Last week, I asked you how you'd like to start your Mondays, and you came through.

Now, it's time for Testosterone to deliver and give you want you want.

So, I donned my favorite robe, poured myself a fine glass of wine, and began to ponder two of your questions.

Psych!

Actually, I just got done pissing off my traps at the gym and am writing this on the back of my training log, sweat dripping, blurring the words below.

But none of that matters because when you're finished with this you'll be jumping clear through to the clouds and your traps will finally touch your ears.

The Superman Vertical Program

Among athletes in speed and power sports, increasing their vertical is one of the most sought after goals. One of the reasons is that the vertical jump is always included in the assessment tests used by coaches, so a good result can mean the difference between making the team and cleaning up after it.

But there's more to it than impressing the coaches. A jaw-dropping vertical is a telltale sign that you've properly developed the "speed muscles," as well as a complete lower body. Lastly, high jumps indicate an efficient nervous system, and an efficient nervous system means more agility, speed, and power.

For those reasons, the vertical jump is actually a pretty good method to evaluate athletic potential.

Now, the question is, "How can I improve my vert?"

People assume that the quads and calves are the main muscles involved in jumping, and thus train the heck out of 'em. That's a problem.

While it's true that these muscles are important – around 20% of your vertical power comes from your calves and around 30% from your quads – that still leaves 50%. Of that, 40% is taken up by your hips, glutes, and hams, and the final 10% comes from your upper body, namely your arms and shoulders.

So, if you want to drastically increase your vertical, you need to build up power in all of these muscles. Don't forget that the chain will always break at its weakest link; the muscle that's lagging will be the one keeping you grounded.

Okay, time to cut the chitchat, here's the program!

Session A

  • A. Power clean from the hang
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Reps: 4-6
  • Rest: 90 seconds

  • B. Bottom-up half squat and vertical jump contrast
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Rest: Between 120 and 180 seconds

Here's what a set consists of:

  • 1 rep bottom-up half squat
  • 3 vertical jumps
  • 1 rep bottom-up half squat
  • 3 vertical jumps
  • 1 rep bottom-up half squat
  • 3 vertical jumps
  • 1 rep bottom-up half squat
  • 3 vertical jumps
  • 1 rep bottom-up half squat
  • 3 vertical jumps

There's no rest during the set.

Execution: For the bottom-up half squat, set the bar on the safety pins at a height where you're in the half-squat position at the start. Squat up from that dead-start position.

  • C. Sumo deadlift and long jump contrast
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Rest: Between 120 and 180 seconds

Like above, a set looks like this:

  • 1 rep sumo deadlifts
  • 3 long jumps
  • 1 rep sumo deadlifts
  • 3 long jumps
  • 1 rep sumo deadlifts
  • 3 long jumps
  • 1 rep sumo deadlifts
  • 3 long jumps
  • 1 rep sumo deadlifts
  • 3 long jumps

There's no rest during the set.

Session B

  • A1. Full back squat
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Reps: 4-6
  • Rest: 60 seconds

  • A2. Jump squat
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 90 seconds
  • Loading: Use 30% of what you used in A1.

  • B1. Romanian deadlift
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Reps: 4-6
  • Rest: 60 seconds

  • B2. Two-arm dumbbell swing
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 90 seconds

  • C1. Standing calf raise
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Reps: 4-6 with a two-second hold at the top
  • Rest: 90 seconds

  • C2. Seated calf raise
  • Sets: 4-5
  • Reps: 15-20 with a two-second pause at the top and one at the bottom
  • Rest: 90 seconds

Session C

  • A1. Front squat
  • Sets: 8
  • Reps: 4-6
  • Rest: 120 seconds

  • A2. Romanian deadlift
  • Sets: 8
  • Reps: 4-6
  • Rest: 120 seconds

You have two lower body sessions per week, ideally on Monday and Thursday. On the two other days, work your torso (Tuesday) and arms/shoulders (Friday or Saturday).

Run through all three sessions successively, so over several weeks it looks something like this:

Week 1

  • Monday: Session A
  • Tuesday: Torso (chest and back)
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Session B
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: Arms/shoulders
  • Sunday: Off

Week 2

  • Monday: Session C
  • Tuesday: Torso (chest and back)
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Session A
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: Arms/shoulders
  • Sunday: Off

Week 3

  • Monday: Session B
  • Tuesday: Torso (chest and back)
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Session C
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: Arms/shoulders
  • Sunday: Off

Week 4

  • Monday: Session A
  • Tuesday: Torso (chest and back)
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Session B
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: Arms/shoulders
  • Sunday: Off

Perform this program until you've completed each of the three sessions, four times.

Thibs' Traps of Steel

What makes a man? Big, heaping traps, that's what.

Well, maybe that's a stretch, but well-developed traps will make you thicker and give you that intimidating "don't even try it" look.

Sadly, most people focus solely on the upper portion of the traps, which leads to muscle imbalances, bad posture, and injuries.

The following program is very effective at building up your entire neck, trap, and mid-back region – all areas that'll make you look like a brick wall! As a structural bonus, it'll also help protect against injuries if you have a thirst for contact sports.

This steely program is to be performed twice per week, once at the end of your back workout and once at the end of your shoulder workout (there must be at least 48 hours between both sessions).

  • A. Swiss ball neck extension
  • Sets: 3 sets
  • Reps: 12-15 with a three-second hold at the top position (hold a plate on your chest if it's too easy)
  • Rest: 45 seconds

  • B1. Rack pulls
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 6-8
  • Rest: 60 seconds
  • Execution: Perform as a partial deadlift with the bar starting two inches above your knees.

  • B2. Power shrugs
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 90 seconds
  • Execution: This is basically a barbell shrug where you help get the bar moving by utilizing a slight lower back and leg action.

  • C. Two-position dumbbell shrug
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 8-10 + 6-8
  • Rest: 90 seconds
  • Execution: With your palm facing forward, perform 8 to 10 reps with a two-second hold at the top of each rep. Then, without rest, set your sights on 6 to 8 additional reps with a neutral grip.

  • D1. Sumo deadlift shrugs
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 60 seconds
  • Execution: Position yourself as illustrated below (sumo deadlift, bar at mid-shins). From there, perform a shrug (try to bring your shoulders up) while keeping the exact same stance.

  • D2. Dip shrugs
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: Max
  • Rest: 60 seconds
  • Execution: Hold yourself by keeping your arms fully extended and locked. Let your body sink down between your arms (Picture 1). From there, push yourself up, trying to bring your chest as high as you can.

This program is sure to add height and thickness to your traps, making even Aspen jealous of your slopes in no time.

So, while traps don't necessarily make the man, they'll give you a cohesive, powerful physique, all while reducing the risk of nasty head and neck injuries.

Have any issues or problems you want me to address in future columns? Let me know!