The performance world was in a tizz.
Coaches clammed about it all just making “sense.”
Even Elite FTS buzzed.
It was “in.”
But, now, it’s “out.”
Few know of the coach. Less know of the method.
But both Jay Schroeder and Evosport live on.
WHAT STARTED EVOSPORT
Adam Archuleta captivated the world with a 2001 NFL combine performance so impressive, he was later featured on ESPN. But unlike most athletic phenoms, Archuleta was a long shot to go pro. He wasn’t even recruited out of high school.
When it came time to conquer the combine, however, Archuleta was stacked. At a body weight of 211 and a height of 6’1”, he was about as muscular as a guy his size could have been. (Even though he was listed as high as 223 during his career.) He posted a 4.42 forty yard dash, a 39” vertical jump, and 31 reps in the 225 bench press test — a record for defensive backs at the time. This performance propelled him a first round pick in the NFL Draft.
Yet Archuleta’s on-field performance never hit the hype–even after he signed the most lucrative contract for a safety (at the time) with the Washington Redskins–and is known as one of the biggest NFL busts in history. Well, that and marrying Playboy Playmate Jennifer Walcott.
He was the poster boy for Evosport, a training system designed by Jay Schroeder. So when Archuleta flew, Evosport flew. But whether it was his buster career, or Schroeder’s outrageous claims, Evosport crashed as fast as it climbed.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EVOSPORT
Before moving on, here’s my disclaimer: I’m no Evosport expert. Jay is secretive with his methods, so it’s hazy. Everything known is passed down ten times from different sources. It’s a frankenstein game of telephone. What I know is a combination of listening to Alex Vasquez and digging through forums since 2008ish. So this is as far as I could motivate myself to shove the spade in the soil.
From the exterior, Evosport is a training method that exploits the explosive potential of an athlete. (I remember Jay once saying that the specific sport doesn’t matter and that all athletes should be treated the same.) All things considered, Jay’s way of doing this is bit erratic and extreme. After all, Archeluta admits being dropped from head height with intent of “catching” himself in a push-up position.
But these shock methods are the ending of the Evosport infrastructure, and aren’t where panties get twisted. That happens on the walls of the ground floor, which are decorated with extreme, long duration isometrics.
ACTIVATION AND EXTREME, LONG DURATION ISOMETRICS
The relationship here, and skeleton of Evosport, is this: the ultimate goal is exploiting explosiveness for sport. Ninety percent of people rush into shock training and plyometrics. But Evosport first builds a foundation with the philosophy being that before you can rapidly produce force, you have to know how to rapidly absorbing force. And before absorption even, you have to use the right muscles for the job.
So a crude look at the framework is this:
Although not explicitly stated, skipping the preliminary stages limits absolute potential. So jumping right into plyometrics (note to self: good pun) isn’t advised. Yaddah yaddah yaddah, bad engine in a fancy car, yaddah yaddah yaddah.
IT STARTS WITH EXTREME LONG DURATION ISOMETRICS
The concept of muscle activation is nothing new. (Although it very well could have been in 2001, as I was nothing but a young buck that watched anime and snacked on frozen pizzas.) But, basically, if the “wrong” muscles are turning on in a given movement, gains will be sub-par. So the first step is getting the “right” muscles to turn on.
But Evosport’s method of activation is a little “more” than today’s idea of doing a few low intensity bodyweight exercises during a warm-up. Evosport focuses on mastering something called extreme isometrics, also known as long duration isometrics (LDISOs).
LDISOs are positions held “isometrically” (and I use quotes because they technically aren’t isometric) with an emphasis on select maximal muscular activation. While there are many facets to Evosport, LDISOs are the most discussed and disputed.
WHAT THE HELL ARE EXTREME LONG DURATION ISOMETRICS?
Jay had seven extreme isometric positions:
- Scapular Pull-up
- 1-Legged Squat
- Standing Hamstring
As legend goes, Jay’s athletes master all seven positions before advancing to any other training. “Mastering” in this case means holding the extreme isometrics for five consecutive minutes. But whether or not this is fact or faked, no one really knows. People that have seen Jay’s programs report no mention of five minute holds. Just another part of the Evosport mystique.
Despite being described as “isometrics,” these exercises weren’t fully isometric (without movement) because they involve maximally “pulling” into position. (A concept so difficult to grasp, typing this is likely all for naught.)
For instance, in a push-up or dip, the focus isn’t on the chest. It’s on the back because in order to “pull” into a deep push-up position, the shoulder blades need squeezed together. So it’s not about resisting gravity. It’s about pulling into position. Maximally. For five minutes. (Although, doing something for five continuous minutes is hardly maximal, and one of the reasons for panty plica.)
And, let me tell you, five minutes is a long time. Holding a position for thirty seconds is a long time. But five? That’s longer than I spend fixing my hair for weddings.
Here’s an another example of this “pulling,” using the the lunge as an example. The rear leg actively extends into maximal hip extension, while the front leg actively pursues hip flexion. The key word in all of this being active. Extreme isometrics are active exercises that involve maximally pulling into a position.
THE STRUCTURE OF EVOSPORT
Both body position and muscle activation are “learned” through extreme long duration isometrics. LDISOs change how the body functions and how the muscles activate during movement.
Because they are performed “slowly” (little movement), they are ideal for reprogramming activation because your mind can be 100% in the muscles.
Once you can hold the position and muscle recruitment pattern in slow movements, you can then transition them into dynamic contractions, followed by absorption, and finishing with propulsion. This is the structure of Evosport. So even though the crazy shock methods seem erratic, they aren’t haphazard. Instead, they are but one piece in a program with ample progressive elements.
EXTREME ISOMETRICS…OR GARBAGE?
Although Evosport sounds all well and good, the storm cloud hovers above extreme long duration isometrics. Zealots say that LDISOs have zero benefit unless held for a continuous five minutes. (Sorry Mr. Four Minutes And Fifty Nine Seconds. You didn’t quite make it.) Others say that total duration matters most, making five total one minute sets just as effective.
But outside of the minutae, Jay made outrageous claims about extreme isometrics which didn’t help his reputation. For instance, he said he was able to take people weighing 365 pounds down to 160 pounds in less than one year, with no special diet or training outside of the extreme isometrics. This, in addition to listing himself as a ”drug free world champion powerlifter” and “elite sprinter” with no evidence to back up it up, turns people off to Jay and Evosport.
Even with the dust clouds surrounding Jay, I think the overarching methodology of Evosport is rather sound. Jay had some crazy ideas. But he also had some good ones. And while I’m not married to extreme isometrics, but I think they can be beneficial.
OTHER EVOSPORT THEORIES
Jay’s other ideas include:
- Training near daily, to teach the body how to always be “on.” (With a set-up similar to concentrated loading.) He felt that the body should be prepared for anything at anytime — similar to former Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting coach, Ivan Abadajiev. Although Archuleta’s injury laden career might be evidence against this particular ideology.
- Only doing squats as low as proper position and activation could be maintained.
- Training to a 3-7% drop off in performance in attempt predict the resultant supercompensation period. Different repetition ranges were associated with different fatigue levels. This can get complex, but suffice to say, each set was maximal to seek performance drops.
THE TAKE HOME
Before you cream in your jeans about Evosport, know that the world has already survived the isometric explosion. It came. It went. But part of the reason why I think it’s “gone” is because Jay got so much attention and he saw dolla-dolla bills ‘yall. So he kept his methods secret and mystified the hell out of them. Although he lives on today and blabbers on about something he calls the ARPwave (which is once again full of outlandish claims), Jay killed himself.
It’s a shame. Evosport — or what I perceive as Evosport — has more structure than a lot of the methods out there. But it has to be approached with care. Despite crazy assertions with extreme, long duration isometrics, they are nothing more than motor reprogramming tools. And damn good ones at that. Don’t fall trap to the five minute babble, either. The isometric, absorption, and propulsion progression is another gem that shouldn’t be lost.
An Athlete’s Guide to Chronic Knee Pain is a shell of Evosport theories. In fact, diving into LDISOs was how I began to fix my chronic knee pain and develop the infrastructure to the book. But to better apply it to the world, I went about reprogramming in a friendlier way.
Read Part Two of this series: The Truth About Long Duration Extreme Isometrics.
YOU TELL ME WHAT THE NEXT STEP IS
I’m already started on the second article in this series that will be posted Thursday. It reviews some of the claims and benefits associated specifically with extreme, long duration isometrics.
But I want to know what you think? What do you want to know about Evosport? What do you want to know about LDISOs?
Let me know, and I’ll try to dig up some dirt.