Training The 3 Essential Strength Training Types For your Vertical

Published on March 11th, 2013 | by Joe Starks

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The 3 Essential Strength Training Types For your Vertical

Plyometrics are important for every vertical training program but by themselves, the equation is lacking. Alongside plyometrics, you must also focus on strength training to keep your muscles in tip-toe shape.

Today, I’ll examine strength training in more depth and give you a few essential facts about the various strength training types and methods out there so you can MAX out your vertical training when focusing on muscle strength.

There are three main types of strength training that you can use to enhance your vertical. Below I will analyze each and give you some pointers and insider’s knowhow:

1: Weight Training

This is by FAR the most common type of strength training and for most athletes (and many trainers), strength training starts and ends with weight training. Weight training involves lifting weights and overcoming the resistance of gravity, so (obviously) you need equipment of some kind to perform most weight training exercises (exceptions exist, as we will see below).

Weight training is quintessentially strength training and involves a manipulation of the number of repetitions, sets, tempo, exercise types, and weight moved to cause desired increases in strength, endurance, and size. (If you’re up for the challenge, how about giving body weight training a go!)

Each weight training workout has different combo of reps, sets, weights, and exercise types depending on the goals of each athlete. You can perform more reps with less weights or vice versa, depending on whether you are training muscle strength of muscle power (more on that in my newsletter and subsequent posts)

As far as equipment goes, weight training requires some kind of weight machine, dumbbell, barbell, pulleys or some other machine that forces the body to exert strength against some kind of resistance. Now, contrary to popular belief, there ARE types of weight training that involve no equipment, just the body’s own weight. Pushups and chinups are in fact weight training too! This type is known as bodyweight training, in which you only use the weight of your own body as a resistance. Many bodyweight training methods are identical to plyometrics.

It’s important to remember that different types of weights will have different impact, depending on the type of exercise and equipment used. In addition to the weight itself, you have to factor in any torques, friction or resistance when calculating weight on various weight machines, so no two weights are the same when equipment and methods differ!

2: Resistance Training

Resistance training is more specialized than weight training and involves using elastic or hydraulic resistance (many trainers won’t even know what this is!) to gradually strengthen the muscles. The benefits of resistance training include increased muscle, tendon and ligament strength, bone density, flexibility, tone, metabolic rate and postural support.

The basic principle behind resistance training involves manipulating the number of reps, sets, tempo, exercises and force to literally overload of a group of muscles and force them to develop.

The main difference between strength and resistance training is the method and the point, and some exercises can be considered BOTH strength and resistance exercises. Most problems with resistance training stem from assuming incorrect posture when lifting weights or when doing exercises. This puts pressure and stress in muscles that shouldn’t be trained in that particular exercise, potentially leading to injury to the bones, ligaments and muscle. This is known as “cheating” in resistance training and should be avoided at all costs!

Cheating can be potentially beneficial to some muscle groups by sheer accident, but it is still useless because such benefits cannot be controlled or measured. Most of the time when cheating, weak muscle groups will become weaker and strong muscle groups will be overworked and damaged with overtraining!

3: Isometric Training

Isometric training is considered by some as the “Russian roulette” of workouts and for a good reason; isometrics can yield amazing results, but done carelessly can RUIN your body and your vertical.

Isometric exercises are strength training exercises where you train your muscles without moving!

How is this done? Simply, isometrics are done by applying equal, opposite forces to muscles and ligaments while keeping them at the same position. The point here is to force your muscles to keep your body at the same place by excreting force, much like resistance training, but without moving. Typically, some form of “immovable object” is used and muscles are put to work against (overcoming isometrics) it OR muscles are held in a static position while holding still against some resistance (yielding isometrics). It may sound exotic, but we all know what isometrics are; benchpress is isometric exercise!

These two types of isometric exercises, overcoming and yielding have one important difference that must be noted. Whereas in yielding isometrics your muscles work exactly as much as it is needed to nullify the resistance from the weight, in overcoming your muscles can be pushed to their limit against the immovable object. Yielding isometrics allow for more measured muscle development while overcoming isometric exercises are the ultimate exercises to maximize your muscle’s time under tension (also known as TUT) which is considered one of the most solid ways to build muscle. However, for vertical, isometrics can cause problems and ultimately lead to loss of vertical height! The reason for this lies in the very nature of isometric exercises that force the muscle to grow in power but not necessarily promote speed and explosion at the same time. Additionally, the extremely heavy weights that are sometimes required by isometric workouts may cause injury and are a real PITA to move around the training course.

All in all, strength training is important to build good muscle for your vertical but remember the different types and their quirks. To sum it up:

Weight Training: YES in moderation

Resistance Training: YES as long as you have a good coach guide you through

Isometric training: NO (unless you’ve got a truly great coach and a well-laid plan, otherwise you may lose your vertical progress)

Photo Credit: Hasselbach Photography
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