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Fitness Discussion: Squats & Plyos

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Fitness Discussion: Squats & Plyos

Postby Wartank » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:09 pm

Yes, this seems like a good place to post this.
This post is about building explosive power in the legs. Just in case anyone later on wanted to stay on topic.

Most, if not every, person who has done ultimate-specific training has done a plyometric workout. Probably also on a regular basis. But if anyone has also done any reading on plyometric training, they can confirm that sometime after the description of reasoning, and technique, and schedules, and programs, inevitably comes a little footnote that says something like "of course, if you can't squat 1.5 - 2x your body weight, forget about this and hit the gym." The lowest that I've ever seen this recommendation was 1x body weight*.

My knowledge of this rationale, drawn most recently from the vertical jump bible, is that you can train the quickness or elasticity of your muscles to be as efficient as you want at using your strength, but if you don't have a sufficient pool of strength to draw from, there's no point. After all, 99% of a small number (potential amt of force) is still going to be a small number. Not to mention the fact that we get a lot of plyometric training already, just by going to practices twice a week and playing league. For more anecdotal evidence, look at any professional sports players -- they spend a lot of time in the gym.

Now, that said, at the (admittedly sub-elite) levels that I've played at, I'd be surprised if more than a handful of players, if that many, could squat even the minimum described here -- 1x their body weight**. To address this shortcoming this offseason, I have been doing a squat-based training regimen. I'm only 5 weeks in, but it's tough, and I'm still quite far from being able to squat my own weight. Then again, maybe this makes sense, since I'm also still quite far from a 30-awesome" vertical***.

So there's a lot of disconnect here:

- Are most touring teams' training programs misdirected?
- Is this strength minimum something you've heard or abide by.. or disagree with?
- What has worked for you?
- Am i just coming to terms with how weak i am (along with many other ultimate players)?
- I'm assuming the str min refers to 1RM?

It would be interesting to hear what people's thoughts / experiences are about this topic.


*And I hope I'm right in assuming this means on the bar, not including your own weight
**I am talking about free squats here, not a smith machine and definitely not leg press
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Postby taylor.martin » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:12 pm

Vertical Jump Bible worked really well for me last off-season. Be careful not to get too tight in the hips and legs as a result of all the weight. I tore my hammy doing sprints around try-out time and I wonder if the increased tightness played a part in that. I'm trying to combat my chronic tightness with yoga this winter while continuing with the vertical program.
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Postby Gonzo » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:48 am

Hey Warren,

There's another possibility for that strength/weight restriction. One of the big things with plyometric exercises is that they tend to be very hard on your muscles and joints. If you're not already in decent shape, you risk doing some serious damage to yourself if you start doing plyometrics.

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Postby mattkirk » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:28 am

Side question: why are you trying to increase your vertical? You're tall and fast, why not keep rolling with that? Maybe increasing your vertical would help you on some of those 50/50 discs, but I don't think those are so frequent that you should use a whole off-season to train for it.

I will give you 75% of my vertical in exchange for 25% of your speed, and I easily win that deal.
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Postby Jeff Lindquist » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:47 am

i'm not sure it's even possible to train for vert without training for speed, and vice versa.

but i would recommend throwing in some sets of 30-50 yard sprints as well as some jumps as high as you can with the squats to try to connect the motions with the weights.
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Postby Gonzo » Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:01 pm

Explosive power in your legs will only help your top speed so much, before it comes down to a question of running technique. What explosive power will do for you, which is probably just as important (if not more so, especially in ultimate) is to increase your acceleration.

In addition to what Jeff said, I would also recommend adding in some power cleans, if you're not doing them already. The caveat here (isn't there almost always one?) is that you need to make sure you've got good technique to reduce the chance of injury, so make sure you get someone to help you out with them if you're not comfortable.
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Postby Wartank » Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:43 pm

wow -- great! so:

@Bill - yeah, i can see how having the requisite strength to protect your joints makes a lot of sense as well. which is also why i like the emphasis on full-body exercises, like the squat, which rely on working muscles in conjunction and working stabilizers. but even more reason why i scratch my head at training programs i've seen ppl go through for ultimate (myself very much included).

@taylor - good point. i have been meaning to keep up with yoga and intend to aim to do it about once a week. i definitely feel some tightness.

@ Matt -- agreed with link-- my understanding is that vertical & sprint speed are two sides of the same coin. two edges of the same sword. two halves of the same moon. the moon of explosive leg strength. And I definitely feel that they are both very important elements to the physical part of ultimate -- presuming it would also help to change directions faster, etc. And Bill, while I'm sure running technique is important, I don't see how you wouldn't get a better top speed from the same strength your acceleration comes from. If it's not explosive leg strength determining your top speed, what else would it be? Also, it's difficult for many people to find/get coaching on their sprinting technique.

@ linky - it's a good idea. i saw some of the VJB workouts added those in. makes sense! I'll jump anyway, since my gym doesn't have a track I can do sprints in.

Not to complicate matters too much more, but many of these concepts were why I found p90x to be so helpful -- a defined and demanding schedule, holistic exercises, emphasis on flexibility as well as strength, and on 'slow' strength as well as 'quick' strength. That said, a) when it comes down to it, it is primarily a weight loss and toning regime vs. strength gaining; and b) we could probably start a different thread on the virtues and drawbacks of p90x.
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Postby Gary » Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:35 pm

You may also want to look at the "insanity"(it's also a beach body program) program in conjunction with p90x it will help your top end speed and also your endurance. It worked for me last season better than p90. But all this training is a moot point if you don't keep your muscles loose with, either yoga or decent massage therapy treatments. Muscles will not perform optimally if they are not at their proper length.
As a side note, top speed, acceleration and vertical height is all about power to weight ration. If you're not careful weight programs will increase your weight, which will lead to more energy expenditure on the field.
But I'm an anti weight guy.
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Postby master_storm » Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:59 am

To increase vertical most people can work on technique and that will drive the fastest improvements. Being able to transfer energy into your jump is essential for jumping higher. In simple terms, how high you jump will be a combination of how much you load your muscles (how low you go) and how fast you unload your muscles (speed from which you are bent down all the way to when you take off the ground).

I actually did a frame by frame analysis of people that I trained in the winter last year and you can see the differences in jumping technique. Some don't go down at all, others take too long to "unload" their muscles. ... jump-1.jpg

I don't have any of my commentary but the 2 best verticals in the photo above are the top and bottom jumpers.

As for training, the best vertical improvement I ever saw was from box jumping. You don't need a whole lot of different exercises to get a decent amount of gains. But before you get into box jumping I highly suggest you build up with other jumping plyometric exercises that don't require a box. You have to train your body to get use to repetitive jumping motions so when you hit the box you do not hurt yourself.
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Postby Hanuman » Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:17 pm
Not a bad resource.... at least a good place to start reading about the subject.
I think the ability to squat your weight is necessary since plyometrics, although it may not seem like it at the time, is very hard on your body and you will need a good strength base to prevent injuries.
Good luck!
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