How to improve your 40 yard dash- Part 2

In Part I of this article readers were introduced to the concept that strength = speed.  Specifically, football players wishing to decrease their 40 yard dash time were told to focus on strengthening their lower back, hamstring and VMO muscles (teardrop muscle found on the inside of the quadriceps).  Part I reviewed the best exercises for strengthening lower back and hamstring muscles, so let’s move on to the top three exercises for developing VMO strength:  squats with chains, wobble board split squats and sled dragging.

Exercise #1 – Squats with chains

If you improve your speed during the first 10 yards of your 40 yard dash then half your battle is over.  In the first 10 yards, it’s all about quads and glutes so choose exercises that specifically work these muscle groups.  SST suggests squats with chains.

When SST says “squats”, we don’t mean those quarter or 90 degree squats that most trainers advocate, we mean good old-fashioned rock bottom squats.  Why?  It’s simple; rock bottom squats do a better job of developing glutes and quads (especially the VMO).

To further increase the effectiveness of the squat, SST has their athletes perform squats with chains.  During a squat an athlete is strongest in the top position and weakest at the bottom.  By using chains, SST compensates for the strength curve by matching weight to strength levels.  For example, say you’re squatting 300lbs plus 50lbs of chains.  At the top, when you are your strongest, the chains are hanging so you are lifting 350lbs. As you squat down and your strength level decreases, you are only lifting 300lbs because the chains are resting on the ground.

Results:        Increase VMO strength, decrease ground contact time, improve strength & speed during first 10 yards of the 40 yard dash

Description:             Start with chest out and lower back arched.  Begin to drop hips to ground by first bending knees as far forward as possible and then lowering hips until hamstrings cover calves.  Pause for 1 second at bottom.  Lift up through legs while maintaining arched back.  Feet must remain flat on the ground at all times.

Variations:    1 ¼ squats, front squats with and without chains, back squats with bands and jump squats

Exercise #2- Wobbleboard Split Squats

You’re probably thinking “What the heck is a split squat”.  Split squats are a lunge without the explosiveness. What’s a wobbleboard?  Imagine a small board with a hard ball stuck under it (it’s not exactly that, but you get the idea).  By performing split squats on a wobbleboard you are training your leg muscles from the hip joint down in an unstable environment.  Destabilizing your leg muscles ensures that your VMO gets blasted…in a good way of course.  It also allows you to recruit more leg muscles than you would have had you been training in stable environment.

Results:        Increase VMO strength, stabilize muscle strength in legs, decrease ground contact time

Description:             Starting position: place foot of non-dominant leg on wobbleboard.  With chest out and shoulders back, move hips forward and downward while remaining upright.  Allow the front knee to travel over toe of front foot until hamstring is covering the calf.  Pause for a second then push off heel of front foot back to starting position.  Repeat.  The challenge is to keep the sides of the wobbleboard from touching the ground.

Variations:    sitfit split squats, wobbleboard/sitfit split squats with dumbbells (only when you are good enough at balancing) and split squats with low pulley cable for added resistance

Exercise #3- Sled Dragging

Sled dragging is a great way to increase functional strength if you don’t have a weightroom facility at your disposal.  Mind you, SST does not advocate running with a sled behind you because it will alter your running form.  The various sled exercises used by SST for speed training are too numerous to list in the article, thus we will focus on two of our most popular: walking backwards on the balls of your feet and walking lunges.

Results:        Increase maximum speed and decrease ground contact time

Description: Walking Backwards – fasten harness around waist.  Keep chest over feet.  Maintain arched back.  Bend hips and knees.  Begin by taking slow, deliberate steps backwards.  Move arms in a running motion. Word to the wise, this exercise will feel really easy for the first ten yards but by the time you reach forty yards, your quads (especially your VMO) will be screaming. Once you are able to cover 100 yds with ease slowly add weight to the sled.

Walking Lunges – fasten belt around waste and attach rope from harness to belt.   With sled dragging behind, perform a lunge with front leg.  Upon landing explode upwards and out.  Do not just pop up, the key is to push up and forward.  Coaching Tips:  keep your front heel down, maintain an upright posture and EXPLODE!

Squat to Stand – OL

One of the most underrated attributes of an offensive lineman is flexibility. This can often get lost when evaluating an athlete because they can be so big and so strong. When you get to the higher levels, the first test they want to see offensive athletes perform is an overhead squat. A lot can be said about an athlete when looking at how good of a squatter they are; it can give insight on athletic ability and their range of motion to determine if they can take the pounding that football places on your body. I have discussed with many college coaches it is very easy to get players stronger and faster, it is much more difficult to get them more flexible. That’s why with all of my offensive line athletes I constantly make them do a movement called Squat-to-Stand.

This movement works by doing the following

  1. Reaching down and touch your toes (or as far as you can)
  2. Then letting your but slowly come down to the squat position. Keeping you chest up nice and big.
  3. Followed by putting one arm up at a time above your head
  4. Then standing up
  5. Repeat 2 sets of 12

I preach to the kids that they should be doing this before every single one of their workouts and a couple sets before they go to bed at night. If done over a period of time you will definitely see an improvement in lower body flexibility.

Jamie Lalonde

thebigchill@sstcanada.com

How to improve your 40 yard dash- Part 1

If you want to go places in football, then you had better work on your 40 yard dash. While the forty yard dash is probably the most overrated test, it’s also the test that most coaches rely on when scouting a player. Given the emphasis that is placed on this one test, I am surprised at how many athletes come to combines and camps unprepared. I see athletes wearing the wrong shoes or the wrong clothes and I can tell that many of them don’t know the proper starting technique or running mechanics. Furthermore, it’s obvious that most players haven’t done any effective speed or strength training leading up to the big day. I tell my athletes that they have to consider the forty yard dash as a job interview that could land them a scholarship or millions of dollars when their stock goes up in the draft. Remember that first impressions mean everything, so plan ahead and be prepared to run like a professional. Don’t get me wrong, running a great 40 yard dash doesn’t mean that you’re automatically a great football player, but it will turn heads and give you the chance needed to show universities or professional teams what you can do on the field.

When training for the 40 yard dash, players tend to forget how important it is to be STRONG! I have yet to see a weak player run a great forty yard dash. As a Sports Performance Coach I know through personal experience that players who speed and strength train on a continuous basis will experience dramatic gains over those who only focus on speed training. One athlete who followed SST’s 12-week speed and strength training program went from a 5.05 to a 4.62 at the National football combines this year.

There are three main factors that SST considers when designing a strength training program for football players who want to decrease their forty yard dash time. First, we assess the player’s experience and abilities. Factors such as age, previous training experience, fitness level and amount of time available for training are considered. Next, we evaluate the player’s 40 yard dash to determine weaknesses. Do we need to improve his start, decrease his ground contact time or work on reaching maximum speed? Lastly, we focus on strengthening the player’s weakest muscles. As a general rule SST has found that football players tend to have weak lower back, hamstring and VMO muscle (VMO, or vastus medialis, is the teardrop muscle found on the inside of the quadriceps), therefore for the purpose of this article we will highlight , what we believe to be, the top six exercises designed to strengthen these muscles.

In Part I of this two part article, I will explain the first three exercises: snatch grip dead-lifts, tire flipping and Olympic lifts and their derivatives. These exercises strengthen lower back and hamstring muscles which are key components for achieving maximum speed.

Exercise #1 – Snatch Grip Dead-lifts

If I had to choose only one strength training exercise to improve a player’s 40 yard dash time, I would pick snatch grip deadlifts because they work the entire posterior chain (lower back and hamstrings). Snatch grip dead-lifts are a bit different than your traditional deadlift in that they recruit more of the hamstrings due to the angle of the trunk and a wider grip.

Results: improve start, increase maximum speed

Description: Starting position- feet are shoulder width apart. Grip is wider than your traditional grip. Elbows are turned out. Shoulder blades are retracted. Knees over the bar. Chest and shoulders over the bar. Lower back is arched. Initiate lift with hamstrings and lower back. Maintain lower back arch throughout. Keep bar path straight.

Variations: snatch grip dead-lifts off a podium, snatch grip dead-lifts with chains and traditional dead-lifts.

Exercise #2 – Tire Flipping

Tire flipping is not your traditional weight room exercise but it’s a functional way to develop the posterior chain (lower back and hamstrings). This is a grueling exercise that has lot of return for its effort.

Results: improve grip strength, decrease 40 time (after 12 weeks SST athletes decreased their 40 time by up to 3 tenths)

Description: Start in a deadlift position and grab the tire from underneath (fingers under the tire). Lift the tire using your legs and pop your hips forward. Flip your hands around (palms on the tire) and push the tire away from you in an explosive manner. You must keep your back arched throughout the entire movement to prevent lower back injuries.

Exercise #3 – Olympic Lifts and Derivatives

Olympic Lifts consist of power cleans, hang cleans and snatches. These exercises must be done explosively which means as fast as possible. The amount of weight doesn’t matter as much as the speed of the bar. Of all the Olympic lifts the snatch uses the most muscles in the body. People tend to shy away from this exercise but I have found it to be the most effective and easier to teach than cleans. In order to achieve maximum results and avoid injury it’s important to employ proper technique and use the right weight when performing Olympic lifts. If you are not familiar with Olympic lifting and their derivatives call your local weightlifting club or email me at sst@sstcanada.com

Results: faster starts and less ground contact time

Description: An explanation of hang snatch from thigh will be provided because it is the most applicable. Starting position – feet are shoulder width apart. Grasp bar with hook grip. To determine the distance between hand placements measure your elbow to elbow distance with arms straight out to sides. From this point move the bar explosively from thighs by extending the hip, knee and ankle joints in a jumping action. This is also known as “triple extension” of the joints. Keep the bar close to the body. This is a very important element and should be perfected. At maximum plantar flexion (up on the balls of the feet), shrug the shoulders, flex and pull with the arms. Pull the bar as high as possible. As the bar reaches maximum height, flex and then rotate elbows around and under the bar. Then fully extend the elbows and lock the bar overhead. Catch the bar with knees and hips flexed and squat down slowly and under control. The hang snatch is a complicated exercise that should only be performed in the presence of a qualified coach.

In Part II, I will explain the remaining three exercises that focus on increasing VMO strength: squats with chains, wobble board split squats and sled dragging. Strengthening the VMO muscle will help decrease ground contact time which is vital in order to increase speed. The less time a player spends on the ground, the faster he’ll be!

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training Inc. SST has trained thousands of athletes from a variety of sports. SST’s no nonsense approach to training has been used by thousands of athletes’ from a variety of sports all over the nation!

Larry Jusdanis

Owner, Sports Specific Training

Sstcanada.com

Director of the National Association of Speed and Explosion (NASE)

.

DAWG’S – 3 tips for BELLY FAT LOSS- Part 1

This is the time of year everyone is on the New Year’s Kick and their resolution. As many of you know I am not big believer of this and offer specials etc.

Why? It takes 30 days to form a habit and 80% will fail.

One of main reasons is that people like to be accountable to someone (I will have more on this later)

Tip 1

Can’t eat after 7pm and not again till noon the next day

Why is this important- 2 reasons:

  1. Intermittent fasting (IF) works- I believe we as a society indulge too much – right or wrong. I am not saying that you can’t indulge but I inform my clients that they can indulge 20% of the time.

Some of the benefits of IF include:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity.
    • The body becomes more sensitive to the effects of insulin… less insulin secretion per meal… lower blood glucose and insulin levels!
  • Promotes autophagy.
    • Regular bodily process where damaged, old, and dysfunctional proteins are consumed by the body. Think of renovating your kitchen, you need to tear away all the old culverts before installing new ones!

  • Elevates Growth Hormone production.
    • GH is very important hormone for body composition, because it releases stored fat and preserves muscle during fasting.

 

  • Reduced systemic inflammation
  • Inflammation occurs in the body after exposure to a variety of stimuli, including viruses, injury, certain foods, and even exercise. Chronic inflammation is a precursor to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and other harmful diseases

A great method when using IF is too fast for 24 hours once per week- doing this will melt that body fat!

Tip 2- Increase GH levels

Another reason I firmly believe that you need to stop eating at 7pm for reason #3- Increased Growth hormone (GH) production.  Elevated GH production burns body fat!  The best methods to increase GH are thru intermittent fasting, sleep and strength training!  If you are having a hard time sleeping maybe review your eating habits at night- any sugar consumption late at night STOPS GH production!

Tip 3- SLEEP!

A long term study (16 Years!) of more than 68,000 women found those who slept less than 5 hours per night were significantly more likely to gain weight than those who slept 7 hours or more per night. In fact, the women who slept less than 5 hours per night gained 30 or more pounds over the course of the 16-year study period

Sleep is so important for increased GH production and decreased cortisol levels.   We have already discussed the importance of increased GH levels.   Lack of sleep increases cortisol production as it is a major stressor on your body.   An increased level of Cortisol has a direct correlation with storage of abdominal fat.  I have some bad news for Women who already have bigger midsection – they tend to produce more cortisol. SORRY!!

As we mentioned in the intro – Goals are better achieved with accountability.  Especially, with Nutrition and fitness. One way to help you this is my NEW VIP Fat Loss program.  You will work personally with me and only me to achieve your results in 12 weeks.  What else is great about this: I want you to join with a friend – 2 for 1!   Thus you have TWO people to be accountable too…trust me it works.  The only limitation is this- I can only take on 8 clients- 8 ONLY- If you are interested please private message me at ljusdanis@sstcanada.com.

To find our more details please click here (write up will come).

Next week I will bring you part 2 of the Dawg’s tip of Belly Fat loss!

QB Canada – What the Dawg looks for in a qb?

In a series of blogs I will review what I and many other coaches in the pros and college are looking for in a QB.  Let’s be honest we all perceive the QB position to be glamorous and at times it is.  In all truthfulness QB’s have a lot of expectations and demands on them.  To the point where people may think they are over maligned.

Unfortunately this is not going to go away and this leads me to what I look for in a qb.  I have had the privilege to coach some great ones including Nathan Rourke, Dan Brannagan and Michael Faulds.  Other than their exceptional physical traits one thing stands out about these qbs and top level qbs:

TOUGHNESS and I do not only mean physical toughness but more mental toughness.   Qb is not an easy position to play. The demands more so mentally are draining but the good ones are able to handle this.   How can we develop toughness?

  1. For every action there is a consequence- as a QB more so then any other position. What I like to do in practice sessions is demand more from my qbs then a game.  How do I do this…one way is to expect perfection on all on air throws and sessions.   Why?  If a qb can’t handle the pressure of just throwing on air without a defense, how can I trust them in a game against 11 players trying to take their heads off?
  2. Off season training- IT’S a must – I expect my qbs to be first and last out of each session. I want them to be the leader of their team.  This starts in their off season workouts.

Next week’s blog I will discuss some of the physical traits that’s a must for a qb to be successful.

To find out more about my upcoming qb camp and private sessions please private message me.

Larry “Big Dawg” Jusdanis

ljusdanis@sstcanada.com