This dude is jacked and fast, but how? What I do with my training is a blend of both worlds. I don’t want a super strong skinny athlete nor do I want a super slow muscle bound athlete. How can you accomplish the best of both worlds? My workous include:
- Strength movements trying to use maximal weight (1-5rm)
- Power movements (2-3 reps at high speed with 60-70% max)
- Faster paced, shorter rest complexes including pushing, pulling and leg dominant
- We use the sled for conditioning
- Bodyweight work must be a part of the program
- Spriting and jumping
This list is pretty simple when you look at it. If you have a combination of the above principles, you will become a beast. Remember, you can be good at all things at once, there must be a focus to your methods and program. If you are going to shade to one side heavily, then you must only lightly shade the other side. My own personal workout for today is: DB BENCH 5X5 W/BOX JUMPS, FAT GRIP PULLUPS 3XMAX, OH PRESSING W/SHRUG, DIPS AND CURLS. This is simple and to the point, no BS!
One of the most overlooked factors in training is the cadence or speed of the bar. One of my specialties is the training of basketball players as I have been at it with myself for 12 years now, working out before school during my senior year so games and practices wouldn’t be impacted. As the basketball season comes to an end, the first thing I will do with my players is give them a few weeks off. After that time, I will take at least four weeks to really focus on putting some size back on the players and finding some new size. Charles Poliquin, one of the top strength coaches in the world, has worked with over 600 professional and Olympic athletes says the key is time under tension. Now, I do not advocate isometric holds, which could be considered time under tension, but rather a dynamic and constant movement. The longer a muscle is stressed under a load, the more hypertrophy we will get. I am not saying that all sets and reps should be slow, but it must be taken into consideration. For hypertrophy, we generally will train in the 6-12 RM range. We will focus on explosive strength (power) and absolute strength as we move into a conjugated system, but even then, we will still focus on getting bigger. This is the beauty of the conjugate system. But that is a different topic. If you are trying to get bigger, vary your reps from week to week in the 6-12 range and vary the tempo as well. I would recommend keeping the sets between 20-70 seconds. There will be more to come on this topic. Stay tuned!
My shoulder is still very sore from the dislocation last week, but it feels okay to do certain movements. I start out every upper body workout with shouler iso movements and I work on activating the posterior delts and upper back. I have been cutting out the dynamic days due to the stress it causes on the tendons of the joints and replacing those days with repetition days to make sure I hit the hypertrophy aspect. The shoulder feels okay to do pressing, but I wouldn’t trust it while performing a max lift quite yet, so I have been performing my max effort upper body movement with pullups and a weight belt. I also believe that I will not lose any strength in my max pressing movements when I get back to them. If you are going to push heavy, you have to pull heavy!
This is an article that I wrote for a few websites. It gets a little more into the science as well, but overall there is some interesting stuff in here. Enjoy….
As a Strength Coach that has competed in bodybuilding, I have a unique perspective on muscular hypertrophy. I have read of so called ‘experts’ that have recommended bodybuilding style training for athletes that need to gain weight. Let me make this clear, bodybuilding is a sport and the only people that should train in a predominantly bodybuilding oriented style are bodybuilders. In this article, I hope to explain the difference between functional vs. non-functional hypertrophy and shed some light on how we can help our athletes gain useful muscle.
I have been reading up on some of the leading experts in the industry and one common thread has appeared amongst all of them. Strength-speed exercises should make up the bulk of an athlete’s strength program once they have moved past their general physical preparation phase (GPP). You should always have a GPP period when strength training resumes full swing after a season even if the athlete is extremely strong or has a lot of experience in the weight room. The body will be in a somewhat de-conditioned state after the long season. The argument could even be made that this is more important for veteran athletes compared to younger athletes. (Keep in mind that we are not talking about novices here. Novices would first need to work on general strength and repeated effort methods along with mastering their own bodyweight in exercises such as the pushup and squat.)
Speed strength training involves exercises in which a high acceleration and moderate to heavy weights are used (Verkhoshansky, 2009, Thibaudeau, 2006). Compare this with the typical bodybuilding style training that is so popular: moderate weights, high volume and slow repetitions. Most sports are played in a ballistic and dynamic manner. Training should be designed to reflect this. Many athletes have phenomenal physiques (i.e., jacked with a lot of muscle) as a side effect of their strength training. Most do not set out to gain a ton of muscle; rather they are looking for ways to improve their performance. This tells us that muscle can be gained through other forms of training and these forms of training can greatly enhance performance, something that bodybuilding training will not do.
An increase in muscle diameter is due to enlargement of individual muscle fibers by an increase in the number and size of individual myofibrils, accompanied by an increase in the amount of connective tissue. This increase in muscle protein is produced by increased protein synthesis and decreased protein degradation (Verkhoshansky, 2009). There are two different types of muscular hypertrophy,, functional and non-functional. The scientific names are sarcomere hypertrophy (functional) and sarcomplasmic hypertrophy (non-functional). The definitions are as follows (courtesy of Verkhoshansky):
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy: The volume of the non-contractile protein and semifluid plasma between the muscle fibers increases. Although the cross-sectional area of the muscle increases, the density of muscle fibers per unit area decreases and there is no corresponding increase in muscle strength.
Sarcomere hypertrophy: An increase in the size and number of sarcomeres which comprise the myofibrils. These may be added in series or parallel with the existing myofibrils, although only the parallel growth with contribute to an increased ability to produce muscle tension. The area density of myofibrils increases and there is a significantly greater ability to exert muscular strength.
Obviously, we want sarcomere hypertrophy for our athletes. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy leads to added bodyweight without an increase in strength, essentially a less powerful athlete, the exact opposite of we are trying to create. Excessive muscular hypertrophy also constricts the vascular system, making nutrient transport more difficult and therefore recovery will be more difficult. With the development of non-functional hypertrophy, the increase in muscle mass outstrips the development of the vascular system. This results in diminished nutrition and oxygenation of the muscle, slowing down of metabolic processes in the muscle and less efficient disposal of metabolic waste products from the musculoskeletal system (Zalessky & Burkhanov, 1981). Thibaudeau makes a great analogy by saying sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is like increasing the weight of a car but not the strength of it’s engine.
It is also important to remember that under conditions of rest and recovery, most of the energy is directed towards protein synthesis, whereas most of it is directed to muscle contraction during intense exercise (Verkhoshansky, 2009). This is a key point to remember when designing your strength and conditioning program, YOUR ATHLETES GROW AND GET BIGGER AND STONGER WHEN THEY ARE RECOVERING!!! More doesn’t mean better in this case.
The energetic theory of muscle hypertrophy states that hypertrophy results from the ‘supercompensation’ of protein synthesis after high intensity exercise, analogous to the supercompensation of muscle glycogen after prolonged after prolonged lower intensity exercise (think of carbo loading for distance runners). Another check mark in the need for lower intensity and recovery weeks in the program.
Data shows that the longer and more strenuous the submaximal loading (not explosive, rapid movement as seen in Olympic lifting), the less there is sarcomere hypertrophy and the more there is sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Legendary strength coach, Charles Poliquin popularized the time under tension (TUT) method for gaining muscle mass in the mid 90’s. Indeed this is great for gaining overall mass, but it is probably better suited for those looking for aesthetic results, novice trainees or athletes that need to improve strength-endurance more so than explosive athletic performance.
The bottom line is that there are two different types of muscle growth. We should never have our athletes gain weight just for the sake of gaining weight (unless they are a bodybuilder or sumo-wrestler). In order to gain functional hypertrophy we should emphasize explosive movements, compound movements and keep the reps under eight. All bodybuilding style training is not bad and it can in fact lead to some functional hypertrophy, but it should not make up the majority of the program. There are always exceptions to the rule, but this is a great place to start.
Thibaudeau, Christian (2006). The Black Book of Training Secrets. F. Lepine Publishing.
Siff, Mel and Verkhoshansky, Yuri (2009). Supertraining: 6th edition. Ultimate Athlete Concepts, USA.