Jacob Hiller Interviews Dr Squat On Vertical Jump Training
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Dr Hatfield, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in what you have acheived and where your passion currently lies with training?
Well, I’m 66 years old. My entire life, from the time I was a very small boy, until now, I’ve had a passion for strength and anything related to it, including bodybuilding. At one time I was an Olympic weightlifter, I was a bodybuilder, and I was a powerlifter. I did pretty good in all three. But it was in power lifting, of course, that I was able to excel.
I guess the reason for my keen interest was that an a very early age I realized that I was much stronger than the average kid. I was brought up on a farm and I worked hard baling hay and all the other things you do on a farm that require significant strength. I could do it better than even grown men when I was 12 years old. In fact, on my way to school one day, I don’t know how old I was, but I was around twelve, I saw some teenage boys in the garage lifting weights, one of those early York sets.
I walked over and I said, “Can I try that?” They sort of laughed at me because I was a young boy. They said, go ahead and see if you can lift it. I watched them do it a couple of times brought it up to my chest and thrust it overhead three or four times and put it back down. Their jaws were on the floor because all three of those guys were trying to lift that up over their heads. None of them were able to do it. There was 125 pounds on the bar. That was one of my first forays into weightlifting.
I won teenage Mr Connecticut when I was 17. That same day I had broken all of the records in the clean and jerk, the snatch, and the press. And that was the first contest I’d ever entered. It was all downhill from there.
Were you the first to squat a thousand pounds? What is the record there?
A lot of people say that of me, but it’s not true. The first guy to ever squat 1000 pounds that I know of, when I say squat 1000 pounds, I mean bounce the (unintelligible) on parallel. Paul Anderson, who is 10 inches high, or 8 inches anyway. Not to take anything away from Paul Anderson, that was just a different era, and he never did do a true squat.
The first guy ever to do it, according to most accounts, was Dave Waddington. But it was not an official meet, and it never counted. Very shortly after that, Lee Moran, at the national championships, squatted a 1003. If anybody remembers that particular meet, it was a sight to behold, because blood was gushing from his nose, and the plates flipped off of one end and flew across the room. They gave him a fourth attempt and it was just a mess. And on the fourth attempt he did it. He squatted 1003.
It was probably a month after that I did it over in Hawaii. I did 1003, I did 1014. I actually did 1043 but I got two red lights on it so I can’t say that it counted. I’ve got a video of that attempt, by today’s standards, anybody looking at would tell me for certain that sure it would have counted. While I admit I was high, it was still much lower than many of the squats that I see today.
What’s it like to have 1000 pounds on your back?
I used to practice just lifting the weight off the rack, and taking a step back and setting up without doing any squats at all. I used to do overloads with 1000 pounds on my back, so I have to tell you it felt pretty normal to me, it felt good. I’d grown accustomed to having that much weight on me because I practiced it. But I’ll tell you this, at one time I did 1100 pounds in training. I made the lift, but that amount of weight, that hurt. That hurt. I felt intense pain through every bone of my body.
People also say that you had a 40 inch vertical. Is that something that’s true as well?
Yes it is. When I was a young fellow I played basketball for my high school. I was one of the third stringers that the courts would let in in the last 5 minutes of the game if we were too far ahead or too far behind for it to mean anything. So I wasn’t a great basketball player. One thing I could do was I could jump. The coach would get a big fat kick out of it. I would have to jump center ball if we got tied up or something like that and had to do a jump ball. I was able to out-jump all of the big guys. I was only 5 foot 7. Some of these guys were 6 and a half feet tall. I was out-jumping them getting the ball. I thought it was funny.
Could you dunk a basketball at the height of your jump there?
No, I could not dunk a basketball. I tried several times. If I could hold a ball in my hand, I could dunk it.
How tall are you?
Back then I was 5’7; I’m closer to 5’6 now.
Before we go through some of these other questions maybe you could give the audience the website so that when we’re going over this they can be going through your website as well.
Okay, it’s www.drsquat.com.
Where did you get your PhD and what was it in?
My master’s degree was at University of Illinios and then from there I did my doctorate at Temple University in Philadelphia. And it was in the broad area of the social sciences of sports. I had to do my competency exams in sports psychology, sports sociology, and motor learning.
Have you been doing a lot of training, or what have you been doing professionally?
Well, after receiving my degree from Temple, I taught at Bowie State College in Maryland, and then at University of Wisconsin. Champagne Urbana, Illinois first, and then up to Madison, Wisconsin. So I was in academia for some 12 years. I got an opportunity offered to me to strength coach for the New Orleans Saints. So I jumped on that chance and quit teaching and moved down to New Orleans.
Very shortly after that the coach was fired. This happens frequently in professional football. The new coach had different ideas about strength coaching than I did. So I never even got a chance to take over strength coaching duties for New Orleans because of the coaching change.
It kind of stuck down there. After about a couple of years of working down there, various jobs from one kind or another. I got hired by the Wheeder organization. Joe Wheeder brought me out to Woodland Hills, LA. After a couple of years there, I took over duties as an editor of Muscle and Fitness Magazine.
And then I launched another magazine for Joe called Sports Fitness, which in my opinion was one of the best magazines on sports training ever. But that magazine didn’t do as well as they wanted, even though it was in the black, by after 2 1/2 years it was starting to make very good money. It had a lot of recognition in the sports world. They wanted a broader audience, so they changed the name from Sports Fitness to Men’s Fitness. And at that point it was a kind of quasi-gay look to the magazine and I said I’m not going to have a part of this, so I quit. It’s not that I have any problem with gay people, it’s just I’m not a part of that scene, and didn’t want to be a part of that scene.
So I took a job with Vince McMann, in the World Wrestling Federation. I was the director of research and development for his organization. Part of my job was to organize some drug testing which I did to keep the guys off the juice, and create a training program and a diet for these guys that would be effective in keeping them competitive and strong and buff and all that kind of stuff.
That went on for a couple of years. And Vince didn’t have a stomach for the bodybuilding world and for sports nutrition and stuff like that. So I left and continued on with an organization that I had started with Dr Shaleria out in Santa Barbara, California, called the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), really the first ever to provide education and certification for personal fitness trainers. No one had ever done that before. We were the first ever to do it. We started that whole ball rolling. I’ve stayed with ISSA ever since. And we’ve grown and grown and grown.
To this day, we are now the only organization to have achieved accreditation with the US Dept of Education. And the National Board of Fitness Examiners is another organization that came about through our efforts in an attempt to provide some kind of continuity and organization to the whole world of personal fitness training. Which as everybody knows was in a horrible mess at that time.
And then along came the Distance Education Training Consul, which is the only organization that is recognized by the US Dept of Education. In order to conform to all of their standards, Sal and I spent many, many thousands of dollars to reorganize ISSA to fall into compliance with their requirements to become accredited. We now offer college courses, we now offer both undergraduate and graduate college credits through the ISSA.
That’s where you’re currently at now, then?
That’s where I am now.
Okay. Well, I’m going to jump into these training questions. One of the first ones is: Strength is a strong factor is helping an athlete develop an explosive vertical jump. How strong do you think an athlete needs to be? How strong might be too strong?
Strength is very intimately tied in with, and inextricably related to the size of the muscle. Clearly bigger muscles are going to be able to generate greater tension than smaller muscles. But there comes a point of diminishing return, depending on the kind of sport we’re talking about. For example, gynasts are known to be extremely strong people. But how strong do gymnasts have to be? Strong enough to squat a thousand pounds? Clearly not.
Because there’s a huge difference in that kind of limit strength, and the kind of functional strength that’s required in the sport of gymnastics. So then we have to talk about strength to weight ratio. Gymnasts, as one example, are required to have a very high strength to weight ratio. If they were to get heavier and heavier and heavier, therefore increasing their limit strength levels, they’d get to the point where their strength to weight ratios would be diminished. Even though they are stronger, their extreme body weight would hamper them in their efforts to fly around the parallel bar or what have you.
Limit strength is measured in the sport of powerlifting. In fact, powerlifting is the only sport in which limit strengh is measured. There is no other sport that does that. Now let me tell you why.
You see, barbells were invented hundreds of years ago, I guess, for the express purpose of throwing the movement down. You know you can’t do arm curls with nothing in your hand and expect to get stronger. And the reason for that is you don’t have enough time in which to generate maximum tension in your biceps. So how do you generate enough tension in your biceps with nothing in your hand? The answer is you can’t. Pumping air is not going to do it. You need to have something in your hand to slow your movement sufficiently to allow enough time for your muscle to generate maximum tension.
Scientists have figured out it takes approximately three quarters of a second to generate the maximum tension in a muscle. And the only way that can happen is if you put a weight in your hand heavy enough to slow it down to three quarters of a second or greater.
Elite athletes develop the ability to generate maximum tension in less than three quarters of a second, perhaps even in as little as a half a second. That’s one of the factors that makes them so great. They’re able to reduce the amount of time it takes to generate maximum tension.
In scientific terms that’s called moving the strength curve to the left. In other words, if you were to make a sidewards S on a piece of paper, you would notice that you go down into a deep squat, and then the curve on the piece of paper would bottom out and then come back up higher and higher until maximum force is being generated. And then the curve would begin going back down again. Do you understand that? Well, the idea is to scrunch that sideways S off to the left so that you’re decreasing the amount of time it takes to achieve maximum force.
There are 7 different factors that you have to take into consideration with that sideways S, not just scrunching it off to the left, thereby reducing the amount of time it takes to generate maximum force. You want to decrease the time of transition from the downward movement to the upward movement, you want to increase the angle of the upward slope of the line, you want to adapt–that means the amount of time it takes to generate maximum force, you also want to increase the amount of force that you’re exerting. Do you see what I’m saying?
So there are several factors you have to consider. And every single sport has different requirements from that sideways S. That’s called the strength curve, and it’s virtually ubiquitous in all of sport. In the whole world of sport, speed is king. Every athlete needs to move that strength curve to the left, scrunching it together as it were.
In the act of doing a vertical jump, for example. You want to not only generate a lot of force during the upwards thrust of your legs, but you also want to get some kind of a myostatic response from bottoming out before the upwards thrust. That’s why a very short transition time is of utmost importance. Consider, for example, squatting down, and summoning up your forces, and then after you feel like you’re really psyched, vertical jumping. Well, that’s not the way to get a high vertical jump.
You want to go down and up, like a check mark, minimizing the amount of time it takes to convert from a downward movement to an upward thrust, that will give you a myostatic response in your muscles where you are able to generate greater force, than simply squatting down summoning forces and then thrusting upwards.
So we’re talking about the stretch reflex, is that right?
Now the stretch reflex is when the muscle stretched has a tendency to react and contract after a quick stretching, is that correct?
That’s correct. Now there’s a lot of factors involved in that. Clearly you want to optimize the effect of that stretch reflex. And there are two schools of thought. Number one, you simply bend at the knees, keeping the body relatively straight up and down, like in the sargent jump. Everybody knows what that is if they are into vertical jump technology and history and how to measure it. The sargent jump is done with one hand at your side, and you jump up and put a chalk mark and you can measure the distance between the chalk mark that you get when you just stretch as high as you can and make a chalk mark and then jump and put another chalk mark, you measure that distance and that’s your vertical jump ability.
Of course there’s new technologies out nowadays that are superior to that old technology to measuring the vertical jump. Nonetheless the point remains that you want to find a way to optimize that stretch reflex, not just optimizing the amount of force that you can generate but that stretch reflex that adds to the force, can be achieved in at least a couple of different ways. One way is to just simply go down and up as hard as you can, minimizing the bottom of that curve where the down is converted to the up.
There’s another way that I used to play with and I got my best results from in a vertical test and that was very similar to what Olympic weightlifters do when they pull at a bar. You’ll notice in Olympic weightlifting, the bar is pulled off the floor to the knees and then there’s sort of a double bending, or a rebending of the knees in order to get that mystatic response or the stretch reflex, as they pull the bar high enough to get underneath it.
That rebending of the knees can be done the same way without any weights in your hand when you’re doing a simple vertical jump test. You bend down at the waist and very quickly straighten back up, the same way an Olympic weightlifter does, rebending the knees, and then popping up into a vertical jump.
Say that again. So you would bend the knees–can you explain how you would bend–
Let me see if I can come at it from the back angle here. In squatting, most of the great powerlifters have learned this simple lesson: you can squat more by beginning the downward descent with the hip joint, rather than the knee joint. Every time I see a squatter squatting down by bending the knees first, I know I’ve got the contest won, because he’s trying to use his quadriceps. I say, use the posterior chain, by bending at the hips first.
And then, as though you’re sitting down at the toilet, begin bending the knees, keeping the weight at the back half of your feet, in a squat, is the way it’s done. You bend at the waist, so that you’re leaning forward. The knees are still locked, or relatively locked. And then, after you poke your butt backwards about 8 or 10 inches, then and only then do you begin bending your knees.
If you do a similar technique in the vertical jump, the only difference being that you keep your weight in the center of your feet or even slightly toward the balls of your feet and off the heels, you poke your butt back. And then flick the knees as you explode out of the hole.
Which is going to explode first, your glutes or your quads, when you explode back up?
By prestretching your glutes, by bending at the hips first, and then doing the knee flick technique you’re going to be using the posterior chain in the vertical jump. And of course you’re going to be quads too. But an awful lot is going to come from your hamstrings and glutes. And those muscles are very frequently not used in the old technique of just bending your knees and vertical jumping.
If you bend at the hips first, and then your knees, but in a very rapid movement, flicking your knees just like an Olympic weightlifter does. Then pulling the weight off the floor, he rebends his knees and explodes upwards, that’s going to create greater force than simply bending at the knees.
A lot of people aren’t even using their posterior chain anyways.
I understand that. That is how I improved my vertical jump. I’m not saying that everybody should do this, but it worked for me. You ought to play with it and get some involvement from the posterior chain.
I had a question about the stretch reflex. Maybe you could shed some light on it. When you’re doing plyometrics… when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office and they tap your knee, and you kick your leg, that’s a demonstration of the stretch reflex, is that right?
So the theory is that can be strengthened through a plyometric movement. I’ve always wondered how much of that reaction is due to the elastic nature of the muscle and when the muscle lengthens that there’s going to be potential energy stored in the stretch that comes back during the contraction.
I’m going to tell you this, and I know this is going to generate some controversy. I was convinced by two scientists who did a lot of work in this field. One of them recently died, Dr Bosco from Italy. He was the guy who did all of the initial work, and in fact, that invented the vibrator machine that you see in some gyms nowadays. The other one is out in southern California. But both of these scientists feel strongly that it is not the elastic quality of the muscle that allows for the reflex. It’s primarily the elasticity in the tendons themselves. Heretofore we were taught tendons had no elasticity. And these guys beg to differ.
In fact I’ve come upon a lot of research that talks about being able to increase the stiffness of the tendon to increase your reactive strength; is that along the same lines?
Yes it is. That technique has been around for many many years. Lash and Burke wrote one of the very first and in my opinion one of the greatest textbooks on kinesthiosiology, it was a tremendous book, a book I had as an undergraduate. In that book they describe holding a barbell in your hand and doing jerky movements up and down with the barbell so that you would get stimulation in the tendons, specifically the Golgi tendon organ. That’s kind of jerk training, really a theoretical forerunner to a whole concept of plyometric movement. That technique has been around for a long, long time.
The idea is that by putting the stress on the joint will make the joint react by hardening, over time getting harder, and so the transfer of force form the ground will reach your muscles quicker because there will be less sway in the tendons, is that correct?
Not exactly. The early concept, the early explanation to this whole technique, was that by doing this jerk training you could actually cause tendons to become slightly thicker, giving greater tendon strength, you’ve heard that phrase before, thereby disrupting the inhibitory signals being sent out to the Golgi tendon organ. Now I’m not well enough versed in that field of physiology to comment beyond what I just did.
In fact from what I understand there’s been considerable work done in this field and that theory has been somewhat refuted. The fact does remain, the tendons themselves are very much involved in the act of the vertical jump, as they are in throwing the 100 mile an hour fastball, and so forth. And also in the act of running a hundred meters.
So the tendon is involved, the muscle is involved, and the myostatic reflex is also involved in that plyometric reflex.
Okay. Now to move on from the topic of strength. People can develop a lot of that limit strength. What do you feel is the best way is to transfer the limit strength to an explosive strength, and to increase the rate of force development with that strength?
I understand exactly what you’re saying. How do you make whatever strength you have functionable for your sport?
I’m going to tell you a very understandable story for your readers and listeners. It involves racing cars. All your life you’ve driven a Volkswagen. You’ve got really good at driving that Volkswagen. In fact you can beat any other Volkswagen driver in the world you’re so good at it. You learn how to handle curves and all that kind of stuff. All of sudden I come along and give you a Mazerate. Take away the Volkswagen and give you a Mazerate.
Now clearly you are going to be a much worse Mazerate driver than you were a Volkswagen driver–you will not have the skills or the reflexes or the discernment well enough to be able to beat other Mazerate drivers. Because it takes you a while to get used to that new car, correct?
It’s a whole new game.
It’s a whole new ball game. How to transfer your increased strength that you achieved, for example, in the off season, to playing better football, or basketball, or whatever, during the in season to is a big, big problem. Not much was known about this years ago.
That’s why coaches used to say, “I’m not going to let my baseball players lift weights because it slows them down. It stiffens them up and makes them less flexible.” You know what, the coaches were right! The strength coaches back in those early days… There weren’t really any strength coaches, all there was were weightlifters, or powerlifters, trying to teach athletes how to get stronger without any clue whatsoever how to get the transference to the kind of the skill sets that are involved in sports.
And there’s only one way of doing it. And I mean only one way. And that is, you’ve got to remember speed is king, always, in your training. While you’re going to start your weight lifting out somewhat slow, so you can avoid having connective tissue damage from jerky or ballistic style movement, you’ve got to somewhere along the line incorporate explosive movements into your weightlifting because that’s what you’re going to be required to do in your sport.
Second of all, you’ve got to play your sport to get accomodation of the newly acquired strength and power to transfer over to greater skill in your sport. As your body changes you have to accomodate by playing your sport.
How do you feel about having people do plyometrics and strength training in the same session? Do you feel there will be that adaptation factor by doing it in the same session?
Yes, I’m for that practice, and I’ll tell you why. The weight training is going to give you tremendous muscular stimulation, far greater than you can get by just playing a sport. That stimulation doesn’t go away immediately. So by doing plyometrics immediately after doing heavy squats, for example, you’re going to get far greater muscular stimulation during an act of plyometrics and that’s good–that’s tantamount to getting a higher quality overload.
But it also raises the spector of injury. You’ve got to do this carefully. You’ve got to limit the amount of plyometrics that you’re using. If you are going to do them after heavy squats for example, limit the amount of plyometrics that you’re using, and limit their severity.
Now what would you say as far as a word on volume in plyometrics?
That depends a lot of the athlete, the strength to weight ratio, and so forth. Experts in plyometrics generally recommend that you don’t do box jumps, you know, jump down off of a box for example, any higher than 25 or 30 inches, and you don’t do that till near the end of your training cycle, and only 2 or 3 or 4 weeks at most. And probably no more than 5 or 6 times.
I’ve seen athletes, even some of the athletes I used to coach, would go off on their own, elite athletes mind you, they’d go running off and start doing some plyometrics on their own. Bad idea. Now you’re asking for some trouble. I’ve seen some horrible things happen to athletes who thought more would be better. I’ve seen blown-out quadroceps tendons and so forth and that’s career ending. So I say more is not better. Better is better. Keep the quality of whatever little amount of plyos that you’re doing at a very high level, but less is best.
Now if we had just gotten done with a traditional strength program, what do you think of the idea of removing any lifts that have a decelerated phase, like the squat or the dead lifts, and changing those lifts to Olympic explosive lifts that are going to require extremely fast movement and even a countermovement, so a phase where there is just plyometrics and explosive lifts, as well as playing the sport in order to make the transfer from the strength to an explosive strength. Do you think that’s a good idea?
Yes, I do, and I would treat that method of training the same way I would any form of complex training. The idea is accomodation. You need to be able to accomodate for the increased amount of limit strength to be able to execute it with greater speed. Speed is king, remember. That’s the whole purpose behind plyometrics is to be able to generate maximum force in the very shortest period of time.
That makes sense. I figured that would be along the same lines.
Those people who are listening here might remember that I used to do the vertical jump as high as I could in the air. And then dive down on the bar, coming down from the vertical jump, I’d hit the ground, grab the bar, and then stand back up in the dead lift.
That’s in order to get that stretch reflex working for me. And again it doesn’t go away immediately, it lingers. I found that I could dead lift possibly as much as 20 or 30 pounds more by doing that vertical jump immediately before the dead lift.
The biggest problem that I had was my grip. By diving down on the bar I would give up a little bit in grip, and as I got closer and closer to the end of my career my grip became worse and worse and worse. As most people know, I had a real problem with deadlifting; not because I wasn’t strong enough, I could deadlift 850 pounds, I just couldn’t hang onto the bar, because I had arthritis in my right hand that was getting worse and worse.
So I had to abandon that practice in favor of grabbing the bar with a hook grip, which in the dead lift really hurts. In Olympic weightlifting it’s not as severe because the weight’s not as heavy, but clean and jerking 400 pounds is not as rough on your grip on your grip as it is dead lifting eight hundred and fifty pounds. I abandoned the idea of vertical jump just for that reason alone, because I had a bad grip program. But if you don’t have a bad grip problem, I recommend it!
When I was training Evander Holyfield, for example, when he first came to me, he was a physical wreck, the poor guy. His heart rate would get up to a 180 or 190 beats a minute: after three rounds, he was never able in one minute rest in the corner, to back out with a reasonable heart rate.
He was fighting against his anerobic threshold the whole match and he wasn’t doing very well at it. I was able to get his heart rate down to a reasonable level, inside of a one minute rest in a corner, to 120 or 125 beats per minute, and then he was able to go out and be fresh every single round, for 15 rounds. That made a difference in his career.
Were you training him to failure, or just training him with a lot of high repetitions?
Well I had a drill that I used with Evander, that required him to perform a series of very different tasks in a very short period of time. Climb a rope, do chin ups, do push ups, vertical jump 15 times, I had several other movements similar to those in these drills. I would put him through those drills for 3 minutes and his heart rate would be sky high.
And then we practiced a lot of biofeedback techniques and stuff like that where I would actually let him listen to his heart and concentrate on getting his heart rate down in a one minute time span. Simple techniques like holding his arms up in the air on top of his head would allow the blood to flow back down to his heart. We found all kinds of different little techniques–biofeedback and other kinds to get his heart rate back down so he could fight again fresh. But the drills were the key.
You know, in the ring, you are performing a lot of different body movements. You’re dancing left and right, and you’re punching, weaving, all kinds of different body movements, and that’s what i tried to simulate in these drills to push him to the limit in several different muscle movements and then allowing him to improve his recovery in that one minute period of time. That’s just an example from the whole world of sport. Every sport has different requirements, and sprinters for example.
The very first thing I did with Evander, by the way, was I got him off of that long slow running that boxers often do. Roadwork, mile after mile, slogging down the road, in no way can a boxer who has to go like crazy for three minutes and then sit down and rest. Where’s the specificity? There is none. I got him off of those immediately.
Because when we know from science very simply this: when you start doing endurance type work and you are required to have white muscle fiber, not red, you are going to get conversion of a lot of that white fiber to red by doing that slow roadwork.
I wanted to ask you a question about the lighten method. Do you think that it can be used for explosive strength?
It’s called overspeed training. I don’t know where the term “lighten” comes from. For years we called it overspeed training. Being able to perform a particular task faster than what you can voluntarily do it. Like downhill running, you get on a grade of about 3 or 4 degrees and run you can to a hundred meter dash in world reocd time. It’s called overspeed. Or lighten- you’re lightening the load. The hammer throwers have been doing it for years. Every sport has it’s peculiar methods of pre-competition training. And overspeed training is one that has proven itself to be of tremendous value, over and over again.
I knew a baseball player who used to swear up and down that he could throw better if he used a heavier ball in spring training. And I argued with him and I got him to try it by using a lighter ball. At first he was reluctant and he said that his arm was moving so fast that he felt he was going to throw his arm out. I said, don’t do so much, just do it a little bit. And sure enough the speed of his fastball improved.
So he’s training his limbs to move at higher speeds, and then even when you added a little more resistance he was able to maintain the higher limb speed.
That’s pretty much the theory behind it.
That’s kind of hard to do with the vertical jump. I guess you could put an elastic strapped to the rim and then strap it to your body.
I’ve never thought about it in connection to vertical jump. I don’t think it would be that valuable and I’ll tell you why. It’s in the speed of your conversion of the down to up getting that stretch reflex that’s going to help your vertical jump, and having an elastic band haul you up in the air is not going to do anything for that myostatic reflex.
Interesting. How about flexibility? Do you feel that flexibility has any more of a role than just range of motion?
In the vertical jump? I honestly don’t see any connection.
So as long as there’s enough flexibility for a complete range of motion, you don’t feel it would have any benefits as far as Golgi tendon inhibition, or anything like that?
I don’t think so.
Okay. Well we’re getting to the end of my questions here.
Well let me–
Go ahead Fred.
Let me give you a little bit more of a complete answer on that last question. If you take a look at an electron micrograph of muscle tissue. In a relaxed position, a fully contracted position, and in a fully stretched position, you will see that the microfilaments get stretched out almost to the point almost to the point where there’s no overlap in a fully stretched position. If there’s no overlap between these contractile elements of the cell, how are you going to generate any force at all? With very little overlap, the answer is you can’t.
So here’s the secret. I don’t say that you should not do flexibility training, I think everybody should. But a specific kind. It’s called resistance stretching, where you go into a fully stretched position and have someone hold you in that position while you try to straighten yourself out.
For example, let’s say you’re sitting on the ground with your legs outstretched and you put your face on your knees. I come along and gently hold you in that position with my hands on your back, right on your scapuli, and you push against my hands, but I don’t let you move. I hold you in that stretched position while you’re trying to sit yourself back up.
That is called resistance stretching, and what happens in this kind of stretching, the microfilaments become longer, providing you with greater overlap, therefore, increasing the amount of force that you can exert while in the stretch position. That is the only kind of flexibility that I would ever recommend for any athlete, including gymnasts.
So only to do any kind of static stretching if there’s a resistance provided on the movement back into place.
That is my opinion.
Would that be done quickly? I mean, if I was to do a toe touch, would I go down to my toes and back up and have to do it in a matter of 4 seconds if someone’s giving resistance on my back, is that how it would be?
No, I would say the resistance while in the extreme stretch is the way to elongate those muscle fibers. Allowing the person to sit back up over a four second period of time. That’s not the point. The point is to get the resistance while during the extreme stretch.
So more of an isometric flex at the extreme…
Here’s what you’re going to find. Let’s say you find a guy who can’t put his face on his knees. But he can only get down to 45 degrees. So you get him down to a 45 degree mark and say “I’m going to hold you in this position; you try to push against my hands”. He does that for a 10 second period of time.
And then you instruct that person to completely relax. And he relaxes, because his muscle is now a little bit fatigued, you can get him down to a slightly lower position than he was before, and then have him push him against you again. And he relaxes. Because the muscles are fatigued, you’re able to once again get him down to a slightly lower position than he was before.
And the result of that is, in one session, you have increased at least temporarily his flexibility, but at the same time, you’re getting stimulating to force the microfilaments to be become longer, and providing greater overlap will allow the athlete to exert greater force while in a stretched position.
And you know yourself that many, many sports, even in the simple act of doing vertical jump, being able to exert great force instantly, is the key. But if you only had very little overlap during that stretch position, how are you going to be able to provide great force instantly? You cannot.
Do you think it would be advantageous for athletes to put themselves in the stretch position that they would do right before they do a vertical jump and then provide resistance, or only at the extreme edge of their flexibility?
Have the athlete go into a stretch that’s comfortable for them to hold, and then provide resistance, and have them fight their way back, but they can’t fight back because you’re holding them there. And then do three or four bouts like that at most, holding each resistance stretch for about 10 seconds. You will find that over a course of a very short period of time, your athletic prowess, on-the-field prowess as an athlete, provided you’re doing the accomadation training–you’ve got to be playing your sport– what’s the point of having that Mazerate if you can’t drive the thing.
Linemen in football come out of the hole faster, they’re able to change directions with greater agility and all that kind of stuff. You become a better athlete if you are able to be strong, even if in an extreme stretch position.
This kind of training could even be done using weights, right? You could have a bar and reach for the bar in an extreme position and then pull against the bar?
Yes… It’s difficult to do. I’ve found ways of doing some resistance stretches on my own. For example, sitting on a bench, with one leg straight out in front of me, and putting my face on my knees or as close to my knees as I can get them, and then pressing into the bench with my heel. Holding myself from being able to push myself back into a sit up position by hanging onto the bottom of my bench with my hands.
There are methods of doing this, but by far the best way is to have a skilled partner who knows exactly how to go about doing this technique.
What do you call this technique?
It’s called resistance stretching. In therapeutic circles it’s very similar to a technique called proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.
So very similar to PNF stretching– okay, excellent. That’s really interesting information. Do you have any parting words of advice for young striving athletes who are trying to maximize their physical abilities?
I do. I’m going to tell you this from the years of experience that I have, not just training as an athlete myself, but training with dozens of elite athletes around the world. Some of the greatest athletes who have ever lived I’ve had the good fortune of working with.
You don’t get to be a great athlete unless you have passion for what you do. You have to become a priest to that lifestyle. I watch baseball players today, specifically the Tampa Bay Rays. Now they’re a great ball game. But they’ve got this bad habit of going out on the road and losing their games. I found out why. They are partying the night before the game! Look. Passion for what you do. Having a burning desire to be the best at what you do, bar none.
You go to my website, drsquat.com, somewhere in there you’re going to find some of my writings. I wrote a little short essay on passion. I think it’s recommended reading for just about anybody who truly aspires to truly become the best at your sport: that’s what it takes.
Fred, is there anything you want to say about products or services that you’re offering at this point before we close this up?
I’ve never been a salesman. I’m not a businessman. I never have been a businessman. I’ve got other people doing my business for me. I will tell you this. You won’t find any better products anywhere in the world than our products. I made sure of that. I was researcher and developer in two of the biggest companies ever in the health, nutrition, and sports fitness world. I developed products for them for years. I know the industry as well or better than just about anybody. And I’m telling you our products are as good as they get. You’re going to find that our prices are much lower.
That leads me to something that I didn’t bring up Fred. What do you feel about what a lot of athletes are doing? Protein intake, creatine, carbohydrates… what are some quick ground rules that you could give to an athlete?
Everybody knows by this time that what you put in your mouth in the way of fuel, not just for energy but for muscular growth and recovery and repair, it really does count. Be very careful about how you eat and what you eat. Be very careful about choosing what supplements you use. You don’t need all of the supplements all of the time, depending upon what your training roles are, you should definitely be supporting those training roles with high-quality supplements.
There are a small handful of great supplements out there that have been shown through scientific research to have value. Creatine monohydrate is one of them. I highly recommend that to a lot of different kinds of athletes, especially if you’re trying to put on muscle or working on anerobic threshold. Creatine monohydrate is a very well-researched nutritional supplement. I could talk for hours about which supplements are good and which ones you should avoid. But read up on it on drsquat.com.
Are you a protein guy? Are you a protein fan?
I’m a big protein fan. But you know what? Most guys tend to overdo the protein thing. You’ve got to make sure that your protein is taken in at least 5-6 times per day. You’ve got a 2 hour to 3 hour period of time. You should never go longer than 3 hours without protein. A very efficient way of doing that is carrying around little packets of high quality protein. You can mix it with juice or water or milk or something like that. You can carry slam it down, you know?
To me, that’s part of having that passion. It’s part of having that passion. It’s part of being a priest to what you do. You pay the price. For me, the price was always carrying a cooler in my car. Everywhere I went, I was never without my cooler, I knew I had to eat every 2 or 3 hours. I had to have a little bit of extra protein in my cooler, and I carried my pills with me in a little plastic bag.
Awesome. Well I’ll get those links from you. Dr Hatfield, I really appreciate having you. I go to your website often and watch the videos of you squatting however many thousand pounds. I appreciate you taking the time and answering the questions, I really do.
Well, we’ve got some very smart fellows who hang out at drsquat.com’s training and nutrition forum. I’d recommend any of your athletes, who are looking for answers, to go there and ask questions we’ve got a lot of guys there, not just myself, who have many many years of experience and great wisdom and training experience.
Excellent. I’ll place them on the page for everyone to go to. If there’s anything I can ever do for you, don’t hesitate to email me.
This exclusive interview is brought to you by Jacob Hiller and jumpmanual.com.