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Power Primer

How To Look Like An Olympic Athlete

With the Olympics underway, millions around the world stare in awe at the amazing athletic feats in everything from boxing to sprinting to  kayaking — and yes, even rhythmic gymnastics.

Jokes aside, every athlete at the Olympics is among the best in the world at their respective. sport. None ended up at the Olympics by accident.

But one group of athletes stands out from all the rest: the power athletes. And the events themselves aren’t even the most captivating part. It’s their blend of incredible athleticism, power, and lean, muscular body. It all add up to you looking at your training and asking:

“How can I look like an Olympic Athlete?”

A body that’s is show and go.

A body made of substance, with a little sizzle.

In this post, I’ll show you four exercises that bring you closer to the total package. And while they’ll make you stronger, leaner, and more athletic, I can’t guarantee you’ll be swift like Bolt or yoked like Klokov, or shredded like a gymnast.

But I can promise that if you take action and focus on developing these skills with the program I have below, you’ll build your ultimate athletic body.

The Components of Looking Like an Olympic Athlete

 

How Can You Build Olympic Strength?

There are multiple types of strength, but for simplicity, let’s address relative strength and absolute strength. Relative strength is the amount of strength relative to body size. All else being equal, smaller individuals have higher relative strength. Think of your middle-school fitness tests when the 90-pound wrestlers would destroy the pull-up test while big kids struggled. This reflects your ability to control or move your body through space (relative strength), as in most movement-based sports like sprinting.

Absolute strength refers to the maximum amount of force exerted regardless of muscle or body size. Greater amounts of absolute strength favor those with higher body weight and, in general, larger individuals like Olympic throwers or heavy weight wrestlers.

Throwing it back again to your middle-school days, faster-maturing kids with greater absolute strength absolutely destroyed their counterparts in tackling or blocking drills.

Relative Strength & Absolute Strength

Strength training improves your performance primarily due to increased nervous system activation. Increased nervous system activation via strength training does two huge things for your training:

  1. Increases muscle fiber recruitment
  2. Increases speed at which the body sends electrical signals to the muscles

Take a look at the following chart:

BodyweightDeadliftMax Absolute StrengthRelative Strength
185 pounds405 pounds405 pounds2.2x bodyweight
205 pounds405 pounds405 pounds1.97x bodyweight

Notice that while the larger lifter has the same absolute strength as the lighter lifter, his relative strength is less than the lighter lifter. If you’re a dedicated gym rat, your objective is to get stronger, leaner, and more athletic. Both absolute strength and relative strength are needed to maximize your high-performance beastliness.

Developing greater absolute strength builds greater relative strength. You develop greater absolute strength by improving technique on big lifts, improving neuromuscular function, and in many cases, increasing bodyweight. When body weight is kept the same, an improvement in absolute strength improves relative strength, thus improving your ability to generate force on exercises like jumps, bodyweight exercises, and moving your body through space like an Olympic bad-ass. 

To improve both maximum and relative strength, you need to emphasize multi-joint exercises to stimulate larger increases of anabolic hormones (Hansen et al., 2001). For well-rounded strength development, combine heavy strength work like presses, rows, cleans, and squats with relative strength exercises like chin-ups, jumps, and sprints with maximum explosive intent.

So what’s the best?

When in doubt, the basics are best. If I had to pick one lift, I’d pick the squat. More specifically, the front squat.

The Front Squat

FrontSquat

Read More: How to Front Squat

Olympic Abs

Most high-level sprinters have athletic bodies that make the gods envious.

So, what’s the key?

Genetics aside, sprinting!
Similiar to high intensity weight lifting, sprints can trigger the release of anabolic hormones that help you build muscle and burn body fat.
Your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and hips generate insane amounts of force during a sprint. Your spine works on stabilizing you and transferring power through your body. Altogether, this builds stronger legs and activates a youthful-like athleticism while triggering a massive hormonal shift in your body.

Sprinting has an impact on three hormones that help you look better naked:

Testosterone

Testosterone is the major masculinizing hormone in your body. Greater testosterone levels will improve your energy, help you build lean muscle and cut body fat. I’d wager you’d be happy with all three of those things.

Growth Hormone (GH)

GH is released in response to large muscle contractions and is further stimulated by training without long periods of rest. Triggered by metabolic stress (the stressful environment in which you’re gasping for air and your muscles are on fire), GH is often described as the fountain of youth. It slows the aging process, aids in the metabolism of fatty acids and boosts protein synthesis.

Insulin

Huge muscular contractions promote greater insulin sensitivity. This results in improved nutrient partitioning. In other words, your body gets better at breaking down nutrients for energy and muscular recovery instead of storing them as fat. With better insulin sensitivity, you’ll improve your cardiovascular health, build lean muscle and reduce body fat.

Adding Sprints:Hill or incline sprints are best because they greatly reduce the risk of injury. It’s mechanically impossible to over stride while running up a slight inclination, which decreases the risk of the dreaded hamstring pull.

Running up a hill also shrinks the distance your foot covers on the ground, decreasing joint stress on your hips, knees, and ankles. Fewer injuries, better conditioning, and burning fat?

Yes, please.

Sprint twice a week as an individual workout or after a lift.

Here’s a sample six-week progression. Make sure you warm up before starting and repeat each interval 8 to 12 times.

Week One: Sprint 10 seconds, rest 50

Week Two: Sprint 11 seconds, rest 49

Week Three: Sprint 12 seconds, rest 48

Week Four: Sprint 13 seconds, rest 47

Week Five: Sprint 14 seconds, rest 46

Week Six: Sprint 15 seconds, rest 45

Sprinting is a mainstay in all of my Power Primer Programs for a good reason: They work well for developing an athletic, shredded body.

Olympic Power and Explosiveness

Explosive exercises improve your workouts by teaching your nervous system to fire faster, helping you jump higher, run faster, and throw further.

Even more, explosive exercises recruit high-threshold motor units (HTMU’s)—units within each muscle to fire simultaneously for improved strength. And as the icing on the cake, the more HTMU’s  you can recruit, the more muscle you’ll stimulate to grow during workouts.

Altogether this means explosive Power Primer exercises help you move faster, lift heavier, and build more muscle—three key traits to looking like an Olympian.

Read More: Four Training Splits to Build an Athletic Body

Exercises:

The Olympic lifts would fit well here (and rightly so), but a lot of gyms frown on “aggressive lifts” and dropping big weights.

Shame on them.

And while you could flip them the bird and find a better gym, that’s not always practical.

Therefore, if you allowed to the Olympic lifts like power cleans, please continue doing so.

PowerCleans

Otherwise, here’s my favorite alternative: The Squat jump.

You’re probably wondering what happens when you combine squatting and jumping, right?

Magic, of course.

The truth isn’t really that far out: Using the same movement pattern (squatting and jumping) with both heavy and light resistance improves intermuscular and intramuscular coordination: two factors in your central nervous system’s ability to perform movements faster and with more power.

When your goal is looking athletic and building explosive power, then explosive training like this is exactly what you need to bridge the gap between strength and speed to build an athletic body.

There are three phases to completing a jump squat: loading, exploding, and landing.

Loading: Set up with feet about shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance with arms up at chest height; simultaneously swing the arms down, while bending the hips and knees to load your legs.

Exploding: Rapidly swing the arms up while driving your feet into the ground, extending the hips and knees, and then taking off. Fully extend the arms overhead to fully extend the body with the ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder, and ear all being aligned.

Landing: Bend your knees into a squat position and absorb force evenly through the foot, not just through the toes. Keep your chest and head up, looking directly ahead. Your shins should be vertical and knees straight to avoid joint stress.

How many: Three sets of five reps with 60-90 seconds between sets. Perform on a lower-body training day, before or in place of a squat.

How you can Look like an Olympic Athlete

Most people plateau in the gym and stay mediocre because they continue doing what they’ve always done in the past. They lift only heavy and focus only on the weight or muscle. They neglect rep quality and explosiveness. 


This mistaken approach is not performance training.

A solid strength foundation remains essential. 

But to build your best looking AND best performing body focus on:

*Getting more explosive

*Generating strength fast, with exercises like cleans and jumps

* Conditioning to build wicked endurance and shred fat

 

How To Look Like An Olympic Athlete

 

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

I’ve created eight months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic. This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism at the cost of building your best-looking body.

Here’s what Power Primer users are saying:

“The Power Primer program uniquely blends the best methods to improve the way your body performs, looks, and feels. For both athlete’s and nonathletes, the workouts are comprehensive, effective, and really fun. Anyone looking to develop an athletic body that looks as good as it performs will really enjoy this program.”
– Brian Y.

“If you’re looking for a program, this is it. Athlete strong, burning fat, hypertrophy with an in depth video guide of all the exercises. Coming from a minor league baseball player I follow the program as is and has been nothing short of awesome.
– Brad J.

It’s time to bridge the gap between athleticism and aesthetics.

It’s time to unleash the Power Primer and build your leanest, strongest, and most athletic body to date.

There are three workouts: fat loss, performance, and muscle gain. When combined,  they help you build your best body.

Coupled with a comprehensive video guide and optional full nutrition guide, you’re getting over eight months of workouts for less than your favorite bourbon protein powder.

Get the Power Primer Today.

Athlete Strong in 12 Weeks

 

How To Improve Your Vertical Jump

Vertical jump

Regular readers know how much importance I attach to vertical jumping for both power development and overall athleticism. It can be one of the keys to upping your game for athletes of all ages and abilities.

Yet this important topic is much neglected.

That’s why I’m so pleased to present this extended guest post by Jakub Kalus of the Fitness Institut in Brno, Czech Republic. What follows is adapted from Jakub’s Czech language book “Jumper’s Guide,” now made available in English for the first time right here, right now. Over to you, Jakub.

– Eric Bach


Thanks, Eric. For far too long, too many people have attached too much importance to genetics in vertical jumping success. While genetics has its role, many other factors are also at play.

I’m here to tell you that vertical jumping is just another skill that can be improved through practice.

I have no magical solutions. But I can tell you that vertical jumping is easier to master than handstands or Olympic Lifting. You  just need a plan — like the one I’m about  to share.

It’s my hope that both athletes and their coaches can benefit from what follows.

Basketball and volleyball players who jump a lot in training and competition will naturally improve just by practicing their sport. But they — and everyone else who wants to improve their vertical jump — need to do more.

You just need to train the right way.

In this article, I’ll move from theory to practice to show you how.

Power Development

Power is defined as the amount of work a muscle can produce per unit of time. And you can actually improve your vertical jump more than your sprint speed. That’s because your feet are in contact with the ground for a much shorter time on sprints than jumps. You harness power and strength for your vertical jump takeoff.

I agree with Eric Bach  that absolute strength is not everything.  Relative strength is also important.  Consider the example of an athlete with a bodyweight of 80 kg. (about 175 lbs.) who has a squat max of 125 kg. (about 275 lbs.)  Would it help him if this athlete added 10 kg.  (0r about 22 lbs.)  to both his  squat max and  his body weight? The answer is no, because the relative strength would drop.

Olympic Lifting and The Vertical Jump

Olympic lifting can be hugely important in vertical jump development, provided you have mastered basic proficiency. These exercises are dynamic and use a large range of the triple extension movement (hip-knee-ankle) that can be transferred to jumping performance. The vast range of motion involves a lot of motor units which help us to exert more power. They also help to develop eccentric strength, which is crucial to our landing after jumps. Some people find it puzzling that  so many weightlifters have such tremendous vertical jump ability. But they shouldn’t. After all, Olympic weightlifters  use their strength quickly.  

So how do we develop the strength? Get under the barbell! And spend a lot of time there!

The vertical jump of powerlifters can be also tremendous, because they have a lot of strength. But they are commonly strong only in the static jump, when they can apply the strength of their limbs. They can have difficulties in jumping while moving or changing direction.Don’t be afraid to add some variety to your training.  You should include dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, chains and other useful stuff. This way is not the easiest, but it will pay off. So include primarily complex exercises such as:

  • Squats – front squats are considered as a better option for developing the vertical jump, but back or goblet squats can be included in your plan too.
  • Deadlifts – normal, Romanian, deficit, snatch

Followed by:

  • Good Mornings
  • Press – particularly push press, but bench press and military press also play their role in the training program
  • Lunges – preferably reverse lunges
  • Hip Thrusts
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Kettlebell Arm Swings
  • Medicine Ball Throws

The use of eccentric overload strength training also plays  a role  in development of the vertical jump by enhancing maximal muscle strength, particularly in advanced athletes.(2)

Rate of Force Development

Rate of force development  is how much force can we exert in given amount of time.  

(The  more force in less time, the better)

0.7 seconds is the time that it takes an athlete to perform with maximal power. So consider two athletes with similar athleticism. Let’s say one of them is able to squat 200 lbs. (90 kg.) without time restriction, and also able to squat 155 lbs. (70 kg.) with the time restriction of 0.7 seconds. His vertical jump will be bigger than for someone who is also able to lift 200 lbs. without time restriction, but during 0.7 seconds, and is able  to lift onlyb 100 lbs.

So the more power we are able to produce during short periods of time, the better.

But the power is still crucial here! If we take someone, who can squat 100 lbs for one rep, but with time restriction he is still able to push 90 % of his max, so 90 lbs. But because he is weak, he will not be able to transform this high percentage of power into jaw-dropping vertical jump. So it’s important to not only have some strength base,  but also  the ability to apply the force quickly.

58763668 - man box jumping at a crossfit style gym.

Plyometrics (shock method):

Plyometric exercises rely on stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) Muscles undergo initial lengthening, followed by isometric contraction, followed by shortening This is the same principle as the lengthening of an elastic band before releasing in slingshot. Result:  exerting  power much greater than the power from the static position.

Stretch reflex also plays an important role in this type of training. Stretching of muscle is followed by quick contraction. In SSC-based movements, the eccentric force, reflex stimuli and elastic contribution is greater than normal, due to the eccentric load.

A Simple Test of Plyometric Ability

Compare your vertical jump while using SSC (do the countermovement jump) with a jump from a static position, in which you go down to the squat, position and  stay there for 3-5 seconds before you jump. The difference between these jumps should be significant.  Don’t forget to use the swing of your arms).

Tip:  if the height of your jump from the static position is comparable with countermovement jump, you probably have:

  1. A) a lot of strength
    B) a lack of plyometric ability

You should incorporate a lot of plyometric/jumping exercises to your routine. If the difference between those two jumps is significant, you have enough elastic power and should focus more on strength training..

Plyometric exercises should be included in the training plan if you want  to maximise your vertical jump.

My opinion?

Too many coaches use too many of plyometric exercises, sets and repetitions.

These exercises can be highly beneficial. But they also place great demands on the nervous system. So use them in moderation and combine them with proper strength training. You should see amazing results in the height of your jump. Simple as that. (4)

Don’t Overdo It!
Basketball or volleyball players may  execute  hundreds  or thousands of plyometric exercises (layups, dunks, spike jumps) weekly in training and competition. The most effective approach is to  combine strength training and few plyometric exercises. Too many high volume plyometric exercises can be detrimental to performance. Ensure full recovery.  

Movements should be powerful, but safe and technically correct. Avoid excessive repetitions. They may help with aerobic capacity, but suck for power development.  

The ideal training for maximizing your vertical jump should be short and intense.

Depth Jumps

Eric’s Note: A very advanced and stressful method, depth jumps are also powerfully effective. My caveat: I wouldn’t advise depth jumps for anyone  who’s not an elite athlete, and then only in 4-6 week cycles, max.

Depth jumps are among the most effective lower-body plyometric exercises. (3) In this exercise, the athlete must drop from a height before jumping up again.  To fully engage our SSC the contact with the ground must be minimal, but long enough to exert the greatest amount of power you are capable of.

The eccentric portion of this exercise happens right after the landing, followed by concentric contraction used to jump. Elastic energy is accumulated during the landing, and then used to maximize the height of the jump.

The longer you stay on the ground, the less elastic energy you’ll have to use for jumping. (5)

The main purpose of this exercise is to increase the stretch load of the eccentric action. The velocity after the drop magnifies the eccentric load when we land.  The depth jump is very demanding on your central nervous system.

You won’t feel exhausted during the exercise, you will not be covered with sweat, and will not try to catch your breath. But that doesn’t mean you are not getting fatigued.

This exercise can be modified by changing the height from where we drop, but we must keep in mind that the height of the box shouldn’t be detrimental to the height of our vertical jump. So if you jump considerably lower in depth jump than from squat jump, the height from where you’ve dropped is too high.

The better way is to gradually increase the height of the box from where you drop down,. When your vertical jump starts to lower, that would mean to stop another increase in the height of the box. When our jump starts to lower depends on our stretch-load tolerance

The higher the tolerance, the bigger height we can use for depth jump.

It’s beneficial to use different height boxes that don’t influence negatively your jump to try different effects of velocity, or length of ground contact.

For example:

You can do 5 sets of 2-3 depth jumps from 40 cm box with the focus on maximal height after take off. An anther day you can do 6 sets of 4 reps of depth jumps from 30 cm box where you try to emphasise the shortest time of ground contact.

Depth Jump Scores from Different Drop Heights

Drop height 20 cm30 cm40 cm (stop here!)50 cm
Vertical jump54 cm56 cm57 cm52 cm

You can also alter vertical jump after landing with horizontal jump.  

Minimizing the Length of Ground Contact

To emphasize the short contact of your feet with the ground,  you can use exercises like jump rope, tuck jumps, hurdle hops, 4-star drill, bounding, or bounce depth jumps. When you try to get off the ground as quickly as possible: you can imagine that there is a hot lava on the ground!  The more time you spend there before the take off, the more you will burn yourself.

The purpose of these exercises is to minimize the amortisation phase (the time you are on the ground after the land, before you jump, should be ideally lower than 0.2 s). This is crucial for performance in a lot of sports.

Athletes with higher percentage of type II fibers (fast-twitch fibers) benefit more from exercises with short ground contact and lower range of motion.  On the other hand,  athletes with more slow twitch fibers need more time to apply maximal force, so their amortisation phase can be longer and range of motion is enlarged.

Leanness

For maximal vertical jump, you should be lean. Shredded. Diced.

Excessive body mass drags you down. It a simple question of gravity!

Just look at the elite dunkers of NBA:  Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Aaron Gordon, Nate Robinson, you name it. All of them are exceptional athletes with minimum amount of body fat.

Lean doesn’t always mean skinny. You have to also have muscles to create power. If you train frequently (let’s say, you play basketball every day), lifestyle and nutrition changes might be more beneficial than  adding  physical activity that risk overtraining.

Coordination

Coordination jump drills and exercises that  focus on ankle mobility and stability such as ankle hops, or quick lateral ankle hops, jump rope etc. should be also implemented to your workout routine,. there is room  for lot of reps because these exercises are low impact and not so demanding on your neuromuscular system.

Landing

Landing technique training should also be implemented in the workout routine of any athlete. It should be the first thing you must learn before you want to train your vertical.

The landing should be smooth without excessive noise, the knees are stable and point forward, the absorption of landing forces should be effective (the more effective the absorption, the better will be the subsequent jump upwards), and you should simply stick to the ground without any excessive movement.

The best exercise to teach the smooth landing is called  the drop jump.

It’s the same principle as depth jump, but you stay on the ground after the landing for few seconds.  Try to stabilize your posture. After that, there is no subsequent vertical jump. The height of the drop jump is also crucial, If  your form breaks down after the landing, and you are not able to utilize the cues from your coach, you should lower the height. You can make the drop jumps on both legs or single leg, because in real world of sports, lot of landing occurs on one leg.

Jumps With  Additional Weight

Jump training with additional weight can be also implemented with moderation in an overall training plan.  But keep in mind that  this weight can alter our movement pattern. So this this type of training should not be the only type of jumping exercises we do.

Lateral Jumps

If you want to improve yourself or your athletes in jumping, you should also include lateral jumps. Why? Because in sports you don’t always jump directly forward (except of long jump), so any lateral jumps from one or two feet are beneficial in jump training.

Athletes gain stability in landing (crucial for almost every athlete – skiers, basketball players, football players etc.) and will be taught to generate a lot of power in lateral movement.

Here are some tips for lateral jumps:

  • Lateral jump from two feet, leave from two feet and land to balanced position.
  • Forward jump over a low hurdle into a maximum lateral jump
  • Lateral jump from one feet, land on two feet and make a vertical jump forward to a box
  • Lateral jump from one leg to another

Endurance Training, Agility, Speed Training.

Long-distance running can be detrimental to this training program, whose focus is to increase the vertical jump. There is a lot of enzymatic, hormonal and neuromuscular changes, which can be harmful to jumping and strength performance.

Don’t try to be focused only on the vertical jump, include also some agility and speed work. use cones, hurdles, different agility drills such as T-drill, L-drill, Illinois, or X-drill to improve your athleticism, and have fun.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

How do you put all this into practice? I’ll give just one example. Let’s consider the hypothetical case  of a 17 year old male basketball player on a club or school team who is 6’2, weighs around 170 lbs, and is a fairly good athlete. He’s fast, coordinated, and can use the accumulated force effectively. But his coach told him that he must put on some weight and get stronger. He has some base of strength and knows the technique of basic lifts, so he is at the beginner/intermediate level.  In order to increase his vertical jump, while simultaneously increasing strength,  he would execute two demanding strength sessions in the gym weekly during the season. And he would do one session a week  focused on vertical jump and plyometrics during his off-season.

Day 1: Strength Workout

Goblet squat3 series10 reps1 minute rest between series
Back squat5 series5 reps2 minutes rest between series
Hip Thrusts4 series5 reps2 minutes rest between series
Glute Ham Raises3 series10 reps1 minute rest between series
Calf Raises3 series

3 series
15 reps (lower resistance)
6 reps (higher resistance)
1 minute rest between series

2 minutes rest between series


Day 2: Workout oriented on jumping

Jump Rope5 minutes (warm-up)
4-star drill3 series8 reps (1 square is one rep)1 minute rest between series
Ankle hops with dorsiflexion3 series10 reps1 minute rest between series
Side-to-side jumps (both feet)4 series20 reps1 minute rest between series
Lateral jump (from one leg to another followed by box jump)3 series5 reps (5 reps for each leg)1 minute rest between series
Drop Jump3 series5 reps2-3 minutes
Depth Jump3 series3 reps2 minutes


Day 3: Strength oriented workout

Clean and Jerk4 series3 reps2 minute rest between series
Deadlift4 series5 reps2 minutes rest between series
Push Press4 series5 reps2 minutes rest between series
Rear Lunges3 series10 reps (5 reps for each leg)1 minute rest between series
Mountain Climbers3 series

 

20 reps (10 reps for each leg)1 minute rest between series


Happy jumping! Please see the references below for further information. Please feel free to comment below or on my Facebook page if you have any questions.

About the Author

12108992_10204143062770614_4198394212444974638_n-2Jakub Kalus is a 22-year-old Personal Trainer, Strength and Conditioning Coach and Internet magazine editor from Brno, Czech Republic. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. Jakub has competed in natural bodybuilding and now manages a team of natural bodybuilders. In 2015, he published the first version of his book Jumper’s Guide, which focusses on improving the vertical jump.  Check out Jakub’s  Facebook page.

 

References:

1) CARLOCK, Jon M., Sarah L. SMITH, Michael J. HARTMAN, et al. The Relationship Between Vertical Jump Power Estimates and Weightlifting Ability: A Field-Test Approach. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2004, 18(3), 534-. DOI: 10.1519/R-13213.1. ISSN 1064-8011. Dostupné také z: http://nsca.allenpress.com/nscaonline/?request=get-abstract

2) AAGAARD, Per. The Use of Eccentric Strength Training to Enhance Maximal Muscle Strength, Explosive Force (RDF) and Muscular Power – Consequences for Athletic Performance~!2009-07-05~!2009-11-01~!2010-04-29~!. The Open Sports Sciences Journal. 2010, 3(1), 52-55. DOI: 10.2174/1875399X01003010052. ISSN 1875399x. Dostupné také z: http://benthamscience.com/open/openaccess.php?tossj/articles/V003/52TOSSJ.htm

3) BOBBERT, Maarten F. Drop Jumping as a Training Method for Jumping Ability. Sports Medicine. 1990,9(1), 7-22. DOI: 10.2165/00007256-199009010-00002. ISSN 0112-1642. Dostupné také z: http://link.springer.com/10.2165/00007256-199009010-00002

4) MARKOVIC, G. a R. U NEWTON. Does plyometric training improve vertical jump height? A meta-analytical review * Commentary. DOI: 10.1136/bjsm.2007.035113. ISBN 10.1136/bjsm.2007.035113. Dostupné také z: http://bjsm.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bjsm.2007.035113

5) ANDERSON, Frank C. a Marcus G. PANDY. Storage and utilization of elastic strain energy during jumping.Journal of Biomechanics. 1993, 26(12), 1413-1427. DOI: 10.1016/0021-9290(93)90092-S. ISSN 00219290. Dostupné také z: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/002192909390092S

 

The Power Primer: How an Embarrassing Story lead me to focus on Athleticism

hormones

( First, I have a story. Honestly,  it’s not a story I like to tell because it was embarrassing and a difficult time. Still, I’m sure you can relate.

At the end, I’ll tell you about my latest Workout, the Power Primer 2.0. The Power Primer is three full workout programs (36 weeks) of top-notch programming to help you build a body that performs like a top athlete…and looks good naked. But I’ll get to that later.  ) 

As a kid athleticism was never an issue.  I played a ton of sports, ran around the neighborhood making forts and playing pick-up games.

But, I was small and weak. Puny even. Especially compared to my classmates.

As a result, I was timed. I lacked confidence in how I looked, and how I performed playing sports.

This built up until at all once, it came to head.  It was high school gym class in late October. In Wisconsin, the frigid temperatures meant the ground was rock solid. Every time you hit the ground, it felt like falling on a pile of rocks.

We were playing flag Football…where the idea is to pull a flag rather than tackle each other into oblivion. Well, that’s the idea anyways.
Being a smaller, fast dude I was playing safety. My job was to run anyone down who might score.

The other team lined up and through the ball to Jason. Jason was the token overdeveloped, terminator of a dude that dominated every sport. He caught it and sprinted in my direction.
Soon, I was in the last place a puny unconfident dude wanted to be: between Jason and the end zone.

Jason had two options; race past me, or run through me.

Naturally, Jason decided I provided less resistance than a blade of grass. So he lowered his shoulder and sent my helpless corpse tumbling to the turf as he gliding to the end zone.

I looked up at the overcast sky. I heard the jeers. And then I lay there ,motionless for a moment.
Physically, I was a mess.

My wind was gone. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.

My body ached and throbbed after getting tossed like a lifeless doll across the turf.

And that was just the start.

Mentally, I felt weak, pathetic, and insignificant.

I peeled my carcass off the grass, stumbled to a knee, and caught my breath.
As I stumbled to the sidelines, chin down and arm cradled at my side, the jeers and taunts grew louder.

I walked away from everyone: friends, teachers, and classmates.

I stood there, staring blankly into nowhere. I just wanted to be alone.

The skin on my cheeks tightened and my eyes got big. I held back tears of embarrassment. But my cheeks blushed, illustrating exactly how I felt inside.

Fuck it.  

Why was I even bothering with this stuff?

Then, I snapped out of it. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for myself, I got pissed.

Pride, passion, perseverance.

I heard the voice of an old coach saying these words. Whenever a game got tough, that was his credo.

That did it. It was a turning point.  Why let some asshole like Jason ruin me?

From there on, I dedicated myself to training.

To getting bigger, stronger, and better. To forge a body and will harder than iron.

Fast forward eight years. Sixty pounds of muscle and a ton of enhanced confidence later, I was a coach.

Sixty pounds of muscle and a ton of enhanced confidence later, I was a coach.

Helping athletes and other dudes get strong, jacked, and athletic was my passion.

And then it happened.

I was at a seminar, working with other trainers and a handful of coaches on sprint technique.

Problem was, I hadn’t done much in the way of sprinting, jumping, or sports in a few years.

Competitive and intramurals sports were over.

Now, I relegated my fitness to lifting heavy shit and the bi-monthly sprint workout.

We all stood in a line, facing the instructor, and began a skipping drill.

I tried my best to mimic the drill he covered, but to no avail. I skipped awkwardly, like a teenager who had just finished his growth spurt. Bewildered by my lack of coordination, I lost focused and stumbled over my own feet.

What in the fuck was I doing?

Rather than the athleticism I’d had my whole life, I looked like a convulsing teenager who had just seen his first FULL BOOB.

The same crushing embarrassment took hold. My skin flushed. This time, I cracked a joke.

It was my new coping mechanism. But I wasn’t really fooling anyone, least of all myself.

Despite a fake smile and a few jokes, my gut wrenched. I stood there, embarrassed and dumbfounded.

Sure, I was strong, lean, and pretty built. But where had all l my athleticism gone?

Further, I asked what’s the point in all this heavy lifting, counting macros, and dedication if we ignore the basic idea of improving athleticism?

That’s the problem I’d set out to fix. First for myself, and then for hundreds of clients who wanted to be the total package: strong, lean, and athletic.
Today, more than ever, many of us are weak. Many kids drop out of sports by age 12.

Overprotective parents don’t help. Neither do sedentary desk jobs.

Neither do sedentary desk jobs.
And despite the increasing popularity of fitness, actual sports and athleticism are quickly going down the shitter.

 

The result?

A fair number of strong and lean bodies, but piss-poor athleticism and power.

To steal from Nate Green’s masterful rant titled “For the Guys who Don’t Workout.

“But you gotta understand the gym doesn’t define me. I am not my broad shoulders. I am not my six-pack. I am not my freakin’ biceps.”

Sure, your broad shoulders, six-pack, and biceps are great. But you deserve more. You deserve a capable body and the unconquerable will that comes with building athleticism and powerful performance.

And that means changing your training to incorporate values of athleticism, namely, explosive power.

After working with hundreds of clients, I’ve found that adding in explosive power to be the best method for getting what we all want: a strong, shredded, and athletic body.

That’s exactly what these five exercises deliver: a blend of strength, athleticism, and explosive power to unleash your inner athlete.

By adding these five movements alone into your training, you’ll be light years more athletic than the average meathead.

5 Power Primer Exercises to Build Athleticism

Jump Rope

Jump ropes aren’t a stupid tool you force-fed in Elementary school. They’re a badass old-school tool that boosts athleticism and shreds bodyfat.

Let’s dive into boosting athleticism first.

Jumping rope develops speed, agility, and coordination for sports. Sprinting is great too ( and I’ll cover it later), but for dudes who haven’t run around the block in five years, jumping into full-speed sprints is asking for injuries.

You wouldn’t jump into near-maximal lifting after a long layoff, would you?

Nah. You’re smarter than that.

The same philosophy applies to sprints. You must first condition your joints and ligaments, especially the Achilles tendon, for high-speed impact.

Even better, the jump rope is a one of the safest conditioning tools for two reasons:

First, jumping rope is a self-limiting exercise, meaning that when your form breaks down the exercise ends.

To be successful skippin’ the ole’ rope, you’re forced to stay in an aligned, joint stacked position, stabilizing your core under the load of movement.

bach performance jump rope, athleticism, power primer, the power primer
This teaches your core to hold position under movement while preventing the chances of overuse.

Second, jumping rope is low-impact despite a high number of foot strikes. This keeps the joint stress low and conditions the Achilles tendon for explosive movement. Achilles tendon injuries are alarmingly common in weekend warriors.

The jump rope provides one of the best prevention tools around. It is exceptionally effective both as a low impact athleticism and conditioning tool. For most, jumping rope two or three times per week for 10-15 minutes provides a huge boost.

Squat Jump

The squat jump is one of the best exercises to improve your power and get more athletic, especially if your gym doesn’t allow Olympic lifts. Squat jumps mimic the squat and a vertical jump, bridging the gap between jumping in sport and squatting in the gym.

In the short term, these explosive exercises improve your workouts by activating high-threshold motor units to fire and recruit more muscle during training. This means you’ll be able to lift more weight and stimulate more muscle growth and strength during workouts. 

 

In the long-term, you’ll recruit more muscle fibers with less effort.

This makes it easier to call all more muscle to action and smash heavy weights, thus helping you build a strong, lean, and explosive body.

How to do it: There are three phases: loading, exploding, and landing.

Loading: Set up with feet about shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance with arms up at chest height. The loading phase uses downward arm swing with flexing at the hips and knees to load your legs.

Exploding: Swing your arms up while extending your hips and knees, taking off on the balls of your feet. Extend the arms overhead and aim to extend the body with the ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder, and ear all aligned.

Landing: Bend your knees into a squat position and absorb force evenly through the foot. Keep your chest and head up, looking straight ahead.

How many: Three sets of five reps with 60-90 seconds rest. Perform on a lower-body training day, before a squat or deadlift.

Hill Sprints

Sprinters have some of the world’s best bodies. And while correlation does not equal causation, sprinting is a basic skill in sports and gets you shredded.

So what’s the key?

Sprints create a physiological response like high-intensity weight lifting.
In sprinting, your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips generate insane amounts of force while your spine stabilizes and transfers power.
This builds stronger legs and youthful athleticism while triggering a massive hormonal shift in your body.

 

Three hormones that help you look better naked are affected by sprints:

Testosterone – The major masculinizing hormone in your body. Greater testosterone levels improve your energy, improve sex drive (wee!), build stacks of lean mass, and cut body fat.

Growth Hormone (GH) – GH is released in response to large muscle contractions and is further stimulated by training without full recovery.

Triggered by metabolic stress, the stressful environment when you’re gasping for air and muscles are on fire, GH is referred to as the fountain of youth. GH slows the aging process, aid in fatty acid metabolism, and boost protein synthesis.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Huge muscular contractions stimulate improved insulin sensitivity, which improves markers of cardiovascular health, builds lean muscle, and carves body fat off your body.

Further, improved insulin sensitivity improves nutrient partitioning. That means your body improves at breaking down nutrients for energy and muscular recovery rather than fat storage.

What to Do: Hill or incline sprints are best as they reduce injury risk. The hill makes it mechanically impossible to over stride, decreasing the risk of the dreaded hamstring pull.

Further, running up a hill shrinks the distance your foot covers to the ground, decreasing joint stress.Sprint twice per week, as an individual workout or after a lift.
After a warm-up, sprint all out for eight – twelve rounds of sprints.

Here’s a sample six-week progression:

Weeks One and Two: Sprint 15 seconds, rest 45 seconds
Weeks Three and Four: Sprint 20 seconds, rest 40 seconds
Weeks Five and Six: Sprint 25 seconds, rest 35 seconds

High Pull

I love cleans, but for a lot of lifters, years of heavy loading and poor thoracic mobility make it impossible to catch the bar with the elbows up. Enter the high pull.

The high pull uses explosive hip extension, teaching the glutes, quads, and hamstrings to generate insane amounts of force while your core stabilizes your spine and elbows drive the bar up.

As a result, the high pull helps you develop explosive athletic power and builds a jacked and athletic body. After a few weeks of high pulls, you’ll notice thicker glutes and hamstrings to pair with thick traps and cables for forearms.

High pulls are great on both upper and lower body days. Since they’re explosive in nature, make high-pulls the first exercise you do in training to get more athletic with sets and reps like 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps.If you want to add a bit more size, add them after your main lift for 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps.

Clean Grip Reverse Lunge

Most lifters have tight hips, achy knees, a weak upper back, underactive abs and tons of asymmetries between their legs. If I told you I had an exercise that takes care of all these ailments and makes you more athletic and resistance to injury, you’d say I was full of shit, right?

Well, I’m not. The clean grip reverse lunge is that exercise.

Reverse-Lunge-Side

Stronger thoracic extensors: Are you hunched over your smartphone reading this?

Tsk, Tsk!

Bad posture is an epidemic and we’re all guilty. To improve posture and shoulder health we need to train the traps, serratus, levator scapulae, rhomboids, and lats to hold position and prevent you from flexing forward. Holding the bar in the clean grip does exactly that.

 

Less Knee Stress: Holding the barbell on the front of your body limits the weight you can use. That means less joint compression on the knee and spine.
Further, stepping backward keepings your shin vertical, limiting shear stress on the knee. By reducing shear and compressive stress, you’ll keep happier, healthier knees.

Better Abs: Holding the bar on the front of your body forces your entire core to engage, keeping your vertical so you don’t fold like an accordion.

Fix asymmetries: The clean grip reverse lunge requires dynamic stabilization and single leg strength. This works the major muscles in your leg and what’s termed the lateral subsystem, a group of neglected muscles (quadratus lumborum, adductors, and glutes) to stabilize each leg and generate strength.

Medicine Ball back Toss

The medicine ball back toss is one of the best exercises to get more athletic for two reasons:
1. You get to throw stuff.
After a long day, or just for the hell of it, it’s fun to throw heavy stuff around.
2. Explosive Hip Extension.
Explosive hip extension is the driving force behind taking off in a sprint, maximizing your clean, squat, or deadlift, and jumping. Adding a medicine ball is just another way to add explosiveness to the same movement pattern while having a bit more fun.

Instead of squats or deadlifts, add medicine ball back tosses in the beginning of your workout for 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.

The Power Primer 2.0 is here!

Most lifters fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing one goal at the expense of all other training parameters.

That’s fine for elite athletes. But for the rest of us, we’re after the total package.

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

I’ve created eight months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic. This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism a the cost of building your best-looking body.

It’s time to bridge the gap between athleticism and aesthetics.

It’s time to unleash the Power Primer and build your leanest, strongest, and most athletic body to date.

For less than you spend on protein powder each month, you’ll have all your workouts expertly planned, organized, and guided by a custom video guide from now until 2017.

Get the Power Primer Today

Athlete Strong in 12 Weeks, Power Primer


1. Gould D, Petlichkoff L. Participation motivation and attrition in young athletes. In: Smoll FL, Magill RA, Ash MJ, eds. Children in Sport. 3rd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1988:161-178.

Four Training Splits to Build an Athletic Body

The Power Primer

We’ve both been there: Every rep feels explosive as if you’ve unlocked another gear. You’re adding weight to the bar and getting stronger damn near every workout.

Basically, you feel like Superman. Your skin is tighter, your shirts fit better, and you hold your head high at the beach because frankly, you look fucking awesome. 

Then, as quickly as your gains started, the floor falls out from underneath you.

You’re lethargic in the gym, and exhausted most of the day. Your knees ache, shoulder cracks, and back is sore.

And your motivation? Non-existent. Even after taking enough pre-workout to fail a drug test you’re dragging. Each rep is a grind and the gym feels like a waste of time. 

Yep, You’ve hit the wall. 

When your training takes a sharp dive off the deep end and your progress stalls it’s time to change.

Not just your grip, your stance, or another micro progression. Nor a change from front squats to back squats.

No, I’m talking a monumental shift.

A new training split.

Yes, your long-term training principles should remain constant, but you need new methods.

As long as you’re adding weight to the bar, moving like an athlete, eating well, and sleeping enough then a new training split is what you need to build transform your body and get a strong, jacked, and athletic body.

The Power Primer, athletic body

That said, let’s review the best splits to help you build a stronger, shredded, and athletic body.  I’ll explain the good and the bad of each, giving you the knowledge to pick your next training split so you can build the lean, athletic look you’re after.

Either way, a new program is exciting—renewed motivation will have you attacking each workout and getting in the best shape of your life. 

P.S. Want to get strong, jacked, and athletic? I’ll show you how in our FREE course Seven Days to Superhuman. 

Click here to Join the FREE Course.

Upper Lower Training Split

Upper-lower training splits are an excellent training split to help you build strength and muscle with four workouts per week.

Pros: Upper-Lower training splits are a great progression from total body training and work well if you want to gain muscle and strength.

Upper-Lower splits allow greater training frequency for quicker learning and mastering your lifts while still lifting heavy to build strength. Together, this helps you get better at your big lifts, train with enough volume to build muscle, and lift heavy enough to get strong. 

Cons: Upper body workouts can take much longer than lower body workouts. Sure, this is great for your biceps, but if you crave consistency and have troubles working out when life get’s crazy, the inconsistency between workout times might drive you crazy.


Plus, if you’ve been following bodybuilding style body part splits (chest on Monday, back on Tuesday etc), then you might notice you’re not recovering as quickly. Of course, you can fix this by spending time with recovery methods like foam rolling, getting 7-8 hours per sleep, and when all else fails, eating more steak

Here’s a sample outline:

Monday: Upper Body (Push Strength Emphasis)

Tuesday: Lower Body (Squat Pattern Strength Emphasis)

Wednesday: Off/active recovery

Thursday: Upper Body (Pull Strength Emphasis)

Friday: Lower Body (Hinge pattern strength Focus)

Saturday/Sunday: Off

Total Body Training Split
When you train your upper and lower body in the same workout, you’re doing a total body workout. Another way to think of it is rather than training each muscle individually, you’re training your body as an integrated machine.

Pros: If you only have three days to workout per week or have issues skipping workouts, then look no further. Since you’re training your entire body you’ll minimize the fluff. There’s no need for 13 variations of lateral raises when your training pressing, pulling, squatting, lunging, and deadlifting movements multiple times per week.  

Since you’re training muscles as much as 2-3 times per week, you’ll trigger more frequent protein synthesis in your muscles being trained, potentially helping you build muscle faster.


And if you’re looking to drop a few pounds?


Total body workouts can cause a massive disruption to your body as it tries to catch up with multiple muscle groups working in a short period of time to help you lose fat.

Cons: One of the downsides of total body workouts is you may get bored, especially if you crave variety and the novelty of a well-timed biceps pump. Plus, if you’re looking to maximize muscular size, then the low volume of workouts will limit some of your gains. A key component of muscle growth is metabolic stress, so unless you add a high-rep finisher like biceps curls to failure, you won’t get as big as a house with total body training.

Moreover, stronger and more experienced lifters struggle recovering from three hard leg training workouts per week. You’ll need to vary how often you go heavy, possibly adopting an undulated periodization model.

Still, among all training splits total body workouts are your best bet if you tend to program hop, skip workouts, and get “too busy” to train….especially if you’re skipping leg day. 

Example:

Day One:

1.Power Clean 5×3

2.Bench Press 3×6

3.Lunge 3×8-12

4a.Farmer Walks 3×30 seconds

4b. Dips 3x 30 seconds timed set

Day Two:

1.Push Press 5×3

2.Deadlift 4×6

3.Chin Up 3×8-12

4a.Plank 3×30 seconds

4b. Biceps Curl 3x 30 seconds timed set

P.S. Want a FREE Six Week Strength Building Workout?

                           Download the Sheer Strength Workout Here

 

Push-Pull Training Split

If you’re like most people, you have a tendency to train what you see in the mirror while conveniently forgetting about the back side of your body.

Tsk. Tsk.

As much as we all like to push it like Salt-N-Pepa, building a strong, athletic, and shredded body requires more balance. 

Enter the push/pull training split, arguably the most balanced training split for total body strength, size, and athleticism.

On “pull” days, you’ll hammer the backside of your body, hitting muscles like your lats, traps, glutes, and hamstrings.


On push-days, you’ll hit the movements to train your chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, and abs.

You can work the entire front side of your body or the back side of your body all in one workout. Alternatively, you can break these days down further by breaking these workouts into upper body and lower body days each.

For example…

-Upper Body Push (chest, triceps, shoulders)
-Upper Body Pull (Lats, biceps, rear delts, traps)
-Lower Body Push (squats, leg extensions, lunges)
-Lower Body Pull (deadlifts, good mornings, hip thrusts)

Pros: Push-Pull routines are a great option for experienced lifters as they’re both efficient and flexible. You’ll be able to train with enough volume to trigger muscle growth without living in the gym. 

Cons: There are very few issues with these workouts. The biggest hiccup will come if you miss workouts and start skipping “pull” or “lower body” workouts. Push-pull workouts are okay, but not great for beginners in the gym.

Example:

Day One: Pull (legs/hamstrings, back, biceps, lower back)

Day Two: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps, legs/quads, abs)

Day Three: OFF

Day Four: Pull (legs/hamstrings, back, biceps, lower back)

Day Five: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps, legs/quads, abs)

Day Six: OFF

Day Seven: OFF

Intensive/Extensive Training Split

Giggity.

These are my favorite.

The intensive/extensive split bases training splits on the neural demands of a workout.

For example, a heavy/explosive day is often followed by a metabolic/higher volume bodybuilding style day.

This also corresponds with conditioning.

For example, a workout with squat jumps followed by heavy squats, and sprints workout is intensive, as it is very demanding on your nervous system and joints. If you pair too many neurally intensive workouts in a row, you’ll end up beat up, beaten down, and over training.

Hard pass, right?


Instead, it’s best to follow an intensive training split with an extensive workout. An example here would be doing an upper body workout focused on higher reps sets of 10-15 reps, shorter rest, and lighter weight. You lift as heavy, but you’ll  create tons of metabolic stress to build muscle, lose fat, and improve your endurance. 

Pros: Intensive/Extensive training splits are lifting strategy ideal for people looking to get stronger, more muscular, and more athletic at the same time.
If you want to train like an athlete, it’s easy to add high technical sprint work on the intensive days.
If you want to build muscle, you’ll train heavy enough to trigger increases in anabolic hormones and the tension needed to build muscle. Still, extensive days allow you to train light enough to get an incredible pump.

And for fat loss? 
They work here too. The variety of training stimulus isn’t too much to recover from, yet it’s enough to help you lose fat.

Cons: They’re difficult to program. If your primary goal is to look hot naked (hey, I can’t blame you), you’ll want to eliminate some of the intensive work and focus on some more higher rep work. If your goals are performance based, the opposite is true.
If you train too many factors too close together, you risk the chance of becoming the “jack of all trades and the master of none,” wallowing in mediocrity and not really getting good at any one thing.
Plus, intensive workouts are longer as you’ll need to pay more attention to your rest if you want to maximize performance.

Sample Workout

This is focused on keeping you athletic, but a bit more on body composition so you look hot.

Monday: Olympic lift+ compound push exercises, Heavy and explosive. Light conditioning.

Tuesday: Pull Emphasis, high rep (8-15+) and hypertrophy focused. Hard conditioning.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Olympic lift+ compound pull exercises. Heavy and explosive, light conditioning.

Friday: Pull Emphasis, high rep (8-15+) and hypertrophy focused.

Saturday/Sunday: Hard conditioning 1x, active recovery

 So, which workout is best for you?

Your training must be specific to your goal. 

If your goal is to look great naked above all else, then by all means trade in your power cleans for biceps curls. 

On the flip side, if you need to build muscle from head to toe and get stronger, don’t start your workouts by curling in the squat rack. 

How much time will you dedicate to training?

Regardless of how “busy” you are you still have 24 hours like the rest of us. I don’t say this to be a dick, but it’s true.
You have the time to prioritize training if you want your dream body. Regardless, weigh how committed you are and pick a training split you know you’ll do consistently.

How experienced are you in the gym?

For most guys, they’re best off crushing total body or upper lower training splits to get strong, explosive and athletic. Still, make sure you’re varying training as you gain strength and experience to prevent plateaus and minimize joint stress.

Do you focus on recovery…or only training?

The body is an integrated system. Rather than looking at recovery based on how your muscles feel you must take into account everyday stress, the nervous system, sleep quality, and nutrition.

For example, for a few years I crushed training in a high-end performance facility. That meant tons of sprints, jumps, throws, coffee, and explosive demonstrations. All these short, high-intensity bouts added up quickly as my energy fluctuated. I had to dial back heavy lifting, sprints, and jumps.
Now that I train fewer clients, write more, and demo less, I’m more recovered and can train harder more often.

Stress is systemic, everything counts and should be factored into your training.

Your Training Split to Build an Athletic Body

If your current training isn’t helping your build an athletic body, then you need to make a change. 

Don’t fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing one goal at the expense of all others

That’s fine for elite athletes.

But for the rest of us, we’re after the total package.

You probably want to be…

Strong in the gym, yet athletic enough to kick ass on the weekends.

 Strong, lean, and athletic. 

Happy and confident with your shirt off. 

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

 I’ve created a Full Eight Months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic.

This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism a the cost of building your best-looking body.

It’s time to bridge the gap between looking your best and performing like an athlete. 

It’s time for the Power Primer. And it can be yours for less than $.17 (yes, 17 cents) per workout. 

 

thePowerprimer athlete strong

>> Get The Power Primer here <<

For less than you spend on protein powder each month, you’ll have all your workouts expertly planned, organized, and guided by a custom video guide from now until the Spring of 2018. 

 

1. Gould D, Petlichkoff L. Participation motivation and attrition in young athletes. In: Smoll FL, Magill RA, Ash MJ, eds. Children in Sport. 3rd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1988:161-178.

The Right way to Implement Ramping Sets for Strength

Strength is simple.

By adding weight to your lifts you’ll progressive overloading your body and get strong, jacked, and develop a superhuman physique.

All you need to do is add weight to the barbell, pick up heavier dumbbells, and make small improvements.

Heck, if you bench press 95 pounds by adding only five pounds per week you’ll bench press 355 pounds in one year. If you follow this for three years?
You’d bench 563 pounds.

Unfortunately, few lifters bench press 355 pounds. And 563 pounds? Well, save for the keyboard warriors on Reddit who bench 600, have 4% body fat, and weight 220 pounds (sigh) only the genetic elite and most dedicated lifters can move such a weight.

As great and novel as the idea of progressive overload is, it has limitations, particularly if you follow a linear progression.

What is linear progression?

Linear progression is using the same weight for all your sets and reps, like bench pressing 95 pounds for five sets of five reps.

Problem is, 5×5 at 85% 1-RM gets increasingly difficult the stronger you get. 

No longer is your max 185bs on the deadlift. It’s now 365lbs, a significant training stress on your joints, muscles, nervous system, and psyche.

Soon, you’re no longer smashing your work sets with two minutes or rest in-between. Far from it. Now, you’re heaving and hawing like American Pharaoh after the Preakness, and missing reps on weights you should crush.

ramping

By the fifth set, you’re cashed, pissed at your ineptitude, and questioning “whether this program even works.”

Straight set programs like Bill Starr’s 5×5 are classics that work great with beginners,  but as your abilities in gym improve your methods need to adapt to the greater demands of hard training.

In other words, you need to lift smarter. 

This is done with ascending loading or ramping sets. Instead of straight sets, you’ll start lighter, but increase the weight on each set, working towards a top end work-set.

Ramping gradually activates your nervous system with progressively heavier weights, leading up to your heaviest work sets at the end the exercise.

This way, you’ll lift heavy enough and with enough volume to strength and size. Even better, you’ll preserve your body from bombing out, missing reps, and wondering, “is this program even working?” 

P.S. Are you sick of spinning your wheels in the gym? Join the 7 Days to Superhuman Course and find the perfect program to build strong, athletic muscle without living in the gym. 

Ascending Loading Science 

I already know what you’re thinking:

“Won’t ramping result in lifting less weight overall? I mean, if I’m using lighter loads early on won’t my total work load be less, and minimal my maximum swollage and training gains?”

No.

Think of your set-rem scheme as a multi-lap race. If you blow through your fuel source from the get-go, you’ll fizzle out and get smoked in the last few laps.

In ramping, you’ll grease the groove, reinforce your technique, and get dialed in for victory. Rather than blowing through the gas tank in lap one, you’re making calculated moves to get into position and take home the gold on your final lap.

The Power of Submaximal Training

Now, before you run away and “tweet”  Eric Bach says “only lift tiny weights, does he even lift, bro?”, let me re-iterate:

By using a gradual ramp, you’ll activate your nervous system gradually, preserving it for top end sets.

With ramping sets, you’ll gradually ramp up from 40-60% of your max towards 80% -1 RM or higher for pure strength work. This means you’ll start lighter, but potentially finish by lifting heavier weights.

This helps you in two ways:

By lifting lighter weights more explosively, you’ll develop explosive power, getting stronger and more powerful in the process. 

 

By moving weights as fast and as hard as possible, you’ll recruit a greater number of muscle fibers for more muscle growth. You’ll stimulate your nervous system to improve power and strength. And since the weight is a little lighter, you’ll hone in and lift with pristine technique rather than grinding through your fourth set of five reps before inevitably kicking your feet and getting pinned on your final set. 

Submaximal ramping sets help you minimize fatigue during early work sets. This lets you reinforce wicked awesome technique and incredible bar speed for more power. You’ll preserve your nervous system for your heaviest sets.  

CNS Potentiation Science:

Stay with me, as this gets a little deep. Keep your eyes on the bolded text if you want the cliff notes on how this will help your gains.

The driving force behind ascending loading schemes is potentiating the nervous system and muscles for greater levels of performance while intelligently managing fatigue associated with lifting big weights.

ramping sets for strength

To better understand this, a few things happen as the nervous system becomes excited after a heavy resistance exercise:

  • According to Hamada et. el (2000), there is an increased phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains during a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC).

This allows the actin and myosin binding (for muscle contraction) to react to the increased calcium release. This reaction triggers a cascade of events leading to enhanced force muscle production at the structural level of muscle (Horwath & Kravitz ).

Thus, increased muscle activation yields a greater duration of calcium ions in the muscle cell environment, yielding a greater phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein (Rixon et al. 2007).

In other words, by moving the bar as fast as possible and/or against a heavy load, you improve force production at the muscular level.

Another Theory

The second theory is based on the H-reflex, an excitation of a spinal reflex elicited by afferent muscle nerves. It is theorized that the PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle (Robbins, 2005).

Basically, your nervous system gets all jacked up and is prepared for increasingly heavier loads when you maximally contract the muscles through heavy weight or maximal bar speed.

When fatigue is managed in conjunction with increased nervous system function you have the recipe to generate more force and in this case, lift heavier weights.

Sample Progression

Here’s a sample progression on how you can implement ramping sets into your training.

Squat Training Max: 405 lbs
Set and Rep Scheme: 5×2

Heaviest Workload for the Day: 95% 1-RM= 385lbs

Warm-Up: 135×5; 185×5

Work Sets:

  • 225×2
  • 275×2
  • 315×2
  • 365×2
  • 385×2

This way, you’re total volume will be lower. But each rep will be spot-on, powerful, and smooth. 

Straight sets are fine when you’re starting out, but as your experience improves your methods must adapt to your new levels of performance. That means smarter progression and loading schemes, like ascending loading to take your gains to the next level.

That’s Not All:

Building a body that’s strong, shredded, and explosive isn’t easy. If it was, more of us would have the strong, lean, and athletic we desire. 

 

Let’s Face it

Most lifters plateau in the gym but stay mediocre because they continue doing what they’ve always done or, they follow a program that doesn’t allow them to train consistently.

Maybe you only heavy and train like a powerlifter.

Or, you do 12 variations of biceps curls and only train like a body builder.

Or, life is crazy and you can only train three days per week…if you’re lucky.

Yet what you really want is to be strong, jacked, and look better naked. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s possible to look your best, be strong from head to toe without living in the gym. 

How?


The process all starts with an intelligent workout plan to improve your performance and train consistently. Then, it’s reinforced by a healthy diet to give you more energy, support training, and carve away unwanted body fat. 

This is exactly what I teach in your FREE 7 Days to Superhuman Course. Click here to join us and reach your potential today. 

 

Citations:

Hamada T, Sale DG, MacDougall JD, Tarnopolsky MA. Postactivation potentiation, fiber type, and twitch contraction time in human knee extensor muscles. J Appl Physiol. 2000 Jun;88(6):2131-7.

Horwath, R., & Kravitz , L. (n.d.). postactivation potentiation: A brief review. Informally published manuscript, Exercise Science , Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/postactivationUNM.html

Rixon KP, Lamont HS, Bemben M. Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on postactivation potentiation performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007; 21: 500–505.

Robbins, D.W. Postactivation potentiation and its practical applicability: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 2005, 19(2): 453-458.

Siff, M., & Verkhoshansky, Y. (1999). Supertraining: Special strength training for sporting excellence : A textbook on the biomechanics and physiology of strength conditioning for all sport (4th ed., p. 164). Denver: Supertraining International

 

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