Posts Tagged ‘power’

Having a good vertical jump can be a huge asset for any athlete, regardless of sport. Even if your sport doesn’t involve much jumping, improving your vertical jump has a carryover effect to running speed and overall explosiveness. For football, basketball, and volleyball players, the vertical jump is also one of the first “measurables” that scouts and college coaches look at when evaluating talent, so not only will the ability to jump high help you succeed in your sport, it will make you more valuable to the people that decide who gets to play on their teams.

You have to impress the guys carrying stopwatches if you want to play at the next level

You have to impress the guys carrying stopwatches if you want to play at the next level

Given the importance of having a good vertical jump, you’d think that more trainers would know how to put together a program to improve one’s vert. However, this is not really the case. (more…)

Advertisements

I get that lots of people are completely fine with going to the gym day after day, doing the exact same program for years, and never changing a single thing. People are creatures of habit, and change can be intimidating. But if you’re going to spend the time and money to go to the gym, you might as well be improving yourself while you’re there. Going in every day and doing the exact same exercises, with the exact same weight, for the exact same number of sets and reps is not only tedious, it’s not really beneficial after the first couple of months. If your program doesn’t change, your body won’t change. And you might actually start to regress once your body adapts to your current plan.

(more…)

Nearly all of the programs I write incorporate med ball throws.  During the “preseason” phase of training, 100% of them do. One of the first things I teach the athletes I train is how to properly execute these throws. Some people can do them right off the bat with no problem, but most untrained athletes need at least some coaching. The problem I see most often in untrained athletes is the tendency to try to do everything “all at once”. What I mean by this is that they have a difficult time creating torque and utilizing the stretch-shortening cycle in their throws because there’s no separation between upper body and lower body movements. (more…)

“Posterior chain” training is getting a lot of hype these days, and for good reason. Building a strong, powerful posterior chain will improve athletic ability dramatically by allowing you to run faster, jump higher, throw harder and hit farther.

There are other ways to hit baseballs farther, but I don't condone some of them.

There are other ways to hit baseballs farther, but I don’t condone some of them.

What is the posterior chain?

Simply put, it’s the muscles located on the back (posterior) of your body. When talking about sports performance, it typically refers to the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. (more…)

Training programs and goals must change throughout the offseason. At the beginning of the offseason, training is dedicated to improving strength and fixing imbalances incurred during the season. As the season approaches, training programs for baseball players should transition from strength-based to power-based, and more emphasis should be placed on sport-specific movements and drill work. Many younger ballplayers who have not yet reached high school are in the middle of their “pre-season” training phase right now, as outdoor practices have begun and regular season games are right around the corner. This means that they are doing a LOT of explosive drills like medicine ball throws to improve their ability to use the strength they’ve gained over the winter.

One of the most important things my athletes have been working on this offseason is powerful, effective hip rotation. Without good hip rotation, both pitching velocity and hitting power will suffer.  Here’s two medicine ball drills that will help develop pitching and hitting power, while grooving good lower body movement patterns: (more…)

I’ve seen this topic covered on several other websites recently, but I’ve been saying this for years and I’ll say it again now: “Ladder and cone drills do not constitute speed training.”

I train a lot of young athletes for speed development, and 9 times out of 10, their parents will ask me why I don’t have their kids do more “speed work”, referring to things like ladder and cone drills. My response is simple: ladder drills aren’t speed work, and neither are cone drills. They improve coordination and footwork, but they do very little to improve sprinting speed.

So, if those two basic staples of “speed and agility training” are no good, how do we actually increase running speed? These 3 things are a good place to start:

1) Strength Training

When parents bring young athletes to me, one of the first things I evaluate is posterior chain strength. The posterior chain consists of the muscles in the back of the legs like the glutes and hamstrings, which control hip extension and knee flexion, respectively. Sprinting is accomplished primarily through powerful hip extension: the glutes extend the hips, causing the foot to push back after striking the ground, which causes the body to move forward. Many times, slower kids will exhibit weak or inhibited glute muscles, which dooms them to slowness from the get-go. If the muscles that make you move forward are weak, you have little chance of running fast. Improving glute function with deadlifts, hip thrusts, squats, and single leg variations is often the first step towards running faster.

However, just building strength is not enough, so next we move on to…

2) Power Training

“Power” is defined as force applied over time:

Where P=power, f=force, and T=time,

P=f/T

If I can apply 100 pounds of force, but it take me two seconds to reach that force, I would be less powerful than somebody who can apply 100 pounds of force in 1 second. Really, the point of strength training for speed is to increase our base of strength, which increases our power capacity.  Think about this:

If Athlete A has a maximum squat of 100 pounds, and Athlete B has a maximum squat of 200 lbs, then Athlete B has more strength, and therefore the potential to be more powerful than Athlete A. But, if Athlete A can apply his 100 pound max force twice as quickly as Athlete B can apply his 200 pound force, their power output is the same.

However, if Athlete B trains specifically to improve the speed at which he can apply his 200 lb force, he can theoretically produce twice as much power as Athlete A, since his strength base is twice what Athlete A is working with.

So what we need to increase sprinting speed is strong legs that are capable of applying high levels of force to the ground in a short amount of time. To increase the speed with which an athlete can apply force to the ground, we need to increase power.

Power training consists of exercises designed to increase athletes’ ability to produce high force quickly. For this, we use a combination of Rate of Force Development training and plyometric training, which are designed to teach your body how to generate powerful movements, and absorb and redirect energy. This is where kids start to get “bouncy.” Plyometrics exercises like skips and jumps can also teach athletes how to use their upper body better during running and jumping activities.

However, it is possible to be strong and powerful but still be a poor sprinter, which is why we have to do…

3) Mechanics Instruction

Some kids just do not know how to run properly. I don’t know how this happens. It seems like it should be written into our genetic code, but it just isn’t. Possibly because we don’t have to chase down our food and evade predators anymore (you don’t see wild animals with bad running mechanics). Regardless of the reason, nearly all of the athletes I train can benefit from some mechanical adjustments. For some college and high school athletes this can be the most important factor to increasing running speed. Often, these more advanced athletes already possess good strength and power, but they lack the proper running mechanics to put those attributes to good use. This kind of thing is also seen often with baseball pitchers. At a certain point, extra strength and power aren’t going to yield more than negligible gains on the field, so mechanics instruction is often more important for these high-level athletes. There are a multitude of drills you can do to improve running mechanics, none of which involve a “speed ladder.”

Video evaluation is also a great tool for improving sprint mechanics. It definitely helps for kids to be able to see what they’re doing right or wrong, so they can make adjustments  easily.

That’s the basic process for speed development: develop strength, increase power, and fine-tune mechanics. There are other things that go into improving sprinting speed (hip mobility, core strength, shoulder strength, to name a few), but I find that the 3 things I’ve outlined here tend to be the 3 basic building blocks of speed. So if you want to get faster, throw that nylon ladder on the roof, grab a barbell, and hammer out some heavy hip thrusts.