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May 2011

May 2011


8-Week Summer Strength & Conditioning Program – A FBS strength & conditioning coach gives you a complete and comprehensive lifting and running schedule for high schools with detailed workout charts.

by: Mike Golden
Director of Strength and Conditioning • University of South Florida
© May 2011

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This is an eight-week summer training program for football, incorporating lifting, conditioning, speed and agility drills. It is a comprehensive plan of attack intended for all high school programs, and will be successful if carried out to its entirety. Everything in this program is designed to work together.  Switching up days/workouts is not recommended.

Training Philosophy: First and foremost we believe in perfect technique. Players must perform all movements correctly, with speed and skill, before load is increased. Perfect technique holds true in all strength, agility, speed, conditioning and strongman exercises. The athlete must have his body under control at all times. We are constantly striving for the perfect rep. When starting this program, give your players a weight they can handle. If a player is supposed to do six reps and makes only four, what are we doing? We are teaching him how to fail. Let them do the exercise the right way and achieve all their reps themselves. Then sit back and watch their confidence go through the roof. Worry about the real heavy stuff when its test time. Remember, you cannot cheat real strength. You must put in your time working the lighter weights the right way. Build your foundation. The heavy stuff will follow.
Strength Training: The goal of our strength training program is to develop optimal muscular strength and power. Strength is the foundation of all other trained components (power, speed, agility, etc.). Proper strength training has two goals – performance enhancement and injury prevention. It must be done in a physiologically sound, safe, purposeful, and productive way. There are no secrets or shortcuts to achieve maximum strength gains. A physiologically sound program is one that includes in its design the fundamental principles of training the correct energy system, using the correct rest ratio and maximizing recovery with proper nutrition and sleeping guidelines. A safe program is designed first and foremost with the execution of properly performed repetitions.
    The emphasis for our beginners (Stage 1) is focused on how the repetition is performed rather than how much weight is lifted. Every effort should be made to minimize biomechanical loading (bouncing, recoiling, etc.) on muscles, joints and connective tissue, and to maximize muscular tension. Each repetition should be lifted under control in a deliberate fashion. We also begin to work on the athletes work capacity and body composition. A purposeful program is one with a training protocol that has a systematic plan of increasing resistance/repetitions that will produce results.
    Once exercise technique is performed to our satisfaction (Stage 2), the weights begin to increase and the player must perform all of his reps prescribed in that workout without assistance. This is where athletes are introduced to both mental and physical pressure. Loads, work capacity, lean body mass and the number of movement patterns increase. A productive program is one that is designed with the athlete’s best interest in mind (Stage 3). These athletes inner drive is to be successful and are willing to pay the price no matter what to help them succeed on the field. It is designed with the latest research, personal trials, team experiences, and common sense. Our goal is to help them achieve their optimal strength potential both in the weight room and on the playing field. Our strength training philosophy incorporates all components of strength training and is not particular to a certain genre. We go with what works and get rid of what doesn’t. We believe that all divisions of strength training (Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Strongman, etc.) have their place and are valuable when used correctly. It is also our belief that combining the various styles provides maximal stimulation to the athlete while keeping them from becoming overtrained, bored or stale. It makes all weight training sessions a positive rather than a negative experience for all our athletes.
Conditioning: The objective of a conditioning program is to optimally prepare athletes’ metabolism and muscular/joint structures to meet the physical demands of a 14 game championship season. The purpose of conditioning is to allow athletes to recover faster from high-intensity work (plays, practice reps, etc.). Our goal is to reduce the level of fatigue that athletes would experience working and competing at maximum tempo.
    Realize that conditioning is task-specific. In other words, you can be in maximal running shape, but sub-maximal game shape. Contrary to popular opinion, no amount of running, bounding, hill sprints, etc. will prepare your body for the task-specific demands of football. It is not until you practice and eventually play the game that you will achieve the conditioning effect necessary to play at a consistent high level. It is important to understand that the conditioning done in the off-season will help your athletes develop a more efficient energy system. This will allow your athletes to recover faster and get into game shape faster. Choosing to neglect off-season conditioning is not recommended. Coming into camp de-conditioned and un-acclimated to the heat will only prolong the time it takes to attain the level of football shape necessary to proficiently practice. There will be and should be situations where fatigue will be a direct result of your maximal effort; however, if fatigue is a result of your poor conditioning level, you deserve what you get.  

Benefits of having a strong conditioning base include:
•      Quick recuperation following maximal effort.
•      Helps increase lean body mass.
•      Efficient heat dissipation, maintaining body temperature (reducing             the risk for heat exhaustion/heat stroke.
•      Mental ignorance to fatigue (willpower).
•      High tolerance of the waste products of metabolism such as lactic acid.

There are three conditioning components that we stress in our training.

General Physical Preparation (GPP): This type of training involves exercises designed to enhance the athlete’s general, non-specific work capacity. It should engage different activities to develop increased levels of physical conditioning be it endurance, strength, speed or flexibility. It is an excellent way to work on weak points.

Short Speed Conditioning: This type of training involves high intensity/low duration exercise that lasts 0-10 sec. maximum (10-40 yard sprints, practice/game reps) with short (30 sec. or less) recovery time which stimulates the average football play and recovery pattern.

Long Speed Conditioning: This type of training involves high intensity/medium duration exercise that lasts approximately 10 sec. to 1 min. (60-200-yard sprints/interval work) with a 3:1 rest: work ratio. This type of workout usually stresses your anaerobic system.  This system is used sparingly in football, usually on long breakout runs.  It is used to help build your football recovery system.
Warm-ups: Football forces you to put your body in awkward and unnatural positions. The way your body handles these situations is one of the keys to remaining healthy and making or not making plays. Through proper warm-ups, training and cool downs you can increase your chance of making plays and decrease your chance of injury.
    Prior to every training session, whether it is strength training, conditioning or agility drills, a thorough warm-up must be done. The goal of all warm-up sessions is to increase body temperature and to prepare the major joints and muscles for strenuous activity throughout their full range of motion. Full range of motion can reduce the chance of muscle tears, ligament strains, and injuries to connective tissue. Once full range of motion is reached, the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints will be more efficient, allowing your body to adapt quicker to various situations.
    Current research demonstrates that strength training through the full range of motion can lead to increases in joint flexibility.  Warm-ups must be taken seriously. No athlete will begin workouts, games or be stretched unless they are in at least a light sweat. Our warm-up drills are all interchangeable and can be used in any combination to achieve the desired effect. They are broken down into three components: dynamic warm-ups, dynamic flexibility and static flexibility.

Dynamic Warm-Ups:  You must be able to bend and move fluidly on the field. Our dynamic warm-ups will help you improve your mobility on and off the field. There are basically hundreds of exercises that we use in our dynamic warm-ups. It is an excellent time to work on speed drills or any mobility issues that you may have. It aids in the increase of speed, power, agility, quickness and strength along with mentally preparing the athlete to the task at hand.

Dynamic Flexibility:  Dynamic flexibility is stretching through movement. With a variety of drills we can warm-up individual muscle groups through their full range of motion, pinpointing any area that an athlete may want to focus on. We use a variety of bands and/or partner stretches for this task. These are done either following a warm-up prior to an exercise session, or used as a cool-down following activity. 

Static Flexibility (Stretching):  Stretching is joint specific, and every major joint structure must be stretched regularly in order to maximize the effects of a flexibility program. With a variety of stretches we can warm-up individual muscle groups at their end range of motion.  Static Flexibility (Stretching) is done either following a warm-up prior to an exercise session, or used as a cool-down following activity.

Static Flexibility (Stretching) Points of Emphasis:
•    Always complete all dynamic warm-ups or workout session prior to         stretching.
•      Remain relaxed while stretching.
•      Do not stretch the muscle into a position of pain. The stretch should
    be slightly uncomfortable but bearable.
•      Begin all stretches slowly; ease into position, hold for a count, and             ease back out of the stretch.
•    Hold all stretches for 10-20 seconds.
•    Do not bounce. This can cause injury and prevent flexibility
    development by not allowing the muscle to relax.

Speed/Agility/Quickness: The purpose of Speed, Agility, and Quickness (SAQ) training is to enhance the development of our players’ game speed. Every player wants to be fast and all coaches want fast players. There are few things more intimidating or demoralizing to an opponent than fast aggressive play that allows you to catch an opponent when he thinks he can’t be caught. SAQ training is done through proper training techniques and progressions until it becomes second nature. Aspects of speed are worked on every day. They are treated just like our strength training exercises – simple, easy to coach and easy to build upon. Basic movement skills are developed at this time. These components are achieved through a variety of drills, including footwork, bags, cone, rope and field drills.
    Speed (linear) is the ability to cover a certain distance in the shortest amount of time possible. Agility is the power of moving quickly and easily, and quickness is being able to move with speed. As you can see all three of these are interchangeable, and must be trained as such. We feel that there are eight specific components to increase a player’s game speed. We train these components every training session.

1. Strength/Power:  The stronger and more powerful your muscles become, the more force they can produce. Strong musculature will also help you run more efficiently because you will be able to stay in your optimal, perfect running technique for a longer period of time.

2. Footwork: Your feet are the beginning of any change of direction movement. Good solid footwork is the key to controlling your body’s momentum. Fast feet=fast play.
3. Agility: The game of football can be summed up as the ability to move in one direction, stop and accelerate quickly in another direction without loss of speed or control. It is repeated starts and stops with very little linear speed. Agility training is a huge part of our overall training program.

4. Form Run:  Perfect run technique is critical to improve running speed. Form run training emphasizes proper run technique in a controlled environment in order to correct any imperfections. As the movement is performed correctly over and over, natural running becomes more efficient and the athlete is able to run faster.

5. Starts: Perfect technique coming out of your position or sprinters stance will help the athlete get into the acceleration phase as fast as possible. The faster you get to the acceleration phase, the faster you can get to top speed. The faster to top speed, the faster to winning every play.

6. Acceleration Phase: The time it takes to reach top speed. It is acceleration that gives you what some call an ‘extra step’ on opponents during a foot race. Aside from agility, it is one of the most important aspects of any speed development program.

7. Top Speed: Once the acceleration phase is complete the athlete is considered to be at top speed. Top speed is the max speed you can run.

8. Speed Conditioning: The ability to run at top speed as long as possible, and to be able to get to and stay at top speed over the course of an entire game.

Strongman: I feel that strongman training is the bridge that covers the gap between conventional weight training and the athlete’s prospective sport. It aids in the prevention of strength leakage (the strength that is lost from the weight room to the field). It is any type of physical or mental training that challenges the body and/or mind to constantly strain and overcome adversity. Strongman trains both Limit Strength (Powerlifting) and Speed Strength (Olympic lifts). It is great for muscular, neurological and cardiovascular conditioning. It is non-linear and it forces your body to adapt and improvise because every rep is different, effecting core strength and stability. It also breaks the monotony of training and it makes it very competitive.

Train hard, train smart and train to win.  

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