How To Lose 10 Pounds in 1 Week – A Scientific Approach to Crash Dieting

In an ideal world, everyone would take a long-term approach to dieting, trying to lose weight/fat gradually. They’d make small changes to their eating habits, activity patterns, or both. But we don’t live in an ideal world there are situations when that simply won’t work. Or where people simply aren’t willing to be patient.

Maybe they need to drop weight fast for a special event, or they are an athlete or bodybuilder who has to get in shape and is under a time crunch. Maybe they just want the diet over as quickly as possible. Whatever the case, sometimes you need a way to drop both weight and fat quickly to reach your goals. That’s where The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook: A Scientific Approach to Crash Dieting comes in.

An interview with Lyle McDonald, author of “The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook”

Wannabebig: How did you come up with the idea for this new diet?

Lyle M: Well, it’s really not a new diet by any stretch. I mentioned the Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF) back in my first book on ketogenic diets and the idea has been floating around since the 70’s, when it was first developed. I think the major impetus to re-examine it (and make the changes I did) was looking at Di Pasquale’s “Radical Diet” (which is just a PSMF retooled version of the Anabolic Diet) and Dr. Serrano’s “Extreme Crash Diet”.

Both are essentially PSMF types of diets. So, I figured, why not jump on that bandwagon. Also I was a little disapointed that both of the other diets are so heavily supplement-based, when I think such a diet can readily be done around whole foods (I think this is also beneficial from the standpoint of re-teaching better eating habits).

Wannabebig: Who is the diet geared towards?

Lyle M: I made the book as general as possible, giving recommendations and specific changes based on initial body fat percentage and activity levels. Athletes involved in heavy training shouldn’t really use such a diet, since they won’t be able to sustain training intensity, but beyond that I tried to make it as general as possible.

Wannabebig:
So, why not use a PMSF approach, what’s so unique about this method?

Lyle M: All I really did was modify a PSMF–this really isn’t anything new. The main changes I made were:

  • Give different protein recommendations based on initial body fat and activity level (protein intake goes up as body fat comes down, and as activity goes up)
  • Suggest that people use an essential fatty acid supplement
  • I was very specific about how long different populations (again, based on body fat percentage) should stay on the diet (the leaner people are, the shorter their diet duration should be)
  • I suggest the use of free meals (single meals that break the diet), refeeds (high-carb eating) and even full diet breaks (2 week periods off the diet) with the frequency, once again, depending on starting body fat.

Wannabebig: How much weight can someone expect to lose on average per week on this diet?

Lyle M: Total weight loss may reach 10-20 lbs of which a majority is water. True fat loss, depending on starting weight can be 4-7 pounds or so.

Wannabebig: Do you feel this is the healthiest approach to crash-dieting?

Lyle M:
In that there is any healthy approach to crash dieting, yes.

Basically, when you crash diet, the goal is to minimize caloric intake while maximizing nutrient (and especially essential nutrient intake). This basically means you have to cut back to protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals (carbohdyrates being non-essential). As well, you want to at least limit lean body mass losses, which is another good reason to make sure protein intake is sufficient.

Wannabebig:
What’s the most amount of weight you’ve seen someone lose with this method?

Lyle M: A few people have come in right at 20 lbs in 2 weeks. As above, that includes a lot of water weight. One person on my forum dropped nearly 35 lbs in 100 days, body fat dropped from 30% to 19% and the visible changes were major.

Wannabebig:
How much of a concern should there be with muscle loss while on this diet?

Lyle M: To date, if anybody is having problems with muscle loss, nobody has mentioned it. The protein recommendations were set to ensure that LBM loss should be minimized if not eliminated.

Wannabebig:
How much of a role does training and cardiovascular work play in this method (is ‘more,’ better)?

Lyle M: No, ‘more’ is certainly no better. Making exercise recommendations for the diet was a bit of problem. For people not already exercising, I really don’t think the crash diet is the right time to start. For folks already on a training program, volume and frequency needs to be cut way back, to maintenance levels. 2 short full body weight lifting workouts are more than sufficient to maintain muscle mass and strength. As far as cardio, it’s really not going to have a huge impact, except maybe to improve diet adherence.

Basically, when you’ve already got this monster caloric deficit, burning a few extra hundred calories with cardio just won’t accomplish much. One study even found that adding cardio to a PSMF increased the drop in metabolic rate (basically cancelling out the calorie burn of the cardio). And, in fact, most studies are finding that exercise probably plays its major role in weight mainteanance after the diet is over.

Wannabebig: Is there any room for cheating while using this method and still make progress?

Lyle M: Absolutely. Quite, in fact, one of the major modifications I made to the overall concept is recommending/requiring cheats. The first strategy is called a single free meal which is exactly what it sounds like, a single meal where you can eat more or less ‘freely’ and break the diet (I give some recommendations, mainly on what NOT to do, in the book). Next up is a structured refeed which is just a period of high carb overeating.

Finally is a full diet break, which is a period of 10-14 days where you go completely off the diet. This is mainly used by people doing repeated bouts on the PSMF to give them both a physical and mental break. All three strategies are also discussed in some detail in my other new book called “A Guide to Flexible Dieting.”

Wannabebig: Are there any major/minor differences between males and females that need to be addressed when using this method?

Lyle M: Not really. The biggest issue is that women, because of being lighter, typically have a lower metabolic rate. They shouldn’t expect as large a true fat loss because of it.

Wannabebig: How long can you stay on this program?

Lyle M: It actually depends on starting body fat percentage. The leaner that folks are, the less time they should spend on it. So individuals who are 15% body fat or lower shouldn’t use it for more than about 10-14 days tops. Fatter individuals may stay on it several weeks to a couple of months straight before needing a full diet break. There are a number of reasons that go into those recommendations one of which is metabolic slowdown.

Leaner folks tend to have larger problems with metabolism crashing; there is also the issue that leaner folks are typically more active and staying on such a diet for too long will end up cratering training performance. The fatter people are, or the less active, the longer they can be on the diet. As well, empirically, fatter people don’t seem to have as many problems with hunger and such staying on the PSMF for extended periods.

Wannabebig: What would you say is the most difficult part of this program dieters will face?

Lyle M: Probably hunger and the relatively small amount of food. Then again, a lot of people find that hunger goes away probably for the same reasons it occurs on a ketogenic diet. As well, if you’re eating mainly whole proteins and the amount of vegetables I recommend, the amount of food you get to eat is decent. Some people also feel low-energy, just like on ketogenic diets.

Wannabebig: Are there any supplements you recommend while using your program?

Lyle M:
Perhaps the most important is the EC stack, and I devote an entire chapter to discussing the issue of metabolic slowdown and why the EC stack is so damn important. A basic multi vitamin/mineral is a good idea and additional intakes of calcium, sodium, magnesium and potassium won’t hurt. I guess if you count fish oils as a supplement, those need to be consumed. Beyond that, very little is required and you can do the entire diet with whole food: lean protein sources and lots of vegetables.

Wannabebig: Thanks Lyle.

Written by Maki Riddington

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – How To Lose 10 Pounds in 1 Week – A Scientific Approach to Crash Dieting discussion thread.

How to maintain your gains post cycle – Part 2

In part I of this article, How to maintain your gains post cycle – Part 1 I presented some training splits and explained how a trainee could come “off” when it comes to post-cycle training. I discussed some reasons why a training routine should be structured, and how to put together an effective program. In this article we’ll be thinking about how to structure an effective post-cycle dietary regimen.

Life is good, your balls have grown back and you’re on the road to recovery. Except for the occasional moments of sensitivity when you stop to admire the beauty of the blue skies and green grass blowing in the cool breeze (blame that on the clomid), life doesn’t seem so bad after all.

After twelve weeks of blood, sweat and tears (tears of joy at the amount of muscle growth) you’ve achieved a new body. Countless hours have been spent cramming and force-feeding yourself protein, carbs and an assortment of healthy fats—all in the name of bulk.

With a new training program in place, the next step is to match up your nutritional and supplemental needs with your revamped body. However, post-cycle nutrition/supplementation is like the day after a college frat party. The after-effects have kicked in, and the ability to function at a normal level is impaired.

Going To War

Within the body, wars are constantly being fought on different fronts. If you’re training properly and practicing sound nutritional habits you should be winning more battles than you’re losing, that is, getting stronger and/or gaining more muscle. . .and losing body fat.

One of the most crucial battles takes place after a cycle.

Picture, if you will, a general whose mission is to conduct a successful attack against an enemy who, for the past 5 years, has been laying siege to your fortress. It’s time to go to war. You’ve studied his tactics, gathered the necessary supplies and are ready for battle. War is waged and within a short period it ends. You’ve won and you celebrate; however, the victory party is short-lived.

A new enemy has emerged, stronger and more powerful. And since you put all your resources into the previous battle, the army (your body) is tired and needs a few weeks of R&R. But you can’t afford to take time off. The enemy, fierce and unforgiving, has regrouped and wants to regain lost ground.

During a cycle, nutrient-partitioning is increased due to the effects of the drug(s) being used. Nitrogen-retention is elevated and insulin-sensitivity is heightened; the body is in an anabolic state and the nutrients from food are assimilated efficiently. Things change however post-cycle. Insulin sensitivity decreases, the body starts to shift away from an anabolic state and nitrogen levels drop. There’s a new war to be fought in maintaining strength and muscle tissue, and this battleground is set on a difficult terrain.

You soon realize that a new strategy is needed to halt the advancing enemy. After studying current strategy and taking advice from other war staff, a new plan is devised.

The epic battle of catabolism vs. anabolism is about to take place and you’re wondering who will win? How do I equip my body for this battle and what role does nutrition and supplements play? How does one go about maximizing their results during a period when the body is not responding the way it normally does? And why am I asking all these damned questions?

The Plan

When it comes to post-cycle nutrition, there are three main areas of concern for a trainee:

1. Nutrient partitioning
2. Meal timing
3. Macronutrient ratio adjustments

To offset the decrease of nutrients after a cycle so that the goodness of food is diverted toward muscle-building rather than fat-storing the timing of meals must be changed, as must the macronutrients, so that the good stuff is now effectively partitioned to the proper areas (muscles cells, not fat cells).

This means the three points mentioned above must be structured strategically. Failure to do so will result in less than optimal results (increased fat gain and muscle loss). So how does one go about setting up a properly designed dietary program that meets the body’s post-cycle needs?

Winning The War

For post-cycle nutrition, all that’s needed are the basics. Simple, tried-and-true methods that can be used over and over again. I like to think of this approach as post-cycle Nutrition For Dummies.

If, for a moment, you were to think of food as pharmaceuticals and of the most effective times to take these goodies, what would you come up with? Let me give you a clue—it’s hormone sensitive, lasts several hours and follows a period where feelings of euphoria in the body are not uncommon. Stumped? I’m talking about the post-workout window.

It’s at this time that the body tolerates glucose intake (more so then at any other time of the day) efficiently (how well depends on what kind of training you are performing). More on this in a bit. So, using this tidbit of well-known information, structuring the majority of your carbohydrate intake around this period of time can be seen as a great starting point. Since the effects of a post workout meal have been well documented as the optimal time to feed the body. Taking it one step forward or in this case back, it has been shown that ingesting carbohydrates/protein prior to commencing a workout is also favorable. (1) Maybe even more so then post workout according to the literature. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

So now you’re taking some food (preferably liquid form for quicker digestion) pre-workout and post-training.

But there’s more. As I mentioned earlier cortisol levels have gone wild (like the girls of Mardi Gras) and there’s no stopping them. Well, actually there is. Thus far, taking in a pre and post workout shake is winning the battle for you, but to ensure victory, including a carbohydrate beverage during a workout will give you a landslide. Sipping on a carb beverage will not only keep cortisol levels at bay (2) but will keep your glycogen levels up which in turn will prolong your performance on the battle field (the gym).

As mentioned previously, the type of training being performed will dictate how many carbs you ingest. For example, it’s been shown that if heavy eccentrics, or training that focuses on the eccentric portion of a lift, are being performed, a link between muscle damage and the decreased inability for the muscle to uptake carbohydrates can result. (3,4,5,6) It then may be a smart move to decrease carbohydrate intake the following day. On the other hand, if a higher volume of sets and a lower intensity are employed then glycogen stores will be taxed and the need to saturate the muscles will result in an increased carbohydrate intake following a workout, and several hours beyond. Also, your carbohydrate intake pre, during and post workout will also need to be adjusted depending on which muscles you are training in a session. For example, if it’s leg day or a chest/back day then you will take in more carbohydrates than if you were to work your biceps and triceps on another day. Bigger muscles require a greater workload than smaller ones, which equates to a greater need for carb replenishment and nourishment.

As outlined above, if you take the majority of your carbs in pre, during and post workout you will take care of the first two areas of concern, meal-timing and nutrient-partitioning. Now it’s just a matter of adjusting your macronutrient ratios.

Fiddling around with your macronutrient ratios is like taking your first bra off. It took a bit of practice and patience. Of course it shouldn’t be long before you become a pro since the reward ahead makes it all worth your while.

Changes to the macronutrient ratios you’ve been using, will depend on what you’ve implemented during your cycle. So going from a low-fat, high-carb, high-protein plan, to a low-fat, high-carb, high-protein plan afterwards, won’t have much of an effect. Neither will mindless changes, such as switching to a Ketogenic diet. There needs to be some strategy involved because, remember, you’re at war and the smallest mistake may be your downfall.

Below is a general template of a pre cycle macronutrient breakdown for a 200-pound lifter who’s has 12% body fat.

Protein: 300-350 grams
Carbohydrates: 400-500 grams
Fat: 80 grams
Calories: 3520-4120

Meal Breakdown

Meal 1: Protein/Fat/Carbs
Meal 2: Protein/Fat/Carbs
Meal 3: Protein/Fat/Carbs
Meal 4: Post Workout Meal Protein/Carbs
Meal 5: Protein/Carbs
Meal 6: Protein/Fat

Bear in mind that this is just a general breakdown and the ratios could be designed a number of different ways. Generally a nutritional program for someone who’s taking anabolic drugs would be high in carbohydrates, high in protein (relative to the individual) and moderate in fat. Of course this will vary with each person and how their body metabolizes each macronutrient. Post-cycle this is how the above macronutrient ratios could be changed.

Protein: 250-300 grams
Carbohydrates: 300-375 grams
Fat: 115-125 grams
Calories: 3235-3865

Sample Macronutrient Meal Breakdown

Meal 1: Protein/Minimal Carbs
Meal 2: Protein/Fat
Pre workout: Protein/Carbs
During workout: Carbs
Post workout: Protein/Carbs
Meal 4: Protein/Fat
Meal 5: Protein/Fat

As you can see, the main change comes in the fat department. Carbohydrate intake has been lowered and protein intake has dropped a bit. And while the calories have decreased somewhat this should not cause panic. Remember that the body cannot handle the same amount of calories that were previously taken in during the cycle. If you keep taking in the same amount, you can be sure that the ratio between muscle to fat will change in favor of fat. Your body simply can’t process the same amount of calories in an efficient and effective manner as when you were “on.”

At this point some of you may be thinking, “what if I incorporate this method while I’m on?” If it works well after I’ve finished a cycle it should work even better during a cycle. While this line of thinking may appear to be based on common logic, it is, in fact, quite misleading. Let me explain, looking at it from a strength-training perspective.

In bodybuilding circles wearing tight spandex and florescent tank tops was once fashionable and training to failure was believed to be the sure-fire way of achieving the best result in the shortest period of time. While this method reaped great results (and the latter ‘was’ very appealing), the effects, at some point, began to wear off.

Training to failure or enlisting other types of training methods (see Weider’s principles ) can be seen as tools. And tools that are used over and over begin to lose their effect as time passes. They just wear out.

This can also be applied, somewhat, to nutrition. Nutritional tools/methods, however, are a bit different, as the body doesn’t adapt to dietary manipulations. It’s a matter of energy expenditure and balancing, so fat-loss is progressive and balanced (muscle to fat-loss ratio). These tools should be applied only at specific times. A sensible approach that allows for balance will work every time. It’s the balancing part that can be tough—knowing when and how to balance various nutritional tools so that they work to your advantage.

The End

Hopefully, some light has been thrown on one way you can structure post-cycle nutrition. I’ve used a simplistic approach to outline the nature of a war that many trainees fight once, twice or maybe even three times a year, and how it can be won.

Now, let’s recap the main points:

1. Time your carbohydrate intake around your pre, during and post workout sessions. Breakfast will be the only other meal that carbs can be taken in (preferably oatmeal as your source so your bowels don’t get clogged up).

2. Increase your fat intake using flax, hemp, fish and nuts as your sources (liquid and solid form).

3. Decrease your protein intake (it’s really just an expensive source of glucose).

4. If you use negative training and/or emphasize this portion of the lift quite a bit in your training it may be wise to cycle your carb intake on your off days.

5. Adjust your carbohydrate intake according to the volume of your workouts and the muscle groups exercised.

6. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Balance is the key to winning this war.

Next time, I’ll be talking about post-cycle nutritional/supplement do’s and don’ts.

Written by Maki Riddington

A Day in the Life of Dave Tate

6:30am

The alarm goes off signaling for me to get my ass up and moving. Today is dynamic squat day and I have to be in the gym by 8:15 to begin the session by 8:30. As I roll over I feel the tightness in my lower back and think I should just stay in bed and forget training for the day.

Plus I did not sleep well; causing me to wake up at least three times through the night with my right shoulder feeling like it is being pounded with a heavy spike. Twice I could barely move it and had to use my other hand to pull it to a comfortable position.

Fifteen minutes goes by and I am still debating in my head if I should stay in bed or go to the gym. I finally decide to get up and move to the hot tub to loosen up.

As I sit up the tightness in my back become more intense. Then as I sit on the edge of the bed I notice my neck is killing me. I must have slept wrong on it again. I try to adjust it but the muscles are too tight to get it to move where I want it. My next challenge will be standing up. The best way I have found to accomplish this is to rock back and then forward as I move into a standing position. The act of standing up builds enough pressure in my head to cause a killer headache. I try to crack my neck again with little luck.

As I make my way to the stairs I notice my calves and hamstring are sore as hell from something. What did I do to cause these muscles to be sore? My last lower body training day was last Monday. Now it’s Friday and I still am tight. But, I was not tight yesterday. Now I am thinking there is no way I will be able to squat today. With the use of the hand rails I make my way down the stairs and out to the hot tub. Still half asleep I walk out into 30 degree weather and remove the top cover and drop my ass in the tub. I know from past experience than 15 minutes will be the maximum amount of time I can spend in the tub without having ill effects on my squat session.

After five minutes my body begins to feel better. The pain is still there but I am getting some of the movement back. After another 5 minutes I finally get my neck to crack. Finally the headache disappears and I can move my head from side to side. 15 minutes passes and I make my way back inside to shower off and get ready.

While in the shower I am still telling myself the training day could not do anything good for me. I feel too damn beat up. Training could only make me feel worse. I notice the time.

7:20am

I realize I better get my ass moving if I am going to make it to the gym on time. I grab my gym bag and head to the door. I do not have time to make something to eat and will have to stop on the way and pick something up. 20 minutes later I find myself at McDonald’s getting a large coffee and a few breakfast sandwiches. I am trying to figure out what I will do in the gym. I still feel drained and beat up and maybe if I just go in and do some light reverse hypers, glute hams, and ab work I will feel good enough to make it through the rest of the day.

It then hits me that I also have a ton of work to get done when I get back to the office. More work then I would be able to get down in 8 hours let alone spending the first half of the day in the gym. As I get back on the road all I can think about are all the deadlines I have to make, the work to do, the meeting I have to go to. This along with two weeks of low sales begins to stress me out to the point I think I should turn the car around and get my ass to work. I see the next exit and am convinced that I better pull off hear and turn around so I can begin my day at the office.

Then I think of the guys in the gym that may be counting on me being there. I have missed too many sessions because of work so far this year and the guilt takes over. I pass the exit and tell myself I will get in begin my training and be out of the gym by 9:15 at the latest. This will get me back to work by 10:00 if I do not shower and go straight from the gym.

The next ten minutes if filled with the tasks I can move around to a different day and time so I can still get my training session in. Ten minutes from the gym I realize I really do not want to train today and have to find some way to get motivated. I toss in an old Black Sabbath CD and turn it up as loud as I can. This begins to make me feel somewhat better but I tell myself who cares if I am only going to go light for the day.

8:15am

I finally roll into Westside. I sit in my truck a few extra minutes still debating if I should leave and go to work or get out and head in the gym. I know I can’t leave, I am already here. So I open the car door and step out onto the pavement. As I step out I feel some crazy stuff in my right hip flexor and think, great! This is all I need. I grab my bag and head into the gym.

Chuck Vogelpohl, Big Tim Harold, Jim Wendler, Louie Simmons, Jeremiah Myers, JL Holdsworth, Chicken hawk, Will Ramsey and Mike Ruggeria are already there and seem to be excited to train. Right away I feel left out. I am not ready to train and do not plan on doing anything hard. My plan is to just do some light hypers, and abs. I then decided it would not hurt to do a few sets of squats as long as I keep it easy and keep the weight down. I decide to squat with Will and we will be the first to go. This way I will be able to get out of the gym by 9:00 or 9:15.

8:20am

I begin to go through a series of mobility movements to help me get loosened up for the squat. After 10 minutes or so I begin to put on my squat suit and make my way to the mono-lift. It takes me a few more minutes to be able to get under the bar. My shoulder is still lacking the flexibility from the last surgery to get under t he bar without stretching first. After a few sets with the bar and 135 we are ready to go. Today we are using a straight bar without bands and chains. I have been using the SS Bar for my dynamic work for the past few months to let my back and shoulder heal up and have not tried to use a straight bar in many months.

We begin with 135 and I knock out three reps. My hips and back still feel tight so I make may way over to the 45 degree back raise to stretch out a bit more before the next set. 225 is loaded to the bar and I knock out another 2 reps. My plan is to go up to 315 and do 5 sets of 2 reps. This is not much weight and would be a good introduction back to the straight bar and most defiantly would not beat me up that much. 315 is loaded and I perform 2 easy reps. I notice that my motivation is coming back and I am fired up to finally be back under a straight bar.

Screw it! We are training today! 405 and the 495 is loaded to the bar. We knock out 2 sets of 2 reps with 495 and it wasn’t that bad. I can’t believe how strong the SS bar made my squat. I feel the aggression building and feel like ripping the bar in half. Two more sets are completed and I feel like the bar is empty. I am blasting the weights up. My form is a bit off but this is to be expected as I have not used a straight bar for the past few months.

A few corrections are suggested to me from Chuck and Louie and I begin to feel like my old self. It has been along time but I finally feel like I am getting back on par. We finish 4 more sets without much problem and I can honesty say that next to my family, it’s these kind of squat sessions are what I live for.

To use 495 for my sets three years ago when I was not beat up was a great training session. Here I am doing it today and I know my squat is nowhere close to 100%. For the last set we toss a light band on the bar and rip out 2 more reps. This was one of the best squat sessions I have had in the past three years!

I go onto sumo pulls against bands, Glute Ham Raises, Straight Leg sit ups, 45 degree back raises and Reverse Hypers. During my supplemental work I also helped run the mono lift and coach the other guys the same way they did for me. The next thing I know it is 10:30am. Screw it, so I won’t get to the office when I wanted to. There will be much time for work later, times like these last a life time. Work is over when the task is completed.

10:45am

As I drive from the gym I realize that I still have a way to go to get back to where I was before but now I feel that I am back on the right path. It has been a very hard few years for my squat and dead lift training. I have a million excuses from a growing business, multiple injuries and the birth of my two sons. All and all I would not change anything but it would have been nice to avoid all the training injuries and set backs but that would not be how the world works. I used to take training sessions like this for granted because I was too focused on the outcome and did not take the time to enjoy the process.

For the rest of my drive I contemplate what adjustments I will need to make to my training to keep moving forward. I go through at least thee different training plans before decided on what the best plan of action will be. I also know this will change many more time before the next squat workout. Part of the process is learning how to adjust your training program from session to session. If you set out on a prescribed plan you will not be able to adjust for the good sessions and bad sessions. You have to work from a general template and let your training determine the rest.

11:30am

I arrive back at work jacked up from my training session and find I am able to knock the work out at twice the speed I would normally be able to do. Within the next three hours I have completed what I thought would have been 8 hours worth of work. If I would have blown the session off I would never have been able to get the same amount of work done. I know this for a fact because there are many days where I decided it would be better to skip the session. The key is to know when you can press on and when you need to take it easy or skip the session. This is more an art than a science and there is now way to tell you when one is right or wrong.

This is something we all have to learn from trial and error. I am sure there have been any sessions I have missed that would have been great sessions if I had decided to train. I also know there are many sessions that I have trained when I should have taken it easy. I have the injuries to prove for these mistakes. Maybe someday I will figure this all out but until then I am sure I will make many more mistakes. I chalk this up as being part of the game.

1:30pm

If you are a lifter you all know what I mean about getting the call. You always have that small network of friends you keep in touch with that call you every few days or once a week to check in with you to see how your training is going. The call may be more for the caller to let you know what they have just done, but either way the call is coming. On this day I received such a call around 1:30 in the afternoon. “So how your squat workout go?” I proceed to outline the highlights of my squat session and explain that I finally feel like I am back on track and should be ready to begin training for another meet soon. I then asked how his session went. He told me he had to take the day off as his hips are bothering him. All I can think is what a sissy!

The law of training states that I have to rag him about skipping a session. So I lay it out how he is scared to lift the heavy weights and on and on. This is the funny thing about the call. You just about skipped your session but you can never tell anyone else about it. It just would not be the “strong” thing to do. You have to pretend that you are this hard core dedicated lifter that will suffer through it all to gain one more pound, while the other guy is weak and does not have the courage to press on. That is unless you are the one that took the day off. Then the wise thing to do is to not make the call, or avoid taking the call in the first place. This is why it is so hard to reach other lifters after bad meets or bad training sessions.

8:00pm

By this time my body begins to tighten up again and I make my way back to the hot tub to loosen enough to be able to fall asleep and with any luck make it through the night without waking up in pain. While in the tub I ask myself the same question I have been asking for years. I have asked this question thousands of times and even wrote an article about it. Why is the hell do I keep doing this? Why do I beat my body to hell? Why do I take so much time out of my day? What effects will this have on my body in the future? Will I be able to move when I am 60 years old? Will it really matter when I am on my death bed looking back?

There is the big one. Will it really matter when I am on my death bed looking back? Will what I do in one specific day at work matter when I am on my death bed? NO, Will my PR’s really matter when I look back? NO, Will how much money I make really matter at this time? NO, Will the training partners I have had over the years matter? NO, Will the final set of squats matter?

NO, The things that really matter will be the time spent with your family and friends, what you have done to make the world a better place, the positive effects you had had on the life of others and WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO!

This is what I love to do. I do this so the world will not change me.

Written by Dave Tate

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – A Day in the Life of Dave Tate discussion thread.

Developing Speed and increasing your Vertical Jump

Wanna jump higher? Well so does everyone!

In fact the questions I’m asked more then any other are, “What are the best exercises to improve my vertical jump and help me jump higher?” Or, “What are the best exercises to improve my speed?”

A lot of people think there’s some secret exercise or movement that will turn them into explosive superstars overnight. In truth, there is and that exercise is called consistency and hard work! If you aren’t willing to put forth consistent effort no single exercise will give you what you want.

Having said that, there are many quality exercises that will enable you to focus on the specific targets that your workouts must hit to help you run faster and jump higher. Hopefully in this article I can help save you gobbles of time in the process of achieving your performance goals.

Jump Higher and Run Faster – Make It Simple

In this article I’ll attempt to shed some light on these questions and help you avoid going round and round playing a game of pin the tail on the donkey searching for that elusive magic bullet promised to make you run faster and jump higher. I’ll give you some of the top exercises that have been proven to help thousands of upper level athletes jump higher and run faster. Instead of wasting your time I’ll break speed and the vertical jump down and show you the exact qualities your workouts must target, and then give you the secrets, or exercises, that will enable you to hit those targets and make the most of your training time.

Jump Higher and Run Faster – Do They Actually Correlate?

A lot of you may wonder if the exercises to improve one area (speed or jump) work to improve the other. Will jumping higher make you run faster and vice versa? Generally speaking, the answer to that question is yes. In fact, the ability to accelerate quickly and jump high correlate very well with each other. Any time you increase your vertical jump and train yourself to jump higher, you’ll nearly always notice you also get faster and vice versa. This is because the qualities of strength required to jump high and run fast are very similar. In fact, due to this, you can many times get faster without running, and jump higher without jumping, as long as you’re enhancing the type(s) of strength required in each through your training regimen.
To prove this all you have to do is take a look around. Have you ever seen a good sprinter who can’t jump high and a good leaper who’s slow as molasses? Me neither.

So What Is The Best Exercise To Jump Higher and Run Faster?

First, understand that there really can’t be a single best exercise for everyone because different training means have different effects. The type of strength that one person needs to run faster and jump higher may be the opposite of what another needs. For example, someone who’s lacking in basic strength will get great results with common strength exercises such as the squat. Another person might have plenty of strength, but not enough “spring”, so a more specific vertical jump exercise like depth jumps will be his best training tool while the squats will do far less.

To Jump Higher and Run Faster Realize That Different Exercises Have Different Effects

Understand that different training means have different influences on speed and vertical jumping ability. Running speed and jumping ability both require an athlete to display large amounts of power. Power is a combination of strength and speed.

To Run Faster and Jump Higher You Gotta Get Powerful

Power = Strength x Speed

When performing a sprint, think of “power” as the amount of force that you apply into the ground with each stride. If you watch a sprint in slow motion, basically what a sprinter does is “jump” down the track. Obviously the greater the force, the more ground you’re going to cover with each stride. This is what is responsible for your stride length. Your stride length is then combined with your stride frequency, or, the speed at which you cycle your legs when you sprint, to determine your running speed. So, you can increase your speed by either increasing your stride length or increasing your stride frequency with the largest potential increases coming from an increase in stride length, where power is of utmost importance.

Jumping Higher – The Simple Science

In the vertical jump, you can again think of power as the amount of force you put into the ground at toe-off, which is responsible for the speed at which you leave the ground and the ultimate height of your jump. The more power you apply with respect to your body weight – the higher you’re going to jump – And with respect to technique – that’s about all there is to it to get you jumping higher!

Time Of Force Application

Realize in a sprint you have anywhere from .10 to .20 seconds to apply maximal power with each foot-strike. As you accelerate you have about .20 seconds but as you gain top speed and your stride frequency increases your legs naturally move faster so you only have about .10 seconds when running at top speed.
In the vertical jump you only have about .20 seconds to apply max power and jump as high as possible. This is why the ability to jump high and the ability to accelerate quickly have such a good correlation.

Strength Qualities

In order to display optimal levels of power so that you can cover ground like a speeding bullet or jump higher then you ever imagined, you obviously must have good levels of strength and speed. This is influenced by the following strength qualities.

Limit Strength – This is the amount of force you can apply irrespective of time. Limit strength can also be thought of as the strength of your muscles when speed of movement is of little consequence. Lifting maximal weights such as performing a 1 repetition max in the bench press or squat will test your limit strength capacity.

Attention should be paid to developing limit strength in the muscles of the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and lower back as these are the most important muscle groups for sprinting and jumping.

These are your “jump higher and run faster” muscles. The muscles of the hip extensors should be given special attention because they are usually the weak links in the large majority of athletes. These muscles are the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

Explosive Strength – Refers to the ability to develop max force in minimal time without the use of the plyometric stretch-reflex. Jumping from a paused position and sprinting out of the blocks both require nearly pure explosive strength because you don’t have the luxury of winding up and utilizing plyometric ability like you would if you took a big run-up before jumping, or a lead-in to a sprint.

Explosive strength relies on starting strength, which is the ability to “turn on” as much force as possible in the first .03 seconds of movement.

In order to develop maximal force in minimal time you obviously must have enough raw force or strength to draw from or to tap into quickly. This is why limit strength serves as the foundation for explosive strength. A rocket with a 5 HP motor isn’t going anywhere! Likewise, an athlete who can only apply 100 lbs of force isn’t gonna be jumping very high either regardless of how fast he applies that force.

Reactive strength
– Is displayed when your muscle/tendon complex is stretched prior to contracting and is otherwise known as plyometric strength, reversal strength, reflexive strength, rebound strength etc. This type of strength is evident when you perform a quick countermovement (bend down) before jumping. You can jump higher that way then you can by pausing and then trying to jump can’t you? Here’s why. The countermovement quickly stretches the tendons throughout your lower body. This allows your muscles and tendons to gather energy and create recoil like a rubber band. This reflexive/reactive response occurs very quickly whereas a voluntary response to muscle stretch would be too late. Reactive ability enhances the force you can generate in the first .10 seconds of movement by anywhere from 200-700%!

With each stride and foot contact of a sprint the same thing happens as your achilles tendon stretches and recoils back like a spring or rubber band. The stretching reflex responds to the speed at which your muscle/tendon complex is stretched prior to movement. Try to very, very slowly bend down before jumping and you’ll see what I mean. The faster and greater the stretch the greater the corresponding reactive force. This is why you’ll notice people who are excellent jumpers descend down quickly and sharp in their countermovement. They create greater force in one direction, that can then be transformed into force in the other direction as they explode up with a powerful jump. When your reactive ability is good, the more force you can take in, the more force you can put out. Guys with subpar leaping ability have a hard time utilizing reactive force in the hips and quads so they don’t perform the countermovement with near the velocity, smoothness, and proficiency. Fortunately this can be improved.

Jumping High and Running Fast are Largely Involuntary Activities

Most of the force generated from reactive contractions is involuntary, that is, you don’t have to think about it. This is why you can bounce a lot more weight when doing a bench press then you can whenever you pause a maximum weight on your chest before lifting it – even without really trying to. It’s also why you jump higher when you “bounce” down and then up. We tend to use reactive force naturally whenever we are given the opportunity to do so and do it without thinking about it. In fact, one of the ways you can improve reactive ability is simply to avoid screwing it up. It’s there naturally and all training should enhance it and not detract from it. One of the ways you can screw it up is with bodybuilding style training – which basically teaches your body to do the reverse of what it’s programmed to do. This is going to go against what you’ve heard but cheating, bouncing, and accelerating a weight through the sticking point are all natural occurrences and utilize and enhance reactive ability. You can detract from this with an over-reliance on prolonged eccentric training and slow training.

How to Jump Higher and Run Faster – In a Nutshell

So, to quickly recap, the power in the vertical jump and sprint come from a combination of explosive strength and reactive strength – with limit strength serving as the foundation for both. When you put the 3 together you get what is known as your static-spring proficiency. A static-spring proficient athlete is otherwise known as a spectacular athlete.

Think of basic strength as the unseen concrete foundation of a house and your reactive strength and explosive strength as the result of that foundation (your beautiful home) that everyone sees. In a static-spring proficient athlete you see the end result, the ease of movement, speed, and jumping ability, but you don’t necessarily “see” the foundation behind that.

If you’re someone without a solid foundation you must train with slow heavy weight strength exercises to build that foundation, along with using explosive strength and reactive strength exercises to enhance power or the display of your foundation. If you are already fairly advanced then all you have to do is determine which part of your power pyramid is the weak link (limit strength, explosive strength, or reactive strength), and address the deficiency accordingly. Repeat this process consistently and you’ll soon be jumping higher and running faster then you ever imagined.

Classifying Jumping and Speed Improvement Exercises

Now I’ll break the training methods down into categories of limit strength exercises, explosive strength exercises, and reactive strength exercises and show you the top exercises from each category that’ll get you jumping higher and running faster. Really there are countless exercises that are all effective, but these exercises will give you a lot of value for your training dollar.

Limit Strength Exercises

The goal of limit strength exercises is to simply increase the force or strength producing capabilities of your muscles. Progress will be evident in the amount of weight you can move in basic movements. The goal here is not to try to necessarily “mimick” sports movements, but rather just to increase the contractual force producing capabilities of the muscles that are involved in the sporting movements. Whenever you perform limit strength exercises the repetition scheme can vary, but in general, the total length of the set should be kept under 25 seconds.

Full Back Squat – There should be no real reason to have to describe this exercise but make sure you descend down to parallel or below. This exercise works all the major muscle groups we need for speed and vertical jumipng ability and is a foundation for anybody who wants to jump higher and run faster. Perform for 3-8 repetitions per set.

Deadlift – Simply load up a bar and bend down, grab the bar, and pick it up while keeping your back straight and using the power of your glutes and hamstrings to initiate the movement. Deadlifts are a superior strengthening exercise for the glutes and hamstrings and also develop whole body power through their influence on the traps, grip, and upper back. This also makes some version of deadlifts a necessity for anyone who wants to jump higher and run faster. For extra hip and hamstring recruitment, try performing deadlifts with a wide grip while standing on a box. Perform 3-8 repetitions per set.

1/2 Deadlift – This is like the deadlift but instead of starting from the ground you place the bar in a power rack or on boxes set just below the knee level. Again grip the bar and keeping your back straight or arched concentrate on squeezing with your glutes and hamstrings to pull the bar up. It also helps if you think of yourself as a bull pawing the ground down and back with your feet. Your feet won’t actually move but thinking of this action will correct your form and make sure you place stress on the appropriate musculature.

Split Squat – This is basically a single leg squat, with the non-working leg elevated on a bench behind you. Perform this exercise by holding a dumbell in each hand or with a barbell on your back, descend until the back knee touches the floor and then explode back up to the start position. This exercises torches the glutes, hamstrings, and vastus medialis while also developing flexibility in the hip flexors. I’ve yet to see anyone who wanted to jump higher or run faster who didn’t respond very quickly to this exercise. It’s definitely one of my favorites. Perform 5-15 repetions per set.

Good Morning
– Start off in a squat position with a barbell on your back placed down low on your traps – next arch your back keep your chest up and push your hips back as far as possible. As you do this your upper body will descend forward and you will feel a stretch in your glutes and hamstrings. Dig down and back with your feet to rise to the starting position. Perform 5-10 repetitions per set.

Glute Ham raise
– If you don’t have a glute ham apparatus you can always do these the old fashioned way. Find someone or something to hold your feet down while you place your knees on a pad of some sort. Next starting from the top arch your back, keep your chest out and control the downward descent. You will feel this extensively in the hamstrings. Next, try to pull yourself up with your hamstrings but assist yourself with your hands as much as you need. Remember the hamstrings are essential for anyone who wants to run faster or jump higher. The glute-ham is the kind of all direct hamstring exercises. Perform 5-15 repetitions per set.

Explosive Strength Exercises

The goal of explosive strength exercises is to either perform the movement with more speed, or with more height. For example, instead of squatting with heavy weight we’ll get you jumping with weights. You simply try to jump higher while squatting with light to moderate weights. Generally, speed of movement, especially the beginning of the movement, is more important than the load involved when it comes to these exercises. Explosive strength movements focus on developing maximal starting and explosive strength, without much involvement of the reflexive stretch-shortening cycle (reactive strength). They inherently make you focus on applying max voluntary force as quickly as possible.

Box Squat – Using a wide stance sit back on a box just below parallel and pause before each repetition. Use a load equivalent to 50-60% of your best back squat and explode up trying to use your hips and hamstrings. You can also execute these with bands and chains for added effect. Perform anywhere from 2-5 reps per set.

Paused Jump Squat – Use a load of 15-30% of your max squat. Descend down just above parallel, pause for 3 seconds and then jump as high as possible. Not only are jump squats fun but they are also very effective for jumping higher and running faster. Perform 5-10 reps per set.

Jump Shrug
– This is a lead in to a clean or snatch movement. Starting from either the floor, or from the “hang” position, explode up initiating the movement with your legs and hips. As you extend your hips and start to leave the floor follow through by shrugging your shoulders up. Re-set in between reps. Perform 3-6 repetitions per set.

Clean and Snatch Variations
– These movements are explosive by nature and in order to perform them correctly you must instantly be able to develop maximum force. They also heavily involve the hip extensors, which are key for speed and jumping ability. Olympic lifts have long been used to help athletes run faster and jump higher. Explaining the movements is beyond the scope of this article but if you can perform them correctly you can work them into your program. Perform 2-5 reps per set.

Standing Broad Jumps – Simply jump as far out as you can for distance and try to have a mark to shoot for. Pause momentarily between repetitions. Perform 3-5 reps per set.

On-Box Jumps – Find a box, stand in front of it, and then jump onto it and then step off and repeat. As you develop the capacity to jump higher you can challenge yourself 2 ways. Either jump onto a low box trying to bend the legs as little as possible, or find a high box that requires you to really give it all you’ve got. Perform 3-8 reps per set.

1-leg Split Squat Jumps – This exercise is another favorite of mine for jumping higher. Stand to the side of a box with one leg on the box and the other leg on the ground. Next, quickly straighten the leg that’s on the box and attempt to elevate yourself as high as possible by pushing off with the lead leg. Pause momentarily between repetitions. Complete all the reps for one leg before moving on to the other leg. Vary the height of the box to focus on different areas. You can also add weight to these by holding light dumbells. Perform 5-10 repetitions per leg.

Hurdle Jumps
– Line up a row of hurdles or other barriers and jump over them one after the other, pausing momentarily in between each repetition. If you only have one such hurdle or object you can simply jump then turn around and jump again etc. Make the exercise more challenging the same way you did in the on-box jumps. Challenge yourself to jump higher by using a higher hurdle, or jump higher with more clearance between you and the hurdle you’re jumping over. Perform 3-8 reps per set.

Reactive Strength Exercises

Reactive strength exercises generally consist of jumps. The goal with the reactive strength exercises is to execute the movements with either less time spent on the ground or by jumping higher. Each exercise and repetition places a premium on stretching of the muscle-tendon complex, which will boost your reactive/reflexive capacities by increasing your ability to absorb force, stabilize force, and reflexively react to that force. These movements allow you to take advantage and build upon the reflexive forces that come from the plyometric effect. They are essential for anyone wanting to jump higher and run faster.

Ankle Jumps – An ankle jump is performed jumping off of the ground in rhythm by just springing off your ankles. While you’re in the air you want to pull your toes up. You also must prevent your heels from ever touching the ground. The key to this exercise lies in your ability to keep your knees locked while jumping and landing on and off the ground, as well as spending the least amount of time on the ground as possible. Over time you’ll find you can jump higher and higher using just your ankles. Perform 20 reps per set.

Shock Jumps
– Also known as depth landings or altitude drops. What you do here is find a box equivalent to about the height of your best vertical jump. Next, step off the box and upon contact instantly try to absorb the impact without any movement and without letting your heels touch the ground. Picture a gymnast landing from a vaulting maneuver. You want to land in a powerful, yet quiet manner. You can continue to increase the height of the box until you can no longer land smooth and quiet. Don’t jump high off the box simply step off the box. You can perform these by landing in a slight knees bent position, or by landing in a deeper squat position. The more knee bend the more the hamstrings and glutes are involved. Reactive strength improves as the speed of stretch increases, so you can increase the effectiveness even more by attaching elastic bands to the ground which then attach to your belt. Perform 3 reps per set.

Depth Jumps – A depth jump is a carryover from a shock jump and is performed by stepping off the box and then exploding upward, jumping as high as possible, upon ground contact. Try to keep the ground contact time short while jumping higher and higher. To find the correct height for you, simply find the height that allows you to jump the highest after you step off the box. So, if you jump 22 inches from a 12 inch box, 30 inches from an 18 inch box and 28 inches from a 24 inch box the 30 inch box would be the correct height since it allowed you to jump higher after ground contact. If you find you can actually jump higher from the ground then you can by preceding your jump with a depth jump then you need to spend some time engaging in shock jumps before you perform this exercise. An advanced form of depth jumps calls for attaching stretch-bands to your body to increase your velocity as you descend, and then having the tension released as you begin your jump. Recall that concentric force increases as the speed of the stretch increases. This is probably the ultimate reactive technique but is an advanced exercise. Perform 3 reps of depth jumps per set.

Reactive Squats – This is a rhythmic jump squat variation and calls for you to jump higher over a full range of motion while using weight. From the upright squat position pull the bar securely down on your shoulders and quickly descend down into a 1/2 squat position and bounce back up attempting to jump. If you do the movement correctly you should feel a stretch on the muscles of your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes as you absorb, stabilize, and react to the oncoming force. Use weight anywhere from 15-50% of your maximum squat. Perform 5-10 reps per set

Reverse Hyper Extension
– The reverse hyper is a true gift for anyone wanting to jump higher and run faster. This movement works hip extension hitting the hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors all during the course of one rep. If you don’t have a reverse hyper device you can get backwards in a back raise or glute-ham machine and apply load by placing a rope or chains strung through weights around your ankles. To initiate the movement raise your legs up to parallel. You should feel a strong contraction in your glutes and hamstrings. Next, quickly allow your legs and the weight to fall and then about 2/3 of the way down regather tension and explode back up. This creates a reactive contraction in the hip extensors. Perform 8-15 reps per set.

Sprints – Very few exercises are as inherently as reactive as sprints and if you’re wanting to increase your speed and run faster you’re going to need to work on your sprinting technique. I recommend you sprint with maximum speed only once per week. On one other day go out and warm-up and build up to about 70% of your max speed and work on some technique drills. Just don’t strain too much during your “easy” session. To increase your acceleration perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 30 yard sprints. To improve your maximum speed perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 60 yard sprints. Sprints can also serve as an effective exercise for those who want to jump higher.

Vertical Jumps – There should be no real need to explain this one, but one of the best ways to improve your vertical jump is to practice jumping higher performing the actual vertical jump movement! You can use the vertical jump in place of a reactive exercise for vertical jump development. I like to use a “3-steps plus jump” approach. Find a high object you can use as a goal or mark to shoot for. Next take 3 quick steps, jump stop, and attempt to jump up and touch the object. Chart your progress and try to jump higher over time. Perform 3 reps per set with maximum effort.

Jump Higher and Run Faster – The Recipe For Success

A surefire method to make sure you’re jumping higher and running faster is very simple and consists of 3 things.

  1. Get your limit strength exercises heavier.
  2. Get your explosive strength exercises faster.
  3. Get to where you’re jumping higher on your reactive strength exercises.

If you do all 3 of these you can’t help but improve your ability to jump higher and run faster! If you do even one of them you will still notice substantial improvement.

How to Structure a Routine to Jump Higher and Run Faster

If you want an idea how to set up a convenient training split simply select one exercise from each category at each training session for a frequency of twice per week. Just make sure you have one weighted squat variation in either the limit strength or explosive strength category each workout.

Limit Strength Exercise

Pick 1 and perform 5-6 sets of whatever repetition scheme is outlined for the particular exercise.

Explosive Strength Exercises

Pick 1 and perform 6 sets of whatever repetition scheme is outlined for the particular exercise.

Reactive Strength Exercises

Pick 1 and perform 6 sets of whatever is listed for the particular exercise you choose.

If you wish to address certain deficiencies you can simply increase the volume for a particular strength quality. For example, if you know you’re strength deficient, instead of performing 1 limit strength exercise you might perform 2, and then only perform 1 reactive strength exercise and eliminate the explosive strength exercise. This will leave you with the same volume but a different training effect.

If you know you’re reactive deficient you can perform 2 reactive exercises along with 1 limit strength exercise and eliminate the explosive strength exercise.

These are just a few simple ways of incorporating these exercises. Any of these exercises can be incorporated into any training split with great efficiency and a big boost in your training economy, and I hope an even bigger boost in your training awareness on what it takes to jump higher and run faster.

For more rock solid information on vertical jump development check out my book – How To Jump Higher – The Vertical Jump Development Bible

Written by Kelly Baggett

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Developing Speed and Increasing your Vertical Jump discussion thread.