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Jeff Moyer Q&A on Strength Training Dose and Transfer

About 5 years ago, I read the book “Easy Strength”, and forever changed my ideas on strength training and athletic performance.

The idea that all you had to do was 2 sets of 5 reps at 60% or so, and still make solid strength gains, while having more room to adapt to one’s sport left an everlasting mark on my philosophy as a coach.

Fast forward a few years, and I saw a video that Jay DeMayo posted showing the huge vertical jump gain that one of his freshman basketball players had achieved with the 1×20 lifting model being the strength portion of his training program.  “If only 1 set can yield these gains, then what am I doing?” I thought.

From this point, I started doing far less sets of traditional squats with the swimmers I work with in relation to previous years.   With the competition results they’ve been getting, I can tell you that it certainly isn’t hurting anyone.

My interest way again piqued in listening to a great podcast that Jay DeMayo did with Jeff Moyer, largely in the realm of 1×20 training, and its advantages over traditional 5-3-1 modifications that so many athletes train with, particularly in improved jumping and ballistic outputs.  I’ve heard of these results from more than one coach as well over the past year.

With all that, I realized that I needed to get a discussion going with Jeff Moyer. For today’s Q&A, he’ll share his thoughts on:

  • The 1×20 system for athletes
  • Specific vs. General Training
  • Maximal strength training and the CNS
  • The use of Olympic lifts and athletic performance
  • Testing and monitoring

Let’s get to it!

1. Just Fly Sports: You’ve had some interesting experience with the 1×20 program. Could you explain a bit how you got into using the program, how it has compared to more traditional powerlifting methods, and how it has influenced your current programming?

Jeff Moyer: I was training a high school football program and was interested in during sub maximal weights with them.  I was using Jim Wendell’s 5-3-1 for the strength work while trying a “Charlie Francis Vertical Integration” type of programming.

My friend Yosef Johnson of Ultimate Athlete Concepts and I were talking one day and I asked him what he and Dr. Yessis do with their athletes.  He told me that they only do one set of 20 reps of exercises.

He then told me about the results that they were getting in improvements in vertical jumps and 40yard sprint times.

I’m always willing to try anything for the sake of helping my athletes, so I decided to split up the football team with half of them doing the 5-3-1/vertical integration, and the other half doing the 1×20.  I was able to test the team every 8-weeks in single leg broad jumps and vertical jumps. In two 8-week cycles I can honestly say that the improvements in squat and bench press were just about the same per kid.

However, the biggest differences between the two programs was in explosiveness.  Where the average increase in broad jumps per 8-weeks was 3” per kid with the 5-3-1, the other groups average improvements was 7”.

In the vertical jumps it was about 2” with the 5-3-1 group, the 1×20 group was 3”.  Long story short, I eventually moved everyone over to the 1×20.  I was able to use this with them for two full off-seasons.  The average improvement for BOTH off-seasons was:

  • Vertical jumps was +7”
  • Broad Jumps +12”
  • 40yard dash times –36 seconds
  • Bench press +35lbs
  • Squat +100lbs
  • Bodyweight increase +15lbs

Best of all, in those two seasons the team went 19-1.

2 . Just Fly Sports: What are your thoughts on specific vs. general training in a weightroom setting with training athletes for speed, agility and vertical jump?

Jeff Moyer: This could turn into its own book but I’ll try to keep it brief:  When I hear the term “specific training”, to me it is analogous to “special physical preparation.”   Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk created a continuum for helping to select exercises that go from the least “specific” or the most “specific”: general exercises, special preparatory exercises, special developmental exercises, competition exercises.

I don’t believe in specialized vs general training so to speak, that in “this block we are only using general, and then in this block we are only using special exercises.”  I believe in what Dr. Bondarchuk calls “the principle of unifying general and special preparatory means”, which is using general and specialized strength training during all phases of training, not just using general means to set a “base”, and specialized workduring the “specific” phase.

I work primarily with middle school & high school athletes, and there is a duality of using specialized exercises in that they not only help teach and improve sports techniques but also improving the power output of those movements.

The use of specialized exercises is well documented in Soviet Sports Science and its only here in the US that the understanding of them and use of them is still not well accepted.

3. Just Fly Sports: What are your thoughts on the use of maximal strength and maximal load resistance training?

Jeff Moyer:  I am all for whatever yields the highest results at the least expense of time and effort.  It is very hard to under train a youth athlete, and through Dr. Bondarchuk’s work along with my own findings, it has been shown that whether you use high intensity or low intensity work, the results are the same.

However the difference is that with high intensity work there is no coming back from high intensity, and the plasticity of the nervous system stiffens so that the only way you can keep improving is by using high intensity and or more volume of high intensity.

Strength Training Dose and Transfer

High intensity strength training can be effective, but it also stiffens the plasticity of the nervous system for skill acquisition

4. Just Fly Sports: What is your take on the use of Olympic lifts for athletes?

Jeff Moyer:  I use to care about the argument of Olympic lifts for or against training athletes, but to be honest with you, if it works and moves the needle in the direction we are trying to go in, then I am all for it.

5. Just Fly Sports: Do you do any monitoring of your athletes, and how do you decide whether or not to adjust their workload on a given training day?

Jeff Moyer:  We monitor by using small questionnaires every workout along with just passing the eye test:

  1. How do they seem?
  2. Are they awake?
  3. Are they chatty?
  4. Are they sore?

Just simple things like that.

Aside from recovery, the big thing that we are always trying to monitor is adaptation and improvements in our “test” exercises.  These test exercises can be anything from various jump tests, sprint times, as well as the athletes jumping exercises and specialized exercises that they are doing at that time.  As long as those are improving than life is good.

About Jeff Moyer

moyerJeff Moyer is the owner of Dynamic Correspondence Sports Training, whose motto is, “We Build Better Athletes.” At DC Sports Training, athletes work on the physical, mental and visual aspects to the sports. Their goal is to deliver the athletes of the greater Pittsburgh area the highest, most efficient results year after year of training with us. We will exhaust our means in order for our athletes to achieve the highest results, and to create a system model that will develop our athletes both physically and intellectually. Education must be the road to which will help us set this standard. Our results will be the vehicle which to drive us.

Jeff graduated in 2004 from Hartwick College where he was a two sport athlete (Football & Track & Field). Jeff has been a sport coach (Basketball & Football) at the youth, JV, Varsity and College level for football for over 10years. Jeff has been in the strength in conditioning industry for over a decade, having worked in the medical, private, team, high school and collegiate settings, training clients from youth development, to rehabilitation and sport performance.

Jeff has a relentless passion for all things physical preparation. His pedagogy is heavily influenced by Eastern Bloc sport science, while apprenticing under Dr. Michael Yessis and Yosef Johnson of Ultimate Athlete Concepts. Jeff has also been fortunate enough to extensively study with and work with Dr. Natalia Verkhoshansky, Mike Woicik of the Dallas Cowboys, Louie Simmons of Wesitside Barbell and Fellowship under Dave Tate of EliteFTS.

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  1. Is there any more information on the plasticity of the nervous system? I haven’t heard of that before

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