As I mentioned in my last post, we’re now going to dive into more specific methods of performance training. We’ll cover everything from breakdowns of individual exercises, basic programming strategies and advance strategies to elicit very specific responses. In this post, we’ll get into the use of a specific piece of equipment that I implement often with my athletes, the Vertimax.
Just to be upfront, you can buy the Vertimax here. If you go through my site, I receive a small percentage of the sale as an affiliate. It’s one way I can keep this blog afloat. But believe me, I loved the Vertimax before I even became an affiliate. Here’s why:
The Vertimax is a slick platform featuring a maze of tension wound elastomers used for the sole purpose of increasing total body speed and power. Using a belt-like strap, the elastomers can attach to the hip, thigh and ankle to provide an overload effect.
Now, anytime I prescribe an exercise for an athlete, I always take two things into consideration: (1) who they are and (2) what are they capable of performing. These two questions can then be subdivided into many more categories. But most importantly, with my clientele (made up of 95% of competitive athletes), I need to make sure that my exercise selection has the ability to have transfer.
As Steven Plisk would say, “to best zero in on our target of performance, we must look through the lens that makes up performance ability”. Dynamic Correspondence concept states that for training to have transfer, we must have 1) Mechanical and 2) Energetic similarity.
To break it down,according to this concept, training tasks should be specific to the target activity in terms of:
-Rate and time of peak force production
-Dynamics of effort
-Amplitude and direction
-Accentuated region of force application
Simply stated, that the given objective of specific conditioning should mimic what is needed for the sport and the position played. Energy systems being targeted should have a similarity to what will be asked of the athlete when the “lights are on”.
Imagine having a moped that has a max speed of 20 MPH and needing to merge on to a highway with traffic moving at 65 MPH. This is the same analogy I provide my speed/power athletes who think that performing long distance running for their “conditioning” will help them with their sport. Make sure that the training matches the goal. Believe it or not, I’ve found that more coaches over-condition their athletes, and the majority of the conditioning is done in the wrong priority energy system. Remember, all energy systems work at once; it’s a matter of which is the priority based on time and intensity.
I use the Vertimax with nearly all my athletes. From World Record holders and gold medal Olympians in swimming and gymnastics, to football players from high school, college , NFL combine prep, NFL veterans, UFC fighters and yes, even my NHL hockey players. The overload effect provided by the Vertimax can benefit any discipline where speed and power are a must.
When looking through the lens of performance, we must understand where the Vertimax fits into the programming. I have many strategies that I use with it, but typically I will use it in a non-fatigued state, post dynamic warm-up. Quality of the movement (impulse, timing) are a must for the speed and power transfer. I will implement it as an advanced strategy with a contrast approach, leveraging a maximal strength exercise as the preparatory or stimulation load to elicit greater recruitment for the speed exercise of the Vertimax.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to concentrate on the set-up and execution of single-response jumps. All the mechanics are the same for multiple-response with a pause, and multiple-response rapid fire.
Most applications of the Veritmax shows the athlete hooking the elastomers to the belt attachment on the hip. I prefer to set my athletes into the exercise holding the elastomers in their hands, rather than using the belt. The belt works, but without the proper technique, the athlete risks overloading the hips, relative to the knee and ankle complex. Holding the elastomers then, avoids this possibility, because I don’t want to disrupt the timing of the ankle, knee and hip extension. Begin by standing with the feet in hip-width stance, holding the elastomers so they compliment the straight line of the ankle, knee, and hip for a consistent direction of force.
Execution Jump Phase: The athlete initiates a countermovement (squatting action) into the eccentric pre-loaded movement.
Quickly, the athlete reverses the action into the overcoming phase (concentric), pushing fully through the platform and maximizing the extension of the knee and hip joint. I do not cue excessive plantar flexion and, quiet honestly, I want the opposite. In my opinion, when the athletes place such a emphasis on plantar flexion, they lose intent on the true force producers: the hips. As soon as the athlete creates loft, I want the feet to be dorsiflexed. This does two things: 1) Dorsi flexing the feet increases the length tension of the posterior chain to elicit more tension through the hips in extension, 2) It prepares the athlete for the landing phase, which will be of utmost importance as we progress into multiple-response jumps.
Execution Landing Phase: Once the athlete has reached full extension, the elastomers reach greater tension. This, I feel, is the best part of the Vertimax, which I’ll discuss a little later. The increased tension will force the athlete to prepare for the landing sooner. With the feet dorsiflexed, I cue the athlete to land nearly flat-footed with the weight placed near the mid foot, not on the toes and not on the heels! Landing this way will allow the athlete to land with less stress while maximizing the ability to absorb the eccentric load in the squat position which, in turn, leads to better eccentric-isometric strength for a subsequent jump when we progress to multiple response jumps.
Now, back to my point about the best part of the Vertimax. At first glance of the resistance profile, as the athlete drops into the counter movement position, the elastomer’s tension is significantly less, and as it gets into the extended position prior to flight, the tension is higher. By design, it’s not until we reach our apex of height that the elastomer is providing the most amount of resistance. This is unique, as the elastomers will have a greater accelerated load against the body above the rate of gravity. So putting emphasis on the landing mechanics, and the intent on deceleration, allows the athlete to be highly resilient eccentrically. The result is, it should make the athlete stronger concentrically, as the system adapts to it.
I hope you enjoyed my perspective on the Vertimax. I think this is a great tool for all athletes. The priority is based on technique, sequencing within the workout, frequency and total volume within training bouts. Be smart, and if you are training for speed and power, adhere to the appropriate set and rep schemes while taking full recovery per set!
If you think the Vertimax is right for your practice, you can get more information and order it here.