Wow, I had so many emails and Facebook messages on the viral YouTube video Justin Gatlin on why he trains with VertiMax.
The question is, does it work?
The answer is, in theory, yes, but he wasn’t the first.
I’ll need to give a brief class in Sports Physiology, so pull a chair and read on.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have no affiliation to VertiMax, and I do not profit from any sales. These are my thoughts only (along with the other 2000+ articles on this blog!)
First, I agree that the best way to train for sprinting is sprinting. Be as close to the actual movement as possible. Doing power cleans and hurdle hops are great, but you need to sprint to sprint faster. This is where assisted and resisted training methods like overspeed training or sleds come into place. But let’s save that for another article.
The word “strength” is complicated, and I’ll break down the term “strength” into 5 areas:
- Absolute strength, or Maximal strength
- Power, or speed-strength
- Explosive strength (Plyometrics is a good example)
- Reactive strength, or elastic strength
- Strength endurance
These areas have been discussed in detail throughout this blog (I use the category weight training for this purpose), but I want to dig deeper (no pun intended) into the 4th category, reactive strength or elastic strength.
Coaches and Exercise Physiologists know that a rapid switching of concentric contractions proceeded by eccentric contractions produces high amounts of force during the eccentric phase. Thus, reactive strength (or elastic strength) is based on the body’s ability to quickly and efficiently change from eccentric to concentric contractions. Your body needs the corresponding eccentric-concentric strength.
Even isometrics has its place in training! (again, save that for another discussion)
So how do you train eccentric-concentric strength? Easy, by adding “weights” or resistance. There are a handful of ways to add resistance training while sprinting:
You can use a strong headwind, a weight vest, uphill training, towing a sled, and isorobic ropes. (Here’s an article on how not to do sled training). The opposite of resistance training is overspeed training using ropes, or a slight downhill (again, save that for another discussion).
Remi Korchemny has a PhD in Exercise Physiology and has trained Dwain Chambers, Chrystie Gaines and Kelli White. He uses the Driving Resistance Band exercises (custom made and not commercially available) on what he calls “THE REVERSIBILITY OF EFFORTS” to train elastic strength.
Muscles recognize stress by intensity, volume and direction of resistance they have to overcome and support in order to execute the movement they need during competition.
In practical application we use different definitions of strength activity. We train maximal strength, strength endurance, explosive strength and speed strength, as listed in my 5 types of “strength exercises” above.
The neuromuscular system basically recognizes effort via eccentric and concentric contractions. The muscles have to utilize both efforts in our movements, so they need corresponding eccentric-concentric strength. Hence, Remi coins the term “THE REVERSIBILITY OF EFFORTS”
Let’s look at an example of using these ropes.
Driving Resistance Band Training
In the video below, we have Baseball’s Marlon Byrd training with the Driving Resistance Band under the watchful eye of Remi Korchemny.
Yes, there is a SNAC connection to this video as Remi Korchemny was part of the BALCO incident that was made famous in September 2003. Moreover, Marlon Byrd is one of the few athletes who publically stated he used SNAC products religiously, and the ONLY MLB player who uses it (well, at least publically). Remember, Maurice Greene “bought” steroids for friends with his own money? Yeah, right….
Even after the 2003 raid, I wrote an article on why I loved Proglycosyn that was printed in the 2005 Summer edition of GeezerJock magazine. (You can read the article here) Even today, I still recommend ZMA (both regular and the latest ZMA-5), which was created by SNAC but now their original formulation is sold through a variety of supplement companies.
Remi trains athletes with the Driving Resistance Band to specifically help reduce the lapsed time between eccentric and concentric muscle contractions. He believes that improving reactive strength or elastic strength is one of the major factors in speed development.
One has to be careful as too much load will severely increase the ground contact time of the runs, as every exercise you choose has its place in the Force-Velocity curve. Just ask anybody doing plyometrics and depth jumps. You can increase the load by adding a weight vest, or you can raise the height of the box.
At a certain point, in theory and in practicality, you lose the efficacy (and logic?) of the workout and you are entering another area of muscle and tendon specificity. (i.e. muscular strength only vs the elasticity of muscle and tendon) Maybe high hurdles hops are a better exercise for you?
Like all my workouts, ask questions first. Why are you doing this? What you intend to train should be the specific quality you are training. And not a simple cut and paste from another superhero training log.
Lastly, should you buy Vertimax? If you have money to burn, sure, go ahead, but your money is better spent donating to this site and making it the Number 1 Coaching site out there for Track & Field!