Indianapolis, Indiana. The home of the annual NFL combine that takes place once a year and where the best of college football players display their skills in front of coaches, trainers and scouts.
Most of these prospects have already hired an agent, who then introduces them to some of the best athletic trainers in the business. These experts promise the athletes that their conditioning routine is the very best. They tell the athletes they are going to make them bigger and stronger and show how to get faster times in the 40 and faster shuttle times. Athletes are eager to follow their instructions because, after all, “they represent the NFL” … right????
Yes, these NFL hopefuls actually do get bigger and stronger. You rarely hear a scout criticize an athlete who, for some unknown reason, doesn’t put up one of his best set of bench presses ever. No, to their credit, physical strength is rarely a weakness when these athletes show up to the combine. I’ve never heard of any athlete getting criticized for their lack of physical strength. Have you?
However, what I do hear every year is that a certain running back didn’t run even close to their 40 yard dash time that was advertised by their college. Or a certain player just wasn’t quite fast enough in their shuttle times.
Every year, same old story: great strength but just doesn’t have the speed to compete at the NFL level. You’ve probably heard about this too. Perhaps, maybe it even happened to you. Why?
Why do the very best athletes in our country who hire the very best trainers in the business just plain blow their 40 yard dash time?
What went wrong? They did all the training. They put in all the hours of practice. But, quite often they actually run much slower than when they were in college. Why, then, is their strength never affected, just their speed?
Yes, of course!
That’s a great mantra for those desiring to get bigger and stronger. But being bigger and stronger doesn’t always translate into being faster. Why is that?
Training for speed in sprints such as the 40 yard dash cannot be accomplished in the same way as training for strength and endurance.
However, most popular speed training routines are not much different than strength training routines when you compare the two.
Weight training, body weight exercises, running down a field with a parachute or weight sled strapped around your waistline are all excellent exercises to perform, yet there is very little difference between them upon comparison.
All of these routines involve two of the three basic types of muscle contractions: 1) concentric contractions (muscle shortening under tension) and 2) eccentric contractions (muscle lengthening under tension). A third type of contraction, isometric contractions, are typically not part of these exercises, however isometrics contractions performed the old fashioned way involving weights wouldn’t help you here either.
Weight training is great for strength and endurance but typically the exercises you do in the gym don’t simulate the athletic movements you will encounter during an athletic event, where changes in direction and perhaps working off of one leg or foot are commonplace. This is where body weight exercises can help refine some of the more specific athletic movements without too much risk of injury, providing only your body weight is used.
Exercises that involve concentric and eccentric contractions primary goal is to build muscle size and strength. You certainly have experienced this for yourself if, like most, you closely monitor your physique. But again you may be wondering why size and strength don’t always translate into muscle speed.
To say that muscle size and strength don’t always translate into speed may not be a completely accurate, since the chances are that they do, or at one time they did, except that now you may no longer be able to perceive any more additional increases in your speed by using the same training methods.
In other words, some athletes are probably already maxed out regarding their speed with their weightlifting and other training strategies and more of the same is likely to only add additional body weight to their frame that may not be suitable to running faster. And this in all likelihood is one of the main reasons many athletes lose some of their speed in the sprint events at the NFL combine or other venues due to overtraining with methods such as these.
At least one possible solution would be to find a strategy to complement your existing routines. An ideal routine to help you get faster would be one where you could add strength to your frame without adding mass; one where you could train your muscles to consistently react to an ever changing stimulus while being placed in unconventional and challenging body positions; one that creates profoundly new neuro-pathways in your muscles to complement those exercises that constantly reinforce pre-existing ones.
The most efficient way to do this is using a resistance band with an isometric training strategy. The resistance bands, if strong enough and used with unique angles to the body, provide the variable resistance necessary to force your muscles into an immediate state of over-stimulation. Forcing your muscles to fight and maintain new positions allows for strength and coordination to develop in entirely new and different planes.
By using a resistance band with an isometric training strategy for just a few minutes a day, the mass of the muscle isn’t likely to increase. Developing strength and coordination within your muscles without adding mass to them is a huge benefit to your athletic performance.
For the limited amount of time (15 minutes a day or less) and effort you expend with our training strategies and the results you will achieve, you won’t find anything better.
So if you find yourself presently looking for ways to improve your running speed and overall athletic speed, isometric training using the resistance band, as outlined in all of our training manuals, might be just what you are looking for.
It will also complete your existing training routine that probably already involves the other two types of muscle contractions, eccentric and concentric. So you can be sure you are doing everything possible to improve.
Just think, something as unique and simple as this just might make the difference with faster 40 times and getting noticed in the next NFL combine.
Dr. Larry Van Such
Tags: classics, Article