Please welcome Tricia DiPaolo to our WST team of trainers.


Tricia, an outside back, leaves Rutgers tied for third in career games played at 85, where she was named 4 year captain to the team. Before her time at Rutgers, Tricia scored 108 goals in her career at Lenape Valley Regional High School and was named one of the top 200 recruits in the country for 2007. As a senior in high school, she was named First Team All-State by The Daily Record and The New Jersey Herald, and earned All-West Jersey First Team honors from the Star-Ledger. She was also a member of the PDA Fury Team that won four state championships.

Tricia graduated Rutgers with a B.S. in Exercise Science and a M.S. in Human Resources Management. Tricia’s tenacity, dedication and experience will make her an asset to the WST family.

Happy 2nd Birthday WST!

Thank you to our clients who have made us so
successful. We will continue to work to make you be the best you can be. A
special thank you to our dedicated staff – VickyZiolkowski and Kevin Olson, whose
dedication, loyalty and knowledge make them the best in the business.  We
have a lot in store over the next year – stay tuned for new offerings and
exciting news!

WST 2 bday


Youth Strength Training

At Williams Sport Training one of the most common questions we get is, is my child old enough to begin strength training?  Exercise physiologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics both support the implementation of strength and resistance training programs for young children. Studies show that a moderate intensity strength training program can help increase strength, decrease the risks of injury while playing sports, and increase bone density in children. Exercise physiologists aren’t the only ones recommending resistance training; the American Academy of Pediatrics has also put forth a pro-strength training for children statement.(1)

The American Academy of Pediatrics position on strength training supports the implementation of strength and resistance training programs, even for prepubescent children, which are monitored by well-trained adults and take into account the child’s maturation level.  There is one big limitation, the AAP suggests to avoid repetition maximal lifts. (1)  Lifting for your repetition max is lifting as much weight as you can for five, three, or one rep(s).  It is suggested the kids don’t perform maximum lifts until they have reached Tanner Stage 5 of maturity in this stage adolescents will have passed their period of maximal velocity of height growth. (1)

If appropriate training guidelines are followed, regular participation in a youth strength-training program has the potential to increase bone mineral density, improve motor performance skills, enhance sports performance, and better prepare young athletes for the demands of practice and competition. Resistance training enhances strength and muscular endurance in youth and children.  In pre-pubescent children, this increase in strength appears to be the result of neuromuscular activation and coordination supporting evidence that androgens (the hormones largely responsible for increased strength and muscle mass) are not needed for strength gain. With proper supervision, children and youth who participate in a strength training program are not at an increased risk for injury compared to children and youth who do not participate in such a program. (3)

Research has been done on moderate weight training programs with children as young as 8 years.(2) However, researchers also recognize the use of callisthenic-type exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups.  Body-weight resistance exercises are a good starting point for most children under the age of 8, or those at any age who are just starting a strength training program.  The object of this type of program is to introduce the body to the stresses of training and to teach basic technique.  After a foundation is established, light weight training can be introduced. Fleck and Kraemer recommend a training scheme of 10-15 repetitions and 1-3 sets per muscle group. The weight should be one that the child can lift for 10-15 repetitions without going to muscular failure.  Once a base has been established, the amount of exercises and the weight lifted can be increased. When a child has reached puberty (around age 13 for girls and 15 for boys) and a training foundation has been established, a more advanced periodized routine can be incorporated.(2)

The WST youth program in cooperates speed & agility with body weight strength training to increase coordination, increase motor performance skills, increase bone mineral density, and enhances overall performance.  Williams Sport trainers progress our youth athletes the appropriate and safe way to prevent injury and make them become better athletes!

1.  American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement. Strength, Weight and Power Lifting, and Body Building by Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. 1990; 5: 801-803.
2. Fleck, S.J., Kraemer, W. J. Strength Training for Young Athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1993.
3. Faigenbaum, A.D. Strength training for children and adolescents. Clinical Sports Medicine. 2000; 4: 593-619.


The accomplishments and awards received through the hard work and dedication of our fall season WST collegiate athletes!       

This past fall season was filled with tremendous personal and team accomplishments for many of our WST college athletes. WST is proud to have as clients:

  • 16 student athletes start nearly every game in their collegiate season
  • 5 teams have won their conferences
  • 10 teams who made the NCAA tournament
  • 3 teams who made it to the final four of the tournament
  • 3 athletes whose team was a finalist in the NCAA tournament
  • 1 athlete whose team won the NCAA Tournament

During this collegiate season a few of WST’s proud clients excelled during their respective seasons. To highlight a few outstanding performances that were consistent throughout the entire season we would like to extend our congratulations and appreciation to Tom Bull, Zach Chambers, Nickolette Driesse, Monique Goncalves, Tom Haskel, Rohan Sood, and Krista Longo.

Tom Bull, Tom Haskel, and Rohan Sood were all a part of an Amherst College side that finished 18-1-2 overall and won their third consecutive conference title. Amherst also went on 40-game unbeaten streak that dates back to last season (6th longest streak in Div. III history). Tom Bull was also named to the NSCAA All-Region First Team.

Zach Chambers, enjoyed a very strong season with Olivet Nazarene University. His side finished 15-5-2 and won the CCAC title for a second consecutive season. Chambers ended the season with a 0.89 Goals Against Average. Chambers, averaged 3.68 saves a game with 8 shutouts that led the conference.

Nickolette Driesse, and her Florida State side finished 23-2-3 this season. Nickolette had 28 appearances with 27 of them being starts. Nickolette helped her team win the ACC tournament for the second consecutive season and was named to the ACC all-Frshmen Team. Florida State made it to the College Cup Final, but lost to UCLA 1-0 in overtime. Nickolette finished the season with 7 assists and was called into the U-20 National Team Camp on December 10, 2013.

Monique Goncalves and Carlie Till and the Monmouth Hawks finished the 2013 season 17-2-2. Monique played and started in all 21 games for her side and was named first team al MAAC. Monmouth won the MAAC Regular Season Title and the MAAC Championship Title.  Monmouth lost to #24 ranked Penn State in the NCAA tournament.

Krista Longo and her Williams Smith Herons finished 23-1-0 and won the Division III National Championship this season. The Herons also won the Liberty League Championship. Krista finished with 8 goals and 3 assists in 24 games. Three of her eight were game winners and she scored in the 2-0 National Championship victory over #2 Trinity.

Others who have made it to the NCAA tournament include Megan MacDonald of Boston College (Final 4). Carly Rotatori from Harvard Clinched the Ivy league Title.  Amanda Haik of Middlebury helped the panthers advance to the NCAA tournament DIII final. Corey DeLaney of Dartmouth made first team all Ivy League and advanced Dartmouth to the Ivy League final.

Other standout individual performances were seen from Eliza Gray of Gettysburg was twice named Centennial Conference (CC) Defensive Player of the Week. Eliza also made second team all conference.  Matthew Nigro of William Patterson was named first team all NJAC

Congrats to all of our WST falls season athletes!!!

The staff at Williams Sport Training wishes you and your families a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and New Year!

WST, Where Only the Strong Survive!

Increasing Explosive Strength and Reactive Method through Plyometrics

Shock training or plyometrics is developed by a sudden stretch preceding any voluntary effort. Kinetic Energy and not heavy weights must be used. Depth jumps and med ball re-bounding are two common means used. Dr. Verkhoshansky, the father of plyometrics first thoughts came by observing triple jumpers and how powerful the jumps were after each landing. This he knew, that the powerful jumps came after the athletes falling body reacted to the impact of the contact to the ground. This made Verkhoshansky aware of the stretch-shortening action by the use of kinetic energy. Many believe that plyometric’ s are dangerous, they can be without the proper knowledge of general weight and jump training before engaging in depth jumps. While depth jumps build explosive strength, they also build absolute strength by using different heights to achieve a certain goal. How many drops are done in one workout for the intermediate or advanced. You will note Olympic lifting is never mentioned when the goal is developing explosive power or strength. Why?
Strength is not measured in heavy or light weights. What is a heavy 300lb squat for a female sprinter would be light for a world class shot putter. So how can one weight be heavy and light? It can’t, but rather fast or slow. Strength is measured in velocities.
Explosive = fast velocity
Speed Strength = intermediate velocity
Strength Speed = low velocity
Isometric = zero velocity
This is explained on pg. 150 in Supertraining sixth edition 2003

Are depth jumps and bounding safe? Just as safe as running, jumping or many other ballistic sport activities. What makes them unsafe is a lack of a complete training system. Before the subject of plyometric training, we must first prescribe a sound weight training and jump training. Let’s look at the three proven methods of weight training.

1. Maximal Effort Method
This is the greatest method of strength training for improving both intermuscular and intramuscular coordination, as your body only adapts to the load placed on it. Then to use after a warm up to single attempts until setting a new record. Stop for the day and 7 days later switch a special barbell exercise and max out once more. This is low volume, highest intensity training followed by 3-4 small special exercises.

2. The Dynamic Method
This method improves the rate of force development and speed and explosive strength. It is no use to build maximal strength, but certainly had a lot to do with its development. As your max’s go up are you able to maintain the same bar speed at sub maximal weights. 50% of speed strength should be at 50% to 60% of a one rep max with 25% band tension at the lockout. Roughly 0.8 to 0.9 m/s on average. This is mechanical power.

3. The Repetition Method
This method should not be done in the classical lift, but in small exercises. Especially for the posterior chain. Note: the posterior chain is talked about all the time, but I see athletes constantly lack strength in that area. 80% of Westside training is small, special exercises, while only 20% are classical.

4. The Maximal Effort Method
This method uses slow velocity while the dynamic method uses intermediate velocity. The two methods make it possible to absorb the harsh training plyometric domains of the athlete. Explosive strength is trained at fast velocity. It is trained by a variety of special exercises with and without weights or other resistance. Basic Jump

A group of jumping exercises that first came from dance and later incorporated into weight lifting and track and field. Seated press on the floor. All around consider kneeling squats front and back, jumping on the feet. Power clean off knee’s onto feet, power snatch off knees onto feet and power clean or snatch off knees onto feet split style. Add weights when possible while keeping records on each type of jump.
Next, box jumping with weights, use kettlebells, weight vest, ankle weights and combos of all types. Keep records of every type, always rotating each jump session to avoid accommodation. 40 jumps per workout for the very strong or at least advanced athlete 18yrs and older. To round out the athletes preparatory phase, power walk with sleds. This will build strong jumping and running muscles as well as thicker ligaments and tendons including the feet where many career ending or at least season injuries occur. Westside DVD’s cover all the above info on the volume and intensity. The coach and athlete must learn to train smarter not harder like ACDC said, it’s a long road if you want to reach the top.  Now you are ready for plyometric training. Like all the shock methods can be taxing, plyometrics are no different. So before depth jumps let’s look at several types of bounding with ground contact under 0.2 of a second.
            1. Single take-off jumps on stairs
            2. Leg to leg jumps: single, triple, 5’s and 10’s
            3. Double leg jumps over 5-10 or 15 low hurdles
            4. Double leg jumps over high hurdles of 40-42”
            5. Slow bounds with submaximal effort in a controlled style
            6. Frog jumps
            7. 3 jumps off left foot then 3 jumps off right foot
            8. 20-40/60 meter leg to leg bounds with light resistance 10-20-30lbs with Bulgarian bag
            9. Standing long jumps (keep records)
          10. Standing long jumps with kettlebells, release before landing
The above jumps should be done and weight lifting dynamic or max effort with a 30 minute rest from the barbell lifts.

Explosive Weight Jumps
Do single to a triple with 30% of a one rep max or 10 – 15% of a one rep max with kettlebells or Bulgarian bags for 10 – 20 reps, stop when fatigue sets in.  While Dr. Verkhoshansky uses contracts training with a heavy barbell for 1-2 reps at 90% immediately followed by 30% barbell jumps, Westside uses band resistance by the barbell for an over speed eccentric phase to produce more kinetic energy for re-usable strength and the bands give accommodation to eliminate bar deceleration.

Depth Jumps
First, what is the goal? Explosive power or absolute strength?
The height of the drop will determine the outcome. 36 inch drops and lower will build explosive power. Drop jumps of 45 inches and higher will build absolute strength but can be very dangerous, never for beginners or large, over 125kg athletes.  To time of the fall until ground contact will determine the amortization phase or shock absorption phase which must be 0.2 of a second or faster to be considered a plyometric action. When falling from a greater height, the shock absorption phase will be longer, mainly training a strong isometric contraction in the leg muscles. 4 sets of 10 drops for the advanced and 3 sets of 8 drops for well trained. Remember the amortization phase is most important. In the beginning drop off a low box 12-16-20 inches. The coach must analyze the time spent on the ground just like sprinting, the less ground contact, the better.

Depth Drops vs. Depth Jumps
Depth drops will provide the ability to absorb the shock of the fall, but are not as effective due to not using an energetic take off to develop reactive ability. Like many things there are many varieties of depth jumps, but like box squats there is only one correct method. Note: I am always amazed that great sport scientist like Dr. Verkhoshansky spent years perfecting the perfect technique in a proven exercise, only to have un-experienced coaches use their own ideas that lead to less than favorable results, then assume the inventor was wrong in his assumption of its value. So to reduce the risk of injuries and to make depth jumps as valuable to the athlete as possible. I will describe Dr Verkhoshansky’s method for performing the exercise.

Depth Jump
The athlete must start with arms behind the back, then step off a pre-determined height box with one leg stepping forward at the start of the fall. Now bring the other leg forward to even. After stepping off the box the legs must be straight. Remember do not jump but fall from the box forward, straight down to the landing surface.

How to Land
The athlete must land on both legs simultaneously on the balls of the feet, then back on the heels. Now, upon landing be flexible to cushion the surface contact before the takeoff.

The Takeoff Phase
The athlete now must jump as high as possible. One can set a vertical jump tester to establish the height to reach. Try new records and keep records from different height drops. I prefer to drop jump from a pre-determined box and jump upward on the second box. This is somewhat less taxing because your velocity is near zero upon landing on an elevated box. When jumping upward to touch a new height you now must once again do a safe landing to try to land as easy as possible on the balls of both feet with a flexible surface (rubber mats or foam).
Note: Because depth jumps can alter the work load to such an extent you must limit some squatting and pulling exercises during depth jump training.
Westside uses the recommendations of Dr. Verkhoshansky. 4 sets of 10 jumps two times a week. Average drop height is 30 inches. 3 sets of 8 jumps for not so advanced, meaning well trained and very strong. Our weight jumps use the same loading. Remember you must be physically prepared to do depth jumps. Weight training for max strength, speed strength and explosive through jumping up onto boxes. A large base for GPP is sled work, wheel barrow push and 80% of the training must be small special exercises.

Recommended Reading: Supertraining by Mel Siff; Science and Practice of Strength Training by V. M Zatsiorsky; Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches by Y. Verkhoshansky; Fundamentals of Special Strength Training in Sports by Y.V. Verkhoshansky; Explosive Power and Jumping Ability by T. Starzynski and H. Sozanski PHD; Lifts DVD by Natalia Verkhoshansky 

By: Louie Simmons (WestSide barbell)

Importance of strength training for goalkeepers

The physical requirements for playing in the goal
are much different than the requirements for field players. The physical
requirements for a goalkeeper are anaerobic fitness, explosive power/vertical
jump, strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, and quick reflexes. To
play at a high level keepers must have most if not all of these attributes.
Williams Sport Training is the only training facility that recognizes where our
athletes need improvement in this area, then implement it into their

At WST we want to develop a goalkeeper, not a body
builder. Goalkeepers need to be strong in ways that suit their position. A
strong goalkeeper is a confident goalkeeper. Single leg exercises are
incorporated into our strength program to increase kicking power, balance, and
prevent injury. Along with upper body and lower body exercises we have our goal
keepers do a lot of grip work so they are better able to hold a harder hit shot.
By strength training the goalkeeper will be more confident communicating,
coming out on 1v1’s and picking balls out of the air.

One of the key
attributes for goalkeepers is explosive power. Especially in the case of the
close range shots, keepers must be able to spring toward the ball from a static
position. To develop explosive power at WST we combine max effort lifting with
plyometrics. For example our goalkeepers will do a 5rep deadlift proceeded by
hurdle hops in the same plane. Another way to develop explosive power is by a
box squat or a floor press. These two exercises have a static movement overcome
by a dynamic component.

If you want to take your goalkeeping to the next level
Williams Sport will take you there! We will increase your overall strength and
performance on the field. With strength training at WST we will increase your
kicking power, explosive power, grip strength, and confidence

The importance of communication to a goalkeeper

At WST you hear a lot about the physical nature of defending & goalkeeping. In this article you will read about the importance of communication between the goalkeeper & field players. Communication is essential to defend effectively in the game of soccer. Organization amongst your backline limits shots on goal and makes things difficult for the opposition. Organized teams know when to pass players off and how to collectively cut down angles and passing lanes for opposing players. Communication also keeps the goalkeeper focused in a game where they aren’t seeing much of the ball and in games where there is lots of action.

 You must understand as a keeper how important your role is. Your presence and attitude determines how your defenders perform as well as decisions attackers will make with regards to shooting on goal. If your backline doesn’t have confidence in you and doesn’t truly understand what you want from them they will defend hesitantly which in turn will cast doubt about you in your coach’s mind. Attackers will think twice before challenging a loose ball in your box if you give an aggressive demeanor. They will also think twice about shooting a ball from distance and instead look to pass and get closer to goal for an easier chance to score. More passes in your defensive third gives your players more time to get behind the ball.

 During the course of a 90-minute match your side may dominate the opposition, but there’s always one counter that can change the outcome of a dominant performance. As a keeper your attitude and mental focus for the entire match can determine the outcome of tight games. By communicating with your defenders a goalkeeper can keep the back line organized without being too high and minimize the chance of a defender keeping a player onside by being too deep. Awareness on the defensive side of the ball can win you many games. It is hard for defenders to be aware of everything happening around them for 90 minutes because they are focusing on the ball. Defenders are often positioning themselves so they can see the ball & the run of their mark. Being tactically sound is hard to do. It takes experience and usually someone with a watchful eye. You must understand that being positioned to defend the man & the space behind you is a skill. A tacticion is hard to come by at the youth level. Coaching staffs look to keepers to keep that watchful eye on the backline.  Oppositions are always looking for gaps within the back line or a cheeky ball to play over the top. In the modern game the speed of play changes quickly and often so defenders need help with perfect positioning to avoid getting diced by the killer ball. Goalkeepers are responsible for loose marks and free runners.  

 As a keeper being able to see the whole field is something that you can’t take for granted. Constantly tell your players what you want from them. Tell them what you see, even if they see it too. Your voice will serve as a checklist in your defender’s mind. This will give them confidence and look to make sure their fellow defenders are in check. Goalkeepers can always see the play develop and can direct which way a defender should push the opposition or step to the ball and be the primary defender. Goalkeepers talking their players through the passing off of attackers will put the backline into positions where they can challenge every opportunity in and around the box. Talk to your defenders in training, just before a game, during halftime, and during stoppages in play. Keep them focused and address what you want in the future incase there was a scenario where you didn’t communicate or your communication turned into a misunderstanding.

 For set-pieces it is important for a goalkeeper to know everyone’s responsibilities. During training discuss the option of man marking or zonal marking. Designate responsibilities and be accountable. Know which positions his defenders are going to be taking up and which players they are marking. Know who will be on the wall. Putting someone on the post for corner kicks may save you every now and then. Communication is particularly vital at corner kicks, and vocal directions will help avoid miscommunication that leads to unorganized defending or an injury due to a collision.

 Talking to your defender as he/she is getting backed down will help them understand what direction you want them forced. During a counter you may have to become a sweeper keeper. Direct your players clearly on which way to push the attack. Confidence is key here because in certain situations you may need to call upon your defender to direct the opposition towards goal in order to stop a better clear cut goal scoring opportunity. A clear opportunity in this circumstance is a square ball across the six-yard box or around the penalty area that leads to an easy tap-in. You can’t hesitate in these situations. You must communicate clearly and quickly to shun the counter. You must have trust in yourself to be able to step off your line and challenge aggressively, but also wisely.

 Keepers must also understand this factor in communication: the tone of your voice. The way we communicate to our fellow teammates is important at the youth level. The way you address your players depends on the scenario. You must ask yourself:

 1. What is the situation?

2. Is there a sense of urgency?

3. Who am I communicating to?

 Keepers must know everyone’s personality. Goalkeepers need to be psychologists and understand the personalities of all their teammates to properly communicate with them. You should know when to be encouraging and when to be demanding. You can be both at the same time during certain scenarios, but usually when you’re demanding your on you’re high horse getting your players in check.

 After reading this article the biggest thing for keepers to take away from this read is probably accountability. Keepers should act as surgeons to the game. Be tactically prepared for anything to happen. Keepers should have a check-list in their mind for every possible game scenario. Keepers should have a check-list for throw-ins, corners, set-pieces, penalties, and turnovers. Make sure you know what you want in training. Make sure you’re aware of opposing players who can thread dangerous passes and score from distance. Urge your players to always challenge these opponents. Avoid preventable goals and soft goal scoring opportunities with your communication. Be accountable, be a leader and the backbone of your defense. 

Written By: WST Trainer Kevin Olson

WST Goalkeeping & Finishing Academy

Tim Howard5

Tim Howard- USA National Team & Everton FC


At WST we take a more aggressive and athletic approach to the goal keeping position.   Our goal keepers work on technique, foot speed, and saving the second shot.  AT the WST Goal Keeping Academy we breed athleticism.  Our keepers come out of the box aggressive, composed, and confident.   Our staff has the mentality to make a goal keeper into a leader.  Our training methods and techniques diminish weakness in a goal keepers mind.


WST finishing academy will help every player improve their finishing. Players will notice that finishing is an art. Our academy will help players understand their angles and their analysis of the goalkeeper’s positioning. With the amount of shots taken during every session players will develop new ideas for goal scoring opportunities which in turn will make them much more creative during game situations. 

Heather O'Reilly-USA National Team

Heather O’Reilly-USA National Team

 By combining the strikers and goal keepers it will help the striker understand the goal keeping position and select a spot on goal that will be impossible to save!  The goal keepers will benefit by having live field players shooting on them with all ability types. The quantity and quality of shot to save ratio is second to none!  Sign up today!

No If’s, And’s, or Buts on the Importance of Butts


When it comes to running or walking there is a large misconception that the legs hold all the power, when in fact, the glutes or butt muscle are a substantial contributor to all types of movement.  There are three different muscles that make up the glutes, the gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius. Having strong glutes will propel you forward in running and walking without putting that extra strain on the knees, feet, lower back and legs; therefore allowing for more efficiently movements. On the other hand, weak glutes have been linked to significant knee, foot, and back pain. 

The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three muscles and is a powerful hip extensor muscle, lateral rotation agent, and adduction conductor.  The gluteus maximus furthermore controls movement when bending forward, turning the foot laterally, and also when rotating a raised leg medially.

The gluteus minimus and medius lie beneath the maximus and are abductors, which mean they move the legs away from the body; therefore allowing one to preform side lunges, leg raises, or any lateral movement. Additionally the minimus and medius aid in internal rotation of the hip.

At Williams Sports Training we believe that the glutes are the powerhouse to our athletes, and therefore the key to reaching success in athletic competition.  All of our lower body lifts, ranging from dead lifts to single leg movements, involve the glutes.  Some examples of these exercises are squats, split squats, single leg squats, side lunge, Romanian dead lifts, and sled work.  While glutes are the biggest muscles across your backside and they are more than just a cushioning for your chair!  Be sure to get into WST and work your powerhouse to its full potential and we promise you will be able to run faster, jump higher and become and over all more explosive Squattingathlete.                                                                                             

By: WST Trainer Vicky Ziolkowski

Explosive Leg Strength

By Louie Simmons

When most people look at Westside training protocols, they automatically think of powerlifting. But the truth is the Westside System is used in track and field and in football at all levels. I am very proud to have a picture of Johnny Parker of the Patriots and Kent Johnston of the Packers on the Super Bowl field when they played each other in 1997. They both had spent a week at Westside to learn to implement some of our methods in their programs. Johnny Parker is now with the 49ers and recently spent a week again with the Westside guys.

Five major rugby teams from Europe have visited us and have had great results. Pro boxers, MMA fighters, wrestlers, and more have used our system. Why? If nothing else, it was to produce stronger and more explosive leg strength.

Absolute strength controls all strength gains. Analysis of Hill’s equation shows that speed of movement is dependent on absolute muscular strength: v = Ft/m. This can be found in Fundamentals of Special Strength- Training in Sport (Verkhoshansky, 1986). Thomas Kurz, in Science of Sports Training, reported many ways to become more explosive, but the simplest is to increase absolute strength.

One must constantly raise one’s work capacity. This is a must for jumping and squatting. Bompa (1996) states that it can take 4 years to perform high-intensity plymometrics. Many books talk
about methods and theories but do not talk about results. I love to read those books too, but more importantly, I love increasing results.

So, how do you build explosive leg strength? This can be accomplished through the reactive method, jumping off hard and soft surfaces, overspeed eccentrics, box squatting, which causes a virtual force effect, and accommmodating resistance. There are two major components of explosive power: a fast rate of force development and increasing velocity. This applies to light objects, for example, a shot put, or a heavy object, for example, a max deadlift. Common sense and science tell us speed of movement is controlled by the amount of external resistance used. So light weight looks fast. But can light weight alone move a 320-pound lineman backward? No. Lifting light weight will always produce a deceleration phase.

We have extremely strong squatters at Westside: 1141 at SHW, 1118 at 275, 1025 at 220, 905 at 181, and 575 by a female at 148, the latter four being world records. We are also very explosive: 50- inch box jumps, a box jump of 35 inches holding a pair of 70-pound dumbbells at 290 pounds, a jump from a kneeling position to the feet with 255 pounds on the back at a body weight of 255.

How is this done?

The dynamic method is essential. This will not increase maximal strength, but will increase the rate of force development and explosive strength. Here, box squatting is used for all squats. The box makes it possible to break the eccentric/concentric chain. The box height is just below parallel. The interval method is used. The rest between sets is 45-75 seconds. A 3-week pendulum wave is used. The percents used are 75, 80, and 85% of a max box squat record. Then wave back to 75% on the fourth week. As noted in Managing the Training of Weightlifters (Laputin and Oleshko), almost 50% of all lifts are at this percent for the snatch and clean/jerk and, for us, the squat.

To accommodate resistance, Jump-Stretch bands must be attached to the bar. A large load of bands will eliminate bar deceleration. They also increase the speed in the eccentric phase. An increase in velocity has an exponential effect on kinetic energy.

We ran a test on Matt Smith, a SHW who at the time had a 930 squat. Matt box squatted 550 pounds consisting of all barbell weight in roughly 0.9 seconds, both eccentrically and concentrically. Then Jump- Stretch bands were attached to the bar in addition to weight. The realized weight was 750 pounds at the top and 550 on the box. Because the bands pull the bar downward, the eccentric phase decreased to 0.5 seconds. The concentric phase was the same, 0.5 seconds. How did Matt do this with the added 200 pounds of band tension? Overspeed eccentrics. Matt has now squatted an official 1141 pounds. How’s that for results?

Not only did bands increase kinetic energy but the actual collision that occurs when contacting the box also produces kinetic energy. The same process occurs when a sprinter comes in contact with the track at full speed.

For speed strength work, 75% of the total load should be from bands and 25% from weight. The concentric speed should be 1.0 to 1.3 meters/second. This will work regardless of your strength level. For strength speed, the ratio of weight to band tension is 50/50. The bar speed will be about 0.4 to 0.5 meters/second. This is where one becomes incredibly powerful, after removing the bands. Using a large amount of bands creates an overspeed eccentric phase, causing tremendous reversal strength. Note: band strength must be great at the bottom of the lift.

To become more explosive, one must constantly become stronger. This is exemplified by the famous weight lifter Naim Suleymanoglu. His best clean/jerk was about 407 pounds, in comparison to his front squat of 518. Weight lifters are very explosive, yet to become more explosive, Naim became very strong, having a surplus of 20% in the front squat to his clean/jerk.

Another example is the throwing events. The object being thrown is constant in weight, yet the thrower is always trying to become faster and stronger. My friend Jud Logan, a four-time Olympian
in the hammer throw, was very strong and very explosive. His stats were as follows: 478 raw bench, 770 squat, 550 x 5 and 600 x 1 front squat, and 440 power clean. Like myself, in the 1980s his top strength grew but his throws stagnated. Some of his East German friends suggested he push his box jumps up. As he improved to 5 jumps on a 52-inch box and a single jump on a 56-inch box at about 275 pounds body weight, his throws began increasing. I experienced the same type of progress after I started to use the dynamic method in 1983.

Not only does concentric speed has to be increased, but so does the eccentric phase, which is the most important, as has already been discussed. Speed has to do with external resistance. That may be why Olympic lifts are popular for building explosive strength. But if you do jumping, Olympic lifts are not needed. Many coaches will argue with me, but I’ve done it their way. They haven’t tried my way. At a Beat training center in Cincinatti, Matt Weiderman trained James Taylor, a pro football player, to jump onto a 59-inch box at 6′ 2” and 205 pounds. J.T. also ran a 4.33 40-yard. J.T.’s best box squat is 550 and moves 315 at 0.8 meters/second. John Harper can jump on a 51-inch box at 270 pounds; he is ranked 11th nationally in the discus.

One end of the spectrum is moving very heavy weights very slowly. The other end is to move the body as fast as possible. How? Jumping! A 42-inch box jump is the minimum height to reach an adequate amount of explosive power. We use the optimal number of jumps based on a maximum jump.

We use the formula as presented in Prelepin’s lift table. For example, if your best jump is 40 inches, a 75% jump would be 30 inches, 80% would be 32 inches, and 85% would be 34 inches. When doing jumps in the 80% range, do 15 jumps per workout. This holds also for jumping with dumbbells, ankle weights, or a weighted vest, or a combination of any of the above.

At Westside we do a lot of squats and jumps off soft surfaces. This causes the muscles to do more of the work and not limit it to the ligaments and tendons. In two out of three workouts we step down off the box onto other boxes. On the third workout, and highest box, we do a depth jump down onto a soft gym mat. We don’t do an immediate jump upon landing, just stick it with legs slightly bent, landing on the balls of the feet.

Our goal is to jump as high as possible and, therefore, squat as much as possible. We do it the same way: off a box. We duplicate the same procedure as box squatting. Before jumping onto a box, we first sit on a box, relax, and then jump. This produces a much greater effort.

The forces that produce movement are external, internal, and reactive strengths. This was established by Bernstein (Verkhoshansky, 1986). When lowering onto a box, a greater amount of kinetic energy is expressed because mass as well as speed contribute to kinetic energy. Landing on the biggest part of the lower body will yield an increase in kinetic energy. In addition, by lifting the feet and slamming them on the floor an overspeed eccentric phase occurs. This combination very effectively increases jumping power. I have had veteran NFL linemen long jump their best in one or two sessions.

The stretch (eccentric) and shortening (concentric) phases cause reversible muscular action. If you do very heavy slow squats with the aid of overspeed eccentrics by using bands with weight and move the fastest with no resistance (box jumps), the sky’s the limit. Remember, explosive strength is somewhere between strength and speed. By using these two elements, you will reach your desired results.