Having a Blackberry Doesn’t Mean You’re Mobile

It’s no secret that I’ve had to endure countless injuries and set backs over my lifting career. But it’s these set backs and my desire to overcome them that has made me a better lifter. I’ve had to look at many different avenues and have tested all of them. Some helped while others were thrown to the curb.

Below are some of the issues I have had to deal with over the past 10 years. I know each of these all too well. For many years I just figured it was part of the process of getting strong. This way of thinking has lead to a list of injuries to extensive to list including two full pec tears, one shoulder surgery, compressed and herniated disks and a groin injury that lasted over 14 months.

It has always been in my nature to ignore the pain, wrap it up and press on. I feel most lifters and athletes are the same way. We do not have time to deal with injuries. It is easier to look for the quick fix than it is to take care of the problem in the first place.

Questions

  • Can you sit into a wide stance squat position without a box or warm up without pain?
  • Do you hips feel tight?
  • Are you dealing with injuries that just don’t seem to get better?
  • Is it hard for you to get off the floor from a lying position?
  • Do you shoulders hurt when you raise your hand over your head?
  • Does it take you half of the training session to feel warmed up?
  • Do you feel like someone is pounding your biceps tendon with a hammer?
  • Does your groin hurt when you squat?
  • Are you spending all your training time trying to come back from injuries?
  • Do you walk with a limp for a day or so after each squat session?
  • When you wake in the morning, is your back in a knot?
  • Do your pecs feel like it is one rep away from ripping off?
  • Are you traps tight most of the day?

Break Down

Believe me when I say this, I am not an expert of training, pre-habilitation, or rehab. If this were the case I would not be dealing with, or have had to deal with all the injuries I have sustained. I am no different then most of you. It took an awakening to look deeper into my training program. In the past when I got hurt I would just take some Advil, wrap it up and it would go away in time. As my training years increased this was no longer working. What used to take a week to recover from was now taking months. It all came to a halt in the spring of 2004. My squat got to the point I had to wear 2 squat suits to train with 315 for my safety squat bar dynamic box squats. I also could not get on the floor to play with my kids and getting out of bed was a challenge each morning. Rather then listen to my body I kept pressing onto to the point that training became something I began to dread.

At this point I decided that I was done with competitive powerlifting and had to find something else to do. I cut back on my training weights but my problems were not getting better. Now it was not about getting strong again but my quality of life was being hindered. My hips felt shot, my groin was a mess, my right hand was numb most of the time and I would wake three or four times a night in severe shoulder pain.

I had to do something so I called Buddy Morris and Thomas Myslinski who were then at the Cleveland Browns. I asked them if they could help me with my problems. They informed me that over 90% of their job was dealing with injuries. They had a team full of so many injuries that they had to learn how to address them all to keep them in the game. They also told me that they use a therapist named Allen Degenaro as a consultant for much of the rehab and prehab work and he was going to be at the complex the following week. I marked it on my schedule and told them I would be there.

The Trip

I arrived at the complex eager for help. I figured Allan would do some active release therapy, massage, muscle activation therapy or some type of Guru magical therapy and I would be back in the gym 100%. In the past I have had great luck with all types of treatments such as chiropractic, acupressure, acupuncture, MAT, ART, deep tissue massage, e-stim, land cold laser. You name it I did it and in many cases it got me back in the gym. The difference is this time none of those things were working. I needed something new and was hoping Tom, Buddy and Allen would share with me the special “fix you up” therapy.

After some small talk they got to work on me. Allan asked me to run through a few simple movement patterns. First he asked me to take a shoulder width stance, place both arm over my head and squat as low as I could. After a few second he said, “Okay Dave you can squat now”. The funny thing is I was already as low as I could go. I got down maybe 3 inches. After a few more tests I noticed Tom watching, calculating, planning and taking it all in. Buddy on the other hand had this look on his face like he was going to die laughing. While I was being twisted around in different positions, Buddy said that I was by far the worse he has EVER seen. A few tests later Allan and Tom both agreed with Buddy. I failed every test so bad that Allan began to turn white. Moments later he disappeared into the bathroom and threw up. He thinks he may have had food poisoning but I still think I was so bad I made him sick.

The Intervention

I then asked what I needed to do to get ready to bench the next day and squat two days later. They all look at each other like I was out of my mind. I was told to not squat or bench for the next three weeks and spend all my training time on mobility movements. They showed me a few movements to do and all I could think is how well these movements would go over at Westside Barbell Club. I was also told to do these movements every day for three weeks as see how I felt.

Allan asked me how long I have been powerlifting. I told him my first meet was in 1984, 20 years ago. He then asked when I quit all other sports and just focused on power lifting. This was after finishing high school in 1986. He then went on to explain that my body has been doing the same movement patterns for over 18 years. My body was trained for squats, benches and dead lifts. All my accessory work was targeted to strengthen the same planes as the power lifts. I had done nothing to strengthen or keep the other movement planes firing. In short, I had lost joint mobility and could not move well out side of the main lifts and after 20 years it was now affecting my training. Let me explain it this way. Every sport has a certain level of GPP (general physical preparedness) required for the sport. Mobility is one of many functions that make up the GPP of a given athlete.

Every sport has it optimal level of required mobility. Each sport also has a minimal level required. Think of it as having a min and max level. Anything over the max level will not make them a better athlete and would be overkill, any thing under the min level and their performance would suffer. For example on a scale of 1-10 a power lifter would have a max mobility level of 6 with a min of 4. BTW: these numbers are provided to make a point. I do not know of any such chart that exists. If a power lifter has a mobility level of 8 then added mobility training is not that important and would only have to me maintained. They should place their focus on other aspects that need to be increased. In my situation I feel under a 4 mobility level. This would mean that it fell below the required level needed to train for my sport. Because of this I could not train and keeping the focus on other training aspects became pointless.

The Drive

On the drive back home I kept thinking about how I got into the situation I was in. I never had problems like this in the past. It has only been the past few years that I have been dealing with these issues. Yes, I have always had injuries and still feel that they are part of the game. I was once told if you are going to lift big weight you are going to get hurt. I all reality this is not any different than any other sport. If you want to play ball you are going to get hurt. It is only a matter of time and severity. The longer you are in the game the worse your odds get. Could my problems be because of my age? I am getting closer to 40. I decided this was bull crap because of the number of other lifters I know who are older than me and coming in at the top of their game. Most lifters I know really do not begin to peak until after 30 anyhow. While age is a factor I believe it is your training age that matters. How long have you been lifting and at what level? While this is a factor, I decided it was not the main cause.

Once again, I know many other lifters who have also been in the game as long as I have (and yes they are beat up) but they are still plugging away. I decided the main reason I wound up in this position is my training, or should I say lack of. Years ago I wrote about the importance of GPP and have learned this lesson more than one time. When one component falls off the entire unit breaks. Over the past few years because of family and business my priorities have changed. When these changes happened I dropped much of the extra work I used to do (sled work and accessory movements). I changed my focus to getting the most out of the least. This is called training economy to some. I put all my time in those things that would make me strong and relied on the main movements to drive my lifts. It did take sometime but in the end it is the supplemental movements you need to drive your lifts. I knew this and have spoken about it in seminars but was not living it. Now I had to figure out how to deal with my situation. I could go on forever explaining why but unless you take action to fix it nothing will get better.

The Research

I now knew the problem and had to figure out how to fix it. Buddy, Tom and Allan told me to quit doing the movements I had been doing and replace them with movements I had never done or have not used for many years. This was also supposed to be complimented with some of the mobility drills they showed me. The mobility thing had my attention but they only showed me a couple things. What if I was to do mobility training for all my joints, not just what they showed me? When I got back I began to review all the materials we have in our warehouse on mobility. I reviewed the Parasi DVD’s on mobility, viewed the Jump Stretch tapes, read Core Performance Training by Mark Verstegen and several of the flexibility books by Paval. I also spoke with Jim Wendler and several other coaches about mobility training. Many of these coaches spoke about dynamic warm up drills that required running and skipping. I knew this was not going to happen so I had to find a way to put all the information together in a program I could do in the weight room. I few days later I had a plan and began to put it to use. I could not believe how sore I was getting from doing these exercises. By the end of the first session I was whipped out. I really did not do that much but my body was not used to any of it. I stayed with it for the next few days and within on week I could not believe the difference. Come that Friday I was ready to squat but Jim Wendler talked me out of it and told me to stick with the plan for 6 weeks. He told me it took 20 years to get this way and it was not going to be fixed in 3 weeks let alone 3 days. I stayed with the plan for three weeks and go better every day. I had better mobility than I have had in 10 years. Almost all of my pain had gone away and for once in the past three years I felt good. I decided from the start that I would squat on the forth week since this was the one movement that suffered the most.

The Fourth Week

After what seemed like an eternity, the forth week squat session finally rolled around. I began the session with my new warm up mobility plan and then moved to the squat rack. I have squatted with briefs and a suit for the past 10 years but decided to take to bar in my shorts. I used the safety squat bar because this was the last workout I did before the trip. The last time I used this I did 315 for 4 sets of 2 with briefs and suit on a 18 inch box and had to stop after the 4th set because of groin pain.

The bar felt so good I decided to drop the box to 14 inches. This is my meet training box and a box I had not been able to use to 2 years. With out suit and briefs I decided to work up. I trained with 405 for 8 sets of 2 reps with zero pain. After this session I was sold. The weight was not huge and I really should not have been excited about this but I was. Finally, I now felt like to could get back on the platform. So I thought…

Mistakes

I did feel great and continued my training. As the weeks went by I took my mobility training from 6 days per week down to 4 days per week (on my training days). Dropping the extra days did not have any ill effects on my training. Actually my training was going great and I began to look for a meet to train for. My first test was going to be a bench press competition. While I am not a big fan of bench only meets I did see it as the first step in getting back into a full meet. Training was going great and I was on par for a huge PR in the bench press. The best thing was I was pain free and could handle the training. As the meet got closer I slowly began to drop my mobility work. First it was dropped to only on squats days, then only half the movements and then dropped all together. My training did not suffer and the meet did not go as planned. I was strong but ended up bombing out of the meet due to bench shirt reasons. My third attempt was with a 700 bench (would have been a 90 pound record for me). I missed it at the very top.

Regardless of the out come I felt I was ready to begin training for a full meet. I set my plan picked my meet and began training. Eight weeks into my training I found myself back in the same position I was 9 months earlier. Everything hurt, my hips got tight, my lower back was tight and I ended up with a knee injury. We are all creatures of habit and while I knew better I did not keep up with my mobility work. I thought I had solved the problem and was moving on. Now I found myself right back to where I started and had to pull out of the meet. Mobility is not something that you fix and move on. You have to fix it and then maintain it. Now I found myself setting up another mobility program but this time I am smarter than I was before.

The Plan

The plan I have created is based on my past experience, speaking with other coaches, the sources listed above and some common Under the Bar knowledge. This plan is not only mobility work but also includes some very basic pre-habitation work for many of the most common strength training injuries (pec tears, sore elbows, knees, lower back and shoulders). There are exercises for flexibility, mobility, Prehab and self message. This list of movements is the most complete list I can come up with without any over kill. Every movement should be preformed for one rotation with no rest between sets. This warm up should not take longer than 15 minutes and should leave you ready for training. If you are now in the same position I was in then I would suggest doing this 6 days per week with the addition of a second set after the first week. After the third week drop back down to three to four days per week for one set. For those who do not have mobility issues than only do this warm up on your training days for one set. You should also only do one half of the movements of the first session and the second half on the next. The reason for this is that mobility is not you r weakness you only need to maintain what you have. Spend your training time working YOUR current weakness.

Warm Up Movement Chart

  • Stability Ball Hips (forward, back side to side, squats, squat rolls, Russian twist) – perform as many reps as needed to loosen up.
  • Hip Crossovers – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Scorpion – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Side Bench Step Over 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Front Bench Step Over – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Forward High Kicks – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Side Kicks – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Butt Kicks – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Shoulder Circles – 15-20 repetitions
  • Arm Circles – 15-20 repetitions
  • Med Ball Hot Toss – 10-15 reps per arm
  • Band IT (glute) – 5-10 reps per leg
  • Band Hamstrings – 5-10 reps per leg
  • 4 Way Hips with Band (forward, inward, outward, backward) – 10-15 reps per leg for each movement
  • TKE’s – 15-20 reps per leg
  • Kettlebell Good Mornings – 10-15 reps
  • Kettlebell Swings – 10-15 reps
  • Forward Lunge – 8-10 reps per leg
  • Side Lunge – 8-10 reps per leg
  • Wide Stance Squats – 10-15 reps
  • Pillar Bridge (Front/Side) – Hold each position for 30-60 seconds
  • External Rotator Cuff – 15-20 reps per arm
  • Band Shoulder Traction (front, side, bottom, top) – Perform each position with slight movement for 30-45
  • seconds.
  • Foam IT Band – Perform as many passes as need for pain to disperse.
  • Spike Ball Rotators – Perform as many passes as need for pain to disperse.

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 – Having a Blackberry Doesn’t Mean You’re Mobile discussion thread.

Motivation

I have a story to tell.

I was a fat little kid. Two fat parents will tend to do that to you.

In high school, I had mandatory athletics. Between swimming and martial arts, I dropped a ton of fat very fast. That was pretty cool. I got more into it and that is when my passion for this shit really developed.

Then I started cycling, did a few triathlons. Found competition to be a lot of fun, a good way to keep myself focused.

My senior year I got into gymnastics by way of cheer leading. I was never more than mediocre at it but it led me to pursue a degree in Kinesiology at UCLA because I wanted to coach. During that time I got more into cycling, was introduced my junior year to in-line skating. At this point I was well on my way to being a jock (jock body, not jock mind). A nerd jock, but a jock. I was consumed literally with my field of interest. I read everything (still do) about training, nutrition, etc. Anything I thought might help my own efforts.

I spent literally my entire college years living on my skates. LA is a good city for that. When races started showing up, I did a couple. Now that was the shit.

Better skates, more training.

I trained and raced off and on for several years before I got burnt out on it (20+ hours/week of endurance training plus weights and everything else will do that to you). Moved to Austin, threw myself more into weight training sports. bodybuilding and power lifting both of which I was, optimistically speaking, mediocre at. This year, after roughly a 7 year hiatus, I decided to go back to skating.

That means that over the past 15 years or so, I have been involved in training and competitive sport to one degree or another. 15 years. If I’ve taken more than 5 days of training in a row off (barring injury or illness), I can’t recall it. I’ll skip the occasional day but that’s about it. 15 years. I intend to remain involved until they put me in a pine box (or I become immortal).

Today I suffered through 2 solid hours of misery inducing training. I warmed up for about 15′ and stretched a little. Then I spent 18 straight minutes doing one of the most boring training activities ever. It’s called down time and it’s a dry land skating drill. It accomplishes both technical and conditioning effects.

Here’s how you do it in case you want to try it. Bend your knees to about 90-100 degrees, low back rounded over so that your torso is about parallel with the floor. Like the speed skaters on the winter Olympics Now stick one leg out to the side, balanced on the leg underneath your body. Return the first leg and stick out the other leg. Repeat.

For 18 solid minutes.

During which, at every minute I thought to myself “This hurts, I’m bored, I want to stand up, to rest my back, to let the screaming in my quads abate.” But I never did. I suffered through until my time was up.

I will keep raising the time, to maybe 25-30 minutes and then I can start back on my skates. But until my technique is where I want it, I won’t be skating for a while.

Then I went to the bike, for 45 minutes at a fairly hard heart rate: about 160-165.

It’s boring, my legs burned, I wanted to stop and go eat a chocolate donut. But I suffered through.

And I still wasn’t done.

Then I went to the StairMaster for 3X3 minute intervals at my maximum power output, with a 3′ break. My lungs were screaming, my low back was toast, my legs were yelling at me and I wanted to stop every second of the 3′. My heart rate peaked out at 194 which is actually low, I can hit 199 on a good day. The three minute break takes about 1/10th as long as the 3 minute interval. Feels like it anyhow. And even during the break, I’m gasping for air, about to pull a side stitch. I want to quit, I want to go home and collapse.

But now I have to cool down. 15 more minutes of progressively decreasing effort.

Then I stumble out of the gym, brain dead. Go get some food. Come home, fall down. People have asked me if I enjoy this. Frankly, no, not really. I will enjoy it once I start racing again and see the results of my suffering. Right now, it’s just suffering. Suffering that has to be done for me to compete where I want to compete but that’s about it.

I have to lift tonight. Thank god it’s a fairly medium level workout. I skipped it last week and paid the price, I was sore as shit from my Monday workout.

And I have to repeat this morning’s workout tomorrow and the day after before I get a break. Block training is miserable but it works.

Now, I could lie, tell you that I never lost/lose motivation or drive. But that’s all it would be: a lie.

Depending on how burnt out I am or what mood I’m in, I always ask myself why I do it? All the pain, all the suffering, why? I think to myself “Why couldn’t I be like most of everybody else: fat, lazy and unhealthy.” The idea of sitting on my couch and eating donuts and pizza at every meal is imminently appealing.

Perhaps I could be like many of my friends, unhealthy, out of shape, eating shitty food that makes them feel bad, drinking themselves to sickness and misery on a nightly basis, chain smoking.

Or maybe I could be my dad who was a walking time bomb: high blood pressure, cholesterol, alcoholic, overweight, sedentary, lifetime smoker. Who died in his mid 50’s from a pointless heart attack when I was 19.

And then I realize that I couldn’t ever be that way. I realize that the suffering, the effort, the pain is all worth it. And that’s what keeps me motivated.

So if you want to question your motivation, that’s fine. It happens to the best of us.

Just don’t fucking bitch about it or make excuses or look for motivation from anyone else. If it doesn’t come from within you, you’ll never get anywhere.

Make your choice and move on.

Written by Lyle McDonald

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 – Motivation discussion thread.

Increase your Vertical Jump – An Interview with Kelly Baggett

Have you ever looked up into the sky and watched a bird soar gracefully through the air and thought what it would be like to fly? Other than sprouting wings, the next closest thing would be the ability to get good air-time in a vertical jump.

For many years this feat was only reserved for elite athletes who awed their audiences with hang times that left their opponents with stiff necks from watching. This ability is respected and admired by many, and is a great way to show off one’s physical prowess.

Being strong is one thing, but being able to display the different types of strength one possesses is another. Here is an athletic skill which displays the ability to generate an impressive amount of explosiveness and power.

Kelly Baggett is a performance consultant to athletes who has written the ‘bible’ on how to jump higher. If you don’t believe me when I say that this book explains everything you need to know about the topic, then read on, and learn how Kelly has approached it in a way that no-one else has..

Wannabebig: Who the heck are you and what do you do?

 Kelly: I have worked as a trainer for the past 11 years and have held a part in two training facilities specializing in sports performance training, gymnastics, martial arts, and general fitness. I have a website Higher Faster Sports and now mainly work as a performance consultant designing programs and providing guidance for athletes and people who participate in various sports and activities throughout the world. My clients include athletes in football, basketball, boxing, volleyball, powerlifting, and bodybuilding, as well as plenty of people who just desire to look better.

Wannabebig: Why did you write this book?

Kelly: Mainly because I felt I had a duty to do it for all the other athletes out there who were once like I was. I looked around and saw a lot of athletes searching for answers and instead of being presented with legitimate solutions in their quest to get higher, they were being presented with a lot of inferior products and programs. The vertical jump improvement market was one filled with false hype, gimmicks, and gadgets. For whatever the reason, although it’s fairly common knowledge in advanced scientific sports training circles, information that people could use to actually get results was not being presented to the general public.

I took a look at probably 15 different programs being marketed and not a single one of them appeared to be put together with any understanding of the science behind how to create a more explosive athlete. The ‘vertical jump’ is the topic of hundreds of scientific studies and years of research by sports scientists the world over, but this knowledge was not common.

Wannabebig: For those reading this, I’m sure they’re wondering what makes you such an authority on this subject?

Kelly: In addition to my 10 + years of coaching experience and research, I also improved my own vertical jump from 23 to over 42 inches. The same information and programs that I use to help others is the same information I first tested and used to help myself, so I feel I have a pretty good handle on how things fit together and what works and what doesn’t.

Kelly Baggett dunking at 5’9 – white man can jump.

Wannabebig: What’s the most common mistake people make when they try to increase their vertical jumping power?

Kelly: They usually overtrain in certain areas and undertrain in others. The average person who wants to improve their vertical jump is an athlete who already spends countless hours per week playing their sport of choice. The average vertical jump program is one that is extremely high in submaximal plyometric work. 

Submaximal plyometric work is already something they’re being forcefed through their sport. What they’re not getting enough of is basic strength work.

In addition, people try to do to many things at once. They want to become better-conditioned, stronger, and more explosive all at the same time. So they’re out playing full-court basketball for 3 hours 5 times a week and running extra intervals on top of that. Then they’re in the gym 3 times per week lifting weights and doing plyometrics on top of that. Gains aren’t likely to occur in those instances simply because there’s not enough adaptive energy. It’s like these people who try to bulk up and lose fat at the same time. I usually try to have guys get rid of as much junk volume as possible when they’re training for vertical jump improvements. There is a time and place for everything but you can’t specialize on everything all the time.

Wannabebig: Some good points there, Kelly. So what concepts do people need to understand when it comes to increasing vertical jumping power?

Kelly: The vertical jump is simply a measure of relative power (or power per pound of bodyweight). Power is a combination of force and speed with force being the more important quality, and more trainable quality of the two. A space shuttle with a 2-horsepower motor isn’t gonna go anywhere and neither is a funny car with a tractor motor, or a souped up funny car with a 500 lb weight weighing it down! So first you take a look at your force, your speed, and how they relate to your bodyweight and bodyfat percentage. I have tests that measure all of these things. We then plug the athlete into a program designed to suit their needs.

Wannabebig: What do you feel is the most important principle in your program?

Kelly: Probably the principle that’s applicable to most people, is that I really drive home the need to be strong and to be able to put out a lot of force. Strength is the backbone upon which all the other qualities of strength reside (explosive strength, reactive strength, strength endurance etc.). To prove my point I like to use lots of real world examples. I could talk about this all day, but here are a few:

The average NBA prospect has an average one-step vertical jump of 28-30 inches. In contrast, I have a list from last years NFL combine and the average linebacker, at an average weight of 250 lbs, has a standing vertical jump of 36+ inches! What do you think the biggest difference is between the linebacker and the NBA prospect? Probably the fact that the linebacker is as powerful as a stick of dynamite and at the backbone of that power lies the strength of an ox – that strength is something the NBA prospect simply doesn’t have because he’s never focused on it.

  • The most explosive athletes are strong.
  • The average high jumper at 6’4 165 lbs, even with legs as skinny and as long as a waterhose, will still squat in the upper 300’s.
  • The average national-class olympic lifter has a vertical in the high 30’s and some 300 lb heavyweights even have VJs over 40 inches.
  • A sprinter will VJ 40+ and squat 2.5 to 3 times their bodyweight easily.
  • The average national class shotputter at 260 lbs + can broad jump 10 feet or more.
  • Kobe Bryant routinely does squats with over 400 lbs + chain.

The list goes on and on. Some people can jump without being strong due to their natural structural and muscle fiber characteristics, yet the only way the average athlete is going to get that kind of explosiveness is to boost their backbone of horsepower.

Now, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. A person could mess around and train for two years using some gimmick like rubber bands, shoes, or god knows what else, and maybe improve their relative power by 10%. Or they could get back to the basics, go to the gym and train six months and improve their capacity to apply force by 30%. It should be obvious which one gives them the biggest return on their investment. 🙂

Wannabebig: I think you’ve hammered home the emphasis on building a strong foundation. What sets your program apart from all the others? Why not just perform plyometrics, squat and practice jumping?

Kelly: What really sets my program apart from others is the individuality. No two athletes are exactly alike, and a cookie-cutter setup only works if you happen to get lucky, so I try to make everything customizable to the individual. Let me give you a few examples.

A. We might have an individual at 6’0″ -130 lbs who has lightning-fast reflexes and quickness yet can only squat 115 lbs. This is the equivalent of a space shuttle trying to make it out of orbit with a 2 hp motor.

B. We might have an individual who’s 5’6″ – 180 lbs and is a state powerlifting champion. He’s strong, lean, muscular, and looks impressive – yet he’s only able to use his great force at slow speeds – In other words, he looks like a funny car but moves around like a tractor. He could pull you out of the ditch if you got stuck but in a race you’d blow him away.

C. We might have an individual who is 5’9″ – 190 lbs. He has good speed and reflexes and strength, yet also has a 20-lb spare-tire hanging around his waist.

Each of those 3 people are going to need, and respond best to, a different type of training.

Another thing I feel sets my program apart is that instead of only using my personal experiences, thoughts, and ideas, I have referenced over 50 scientific studies to support my guidelines, claims, and training prescriptions. I enjoy putting scientific talk into everyday language and people seem to enjoy and benefit from it.

Wannabebig: Does your program take into account the various levels of training experience each person has?

Kelly: Yes, I break the programs up into three areas of focus. These are strength, speed, and combination. Each area of focus will have a novice, intermediate and advanced series of workouts with the average workout being 12-16 weeks long.

Wannabebig: With all this talk about getting stronger to jump higher, would it be safe to assume that there is a transfer of strength into other movements as a result of training specifically to increase vertical jumping power?

Kelly: As far as weight room movements go, of course, the training that a person does to increase their vertical often includes lots of weight room movements, so in that sense I can take an average novice athlete and put 10 inches on his vertical, and a lot of times his squat will have increased 50 lbs or more because of the training that went into that. In addition, vertical jump training will often transfer directly into running speed over short distances even without any focus on it whatsoever. Take someone and increase his vertical by 6 inches and his speed will almost always improve as well.

Wannabebig: Outside of training and moving into other areas that might be of help, are there any supplements you recommend while following your program?

Kelly: I wouldn’t deem them necessary but they can be helpful. Anybody can benefit from a basic multivitamin, extra vitamin C, magnesium, fish oils, and glucosamine. Vitamin C and magnesium greatly seem to help the ability to tolerate training stress. Fish oil just does a host of wonderful things including help with inflammation, and glucosamine as I’m sure you know is great for the joints. [Editors Note: ETS would be an effective supplement to use, as it aids in both recovery and joint problems many lifters struggle with.]

Wannabebig: What about nutrition–how important is its role in your program?

Kelly: It’s important in the sense that having a low level of bodyfat is a big advantage and having a high level of bodyfat is a definite disadvantage. In today’s society, with supersized fast food meals and 44 ounce sugar soft drinks being the most common dietary choices for young athletes, (and sitting on the couch playing Madden football being the entertainment of choice), it’s fairly difficult to carry a low level of bodyfat unless you train with the volume of Lance Armstrong. Therefore I feel it’s important to learn how to eat. For that reason I also include a 60-page bonus nutritional e-book on Body Composition Management.

Wannabebig: On average, what can someone expect if they follow your program religiously?

Kelly: In addition to consistent improvement, the most important thing I want people to gain isthe understanding of what they need to do to make further improvements, regardless of where they might be at now or where they’re at in the months ahead. Instead of getting lucky and happening to stumble onto a program that gives them results for 3 months, and then getting stuck for the next 2 years while they figure out what they need to do to continue gaining, what I’ve tried to do with my system is eliminate the guesswork and allow an individual to ALWAYS know what they need to be doing to make the quickest improvements. It should be as simple as plugging yourself into a formula and then having a plan to follow based on the results of the formula. So an athlete might say, “Ok right now when I plug myself into the formula it shows me that I need to increase my explosiveness so this is the right program for me” Six months from now that might change and they’ll be saying, “Ok now I’ve improved my explosiveness so now I need to go back and create more raw horsepower…this is the program that I need to follow to do
that”.

When I increased my vertical jump from 23 to over 42 inches I didn’t have the luxury of having a roadmap of how to get there. I had to experiment with everything and figure out everything the hard way. There were times when my vertical didn’t budge for 2.5 years. Some times I even regressed. One time I had got it all the way up to the mid 30 inch range and within 6 months it was down under 20! (That’s what high volume endurance training can do to an explosive athlete).

Wannabebig: How soon can someone expect to see results?

Kelly: One of the first things I try to do is teach people the proper technique. Most guys can gain an immediate 2-3 inches just by making a few minor technical adjustments in their approach and takeoff. Once that happens and a person begins a program that encompasses the right training at the right volume and frequency, improvements can occur very quickly. It’s not uncommon to see a 4-5 inch gain within a couple of solid weeks of training. However, the best improvements tend to occur after a dedicated phase of focused training when the body is allowed to recovery fully. For example, we might hit everything hard for 3-4 weeks and then have a really easy week. Towards the end of that easy week is when you see the big time jumps.

Wannabebig: Thanks, Kelly, for taking the time to share your insights on this very hot topic. For more info on his book, visit Kelly’s Verticle Jump website

Written by Maki Riddington

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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 – Increase your Vertical Jump – An Interview with Kelly Baggett discussion thread

The Top 25 Ways to Pack on Serious Mass – Part 2

Note: You can find Part 1 and Part 3 to this article series here: Part 1 | Part 3

In the first part of this series I discussed 8 top ways to pack on mass when going up a weight class. In the second part of this three part series I will continue with the next 8 tips to take you to success. Most people think that it is easy to pack on weight and they are right, if putting on fat weight is your goal.

The purpose of this series is to make sure that the weight that you do put on is solid muscle, and not just an extra layer of fat around your hips and waist. Putting on quality weight that will lead to a bigger total is our objective.

There are many misconceptions on how to properly go up to the next weight class. What we have to remember as power lifters is that by going up a class we have to produce a total that is competitive at that new class. What was elite at your old class won’t pull you through in the next division up. With this in mind what we must realize here is that we have to put on as much lean muscle tissue as possible while minimizing any fat gain. This can only be done through a well planned out nutritional and supplementation program. Here are the next 8 tips to pack it on!

9.   Use a Protein Supplement

In a time when most of us live very busy lives and are constantly are on the go, a protein supplement in the form of a meal replacement or protein shake is essential. If we take a look at one of the rules in part one of this series, it was to eat 5-6 small meals per day. Now, eating 6 solid meals of food per day for most people would be a major problem. One way to make this much simpler is to eat your regular breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a protein shake in between each of those meals. I just made your life a lot easier didn’t I? The fact is that we need at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight as power lifters, especially when we are trying to go up a weight class.

Now if you have ever looked at a macro nutrient breakdown chart of different foods you will notice that to consume all the protein that you need on a daily basis is almost unrealistic, that is unless you have an appetite like mine. When you look at the protein content of different foods and then you calculate how much you have to eat at your body weight, you then ask yourself, “How the heck am I supposed to get in all that protein without feeling like I just inhaled half of the country’s livestock?” Having 2-3 protein shakes per day will help you fulfill your protein needs and will make your life in the kitchen a lot easier as well.

10.  Consume Fast and Slow Acting Protein Sources

Like most people, you must be wondering what is a fast or slow acting protein? Fast or slow acting is in regards to the time your body release the amino acids into the bloodstream. Now whey protein is a fast acting protein. It is the fastest to enter your bloodstream and to upload into your muscle cells. The problem with whey is that while it is highly anabolic or growth producing, it is not very anti- catabolic.

A slow acting protein like casein will do a much better job at preventing you from going into a catabolic or muscle wasting state. Supplement companies are constantly bashing each other saying that their protein whether its whey or casein is better than the other. The fact is you have to look beyond all the hype and look at scientific studies.

The fact is that you need a combination of both to fully get the job done. Remember the best time to use whey is post workout so that the amino acids get pulled inside the muscle cell the fastest and during the day and night use a combination of slow and fast acting proteins. Nitrean from At Large Nutrition is without doubt the best protein product on the market. Nitrean’s protein matrix conbins both “fast” and “slow” acting proteins for ultimate bio availability.

11. Eat By the Clock

When trying to put on size, you just can’t eat when you get hungry, otherwise it will take you a lot longer to get up to your next weight class. You have to eat by the clock, otherwise you will not meet your caloric and macronutrient needs by the time the day is over. With this in mind set a schedule that you will follow and have a meal or protein shake every 2.5- 3 hours. Not 4 or 5 hours but every 3! This is very important in your quest for size. This will make sure that you get at least 5 quality meals in per day. I know that this sounds a little compulsive but in no time this will just become part of your lifestyle. This will mean that you will have to have all your food prepared the night before so that you will have it ready when you need it. Don’t just think that you will just cook something when the time comes as most likely you will get lazy and you will just skip the meal.

Eating every three hours has many benefits. First, it will keep your metabolism elevated. Second it will keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day and will prevent you from getting those after lunch energy lows that so many people complain of. Next it will keep you in a positive nitrogen balance and will supply a constant stream of amino acids to your muscles, thereby keeping you in an anabolic state. As you can see eating by the clock is definitely worth it!

12.  Eat Before Going to Bed

Now I knew I would get a lot of cheers for this one, but hold on a second. Just because I said that you should eat before going to bed doesn’t mean you have a blank check to go on a nightly binge of nachos and ice cream. Sorry to break your heart but we have to make sure that we have specific nutrients that are going to keep you in an anabolic state throughout the night. It is during sleep that your muscles recover and grow from the tough workouts you perform in the gym. So not only is it important to get proper sleep time, as mentioned in part one of this series, but making sure that your body has the nutrients available to repair and rebuild lean muscle tissue while at rest.

Now you must be asking, what should I be eating before going to sleep? First you want to make sure that you supply your body with a high quality protein source. This will keep you from going into a catabolic or muscle wasting state while you are sleeping. It is during your sleep that you go the longest time without food. You don’t want to consume just a fast acting protein like whey either. Like I mentioned in rule # 10 you have to consume a combination of both in your diet. At bed time you want a protein source that is going to stay in the blood stream as long as possible and provide a sustained release of amino acids to your resting muscles. One good example would be cottage cheese with whey protein mixed in.

Next you want to make sure that you provide yourself some healthy fats at this time as well. A nice Omega 3-6-9 formula will do the trick and provide a balanced ratio of the different fats. These fats are involved in many processes including reducing inflammation and testosterone production. What a better time to take advantage of this than when you are sleeping. Fat will also slow down the release of amino acids into the bloodstream even further. Eating the right things before going to sleep for the night is essential to putting on muscle and recovering from your workouts.

13.  Take a Multi Vitamin and Mineral Formula

During times of hard strenuous training the body needs optimal amounts of micro nutrients. These are your fat and water soluble vitamins, major minerals, trace minerals and electrolytes. These micro nutrients even though small in their dosages are very important for you performance and strength. Taking a multi vitamin and mineral pack (such as Multi-Plus) is essential in making sure that you don’t have any deficiencies in any of the above categories.

Optimal intake of vitamins and minerals are essential for life. If a deficiency occurs, the body will not function optimally which can lead to illness and even death in severe cases. Vitamins act as co-enzymes which perform many roles and functions in our body. They work as catalysts to release energy from the foods that we consume.

Minerals play a role in many processes. These include muscular contractions, fluid regulation, the production of energy, nerve transmission and protein metabolism. Do you remember the last time you cramped up at your competition after you weighed in? That most likely was caused by an electrolyte imbalance due to your method of losing water weight so close to the competition. Not taking a multi vitamin and mineral formula as a strength athlete is like driving a race car without a seat belt.

14.  Never Skip Meals

What’s the big deal about skipping meals? If I didn’t mention it then you wouldn’t fully understand the consequences of skipping meals. I know, I have heard it all before. You get busy at the office or taking the kids to their soccer game. A few hours go by and boom. You forgot to eat your fourth meal of the day. You get a little busy picking up the dry cleaning and now you have missed your fifth meal too.

Now let’s take a look at what happens to you when you skip a meal. First off when you skip meals it slows down your metabolic rate. When you slow down your metabolic rate through skipping meals, two wonderful things happen to you. First you go into a catabolic or muscle wasting state. When this happens your body breaks down your lean muscle tissue and converts it to glucose to provide your body with energy. Next since you brain thinks that you are starving to death it will tell your body to store any food that it does receive in the form of fat. So now you are losing valuable muscle tissue (and strength), as well as priming your body to increase its fat stores. Sounds great doesn’t it? So this is why I tell my clients not to skip meals and always plan ahead. When you have a major competition like a nationals or worlds right around the corner you don’t want to the above happening to you.

15.  Eat a Big Breakfast

You must be thinking that the only thing on this guy’s mind is food. Being a sports nutritionist, I usually eat 6-7 meals per day and in between I am discussing and counseling my athletes about proper meal planning. Yeah, I guess you are right. All I think about is food! Breakfast is not doubt one of the most important meals of the day. You should always eat a large breakfast as it is the base that will fuel you for the rest of the day. You have gone 8 hours during your sleep without food, so now is the time to fill up the tank with fuel once again before another long day of work and training. A lot of people either skip their breakfast or eat such a skimpy breakfast it makes you wonder how they can even think and function at their job. Having a cup of coffee and a muffin is not considered a breakfast, especially not for a strength athlete.

At breakfast time you have to supply your body with a hearty source of complex and simple carbohydrates, and a nice portion of lean protein. A good example would be a large bowl of oatmeal with an apple and an egg white omelet. This is a breakfast, not that muffin and coffee joke that so many people fall in the trap of. The quality of your breakfast will have a direct effect on how efficient your metabolic rate works for the rest of the day. With this said, make sure that you eat a true power lifters breakfast.

16.  Make sure your meals are balanced

“What type of balance are you talking about?” This refers to your macro nutrient breakdown in each meal. Just as a refresher your macro nutrients are your proteins, carbohydrates and fat. Each of your meal should be balanced in its proportion for each of the “Big Three”. Now don’t think that there is only one macro nutrient ratio profile that is going to be optimal for everyone because there isn’t. This is where a customized nutritional plan comes into play. Each person’s metabolic rate, energy expenditure, insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity level are different, just to name a few variables. These all play a major role in designing a customized nutritional plan that is right for you. I can give one athlete a specific ratio of macro nutrients and he will get ripped by following it. Yet another individual that I give the exact same plan to will cause an increase in his body fat level. With this stated, I will at least give you something to start with as a base. First off, never just eat one macro nutrient and consider it a meal. This means in layman’s terms, don’t go out and eat a pasta dinner with a nice half loaf of Italian bread. As you can see you are lacking protein and healthy fats in the meal. At the same time don’t scarf down a can of tuna and call it a meal either. A good example to follow for dinner would be a lean steak, a yam, and a serving of broccoli with olive oil. This is a balanced meal. Now, I would play with the ratios of the macronutrients to exact specifications and amounts to help you achieve your future goal according to your personal data for the different variables. See, I know how to make it look easy!

With this installment of the Packing on Mass series, you now know that going up a weight class isn’t as easy as you once thought. It takes planning and precise calculations to go up to your next class without looking like you gained all your weight from binges at the local buffet. As you can see, there is a science to proper weight gain, not simply stuffing your face with all types of fattening and sugar laden foods. In the next installment of this series (part 3) I will give you the last 9 tips to help you pack on serious mass!

Written by Anthony Ricciuto

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