How to Decrease Your 40 Yard Dash Time- Part 2

How to Decrease Your 40 Yard Dash Time in the Weight room – Part II

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!

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training (SST) the #1 rated speed program in Canada!

For more information about Sports Specific Training’s training programs please visit

SST MID WEEK Athlete News- More scholarship offers and goals scored!

SST Waterloo athlete Mike Hoffman is on a scoring spree in the NHL- 27 points in 24 games with the Sens!  Of those 27 points he has hit the twine 15 times already!

SST Hamilton Athlete Darnell Nurse is becoming a steady force on the Edmonton Oiler Blue line logging tons of ice time

Toronto Marlie Captain and D man Andrew Campbell is scoring goals at will! This know stay at home D man has already potted 6 goals in the young season. Are the Leafs that good that he shouldn’t be called up?????

US High school football player Josh Palmer received two offers yesterday- NC State and Northern Illinois!  Congrats to this outstanding wr!


St Roch DB Tyrell Richards continues his round the Canada University tour- he just came back from the University of Calgary ….also the University of Star running back Mercer Timmis who is getting ready for his upcoming pro and CFL Combine day

Congrats to Justin Veltri who has committed to Carlton University…Coach Sumaruh not only has great football player but a fine young man coming into his program

Congrats to SST Laval athlete Simon Legare in signing with the Ottawa Red Blacks!

NOTE: The OPC; the largest All star game in Ontario…… tryouts are this weekend- please note dates and times for your region at


Very proud of our athletes from all regions- SST STRONG

SST NFL and CFL Athletes EXCEL!

What a great weekend- Congrats to both the Edmonton Eskimos and Ottawa Red Blacks- an exciting Grey Cup won by Edmonton- a special congrats to SST Alumni athletes Brian Ramsey and Shamawd Chambers in hoisting the Grey Cup!

As well, Shamawd took home the Most Valuable Canadian Award!

What a crazy Monday night Football game…Browns and Ravens go down to the last play and former Virginia U player Brent Urban blocks the last second field goal which was scooped up by the Ravens for the game winning td with no time left!

Crazy weekend! next week will be our big Hockey report!

666 Bench workout for OL/DL


Why is it that whenever I’m in a gym I see people benching the same weight at each workout? It usually goes like this. A person performs a few reps at 185 pounds then at 205, and maybe 225 and then they get stuck. At this point the individual moves to another exercise, most likely the incline bench, and does the same kind of thing. You would think that after a year the weight they can bench would be through the roof, but unfortunately they haven’t seen continued improvement because most people don’t know how to maximize their strength training capacity. They don’t know how to initiate progression. The potential for increasing muscle size just isn’t being met.

Though we, at SST, have different bench routines for each of our athletes, the one I want to outline here is a favorite because it helps the athlete gain not only strength, but also size.

Basically the workout consists of 6 sets of 6 reps but with drop sets. Of course, after finishing this workout, many of our athletes feel like their body has been to hell and back!

Here’s how the program works from a physiological standpoint. An important factor to consider when working to increase strength and muscle size is to maximize motor unit activation. To better understand this, think of your body as containing a pool of motor units. By performing the Max strength Max size bench workout, which consists of lifting at, or near, maximum capacity, you would activate almost all of those motor units. The type of motor units we are aiming to recruit are the “fast twitch” or the type IIb muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers are associated with high threshold motor units and are evidenced by power, speed and explosiveness. SST encourages their athletes to recruit the fast twitch fibers because this optimizes the most potential for building both strength and size. And who doesn’t want to be bigger and stronger?

The Max Strength Max Size workout is also an effective tool when used to build up the legs, but for now let’s look at increasing bench performance.

Exercise order





Rest in between reps

Rest after set


14” Bench press







Wide grip pull- ups







Bench press







Narrow grip pull ups







Wide grip Bench press







Chin ups







Decline lying db triceps extension







External rotation on knee with db






About Tempo: Tempo refers to speed of movement. The first number represents the speed, in seconds, when lowering the weight or letting it down with gravity. The second number refers to the pause between lowering and raising. The third number refers to the speed of raising the weight.

For an example, look at the chin-up tempo. The tempo is 211; therefore the athlete would lift himself up over the bar in one second, pause for one second and then lower himself for 2 seconds.

For the most efficient workout SST pairs exercises together. For instance, you would do A1 immediately followed by A2 as the first pairing, and then repeat until all sets have been completed. At this point move on to B1 and B2 and follow the same pattern.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

Three different grips are used for bench work.

Differing the grip and varying the load, increases muscle tension and motor unit activation. By varying the grip you maximize muscle recruitment thus increasing the potential to build muscle mass.

How the rep scheme is broken down.

SST recommends starting with a weight that is near your maximum ability for one rep. Lift this weight for 2 reps. Wait 15 seconds then use a weight that is 5 to 10% less and perform a single rep at maximum tension. Repeat with this weight until you have completed 6 reps in total.

Alternate bench work with chin-ups/pull-ups.

Research has shown that by working opposite muscle groups overall strength is improved in the most beneficial manner. Perform all 6 reps of chins and pull-ups at the same time with no rest in between reps. When you are able to perform all 6 reps with ease add more weight.

It is important to rest between sets.

There is a 15 second rest between reps when doing bench lifts which allows the body to recover and to recruit maximum motor units for every lift. By lifting in this manner, the athlete is able to tap into the higher threshold motor units. By using the maximum tension in every lift, you can expect to make tremendous gains in strength and start to build up size.

This workout is demanding but the results are well worth the effort. Perform your workout once every 4 – 5 days for a month and let me know what you think.

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training Inc. and has trained thousands of athletes from a variety of sports ranging from your Weekend Warrior to the Professional.

If you would like more information about SST please visit our website at

Mobility VS Flexibility and Why it MATTERS to BASEBALL players!

With the changing of the seasons outside comes a subsequent change in training seasons, where many summer sports are transitioning into their off-season. As athletes start to file in from a long summer of playing the sport they love, a common theme emerges – these athletes cannot move. They have experienced a significant reduction in their mobility. As I watch them perform their dynamic warm-ups I notice shorter strides, grimacing faces, partial ranges of motion…I could go on and on. It is tough to watch because I know that it is going to take some time to work through these mobility issues before we can get to the phase where we make them better than last season. With off-seasons becoming increasingly shorter, valuable non-competitive training time is being wasted regaining lost mobility instead of being used to make serious physical gains.

But first, what is mobility and why is it so important? Well, this is a complex question that could take countless blog entries to cover. When people hear the word mobility they usually think it is the same as flexibility, but this is not the case. Here is a really simple breakdown of the difference between the two commonly misunderstood terms:

  • Flexibility is the length of the tissue.
  • Mobility, on the other hand, is much more complex; it is the ability of a person to reach a desired position or posture. It is a complex interaction between tissue length, strength, joint stability, the presence of scar tissue, and kinesthetic awareness.


The loss of mobility can be the result of many different factors or a combination factors, such as:

  • Muscle fibers become shortened after times of immobility (sitting at a desk all day) or eccentric stress (deceleration from throwing, running, jumping, etc.).
  • Tissues can become stiff because of instability in surrounding joints; a stiff neck may be the result of instability in the shoulder joint.
  • Mobility can be affected by protective tensions; an athlete may feel as though they have incredibly tight hamstrings, however, this tightness is a protective measure enacted by the body because of an excessive anterior pelvic tilt.
  • And injuries past/present can cause adhesions to tissue, reducing mobility.

Of course there are many other reasons, but these are just a few that are common for athletes.

Many athletes tend to neglect their strength training and mobility work during in-season which is a BIG mistake as the majority of injuries during the season are as a result of loss of mobility as the long gruelling season progresses (I’ve talked about this here and here ). Because of this neglect, loss of mobility becomes a common problem in many athletes, particularly younger athletes. Mobility loss in the early off-season can negatively affect the entirety of an athlete’s off-season training, which can negatively affect their next season, and so on and so on – a potentially compounding problem.

Specifically, here are some areas that baseball players REALLY need to have exceptional mobility if they want to maximize their potential and performance on the diamond:

  • Hip Mobility – many baseball skills require aggressive hip rotation. Sufficient internal and external rotation, adduction, abduction, and extension are key to pitching, hitting and throwing. Proper hip mobility while pitching plays a significant role in avoiding shoulder and elbow injuries by decreasing stress on these joint by up to 20%! Check out the research here
  • Thoracic Mobility – Sufficient mobility in the upper back allows essential separation of the hips and hands during your swing, throws and pitches. When this separation cannot occur due to lack of mobility, ‘energy leaks’ and timing errors are likely to occur. Lack of thoracic mobility can also cause anterior shoulder issues in pitchers, who compensate for lack of range by creating external rotation in the wrong places (ie. excessive external rotation of the shoulder joint).
  • Ankle Mobility – Ankle mobility is important to any rotational movement in baseball. While the hip may initiate rotation, proper movement in the ankle allows the feet to be plated in the ideal position for power transition. Proper ankle mobility is imperative to catchers, as they allow a catcher to comfortably get in a squatting position, allow for more sway to frame pitches, and allow them to get into proper throwing position for base throws.
  • Shoulder Mobility and Stability – The Gleno-humeral joint must be mobile enough to allow for unrestricted movement during the throwing and pitching motion. However, the surrounding structures must be stable enough to protect this joint from excessive movement and dangerous end-ranges often reached by pitchers.

OK, so mobility is important and decreased mobility is not good. So, how do we fix this? How do we go from decreased mobility to increased mobility and subsequently better training, better performance and better resistance to injury? I’ll save that for one of my next entries, so watch for that in the near future.

In the meantime, please feel free to download a copy of our “Player’s Guide to In-Season Strength & Conditioning for Baseball” below.


Courtney Plewes, BScKin, CSCS

SST Mississauga

Athletic Development