This week’s breakdown consists of dissecting the “why” behind this week’s high-velocity lower body workout. First off, before we begin to speak to the workout itself, I think what is important to talk about is how this single workout fits into the overall scheduling and programming of my workout cycle. I am currently putting myself through what’s called an undulating periodization model; this means that certain days of the week, I am lifting weights with the intent of moving submaximal weights at a high speed/velocity. The other day consists of lifting heavier weights at a slow speed, with a lower rep and set scheme while the last day consists of a work capacity day where I am trying to sustain an elevated heart rate for a prolonged period of time without sitting down to rest. Overall, my week consists of a fast moving day, a heavy lifting day, and a sustained effort day. Now that you guys have a better perspective into my weekly training schedule, I want to now provide the framework of how I like to manage those stressors throughout my week.
Day 1 of the week is usually the day when I am feeling the most recovered and ready to train, so therefore this day will consist of my fast moving days. Day 2, I will usually feel pretty fresh for a heavy day since the day before, the reps and volume were not that high so my body doesn’t feel too sore or fatigued. Day 3, I will usually get into some yoga or pool day as my body has been asked to produce a lot of force quickly or maximally so its important to now stress the body in a unique way that doesn’t interfere with the work I’ve done on the two previous days; this is the best day to work in a recovery/mobility workout. Dependent upon how ready I feel day 4, it will be another fast lifting day or if my week has been extremely busy and stressful, then I will make that my sustained effort day where I can have some fun in creating a movement circuit that challenges all planes of motion with light to submaximal weights. Day 5 and 6 will usually be just like Day 1 and 2 so that I am ultimately having 2 days of fast moving and 2 days of heavy lifting with one day of aerobic capacity work.
This workout here specifically is one of my fast lifting days and something I will usually complete when I am feeling most recovered and rested. It is important that we pick a day where we feel most recovered to hit a fast moving day because the intent to move swiftly and speed of the bar is really predicated upon the ability for your central nervous system to be in a potentiated state where quick movements can be expressed. In order for this to happen, your brain needs to be at a high functioning rate to allow for fast communication between your brain and muscles to be achieved. Without this, your movements might feel fast to you, but the communication of your system is not being optimized, therefore your adaptations will not be at the rate for which you are training for.
Now, let’s begin to break the workout down. I always spend about 20-30 minutes going through a concentrated mobility and activation portion before my actual lift to ensure that joints are moving in an optimal range and that my central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is able to send the swift signals to the appropriate muscles of the workout. After my warm-up and activation, the first movement I engaged in was a trap bar pull with some accommodated resistance. The trap bar pull is a great movement to help challenge vertical force displacement and the accommodated resistance refers to the bands that are challenging the bar from coming up vertically in uniform speed. The band provides a unique stimulus in that the band is pulling the bar down at a quicker speed than without the bands, therefore you need to control the eccentric overload of the bar as well as fighting the band resistance on the concentric and forward drive phase. I completed 3 reps for 5 rounds back to back before putting the bar down; after 60 seconds of rest, I went right into some single leg box jumps. What I did here by combining these two drills was use a method termed “PAP” or “The French Contrast Method” where you load your body up with a more strength based movement pattern that is loaded and then after a small amount of rest, ask the individual to complete a dynamic movement pattern like a sprint or jumps. We do this because your Central Nervous System is already being spoken to and activated, therefore when you complete your dynamic movement pattern, you should be primed and ready to move swiftly. I completed 2 jumps on each leg for a total of 5 rounds.
The next movement I completed was the 5 yard sled push. For the “Tank” sled, I switched the resistance to “1” out of 4 levels of resistance to pushing the sled. Because it’s a high speed day, I wanted to make sure that I was able to express a relatively high level of force quickly and not push a heavy sled that slows down muscle contraction to make sure that my body will adapt accordingly. After pushing the sled for 5 yards, i took about 45 seconds of rest before I eventually went outside to perform a 20 yard sprint, more specifically focusing on the acceleration of a sprint. I altogether completed 5 rounds of this potentiation set. The reason I decided to pair these two movements together was the fact that the sled is great in mimicking your body angle that feeds into the acceleration portion of a sprint. Also, sprinting is THE most “power” and explosive exercise you can do, as 5-6 times your bodyweight of force is being produced and absorbed by your body. No med ball toss or power clean can compete with that type of force.
The rest of my workout consisted of some lower body auxiliary exercises. It is important that during your high speed days, you are not also lifting extremely heavy weights as lifting heavy weights calls upon maximal muscle recruitment. Speed and explosive exercises for the same type of recruitment so if you program in too many competing exercises at a high volume, then your body will not adapt in the appropriate way. The first drill of my auxiliary work was the inverted hamstring curl/nordic hamstring curl. This drill is great is forcing the hamstring to have not only to dissipate and absorb the eccentric lengthening of your hamstrings but also ask the hamstring to work in a long and shortened position. This drill has been scientifically proven to help mitigate hamstring and knee injuries as it exposes your body to extreme ranges of motion and ask your system to work in these novel ranges. I completed 6 reps for 3 rounds and then paired each set with the single leg pistol squats.
The single leg pistol squats is a great drill as it really challenges the coordination and brain+muscle communication pattern which really feeds into any other drill you do with two feet on the ground. The majority of movements that we engage in on a daily basis really call upon a single leg movement pattern that requires you to both absorb and produce force through a single limb. Although the drill may require a lot of stability that you have never had to train before, by all means the best way to start incorporating this drill is to use a pole or wall that will assist you in your completion of the rep intentionally.