Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shifting Football Training Focus

Its getting very close to that time of year where I need to shift the focus of our football training from Off - season mode to Pre - season mode. For the next two months, high school and college players will be a Soar with one goal in mind - becoming the strongest, fastest and most conditioned player on the field.

What does it take to be in peak condition for football camp? Is it as simple as running more? Should you just decrease rest periods when you lift? Only do explosive lifts and abandon heavy lifting? Strongman training? HMMMMM. There is a lot to consider.

Below is a list of considerations that I feel MUST be made when designing a Pre - Season Football training program. All of these concepts are equally important and are listed in no particular order.

1. Continue to train heavy two days per week - 1 upper body and 1 lower body. Avoid lifting to extreme strain as that will heavily tax your CNS and will affect your workouts the rest of the week. Basically we are looking to maintain what we built in the winter and spring.

2. You MUST condition multi - directionally at high speeds. Gassers are hard but that last time I watched a football game players were not making cuts every 53 yards. At Soar we take care of this with position drills set to the rest clock of a football game (20 - 35 sec. rest between sets.).

3. Recover. Foam rolling, mobility and other methods are used to keep the body fresh. We train 5 days per week and rest 2 days per week. Rest means rest, not going out for a run. The Soar model uses Thursdays and Sundays as rest days.

4. Part of recovery involves proper nutrition. Hydrate before, during and after training. Post workout meals or shakes are crucial. At night, eat healthy meals with lean meats, veggies and grains. It is inevitable that you will lose some weight during camp, but don't be the guy who loses 15 lbs before camp. Increased caloric expenditure means increased caloric intake is necessary to maintain your weight.

5. Include variety in your program, especially in your conditioning. Running ladders, gassers or repeated 40s is BORING! Although I agree they need to be done, there are way more effective means of improving conditioning levels while maintaining power that has been built in the off - season. Fridays are specific strength and conditioning days at Soar. What that means is that we perform strength exercises very similar to athletic movements on the field. One Friday we might perform DB squat jumps paired with sled pushes and then a lateral plyometric with a lateral sled drag. The next week we might perform sled starts with shortened rest periods. Some strongman exercises will fall into this day as well.

Remember the magic equation......FORCE = MASS x ACCELERATION.

Stay tuned to the site. In the next few weeks, I will be posting videos and sample programs that we will be using at Soar. Of course, I can't give everything away and there is no substitute for training with us in our facility.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Secrets to Improving Speed

Anyone who knows anything about training athletes knows that improving sprint technique and getting stronger are the keys to improving speed. Bring me a beginner athlete with terrible arm mechanics and no knee drive and I can make them faster instantly. Bring me a kid who squats with their heels off the ground and has never done plyometrics before and in one month I will dramatically make them faster.

But its not always that easy. How about my college football clients who are already really strong and run with pretty good technique? How about the kids who have been in my program for 2 years and have mastered all of our foundational concepts?

One of the key components to my program in the last few years has been exercises that focus on hip HYPEREXTENSION. Squats, deadlifts, box jumps, KB swings and RDL's are all exercises that are important and involve hip EXTENSION. Performing those exercises are extremely important and will get you stronger and faster. But none of those exercises are specific to the motion of sprinting and none of them involve hip hyperextension.

Watch how a great sprinter applies force into the ground - behind their center of mass. Look at the left leg of the sprinter below - that is hip hyperextension. Force is delivered into the ground behind the center of mass.

This first video clip is one of our basic plyometrics - a box blast. This exercise is not a true hip hyperextension exercise. However, it is very specific to how I want my athletes to apply force into the ground. My stronger athletes will perform this exercise with hip hyperextension. The goal is to finish each jump with leg action similar to the sprinter above - just in a vertical plane.

The next clip is a forward sled march. This sled exercise is very specific to the motion of sprinting and involves hip hyperextension when performed correctly.

The final clip is a bent leg, hip dominant exercise that I call a BOB hip extension (BOB standing for Back on Bench). It is also referred to as a hip thrust and does involve hip hyperextenion. It doesn't matter what you call it, the bottom line is that this kind of exercise needs to be in every athlete's strength program. We perform bent leg hip extensions in every warm up and we do them weighted to some degree at least once per week. In article for T - nation, Bret Contreras (The Glute Guy) states that bent leg hip extension exercises such as the one you are about to watch involve twice the glute activation then conventional deadlifts and squats. Read the rest of the article here......

And the video clip of BOB hip extension

If you have the need for more speed........and who doesn't? Take a look at your strength training program. Does it include exercises like the ones I have showed you today? If not, it might be time to make some additions to your program.

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