Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Plyometrics Training Part 3

Previously we've discussed force absorption (putting force in) and force development (putting force out). Now let's get to an actual program which is taken from Mike Boyle's Functional Training for Sports.

Each session uses a bilateral (2 leg) variation, a unilateral (single leg) variation and a lateral (sideways) variation to train each plane of motion.

Phase 1 - Single Response, Stabilisation

Emphasis - Eccentric / Landing Strength

Length of Phase - 4 Weeks Minimum

Exercises - Box Jump, Single Leg Low Box Jump, Single Leg Lateral Low Box Jump

Sets and Reps - 5 x 5, 3 x 5, 3 x 3

Notes: You should land as soft as a feather before moving to phase 2. When you watch the great jumpers, it looks effortless. For box jumps use a moderate sized box, not a max height box. For the single leg jumps use a 4 inch step.

Phase 2 - Multiple Response, Stabilisation

Emphasis - Increased Eccentric / Landing Strength through the use of gravity

Exercises - Hurdle Jump and Stick, Single Leg Low Hurdle Hop and Stick, Heiden with Stick, Zig Zag Bound and Stick

Sets and Reps - 3 x 5, 3 x 5, 3 x 5, 3 x 5

Notes: Again you're after a soft landing, not a "slap."Also "stick" each rep for 1 - 2 seconds.

Phase 3 - Multiple Jumps, Introduction of Elastic Component

Emphasis - Switching from an Eccentric Contraction to a Concentric Contraction

Exercises - Hurdle Jump with Bounce, Single Leg Low Hurdle Hop with Bounce, Zig Zag Bound with Bounce

Sets and Reps - 3 x 5, 3 x 5, 3 x 5

Notes: if you struggle during this phase then go back to phase 2 and improve your landings. The bounce refers to landing each rep then doing a small, mini bounce in between each rep.

Phase 4 - Multiple Jumps, Elastic Response

Emphasis - Minimising Ground Contact Time

Exercises - Hurdle Jumps, Power Skip, Lateral Bound, Crossover Bound, Cross Behind Bound

Sets and Reps - 3 x 5, 3 x 5, 3 x 5, 3 x 5

Notes: Again, soft landings are the focus as well as having as little contact time in between each rep.

To progress through the program you need to increase the intensity of the exercises, not the volume of jumps which should not exceed 150 per week. This means you'd increase box heights and exercise difficulty.

So there you have it, you can be jumping like this guy in no time:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Plyometrics Training Part 2

In Part 1, we discussed one aspect of plyometrics training being force absorption, and that to put a lot of force out you must be able to put a lot of force in.

Remember when you were a kid and you'd jump off from the fence but as you land you'd go into an army roll? This is because you were too weak to absorb the force so to ease the stress on the body, you simply "gave way" to the force and absorb some it through the roll.

How do you develop the ability to put force "in"?

Getting stronger, that's how.

The stronger your joints and muscles, then the more force they can absorb upon landing. Taking the rubber band analogy again, it means we can pull that band back a lot further then the thin one because it's bigger, thicker and stronger.

To gain strength you must train in the 1 - 5 rep zone and progressively be able to lift more weight in that rep range. I have found that 3 reps is about the perfect zone for most of us as it allows us to lift a near maximal weight (90% or more) but without totally blowing out the nervous system like a 1 rep max attempt will.

Another important point for gaining strength is to NEVER miss a lift as a failed rep attempt at over 90% will burn your nervous system out a lot more then a successful rep attempt at the same load.

Now for strength gains, you need a long term program in place for the big lifts including deadlifts, squats, bench presses, military press, chin ups and rows. This isn't bodybuilding where you might use a different technique each session. You need to repeat the same movement frequently so the nervous system learns the movement and it becomes ingrained in your nervous system.

2 of the best strength systems to use is the 531 method by Jim Wendler and Performing Singles Over 90% by Eric Cressey, both former competitive powerlifters.

These systems and others are explained in more detail here.

With all things being equal (skill set etc), those that are the strongest will be the better players as they will move more efficiently and fluently.

Tune in for part 3.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Plyometrics Training

In the search for explosiveness, plyometrics exercises are usually the first port of call. Plyometrics involve jumping exercises but do you know how they actually make you a better athlete?

Plyometrics exercises work on a mechanism called the stretch shortening cycle which is an active stretch (eccentric contraction), followed by an immediate shortening (concentric action) of that same muscle. In layman's terms, a muscle is stretched and then released.

When people first think of plyometrics exercises, they think of jumping, which is ideal for developing power and explosiveness of lower body. What most of these people don't realise though, is the order of which you should work up to full blown plyometrics exercises.

Before you can put the force "out" of your lower body extremities (legs), you must be able to put force "in". Think of the distance a rubber band being pulled back only a centimeter and letting it go will reach, versus the distance a rubber band being pulled back 10 centimeters will reach.

This leads me to force absorption. Your level of explosiveness and power is directly correlated to the amount of force that your muscles, tendons and joints can absorb. If you attempt to absorb too much force then you can handle, then a little bugger called the Golgi Tendon Organ, will put the breaks on you real quick for a fear of getting injured, and it will not let you put out the force you're after.

To develop the ability to absorb force you first must train landing. All this entails is dropping from various heights and simply landing as soft as you can, absorbing the force through the ankles, knees and hips. Think of a cat landing on the floor from the bookcase and how soft they land. This is what you're after.

Now a thin rubber band can only be pulled so far back before it snaps, of which then you'll need to go for a thicker and stronger rubber band.

This leads to me my next post so check in then.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Almost There

Hopefully everyone has noticed the little yellow graphic on the right hand side of the page.

This is my first manual and I got to tell you, it has taken me longer then I thought it was. I had the preliminary program about 3 months ago but as I have gone along I've tweaked it and tweaked it to make a lot more user friendly so that everyone who purchases it, can use it straight away.

I've just got to do some video's so does anyone know of any good video hosting sites I can use? I could just pop them on youtube but I'd rather keep them private for those who pay the big dollars.

As usual if you have any idea's for content then please send them through and thank you to everyone who responded from my "I need your help please" email. I still have some of those topics to cover but some are also covered in the Aussie Rules In Season Training manual.

Hopefully it won't be long. Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ball Handling

Now I intended for this blog to be about physically training for Aussie Rules Football but as we ave plenty of overseas reader's, I've ad numerous requests for tips on simpler aspects of the game such as ball handing.

In Oz, we grow up with a football from a very young age so our coordination the ability to handle the ball is second nature for most of us. Over seas, and in the US in particular, there is a huge following and close to 100 teams that play every Saturday just like us here that haven't had the years of handling the ball like we have so here's my tips:

Picking Up the Ball

The beauty of our game, or the problem, is that our ball is oval which means unlike a round ball, it can bounce anywhere at anytime and you never know which way it will go. The best way to go here is to simply attack the ball as hard and as fast as you can. The less chance you give the ball to bounce, the better chance you have at getting it. If you are new to the game tough, initially you will want to run as fast as you can at the ball but the 1 - 2 steps before you're about to pick it up, slow down a little to give yourself a little more time to predict which way it will go.

With a partner you can simply have them kick or roll the ball towards you while you run to it, starting about 5m away and increasing the distance and the pace of the kick/roll as you go along.

By yourself, you can kick the ball in front then run onto it to pick it up on the run.

Above all just handle the ball as much as you can whether it be at home, with your mates or at training.