Flexibility Training & Vertical Jump Training. Conflict

Post questions and tips on how flexibility training fits with training for other abilities.

Flexibility Training & Vertical Jump Training. Conflict

Postby Cyan » Feb 03, 2007 00:38

I do Xtreme Martial arts / Gymnastics / Acrobatics, so I need to gain peak flexibility and peak jump height. I bought Stretching Scientifically and Vertical Jump Development Bible and I have a few questions/concerns:

1) Can these 2 types of training programs be done at the same time?

2) Both books have regimens that use weights. I heard weight lifting can detract flexibility AND put on bulky muscle, both of which I **DO NOT** want to do. Is this accurate? I know when you lift weights, you're supposed to do it through a full ROM, but someone that knows a little more that can explain in more detail would be great.

3) I have a major concern about putting on bulky muscle. I want to stay as light as possible while being extremely strong. How can I do this? I'm 5"8 and weigh between 140-155 and prefer to remain light yet very strong.

Thanks in advance for any help.

-Cyan
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Postby Chingo » Feb 05, 2007 13:34

Hi there. Unless you have good genetics for building muscle you probably wont gain any from weights, some people try their best by eating huge amounts of protien and doing low reps with heavy weights and still dont gain muscle, just strength. Personaly i think if you use low weights and do many reps you'll gain strength without size.
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Postby Cyan » Feb 06, 2007 23:08

Thanks Chingo, but can you or anyone elaborate more on my other questions and everything in general?

Thanks again
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Postby Chingo » Feb 07, 2007 13:51

I'm not sure about some of ur concerns but i'd say you can train them at the same time, they're both active and both require flexibility.

My goals are flexibility for M.A and the more strength i gain the more flexibility i gain and sadly without much sign of muscle, sounds like for you that would be perfect.

If you don't have the flexibility you need get the Secrets Of Stretching video or DVD it's got all the strength excersices you'll need for conditioning muscles for stretching, and the stretches them selves.
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Postby Cyan » Feb 10, 2007 13:04

Ok, my concerns are:

1) For Flexibility Training - I want to gain my maximum flexibility potential, but I don't want to put on bulky muscle when it comes time to lift weights and I don't wantto lose Flexibility because of lifting weights.

2) For Vertical Jump Training - I want to gain extreme strength while staying as LIGHT as possible (which means putting on little to no mass, just PURE strength). Again, by lifting weights I don't want to lose flexibility in the process.

IIf anyone can answer my questions with more detail and how I can accolplish these goals, I'd be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

-Cyan
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Postby strangedejavu » Feb 14, 2007 17:14

If you do happen to gain muscle bulk while lifting weights, you won't lose any flexibility as long as you continue doing your stretching. Ever see Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits? He can do it on chairs, yet he's not called the Muscles from Brussels for nothing.

If you don't want to put on bulk through weight-lifting, just limit your calories (but not so much you can't recover or lose what you already have). Weigh and measure yourself regularly so you can adjust what you do. Perhaps some articles by Mike Mahler may be useful. He talks a lot about increasing strength without gaining bulk. He is a kettlebell guy, but he also talks about traditional weight training if you don't care to do kettlebells.
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Postby Cyan » Feb 17, 2007 17:20

If you do happen to gain muscle bulk while lifting weights, you won't lose any flexibility as long as you continue doing your stretching.


Ok, but I'd like to do my Vertical Jump Training (some parts requires lifting weights for gaining peak jump height) while at the same time, following Tom Kurz' book "Stretching Scientifically". I want to gain peak strength for max jump height and maximum flexbility. How would I go about mixing both programs together so that I can achieve what I said above without gaining ANY bulk and at the same time achieving peak flexibility?

P.S. - Do you or anyone have the links to those Mike Mahler articles you were speaking of?

Thanks for all your help.

-Cyan
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Postby strangedejavu » Feb 19, 2007 16:25

Mr. Kurz's program involves strengthening the legs including weight training, so I would assume that would carry over to the jumping training. However, if you find that doing both at the same time is too exhausting, you may have to focus on one at a time. Otherwise, you'll progress in neither. Other than that, I really can't comment on how to mix the two programs since I don't know what's involved in the vertical jump training nor have I ever focused specifically on my vertical jump.

As for Mike Mahler, he's a disciple of Pavel Tsatutoislineinseileine (or whatever) at dragondoor.com. So really, much of the stuff he talks about he learned from Pavel. One of his big things is GTG (greasing the groove). Here's the crux of it. Because of the neurological aspect of strength training, you should look at it like practicing an instrument. If you want to learn guitar, it's better to play an hour a day five days a week than five hours once a week. Doing strength exercises five days a week sounds like an overtraining nightmare, but not if you keep the volume relatively low. Don't push yourself anywhere close to failure and make sure you come away feeling strong and energetic. If you don't want to build muscle, restrict your calories. Personally, I used it to master the one-legged squat. At work, every few hours I would do a few one-legged pistol squats going part of the way down until one day, I discovered I could go all the way down and up without falling over. Now, I'm trying to increase my reps and iron out the strength imbalance (my right leg's a slacker but it's coming along).

You can find all of Mike's articles here:
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mahler.htm
Yes, it is bodybuilding.com and he does talk a lot about bodybuilding, but he also talks about strength for athletes. Here are two articles in particular that may be useful:
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mahler77.htm
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mahler75.htm

You can find articles by Pavel or a number of other strength coaches at http://www.dragondoor.com. Scroll down and you'll find the links to the article sections on the left side. Just beware all the slick marketing you'll find on the way there.
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Postby Cyan » Mar 05, 2007 01:34

Ok so, to avoid building muscle, restrict calories. One thing that is unclear though, if your muscles don't grow, how does strength increase? Do the existing muscles just become more dense? Somebody that can explain that in more detailwould be appreciated.

Thanks.
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Postby mike_p » Mar 05, 2007 18:03

When you stress your muscles you adapt to the stress, and that stress becomes easier, in essense, you're getting stronger. Initially, strength improvements occur through your nervous system: brain, nerves, muscles. Just like when you perform a technique for the first time it may be difficult but in time you can do it. So, faster connections, faster contractions, and recruiting more motor units (muscles).

By bulky muscles you may be referring to body builders. Their regimen is different than others.
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Postby strangedejavu » Mar 06, 2007 00:26

Mike's right. To put it in a little more detail, contracting a muscle is actually a skill. Your muscles are composed of a lot of muscle fibers that follow the all-or-nothing rule. That means that they contract all the way, or they don't contract at all. However, not every fiber contracts when you contract a muscle, even with maximal effort. If you increase the number of fibers that contract, your strength increases. Nerves induce the individual fibers to contract and since your brain controls the nervous system, you can learn to be stronger. Just like any other skill, it involves practice. In doing so, you increase your "neurological efficiency". I can't remember where I came across these numbers, but I think untrained people may have a neurological efficiency as low as 20% (meaning only 20% of their muscle fibers contract during a maximal effort) and the strongest elite athletes are up around 85% or 90%.

This means that a simple isolation movement like the bicep curl is indeed a skill, albeit an unsophisticated one. The more fibers you can recruit in the bicep, the more weight you can lift. In jumping, there are numerous muscles that not only need to contract hard, but need to contract all at the right time to optimize your explosive power. So the weight training will increase how hard they can contract and plyometrics will improve the timing and coordination between muscles.

I hope this helps. I'm only about 90% confident on this info, so hopefully somebody more knowledgable than me can double check the details.
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Postby Cyan » Mar 06, 2007 11:12

So by weight lifting while restricting calories, you gain pure strength with little to no muscle mass? I sort of get what you're saying... so doing a lifting exercise like say Squats for lower body, doing this without putting on muscle mass will increase the number of muscle fibers that contract, essentially making me stronger? How will I know when I've come to a point where most if not all the muscle fibers are contracting? Does it take a lot to maintain this fiber contracting ability once you've built up to it? Does this strength affect your ability to burn fat faster or does that only apply to having bulky muscle?

If you can elaborate more on what you were talking about, it would be a big help.

Thanks in advance.

-Cyan
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Postby strangedejavu » Mar 08, 2007 13:32

Cyan wrote:So by weight lifting while restricting calories, you gain pure strength with little to no muscle mass?

Theoretically, yes. However, this will take some experimentation. Squats are exhausting and have a great ability to add mass to the legs, so you have a balancing act there. Because they're so exhausting, you don't want to restrict your calories so much that you don't recover properly. On the other hand, squatting will probably increase your appetite so you'll have to be careful to not eat too much. You'll have to experiment to find this balance. I found that doing just a few reps several times a week works for me. It wasn't terribly exhausting and didn't really increase my appetite. When I did sets of 15-20 reps, it was very exhausting, my appetite went through the roof, and my legs went from skinny bird legs to average human legs.
Cyan wrote:How will I know when I've come to a point where most if not all the muscle fibers are contracting?

I don't know if there's a simple way to find that out. Probably the best thing to look at is your relative strength (i.e. how many times your body weight you can lift). For instance, I'm guessing that to optimize your leap, you'll need to have a 1RM of at least twice your body weight in the squat. So if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for a 300 pound squat. That's just a guess though. You might want to look at people with impressive jumping heights and see how many times their body weight they can squat.
Cyan wrote:Does it take a lot to maintain this fiber contracting ability once you've built up to it?

Two maintenance workouts a week should do it. You don't have to put out maximal effort either. There's probably more specific information out there on how much you need to lift to maintain your maximal strength. Again, you can experiment to find what works for you.
Cyan wrote:Does this strength affect your ability to burn fat faster or does that only apply to having bulky muscle?

Probably not. Muscle mass requires a certain amount of energy to maintain its metabolic processes even while you do nothing. So increasing your muscle mass increases your basal metabolism which increases the number of calories you burn. I doubt that increasing your neurological efficiency would significantly change your basal metabolism, but the body's a very complicated thing, so it's hard to know for sure without some research to point to (which I don't have).
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Postby Cyan » Mar 12, 2007 19:37

I'm starting to understand it now. I weigh about 150, so I should be aim for being able to Squat double my weight which is 300 pounds? Is that the target to be able to have peak jump height? You said Squats are very efficient at adding bulk and they are pretty much the primary exercise for both the Flexibility and Jump programs, what do I need to do to avoid adding any? How should I progress through each weight load (weight size, sets, reps?)

I don't want to become any heavier than I am now and increase flexibility with weights and not detract from it. I haven't fully read through Stretchign Scientifically, but I was told there's weights involved.

-Cyan
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Postby strangedejavu » Mar 13, 2007 22:44

Cyan wrote:I weigh about 150, so I should be aim for being able to Squat double my weight which is 300 pounds? Is that the target to be able to have peak jump height?

300 pounds is just my guess, but it's probably in that neighborhood. I'll leave it up to you to find out what the highest jumpers can squat.
Cyan wrote:You said Squats are very efficient at adding bulk and they are pretty much the primary exercise for both the Flexibility and Jump programs, what do I need to do to avoid adding any?

I pretty much answered that question in my previous posts.
Cyan wrote:How should I progress through each weight load (weight size, sets, reps?)

If you have little or no weight training experience, Stadion has plenty of free information. Mr. Kurz has about fifty free articles here. The free Stadion newsletters are here. You can also read those articles I linked to in previous posts for information on high frequency training (I wouldn't bother with dragondoor.com though since I recently found out that a lot of their best coaches left a few months ago).

I know this is a lot of information, but you're going to have to experiment, monitor your body's response, and see what works for you. You might want to get a tape measure (like tailor's use) and measure your thigh circumference and weigh yourself daily. I find it's best to do that in the morning after going to the bathroom but before eating. If you see a little weight gain and some increase in your leg size, then adjust your training (don't worry, you can always atrophy). If your progress plateaus or you see the signs of overtraining, you'll have to make adjustments there too. You will probably make some mistakes and it'll take some time before you know what works best for you.

By the way, when you squat, distribute the weight on your heels, keep your shoulder blades pulled back (not up), keep your back straight, and do not let your knees buckle in at all. If you do it right, the squat fairy will visit you and sprinkle strength dust on you. :D If not, the squat fairy will hurt you. :o
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