Training for the Vertical Jump

A quick Google search will uncover a seemingly infinite number of articles that promise to increase your vertical jump. They advise everything from jumping in sand or water to using a shoe that has a platform at the ball of the foot and no heel (that may look fantastic on Victoria Beckham but we wouldn’t suggest it as a great way to train vertical jump if you value your ankle health). They will tell you to train all the smaller muscles that contribute in relatively minor ways to the vertical jump, and even some that don’t, while virtually ignoring the major contributors. The long and the short of it all is – who can you trust?

We will discuss the vertical jump and offer some training advice as to how to increase your vertical jump. This series may be of interest to volleyball and basketball players who jump as part of their sport performance as well as football and hockey players who will be asked to perform vertical jump testing at combines and training camps. Testing the vertical jump and maximizing your opportunities for performance in that test are a whole different subject. This article will examine how to train to jump as high as you possibly can.

The first thing we should do is decide what muscles are contributing to our ability to vertical jump. The posterior chain is to the vertical jump as location is to real estate. That is to say the major contributors to an athlete’s ability to get into the air are behind them. The glutes contribute 40% of the force output in a vertical jump and the hamstrings produce another 25%. (Poliquin, 2006) If this is surprising to you, what comes next will completely shock you – the quadriceps contribute a mere 5% of the force output and the calves another measly 5% (those numbers are rounded up!). The shoulder flexors, on the other hand, contribute 15% of the vertical jump force. (Poliquin, 2008) A study by Fukashiro and Komi in 2005 suggests that the rank order of the muscles firing in a vertical jump is “hip greater than knee greater than ankle”. We can hear a collective “Huh?” What this means is that the greatest contribution to the vertical jump is made by the hip extensors, followed by the knee extensors, and then the ankle extensors. Still not very clear? Let’s relate these to muscle groups. Extensors of the hip … glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors; of the knee … quadriceps; and of the ankle … calves. So, we’ve discovered that the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors) is the “prime mover” when it comes to the vertical jump. This knowledge will help us focus our training on the muscles that matter when it comes to increasing our vertical jump and enable us to train with a “most bang for the buck” approach.

Before we hit the gym to start our vertical jump strength training, we have to know a little bit about ourselves. I had a football coach many years ago whose favorite saying was “Athlete, know thyself!” He was a pretty smart guy and I think that saying applies just as well here. In order to put all of our power into the ground and jump as high as possible, we must start from a stable platform. You wouldn’t jump off a wobbleboard and expect to get a great result so why would you expect a great result if you have muscle or structural imbalances? The human body does a very impressive job of adapting to its environment. If we have a muscle that is weak, our bodies adapt to that weakness and work around it – our bodies will find a way to get the job done! The secret is to identify those weaknesses and correct them in order that we begin from a base of structural balance. SST’s assessment protocols are designed to identify those imbalances and help us to design a program to correct them. Book your assessment at any of SST’s locations today. There is strength in balance.

We intend to discuss more about achieving structural balance with reference to some common trends we see in testing at SST, some fantastic exercises for gaining strength in the posterior chain, as well as some excellent “bang for the buck” Olympic lifting exercises. We will delve into plyometrics and their application to the vertical jump in sport performance for volleyball and basketball players, reiterate some stretching tips for the hip flexors (and maybe even throw in some stuff that might be new to you!), and give away a few tips to increase performance in the vertical jump test on combine day!

BTW…. with this vertical jump training in mind – check out our Volleyball Camp starting shortly HERE

Better pre-workout… coffee or beetroot juice? – Part 2 (of 4)

Better pre-workout… coffee or beetroot juice?

Last week, we received a glimpse into the beneficial effects of drinking coffee before completing an endurance related activity. However, what about those of us who aren’t triathletes, marathon runners, or Olympic rowers??

The truth is, the majority of the more common everyday  sports like hockey, basketball, football, baseball, etc, rely on more anaerobic energy systems, and are characterized by short, high intensity intermittent bouts of effort. Therefore, these sports may not receive the same ergogenic benefits from coffee.

Part 2: Coffee Improves speed-endurance and high intensity intermittent exercise.

Unfortunately, the research on coffee as an ergogenic aid for anaerobic and power activities is not as clear cut. What we do know is that caffeine can aid individuals performing intermittent bouts of high intensity exercise lasting 4-6s long (most of our SST athletes fall under this category!!). In addition, sports requiring speed endurance (1-3min bursts) also seem to be aided by caffeine consumption.

What about resistance training? Can coffee improve my 1RM?

Sorry guys, not this time. Maximal strength seems to be unaffected by caffeine intake.

However… recent studies involving lower body repetitions to failure offer introductory evidence that caffeine improves endurance in the weight room. More reps = more growth = bigger, stronger, and more powerful legs.

Bottom Line:

  1. Coffee consumption enhances endurance performance.
  2. Coffee consumption can enhance some aspects of anaerobic and power performance.


What if I told you there may be another natural dietary food product that may be superior to coffee as a pre-workout?

That’s right, the emergence of beetroot juice as an ergogenic aid is receiving lots of attention in today’s sports science nutrition research!

Next week, we will find out exactly what all the “buzz” is about…

How to lose 5lbs in your belly in two weeks!

In part 1 CLICK HERE I discussed the top 3 ways to lower body fat in your belly and thighs.

I have implemented a new type of weight loss program with clients and the results have been outstanding.  A mother and daughter team tried it for two weeks…results- both lost 5lbs  – 2.1% and 1.5% in body fat…what you need to know about these two is that their body fats were below 15% already!

How did they do this- yes they followed my new regimen but they took a few key supplements.  My favorite one: FENUGREEK SEED…what does it do?

  1. Attacks love handle fat
  2. increase testosterone
  3. improves digestion
  4. Reduces inflammation!

If you like to come in for your complimentary NUTRITION consultation during the month of June please email me back “I want in Dawg!”

So you wanna get big…

SST’s 8 Methods to Getting Bigger!

SST has worked with thousands of athletes; some needed to drop a few pounds while others would be considered “hardgainers”; those guys that say “no matter what I do I can’t gain weight.”  Here are the 8 methods we here at SST use:

  1. Sleep – If you want to pack on muscle, your hormones need to be optimal. When you sleep, your body releases growth hormone.  If you are only getting 4-5 hours a night, or waking up every hour, that needs to change.  You will need to block at least 8 hours per night!  Plus take a nap every day!


  1. Eat 6-8 times per day – If you want to get big you cannot skip meals. If you skip a meal you’ll never get it back!  Hardgainers generally have higher metabolisms and need to eat more calories.


  1. Get enough protein – You will need to get 1.5 – 2 times your bodyweight in grams of protein daily. If you weigh 160lbs that would be 240g-320g daily.  Break that up into 6-8 meals and you should be in the range of 30-40g per meal.


  1. Train at the same time – Studies show that if you are on a routine of getting to sleep, waking up, and training at the same time every day, then your results will be improved. Schedule your workouts like appointments!


  1. Post workout shakes – We like to use a combination of Carbohydrates and Protein.  Timing is important, so try to have it as soon as you finish your last set.


  1. Choose Compound movements as your base – Squats, Deadlifts, Dips, Military Press, Chin Ups and Bench Press. Do not be afraid to lift heavy weights, either.  When you are done your workout, go REST!


  1. Working out is not a social event – When you are done a set, start your stopwatch. When it your specific rest period is over you’d better be lifting!  Do not be hanging around…..maintain your focus!


  1. Train Hard …Then go Home – After your general warm up (approximately 10 min) your workout should be 45 minutes to 1 hour.   We like to use antagonist muscle pairings to get more work done in less time

Here is a sample program: Extended Giant Sets.

Day 1 – Upper

Order Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
A1 Supinated Chin Ups 4 4-6 4010 15s
A2 Pronated Chin Ups 4 3-5 3010 15s
A3 Horizontal Rows – feet elevated 4 8-10 2012 3m
A4 45 Incline DB Bench Press – N to P 4 4-6 4010 15s
A5 DB Bench Press – Neutral Grip 4 6-8 3010 15s
A6 Decline DB Bench Press 4 8-10 3010 3m


Day 2 – Legs

Order Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
A1 Back Squats 4 4-6 4010 15s
A2 Low Pulley Split Squats 4 8-10 3110 15s
A3 Backwards Sled Drag 4  40 yds XXX 3m
A4 Lying Hamstring Curls 4 4-6 4010 15s
A5 Romanian Deadlifts 4 6-8 3010 15s
A6 Back Extensions 4 8-10 2011 3m

BTW…. Make sure to check out our Summer Football Camps HERE

Does The Low Man Really Win? (Pass Blocking) Part 2 (of 2)

Last week I introduced why the Low Man doesn’t always win the rep CLICK HERE

The equation put forth is:

Stability + Maximization of Length (without over extension) + Agility + Meeting Force with Force

= Higher Probability for Success

 I will break these down to optimize your success:

Stability – In terms of OL play this is our base, the most important aspect of any offensive lineman. If you start with a base that isn’t efficient chances are you are not going to have repeatable success. If you start wrong you’re probably going to finish wrong.

Maximization of Length – Being long is important for offensive lineman we want to keep the defender away from our frame as long as possible because this allows more time for him to make a mistake and for us to take advantage of this mistake. This needs to be done in good context, playing too long or getting over extended can create a whole host of problems. Arm length is where very key this is why at the combine they take this measurement to see if an OL can strike a target that is father away. Length is important but being “too long” can become very problematic.

Agility – Personally to me this is the more important piece of the equation. Can you simply stay in front of your man? Offensive Line play is played in a rectangle 4 yards in width and 7 years in depth. Do you have the agility to stay in front of the defensive lineman? If you cannot stay in front of any given DL nothing else really matters this is why College/University recruiters and NFL scouts look at agility tests closely.

Meeting Force with Force – If we look at Newton’s Third Law he argues that when every any two objects react they are applying force to each other. If we apply this law to a 1on1 pass block situation and an offensive lineman is able to stay in front of the defensive line man and then he turns it into a “bull rush” the OL needs to bleed the force out through the ground, this happen because the OL is applying force back and transferring it through the ground.

Pass blocking is a very unnatural task, we are asked to stop a force without knowing where its destination is. So saying the low man always wins doesn’t make any sense. This idea would make sense if we absolutely knew where the DL destination point would be, we have a pretty good idea where the QB is but that can change is a hurry. If the DL was just going to run in a straight line to a stationary QB then I would say sure get as low as you can and take on the impact, but this is not the case.

The bio mechanics of any given offensive lineman are different. Some players might be better if they are lower than the defender, given the body that they are working with. Others may play better if they are higher and longer. This really all depends on what you are working with physically. Getting low playing offensive line has its place, but you should be at your lowest point throughout the entire rep because this doesn’t fit into the OL equation for winning. Getting low should be a defense mechanism against the bull rush. So in my personal opinion the LOW MAN DOES NOT ALWAYS WIN!!!

If you like to learn more about my upcoming OL CAMP please email or call me at 905 632 3558 and I will register you up!

Jamie “THE BIG CHILL” LaLonde

SST OL/ DL coach

BTW… Also check out SST’s “Speed & Skills” Camp for 2017 – HERE

PLUS – it is a bit early but HIGH PERFORMANCE Camps – HERE

Better pre-workout… coffee or beetroot juice? – Part 1 (of 4)

Coffee Improves Endurance Performance.

Wake up, rush through your daily morning routine, and hurry out the door to make it to work on time. While waiting in the Timmy’s drive-thru line you can’t help but get an eerie feeling you forgot something. You continue on with full determination, knowing your morning “boost” is just a couple cars away. Does this sound like you?

Coffee is one of the most regularly consumed beverages, because it provides the energy and focus needed to get through our hectic days. Coffee’s main ingredient, caffeine, acts as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulator making us feel more alert and focused. In addition, coffee contains anti-oxidants, polyphenols, and tannins… all good for the body. For this reason, coffee has become a popular pre- workout choice of many athletes. But does it actually work?

Part 1 of this 4 part series will focus on coffee and its effects on endurance performance. Runners, cyclists, rowers, I have good news. COFFEE CAN IMPROVE PERFORMANCE!

In A 2016 review (1), coffee was reported to improve time to exhaustion trials by an average of 24% and time to completion trials by 3%… in a 2 hour race that’s over 3.5mins faster… can you say, new PR?!

These positive effects are largely due to caffeine blunting the inhibitory effects of adenosine. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that “inhibits” the CNS. What you are left with are feelings of reduced perceived exertion, pain, and improved vigour during training. At the muscular level, caffeine aids in the excitation-contraction process by increasing Calcium flux. So far so good, right? Well it gets better… there does not seem to be a diuretic response or any other fluid level concerns that could hinder your performance… amazing!

Not an endurance athlete?

Stay tuned, next week I will discuss whether or not coffee can improve anaerobic, power related activities.


Top 3 ways to trim your thighs.

One of the most common questions I receive is “How do I get rid of unwanted fat around my butt and thighs?”

Here is my top 3 list of foods/ advice to trim up these high estrogen sites.

  1. Reduce alcohol intake – there is no point reducing estrogen if you don’t increase testosterone first
  2. Cruciferous veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and kale just to name a few
  3. Watercress – one of the oldest leaf vegetables consumed by humans; this is the gold standard for estrogen modulators!

Next week I will explain the top 3 supplements to trim thighs!

Larry “The Big Dawg”

If you like what you read and would like to try a demo Butts and Guts class at any of our facilities please feel free to email me

New Team Member (Burlington) – Chris “Chico” Anderi

SST is very excited to announce the addition of Chris “Chico” Anderi to our team.


Chico will be overseeing the nutrition of the athletes and members at SST, in addition to serving as a S & C coach. His primary area of interest is optimal feeding to enhance performance, recovery, and body composition.

Here’s a little more info from Chico’s Bio:


Bachelor of Kinesiology, Brock University

Post Graduate certificate, Exercise Science for Health & Performance, Niagara College

(Current): MSc Kinesiology concentration in Physiology and Nutrition, University of Waterloo


Certified personal trainer

Certified Exercise Physiologist (CSEP-CEP)

Athletic Career

Brock University baseball 2010-2014, 2 OUA championships

CoSIDA Capital One Academic All American, Second team (1 of 22 players in Canada and US)

Summer ball: Niagara Metros (senior AAA)

Relevant Experience

S&C with Brock baseball & swim teams

Various Bootcamps for individuals of all fitness levels

Personal Trainer at Brock U and University of Waterloo gyms

Trained Jessica Lewis for 2 years – Bermudan Paralympic Athlete – Wheelchair sprint (Gold medalist, 100m wheelchair sprint, 2015 Para Panam Games)

Be sure to look out for the great INFORMATION and BLOGS Chico will be sending out in the coming weeks and months.


Speed Drills for Pro Sports – Part 3 (of 3)

Before you read part three make sure you go and read part two which is a very interesting read, If you haven’t here is the link. In part two we discuss the importance of agility training. In particular we discussed closed chain agility and open-chained agility. Both of these types of training can be very effective, but they need to be used properly with an understanding of what they do for an athlete’s development, in part two we discuss that.

Acceleration phase: Approximately 80% of most sports are played in this phase, so we spend at least 80% of our time training in this phase. Drills that I like to use include:

  • 2-point starts
  • 3-point starts
  • Band resisted starts: This is one of my favourites! Note: Please make certain you do not apply too much resistance in order to keep the athlete’s mechanics from being altered.
  • SpeedSac resisted starts: These are similar to sled sprints, but I have found that the SpeedSac to be more effective for two reasons. We can alter the weight to be more precise compared to the sled. The SpeedSac also has less shifting, as does the sled, thus our mechanics are not altered as much.

So, to answer the question, I like to spend 80% of my time training with open-pattern agility and acceleration exercises with my so-called more experienced athletes!

I follow the 80% rule in most things in life, and in this case, these training modalities provide our athletes with the best bang for their buck!

Speed is a very important aspect of all sports, but it has to be coached and developed in the right way. In this blog we discussed how to train speed and agility through numerous amounts of drills and theories. (Part 2 of 3) Not only is the teaching important but understanding who and how to teach/coach certain drills, will progress your athletes faster. (Part 1 of 3) Hopefully you all enjoyed reading this blog and will bring the principles taught in this blog to your coaching methods allowing you to coach your athletes more effectively and more efficiently.

Does The Low Man Really Win? (Pass Blocking) – Part 1 (of 2)

From the onset of an offensive lineman’s pop warner career the number one cliché that is throw around is that the low man will always win. Throughout my career I have had a number of OL coaches who firmly believe in this adage. I have found that this idea of the low man always winning may not be entirely true. Simply getting low is a by-product of having good technique but a given body type can only get so low because of their bio mechanics.

In this post I will be talking about this idea relating to pass blocking only, because this is where the real money is made in terms of offensive line play, run blocking is an attitude two steps in the ground, punch then be the meanest, nastiest person you can be. Pass blocking is a learned skill, because of its unnatural characteristics. This is why we need to take a very scientific approach to this aspect of offensive line play.

I will personally argue that just saying the low man wins is a very simple and obtuse way of looking at offensive line production. Everything has to do with biomechanics and physics, how force is created and stopped biomechanically will change for different body types.

I will go on to argue that the LOW MAN DOESN’T ALWAYS WIN. The dropping of your center of gravity is the idea of “getting lower” that coaches talk about. This idea is just a by-product of an equation I will go over later in the reading.

Very simply offensive line play comes to the generation of force through coefficient of friction. Basically what this means in terms of offensive line play vs defensive line play, the winner of any given rep is the person who can create more friction to propel there force forward (Run Game) or stop there force from going backward (Pass Game).

Here inlays the prehistoric way of trying to teach young OL athletes to become more powerful. TO GET LOWER. This idea is inherently problematic and I will explain why using an example.

If we look at arguably the best Left Tackle in the NFL; Tyron Smith from the Dallas Cowboys we can often see that he is always taller than most of the defensive ends that he has to matchup with every week so asking him to get “lower than everyone” might not be the best recipe for success.

If week look at this rep between Tyron Smith #77 and Jason Pierre-Paul #90 we can see that throughout the rep there are times that Smith is higher but somehow wins the rep. I will explain why and how he makes this happen.

1on1 pass protection is arguably the most difficult task in all of football. I have developed an equation that will help you maximize your chances of winning any given rep.

Stability + Maximization of Length (without over extension) + Agility + Meeting Force with Force

= Higher Probability for Success

Getting lower is simply a by-product of this equation. If you can be stable, long, agile and be able to meet force with force at the moment of truth all the while being as low as your body with bio mechanically allow you to be, all the power to you, but for most this is not the case.

Next week I will discuss all parts iof this equation and how to achieve success;

If you would like to learn more about my upcoming OL CAMP please email or call me at (905) 632 3558 and I will register you up!

Jamie “THE BIG CHILL” LaLonde

SST OL/ DL coach