Archive for Vertical jump

It’s All in the Coaching

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on April 9, 2012 by zenithstrength

I’ve had a lot of training related stuff on my mind lately. I think that’s what happens when you immerse yourself in the field and attend a ton of seminars to learn from the best in the field. I was lucky enough to see Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson speak on the shoulder and core training and I realized that no matter how much you learn, in this industry it seems the more you know the less you really know.

I’m not afraid to admit that. It is definitely a humbling experience especially when I see a ton of coaches locally try to hook people by  guaranteeing x amount of inches in vertical jump improvement or y amount of lbs lost in 2 weeks or promising something along those lines. Everyone wants to workout balls to the walls but it seems no one wants to hear about how that ankle mobility problem or t spine rotation left unchecked can cause serious amount of time off playing a sport you’re trying to make waves in.

I feel that our job as strength coaches is to coach basic movement patterns and then load them appropriately once a standard has been demonstrated. Regardless of what assessment you use, FMS, DNS, overhead squat and or Thomas test, what really is the point of pushing an athlete with heavy deadlifts or squats if doesn’t look right. I guarantee most people don’t look like the pic below (courtesy of David Lasnier ) below when they get in the starting position of the deadlift.

I remember Mike Robertson saying to “trust your eyes”, if it doesn’t look right something is going on and we should try to figure out why that is, especially if you’re dealing with an athlete where performing at a high level is at stake. Weights need to pushed and doing it the right way is of the utmost importance.

Fortunately, there are people we can turn to resolve these issues.

Tony Gentilcore talks about the fixing the tuck under which is very common and needs to be addressed . Zach Moore writes his take on fixing the bottom position of the squat.

Here’s the reality that most people don’t want to hear and its the theme that I’ve picked up from people like Charlie Weingroff, Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey to name a few, I usually don’t name drop this much unless I’m trying to get into a hot club in Vegas,

and that is injuries are caused by repetitive movement breakdowns. Or to put it another way, there is an underlying movement issue or two that has been put under repeated stress. So if you’re a tennis player chances are poor t-spine rotation and extension plus poor core stability probably had a lot to do with stress fracture in your back. Or the volley ball player who has very limited ankle mobility, poor hip extension and has knee pain.  The more skillful the practitioner/coach the more  they will be able to help address what is going on.

In regards to my own training I have been guilty of ignoring many of these factors(core stability, hip strength and mobility)   which is why I’ve had a history of knee issues and some low back issues. But, here’s the good news. At 33, my knees are pain-free,which isn’t something I could say during my teens and most of my 20’s. More importantly I can enjoy lifting and training again so I can tell you first hand that this approach of addressing mobility issues and stability stuff that the top coaches in the industry talk about works.

If you’re a coach or trainer I would highly recommend anything by Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey to get started. These guys are two of the best and you owe it to your clients and athletes to make sure you are coaching your clients correctly.

In health,

Shyam Soin


Highlights from Thursday’s Training Session

Posted in Athlete's Accomplishments, Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. conditioning, Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , , on November 21, 2010 by zenithstrength

Today’s post is video highlight of one of our collegiate tennis players from the Eagle Fustar full-time program who shows that female athletes are just as explosive as their male counterparts and can jump out the roof provided they get the right training to maximize their genetic gifts.

She is only 5ft 2 inches and easily cleared the 30 inch box.

She then followed that up with a 36 inch box jump which is over half her height. Keep in mind that she is only 62 inches tall!

Enjoy the video.

More good stuff to come.

Train Hard!


The Power of Hip Strength

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2010 by zenithstrength

In my coaching experience the number one factor in determining athletic prowess is power output or force production. The athlete who can produce higher amounts of force into the ground is going to accelerate and hit top speed much quicker than the weaker less explosive counterpart. Since acceleration is essentially the “name of the game” when it comes to success on the playing field why is it that most strength programs fail to integrate or acknowledge hip strength into the training programs?

I was guilty of making those same mistakes. I avoided many heavy hip extension exercises apart from forward sled drags, squats and deadlifts. I’m not sure why I did that but you learn from mistakes and eventually design a better program and continue on the path to becoming a better coach.

There are several technical factors that go in to improving acceleration but for the sake of this article we will focus on hip strength.

Let’s get into a little anatomy to better understand the function of the glutes mainly glute max and what can potentially happen if the glutes aren’t doing their job.

Glute max is the primary hip extensor.

Together with the hamstrings they drive the leg into extension during acceleration and work with the hamstrings to maintain top speed while sprinting.

Glute medius is involved with hip ab-duction which is bringing your leg out to the side.

However, the glute medius is also a pelvic stabilizer and helps with hip alignment and the alignment of your femur.

For example, if your knee comes in chances are you are internally rotated at the femur and hip and your glute medius isn’t doing its job as a stabilizer. Now think about how often you spend time on one foot while running, jumping, playing your sport. If the glute medius isn’t functioning or is “shut off” you are at risk for a whole slew of potential issues including knee tendinosis and low back issues as well.

The bottom line is that glute strength is important for many reasons including hip extension strength for increased acceleration strength and stabilization of the pelvis.

Below are my favorite exercises to work on increasing glute strength for improved power output as well as improving stabilization of the hip and knee.

1. The weighted bridge and hip thrust are two of my favorite exercises for glute max activation and strength. I learned about these exercises from Bret Contreras. The hip thrust is a great progression from the traditional bw bridge from the floor. It is basically a full range version of the bridge. Once you can rep out at least 1 set of 50 bridges you are ready to add weight to the exercise.

2. The one legged bridge or Cook hip lift. Once you have got the hang of two-legged bridges it’s time to challenge single leg hip stability and strength.

The Cook hip lift accomplishes both by activating glute max but also the hip stabilizers to keep the pelvis level at the point of hip extension. You can also add a tennis ball in the crease of you hip so you can get isometric hip flexion work on the opposite leg while working on hip extension, which is basically what happens while running.

You can then progress to single leg hip thrusts which essentially a full range version of the Cook hip lift.

3. Monster or X band walks.

These are great for strengthening the glute medius and will help with hip and knees stability for lateral movements and also knee issues as well.

Add these exercises in your strength program and you should see an improvement with your vertical jump and acceleration speed.

5 Tips to improve your Vertical Jump

Posted in Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by zenithstrength

Every athlete I have ever worked with wants to get faster, quicker, improve their speed. Before I discuss the 5 things you must do to improve your vertical jump I want to briefly explain how we test power output at Zenith Strength and the rationale behind the tests.

We test the vertical jump using the JUST JUMP mat to see how much force the athlete can produce. Based on the results we determine if the athlete needs to improve relative strength, upper body strength or the stretch shortening reflex.

We have the athlete perform 3 different types of jumps.

  1. A squat jump with the hands behind the head
  2. A counter movement jump using the arms to swing up as the athlete jumps.
  3. The counter movement jump with a step.

If that athlete has a low squat jump we will focus on improving the athlete’s relative strength with dead-lifting or squatting variations, which will improve ground force production.

If the athlete has a low counter movement jump we will add heavy chin up and pull-ups to improve upper body strength and help with the counter swing movement, in addition to lower body work.

And finally a low counter movement jump with a step means we have to focus on improving the stretch reflex through repeated jumps, broad jumps or depth jumps to a box.

Here are five tips that help improve your vertical jump in no particular order. Keep in mind that these are general recommendations. You should be implementing the strength training, plyometric work and mobility work, in your program.

  1. Increase your relative lower body strength.
  2. Improve your hip/posterior chain strength.
  3. Perform body weight jump variations
  4. Improve your hip flexion mobility
  5. Increase your relative upper body pulling strength.

In order to enhance your vertical jump you need to increase the amount of force you produce. The best way to do this is to improve your relative lower body strength.
We use the trap bar deadlift since it is easy to teach and feels natural for the athletes.

We also use squatting variations such as box squats which improves starting strength, since you are pausing on the box and then driving up using your hips.

Training to increase hip/posterior chain strength is essential as hip strength is necessary for a powerful jump. We use glute/ham raises to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes.  We also use hip thrusts and weighted bridges which I learned about from Bret Contreras. The common misconception is that you need to strengthen the quads and calves to jump higher. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. You will see much greater gains in vertical jump and sprint performance by strengthening the hip complex.

Here’s what a barbell hip thrust looks like.

The video below is an example of some of the plyometric training we perform. We use box jumps and resisted jump training with the vertimax.

In order to integrate your hips and sit back during the loading phase of the jump you must have adequate hip flexor mobility. In fact Joe Defranco, one of the most respected strength coaches in the field insists that stretching out the hip flexors prior to testing your vertical can add some height. He teaches this technique to football players to use at the NFL combine for the jump testing portion.

Here’s a good hip flexor stretch:

And finally improving relative upper body pulling strength using chin ups and pull-ups will help with the counter movement arm swing portion of the jump. In addition there is also a high correlation between sprinting speed and relative upper body strength with pull-ups.

Add these training ideas into your program and watch your vertical jump improve dramatically.

Train Hard!