My workout today was a particularly ground-breaking and productive one. I had chosen today—January 7—to be my plyo day this week. Meaning that I would train various types of explosive jumps with the ultimate goal in mind of eventually dunking a basketball. When I was writing up my programming last night for today’s workout, I vaguely remembered reading somewhere, about 4 years ago, that sub- maximal, heavy lifting—specifically squatting—can help engage the necessary fast twitch muscle fibers in the legs and hips that help one perform explosive athletic activities (i.e., sprinting, hurdling, and jumping). So I decided to throw some heavy lifting into my workout today, simply for the sake of somewhat varying my training regimen.
I worked up to a 1x2 Front Squat @ 90% (110kg) of my max before doing three different 5x3 plyometric exercises. The results were amazing. I worked up to a 25lb three rep standing high bar grab and a 3 rep 20lb box squat jump to high bar grab—both of which were massive PRs. Previously I did not feel confident adding any weight to plyos in which I was attempting to grab the high bar. The high bar is about 9’2’’ tall, by the way. Following the indoor weighted plyometric exercises I went to Redwood High School did a 5x3 rim grab/ dunk on one of their outdoor hoops. I dunked a baseball for the first time and felt more explosive than I have ever felt. I wish I could attribute this excellent day of training to super clean diet and good sleep, but in reality, this is not the case. New Yea weekend did nothing for my athletic performance (out late, eating bad, drinking etc.). It actually wrecked me from a performance perspective. After taking Monday off, I attempted to do some heavy snatches on Tuesday and failed miserably (I was having trouble snatching 50kgs). The only thing that I did differently today was that I did the heavy—yet submaximal—front squats before my plyo workout. I think that it is very important to specify that the pre-plyometric lifts be below one’s 1 rep max. Although max effort lifting produces an extremely potent kinesthetic stimulus, a 1 rep max today, before beginning my plyo workout would have been completely counter-intuitive. I did the front squats today with the premise in mind of engaging my fast twitch muscle fibers, not working to failure.
I think that heavy lifting before plyometric training will be a mainstay in “The Holistic, Goal Oriented, Approach to Explosive Training for Athletes”—my book that I am working on right now. Another wrinkle to my explosive training methodology (which is constantly being altered based upon my results) is that I am using a template similar to the Wendler 5-3-1 and the Rut ME Black Box templates, in which I replace heavy lifts with max effort plyometric movements like box jumps, depth jumps, standing high jumps, and other similar movements. Through the course of one of these plyo days I increase the difficulty of the workout progressively by either adding weight to the movements, jumping on to a high box, or grabbing a higher object. At the moment the system is working incredibly well in concert with my version of Rut’s ME Oly lifting template.