Many Pieces, One Puzzle

On face value, building strength, explosiveness, and conditioning together is simple: Lift something heavy, do something explosive, and run a little. Boom! You’re an athlete. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy in practice. You need to have a plan, and that plan starts with building strength.

Any lifter worth the chalk on his or her hands knows you won’t build a strong physique by only doing triceps kick-backs and calf raises. On the other hand, you can’t just max out on the big lifts all day, every day, either. So you start out with movements that develop overall strength effectively: squats, deadlifts, presses and pulls. Then you need to program them the right way: heavy enough to stimulate strength, but not so heavy that you constantly crush yourself.

In this program, you’ll focus on two different types of explosiveness: speed strength and strength speed.

Explosive lifting is similarly crucial, particularly when it comes to maximizing the growth of type II muscle fibers. However, training those fibers isn’t as simple as «lift faster.» In this program, you’ll focus on two different types of explosiveness: speed strength and strength speed.

In simple terms, speed strength refers to moving as quickly as possible with a lighter weight, whereas strength speed is all about moving a heavier weight as quickly as you can. For example, speed strength might be a medicine-ball throw, while strength speed could be a power clean. Working both is essential to developing an athletic physique.

The final aspect of our trifecta of athleticism is conditioning. To the average gym-goer, conditioning might simply mean throwing in 20 minutes of jogging on the treadmill after lifting. For the athletic-minded lifter, however, conditioning is much more than that—and much tougher.

In the most basic sense, every athlete has both aerobic and anaerobic systems—yes this can be further broken down, but for our purposes, this simple distinction will do just fine. Aerobic generally refers to lower-intensity work such as slow running, walking, or cycling; anaerobic is typically higher-intensity work such as sprinting or lifting.

Contrary to what some internet gurus have been trying to say recently, development of both systems is vital to overall athletic performance and maximum physique results.

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