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Getting Stronger As An Athlete

By Alex On November 29, 2009 Under Sports Training

I remember when I first started really learning all about what it meant to be a trainer and a “speed coach” (or an athletic coach or whatever generic name you wanna give it!).

Everyone who knows me personally knows that regardless of anything else, I am enormously self-motivated. I know what I want to do and know, and then I make it happen.

I go to every and any resource I need to learn about it and then I take ACTION. It’s a proven formula that has worked out really, really well for me.

So, back to when I first started really learning about training…I was a basketball player and I needed to get faster (well, ok….a LOT faster). So I went to work to try and figure it all out. And piece by piece, things started to come together, I started to really make things happen and voila!, I was fast (well, ok…REALLY fast). It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t easy, but damn it was worth it, ya know?

I understand that there is a lot you probably already know about training, and a lot you don’t know but wanna know about (which leaves me in a weird spot as to how best give you some help, some pointers and some guidance). We are sure as hell going to make this work though…you’re gonna be a dominating, aware, smart athlete…deal with it!

I’m gonna start at the point where I first started learning and try to recap and bring it all together here for you in these next few posts.

The first important thing I learned was the importance of strength when it comes to running faster, jumping higher and become a better, quicker, more explosive all-around athlete.

I was kinda shocked at the time when I first learned this little-known fact since it seemed at least to me to be so counter-intuitive. But then I stared looking around objectively at all the major, professional sports and looking closely at all the athletes who really were the most athletic. And it became crystal-clear to me: They were all strong as hell.

Basketball players like Derrick Rose, Vince Carter and LeBron James.

Football players like Darren Sproles or Barry Sanders.

Baseball players like Carl Crawford or Juan Pierre.

It goes on and on (and if you’re wondering about the long, wiry guys who have crazy athleticism, a lot of that has to do with their tendons and their neural drive i.e. their central nervous system…we’ll get to that later).

The point is that if you’re not born with the natural speed or body type for killer speed, then you’re going to have to train for it. And it is going to start with strength.

There are actually lots of different types of strength:

*Maximal Strength

*Acceleration Strength

*Starting Strength

*Isometric Strength

*Eccentric Strength

And there’s more too that a bunch of lab-nerds have probably come up with… memorizing this stuff is obviously not that important.

What is important to note is that all those different strength types (explosive, acceleratory, eccentric, etc.) IMPROVE as your Maximal Strength improves.

Naturally, the thought is “OK, cool, so how do I improve my maximal strength so that all of these other types of “strength” improve too and I start jumping higher and running faster?”

Well, to improve your maximal strength, you’d want to be lifting heavier weights in the 1-5 rep range for the most part (so that’s weights that are so heavy, you can only lift them 1-5 times).

But then you can only do that for so long until you start to get burned out and that’s why you’re supposed to periodize your training, to avoid burn out or injuries. You should only use such heavy weights for 1-2 exercises for every workout session too.

Also, if you’re a younger athlete, you’re gonna be able to improve all aspects of “strength” using lighter weights or just your bodyweight (not to mention the fact that younger, still developing athletes shouldn’t be using such heavy weights).

Lots and lots of stuff to consider and remember, right?

But it can be done, you can learn it and you can definitely get a lot faster, quicker and jump a lot higher when you start using all of this potent information (this is also why I always recommend you get a personal coach or mentor to help guide you along).

To recap:

If you weren’t born or blessed with violent springs for legs or insane speed and quickness, you’re going to have to train for it (note I didn’t say you’re screwed, lol…you CAN train for it)…and it’s going to start with strength.

Good luck.


P.S. In my opinion, the best program online for building strength and muscle (again, the *most* important thing for most of us when it comes to speed, vertical jump and explosiveness) is Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets.

Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets <— really good.

It’s smart, straight to the point and simply works. One of the “hidden treasures” online if you ask me.