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The Athleteís Edge
ĎEvoílutionary training: Archuleta explodes past his competition
By Nolan Nawrocki, Contributing writer
Working out in front of NFL scouts in Indianapolis this past February, St. Louis Rams first-round draft pick Adam Archuleta posted some of the most impressive results for a safety in the 17-year history of the NFL Draft Combine. The 6-foot, 211-pound Archuleta ran a 4.42 40, had a 39-inch vertical jump and bench-pressed 225 pounds 31 times.
The reason Archuleta was drafted with the 20th pick in the 2001 NFL draft was no accident. Archuletaís numbers are the result of years of sweat and training in preparation for this opportunity. As a 172-pound high school junior, Archuleta became intrigued by an article written by Jay Schroeder, founder of Evo-Sport, and felt compelled to contact him.
Schroeder developed Evo-Sport based on a principle that is widely regarded in strength and conditioning literature but rarely practiced ó plyometrics. Nearly every part of the program involves absorbing and rapidly propelling force.
Rather than perform a standard bench press, Schroeder teaches athletes to explode through the movement, release the bar from their hands at the top of the lift, drop their hands to their chests, catch and explode back into the bar as fast as possible. Schroeder keeps his hands ready at all times, watching athletes to make sure they catch the bar.
What impresses Schroeder about Archuletaís ability to bench-press 530 pounds is not the sheer mass being moved, but that it is moved in 1.09 seconds. Force on the football field is the product of mass and acceleration. Traditional weightlifting programs concentrate on moving mass regardless of how much an athlete struggles to perform the lift. Schroeder emphasizes performing lifts quickly, which increases the amount of force produced and has turned Archuleta into a havoc-wreaking machine on the football field.
When Archuleta began the Evo-Sport program, he benched 265 pounds in 2.76 seconds in the concentric or ascending phase of the lift. He squatted 273 in 3.47 seconds, ran the 40 in 4.79-4.81 and had a 26-inch vertical jump. Today, his personal best in the bench press is 530 pounds in 1.09 seconds and in the squat, 663 pounds in 1.24 seconds. At an individual workout for NFL scouts, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds and jumped 39 inches vertically.
As a walk-on football player at Arizona State, Archuleta quickly earned a scholarship and became Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year last season as a senior. In his five years at ASU, Archuleta trained with Schroeder in addition to completing the workout program the rest of his team performed.
"The will to prepare for success is more important than the will for success," Schroeder said. "If you want to be the best football player or the best safety or the best center or the best bench presser, then be willing to work that hard, not just put in the same work that everyone else is putting in."
Archuleta said he paced himself through ASUís workouts so he could concentrate on Schroederís program.
"You could jump and you could exercise all day long, but that doesnít mean you are going to get any better," Archuleta said. "Everyone squats and everybody runs and everybody jumps and everybody benches, but itís the way that you do it. Thereís no secret exercise. Itís the way itís applied. And thatís where Jayís expertise comes in."
While Archuleta was accustomed to receiving compliments for his football prowess in high school, Schroeder challenged Archuleta. Schroeder evaluated how Archuleta compared with other athletes and gave him a program to complete before he would agree to work with him. After Archuleta showed signs of progress over several months, Schroeder welcomed him into his gym. Not long afterward, he kicked Archuleta out for not working hard enough and told him not to come back. The next day, Archuleta showed up and waited in the doorway of Schroederís office while he completed office work. After ignoring him for more than an hour, Schroeder told him, "All right, letís work out."
"He challenged me to come in here every day, and he really put me through some beat-down workouts," Archuleta said. "He really tested my intestinal fortitude and really taught me what it was like to work hard. He put me through a lot of tests and was constantly trying to teach me and mold me and get me to understand what it took to be a good athlete and what kind of sacrifices it was going to take."
A key component of Schroederís program is repetition. Typical football programs train each body part twice a week and allow ample opportunity for rest. In Schroederís program, athletes might train the chest 12 times a week. His clients usually exercise twice a day, six days a week. Football players use their muscles constantly during a week in practice and games. Why should their weight-room preparation be any different?
A typical chest workout for Archuleta involves 100-300 repetitions with weight varying between 225 and 275 pounds. Schroeder gives Archuleta a set number to perform, and he must perform the concentric phase of each lift in less than a quarter of a second. If he doesnít explode fast enough, the repetition does not count toward the prescribed goal for that day. For every 15 reps he completes, he has to do one to three supermaximal reps from 500 to 600 pounds on his own.
Many strength experts would argue that Schroederís intense program neglects recovery time, decreases strength and increases injuries, all of which are symptomatic of overtraining. However, Schroeder says his program is specifically designed to overtrain an athlete.
"We try to overtrain to a 3 to 7 percent deficit on purpose," Schroeder said. "The longer we can maintain that level, the greater the supercompensatory effect is later on. If we go deeper in the overtraining than that, it sets us way back, but if we go at 3 to 7 percent, we maintain great results."
The game of football is pla in 45-second spurts. On an average play, an athlete expends his energy fully for five to 10 seconds, followed by a 35- to 40-second rest. A series usually lasts anywhere from three to 15 consecutive plays. A long series of plays leaves most players gasping for air and eager to hit the sideline for water and rest. Compared to the stress placed on an athlete in Schroederís workouts, he believes a 15-play series is relatively easy.
Several NFL players have begun Schroederís program, only to leave the gym after 10 minutes and never return. Schroeder assumes they left because it was too difficult.
"Itís not for the faint of heart," Schroeder said. "Itís very difficult training, both the mental and emotional training. Weíll bench sometimes 12 to 15 times a week. People arenít mentally and emotionally in tune to doing that. So just the sheer repetition of heavy, fast moving of loads is enough to make you tough. Someone like Adam, he can go out and run near his max speed many, many, many times even under duress."
While Archuletaís strength coaches at ASU did not like him consulting professionals outside of their supervision, Archuleta is a firm believer in Schroederís program.
"(ASU coaches) didnít like what we were doing and tried to make excuses that it wasnít good for me and blah, blah, blah and whatever," Archuleta said. "The results donít lie. And the kind of football player that was made doesnít lie either. So people have egos, and people get jealous, but I mean, the bottom line is whatís happening. Am I getting results? Am I getting better? Am I a better football player? Am I getting less injured? Am I stronger? Am I faster? Thatís the bottom line, and thatís all Iím interested in."
Archuleta is not the only athlete seeing results. Schroeder trains Arizona Cardinals WR Rob Moore and QB Chris Greisen, San Francisco 49ers TE Brian Jennings and Kansas City Chiefs TE Troy Drayton, in addition to many champion powerlifters, college softball players and other clients aged 4 to 82.
Upon seeing Archuletaís successful results from Evo-Sport, his agent, Gary Wichard, began referring other clients to Schroeder. It took one visit to the gym to convince Rob Moore of the value in Schroederís program. As an 11-year veteran wide receiver, Moore has gained nearly 100 pounds on his bench press in five months and is now benching 425.
According to Wichard, Schroederís training is certainly evolutionary, as the title Evo-Sport infers.
"Iíve never seen anything as football-oriented as this kind of training," Wichard said. "Everything is done with speed. Iím talking about lifting 500 pounds with speed. Donít give me pretty-boy bench presses that are slow. He doesnít even count those. You have to explode. If you watch Adamís game on the field, his game is about explosion and force, and that is what Jay is teaching."
While Schroederís program is innovative, the fundamental principle of his teaching will always remain the same. It is best demonstrated by the words of his protťgť, Archuleta:
"I just try to go to bed every night with the attitude that nobody put in more time or worked as hard as me that day."