Archive for Explosiveness

Olympic Lifting for a Bigger Vertical

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

If you don’t know how important a great vertical jump is, you’re either living under a rock, or I’m failing you as a coach/writer. An explosive vertical jump has carry over to nearly every sport; A vertical jump is an expression of power. The better the vertical, the better you are at putting force into the ground in an instant. There’s no such thing as a high vertical that happens slowly, its impossible. This is why it’s a test that most coaches/organizations use as an assessment and performance marker.  Let’s take sprinting for example, since this carries over to an incredible number of sports; during ground contact in the acceleration phase, you have a mixture of vertical and horizontal forces, these are the basis for how fast you move. Mastering how much of each is another part of the equation, but the first step is maximizing how much force you put into the ground in the first place. Plain and simple, a good vert is important. So how do you build one?

Many people think if you just get bigger/stronger legs you’ll automatically get a better vert. This COULD be true, and you’d have to test and retest to find out, but that’s like playing the lottery for your income instead of getting a job; you MAY get rich with the lottery, but a job will definitely bring in cash. In this case, the money maker is olympic lifting (and other explosive movements). While performing a heavy squat, it’s very easy to move the weight slowly and take your time to move through the movement. With an olympic lift, that is not an option. You need to explosively apply force to the ground in order to accelerate the bar up to the rack or catch position. One way to think of olympic lifting simply (perhaps overly simlpified) is to try to do a vertical jump with a loaded bar in your hands. Although this only applies to one part of the lift, its an easy way to express how closely the vertical jump and olympic lifting are related. This is not shared with traditional weight lifting exercises to the same extent.

As I stated before, building a strong squat, deadlift or lunge CAN carry over to your vertical but that is not necessarily the case. A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that an olympic liting program improves jump performance as compared to a traditional weight training program: “The OL program improves jump performance via a constant CI, whereas the TW training caused an increased CI, probably to enhance joint stability”. To clarify, CI is the knee muscle coactivation index, this is obtained by taking the EMG of the antagonist muscle and dividing it by the agonist muscle. Essentially what they are saying is that when olympic lifting, the different muscles around the knee are always activated in the correct ratio (which stays the same with continued training), whereas traditional weight lifting will change the ratio of knee muscle activators. No matter how hard you try to stay balanced, if you’re doing a number of different exercises it will almost be impossible to keep them at an constant ratio. For this reason, olympic lifting will have a greater effect on your vertical jump.

Now, that being said, I don’t work with any athletes whose only goal is a greater vertical jump. By no means am I going to program ONLY olympic lifts and by no means is it the only way to increase your vertical jump. Ballistic movements including plyometrics are also a great way to increase explosiveness and power. This article is meant to share with athletes and coaches how valuable olympic lifting can be for athleticism. If you haven’t learned how to properly do them, then now would be a good time to hire a trainer/coach or find a good website to teach you (HERE is one that I really like or a VIDEO here). If you’d like to get started right away, here is a very easy progression plan to start doing power work.

– Do “explosive” shrugs. This means bend at the waist and extend the hips (squeeze glutes) into a shrug.

– Do Jump Shrugs. Beginning in a hang position (mid thigh bar, bent at the hips), explosively extend hips, knees and ankles (triple extension) and shrug as the bar begins to rise.

– Do High Pulls. This is nearly identical to the jump shrug except we’re keeping our arms loose and allowing them to bend so that the bar can travel up to rack height (shoulders).

– Do Hang Power Cleans. This is a high pull but we rotate our elbows up and catch in the power position.

If you’re a beginner, you don’t necessarily have to progress further than this, but if you’re enjoying the results or the exercises themselves then continue on to floor cleans, clean and jerk and snatches.

As a bonus, here’s callum crawford of the minnesota swarm doing 225lbs for his first time!


It’s About Getting Better!

Reference article from JSCR -> ( Olympic Weightlifting Training Causes Different Knee Muscle–Coactivation Adaptations Compared with Traditional Weight Training by Arabatzi, Fotini; Kellis, Eleftherios) [ August 2012 – Volume 26 – Issue 8 – p 2192–2201 ]



Posted in Performance with tags , , , , on April 13, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Fitness is important, this website exists because of this fact. We all know it’s important but we still have trouble at times; whether it be goal setting, programming, nutrition or actually getting to the gym. For me, it’s been the first and last of that list. Since moving back to Ottawa, I’ve been very busy with two jobs and I’ve been coaching/speed training quite a bit. Because of this, I found that getting to the gym for my own workouts is much more difficult. Most weeks I was only getting into the gym on the weekends, making my goal setting and direction a bit of a struggle. Well, as of late this has changed for the better. I’ve been able to get into the gym a few more times per week and I’ve been trying to complete a few challenges to give me direction. Much like Cory (@REPerformance1), Kane (@timbahwolf) and Jose,  I’ve been trying out the 100 pullup challenge, with an ideal goal of 10 min. So far, I’ve done it twice and have cut down my time significantly (14:40 down to 11:58) but the goal is still unreached. Tomorrow I’m leaving for Jamaica with my girlfriend so that may push back my completion date but it’s a trade off I’m more than happy to live with. Here is a video of my first attempt, the video for the second will be coming soon.

The other challenge I’m trying to reach is the bodyweight Snatch. For those who don’t know what it is, the snatch is an olympic lift where you have to bring a weighted bar from your hips (or the floor for a full snatch) and bring it over your head in one motion. It’s definitely not an easy movement and I’m nowhere near my goal yet, but it feels good to be doing them again. Training an explosive movement like that regularly is helping me stay athletic. Here is a video of myself doing a few snatches this week, more or less setting a baseline for the challenge.  Please ask for a trainer to help you if you’ve never done them as they are highly technical.

So that’s what I’m up to, what about you?? Are there any fitness challenges or goals that you’re currently undertaking? Do you have ideas about what you’d like us to try for the future? Are you looking for ideas for your challenge? Let’s get some comments going and see what everyone is up to!! When I get back from Jamaica I want to see lots of posts. For this week, my only challenge will be getting up off of the lounge chairs!



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