Friday, August 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Here's some solid advice from a guy who knows what's what when it comes to basketball and overall athletic development (he played professionally overseas and can still get up now at a solid 240 lbs. - see above):
What I am going to tell you today will change the way you look
at vertical leap training. In itself, vertical leap training is a complete
fad. Plyometrics in itself simply means jump training and nothing
more. Sports science can determine the stretch shortening and
lengthening cycle but it's still jump training.
Many people are all caught up in how high they can jump off of
the ground. This measurement is the be all end all for some folks.
Honestly, it doesn't mean that much.
How doesn't vertical leap mean that much?
Well, for starters the game of basketball is played above the rim,
especially at the higher levels. At the lower levels it is still played
above the ground. When the game is played in the air, the only
thing that really matters is how high you can reach. Think about
Does the measurement of your jumping ability off of the ground
matter as much as how high you reach? What do you think?
Being able to stretch your body to reach higher will help you a lot
more than destroying your knees with silly nonsense and not to
mention way overpriced jump specialty programs. This comes
from a guy who can hop a little bit too as you know!
I personally didn't care how high I jumped off the ground as long
as my hands we above the rim when I was taking a shot. Every
time I took a jump shot, I was above the rim. Every hook shot,
above the rim. Every single strong to the hoop move, you guessed
it, above the rim.
I practiced my swamp lunges over and over until they were perfect.
In time, I got the results I earned and was extremely patient in
recieving them. I knew anything gained quickly was lost just as
quickly. Common sense isn't always common!
Next time someone tries to sell you some nonsense vertical jump
training, you'll have ammunition to protect yourself against a rip off.
Not what you were expecting to hear? Dave's advice can have that effect on people....and that's what makes it good.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
As you can tell, I've changed things up a bit. Here's what has changed:
1) I changed the title of my blog (originally called Max's Guide to Higher Hops). My posts were becoming less and less concerned with vertical jumping and more with overall athletic development, health, etc. I'm also less obsessed with attaining a high vertical jump than I was when I started this blog (although I'm still striving to improve). I'm now focusing more on ALL athletic traits (conditioning, flexibilty, strength, stability, etc.) in my training. Thus, I figured it was time to change things up.
2) You can now subscribe to this blog. Look underneath the title where it says 'Subscibe'. You would receive an email whenever I update with a new post.
3) Go ahead and leave me any comments you would like by clicking 'comments' at the bottom of each post. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
4) I've added a bunch of new links on the right under 'Helpful Links'. Check 'em out!
Thanks for reading!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Here's a great article by Strength and Conditioning Coach, Josh Henkin. He's known making sandbags popular again, but clearly uses many tools to get the job done. These workouts are money.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Check out Dave Lemanczyk's blog when you get a chance. He hasn't updated it in a while, but go back through the archives and read his previous posts. He's a guy who knows what he's talking about. He played profressional ball overseas, so yeah I'd take his advice pretty seriously. How many other former professional athletes have websites where they give out fee advice on how to make it? WARNING: Dave tells it like it is and doesn't make up fancy crap to try and attract more people. He did VERY basic stuff (which works, it's just that everyone thinks you need something 'special') and just busted his tail. Here's his other websites:
Basketball Strength (I don't often promote products from the internet, and believe me I own quite a few - most are crap, but this is probably the best product I've ever seen. Don't expect anything flashy or fancy from this guy. If you have $50 I'd HIGHLY recommend it)
Keg Conditioning (If this product is up to the level of his other one, it's probably pretty dang good as well. Both are excellent if you're sick of the typical gym scene and want something better)
Even if you don't want to buy these (which is fine, I'm not getting anything for promoting them), sign up for his "newsletter/tips" on each website. He sends them out almost daily and I've learned A TON from him so far. Great stuff.
Train hard. Don't let your lack of equipment or money be an excuse. All you need is yourself.
Monday, August 4, 2008
There is no ONE best way to achieve results. Get that in your head. Every method, program, system, etc. has it's drawbacks. The truth, is usually somewhere in the middle, not on the EXTREME right or EXTREME left side of the road. Sure, some are better than others, but even the "perfect" workout program you stumbled upon DEFINETLY has it's pro's and con's. In the training world, it seems everyone has to pick one side of the road. Whether it's plyometrics, HIT, powerlifting, bodyweight training, kettlebells, exercise bands, explosive lifting, olympic lifts, machines, strongman equipment, etc., there is NO ONE WAY. All of these things can be useful at times, but none of them are perfect and depending on your goal, should probably not be use exclusively. There's a saying that goes, "It's not WHAT you do, it's HOW you do it." Read that again. Guess what? People have have increased their vertical leap, athleticism, and speed with all of those things. Would some of them have been better off taking a more balanced approach, considering over-use injuries, training their weaknesses, blah, blah, blah? Maybe, but I guarantee they had two things going for them:
1) Hard work. Anyone who's achieved a respectable goal will tell you that they busted their butt everyday.
2) Consistency. They stuck with it. They kept improving no matter what. No excuses. Stop worrying if your doing the right thing, get off the couch and actually DO. Stop thinking, planning, resting, and whattever else and TAKE ACTION. As Nike says, "just do it". If you actaully have common sense, this isn't a bad motto.
You can have the best program in the world, written bt the top trainer in the world, SPECIFICALLY for your needs....and if you don't WORK at it CONSISTENTLY, you'll get crap results. Take that same person and have them just do push-ups and bodyweight squats, but have them do it like THEIR LIFE DEPENDED on it and they will become a stud. There's nothing magical about kettlebells, box jumps, squattin' heavy, olympic lifts, weighted vests, etc. They are just TOOLS. Really, all you need is your body and desire....and you can get AMAZING results with anything fitness related. Ok, to recap:
1) Effort - Work your butt off. Recover. Repeat.
2) Consistency - Work your butt off. Recover. Repeat. Your body can't adapt to whatever it is you're trying to achieve if you train once every three weeks.
Pretty simple, eh? Stop wondering, worrying, complaining, thinking, and just DO.
And don't think this just applies to fitness, either.
"IT'S NOT WHAT YOU DO, IT'S HOW YOU DO IT."
Monday, June 30, 2008
Here's what it looked like:
- 10 min. Joint Mobility warm-up w/ some tumbling drills
A1. (EDT - 15 min.) Barbell High Pulls x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1
B1. Heavy Sandbag Squat x 4, 3, 3
C1. Light Sandbag Lunge Matrix (forward/side/reverse) x 2 ea. leg ea. direction x 2
rest: 30 sec.
C2. Kettlebell Swing w/ band 2 x 8
rest: 60 sec.
D1. Barbell RDL's 2 x 10
D2. Sandbag Pistol Squat 2 x 2 ea. leg
rest: 45 sec.
E1. KB Windmill 3 x 3 ea. side
E2. Sandbag Rotational Throw 3 x 2 ea. side
rest: 45 sec.
Time (not including warm-up): 43 min.
After I finished I cooled down with some advice from Eric Cressey I read. He says sometimes, instead of static stretching at the end of his athlete's workouts, he'll just have them run through some more mobility/dynamic flexibility drill and just have them hold each position longer than usual. I liked it a lot...nice way to cool down.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I'm a big fan of squats, especially box squats, but very few people (at least at my gym) squat correctly. No wonder everyone thinks they're dangerous and hurt your knees. To quote Dan John, "Squats don't hurt your knees. The way YOU squat hurts your knees."
Heavy Step-Ups might be a great alternative to squats. Read this great article on them over at Straight to the Bar. Not saying you should give up squatting all together. Keep working on your form with bodyweight squats or try box squats. You could also do some heavy squat variation once a week and some heavy step-ups on another day or do a three week cycle of squats followed by a three week cycle of step-ups. This would be a nice way to keep punishing those legs while taking stress off your back and letting your CNS recover.
I think heavy unilateral work (one limb) is HIGHLY underated. Everyone's in love with heavy squats and deadlifts (me included), but have you ever tried HEAVY step-ups, split squats, bulgarian split squats, lunges, and pistols??? Not easy at all.......
Don't give up the basics. They work. Always have, always will. Just don't be afraid to substitue heavy unilateral work for a few weeks to give your body a break once in a while.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Mark Sisson wrote a great post on his blog Mark Sisson's Daily Apple.
He discusses how our ancestor's lived thousands of years ago and how we should be living today......think the blueprint is much different?
If you're interested in how to eat better, feel better, perform better, and become just plain healthier, I highly recommend you check out his blog.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
This guy knows how to stay low.....
Here's a great read from Eric Cressey on why kids get injured so much these days....
I have to say, I totally agree. I played several different sports throughout the year up until I was in 5th grade. From then on, I concentrated only on basketball. I played roughly 100 games per year from then until my senior season was over. Throw in some open gyms, pick-up games at random places, and just practicing on my own most days out of the week and that's A TON of basketball!! Looking back, I would have been much better going out for track and field in the spring, playing football in the fall, and just focusing on the weights in the summer, and not on playing so much. Were those extra 50 to 60 games in the spring, summer, and fall (yes, there are fall AAU leagues) really helping that much?? I would have moved much better/efficiently, experienced less injuries/pain, had much more desire to play/practice HARD, and just been a better all-around athlete. You could make the argument that someone wouldn't be as good at their sport, but are all those hours of just light practicing because your knees are killing you really doing anything? Playing one sport year round obviously leads to overuse injuries and a limiting range of motion. I don't care if you've practiced 10x more than your oppenent. If he is able to stay lower than you (there obviously will be exceptions, but if you're on the same playing level), he is a) going to be quicker and b) going to drive past you and score. He probably will have less joint pain throughout the season. Like I said, there are exceptions, but don't under appreciate the value of staying low.
I'm not saying playing your sport isn't valuable...but would you be better off being a better all-around athlete. Yes, even if you don't want to go out for other sports, spend less time playing competetively and more time learning a new skill that will help you in your given sport (lifting weights through a full range of motion, learing some gymnastics/bodyweight movements, wall climbing, flag football, etc.). Anything that has you moving in a different way and developing other athletic qualities will help you become more aware of your body and reduce your chance of injury.
So, how can you improve in this area?
Wall Hip Mobility 1
Wall Hip Mobility 2
Hip Mobility 3
don't forget to do a: Dynamic Warm-up
The 3rd World Squat (a great article!)
The Essential 8 Mobility Drills
The Mobility Complex
It takes discipline to do this stuff. Make it a habit. I think that you'll find that you perform much better both on the court and in the weight room.
Monday, May 26, 2008
This weekend I was away from home for a few days. Naturally, today I got a bad hankering to do some deadlifting. My freind gave me a pass to a new commercial gym that had recently opened in their town. I thought I'd try it out. I went in the gym and immediately they had me fill out an information packet. Next, one of the employees had me go over to her desk and sit down for a questionare. The conversation went something like this:
Employee: So, what are you hoping to get out "___ Gym"?
Me: Uh, just looking for a place to deadlift.
Employee: Oh, what is that?
Me: (with puzzled look on my face) Where you lift weights off the floor....
Employee: Oh, sure..... So, would you describe your current fitness training?
Me: Well, basically I deadlift, squat, press, and row. I do bodyweight stuff, sled dragging, sandbag work, jumping, climbing rope, hill sprints, car pushing, and jump rope. Um, let's see..yeah I've done all that in the past few months.
Employee: (staring at me)
Me: Oh, yeah. I forgot, I love kettlebells, too. Swings, snatches, turkish get-ups, you know....the usual.
Employee: (not sure what to write)
Employee: ....... Well, ok..... On a scale of 1 - 5 how would you rate your knowledge on our new, state of the art cardio machines ?
Me: Well, I'm sure I could get them to work....if I had to.
Employee: Would you like me take you over and show you how to use all of them?
Me: (shifting uncomfortably in chair) ...No, thanks.
Employee: (puzzled look on face) Uh, ok. How would you rate your knowledge on resistance training from 1-5?
Me: 5, I guess.
Employee: Ha, all of the men always say "5" on that one. So, you know how to use all our resistance machines?
Me: (getting annoyed) No, I know how to deadlift and squat.
Employee: (awkward smile)
Employee: Well, uh, let's go to the next question. How would you describe your current eating habits?
Me: In one sentence?
Employee: Well, what foods do you normally eat?
Me: Meats, fruit, vegetables....and water. Sometimes I have cake.
Employee: Ooook....What goals are you hoping to achieve at "____ Gym"?
Me: I'm just looking for a place to deadlift.
Employee: And what would say are your main fitness goals? Toning up, getting a good pump, losing weight?.....
Me: To get as strong as humanly possible.......And to touch the top of the backboard.
Employee: (writes "strength?")
Employee: Alright, well let me just bring this over to my manager.
Me: (looking around) Do you guys even have a squat rack?
Employee: (walking away and yells) Yeah, we have 7 smith machines!
Me: (vomits in mouth)
Long story short, I ended up training outside and relying on my trusty one-stop-gym-in-a-trunk. In my car's trunk I currently have:
a 20 ft. thick rope
70 lbs. sandbag
20 lbs. weighted vest
tire sled w/ weights
The moral of the story is: DON'T LET ANYONE OR ANYTHING GET IN THE WAY OF YOU HAVING A PRODUCTIVE TRAINING SESSION. It's just not worth it, in my opinion. You only have so many hours in a week and so much physical/mental stress your body can handle. If your not having fun and getting results from your current training, then what are you doing? Life's too short. Don't let negativity in any form stand in the way of your goals. If your gym doesn't allow you to do the things you know you need to do to achieve your athletic goals, then get out! Work at at home, at a playground, find a new hardcore gym, buy some weights for your own, or whatever it takes! Don't pussyfoot around and waste your valuable time. Figure out how to get the most "bang for your buck".
After I left the gym I found a nice spot outside and did the following:
practice dunking with weighted vest (15 lbs) until noticeable power decrease
box jumps 2 x 5
kettlebell snatches 5 x 5
kettlebell swings 4 x 20
When I finished I was a happy camper. Although I was pissed off about they gym's sassy attitude and lack of power racks, I didn't let that stop me from getting in a short, solid workout.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Here's a great article by Kelly Baggett, No Glutes = No Results. I think this is a big problem with athletes, especially skinny basketball players like myself. While going to this extent may not be neccesary for some of you, for others it might be your missing ingredient.
Evem if you don't need/want to follow this program, I hope you realize the importance of not only having strong, but properly functioning glutes. At the very least, I hope you start including glute activation drills in your warm-ups. Doing this along with some good joint mobility drills will only take you an extra 10 minutes and will go a long way in helping you stay injury free and get more out of your training. If you can't achieve proper form when lifting do to inactive muscles and lack of mobility/flexibility, how do you expect to get anything out of them?
On a seperate note, if you haven't already read all of Kelly's articles that pertain to you and your sport, DO SO NOW. This guy really knows his stuff and gives out a lot of great FREE info on his site.
Well, I haven't posted in quite a while. Don't worry though, I'm back. I have a lot on my mind so I'll be trying to post quite often so be sure to check back every couple of days.
Now, let's talk feet. If you haven't read either of these articles, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.
Feet Hurt? Stop Wearing Shoes.
You Walk Wrong.
Hopefully, after you look those articles over, you'll understand why I hate most shoes and think people should stop wearing them. You'll also understand why I spent $80 to buy a pair Vibram Five Fingers.
Yesterday was the first day I wore them. Here's a few things I noticed:
1) Walking without shoes all day is hardwork. Today my feet and lower legs are sore. This is no surprise seeing how feet are probably the weakest part of most people's body.
2) My heels became very sore if I didn't make sure to walk correctly. Most of us bang our heels on the ground because of years of conventional shoe wearing.
3) I felt more energetic. I know it sounds weird, but being in contact with the ground of the earth gives you a sort of an energy. Some people might call this "chi". I don't. It's hard to explain, so I guess the only way to understand is to go barefoot all day outside or start wearing Five Fingers.
4) My joints felt much better throughout the day. It's very rare that I go the entire day without some discomfort.
5) I felt loose and relaxed. I was sitting down for much of the day, but I never felt tight or stiff as I normally do when sitting for long periods. This doesn't mean you should sit around all day. Get up and move.
Wow, that's a lot to notice after just one day of use. Besides the benefits of going barefoot or wearing Five Fingers listed in those articles, you might be wondering, "Max, what do you specifically hope to accomplish by wearing those weird slipper things?" Good question. Here's what I hope to accomplish:
a) I have weird, nasty feet. There I said it. I attribute this to years of wearing shoes that were too big for me. Some of it might be genetic, too. My toes clawed at the sole of the shoe to try and stay balanced. Now, well for some time now, I have what's known as Hammer Toes. It's not a pretty sight. Add on to that the fact that I have EXTREMELY high arches and that I'm also a supinator, and you have a recipe for disaster. It's no wonder that I have a history of ankle sprains and foot problems. I hope to correct these problems and return to the state of how God made us: barefoot.
b) I also have some other physical ailments that I hope going barefoot will correct. These are moslty lack of mobility in the ankles and hips. This doesn't mean I still won't be working directly on my mobility in these areas. I'm probably better than most, but still not at the level I want to be at. If you didn't already know, having optimum mobility paired with being strong leads to being able to stay low, jump high, run fast, and be explosive. Just in case any of those things are important to you.
So, there you have it. Even if you don't decide to wear Five Fingers, try going barefoot whenever you can. Around the house, when you work out, mowing the lawn (watch those toes), etc. I hope you've changed your mind on the facny new shoes with shocks and pumps you just got. We were made to be barefoot, just like we were made to eat earth-grown foods, lift heavy stuff, and move everyday. Something to think about. Well, I'm off to go deadlift at my gym while wearing my Five Fingers. I expect to get some looks.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
1. Explosive Movement
2. Squating Movement (inculdes single leg variations like step-ups, lunges, etc.)
3. Horizontal Press/Pull or Vertical Press/Pull superset
4. Posterior Chain/Hamstring Movement
5. Abs/Grip Circuit
And here's what a typical week of training might look like:
Day 1 - Max Effort:
Dynamic warm-up/Joint Mobility drills
1. 1 arm DB Snatch 8 x 2
2. Box Squat (heavy) 6 x 3-5
3A. DB Bench Press (heavy) 5 x 5
3B. 1 arm DB Row (heavy) 5 x 5
4. Barbell Goodmorning 3 x 10
5A. DB Farmer's Walk 3 x distance
5B. Back XT 3 x 10-12
5C. Ground Ab Circuit 3 rounds
Day 2 - Repetition Effort/Accesory
Dynamic warm-up/Joint Mobility drills
1. Barbell Hang Clean 5 x 2
2. DB Bulgarian Split Squat 2 x 10
3A. Chin-up (medium) 4 x 8
3B. 1 arm DB Military Press (medium) 4 x 8
4. 1 leg DB RDL's 2 x 10
5A. DB Hex Holds 3 x 10 sec.
5B. Woodchoppers 3 x 10
Day 3 - Dynamic Effort and Rep. Effort
Dynamic warm-up/Joint Mobility drills
1. Box Squats w/ Bands (speed squats w/ heavy band tension, light weight) 10 x 2
2A. Push-up Variation (light) 3 x 10
2B. Inverted Row (light) 3 x 10
3A. Rack Pulls 6 x 2, 1 x 15
3B. Deadlifts w/ added ROM 2 x 3
4A. Farmer's Walk 2 x distance
4B. Back XT 2 x 8
4C. Ab Plank Variations 1 x each variation as long as possible
I'll try this for 3-4 weeks and let you know how it goes. My diet will stay the same so I know how well I respond to this type of training. Everyone needs to switch it up every so often... Remember that your body adapts to anything in a few or even a couple of weeks. With WSFSB, I was switching up the volume every week and changing exercises every 2-3 weeks depending on how I was feeling. I never though of changing the number of days I lift a week.
Always try to improve. Never become satisfied.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Upper Body Rep. Effort - I hit all these in circuit style fashion, resting about a min. between rounds
1A. Pull-up variations x 6, 5, 4
1B. Push-up w/ feet elevated x 18, 15, 12
1C. Kettlebell Snatch x 6 l/r, 7 l/r, 8 l/r
1D. Stone Military Press x 10, 10, 10 (I found a nice heavy one @ my house and brought it with)
1E. 1 arm Recline Body Rows x 8, 6, 6
Conditioning - 3 rounds
2A. Bear Crawl x 100 ft.
2B. Jump Rope x 100
2C. KB Swing x 25
And for good measure:
3. KB Swings x 100
Train outside when you can. Just be resourceful and use your imagination. Bodyweight training can be brutal and there are thousands of variations of basics...
Train hard. Be creative.
Friday, April 4, 2008
This guy is also a fan.
Train Hard. Recover Hard.
Dynamic Warm-up and Mobility drills
1A. 1 arm DB Snatch 70lbs x 2, 75lbs x 2, 80lbs x 2, 85lbs x 1 (all reps with each arm)
1B. Broad Jump/Vert. Jump 4 x 2/2
Rest: 60 sec.
2A. Box Squat Pistols (with DB's) 40lbs x 8, 70lbs x 8, 80lbs x 6
2B. Back XT 45lbs x 8, 50lbs x 8
Rest: 60 sec.
3A. Barbell RDL 135 x 10, 135 x 10
3B. 1 leg Back XT BW x 5, BW x 6 (with each leg)
Rest: 60 sec.
4. Ab Circuit - Sprinter Sit-ups, Toe Touches, Hip Thrusts, V-ups all x 10 for 2 rounds
Rest: 30 sec.
KB Swings x 200 no rest
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
a) They teach you to explode through the hips, which is possible the single most important factor in all athletic endeavors. Explosive hip drive is something a lot of athletes lack and can have a hard time learning through traditional barbell lifts. Not to mention, the kettlebell version of the classic olympic lifts (clean, snatch, jerk) is much easier to learn. Pretty much every kettlebell exercise out there is a full body lift, which if you haven't learned by know, is a good thing.
b) They are great for conditioning OR power development. As far as conditioning goes (they're tremendous for power/anaerobic endurance, which is they energy system primarly used is basketball), there is many ways to train for power/anaerobic endurance (hill sprints, stair sprints, killers/suicides, etc.), but kettlebells can be much easier on the joints.
c) You can train pretty much anywhere with a kettlebell (especially outside) versus traditional gym equipment.
d) I would say it's hard to find an exercise that mimics the vertical jump better than the kettlebell swing.
Now, after saying all that....Kettlebells are just a tool. They are not the magic training equipment that many make them out to be. You'd be a fool to use only kettlebells in your training. But, they are a great instrument and if you can afford them, why not? For beginners, they recommend men start out with a 35 lbs. kettlebell and women 15 to 25 lbs. It will seem much heavier than 35 lbs though. There are a lot of great sites to order them through and they are also at places like Dick's Sporting Goods and Sports Authority.
Here are some great articles on how to use kettlebells for power and explosiveness:
How to Combine Kettlebells and Bands for Explosive Sports Performance
How to Improve Your Vertical Jump With Kettlebell Training ?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
1) How Do You Feel?
- Fantastic: +4
- Good: +2
- Average: 0
- Bad: -2
- Awful: -4
2) Are You Motivated to Train?
- Beyond Belief: +4
- Yes, I'm Psyched: +2
- I Wanna Go, But That's It: 0
- Do I Have to?: -2
- I Really Don't Want to: -4
3) How Did You Sleep?
- Great Night: +4
- Pretty Good: +2
- Average: 0
- Had Trouble Sleeping: -2
- Barely Slept: -4
Add up your score and use this chart to see how you should train today.
> 10 to 12: Increase daily training load a lot (intensity and volume)
> 6 to 9: Increase daily training load (volume only)
> 0 to 5: Stay with planned training load
> -6 to -1: Decrease daily training load (volume or intensity)
> -12 to -7: Skip it
Hopefully you are are following some sort of program or have an idea of what you want to do throughout the week. This chart will help you make progress even if your having a rough week or not feeling your best. There's no point in pushing yourself when you just don't have it....and if you feel great, there's no point in holding yourself back just because that's what your program says to do.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Here's a few more drills you can do to strengthen your ankels and literally make them un-sprainable.
1. 747's - This is a quick drill that you can do anywhere, anytime. Stand on one leg (keeping it as straight as possible) while putting your hands out to the side (that's why they're called 747's - you'll look like an airplane). First lean as far forward as possible, bending as the waist and keeping the balancing leg straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Now repeat this with the other leg. You'll repat this in each direction (lean forward, left, right, and backwards) with both legs, holding it for 30 seconds each way. It should be challenging to stay balanced (if it's not, you need to lean farther) and it's ok if stumble a few times. You'll feel a nice burn in the lower leg, around the ankles. This is a quick and very effective drill.
2. Toe Raises - As Jimmy Smith talked about in my previous post, most athletes have WAY stronger calves than they do shins. Beleive it or not, strenghtening your shins will not only strengthen your ankles, prevent shin splints, and balance out your lower leg musculature....but they probably will improve your vert! Shins are arguably even more important than the calves in jumping (not to mention running, cutting, deccelerating, etc.). Toe raises are pretty much the opposite of calf raises and, again, can be done pretty much anywhere. Just find a stair or ledge with something to hold on to for balance. Simply stand with your heels on the edge of the stair and lift your toes as high as you can and the down as low as you can, trying to go throught a full range of motion. Just try to do as many as you can while keeping good form.
3. Heel Walks - These are very similar to the toe raises (strengthens your shins). Just walk backwards and forwards, taking small steps and staying on your heels (pull your toes upward as hard as you can the whole time). Try walking 10 -20 steps forwards and backwards to start out.
Use these drills 3 - 5 times a week, along with some of the ones from my previous post and you'll be on your way to ANKLES OF STEEL.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Believe me, I feel your pain (literally...in the summer of '05 I nearly broke my ankle and it still looks like a weird meatball). There's got to be a way to got out this horrible cycle, right? Guess what? The answer doesn't rely on more ice, braces or *gasp* taping! Read over this article by Jimmy Smith, a former college basketball player and nationally recognized trainer.
Doing these drills religiously will not only improve ankle stability and prevent sprains, it will make you a better athlete. Basketball players usually have horrible ankle mobility due to excessive taping, braces, and the dredded Nike Shox (heel lift = bad). Improving ankle mobility will most likely alleviate the pain in that knee that's been nagging you all season.
Ankle mobility will also help you vert. The foot/ankle is the first part of your body that makes contact with the ground as you jump and if your range of motion is limited you won't be able to apply maximum force into the ground. When you load up like a coil to jump, the force you apply to the ground travels from your foot/ankle all the up to your head and back down again before take-off. Basically, you might gain a few easy inches if you work on ankle mobility (don't forget the hips either).
Monday, February 25, 2008
The process is simple: go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. The best exercises for these are sprints, jumping rope, kettlebell or dumbbell swings, kettlebell or DB snatches, KB or DB cleans, or any bodyweight exercise (push-ups, squats, etc.). This is one of the best fat loss workouts out there. Tabata training is also nice during the winter, when it can be hard to train outside. They're also great when you're short on time and much more fun than running on the treadmill. Also, they're great for basketball players (or other athletes) because they're easier on the knees.
Here is a couple articles on Tabata training:
If you're wondering about plyometrics, how strong you should be, flexibility training, what mistakes not to make, or anything else about vertical leap training, give it a read.
If you've ever played in organized, competative sports, I'm sure you'll relate....
If this video doesn't get you fired up or bring on some type of emotion, you need to check and see if you have a pulse.
Monday, February 18, 2008
- Skipping> to half-court and back
- Running High Knees> to half court and back
- Running Butt Kicks> same
- Walking Warrior Lunges (lunge and reach straight-up with both hands)> same
- Walking High Kicks> same
- Walking High Knee Pull> same
- Walking Butt Kick-Pull Back> same
- Leg Swings (side to side)> 10 each leg
- Leg Swings (front to back)> 10 each leg
- Pogo Jumps> 20 seconds
Moved on to some hip mobility for a few minutes:
- Hurdle step-overs (forward and backward)> 10 each leg, each direction
- Duck-unders> 20
- Duck-unders to warrior lunge> 10 each leg
Concluded my warm-up with some specific stretching and glute-activation:
- P.N.F. Hip-flexor stretch> 30 seconds each side
- Glute Bridge> 10
- Fire Hydrants> 10 each leg
- Bird-dogs> 10 each leg
So, I was completely warmed-up and loose and pretty much guaranteed myself I wouldn't get injured. All it took was an extra 15 minutes before I got started. Here's the meat and potatoes:
-Max Effort Lower Body-
- Deadlift (i usually go Sumo style, but I decided to go conventional today)> warmed-up to 5 sets x 2 (275), 1 (295), 1 (305), 1 (325), 1 (335) Rest b/w sets: 180s
- Barbell Reverse Lunges w/ extra ROM (lunged off 4 in. aerobic platform)> 2 set x 6 each leg (135) Rest b/w sets: 60s
- Swiss Ball Leg Curl> 3 sets x 10
- Single-arm DB Snatch> 3 sets x 10 (5 each hand) (60) Rest: 60s
- Finished w/ some quick grip work and I was done.
I wasn't really feeling like training today but I ended up getting in a pretty solid workout. From the start of my dynamic warm-up to the end took about an hour at the most.
Monday, February 11, 2008
1. BREATHING - There's a lot of science behind this one, but the average human takes in 735 million breaths over 70 years. Anything that goes into your body that much deserves attention. By using this exercise you call upon your lymphatic system, which is vastly under used by the average person. Simply breathe in through your nose (when you inhale start by expanding your stomach until it is full of air and then keep inhaling until your chest is full too) until you can't inhale anymore, then hold your breath in this position for four seconds. Finally, exhale through your mouth slowly for 8 seconds or until you let all the air out. Repeat this 10 times and do this exercise three times (at least) a day. Preferably once in the morning upon waking or close to it, once before practice or training, and once before you go to bed. There are A LOT of great reasons to do this, but the the main ones that are of concern to you are: 1) improves your recovery, 2) improves your breath quality by helping you breathe slower and lowering your resting heart rate, 3)improves the CNS functioning (key for a high vert), 4) helps you relax, and 5)improves energy levels. This is why people meditate. It's not just for religious beliefs, there are many benefits. Doing this exercise is also useful to heelp focus and relax before a test or big game.
2. STRETCHING - I've touched on this in my other posts, but improving you flexibilty is just as important as anything else in vertical jump improvement. While stretching after you lift or train is one of the worst times to do this, stretching (static or PNF) after you get done with team or individual practice is perfect in my opinion. I like holding every stretch for at least 30 seconds. Focus on the lower body (specifically, the hip flexors and groin or other areas that seem tight to you), but don't ignore the upperbody completely. If you start stretching consistently you WILL notice a difference when you compete. If you didn't already know, don't stretch before you play or train. Do a dynamic warm-up. If you've been stretching before you play/train your whole life, don't give it up cold turkey. Gradually phase it out of you're warm-up as you start incorporating more of a dynamic warm-up.
3. MENTAL VISUALIZATION - Studies have actually shown that mentally practicing something can yeild the same (sometimes better) results as physically practicing. The body can be stupid in the sense that it doesn't know the difference between if you're actaully doing something or just imagining it. Scientists have proved that using mental imagery activates the same neurons in your brain as if you were ACTUALLY PRACTICING. I haven't known this information for that long but using it for as little as I have has given me unbelievable results! The key to this is COMPLETELY clear your mind and make your visualization as REAL as possible. If your visualizing yourself practicing dunking/jumping or playing basketball, make your imagery as vivid as possible. Hear your shoes squeeking as you approach the rim, feel the iron on your arm or hands as you jump, hear the ball punding the floor and the net swooshing as you make shot after shot. Practicing this for as little as 10 or 15 minutes a day (start small and build up your time as you get better) can yield huge results. Instead of just staring out the window on your bus ride (the beauty of this is you can do it anywhere), mentally visualize yourself as jumping machine (or whatever your goal is). This isn't as easy as it sounds! Mental visualization takes focus, discipline, and practice. Try doing the breathing exercise (from #1) before you start if you need help clearing your head and relaxing. Don't be discouraged if your mind wanders or you have trouble your first time. Keep practicing and you'll master this.
4. WATER - I know I talked about this in my other post, but it is SO important I had to mention it again. Our bodies are around 70% water! Keeping your body hydrated is extremely important for athletic success. Your muscles will never perform as well as when you are constantly keeping water in your system. On top of that, drinking more water will lower your body fat (can't jump high if you're being weighed down) and improve you're overall health. I suggest ditching soda and sugary juices too as these DEHYDRATE you. This will be tough at first, but the more you drink water, the more you will start to crave it and you'll be disgusted by that other crap because you'll feel so good (i promise). Start carrying a water bottle with you and aim for 3 - 4 liters a day (you need this much because you're an athlete). Make sure your water is purified too.
5. SLEEP - Another simple tool that we take for granted. You NEED 8 to 9 hours (actually the body sleeps in 90 minute periods, so if you sleep for either 4.5, 6, 7.5, or 9 hours you will find it easier to wake up as you will just be at the start of a new sleep cycle) of sleep a night, especially if your an athlete and FOR SURE if you're still a teenager. The body grows, repairs itself, and basically reboots during sleep. Your iPod won't work very long if you don't recharge it right? Same goes for you. Another key (this one sucks, I know) to this is to try and get at least 1 hour, preferrably 2, of sleep BEFORE MIDNIGHT. The old wives tale that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after is true. How many of you have gone to bed at 3 in the morning and slept for a good 10 hours only to wake up and still feel tired and unrested?
6. NUTRITION - For this one I'll use an analogy. If you just bought a Ferrari, how would you treat it? Would you take a piss in the gas tank and expect it to run smoothly? No, you would fill it up with best freakin' gas out there and take care of it. Don't fill your body up with crap and then wonder why you have you just sucked it up on the court and have a 6" vert. Eat well, perform well. It's as simple as that. Your fridge should be sticked with vegetables, fruit, fish, lean meat (chicken, turkey), nuts, and seeds (don't forget your water). If it wasn't on the Earth when God made it, avoid it (fast/processed food, anything that comes in a package, junk food, etc.) Now, this is what you should AIM for your diet to look like. It's pretty hard to eat like this all the time. Do the best you can and you'll reap the benefits. Not only will you perform well, you'll look like a stud (or goddess if there's any chicks reading this). Here's some quick tips:
- if you're still in high school, STOP eating the school's lunch!
1. the lunches suck
2. it's processed crap
3. they don't give a growing, competing athlete enought to eat
Start packing your own lunch either the night before or in the morning. Make sure you have some fruit or veggies (aim to have one or the other or both at every meal) and a good protein source. Drink lots of water.
- college food is a little better (depends on the college)...try to buy your own groceries if you can.
- Try to eat 5 -7 smaller meals a day. This speeds up your metabolism (burns fat) and can help you put on muscle if your training at all. This can be hard if you're at work/school, so either pack an extra meal or bring with a protein shake (or powder and mix it there) and drink it between your regular meals.
7. RECOVERY - Training, practice, or a game takes a lot out of you if you work hard. It might seem pretty obvious but you MUST recover to perform at your best. While taking a day or two off and getting more sleep (the ultimate recovery tool) work great, there are ways to help your body recover faster, which is helpful if you have two games on two nights in a row or just want to get more out of your training. The more you've recovered from the previous game, practice, or work-out, the better you'll feel physically, the better you feel physically the better you'll perform, and the better you perfrom the harder you'll be able to play, etc. See where I'm going with this? So, here are some great ways to speed up your recovery process:
> Get 8 - 9 hours of solid sleep.
> Contrast Showers. I love these and use them often. The idea here is to alternate from as hot a temperature as you can handle to as cold as you can handle. Unless you have access to two baths or bath and a hot tub (which would actually be ideal because your body would be fully submerged), you'll have to do this in a shower. Alternating between hot and cold causes the muscles to expand (hot) and then contract again (cold), causing blood flow which gets all lactic acid out of your system and boosts your energy levels. Some people advise alternating between 180 seconds hot and then 40 seconds cold, while some say 30 seconds hot and 30 seconds cold. I've found the best results by changing it up every time so your body doesn't adapt to it. Try to make the hot part at least double the length of the cold. So you could 60 seconds hot, 25 seconds cold (1 round) and go for 3 -4 rounds. Depends on how much time you have. The 30/30 technique is the quickest, but always go for at least 3 rounds and probablly no more than 6. Contrast showers can be painful at first, but you get you used to them and after a while will find them quite invigorating.
> Ice used in any way. Whether it's icing sore knees, icing your sore muscles, or taking an ice bath, all these work GREAT. A technique called Cryotherapy can be quite effective. All you need is a plastic dixie cup or styrofoam cup, water, and a freezer. Fill up the cup and let it freeze. Then take it out and peel off about a 1/2 to 1 inch off the open end of the cup so that there's some ice sticking out. Just rub the ice over the your sore muscles thoroughly. You might want to freeze several cups depending on their size (they melt pretty fast).
> Stretching (see tip 2)
> Eating well. Getting plenty of protein, carbs, and water refuels your body (see tip 6)
> Breathing exercise (see tip 1)
> Massage. If you can afford it, it is extremely helpful.
8. WORD-ACTION CONNECTION - This one kind of goes along with mental visualization. When you're picturing yourself dunking or jumping in your mind, say an "action" or "key" word as you jump. For example, picture yourself jumping higher than you ever have before and as you do say to yourself, "Already done." The more you do this, the more this action phrase/word will help you when you are actaully on thee court. As your mind associates this word with jumping out of the gym, you can start to say this to yourself out on the court before you attempt dunking or to just grab rim for the first time. See yourself throwing it down and say to yourself, "Already done." Like anything else, this takes practice.
9. SONG/COLOR STIMULANTS - Many types of athletes use "stimulants" to pysch themselves before a competition or game. For example, powerlifters sniff ammonia before a big lift to arouse the body and nervous system to allow them to move some big weight. I'll give you a couple ways to do this that won't require to go out and buy ammonia. One way is to find a hardcore, intense song (and I mean INTENSE...no Akon or Fall Out Boy). Make sure it's a song that upon first hearing (try to find a new song you haven't heard before), really pumps you up and gets your adrenanline flowing. If you find yourself angry and wanting to hit something, that's good. You've found your song. Start listening to this song ONLY before games or heavy training sessions if you're in the off-season. You want this song to be a stimulant, something that arouses your nervous system and gets your adrenaline flowing. Don't listen to it regularly as this will make ithe song lose it's effect on you. As soon as you start to feel like you've heard that song too many times or it doesn't pump you up anymore, find a new song. Another thing you can use is colors. Studies have shown that staring at certain colors promote pyschological and physiological effects on the body. For example, looking at the color pink actually does make you weaker, while cooler colors like blues and greens cause calmness and relaxation (I recommend you decorate your room in these colors). Meanwhile, staring at warmer colors, specifically red, cause aggression and anger. Stare at something bright red immediatley before a big lift (for example, a max effort deadlift) as studies have shown that this temporarily increases strength. I wouldn't use this before games because the effect will wear off pretty quick (but lasts long enough for something like a one rep lift or dunk attempt). Again, use this sparingly or else this will lose its purpose. I haven't used this one much, so I can't attest to its usefulness, but it's just something else you can add to your toolbox.
10. GOAL SETTING - I won't write much on this for now (see my next post), but there are some specific tips I have learned. Next time your in the gym, test yourself and see where you can touch the rim on your hand or arm (or backboard/net) and then take a permanent marker and draw a short line on your arm three inches further (down your arm) than you can currently touch. Focus on this line constanlty throughout the day. Daydream about hitting this line next time your in the gym. When you mentally practice, see yourself hitting this mark over and over. Feel the rim touch that spot in your mind. Keep seeing it, even as you fall asleep at night. Aim for reaching this mark in the next week. Before an attempt to do this in the gym, you HAVE to see yourself hitting the mark several times before you try and do so. Once you've reached this goal (however long it takes), move the mark on your arm three more inches. This is your next goal and is now your primary focus. Continue this for however long you'd like. Make sure to keep remarking your arm as it starts to wear off.
As I've said before, feel free to do your own research on these subjects and find what work best for you. I'm just telling you what's worked for me.
1. Bodyweight training (calisthenics)
2. Training outside
3. Training explosively
4. Sled dragging
5. Sprints (from different positions and directions)
6. Jump onto stuff (boxes, picinic tables, stairs, etc.) and off of stuff
7. Trying to improve on what you did last week
8. Doing single leg work (lunges, step-ups, split squats, pistol squats, etc.)
9. Back squats (with and without a box)
10. Using active recovery techniques (contrast showers, hot/cold baths, icing, stretching)
11. Strengthening the posterior chain EVERY time you do lower body training
12. Strongman training (tire flips, using stones, logs, sandbags, etc.)
13. Eating like a caveman as often as you can (natural earth grown foods)
14. Learning from others
15. Using a foam roller/soft tissue work
16. Training at least 3x a week (if your in the off-season)
17. Lifting in-season (what good is it to get strong in the off-season if you become as weak as a little school girl when it counts)
18. Grip training
19. Strengthening your abs/core (stop doing your dail 100 crunches, please)
21. Working on your mobility
22. Overhead lifting
23. Jumping rope or doing any type of jump training
24. Listening to your body
25. Using a kettlebell (you'll thank me later)
27. Training barefoot or with Nike Frees
28. Training hard (yes, you should break a sweat)
- The reason I gave links to almost all of these are because I just like to show proof that nationally respected trainers advise all these things too...I'm not just pulling them out of my butt.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
This program is great...I have no doubt that if I had found this three to four years ago, I would be playing Division 1 ball right now.
Go Basketball Pro
It literally covers every aspect of the game: shooting, defense, and vertical jump improvement to conditioning and strength training. Tips from actual NBA players and the top trainers in the world, along with a bunch a great audio interviews that have unbeatable secrets.... Can't beat that.
Don't make the same mistake as me....
Go Basketball Pro
If you don't know some of the terms I discuss, look them up on the internet. These are in no particular order:
1. DRINK MORE WATER. Everyone knows they should, but doesn't. I almost drink nothing else besides water. Most people are dehydrated and don't even know it.
2. START STRETCHING MORE. Most people know by now that you shouldn't static stretch (holding a position for 10 -30 seconds) before you work out. The best time to incorporate static stretching into your day is is two -four hours after you train. This allows the lactic acid to sufficiently leave your muscles so you can make better gains in your flexibility. Start doing dynamic stretching and mobility drills before you train. Joe DeFranco even advises doing some PNF stretching (contrast-relax method) pre-work out. Some people advise stretching immediately after you train, while others insist this is one of the worst times to stretch. You will make the best gains in flexibilty if you are warmed-up before each stretching session, but seriously, no one is going to want to get all sweaty multiple times a day just so they can stretch for 15-20 minutes. It's your choice, but I've still made great progress stretching "cold". Look up and research the different stretching methods (there are more than I've mentioned) and decide for yourself which is best for you.
3. LIFT HEAVY. Yes, both upper and LOWER body. "Waaa, I hate lifting with my legs...it hurts." Shut up and start squatting. You're not going achieve athletic success and jump out of the gym if you keep lifting like a body builder in the 8 -15 rep range. This can be helpful to beginners to build a base and for others sparingly, but this causes hypertrophy (size and mass), whic is not our primary goal. Stop reading the "Muscle and Fiction" magazines and lift heavy for LOW REPS. This activates the most fast-twitch muscle fibers (what you want), gets you stronger, faster, and more explosive, and *gasp* can even put some meat on you.
4. USE PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD. What this means is that you should try to set a new PR (personal record) every time you step in the gym. There are numerous ways you can do this, but the idea is to get stronger and make progress every week. Jason Ferrugia explains it really well on his blog. Read under the post "The Single Most Important Factor."
5. USE BIG, COMPOUND LIFTS. Stop doing 15 set of concentration curls. Do DEADLIFTS, SQUATS, BENCH PRESS, MILITARY PRESS, PULL/CHIN-UPS, ROWS, and all their variations. If 80% of your training sessions aren't comprimised of compount lifts, you're wasting your time.
6. STRENGTHEN THE POSTERIOR CHAIN. This is basically your backside (most important: hamstring and butt). It's more complicated than that, but you MUST have brutally strong glutes and hamstrings if you want to run and jump as fast as you possibly can. Stop worrying about what you see in the mirrow and do more deadlifts, glute-ham raises, RDL's, pull-throughs, kettlebells/DB swings, etc.....not to mention chin-ups, pull-ups, and row variations, which everyone could use more of.
7. START DOING A DYNAMIC WARM-UP AND MOBILITY DRILLS. There's an endless amount of these drills out there. My favorites are leg swings, butt kicks, high knees, warrior lunges, sumo squats, and stuff like that for a dynamic warm-up. Bird-dogs, fire hydrants, x-band walks, hurdle drills (step-overs, duck-unders), etc. are great too for mobility. Look these and others up online to learn what they are and their purpose.
8. ACTIVATE THE GLUTES. Most of us sit on our butts all day which a) gives us horrible posture (another seperate issue) and b) can cause something called "glute amnesia". Basically your butt shuts down and stops working which sucks because it's one of the biggest, strongest muscles we have! When you train, most people's glutes don't do much and the surrounding mucles take over, which can lead to imbalances, poor form, and a weak athlete. Look up glute activation drills and start using them in your warm-up as well.
9. LIFT EXPLOSIVELY. Along with lifting heavy, you need to be able to apply your strength quickly (Rate of Force Development). This is why I love the Westide template. While they are power lifters, training this way allows you to get stronger and more explosive simultaneously, all year round! A lot of trainers do different phases (strength, explosive, mass) where they foucus all their attention on only one of those aspects. Why not improve them all at once? Joe Defranco set up a great program called "Westside for Skinny Bastards". I have/am using this template. It works great. Also, read Joe's sample 6 week vertical jump program, his "Fabulous 15" exercises for improving your hops, and Joe's dirty tricks for a higher vert. This brings me to my next point:
10. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Read all you can about how to improve yourself athletically. There's a lot of great information on the internet (and a lot of crap), at Border's/Barnes and Noble, and at the library. Read everthing that pertains to your sport/training or interests you at t-nation.com. They have hundreds of articles written by the smartest trainers in the world on their site. They are straight to the point, easy to read/understand, and funny. You can most likely learn more from this site than most college classes can teach you. Use this to your advantage. If you read all you can on sites like this, you will be ahead of 99% of your opponents. When you train, you will now know what you are doing, why you are doing it, how to do it correctly, and what to expect. You will have a knowledge and a purpose and will make better gains because of it. I also recomend reading the blogs/articles/websites of Eric Cressey, Joe DeFranco, Jason Ferruggia, Zach Even-Esh, Alwyn Crosgrove, Mike Robertson, Tony Gentlicore, and Jimmy Smith. Elitefts.com, dragondoor.com, and gobasketballpro.com all have helped me too.
More to come..........