Flexibility test to predict back pain in volleyball and baseball

In response to last weeks post on shoulder pain, Carson emailed me and said he has back pain after volleyball. I can’t formally say what’s wrong because it’s impossible to assess over the internet, and the letters behind my name don’t allow me to do so anyway.

What I can offer is an explanation of the primary cause of back pain after volleyball.

Volleyball Players who fail this test are putting excess stress on their low back:

Functional movement testing is all the rage today, and for good reason since it is well supported in the literature for preventing pain and injury. While I don’t have objective data to support this specific test, I do have 3+ years working with hundreds of volleyball players in which I have picked out trends like a failure in this test correlating with back pain after volleyball.

So how do I prevent back pain after volleyball?

Just like the kid’s song about the shin bone connecting to the knee bone, the hips, upper back, and shoulders all connect, and contribute to low back pain after volleyball.

A lack of flexibility in one area, or a lack of strength in another area has a direct impact on the joints around it.

Back pain is rarely caused by a dysfunction in the back itself

Instead, a focus on whole body movement should be included, rather than just focusing on the injured joint itself.back pain after volleyball

 

Breaking news: Flexibility isn’t always a good thing! The graphic above I created for our coach training manual shows where in your body you want to have stability, and where you want flexibility. In general, you want really mobile hips, and upper back (thoracic spine). Combine that with stability in the lower back to prevent low back pain after volleyball.

Drills to improve Thoracic Spine (upper back) Mobility

If you failed the test in the video above, go through this mobility drill to loosen up your upper back.

Here is a video I recorded in the early days of EDGE when I was still uncomfortable in front of a camera. Still an awesome drill for improving flexibility of the upper back.

Drills to improve Hip mobility

We have been using this drill from Dean Somerset a lot recently, mostly because its effective without feeling like the standard boring stretching routine most people do.

Here is another one one I recorded way back in the early days of running EDGE, and still is a go to for many of our clients.

Drills to work on core stability:

Its super important that with every flexibility drill we do, we also add some stability training for the adjacent joints. To show flexibility in a joint, the joint next to it needs to be stable. In this case we need some core stability drills to make our hip and thoracic spine mobility work useful.

I won’t go down the rabbit hole of core stability drills in this blog post. Instead, just practice the test again as per the first video in this post. That way you are training to keep the core stable even as you put your arms overhead.

Wrap-up:

Let’s be clear, fixing a back, and addressing the cause of back pain are two separate issues.  Nothing that I covered above will replace proper rest and treatment from a professional.

PS. If your looking for a chiro… Jay Rennicks from Glover Road Chiropractic always gets great results for my athletes.

Once your back starts to feel better however, enabling high quality movement will help prevent the symptoms from returning.

Creating quality movement patterns enable a greater capacity for lots of movement. You can play more, with less back pain after volleyball because your have shifted stress from joints that can’t handle it to the joints that are able to handle that stress.

This ends with you spending more time in practice working on your skills to become a better athlete, and less time in the therapy room.

Spend this summer getting your body in a position to play next year rather than plowing through endless volleyball camps and breaking yourself down further!

Congrats!

As an aside, last summer Mattias spent the summer training, and after a great school and club season he recently announced that he is off to play for the Ryerson Rams next year! Congrats Mattias!

 

 

Props to Mattias who lifted 300lbs today! Just a few months ago he wasn't able to lift or play volleyball due to an…

Posted by EDGE Strength & Conditioning on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

 

 

Book a free consultation ($97 value) by calling 778.242.9552 or by clicking the big orange button below!

Free Consultation

Flexibility test to predict back pain in volleyball and baseball

In response to last weeks post on shoulder pain, Carson emailed me and said he has back pain after volleyball. I can’t formally say what’s wrong because it’s impossible to assess over the internet, and the letters behind my name don’t allow me to do so anyway.

What I can offer is an explanation of the primary cause of back pain after volleyball.

Volleyball Players who fail this test are putting excess stress on their low back:

Functional movement testing is all the rage today, and for good reason since it is well supported in the literature for preventing pain and injury. While I don’t have objective data to support this specific test, I do have 3+ years working with hundreds of volleyball players in which I have picked out trends like a failure in this test correlating with back pain after volleyball.

So how do I prevent back pain after volleyball?

Just like the kid’s song about the shin bone connecting to the knee bone, the hips, upper back, and shoulders all connect, and contribute to low back pain after volleyball.

A lack of flexibility in one area, or a lack of strength in another area has a direct impact on the joints around it.

Back pain is rarely caused by a dysfunction in the back itself

Instead, a focus on whole body movement should be included, rather than just focusing on the injured joint itself.

Joint by Joint Approach

Breaking news: Flexibility isn’t always a good thing! The graphic above I created for our coach training manual shows where in your body you want to have stability, and where you want flexibility. In general, you want really mobile hips, and upper back (thoracic spine). Combine that with stability in the lower back to prevent low back pain after volleyball.

Drills to improve Thoracic Spine (upper back) Mobility

If you failed the test in the video above, go through this mobility drill to loosen up your upper back.

Here is a video I recorded in the early days of EDGE when I was still uncomfortable in front of a camera. Still an awesome drill for improving flexibility of the upper back.

Drills to improve Hip mobility

We have been using this drill from Dean Somerset a lot recently, mostly because its effective without feeling like the standard boring stretching routine most people do.

Here is another one one I recorded way back in the early days of running EDGE, and still is a go to for many of our clients.

Drills to work on core stability:

Its super important that with every flexibility drill we do, we also add some stability training for the adjacent joints. To show flexibility in a joint, the joint next to it needs to be stable. In this case we need some core stability drills to make our hip and thoracic spine mobility work useful.

I won’t go down the rabbit hole of core stability drills in this blog post. Instead, just practice the test again as per the first video in this post. That way you are training to keep the core stable even as you put your arms overhead.

Wrap-up:

Let’s be clear, fixing a back, and addressing the cause of back pain are two separate issues.  Nothing that I covered above will replace proper rest and treatment from a professional.

PS. If your looking for a chiro… Jay Rennicks from Glover Road Chiropractic always gets great results for my athletes.

Once your back starts to feel better however, enabling high quality movement will help prevent the symptoms from returning.

Creating quality movement patterns enable a greater capacity for lots of movement. You can play more, with less back pain after volleyball because your have shifted stress from joints that can’t handle it to the joints that are able to handle that stress.

This ends with you spending more time in practice working on your skills to become a better athlete, and less time in the therapy room.

Spend this summer getting your body in a position to play next year rather than plowing through endless volleyball camps and breaking yourself down further!

Congrats!

As an aside, last summer Mattias spent the summer training, and after a great school and club season he recently announced that he is off to play for the Ryerson Rams next year! Congrats Mattias!

 

Props to Mattias who lifted 300lbs today! Just a few months ago he wasn’t able to lift or play volleyball due to an…

Posted by EDGE Strength & Conditioning on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

 

Book a free consultation ($97 value) by calling 778.242.9552 or by requesting one here.

 

3 Foam Rolling Drills to Fix a Cranky Shoulder

Foam rolling the shoulder can improve performance and prevent pain.

It’s the time of year where all the club volleyball players are heading into their final stretch as they prep for the provincials at the Tradex in Abbotsford.

That typically means that the icepacks, kinesiotape, and rub A5-35 are out in full force to enable top performers to continue to play despite pleas from their shoulder to stop.

Enter the foam roller. Foam rollers are common, but are rarely used to their full effectiveness on the shoulder.

Here are 3 of my drills when foam rolling the shoulder:

Foam Rolling the Shoulder:

In the same way that brushing your teeth doesn’t prevent the need to visit a dentist; foam rolling the shoulder can never replace proper physiotherapy treatment for a true injury.

If you have a real injury, go get it checked out by a professional (Mylee from Physiostation does a great job if you are looking for someone).

In the meantime, make these 3 drills for foam rolling the shoulder part of your routine in order to improve performance and reduce pain.

When Should I be Foam Rolling the Shoulder?

If you are just using these drills for injury prevention, then do most of your foam rolling the shoulder after practice or between matches. Intense foam rolling can temporarily blunt the nervous system which may decrease performance in the short term.

The gains in flexibility and tissue quality in the long run (30-60+ minutes later) make it well worth it, but the initial response (0-15 minutes after rolling) have the potential to slow the arm down temporarily.

If your shoulder is in pain, however, don’t hesitate to add these drills for foam rolling the shoulder prior to, and during games. Reducing pain will boost performance significantly more than any of the drawbacks.

Want More…

If you liked this post, you’ll probably love the FREE report I put together outlining the top 10 Reasons why vertical jump decreases which you can download below! As always, don’t forget to like and share this post with your friends!

 

Click HERE to Download: 10 Reasons Vertical Jump Decreases

Want Even More?

Book a free consultation HERE and we’ll set you up with the perfect strategy to help you reach your athletic performance goals!

Strength Training for Runners

Strength training for runners can be a confusing topic. I just designed a program for a 1500/3000m runner from the Langley Mustangs and thought i’d share some unfiltered strategies when designing strength training for runners.

strength training for runners

Strength training for runners is very beneficial, but it needs to be done properly in order to be effective.

Just like every other athlete that comes to train with me…a track athletes schedule is chalk full of practices and competitions. In this case, their practice is a whole bunch of running.

A typical week for an individual from this track club could be something like the following:

Monday: Acceleration drills
Tuesday: Anaerobic Threshold Training
Wednesday: Tempo Run
Thursday: Acceleration/Threshold Threshold training
Friday: Active rest/short run
Saturday: Long Slow Distance
Sunday: Rest

So if they are so busy (and tired) from that schedule…

Why is it important enough to include strength training for runners?

  • Adding strength allows runners to create more force with each step creating longer strides increased capacity for speed
  • If done properly will eliminate any muscle imbalances that cause inefficiencies with gait
  • Prevents injuries

Like nearly any sport, proper strength training for runners improves speed and power, and decreases the risk of injury.

Keys to strength training for runners:

1. Stay focused on what’s important

Like all ‘sport specific’ training the purpose must be to support what the athlete is doing in their sport. The goal isn’t to turn any of my athletes into power-lifters, or body builders.

The goal is to keep the goal the goal!- Dan John

If the goal is to be a good endurance runner, any strength training for runners must support that goal. As such, the weight room training should support the ridiculous amount of training on the road and track that a distance runner needs to accumulate.

If strength training gets in the way of running, the program needs to be re-configured.

2. It should address the things NOT addressed in practice

If you are already doing it in practice, and competition, you probably don’t need more of it during your gym workouts.

Assuming the athlete is running on a regular basis anyway, there is no need to add more of the same thing into her schedule.

Jill Hart Training @ EDGE

Jill Hart Training @ EDGE

Pushing sleds, and other ‘conditioning’ work like burpees etc. certainly have their place for certain individuals.

For runners, they are redundant if you are already accumulating a bunch of miles each week. You are more likely to burn out than anything else if you add more of the same to your program.

Strength training should address the opposite end of the spectrum. For the few hours each week when you are strength training, your goal should be to get as strong as possible.

3. Hip mobility should be emphasised

Runners do the same movement repeatedly. The more efficiently that their hips move the less effort they expend on each stride.

When I talk about hip mobility, i’m not talking about a couple minutes of stretching at the beginning or end of the session. True mobility is about creating strength through a wide range of motion.

Hip mobility work should carry right through from warm-up to cool down and everything in between.

Here’s a hip mobility drill we do in warm-up often:

Single leg strength work like lunges and box step ups are awesome for building ‘functional strength’ and make up a core component of strength training for runners.

4. Body weight must be controlled

Every extra pound that an athlete has to lug around will slow them down. Their is no room for gaining weight (even if its muscle) in an endurance athlete.

The goal is to create large amounts of additional strength, while adding minimal or no additional body-weight.

In order to gain strength, without gaining muscle mass, a runner should focus on low volume, heavy weight exercises.

In most textbooks  you’ll find a diagram like this explaining how many reps to do…

Strength training for runners

The rep schemes (like the one pictured above0 in your textbook are talking about a different type of endurance.

 

Everyone see’s this and thinks: I’m an endurance athlete, so i’ll do 16+ reps in each set so that I build my endurance.

The issue is that chart represents muscular endurance, rather than cardiovascular endurance. It’s two different things entirely.  Don’t be fooled by into thinking high reps make for better endurance when strength training for running.

Additionally, it’s a continuum, not distinct numbers. It’s not like hypertrophy (muscle growth) immediately stops once you hit the 16th rep of an exercise.

By training ‘high reps’ you are missing out on all the strength gains towards the bottom of the rep range continuum, and you are more likely to add muscle mass. Double loss.

Stick to a fewer number of sets (1-3), and a fewer number of reps (3-8) to prevent the addition of muscle mass. Use the heaviest weights that proper technique will permit in order to stimulate strength gains without mass gains.

5. Strength training for runners should be 2 short sessions per week

Too much strength training takes away from an athletes ability to practice their sport. Twice per week for 35-45 minutes + warm-up + cool-down is more than enough to make them stronger, but not so much that they get burned out and cant complete their runs.

6. Hold everything loosely

There are ZERO exercises that a runner must do other than running itself.

Lunges make great strength training for runners, but if they make an athlete sore, and prevent them from running, flip them out with box step ups or another variation that is less likely to cause soreness.

If an awesome exercise aggravates an old injury…stay away from it and find another way to get strong.

If the volume is too much that it is inhibiting your runs, then talk about it with your strength coach about modifying the program.

EDGE Athlete Bradon Heppel

EDGE Athlete Bradon Heppel

Very rarely does a 6 week training program look like I thought it would by the time we get to week 6. Things change, feel confident that making adjustments is normal. Don’t program hop, but understand that each person is different, and there is no magic answer when strength training for runners.

7. Emphasis efficiency

Long distance running requires a lot of hours running.

Spend less time in the gym using large compound movements. It’s one of the ten keys to success with any training program as seen HERE.

Get in to the gym. Get strong. Go home and rest up for your next run. Don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter.

Hope you enjoyed this post. I’d love to personally help you reach your athletic performance goalsIf you liked this post, we’d love it if you shared it with your friends.

5 ways athletes sabotage athleticism (are you guilty of #2).

7 Things You Must Do When Training For Soccer

I was asked about strength training for soccer following a public speaking event I did recently at Langley Christian School. I figured now would be a good time  to put together a blog post outlining what makes a good program when training for soccer.

Athlete Background:

Like almost everyone, the girl who contacted me wanted to…

  • Lose fat & Gain Muscle
  • Look & Feel better
  • Perform better in the upcoming soccer season

Thankfully these things are all complimentary goals. If done properly, we shouldn’t need to sacrifice any of the above goals when training for soccer. As a bonus, there likely will be a big boost in confidence when the athlete starts to see their body change, and their performance improve!

Some of the barriers to performance for this individual are:

  • Busy Schedule
  • Challenges with eating healthy and sticking to their plan
  • Lack of confidence that ‘self designed’ training programs will get results

Download: Strength for Soccer- Training Program

The strategies:

Strategy #1- Start Training Today!

Don’t wait. We can sit and talk about the perfect plan for hours, and even debate with different coaches who have different opinions on what makes training perfect.

Long story short. Start training today, because nobody get’s better by reading and thinking about training for soccer. Things won’t be perfect. Don’t expect them to be.

Put your head down and put the work in and you will reap the benefits. Don’t even wait until tomorrow to do your first workout. Start today!

An even easier ‘first step’ is to book a free consultation

 

Strategy #2- Build a good strength base when training for soccer

If you read this blog very often, you will know that strength is the basis of all human movement. Gaining muscle boosts metabolism, and enables greater athletic output. I won’t ramble about the benefits of strength today, but will state that it’s a necessary adaptation for all of the goals listed above. Here’s a former client who is now playing at Thompson Rivers University killing it with the trap-bar deadlift.

Strategy #3- Use compound multi-joint movements

Using exercises that require multiple joints saves time, and improves performance when strength training for soccer. You can accomplish a lot more work when you use movements that use multiple joints, and take your body through space.

For example: you could do bicep curls, and then tricep extensions, and then lat pullovers to hit those three muscle groups…or you could do chin-ups and hit all those muscles and more in a single exercise. chin up training for soccer More work in less time is the definition of efficiency. Spend less time in the gym by training movements, not muscles.

Another benefit of ‘movements not muscles’ is the added carryover to athletics. Joint and muscle isolation exercises have minimal carryover to athletic performance. If you want to perform better, use exercises that use multiple joints, and require you to take your body through space.

Chin ups, squats, lunges, skipping, sprinting, push-ups, bench press, rowing exercises (strength based) etc. all are beneficial when training for soccer.

Strategy #4- Emphasize ACL injury prevention

Non-contact ACL (a ligament in the knee) injuries are very prevalant (especially in females). This is where an ACL is torn without the occurrence of body contact. In soccer, it often happens when an athlete plants their foot, and then pivots in the wrong direction.

This ends in a crying athlete sitting on the sideline, missed playing time, and questions about whether we are pushing our kids too hard.

Single leg balancing drills, and Nordic Hamstring Curls are awesome for establishing good control and reducing the risk of ACL injury. The band assisted variation shown below works awesome for younger female athletes and anyone else training for soccer who lacks the strength to do the non-assisted version.

Strategy #5- Train only 2-3 Days Per Week

You often hear stories of people training 5-6 times a week, but for most people that is neither practical, nor effective when training for soccer.

Nobody get’s stronger in the gym. Everyone get’s stronger when they rest in between workouts at the gym. If you train too frequently, you don’t give your body time to adapt. If you are training hard for 2-3 sessions each week, and aren’t seeing results, the first place to look is at your recovery habits:

  • Sleep (Athletes training hard need 8-9+ hours of sleep each night)
  • Diet (Are you getting enough quality food)
  • Stress (work/school/relationships etc.)

Work hard, and then rest and recover. A training session should last approximately 45 minutes, plus warm-up and cool down.

Strategy #6- Keep conditioning specific, yet general (NO JOGGING)

Soccer is made up of a series of sprints, alternated with periods of lighter activity, or rest.

Strikers need fast breakaway speed to shake off defenders. Likewise, defenders need speed in order to follow their man. When the ball is on the other side of the pitch however, the constant jockeying for position occurs at a much slower speed, and the demand to be glued to your man lessens.

The conditioning portion of training for soccer must match this tempo: alternated periods of high intensity activity with periods of low intensity activity or complete rest.

That said, conditioning can take many forms. Sprinting, pushing/pulling sleds, jumping, burpies or basically any other kind of movement that requires the use of a bunch of different muscle groups can be considered conditioning.

Conditioning is a great place to add variety to your training.

Running slowly for a long period of time, only makes people good at running slowly. So stop jogging unless your sport is distance running. Instead, work as hard as you can for 20-60 seconds for your selected exercise. Rest for a minimum of 2-4x as long as you just worked. Repeat for 5-25 minutes.

Conditioning can be done at the end of a strength training for soccer workout, or on a separate day. If you have multiple practices and games that week, it can be omitted entirely as you are likely getting enough of a training stimulus from that.

Strategy #7- Keep the nutrition plan simple

People way over-complicate nutrition in many cases. The tendency is for people to ‘major in the minors’. They end up worrying about counting calories, limiting gluten, and obsessing over carb to protein to fat ratios, and overlook the most basic nutrition advice: Eat natural food, not processed junk.

If you eat food that has roots or parents 80% of the time, you likely will meet all your nutritional goals! Read your food labels. If it has more than 3-4 ingredients, or you can’t pronounce the ingredient names, find something else to eat.

Strength training for soccer program:

For athletes who are training for the first time, we will keep everything really simple with a basic, yet balanced training program. Exercises in this program include:

  1. Single leg multi-planer hops
  2. Walking Lunges
  3. Pushups
  4. TRX inverted row
  5. Nordic Hamstring curls
  6. Chin ups (use a band for assistance, or just do the lowering portion if needed)
  7. Side plank with reach through
  8. Conditioning (optional)

 Enter your email below to download the full training program in printable format:

Download: Strength for Soccer- Training Program

Request A Free Consultation ($97 Value)

A Quick Rant on the Definition of Metabolism

It makes me pull my hair out when people say ‘I have a low/high metabolism’ without having any clue what it means.  Good or bad, it’s most often it’s used as an excuse for why this person is skinny, and that person isn’t.

How many times have you heard this:

“Oh Jane can eat those cookies because she has a really high metabolism!”

there-it-is

Its even more troublesome the number of companies who prey on the lack of understanding of the term metabolism. There are lots of people selling all types of magic beans designed to make people skinny with no effort. A quick trip to Google will show you what I mean.

I want to take a moment here to provide a clear definition of metabolism. Next time your friends say the word ‘metabolism’ feel free to correct them, and point them in my direction if they have questions.

Everything that happens in the body is driven by chemical reactions. Each chemical reaction requires energy to kickstart the process. This includes the creation of energy from foods. Some reactions will use more, and others less.

The real Definition of Metabolism:

As defined by the world leaders in nutrition coaching at Precision Nutrition the definition of metabolism is:

“The sum of reactions that take place to build up and break down in the body.”

Therefore every action you take that causes a chemical reaction to occur in the body will boost your metabolism. This includes obvious things like exercise, but also includes things like eating food. Certain foods require a fair amount of energy to digest and can be considered a metabolism boosting activity.

The National Strength and Conditioning offers this definition of metabolism:

“A measure of the calories required for maintaining normal body functions such as respiration, cardiac function, and thermoregulation”

Metabolism therefore is all of the reactions occurring within the body to keep it alive. Of note, is the fact that significantly more activity is occurring in muscular tissue than in fat tissue. Therefore the absolute best way to boost your metabolism is to gain muscle mass! That way, you’ll burn more calories even when you are at rest.

So What?

Yes. Some people naturally have a higher metabolism, and others have a lower metabolism. If you understand the definition of metabolism, it becomes clear that you can control it!

At some point, you need to take ownership of what’s happening to you, and resolve to make it better (like Dan JVD did here). If you are overweight, or have low energy levels, it’s within your power to change it! In most cases, it doesn’t take much, so put the excuses aside (even if they are completely valid) and decide to be better tomorrow, than you were today.

Take the first step by following the athletic meal guide which you can download below. For more guidance book a free consultation and I’ll help you come up with a concrete plan of action to help you reach your goals.

Request A Free Consultation ($97 Value)

Download 21 Superfoods + Athletic Meal Guide

Boost Power for Athletes- Part 2

Last week I wrote about power training for athletes, and we talked about a how to determine whether you will get better results from strength based movements, or plyometric/speed based movements.

 

EUR

Today we’ll work through an example program that added 2″ to one athletes vertical jump, over the course of 6 weeks. Vertical jump is strongly connected to sprint speed, and is a strong indicator of overall athletic power. Not suprisingly it also shaved 3/10 of a second from a really short agility drill.

Athlete Background

Morgan is a 16 yr old female volleyball player that has been lifting weights for the past 3 years. She back squat’s approximately her own body-weight, so she is by no means a beginner.

Note: Nearly anything will work for a beginner, but it becomes tougher and tougher to improve the more advanced an athlete is. In many cases, a simple training program works best for a complete novice.

When we calculated her EUR (explained here) it was 1.08. If we look at the scale above, that means she should have more of a speed focus, rather than a ‘strength’ focus in her next program.

We used 3 strategies which combined got the results she wanted.

Strategy 1: Improve Hip Mobility

Morgan had some flexibility issues in her hips. Some basic stretching and foam rolling loosened up her hips, and allowed her to put herself into a more powerful jumping stance.

Here is an old video of me explaining one of the most commonly assigned hip mobility drills I give.

Gray cook said it best when he said: “You can’t build performance on top of dysfunction”. It’s important to have each athlete move well before jumping into performance training.

Strategy 2: Contrast Training

I was introduced to contrast training by a coach named Joe DeFranco who is one of the top strength coaches when it comes to prepping athletes for the NFL Combine. It’s a great way to turn existing strength, into explosive power.

It basically pairs a heavy strength exercise, with an explosive body-weight one.

Contrast Training Exercise 1: The heavy strength exercise requires max effort in order to lift the weight. This causes nearly 100% activation of every muscle fiber in the muscles used. The goal of the strength exercise is to excite the nervous system, not to exhaust the muscles. Pick a weight you could do 8 reps for, and do 3-5 quality explosive reps.

Contrast Training Exercise 2: The speed exercise done with body-weight is completed immediately following the heavy lift. Since your body has just experienced a heavy external load, it is prepared to overcome that load again, so it recruits all of the same muscle fibers even though it now only has it’s own body weight to overcome.

In this way, your body learns to use nearly every muscle fiber, even when it isn’t under significant load, thus maximizing it’s ability to express it’s strength in an explosive manner.

Strategy 3: Traditional Plyometrics

Plyometrics work great, but they in and of themselves are not a training system. Usually I am hesitant to give plyometric drills to highschool athletes, but since Morgan has a good strength base, and has a history of strength training I was comfortable adding a few to her program.

Plyometrics train the body’s ability to use the ‘bounce’ at the bottom of a jump to increase force output. Keys are a quick descent, followed by a maximum explosion. The biggest goal is speed. If you are tired or out of breath after plyometrics, or if you are sore the next day, then you are doing it wrong. You do this by using explosive movements to excite the nervous system, rather than fatigue the muscles.

We used box jumps for a big portion of her training, so that we could maximize the ‘jumping’ portion of the movement, but save some stress on her knees by limiting the amount of times she had to land from high in the air.

Also, we limited it to about 25 total jumps each week using 2 different drills. That’s it. More than that would have been too much.

Strength Training

As always adding strength is one of the primary goals, as strength is the basis of all movement. It’s not considered a special strategy in this case, since added strength is an objective of nearly every program I write.

Results:

Jump Results

Vertical Jump (with volleyball approach): 2 inches higher

Athlete Pro Agility (5-10-5 Shuttle): 0.34 seconds faster

You can download the full training program and try it for yourself by clicking the blue button below!

Happy Training! Let me know how it works for you!

Download: Power for Athletes Training Program

Request A Free Consultation ($97 Value)

Boost Power for Athletes

What Is Power?

Power is the ability to exert a lot of force over a short period of time. It’s what separates the average jumpers from the great ones.  It’s what separates the sluggish athlete from the explosive one. It’s what separates the slow athlete from the fast one.

Vertical Jump

How do I add Power?

Looking strictly at the formula for power, there are two ways to boost power output:

Power=Force x Velocity

  1. Increase the amount of force used during a movement (Get Stronger)
  2. Increase the speed at which your muscles contract (Get Faster & More Efficient)

If we look at the speed/strength curve, we can see that improving both is absolutely necessary for improving power for athletes. We must spend time at the speed end of the spectrum, AND the strength end of the spectrum if we want to see great results.

Most athletes spend all their time at the speed end of the spectrum when they practice their sports (it’s why generally I don’t recommend plyometrics for volleyball players).

Speed Strength Continuum

Speed Strength Continuum

If you are new to training, stop reading here. It’s your job to get as strong as you can! Learn to squat, deadlift, and press heavy things. Your power output will skyrocket! If you need help, you can book a free consultation ($97 Value) to get started.

Should I focus on Strength or Speed?

Carina-Ouellette

EDGE Athlete Carina Ouellete

For the first year of training, you should focus on adding strength. The stronger you are, the greater potential you have for creating force.  There is no point in endless plyometrics to increase the speed of a weak athlete. If nothing else, strength builds a good foundation which we can turn into power for athletes at a later date…

Now that I am strong how do I maximize my power?

Different athletes need different training styles. Thankfully, there is a simple test that you can do to guide your training.

First, determine if you are a ‘springy athlete’ or more of a ‘strong athlete’. At EDGE, we do a quick calculation called Eccentric Utilization Ratio (EUR) for this purpose.

Testing your EUR measures whether you are efficiently using the elasticity in muscle tissue to maximize your power during high speed movements.

EUR consists of 2 jumps, and the difference between those jumps tells us which end of the strength speed continuum to emphasize.

Calculating EUR to determine the ‘springyness’ of an athlete:

Step 1: Measure Squat Jump (SJ) Height

A squat jump is a maximal vertical jump that starts at the bottom to eliminate any ‘bounce’ that an individual gains from the elasticity in their muscles. Squat down to a self selected height, hold that spot for a count of 3 and then without descending further, jump as high as you can.

Step 2: Measure Counter-Movement Jump (CMJ) Height

This jump allows the athlete to use the elasticity stored in their muscles to jump higher by using the bounce at the bottom. Descend and immediately jump to your maximum height.

We controlled for arm swing in both of these jumps by using a dowel across the back. Jump height was measured using a VERT jump device. This could be completed just as easily using chalk on the wall. Simply start with your hands in front of your face for both jumps, and don’t let them drop below that height. At the peak of each jump reach as high as you can to create a mark on the wall. Compare that height to your standing reach in order to get your jump height.

Step 3: Math

The difference in height jumped between these two jumps gives a good indication of whether the athlete needs more strength work, or more speed work to improve their athletic power.

EUR = CMJ/SJ

For example, a 22 inch counter-movement jump and a 20 inch squat jump would mean the athlete had an EUR of 1.1.

EUR

 

An EUR that is 1.15 represents good balance. An individual that has an EUR closer to 1.0 should prioritize working on speed. An athlete with an EUR closer to 1.3 should continue to prioritize strength.

I’ll post a follow up next week with some example training programs for you to follow once you have your EUR number.  UPDATE: READ PART 2 HERE

If you are eager to start training…just click the yellow button below and request a free consultation to see if training with EDGE is right for you!

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5 ways athletes sabotage athleticism (are you guilty of #2).

Nutrition, Injuries and Bodyweight

Below is a guest post from Dan Jansen Van Doorn a pro volleyball player for Tourcoing in France and former teammate of mine. He shares his story about a simple mindset shift that within a few months:

 

  • fixed his knee pain
  • added 6 inches to his jump
  • helped him lead the TWU Spartans to back to back national championships
  • earn a living as a pro athlete
  • helped him lose 27lbs

 

Daniel Jansen Van Doorn

Daniel Jansen Van Doorn

 

I was always a kid who could eat whatever I wanted, and get away with it. I paid little to no attention to my nutrition…

Mindset:

My priorities when it came to eating were:

  1. Taste
  2. Price
  3. Health

The nutritional value of the food I was eating was dead last,

That all changed sometime in my second year at TWU. I never realized it was a problem, until it was pointed out by a few people. At the time, I was struggling from a plethora of minor injuries.

Injuries:

Shin splints had plagued me for a few years already, and my knees had gotten exponentially worse recently. My back was starting to hurt regularly, and my shoulder and ankles were often injured.

I blamed it on a combination of over training, and bad luck. Looking back on it now, I was simply in denial and had nobody to blame but myself.

Body-weight:

I hit my heaviest point at 235 lbs which was about 20 lbs above a comfortable playing weight, and 30 above my ideal performance weight as a 6’8″ middle.

I was sick of running jokes among teammates, but was more sick of being seen as a joke; a player whose injuries were so frequent that nobody believed me anymore. I wasn’t performing well, and was never feeling 100% healthy, or fresh. It was late in my second year and over the following summer that I decided it was time to change.

The Shift:

I started slow, as I still didn’t know how to eat healthy. There was way too much fat and sodium in my diet. I cut down bit by bit, and noticed a difference. It was never anything drastic, as I found that dynamic diet changes are hard to maintain. It started with a month without McDonalds.

Then a few months without fast food. Then it moved past simple rules for myself, and changed into me paying attention to every meal, snack, and beverage I put in my body. Salads were not just something I took instead of fries with my meal, salads could be a whole meal. I worked really hard to eat clean. I was lucky, and it was fairly easy (or at least it got much easier the more I did it).

The Results:

My results paid off immediately. When we weighed in at the beginning of my 3rd year, I had come in at 208 lbs (down 27lbs), and had increased my spike touch by 6 inches!

That’s a big block!

 

It was literally as if I had been jumping with a dumbbell tied to my waist and suddenly lost it. What an incredible feeling, and even better was the difference in my daily life. I was feeling fresh when I showed up for training, and I didn’t have to pop a handful of ibuprofen just to be able to play!

I was sleeping better, training better, and overall living better. My improvements were seen in the weight room with regular PB’s in every exercise, and on the court as well.

For me, it didn’t have to be one drastic change. It was simply a change in my mentality. If i really wanted to be the best, that meant that volleyball didn’t stop at 8:00 when training was done. The better I was eating, the more of an edge I was gaining on everybody else. I realized that being an athlete was a 24 hour job, and an enormous part of that job was done in the kitchen.

I love Dan’s story since he went about things the right way…first he fixed his mindset, and then made a few small changes that end up in big results. If you need to fix your mindset, or need guidance on nutrition and training Request A Free Consultation ($97 Value):

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