I first heard this statement from the great strength coach Christian Thibadeau.

It took me a while to truly grasp the concept, but now I regard this statement as one of the most valuable lessons any strength athlete can learn. So thanks CT for passing this nugget along!

Basically, it goes like this…

I got an email last week from an athlete who thought his vertical was DECREASING!!

Turns out he was trashing himself in the weight room, THEN trying to jump and dunk a tennis ball for a lengthy period of time. No wonder his vertical wasn’t what he remembered it being!

Let’s look at this another way. Let’s say your vertical is 40″. That means 40″ is 100% of your capability. If your body is less than 100%, your vertical will be less than 40″ too! Take our athlete above, who may have just squatted and run a few hills. His legs have accumulated quite a bit of fatigue, and he is tired from his training session. Let’s say that by the time he makes it to the tennis ball dunking drill, he is only at 90%. 90% of 40″ is 36″. So the BEST he can do in those drills is 90% of his capability or 36″. THAT’S why he thought his vertical was decreasing.

Fatigue masks ALL aspects of fitness or athleticism – speed, strength, vertical, quickness, explosion, even mental functioning. So if you want to be able to express 100% of your capabilities, you MUST learn to manage fatigue.

Here are a few DO’s & DON’Ts
  • Get 7-9 hours sleep daily – One of the most underrated aspects of progress and recovery. The great Shelby Starnes put it best: “When in doubt, eat and sleep more.” Most of your body’s recovery takes place while you sleep. Provide your body with the time it needs to rest and recover. If you aren’t getting this much sleep right now, make a point to DO THIS for 2 weeks and I guarantee you’ll thank me!
  • Gradually increase training volume – Thibadeau also states that the goal of strength training is to increase one’s work capacity. This is accomplished by SLOWLY adding work. You want to “do as much work as possible without exceeding your ability to recover” he says.  If you’ve been doing nothing, then SOMETHING is better than what you were doing. That will be enough to get results for a while. Then you add progression. If your not a beginner, this still applies. SLOWLY add new aspects or more volume to your training. Progress comes when the body adapts to a certain stress and makes itself better. But if the body never has the chance to recovery fully and adapt – YOU don’t get better. Neither does your performance. In fact, like our basketball player above, it can decrease!
  • Respect the relationship between volume and intensity – You can’t sustain both high intensity and high volume for very long before you crash and burn. Volume refers to the amount of work performed in a single session and in a given week, etc. Intensity  is a way to gauge the effort exerted in a session. 100% effort would equate to a 1RM or an all-out sprint. As you now with 100m sprints, that 100% intensity can only be maintained for a short time. The same is true for ALL aspects of training – weightlifting, conditioning, plyos, sport practice, etc.
  • Be patient – Results won’t happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’ve heard all these before but for some reason, when it comes to results – athletes have ZERO patience. Slow and steady really does win this race.
  • Perform max effort work too often – Young guys, for whatever reason, try to max out every time the hit the weight room. The try to jump as high as they can every time they walk past a basketball goal. Compare that to the guys who can dunk from the foul-line and bench 495. Coincidence? NOT A CHANCE!
  • Practice everything everyday – This is another mistake young athletes make A LOT! They want to lift, practice their sport skills, do “core” work, train explosiveness, get bigger, stronger, faster, AND leaner on Monday. And Tuesday. And again on Wednesday…you get the picture. STOP IT! No wonder you aren’t making progress! Great coaches and programmers know how to help you fit each of those aspects into your overall program without spending 4 hours in the gym everyday. Ask one for help.
  • Expect overnight results – As I stated above, SLOW and STEADY wins this race. There are no magic pills, secret formulas, or shortcuts. Just years of hard work and dedication. Not interested? Pick a new goal.

Did I leave anything out? Share some DO’s & DON’Ts of your own below!