How do you incorporate plyometrics in your training? I've read both the Vertical Jump and 40-Yard Dash books and it seems like you use them sparingly. I was thinking about using them in place of my unilateral exercise on Max Effort or Dynamic Effort squat days. Thanks.
Plyometrics are one of the most misused forms of training. It’s important to incorporate the proper level of plyometric exercise at the right time. If incorporated properly, plyometrics can be a very valuable training tool. The problem is that most people aimlessly throw them into their workout without much rhyme or reason.
As far as your question is concerned, I don’t think doing your plyometrics in place of your unilateral exercise is a good idea. Performing a unilateral movement after your main lift is one of the most important parts of the workout – especially if you’re an athlete. Here’s how I incorporate plyos into my advanced athletes lower body days: I’ll use them as a warm-up before Max Effort lower body days. For example, we’ll perform 3 – 5 sets of box jumps, tuck jumps or depth jumps to “fire up” the nervous system before we start lifting. You’ll be surprised at how many of my athletes have set records in max effort lifts after warming up in this manner. Plyos can also be used as a warm-up before dynamic effort days. I’ve also performed plyos after dynamic squats and before my unilateral movement. Because you’re using sub-maximal weights on dynamic effort days, your legs aren’t fried after performing your dynamic squats. In fact, many of my athletes have jumped higher on certain plyo exercises after performing dynamic box squats.
Try incorporating plyometrics in this manner into your lower body days and let me know how it works for you.
Q: Coach DeFranco,
How does it feel to be a cheater? I saw that you have a Combine training video out. You’re exactly the problem with the NFL Combine. It’s guys like you that screw up the entire testing process. How are scouts supposed to get an accurate evaluation on these football players if you teach them the tests ahead of time? I’d love to see your response to this question. That is, unless you only post the questions in which people kiss your ass.
Crazy Eyed Killa
A: Great to hear from you Crazy Eyed Killa. It’s nice to see that I’m attracting such an intelligent group of people to my website. It makes me very proud. Now onto your uneducated & obnoxious question.
First, I’m going to answer your question with a question of my own. “Do you think it’s cheating when high school students take S.A.T. preparation courses?” Of course you don’t. These kids would be stupid not to prepare for a test as important as the S.A.T.’s. After all, this test can determine a student’s future. The NFL Combine tests are very similar. Any college football player who gets invited to the Combine and doesn’t learn the techniques to the tests is out of their mind! A good performance on these tests can literally mean millions of dollars in their pockets! If the scouts are going to grade them on these tests, why not prepare to do well on them? If that’s cheating, then, yes, I’m a cheater.
The bottom line is that I’m going to keep preparing my guys to excel on these tests. This, in turn, enables them to have successful professional football careers. You, on the other hand, can keep your football players in the dark and prepare them for a long career of flipping burgers.
Thanks for the question.
Q: Coach Joe,
I have a 19-year-old football player with a slight herniated disc at L5/S1 area. He was taken to a pain management doctor who gave him an epidural steroid shot to reduce the swelling of the disc.
My question is what group of exercises can he do to both strengthen that area and prevent this from happening again? The Doctor says squats are the worst, which I tend to disagree if done properly. I told him to stay away from traditional deadlifts and stick to trap bar deadlifts, but not too heavy. I am not his college trainer, just someone who helps him out in the off-season. He is my son. His strength coach only believes in explosive exercises such as power clean and snatch. The strength coach tolerates the bench press and the squat. . .
I know his trainer is giving him physical therapy for the low back. When is a good time to start back into working out the lower body with weights? Thanks.
Regards. Coach Sal
A: Coach Sal,
I’m sorry to hear about your son’s herniated disk. Unfortunately, this is a very common injury for football players (I have a herniated L5/S1 myself) and I can’t guarantee that it will never happen again. I can give you some advice, though.
First of all, as much as I hate to
admit it, squats and deadlifts aren’t a good
idea when you’re initially recovering from a
herniated disk. No matter how good your form is, these
lifts still compress the low back. I’m not saying
that your son will never squat or deadlift again;
I just know through personal experience that there
are some better choices of exercises in the initial
stages of recovery.
First of all, focus on strengthening his abs and low back. For the low back, reverse hyperextensions are the best. Start with lighter weights and higher reps. These can be performed multiple times a week. I also highly recommend keeping the legs strong with unilateral movements. As you’ve probably heard me mention before, my favorites are: sled dragging, single leg squats with the back leg elevated, reverse lunges and step-ups. These exercises are incredible for football players and they put little or no stress on the lumbar spine.
I am also a HUGE advocate of flexibility training. Focus on stretching your son’s hip flexors, hamstrings and gluteals. When these muscles are tight, they create a downward pull on the lumbar spine and can contribute to lower back pain.
One more note: You mentioned the bench press. Don’t use a “powerlifting arch” when bench-pressing for a while. I’ve re-injured my low back more times bench-pressing than squatting. Try and keep more of a “flat” back when benching for a while. This will decrease the amount of stress on the lumbar spine.
Hope these tips help.
Excellent video on combine training as well as excellent website. From your Fabulous 15 article, I need a clarification on the dumbbell swing exercise. Do you actually jump as you "explode" or do you just raise-up onto your toes? Also, I know you are a big believer in the reverse hyperextension machine. However, is there an alternative to this exercise if you do not have access to this machine? Lastly, could you please post a picture of one of your athletes performing a box squat with bands? I purchased the bands but I want to make sure of the set-up of the bands to the barbell etc.
Thank you for your time and
Thanks for the feedback on the website and Combine video. They are both getting great reviews. I’m proud that people are benefiting from our hard work.
Now for your questions: When performing dumbbell swings, you just explode onto your toes – you don’t jump in the air.
Although I feel that the reverse hyperextension machine is far superior to any other variation, you can still perform the exercise. Lie facedown on a stretching table, massage table or bench and place a dumbbell in between your feet. Keeping your legs straight, extend your legs until they are parallel to the floor. Then, reverse your legs down to the starting position and repeat. Make sure that the bench is bolted down or sturdy.
I will be posting more new pictures on the website soon. These pictures will include shots of athletes performing box squats with bands. In the meantime, go to EliteFts.com. Click on “q&a” at the top of the page. Then, click on “exercise index” located on the left-hand side of the page. Scroll down and click on “Band Set-up For the Squat”. Or, you can just click here (webmaster note - this will take the page out of EliteFTS.com's frameset so it will take the page out of the navigation context.) The picture provided should better help you to understand how to hook up the bands for squatting.
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