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Plyometrics, Speed and Muscle (and stuff)

By Alex On November 24, 2009 Under How To Increase Vertical

I just finished reading through all of the different comments from Monday’s “Who Needs Muscle, Right?” (well, truthfully, I just finished watching DVR’ed episodes of Two and a Half Men *smile*).

It looks like there are lot of smart Game Speed subscribers (and at 10,000+, I’m not surprised…we’re a smart bunch).

I think you guys hit on everything that was wrong… I’m going to tell you everything I thought was wrong.

And remember, it’s important to note that there is almost nothing out there that won’t (at least for a while) make you stronger, faster or more explosive.

1. Heavy weights are a good way to add strength without adding size. The lower “time-under-tension” is beneficial for this, as the heavy weights train your neurological system moreso than your muscular system. Having said that (who watched Curb Your Enthusiasm this week!), if you are focusing solely on heavy weights AND eating a lot of  in a caloric surplus, you’re still going to put on weight. Just a little less than you would if you were lifting less-heavy weights.

2. I’m going to assume Informed Athlete 1 was referring to any type of jump training when he said “plyometrics”. Based on that, I would never recommend anyone do jump training more than 4x a week for the most part, and you’re going to garner better results sticking to it 2-3x a week at the most. As my man Dan Ondiege from VerticalJumpZone.com said in the Comments Section, plyometrics 5x a week is going to wreck your knees faster than you can say “yopla”.

3. More muscle mass will make you faster. Period. And if you want to use the argument that if you look like some roided-up bodybuilder then that muscle will slow you down, go ahead. But first, get anywhere near that big, then we can talk. It’ll be almost impossible for 99.9% of athletes out there to get anywhere near that, so don’t worry about it. Just remember that more muscle = explosiveness.

4. Olympic lifts are just a tool. They teach your body to extend at the ankle, knees and hips in a fast way and allow you to do it with significant external resistance (i.e. weight). Just remember that a lot of things allow you to do that. If you know how to perform Olympic Lifts with good form (and honestly, you probably don’t), then do ’em. Otherwise, stick to jump training, sprints and other less technical means.

5. I have great hair. That wasn’t a mistake of theirs; I just felt like re-iterating it.

Now, in the next few blog posts, I’m going to cover all the basics of putting together a training program that will not only set you up for some serious athletic gains in the near future, but it should also help you out in knowing how to really design your own training programs.

This is gonna be some seriously dopekiller content that you’ll be able to easily use for say:

*more speed

*more quickness

*more strength

*higher vertical jump

*more flexibiltiy/mobility

*better conditioning

Be read on Friday for installment 1. Let’s get it (and have a happy thanksgiving).


P.S. Let me know in the Comments section what you want to know about exactly. Anything you have questions about or have been wondering about, DON’T hold back…let this dude know so I can help ya out!

14 comments - add yours

November 25, 2009

Hi Alex! First of all I’d like to congratulate you on putting up a really resourceful website! It is really helpful.

Ok onto my question , I’m a 20 year old guy from India, who has been trying to increase his speed for quite some time now. I just want to know, straight up, is it really possible to improve one’s speed through weight training? I mean is it possible to go from a 8m/s odd top speed to 10m/s?

I’ve been squatting and deadlifting with good form for over a year now. I’m currently squatting at 1.3xbw and deadlifting at 1.5xbw, but i have seen no improvements in my speed. 🙁 My 30m speed prior to starting with weights was averaging 4.8s and 60m at 8.7s. With spikes and on track, it was 4.4 and 8.4 respectively. However, even after improving my strength, my times haven’t improved. I’m currently doing about a 4.9s 30m and 8.8s 60m. Access to track is no longer available due to renovations for the Commonwealth Games.

How much more do I need to work on my strength? I’d thought once i reach the 1.5xbw benchmark, i should have seen some improvement at least?

It may also be possible that my lack of improvement may have had something to do with the way I went about increasing my speed. I was following stronglifts5x5 system since July 2007. At that time, I did not know that one needed to sprint alongside lifting weights if one wanted to get faster. By Jan-Feb I had reached a 1.5xbw squat, but I’d not been sprinting for close to 6 months by then. Not to mention a really bad tailbone injury suffered during long jump, which really affected my training.
Around that time, I bumped onto Kelly’s site and started devouring his articles. He too mentioned that squatting alone won’t help. Wish I’d found his site earlier.

I actually have an online log, wherein you can read about how I went about everything


I’ve just made an update to it, so very quickly, you would be able to see exactly where I stand.

I know, I must be asking a bit too much from you, but I just wanted to explain my situation as properly as possible.

Thanks a lot for going through it Alex!


November 25, 2009

Oh sorry, I mistakenly wrote July 2007 instead of July 2008.


November 25, 2009

Would air alert be considered plyometrics?


November 25, 2009

how to assess if I’m hamstring or quad dominant


November 25, 2009

Dear Sir,

I am a masters athlete. I presently run 11.20 sec over the 100m and 22.29 over the 200m. What can i do to develop more blazing speed that does not cost money as i have recently been made redundant. You seem to be the man in the know ( so to speak) as you right great stuff. Thanks in advance


November 25, 2009

Nice post, I would like to know how to increase my vertical jump, and how to get more flexibility/mobility

Dan Seidman

November 25, 2009

Bring on the best kettlebell exercises!

Jordan Shadle

November 25, 2009

Awesome posts all the time, much appreciated. actually just a quick question on which of your options (Truth about Quickness… and the others) is best or recommended for someone needing to put together a speed and quickness program for 15-18 year old athletes.


November 25, 2009

Hey Alex,
I’m on your facebook, and as many forums, and discussion networks that I can find, I’m a trainer out of Boston, just trying to network as best I can. I’d like to hear you expand a little on the time under tension, and also what the powerlifters, would call max effort days and dynamic days, and figure out how to fit them in programs. As I’ve said on a few forums, I have a huge issue in front of me of losing a ton of weight before I can ever consider reaching my athletic goals (dunking), which is different from some young athletes who need to gain so much muscle.
Last thing, that I’ve been working on is increasing my base strength to improve my plyos, (depth jumps specifically), any input would be great.

To Clayvon, Air Alert is a lot of plyos, I’ve heard a few stories of people getting injured doing them because they don’t incorporate weight training at all.


November 25, 2009

Zack, your quad dominat if you jump high but run slow and hamstring dominant if you run fast but cant jump and have slow acceleration/ have slow starts.


November 29, 2009

Thank you! You often write very interesting articles. You improved my mood.


January 9, 2010

Sorry that I have to go off-topic, but it really frustrates me when people keep repeating the seeming “echo” throughout the net. Unless you’ve personally injured yourself with Air Alert, I want people to stop advertising this claim as if this is what will happen when you follow this program. The number of people who actually injure themselves using Air Alert injure themselves because they don’t follow the program exactly as they’re told, especially in terms of stretching and warm-up. The number of people who do injure themselves using Air Alert while actually following the instructions of the program word by word is almost nonexistent. There are a few of these people out there, but at the same time you have to remember that you shouldn’t be starting a vertical jump program if you’re very out of shape. So if you’re 50 pounds over-weight, then maybe vertical-jump training isn’t for you – yet. Also, despite what any program tells you to do, including Air Alert, you should know your limits. If you’re feeling your knees are starting to hurt, then you should immediately stop doing any program that you start. So, if a person decides to run through an Air Alert session despite having knee pain, and then ends up getting injured, does the person blame the vertical jump program, or him or herself for trying to force the issue. Truly, its an issue of responsibility and judgment. Vertical jump training was never meant to be easy, so a person should really know his limits, and make sure to not go over them.


February 13, 2010

i am a thin guy…how do i get muscles and speed within 6 months


May 25, 2010

It is silly the amount of people who think muscle will slow them down. If that is the case why are there so many football players who do well in ncaa track. It is because they have the strong muscle mass from football season and they can translate it to power on the field or the track. But wow if there is anyone who can even handle doing plyo more than 3 times a week with out pains good for them.