Tag Archives: fast-twitch muscle

Improve Your Vertical Jump Performance with Jump Training

10 Jun

Hockey-Squat-Jump[1]The improvement of an athlete’s vertical jumping ability can contribute significantly to overall sports performance.  Basketball and volleyball players are obvious examples of athletes who benefit from the ability to execute a strong vertical jump (VJ).  However, most other athletes can also benefit from jump training, because many sport-specific movements rely upon extension of the hip, knees, and ankles (triple extension).

Vertical jumps use a forceful and rapid concentric (pushing) action of the leg muscles to create separation from the ground.  Fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle is a major determinant of force production.  For more on fast-twitch muscle development, please refer to Developing Fast-Twitch Muscle to Improve Power Output.

The following are examples of different types of jumps that can help you improve your strength, explosive power, and athleticism:

A squat jump (SJ) is a vertical jump from a static start.  From the static start position, maximal concentric muscular action is exerted, using triple extension.  You can further improve force development by adding resistance (an external load), such as a hex barbell, dumbbells, or weighted vest.

A countermovement jump (CMJ) starts with a movement in the opposite direction of the jump, followed by an explosive upward movement.  In addition to loaded squat jumps, this movement is executed in Olympic lifts, such as high pulls, power snatches, and power cleans.

The one-step approach jump (1-step AJ) is an exercise where an athlete takes a step forward into a CMJ.  An example of the 1-step AJ is a volleyball player approaching the net during the execution of a spike.  It’s preferable to incorporate the 1-step AJ into an athlete’s jump training only after the athlete has demonstrated the ability to perform a technically correct SJ and CMJ.

Depth jumps (DJ) are a type of plyometric exercise that use potential energy and the force of gravity to store energy in the muscles and tendons.  The DJ is performed by having the athlete step off an elevated platform, landing, then reversing the movement into a powerful, vertical jump.  Depth jump training is a common training modality for improving lower extremity power and speed.

Jump training should always incorporate proper landing mechanics: The athlete should focus on landing with hips down and back; knees bent and pointing straight ahead; and on the entire surface of the foot (not only on the balls of the feet)

Athlete’s who engage in both strength training and VJ exercises have a better chance of improving their VJ performance to a greater degree than those who only strength train or jump train independently.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Why Are You Still Jogging?

3 Jun

Adrian Peterson, Leon HallLong duration aerobic exercise (AE) is well-known for its impact on exercise performance, particularly with regard to enhanced maximal aerobic capacity.  However,high-intensity sprint training (HIT) can yield similar, and even better, results than aerobic exercise, with less time spent training.  Research indicates that AE is not required to improve metabolic/cardiovascular fitness and, in some cases, may be less effective than HIT.

Although AE is beneficial — and any exercise is generally better than none — there are some consequences of AE that should be considered:

  • Long-duration AE can elevate cortisol, an inflammatory hormone (released as a response to stress) that promotes muscle loss (via protein breakdown) and fat storage.
  • Chronic AE increases the amount of slow-twitch (Type 1) muscle fibers, decreasing the potential for power production and compromising anaerobic exercise performance.

HIT, in addition to yielding comparable metabolic benefit (as compared to AE), decreases overall body fat, increases lean body (muscle) mass, and promotes development of fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle fibers.

If you’re an athlete, pick up the pace and add sprint and interval training to your cardio training regimen.

If you’re not an athlete, you too should pick up the pace.  Increasing the intensity of your cardio training applies broadly to walking, running, and biking; as well as the treadmill, elliptical, and stairclimber.

Researchers note that AE may be an acceptable exercise choice for anaerobic athletes if used minimally and far away from the competitive sport season.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Heavy Lifting Leads to Faster Gains

31 Jul

isThis from Men’s Health:  Lifting to failure with a heavy weight activates 53% more muscle fibers than doing so with a light one, according to a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

Keep your loads at a level that allows 6-10 repetitions per set, but don’t eliminate light loads completely, says lead study author Brad Schoenfeld, PhD.

Perform 6-10 rep sets, with heavier loads, and (occasionally incorporate) 20-30 rep sets, with lighter loads, to ensure that you activate both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers.  This strategy will help you maximize your overall growth.

When lifting heavy loads, remember to increase the poundage gradually, in order to minimize the potential for injury; and allow adequate time for rest and recovery between sets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Vertical Jump Performance with Jump Training

1 May

Hockey-Squat-Jump[1]The improvement of an athlete’s vertical jumping ability can contribute significantly to overall sports performance.  Basketball and volleyball players are obvious examples of athletes who benefit from the ability to execute a strong vertical jump (VJ).  However, most other athletes can also benefit from jump training, because many sport-specific movements rely upon extension of the hip, knees, and ankles (triple extension).

Vertical jumps use a forceful and rapid concentric (pushing) action of the leg muscles to create separation from the ground.  Fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle is a major determinant of force production.  For more on fast-twitch muscle development, please refer to Developing Fast-Twitch Muscle to Improve Power Output.

The following are examples of different types of jumps that can help you improve your strength, explosive power, and athleticism:

A squat jump (SJ) is a vertical jump from a static start.  From the static start position, maximal concentric muscular action is exerted, using triple extension.  You can further improve force development by adding resistance (an external load), such as a hex barbell, dumbbells, or weighted vest.

A countermovement jump (CMJ) starts with a movement in the opposite direction of the jump, followed by an explosive upward movement.  In addition to loaded squat jumps, this movement is executed in Olympic lifts, such as high pulls, power snatches, and power cleans.

The one-step approach jump (1-step AJ) is an exercise where an athlete takes a step forward into a CMJ.  An example of the 1-step AJ is a volleyball player approaching the net during the execution of a spike.  It’s preferable to incorporate the 1-step AJ into an athlete’s jump training only after the athlete has demonstrated the ability to perform a technically correct SJ and CMJ.

Depth jumps (DJ) are a type of plyometric exercise that use potential energy and the force of gravity to store energy in the muscles and tendons.  The DJ is performed by having the athlete step off an elevated platform, landing, then reversing the movement into a powerful, vertical jump.  Depth jump training is a common training modality for improving lower extremity power and speed.

Jump training should always incorporate proper landing mechanics: The athlete should focus on landing with hips down and back; knees bent and pointing straight ahead; and on the entire surface of the foot (not only on the balls of the feet)

Athlete’s who engage in both strength training and VJ exercises have a better chance of improving their VJ performance to a greater degree than those who only strength train or jump train independently.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Why Are You Still Jogging?

26 Apr

Adrian Peterson, Leon HallLong duration aerobic exercise (AE) is well-known for its impact on exercise performance, particularly with regard to enhanced maximal aerobic capacity.  However, high-intensity sprint training (HIT) can yield similar, and even better, results than aerobic exercise, with less time spent training.  Research indicates the AE is not required to improve metabolic/cardiovascular fitness and, in some cases, may be less effective than HIT.

Although AE is beneficial — and any exercise is generally better than none — there are some consequences of AE that should be considered:

  • Long-duration AE can elevate cortisol, an inflammatory hormone (released as a response to stress) that promotes muscle loss (via protein breakdown) and fat storage.
  • Chronic AE increases the amount of slow-twitch (Type 1) muscle fibers, decreasing the potential for power production and compromising anaerobic exercise performance.

HIT, in addition to yielding comparable metabolic benefit (as compared to AE), decreases overall body fat, increases lean body (muscle) mass, and promotes development of fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle fibers.

If you’re an athlete, pick up the pace and add sprint and interval training to your cardio training regimen.

If you’re not an athlete, you too should pick up the pace.  Increasing the intensity of your cardio training applies broadly to walking, running, and biking; as well as the treadmill, elliptical, and stairclimber.

Researchers note that AE may be an acceptable exercise choice for anaerobic athletes if used minimally and far away from the competitive sport season.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Developing Fast-Twitch Muscle to Improve Power Output

16 Aug

Most sports are played with alternating intervals of high-intensity, short-duration bursts of energy (sprinting, jumping, etc.), and lower-intensity, longer-duration phases.  For example, the average football play lasts about five seconds, followed by about 20-25 seconds when the players regroup and prepare for the next play.  Your body’s fast-twitch muscles are responsible for these quick, explosive surges.

With regard to sports performance (as well as most other activities) your body utilizes three types of muscle fibers:

  • Type I are slow-twitch muscle fibers; they are designed for endurance.
  • Type IIb are fast-twitch muscle fibers; they are responsible for “all-or-nothing” jumps, sprints, and lifts; these muscles are your body’s largest, and have the most growth potential.
  • Type IIa are “in-between” muscle fibers; these muscles can stay on task for minutes at a time.

When it comes to recruiting muscle, your body is very efficient.  It doesn’t use its type IIb fibers unless it has to.  To produce movement, your body recruits muscle fibers in an orderly progression from smallest to largest.

If you pick up the pace, you send larger fibers into action – starting with the IIa kind.  The IIb fibers don’t figure into the mix until you’re working at about two-thirds of your maximum capacity – the equivalent of a fast run or a moderately heavy weightlifting set.

When your goal is to target IIb fibers and make them bigger and stronger as a result, you have two options:

  • Lifting a near-max weight
  • Lifting a lighter weight as fast as possible

What won’t work is grinding out sets of 10 to 12 reps at a steady, deliberate speed.

There’s also a third way to recruit your IIb fibers: balance exercises.  Here’s how balance exercises work to facilitate force development: Your body relies on feedback from loops of nerves that travel from muscles to spinal cord and back again.  Balance exercises help develop force faster by activating IIb muscles sooner and, in the process, helping muscles grow bigger and stronger.  Balance training is also a proven injury reduction strategy, but more about that in a later post.

Put these principles to work for you; improve your performance and gain an edge on your competition!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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