging for recovery. Will this teach the athlete to be slow or is it a good means of recovery? I haven't been using any resisted means for the past 4 weeks and my athletes seem a lot more fresh. Also do you still use the reactive jump test (bounce jump) as a primary means of assessment?
I have also been using a split similar to the one in your speed article with my athletes for the past 4 weeks. I made a couple of small changes adding in some tempo work and sub-maximal sprint work on the two upper body days (attached is a sample week of the program my brother was performing before the de-load week. I have been de-loading every 4th week). My athletes have seen tremendous gains from novice to advanced. Yesterday 2 of my college football juniors at the University of Wisconsin Stout (Div 3) had a pro-day with the New York Jets and ran amazing times. My brother Ryan Englebert who is a junior tailback measured in at 5'11 / 225 and ran a 4.30 handheld 40 yard dash. His bench press was 225 for 38 reps. The other athlete is a wide receiver named Jesse Wendt who measured in at 6'3 / 229 and ran a 4.28 handheld 40 yard dash. Jesse's bench press was 225 for 33 reps. They felt so fresh and relaxed when running.
A: Great to hear about the results you got with your guys. As for restisted sprints, yes I use them on dynamic weeks (which would be more like the 2nd phase I outlined in that article), as a specific strength training method. Here we'll use just enough resistance to cause about a 10% decrement in sprint times. I will also occassionally use heavy blocking sleds and the like as an assistance exercise for the posterior chain. When using resisted sprints during a speed workout, we'll often typically just alternate a set of resisted sprints with a set of bodyweight sprints.
As for using sled drags for recovery I think they can be beneficial but personally I feel a lot of "active recovery" stuff is kind've over-rated. Or put it his way, just as many people screw up from the excessiveness of their recovery work then the number of people who benefit from it. For recovery I like stretching, dynamic warmups, saunas, contrast showers, and sometimes nothing at all.
Evaluating The Athlete
As for evaluating the athlete. Basically I just ask questions in this order:
1. Can they move efficiently? Is he light on his feet with good balance and control in low intensity movements and drills? If not, what's holding him back. Is it flexiblity, muscle imbalance, or has he just not learned to move correctly due to laziness or whatever? Does he have any static flexiblity and movement problems for basic movements such as these Bill Hartmann talks about:
How is his functional movement during basic moves like squatting and lunging. Here are some videos of a functional movement screen:
Functional Movement Screen
2. Is the guy strong enough. What are his lifting numbers like? Does he squat and deadlift 1.5 BW or double BW? If yes then go to 3. If not then make him strong. If you answered no to question #1 then really work on his basic movement efficiency in addition to making him strong. Movement efficiency would include lots of SAQ type stuff..basic speed, agility, and quickness drills.
3. Is the guy more explosive then he is strong or is he stronger then he is explosive? This is where stuff like the reactive jump test might come in handy but most of the time it's not even that difficult. Things I look at are sprint times vs lifting numbers, running jumps vs standing jumps, bounce jumps, and things like cleans vs squats etc.
4. If the guy lacks explosiveness in relationship to his strength, what's the problem? Is he too fat? Does he play a sport like basketball or track and have to work under a coach that runs him like a marathon runner and has burned up all his fast twitch muscle? Does he just not have a build conducive to displaying great explosiveness (eg. very thick joints with ulta short legs) Is he overtrained in general? Is he recovering from any injuries, surgeries etc. There's not always a clear cut answer besides genetics...but sometimes there is.
Then you basically take all that material and mull over it and determine the best course of action for that particular athlete. It's probably not something you'll ever feel that you've completely *mastered*. It's always an ongoing process and the things you learn as a coach are always improving as you find better ways to do things. There are a lot of other things you could add to that. Personality typing, muscle testing etc. Hell, in a few years there'll most likely be some type of genetic test that would be ideal.
Well anyway, hopefully that gives you some ideas :).
Q: I noticed you started writing bodybuilding articles. Does that mean you're gonna stop writing about sports?
No, not at all. I have several passions related to all of this and, afterall, bodybuilding is a sport. :)