Have you hit a strength plateau, or are you getting slow results? Do you want to develop a strength program that maximizes your potential? These tips here will make you stronger and more explosive, taking your training and game to a superior level.
1: Slow Eccentric Maximizes Strength
When you do a slow eccentric movement, it develops force production and absorption mechanisms. These mechanisms train your muscles to absorb and generate greater levels of force, enhancing your strength and speed instantly. It is essential to teach your muscles how to absorb force in order to be stronger and move faster. Training fast, without eccentric development, will not make you faster. You don't need to train all the time slowly, just for three weeks to develop the mechanisms.
Try to do a 4-6 second eccentric motion. Pause for 2 seconds at the bottom and come up fast concentrically.
2: Train Lighter To Be Faster
Lifting heavy is good, but you have to learn to back off. Once you develop maximal strength, you have to cut the weight to 50-60% to develop speed, which is the purpose for maximizing strength. You will only be as fast as you are strong. If your strength index is 50, then your speed training would consist of 25. Now, if your strength index is 80, your speed training would be 40. Strength training heavy all the time without cutting the weight will make you slower. It is also the primary reason strength plateaus happen.
Learn to lift lighter for speed intensive purposes. Or, just to do it for a few weeks to de-load so your strength index will jump up to a higher level.
3: Train the Functional 7
Deadlift, Squat, Pull-up, Shoulder Press, Chest Press, Row, and Lunge. Once you strengthen Functional 7, you can start to integrate exercises and expand movement from there.
Perform 3 sets of 5 reps to become strong with your functional movements. After, you can combine some movements, for instance, a lunge with a press.
Breathe and pressurize your core. Most people get tired because they are not integrating breathing properly through their movements, training, or running. You know your car has a gas tank. Well, the lungs are the gas tank for the body. If they are not working well, you will not optimize training or performance. I have seen it happen to some of the strongest athletes. They tank out during the game. When your lungs are tired, your strength is useless.
Train your breath by using nasal diaphragmatic breathing during your strength training. It will activate your core stability and amplify your nervous and muscular system's power to be stronger instantly.
4: Balance Your Strength Training
You need to train both sides of the body as well as multi-plane movements. Exercises such as back row and chest press, triceps pulldown, and biceps curl will develop strength and speed to greater levels rather than training one exercise at a time. Research in, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning showed that doing heavy rows before a chest press increased the chest pressing weight instantly.
Perform Bent Over Rows for 5 reps of your 1RM. After the rows, with about 1-2 minutes rest, do Chest Press for 5 reps of your 1RM. See if it feels easier, lighter or more explosive to lift.
5: Contrast Training
Contrast training is great to supercharge your nervous system. It works by using 4 exercises. The first exercise is the priming exercise, lifting heavy for 3-5 reps. The second is a plyometric version of the first exercise. The third exercise would be similar to the first accept the weight would be reduced to about 40% of your 1 rep-max. The fourth and final exercise would be plyometric again or assisted plyometric to maintain the speed of the exercise. There is no more than 10 seconds rest between the exercises and 3 minutes full recovery at the end of the set.
Here is a contrast training example:
- Leg Press
- Vertical Squat Jumps
- Kettlebell Front Squats
- Vertical Squat Jumps
The idea is to develop the potentiation power of the nervous system to keep generating speed and power over time, so no more than 5 reps are ideal.
6: Complex Training
Complex training is using two exercises to develop or maintain speed and power. The first exercise is the primer. The second exercise is plyometric; to be explosive as fast as you can. It will make you more explosive.
Examples of complex training are:
- Squats and Vertical Jumps
- Deadlifts and Broad Jumps
- Sled push or drag for 10 yards, then sprint.
Complex training is great to do during in-season competition to maintain strength, speed, and power.
7: Lighten The Load For True Repetitions
If the load is too heavy to move, you will compensate your body to move the load. This will fire a compensated movement pattern producing imbalanced strength. For instance, if you are doing a standing shoulder press, and your hips are tilted forward, you are not going to be pressing from your core. It will be your lumber. Pressing from your core will be the true rep. If you are not using your core in your press, then you need to lighten the load. Lifting heavy is a good idea, but if you have to compensate for doing it, you will create many weak links in your movement patterns that can make other movements weaker and vulnerable to injury. Breathe, tighten the core to stabilize, then move.
Strength training is more than just lifting weights up and down. And, the same goes for speed training. It is more than just running down the field as fast as you can. Let go of the pursuit of developing a PR quickly. Focusing on the PR tends to narrow the focus forgetting and neglecting the qualities that make-up strength as a whole. Training is about honing in on the foundation of functionality to boost performance. If certain mechanisms or muscles are not working properly, then you will not maximize strength and speed to their finest result.