Jake Tuura, Assistant Strength & Conditioning coach at Youngstown State University and mastermind behind jackedathlete.com, joins the show today to discuss jumper’s knee, power/force development, his time at Minnesota under Cal Dietz, coach-athlete relationships, having fun, vertical jump protocols, isometrics, tendons, and a whole lot more.
Jake found his way to the weightroom through sports before his senior year in high school. When Jake went to college he had intentions of playing basketball, but was unable to play due to ongoing patellar tendinopathy (“jumper's knee”). Throughout this time he still tried various jump programs, but still ended up with the same patellar tendinopathy. Out of frustration, he stopped trying to play basketball and began to gravitate more towards lifting weights and trying to solve the problem of his jumper’s knee. Jake did his master’s degree internship under Cal Dietz at Minnesota, learning the ins and outs of Triphasic training. He then went to Minnesota Duluth and now is the Assistant Strength & Conditioning coach at Youngstown State University in Ohio.
We kick it off discussing the disconnect between coaches and athletes and their view of the weightroom. Strength coaches tend to love all things lifting and only view the world through that lens, but athletes typically only love to play their sport and view strength and conditioning as a means to an end. Jake has learned to take a more realistic view on this and has found ways to build adherence and buy-in to the process. One example was changing the way he warmed athletes up. Rather than watching athletes mindlessly slog through a standard dynamic warm up, he found the use of games such as Spikeball to not only be more engaging, but better at increasing overall readiness. At the end of the day, Jake is always looking for ways to increase the collective buy-in of his athletes and make the training process enjoyable for them as opposed to following a more rigid model.
Next we discuss Jake’s time working under Cal Dietz and the Triphasic training model. First and foremost, Cal Dietz has a fantastic environment to maximize the benefits of the model, including a history of phenomenal professional athletes and a weight room set up perfectly for implementation. Jake’s initial exposure was completely foreign to him, but after being able to go through with the internship and ask a lot of questions, he wanted to implement it on his own. He quickly learned that implementation would be very difficult if you don’t have the facilities to do so, buy in from other coaches, or athletes with very different needs and personalities than one another. Jake had a similar experience with RPR, running into issues with athletes just going through the motions.
A big theme during this discussion is that the biggest rock in training athletes is buy-in, not only from a results standpoint, but in maintaining a health coach-client relationship so that their sports performance continues to improve. He learned how to mold his training to the athlete, not the other way round. Many of these lessons were the result of trial and error and making a lot of mistakes, which Kyle makes the point that those mistakes are necessary for growth and self discovery. Jake emphasizes that it was through failure and keeping an open mind that allowed him to progress to the point where he is now.
This leads us into coach-athlete relationships, and how the main goal has always been to improve performance, not establish relationships. Coaches need to keep the main goal at the center of their attention, which is getting results. Jake is realistic about relationship expectations, especially with such a large number of athletes coming through the door. He aims at being a good person and genuinely connecting with athletes through the training process.
Jake now takes us into the details of his own training. Currently, he’s in Wisconsin due to the pandemic and training solo, but notes that his maximum recoverable volume is considerably higher when he has training partners. Jake trains 6 to 7 days a week, targeting a blend of hypertrophy, overall athleticism, and jumping. He’s found that he prefers to do something explosive every day, so he usually starts his sessions with various types of dunks, then moves on to a heavy lower body compound lift, and finishes off with some upper body accessories. Jake has found that he can maintain his vertical jump much more easily now after taking a decade to develop it, through more of a minimum effective dose style of training.
We then get into some of the programs that Jake offers, starting with his vertical jump program, which includes 2 days a week of french contrast training, vertical jump testing 2 days per week, and 2 days of concentric only lifting. This plan, he says, is more for advanced trainees who have a lifting background and know their numbers. For younger athletes who don’t have the money to buy the program or the necessary training experience, he’ll give them a simple isometric program to follow.
Currently he’s developing a program to expand on the isometrics, getting into the details of neurological and structural adaptations that occur from ISOs, how they can improve jumping performance and increase longevity.
Anecdotally, Jake found isometrics allowed him to dunk much more frequently without any knee pain, and that is what led him to start digging into understanding more about tendon health. With Isometrics, the stronger collagen in the tendons will relax over time allowing the weaker collagen to get a training stimulus. Jake mentions that if we only focus on jumping, the strong collagen never relaxes and the weak collagen becomes compressed and never adapts to the stimulus. Isometrics of at least 30 seconds will target these weaker collagen to balance out the tendon. In the case of someone with tendinopathy, Jake credits Dr Keith Barr for ensuring that the sessions last only 5 to 10 minutes of stressing a particular tendon, and then allowing 6 hours of rest before repeating the stimulus (which you can repeat up to 3 times a day). While isometrics can help recover from an injury, you still need to get to the root cause of the issue in order to address it - which usually stem from load management and lack of physical preparation. While isometrics are valuable, playing your sport is the ultimate method of getting specific adaptations.
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