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How to Create a Strength Training Program

How to Create a Strength Training Program

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Published by Wes Geary
A great resource for people new to strength and conditioning.
A great resource for people new to strength and conditioning.

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Published by: Wes Geary on Dec 17, 2012
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04/12/2013

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How to Create a Strength Training ProgramJim Kielbaso MS, CSCS
Strength training program design can get very complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.The bottom line is that you need to develop a well-rounded, comprehensive programthat encourages hard work and progressive overload of the musculature. If thosecomponents are in place, you are well on your way to helping your athletes reap thebenefits of a strength training program.
Comprehensive
A strength training program should address every major muscle group in the body:chest, upper back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, neck (for collision sports), abdominals,lower back, hips & glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Certain sports will focusmore on a particular body part or require specialized work on smaller muscle groups(i.e. baseball pitchers will train the rotator cuff extensively), but all major muscle groupsshould be addressed. In general, an equal amount of work should be done on eachside of a joint.Deficiencies can be overcome through strength training, but it generally takesspecialized assessment to determine which muscles are deficient.
Progressive
In order for any program to be effective, there must be a systematic and progressiveoverload of the musculature. In other words, athletes should systematically attempt toperform more work on a given exercise. For example, an athlete who can perform amaximum of 10 push-ups today should attempt to perform 11 repetitions at some point.When 11 can be performed, 12 should be attempted and so on.Progress can be made through any of the following: increasing the number ofrepetitions, increasing the amount of weight, increasing the number of sets, increasingthe number of training days per week, decreasing the amount of rest time between sets,or a combination of any of these.One of the easiest approaches is called “double progression.” To use this method, startby determining a range of repetitions you are going to use, for example 6-10 reps. If theathlete is unable to perform at least 6 reps, the weight is too heavy. If more than 10reps can be performed, the weight is too light. During each workout, one more repshould be attempted until the top of the range (10 reps in this case) can be performed.When the top of the range is achieved, the weight will be increased at the next workoutby the smallest amount possible.
How many sets?
The number of sets used on an exercise or within a complete workout can vary greatly,but the following guidelines can be used. In most cases, 1-3 sets will be performed foreach exercise and 10-20 sets will be performed in the entire workout.
 
 If fewer sets are used, each set should be performed with maximum intensity. In otherwords, the set should be taken to the point of momentary muscular fatigue, or no morereps can be performed. If the athletes are unable to perform with maximal intensity, it isgenerally a good idea to complete multiple sets of an exercise.
How many reps?
While there is great debate of the number of repetitions that should be used in a set, itreally should not be confusing. In general, it is recommended that 6-20 reps beperformed on each set. While this is a large range, it offers a guideline in which tocreate smaller rep ranges from. It is best to choose ranges of 4-6 reps, such as 6-10, 8-12, 10-15, or 15-20.As long as your program continually challenges the athlete to perform a greater amountof work, strength gains will be made. Any rep range will work. There are, however,some subtle differences between the benefits of each rep range.Lower rep ranges (i.e. under 6 reps) will stimulate the nervous system to a greaterextent, but actual tissue changes may be limited. Very heavy weight (relative to theathlete’s strength) must be used which can be potentially dangerous because athletemay have a tendency to use improper technique to lift the weight.In general, it is unnecessary for any high school athlete to use weights that cannot belifted at least 6 times with good form. Prepubescent athletes should generally useweights that allow for at least 10 reps.Medium rep ranges (i.e. 6-10, 8-12, 10-15) offer the benefits of increasing strength,eliciting positive tissue changes, and allow for greater safety that very heavy weights.These rep ranges are recommended for most sets on most exercises.Higher rep ranges (i.e. 15-20) offer the greatest results when muscular endurance is thegoal. Endurance athletes may want to consider higher rep ranges. Young athletes orbeginners may also consider higher rep ranges because it offers the offers theopportunity to practice good technique. Strength will still be gained with higher repranges.
How much weight?
Once a rep range is determined (for example 8-12 reps) selecting a weight is fairlyeasy. Have the athlete perform a set of as many reps as possible. If the athlete cannotperform at least 8 reps, the weight is too heavy and should be decreased at the nextworkout. If the athlete can perform more than 12 reps, the weight is too light and shouldbe increased at the next workout.Within 2-4 workouts, the optimal weight will be selected. This selection process givesthe athletes the opportunity to practice technique and experiment with differentresistances.
 
 
How often should you train?
Selecting the number of training sessions per week is dependent upon many outsidefactors such as practice time, game schedule, outside activities, facility availability, etc.Generally, there will be more time available for strength training during the off-seasonthan during a competitive season.The following are some guidelines for the number of training days per week duringdifferent phases of the competitive cycle, with routine ideas in parenthesis:
Off-season:
2-4 days/week (2 or 3 total-body workouts per week T & Th, 2 upper & 2lower body workouts/week M-T-Th-F or 3 days/week alternating upper & lower bodyroutines M-W-F)
Pre-season:
2-3 days/week (2 or 3 total-body workouts per week, or 3 days/weekalternating upper & lower body routines M-W-F)
In-season:
1-3 days/week (1- 3 total-body workouts per week, or 2-3 days/weekalternating upper & lower body routines)
How long should the workout take?
Each strength training session should last 20-60 minutes. There is no reason for anyhigh school strength workout to last more than 60 minutes.Rest between sets should last about 1-2 minutes. This allows time for a partner tocomplete his/her set and the next exercise to be set up.
Work large muscles first
In general, the order of exercises should begin with the largest muscle groups andmove to smaller muscle groups.Large muscle groups include the chest, upper back, and hips & quads. Smaller musclegroups include the shoulders, arms, hamstrings, calves and abdominals.An example of a total body routine would be:1. Hips & Quads2. Chest3. Upper back4. Shoulders5. Hamstrings6. Arms7. Calves8. Abdominals9. Neck

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