Thursday, January 31, 2008

Training Philosophy (Part 2: Necessities)

Hello Everyone!

I'll get straight to the point... train like you play!

Athletes are some of the busiest people I know (strength coaches are the first!) and any time an athlete can dedicate to resistance training is time that needs to be well spent. Below are some of my "program necessities" that I feel should be included as much as possible in most athletes' training sessions.

Program Necessities for Athletes
1.) Sport Functional

* When appropriate try to mimic movements
that are done on the competitive stage. Why lie down on a bench and pump out presses when athletes rarely (if ever) lie down during a game/match and push? Same thing goes for the leg press, if you're injury-free, get out of that machine! If the athlete's sport is played standing make most of your exercises standing. Studies have shown that the body is very sensitive and adapts specifically to how it is trained. Train on the leg press, and you'll get better at the leg press, train using lunges & squats, and you'll strengthen your body in movements that are similar to those done on the court!2.) Multi-planar/Multi-direction
* Many programs forget to add transverse and frontal plane exercises in their routines, instead including only the sagittal plane. Very few sports are done by just running straight forward & backwards, most are done with lateral shuffles, diagonal cuts, and many other side-to-side mo
vements. The body needs to be strengthened in this matter as well (again the body is very particular about how it adapts). Be sure to include all-planes in your training (a great example exercise is the lateral lunge).
3.) Corrective Work
* Look at the general injury trends for your sport; what are the most common injuries? For example, golfers & volleyball players spend the majority of their competition with their shoulders rounded forward as they prepare to hit the ball. Many times this causes an over-stretching of the upper back and tightness along the upper chest & shoulders. I mentioned last time the importance of healthy posture and injury-free training. Why not prevent injuries by adding some corrective work to your programs (even if there isn't signs of injury/imbalance)? In the case of our golfers & volleyball players, try adding some corrective scap work and extra pulling movements while limiting the pressing.

4.) Power & Reactive Work
* There are big differences between being the strongest athlete and the most powerful athlete. The most powerful athlete is most likely getting more playing time and is seen as more athletic. The simplest way I can explain this is: Training for strength usually involves heavy (near max) loads that the athlete moves at a slow speed (because it's so heavy) while power exercises require you to move the weight as fast as possible. Are sports slow or fast? Of course they are fast! If you only train your body using slow movements your body will adapt by becoming stronger, but it will not fire as explosively as you would like. Add power movements that train your body to be fast & explosive (just like your sport)! NOTE: Strength goals & exercises should also be a part of your program, because it is important to be strong, just don't forget to add power.
* Along those same lines, add some quick, reactive work to your programs. Quick jumps & agility drills demand the body to fire faster and reinforce that not only do you want to be strong, but you want to be able to explosively use that strength!

5.) Core Strength & Stabilization
* It's becoming more and more common knowledge that a strong, balanced core is key for optimal performance. If you still are not adding core work to your programs than watch the next time you attempt a heavy (near max or max) squat. When your form starts to break down what happens? Do the hips rise faster than the chest? Back starts to round? Many times it's the core giving out first. The number one core strengthening exercise IMO? Front, Side, & Back Pillars. If possible, add standing core exercises as well (reference #1).

6.) Full Range of Motion & Flexibility
* Some times athletes will ask me, "Why do I have to squat so low? I never squat that low in a game." A valid question indeed. For my basketball players I usually reply with a question of my own, "What do you hear coach always saying about playing defense?" The reply commonly involves "getting/staying low". If you train in a full range of motion than you are strengthening that muscle through its entire length, and muscles, like most things, are only as strong as their weakest link. We all have the ability to squat low...or at least we used time you're around a toddler watch how they bend over to pick up things. By training the entire length of the muscle we know we are training our body as it meant to work, the way it was when we first got it.
7.) Train the Energy System
* This refers more to speed & agility work, but can be applied in the weight room. Depending on your athletes' sport you should be training either Anaerobically or Aerobically. Many team sports are anaerobic in nature, requiring energy from the ATP/CrP system and Glycolysis system. Limit rest periods between sets to those similar to the rest periods seen in competition (obviously within reason, if you're maxing out, don't give yourself only 30 seconds between each set). And when conditioning, don't run/jog mile after mile if your sport involves many bouts of sprinting. Running a mile will only make you better at running the mile (see my "Interval Training for Athletes" article).

8.) Quick Tips
A.) 2:1 ratio for PULL:PUSH movements. Most athletes over-train their pushing muscles and under-train their pulling.
B.) Train that Posterior Chain! Athletes should look better going than coming! The front is for show, the back is for go! You get the idea.
C.) Activation Techniques. Foam rollers & bands should be used at least once a week to keep the body balanced.

Whew! I hope you found some things useful in this post. If you have any questions/comments feel free to post on this blog or contact me via email.

Keep Liftin',
Coach Amanda Haren

No comments: